If you're like me, you might not think the California Bar Exam would be the most engaging topic for a documentary. When I heard there was a doc about future lawyers studying for the bar, I wasn't terribly excited about making sure I caught it. But then I kept hearing buzz about A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar in lines for other films -- people were talking, and they were liking what they saw, so I added the film to my list. And, as is so often the case at a fest with so many films, the buzz turned out to be spot-on.
The film follows six ambitious law school grads who are studying for the California Bar Exam, which has a pass rate of only 39%. Prepping for the bar is one of the most grueling intellectual endurance races a person can take on: months and months of study and prep classes memorizing vast quantities of information, so you can take a stressful exam on which your entire future -- not to mention your ability to pay off your $100K or more student loan debt -- rides. Pressure? Yeah, just a bit, and filmmaker Eric Chaikin keeps the pace flowing as we go back and forth among the subjects, hearing their stories and growing to really care whether they pass.