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 Ruby, my going-on-three year-old adopted Blue Heeler, is a breed apart when it comes to focus. All dogs are wonderful, but as Gretel Ehrlich wrote in her memoir “The Solace of Open Spaces”, heelers are “uncanny in their responsiveness to human beings . . . Language is not an obstacle to these dogs; they learn words very quickly”.

Ruby is a character, too: Affectionate to a fault, with comical mannerisms, she will speak her mind in letting you know when she’s happy or anxious or just wants to talk. And what a smile: her upper lip drawn back, white canines revealed, heartwarming-to-the-max. Huggable in spades, nobly uncomplaining, an athletic ballerina – I will take her any-and-everywhere.

As a working dog, Ruby loves to learn, and especially the process of routines we have come to share that organize her day. In earnest, she has an urgent enthusiasm in adapting to her lessons and, with repetition, reinforcing the behavioral and working skills she has been taught. Which isn’t to say she’s not distracted by the more-than-occasional squirrel or rabbit.

She also has an affinity for most birds – with woodpeckers curiously at the top of her list. But not so curious, I suppose, as she works to locate the sharply distinctive drum of the woodpecker in hammering through tree bark to create its nesting home. Her considerable instincts and abilities are put to the test in searching for the iconic bird – and always with the palpable joy that is evident from her ever-wagging tail. She is a focused problem-solver who enjoys the hunt.

In nearly 40 years of working with bar applicants, I have found, like Ruby’s learned birding skills, that those who “close the circle” in putting the bar behind them similarly share her enthusiasm for learning the next set of skills that serve to elevate their performance. And, like Ruby, to bring an unbridled enthusiasm to their preparation process. Not always perfectly, but nearly always with urgency.

While there will be the “occasional squirrel” that distracts, the key is not to be overrun by them. And, to know that it is in honoring the process of how you learn to prepare for the bar that will cause you to ultimately succeed in putting the test behind you. Or for Ruby, as she hunts for the nesting place of the sometimes elusive Picoides Villosus.

Whichever the goal – woodpecker or bar exam – onward and upward.




Onward and upward.





Paul Pfau © 2016 All Rights Reserved. Paul Pfau is a retired Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and the owner of Cal Bar Tutorial Review, which has been customizing bar review programs for 40 years. For more information about Cal Bar Tutorial Review, call (800) 348-2401 or (800) 783-6168. Web site:


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CA Bar Exam Facts

Statewide Test Results

First Time Takers
about 57.2% Fail 

Repeat Takers
about 77.1% Fail

All Takers
about 70.9% Fail

about 80.7% Fail

Still not sure you need help? View the full report.

Avoid a nightmare of bar exam failures. Call 1-800-783-6168 today!

CA Bar Exam Schedule

First Year Law Students

  • June 25, 2019
    Register by 5/15/2019

California Bar Exam

  • Feb 26, 27, 2019
    Register by 1/15/2019

Course Discounts

Note : This is our
40th Anniversary Year 
Also, there are accompanying discount opportunities because of this.

 Cal Bar’s “Pay It Forward” discount policy enables you to discount the cost of your individualized program if you have charitable experience in your background.

If you have no charitable experience, you may still qualify for a $1,000 discount from your totally personalized program – which includes old-fashioned one-on-one, materials, classes. Just ask.

More Success For Ali

Cal Bar is pleased to announce that Ali Hinsche continued her remarkable run of success in having just passed the Florida bar exam.

This was her 4th (count 'em: 1, 2, 3, 4) successful bar - on her 1st attempt-following California, New York and Illinois.

While Ali worked with Cal Bar for each state, she also owes her success to persistence, hard work, and in learning how to adapt and apply the Cal Bar test-taking systems to the requirements of each bar exam.

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Thank You For Your TestimonialI am writing to thank you for all the help you gave me while I was preparing for this past February's bar examination. I know I couldn't have done it without you.
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ESL SupportSpecializing in English as a Second Language (ESL) and applicants with learning needs requiring special bar exam accommodations.