Ray Hayden

Ray Hayden

Ray Hayden's Book

Ray Hayden's Book

Cat(s) of the Month:

Bella and Linus

Bella and Linus

Ray's J.D. (Juris Doctor)


Pasadena California

I took the California Bar First Year Law Student's Exam at the Pasadena Convention Center, northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

I passed the FYLSX on my sixth attempt in October 2014.

Getting There:


I fly from Fort Lauderdale to LAX.

I choose a non stop flight that leaves South Florida early in the morning for two reasons. First, if the aircraft has to stop somewhere along the way, the chances of my not arriving when I want to get there increase, and secondly, the later in the day my travel begins the more likely a delay will occur, so I always try to fly as early in the day as I can and on non stop flights where possible.

About the flights - I am trying to find the absolute best time to book the flights, and it seems to be from eight weeks to four weeks prior to the trip.

FlyAway Bus / Gold Line Train:

I now use the FlyAway Bus / Gold Line Train back and forth to Pasadena for the FYLSX.

[Updated fares as of 12 May 2016] The bus is $9 from LAX to the train station, and I imagine the ride takes a little while in traffic. The Gold Line train to Pasadena is only $1.75, so less than $25 gets you from LAX to Pasadena and back. (You do need a TAP card to ride the train, and that costs $1 - you load the TAP card when you buy it. The TAP Card is good for years too, so you can use it again for the CGBX later on.)

I previously used rental cars, but once I get to Pasadena, I don't go anywhere in the car, so there is no need for it.

Rental Car:

I rented cars the first three times that I went to Pasadena. The first time worked out really nice, but the second two times had not been the best of experiences. The cost is not prohibitive, but it is far more reasonable - and convenient - to use the FlyAway Bus / Gold Line Train.

The FlyAway Bus / Gold Line Train travel choice is affordable, and easy - leave the driving to someone else and focus on the mission at hand.



The Sheraton is the hotel that is right at the Convention Center, no other accommodation is closer.

The Sheraton is pricey.


If you are standing in the driveway of the Sheraton and look east, you can see the Hilton from that point. This is the second closest hotel to the FYLSX site.

The Hilton is Pricey

Pasadena Inn:

The Pasadena Inn is a few blocks away from the Convention Center on South Arroyo. I stayed here in June 2013 and October 2013 and again in June 2014. The rooms are perfectly fine. They have free WiFi and free parking.

The Pasadena Inn is reasonable, but call them and ask for a better rate. If you are going to spend $150 per night, spend a few dollars more and stay at the Sheraton right at the Convention Center.


The Westin is several blocks away (about five) north of the Convention Center, and one block east of the public library. The public library has free WiFi, the Westin charges for it!

The Westin had a fair rate, but no fridge in the room, and they charge for WiFi - and parking.

Courtyard Marriott:

This is as far north as the Westin, but further west. This is the furthest away from the Convention Center that I stayed (well, for the Ocotber 2014 FYLSX I did stay further!). They had free WiFi too.

The Courtyard Marriott is pricey and charges for parking, but they had free WiFi.

Other Lodging:

There are other places to stay that are not too far away from the Convention Center, and cost a LOT less than $200 per night. All of the ones that I would have no problem staying at are along Colorado Blvd.

Primarily, the Quality Inn, Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western - I don't know about the quality of the rooms or such, but they are close to the Sierra Madre Metro Station, which you could use to go to the Del Mar Metro Station and walk over to the Convention Center.

Again, I drove past the area, but I did not go into any of these inns. My point is that the train station is close to these locations, and rather than pay $10 to park at the Convention Center, you could take the Gold Line over for $1.75.


General Thoughts:

Folks with special diet requirements kind of have their choices made for them, but for those of us who can eat a variety of foods, Paseo Colorado and Old Town Pasadena have a plethora of places to choose from.

Personally, prior to the exam, I prefer to buy my food stuff from a grocery store and use the fridge in the room (if it has one). If there is no fridge, my choices are more limited.

I like to pick up whatever I eat for breakfast from the grocery store the day before. This way, when I wake up, I do not have to wait for anything, and I can eat whilst I go over things one last time.

