Suburban woman who was in labor during bar exam passes test

Updated 10/7/2011 10:49 AM

Not only did she take the bar exam while in labor, she passed the test and delivered a healthy baby boy.

Elana Nightingale Dawson, 29, of Downers Grove, was in the final three hours of the two-day test in downtown Chicago in August when she went into labor -- at one point having painful contractions every 15 minutes.


The exam has to be finished to be valid. So despite the labor pains, Dawson did breathing exercises while completing the test, walked one block to the hospital (escorted by the proctor) and gave birth by Caesarean section less than two hours later.

Dawson, a graduate of Northwestern University's law school, confirmed Thursday that she got the bar results over the weekend and passed.

She didn't want to elaborate on what happened, but looking back, she couldn't say if she'd do anything differently.

"It's impossible to know what would have happened if I had done something differently. Ultimately, I have what was, and remains, most important to me -- a happy, healthy son," she said in an emailed response.

Dawson, her husband and son, Wilson, are doing great, she said, adding: "I am glad I won't have to retake the exam."

Dawson is already back to work, employed as a law clerk in a federal-district court.

Prior to taking the bar exam, Dawson volunteered as an intern for Equip for Equality, an organization that helps people with disabilities in Illinois.