When we asked you for bar exam horror stories, you didn’t disappoint. But one submission was so detailed and so eye-popping it deserved its own post. Now, bar exam administrators are notoriously bad at bodily functions during the test — particularly when it was remote — so perhaps it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Hell, even Kim Kardashian recognized the possibility when she talked about potentially wearing a diaper during the exam.
Turns out this guy really, REALLY, should have taken Kim K’s suggestion. What would you do if intestinal distress hit you mid-exam? Sacrifice the time — and potentially your score — to deal with it in the bathroom (and depending on the severity that could take a very long time)? Or sacrifice your dignity and just take the test regardless of what poop may come?
One test taker took the second path. It’s a longer read, but man, is it worth it.
I took the July 2023 administration of the UBE. To set the scene, the state in which I took the exam sat examinees eight foot rectangular plastic tables. Examinees faced opposite directions on opposing ends of the long edge of the rectangle. From the front of the room, where the stage was located with the proctor giving instruction, to the back of the exam hall, was 16 tables deep with an approximate two feet aisle in between each table from front to back. The table I was assigned was the second to the last from the front of the room and almost dead center in the entire hall.
During the MBE, I was at about question 70 during the morning session. All of the sudden, I smelled an absolutely awful smell. As the father of an almost two year old and eight month old, my immediate thought was, “Who in the world is changing a baby’s diaper.” I thought that was highly unlikely and kept on doing questions. After another five or seven questions I caught another whiff of the dirty diaper smell except this time it was even more pungent. At this point I looked around, side to side, trying to determine from where the smell was coming.
In looking around to determine the source of the smell, I looked to my right as this was the direction from where the air conditioning was blowing. What I saw next made me do a double take.
At the table to my immediate right sat a gentleman. He was on the shorter and heavier side. He wore a black t-shirt and gray basketball shorts that were on the smaller side. His hair and beard were a bit unkempt. He wore calf high work boots that were partially laced up but untied.
Greenish, brown, poop was dripping from the bottom of the gentleman’s basketball shorts, collecting in a small pile on the ground.
At first, my brain did not register what I saw. I went back to doing my questions but I immediately looked back to my right to confirm what my eyes told my brain was there. Sure enough, my eyes had not deceived me. Poop continued to drip from his shorts, landing directly below the gentleman, right between his feet.
At this point in the morning session there were about 40 or 45 minutes left and I still had roughly 20 to 25 questions left. However, the addition of a man relinquishing his bowels in my immediate proximity was not something I had planned for when completing practice questions.
Call me juvenile but my immediate reaction to seeing a fellow examinee pooping his pants was to laugh. I had to suppress any laughter so as not to cause a scene. With the amount of questions I had left, I still had plenty to lose on the morning portion. I needed to regain my composure. I left my seat, went to the restroom, and splashed some water on my face. Thinking this would do the trick, I went back to my seat and tried to refocus.
However, upon returning to my seat, more feces had seeped from my neighbor and onto the ground. The size of the poo patty was roughly the diameter of an average hamburger at this point.
I blocked the goings on around me out of my mind and powered through the last 20 or so of my MBE questions. At this point I was free to gaze upon the poo-poo patty for the remainder of the morning session.
It was then that I observed the gentleman look down at the mess he had made, voluntary or not I do not know, acknowledge the mess, and continue right on with his questions. By acknowledge, I mean he looked at it and clearly saw it. Once the gentleman got done with his questions he got up, and like the Duck Song says, waddled away. He came back to his seat right at the end of the morning session, as the test booklets were being collected. He sat back down and the smell was even worse. It smelled as if he tried to clean himself up but simply smeared it around without actually cleaning himself.
Upon dismissal for lunch, I made it a point to walk by his chair, looking at the seat. Sure enough, the seat looked like someone pooped their pants while sitting there. The chairs were cloth, further adding to the effect. It is also important to note the poop patty was still on the ground beneath the chair. I tried to keep an eye on him as everyone left for lunch, seeing if he told anyone on the way out but I lost track of him in the crowd.
I retreated to my car and called my wife. I told her the goings on of the morning. We determined that regardless of whether my neighbor told a proctor about his shituation or not, I needed to let someone know so as not to expose myself to toxic fumes for the next three hours.
The law school I attended has several staff members attend the bar, providing lunch, and general moral support. I went and found two of the staff members. I took them aside and explained the situation, asking them to let the appropriate parties know to take care of the issue.
After the fact, they told me they went and found the room in which all the proctors were eating lunch. Apparently, the gentlemen experiencing intestinal distress had not reported the issue as the proctors did not have any knowledge of it. The staff members from my law school let me know if the situation was not resolved when I returned from lunch to let a proctor know and I would be moved.
When I returned from lunch, the poo patty was gone and I could smell a strong cleaning chemical smell instead of the ripe aroma of feces. The gentleman was not yet in his seat when I walked by and his chair appeared to be new as the stains were gone.
He did return to the afternoon session in the same clothes but I only caught one foul whiff during the afternoon. Unfortunately I did not get his name but I wish I would have. I need to know if he passed when our results are released in the Fall. I wish him the best!
That sounds utterly craptastic.
If you survived or witnessed some horror story in action, let us know. You can email it to us (subject line: “Bar Exam Horror Story”) or text us (646-820-8477). Maybe your story will inspire others to persevere.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.