During the break, I don't eat anything, so I really plan out the diet so that I am not hungry during the day - or run out of energy. I do not think the restaurants in the area could support all of us during the break...

In October 2014, I actually did have a bite to eat for lunch at Paseo Colorado. I looked up the spot, "Exhibit R," but the Internet is telling me that the restaurant is closed. The reason why I ate this time out was that I had been certain that I failed - because I finished the essays 45 minutes early - so, since I knew I had blown it, I decided to just take it easy and have some soup, then just try to do the best I could on the Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ's). As you probably know, I ended up passing that FYLSX.


Ralph's is several blocks to the east of the Pasadena Library, and if you are in good health, it is not that far to walk - and the walk does me good.

Whole Foods Market:

Whole Foods Market is one block south of the Pasadena Inn on South Arroyo. If you go to this Whole Foods, go upstairs and find the "rest" of the store. This is a two story grocery store, you need to go upstairs, they have escalators for the shopping carts if you need one.


There is a Houston's restaurant right next to the Pasadena Inn (to the north). If the line is too long, and you have more studying to do, you can take it with you (order it to go).

Cheesecake Factory:

There are a plethora of places to eat in Old Town Pasadena. I am a fan of The Big Bang Theory, so I decided to go and have a bite to eat at the Cheesecake Factory after the June 2013 FYLSX.

Lucky Baldwin's:

Ironically, this establishment, mentioned on one of the episodes of The Big Bang Theory, exists at 17 South Raymond Ave in Old Town.

I wasn't looking for it and I was just headed back to my room, but I walked down Raymond Ave and did a double take on the location. I thought it was funny, and after the exam, anything funny... is good.

Del Mar Metro Station:

I did not have time to go and look at it, and by the time I found this interesting spot, I was dedicated to going to the Whole Foods Market to grab some fresh fruit and juice, then head back to the room to pass out.

Walking south on Raymond Ave from Old Town, you would find the Del Mar Metro Station, which is far more noticeable from Raymond Ave then from South Arroyo. It is actually a very neat looking area. Unfortunately, I did not have time to look around in more detail. The Grande Orange Cafe is not inexpensive (based on their menu published on the Internet), but it looked very nice from the outside, and it is yet another place to have a bite to eat in the area.

The Pasadena Convention Center:

The main testing room for Pasadena is in the Pasadena Convention Center.

They open the doors to let us in around 7:00am.

We enter through a door that is about mid way along the outside hallway (they used the "front" doors for the October 2013 FYLSX as attorneys had been testing for other things that day, and we used different rooms - but all in the same area).

These outer doors give us access to a wide inner hallway. Like any conference center, the conference rooms are accessed from that main, inner hallway.

Discussing the layout is important because a lot of luggage and stuff ends up having to hang out in the hallway, my luggage was indeed one of the bags in the hallway for October 2013, and I did not have anything get lost - including my laptop, which was in the bag all afternoon during the MCQ session.

A lot of folks are going to have items that will not be allowed into the testing room. Those items have to remain in the inner hallway, and for some of us, who are leaving at the end of the day, our luggage is going to be sitting there all day long.

I did this again in June 2014. For October 2013, I left my bag in the lobby with so many other folks - all we have to do is find a spot that allows us to find our bag. I "sight" off of a pillar and what I see outside the windows along with any other fixture that won't be moving inside, like the idea of looking at the light pole you park next to at the mall so you can find your car.

No one messed with my stuff, and everything was safe and secure when I picked up my bag at the end of the day.

Well, I also returned for June and October 2014, each time, I left my bag in the lobby area, and I have never had anyone mess with my stuff during the FYLSX.

The last two times I took the FYLSX, we entered through the doors right near the street, the curved front entrance.

Parking at the Convention Center:

The parking rate that I noted in June of 2013 was $10 for the day. The parking garage is the same one that is used by the Sheraton hotel. It looks perfectly fine, and I would not have a problem parking there if I needed to.

Public Library:

If you are standing in front of the big center building at the Pasadena Convention Center and you look north through Paseo Colorado (the outdoor mall, which is very nice), you will see the mountains in the distance. If you bring your glance down a bit, it will appear as though the roadway is a dead end with a beautiful building in the distance (it is about five blocks away).

That building is the local public library and they have FREE WiFi.