As a TV investigative reporter by day and a law student by night, Paul Aker has had his work cut out for him during the past four years. The stress of work and school, as well as rarely seeing his wife took a toll on WBNS-TV's Aker.
His fate from all of that hard work would be decided by the July Bar Admissions test. He took a month sabbatical from reporting to concentrate on studying for the bar. During that time Aker said he was studying for the test about 12 to 14 hours a day.
"It's been quite a routine actually. It's get up at 8-9 in the morning, get a cup of coffee, lots of caffeine, then come in and snuggle up to some books and spend probably three or four hours at a stretch - just outlining, going over notes and flashcards, and reading every scrap of material there is on the subjects that are going to be tested," Aker said.
But did he pass? He'd have to wait three months to find out.
Aker was always fascinated by law, and as an investigative reporter, he knew having a law degree would come in handy.
"As an investigative reporter a lot of times we get into legal issues - what should we report, what shouldn't we? Things like that, so that kind of background is tremendously helpful," Aker said. "I hope I will be a resource at the station."
After all those years in law school and all those hours studying for the bar examination, Aker felt relief after taking the two and a half day test in July.
"It feels like one of those extraordinary life accomplishments. You know, pass or fail, it's just one of those things I've done. I really took time throughout this to really try to drink it in you know, and it's been very cool. I'm glad to have it done," Aker said.
Aker said he felt confident that he passed, but said it's all relative when it came to the essays.
"I felt great in the morning and the afternoon I felt like there were some hard questions, and then I got out of sequence and I got a little panicky and I didn't go home in the best of moods last night, but then today I really liked the essays," Aker said.
On October 25, Aker and his wife, Sahar, came to the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center to find out if he was one of the 1,034 applicants who passed the bar exam.
"I'm very nervous," Aker said. "I'm glad you found it because I was not seeing it... Oh, thank god."
"Really relieved more than anything," Aker said. "I mean the last time you talked to me I felt pretty confident, and I was confident. I think three months of dwelling on one afternoon in my case, one section of the test is enough to rattle your confidence so when I finally saw my name on the list, and I had to scan it a little bit, I was tremendously relieved and now just ecstatic. I mean this is, for me, probably for anybody who took the bar, but really in my case an older student just sort of a lifelong dream and it's a little overwhelming honestly."
Aker's wife said she is happy for him to see his dream become a reality.
"He worked his tail off, so I'm glad I saw his name on that list," Sahar said. "I'm glad he doesn't have to study to take it again because that was really hard on us."
"There was a lot of stress, a lot of sacrifice. Right now it really seems worth it," Aker said.
"If I would have failed, I'm not sure it would."
On November 4, Aker's journey and sacrifice seemed worth it as he walked across the stage to receive his law license.
"There was a second before I walked up that I kind of looked up and looked around and said, 'Wow, this is real. (It's) finally here. (I) actually made it.' It's a lifetime dream that's really come true today, so it's as wonderful feeling," Aker said.
Aker plans to open up his own law practice, specializing in civil litigation, as soon as possible while continuing to work at WBNS-TV. He said eventually, he may be known more for his law services than for his investigative reports.