Right before I left for SoCal, I got a letter from the State Bar of California, indicating that 1) I hadn't paid the proper fee (I paid the 'general' fee of $464, not the 'attorney' fee of $674), and 2) I should call the eligibility department.
When I called the eligibility department, they informed me that they hadn't gotten my certificate of good standing. You're right, I said, because when I'd applied, I hadn't yet been admitted, and you can't get a certificate of good standing unless you've been admitted.
"Listen," I attempted to explain, "I'm in California right now. I'll be back in Chicago next week. Can I send them to you then?"
"No. By then your registration will be terminated for being incomplete."
"So when do they need to be in?"
"Well, yesterday. You had 10 days from the day you submitted."
"But that was the day I was admitted. There wouldn't have been any way I could have gotten such a letter. I wasn't entered on the roll of attorneys for a week. I just checked. They only put me on there on Friday."
"Well, that's the rule. 10 days. And you need to get that letter here ASAP."
I hung up the phone and began to wonder how the heck I was going to get this letter. First stop: the ARDC website. They register & discipline attorneys, so they'd be the logical place to go, right? Wrong. One phone call later, I'm getting the phone for the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Soon, I've got someone on the line, telling me that they'd be happy to send the certificate. All I needed to do was send a letter requesting the certificate, and enclose the fee - one dollar (so Blues Brother-ish). Once they got the letter and the fee, they'd happily send the certificate - in a couple of weeks. That wasn't going to help me, I said, I need it sooner. My only choice was to send the request FedEx, and enclose a pre-addressed FedEx label.
So I told Joanie that we needed to go to Kinko's before we did anything. Ten minutes later, and my package was on its way. Problem solved.
Except it wasn't.
On Monday, I got three letters from the State Bar of California: one was a receipt for the additional funds, the authorization for which I'd sent out a while I was in California. the other two were letters. One, dated November 22nd (the day after the conversation above) said they still needed my certificate of good standing. The other, dated November 23rd, said....my application was being terminated. Because the registration was incomplete. Because the certificate hadn't arrived.
In a panic, I called the State Bar. No certificate had been received, even today, Monday. I sifted through the pile of numbers in my cell phone, and found the Clerk's number.
"Yes, well, I was on vacation last week, and although we did get your request, no one did antyhing with it, " she explained.
Deep breath. Remain calm...
The woman at the State Bar of California had told me that there was still a chance to save tehe application, provided we got the certificate and the $50 late fee in by close of business on Wednesday.
"...but," the Clerk continued, "I see your letter here. I sent that one out this morning."
Partial relief. If it gets there tomorrow, I'm OK.
The next morning brought no news. Nothing would be opened until 11 a.m. PST - 2 p.m. in Chicago. Call back then, she said. I called at 3. No answer - away from her desk, probably still at lunch. Finally, at almost 5, good news: they'd gotten the certificate. Now all I needed to do was send a letter authorizing an additional $50 on my credit card.
I sent the fax first thing Wednesday, with a request to call me if I left something off. I got no such call.
So I guess I really am taking the California Bar Exam in February. Wish me luck.