A close-up of a woman's third-trimester pregnancy belly.
Passing the bar – and a child – made for a busy day for Elana Nightingale Dawson. (Photo Credit: CC BY/george ruiz/Flickr)

Passing the bar exam is no small task. This was particularly true for Elana Nightingale Dawson last week. The 29-year-old aspiring lawyer and pregnant woman went into labor while she was taking the bar exam. Showing the kind of inner strength it takes to be a mom, Dawson performed breathing exercises through the painful contractions, finished the exam, then gave birth to her son via Caesarian section less than two hours later.

Contractions were 15 minutes apart

Elana Dawson was reportedly just beginning the final section of the Illinois bar exam when she went into labor. In order for the bar exam results to be valid, the entire exam had to be finished. Thus, as Dawson told the Chicago Tribune later, her goal was “to get through the exam as fast as I could and leave, unless anything more serious happened.”

Once Dawson was done with the bar exam, she walked a with her test proctor to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in downtown Chicago. Dawson’s husband met her there. At 5:58 p.m. July 27, Wilson Dawson was born healthy, weighing 6 pounds, 6 ounces and 19 inches tall, according to a family email.

Dawson will discover in October if she passed the bar exam

Dawson, who had a C-section delivery scheduled for July 30 because her baby was in the breech position, was surprised by the turn of events.

“That was certainly not my plan,” she said. “With everything that I had been taught and told, I thought I had time.”

But her unborn child had other ideas.

“The last hours of the exam were not my strongest moments in terms of focus,” she said, “so I am perfectly content with what happens.”

By the time Wilson Dawson is two and a half months old, his mother will know how she fared on the bar exam.

Elana Nightingale Dawson an up-and-comer

The Mary Sue blog posits that new mother and dedicated law student Elana Nightingale Dawson is “a prime candidate to take over the world.” She is a top-ranked law student in an accelerated JD program, and she was on the law review board in school and worked for Northwestern University’s Supreme Court clinic, among other prestigious activities. After maternity time, she has two clerkships lined up, one with a federal district court judge and another with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Her goal is to become a litigator for the Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis.

Jurisprudence and contractions


Above the Law (baby pic): http://cache.abovethelaw.com/uploads/2011/07/baby-bar-exam-baby.jpg

Associated Press: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8286927

Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-talk-bar-exam-baby-0803-20110803,0,585038.story

Daily Mail: http://bit.ly/oKWEnL

The Mary Sue: http://www.themarysue.com/woman-begins-labor-during-bar-exam/

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