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By Jo Mathis
Legal News
 
Theresa Rose is thinking of having a bonfire one of these nights, and she has just the tinder to set the blaze.
 
It’s that pile of Barbri Bar Review books she studied for months leading up to the bar exam, and kept just in case she’d need to do a retake.
 
That won’t be necessary.
 
Rose, a 2013 graduate of Cooley Law School in Ann Arbor was one of the 1,007 who took the Michigan Bar Examination in July.
 
And she’s one of the 600 to receive the glorious news that she passed.
 
Friends and family want to celebrate with her, but she has a large amount of contract work to finish, so she’s trying to keep on task.
 
“However, for this, I will find the time to celebrate,” she said. “Maybe non-stop for the next six months!”
 
The Board of Law Examiners sent out an e-mail message on October 25 announcing that results of the July exam had been mailed, and the passing list would be put online on Oct. 29.
 
“That led to a very tense weekend, including promising my mailman that I wouldn't tackle him!” said Rose.
 
She got the letter on Oct. 28, and says she had to read it three times before she’d believe it.
 
This last July’s 60 percent passage rate is slightly better than the 55 percent who passed the exam in July of 2012.
 
Rose said she would have kept taking the exam until she passed, no matter how long it took.
 
“That is the toughest test I have ever faced in my life,” said Rose, whose favorite study spot was a quiet corner in Cooley’s faculty wing, where she says staff encouraged her whenever she came up for air.
 
Dean Joan Vestrand said that admission to practice is always a joyful occasion, and that Rose is already a credit to the profession.
 
“In Theresa's case, it feels as though she has been part of the profession for years already and that this is just a formality,” said Vestrand, who heads Cooley’s Ann Arbor campus.  “She took to heart the advice and counsel we give all our students—that valuable to professional development is service to community while studying the law.   Theresa made time to do just that - she became active in the local bar and the community and has attended so many events and participated in so many activities that she is already deeply entrenched in both.”
 
Vestrand said she’s delighted that Rose is staying in the area and is happy to welcome her as a colleague.
 
Rose decided to go to law school several years ago after a divorce.
 
“Women who have been stay- at-home moms are at a definite disadvantage in Michigan when thrust back into the job market after surviving the divorce process,” she said. “I put myself through law school to make my own job. Unfortunately, at the same time the legal field became more challenging.”
 
In any case, she loved her years in law school, and appreciated the partial scholarship that helped control costs.
 
“I really enjoyed expanding my education at this point in my life,” she said. “When people say you learn to think like a lawyer, you really do. It’s a different way to do analysis. There is a way to apply that analysis to the rest of your life. This education will benefit me in innumerable ways, whether it’s buying or selling a house or signing an automobile lease. This education is going to help me no matter what I do.”
 
Rose tried to get as much experience outside of school as she could in order to differentiate herself in this tight job market.
 
She slowed down her  schooling and got on-the-job experience as well as more than the usual summer student internships. She was involved in clinics and long internships, joined as many groups as she could handle, worked on a judicial campaign, and went on informational interviews, cold call lunches, etc.
 
“I even got a job coach,” she said. “She told me I didn't really need her!”
 
But in this market, job-hunting has been tough.
 
 “I find myself competing with people who have 10-plus years experience, or retirees, as well as other entry level graduates,” Rose said. “All for entry level positions!  This is a challenging market.”
 
So she was happy last month to accept work doing research and writing for a prominent appellate attorney. 
 
"It's a huge first assignment, but if I do first-class work, conceivably it will turn into more," she said. 
 
In March, Rose married her high school prom date, Dan Rose, now an assistant prosecutor in Livingston County. 
 
“He’s my biggest cheerleader, he really is,” she said. “Of course he thinks my potential is unlimited and anyone would be happy to have me! I think his exact words were, `Let me just hold onto your coattails.’”
 
Rose, an expert quilter and gardener who has worked as a professional florist, is proud of her daughter, Amanda, a U-M alumna and graduate student at Wayne State University who lives in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town.
 
The couple, who have another home in Leelanau County,  also have son Nate,  an award-winning winemaker in Leelanau, Kat, a student at Northwestern Michigan College, and Sean, a freshman at Midland Dow with ambitions of attending U-M.
 
In addition to planning a bonfire, Rose was happy to cancel her hotel reservations in Lansing next February, when she would have retaken the bar exam.
 
“Now I'm arranging my swearing in with Judge Connors,” said Rose, whose husband will be her sponsor. “I'm really going to try and not cry, but I probably will.”
 

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