Monday, June 23, 2008

The one-point-above-passing guide to finding a bar exam study spot in Chicago

We're about halfway through Bar/Bri and the early slacking has given way to sample questions, mock essays and flashcards. I'll make the assumption that not many folks studying for the bar right now didn't exactly give their all on last semester's finals, so getting back to study mode is a little difficult, especially given summer weather.

After three years of warding off cabin fever by trying out coffee shops around town, I am proud to offer you, my loyal readers, a guide to finding a place to study for the bar in Chicago.

Your Law School's Library
Various locations

Sometimes you just want some comfort food. From that very first 1L assignment to that last mad dash over the finish line, your school's library has been there for you. Many law students have happy memories of the library - the hours upon hours of tedious reading and outlining aren't memorable, but the time you spent goofing off with your friends while you should have been working will be something you'll talk about at the reunion. Re-create the magic and pretend to be a naive law student again.

Pros: It's probably convenient to where you live and they probably haven't changed the combo on your locker yet.

Cons: Underclassmen will assume you flunked one of your classes and are making it up in summer school.

Argo Tea & Coffee
Various Locations near yuppies like you

Hip, but not too hip. There were two Argos when I moved here. Now there are ten, and I can see why. They're airy, the staff is friendly and the drinks are creative and tasty. Oh, and for some reason the rugelach is to die for. Take it from me - yid* tested, mother approved (no really, mom tried 'em and thinks they're great).

Pros: Attractive client base, bright space, the bathrooms have those really powerful hand dryers.

Cons: Tiny tables.

Atomix Cafe
1957 W. Chicago Ave., Ukrainian Village

For the ascetic, but not too ascetic Some people need an outlet, a big table and some light background music. Atomix lacks luxuries like free wi-fi and skim milk, but in return for giving up those luxuries, you get all the space you need and the too-cool-for-school hipsters that patronize the place will make it a point to leave you alone. Sometimes, I find the Internet to be a huge distraction, so I spent a fair amount of time hear during my law school career when I really needed to hit the books hard.

Pros: Paninis, bagels and people with ironic tattoos. When you're done, there are plenty of cool bars within walking distance.

Cons: You probably don't belong and everyone who walks through the door knows it. If you can deal with that, you should be fine.

Sip Cafe
1223 W Grand Ave., West Town

There is no way you're missing summer. A coffee shop with a garden in the back! Go out there to get your Vitamin D while learning how different your state's law is from the stuff you learned in law school. It's hard to lock yourself inside while the sun is shining, so why not get the best of both worlds?

Pros: Getting seasonal affective disorder in June is just lame. This is your last summer as a student, so treat it as such to the extent you can.

Cons: Even more remote than Atomix.

The Hidden Shamrock
2723 N Halsted St., Lincoln Park

Bar/Bri will drive anyone to drink, so you might as well save a trip. This bar has free wi-fi, huge tables and hardly a soul in it during the day. Why not share a few rounds with Mr. Conviser's mini outline and stop working when you can't read the small text anymore?

Pros: You can't complain about how bar review keeps you from going out.

Cons: This shows you can't pass the bar. Har-dee-harr-harr.

The El
High above the streets.

You are so friggin' hardcore. Growing up in New York, I've heard a few stories of people who studied on the subway. It makes sense in a strange way given that there are few distractions, plenty of light (except for limited areas) and if you go in the middle of the day on most lines, enough space. Studying on the El is probably best suited for flashcards and re-reading your notes, since there aren't any tables.

Metra may be a more appealing option, even though it's a bit more expensive. You'll have plenty of time to hit the books on the local to Kenosha.

Pros: It's close to public transit. Also, it's a good story to tell down the line if you want to impress people with how gritty and urban you are.

Cons: If you don't pick the right car, the smell can be distracting. Also, you may lose your hearing if you do it too much.

* That's one of those words you can't use unless it describes you.

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