February 2015 California Bar Exam: What to Study for Day Three?

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Hello all,

Congratulations, you only have one more day! You are the very first group of bar examinees to ever take Civil Procedure MBEs. And, this time tomorrow night you will be done with the bar exam!  I know that many of you are anxious about what might show up on tomorrow’s essays and performance test. Hopefully this post will help ease some anxiety. That is my hope. If you feel you need more, be sure to sign up for our tips list (you can sign up below).

I promised I would provide an additional update to the “predictions” that I made earlier. So here we go:

If you have been following my blog  you may know that I will not discuss the performance test until next week as there will still be examinees taking the Performance Test this Saturday and Sunday (those examinees that are on a six day exam due to accommodations).  However, knowing what I do know about Performance Test A from day one, does not change any of my predictions that I made prior to the exam.

So, here is what I recommend you do this evening. Study . . . some. I really do think it makes a difference to do some studying the night before. Of course, this is up to you. But, I do believe that reviewing material the night before is helpful and I do think that you can still learn new material (although I hope you do not need to learn new material tonight).

Now what should you study?

1) Study any area that you fear seeing on the exam tomorrow. You do not want to walk into the exam tomorrow morning hoping that you do not see a particular topic. Also, don’t be so fearful – review that topic for a little bit and then put it away. Be confident that you will be able to figure it out well enough tomorrow should you see it tested on the essays.

2) Review the “predicted” areas (see earlier posts) and remember there is no way to predict what is going to show up tomorrow, I do not claim that I can do that at all nor do I recommend that examinees study around predictions. But, at this point, the night before the bar exam – it can not hurt to entertain some of the possible essay scenarios that could show up and give these a little thought.

Here are some of the areas I would likely consider for tomorrow:

Professional Responsibility could show up tomorrow as either an essay or on the Performance Test or both. My thoughts are it could be absent from the essays – occasionally the bar examiners skip it from the essays altogether. This is generally not the case, however, so I would prepare as though Professional Responsibility is going to be on one of the essays tomorrow.

Constitutional Law (possibly Dormant Commerce Clause) could come up – please read earlier posts for details. Review my earlier posts and  review the handout we provided (through Bar Exam Tips Emails) for approaching the Constitutionality of a state or federal statute. There is a particular approach for this that the bar examiners embrace – and – it is different depending upon whether you are asked to evaluate a state law or a federal law. Keep in mind that in addition to your typically required State Action and Case or Controversy requirements (standing, ripeness, mootness, and must not involve a political question) that when evaluating a state statute you need to address whether the state (or subdivision of the state – county, city, etc.) has the power to act. The power for the state to act would need to stem from those reserved to the state via the Tenth Amendment (states can regulate on behalf of the morals, health, welfare, education or safety of its citizens). There are several remaining steps depending upon the type of regulation that is at issue – assuming you end up facing a Constitutional Law essay tomorrow – it would be a good idea to be prepared for how to approach these areas. If you would like a free copy of our handout for Evaluating the Constitutionality of a State or Federal Law, just add our tips list below and we will send it out. Incidentally, this handout/approach covers how to handle a dormant commerce clause essay – since that IS a state law that is affecting interstate commerce in such a way that might place an undue burden on interstate commerce (that is the issue that comes up in the even that you have a dormant commerce clause exam).

Wills – either alone or crossed over with something else (Trusts, Community Property for example). I think Wills is very possible. Of course, there is NO WAY to predict what will show up on tomorrow’s essays or performance test. If, however, you were to see a Wills essay, the areas of integration, incorporation by reference and acts of independent legal significance are frequently tested (and often – believe it or not – come up together depending upon the essay fact pattern). Also commonly tested in Wills are issues with respect to an omitted or pretermitted heir. Ademption by extinction is also a frequent flyer. Be sure to know these rules so you are comfortable dealing with these areas.

If you do see Wills on the bar exam tomorrow, you may or may not be faced with determining the validity of a will – but if you are – and there is a prior will – then you need to address Dependent Relative Revocation (regardless of whether it will effectively revive a prior will or not – if it is ineffective – then address it and explain why DRR will not work – this is the stuff that passing (and better than passing essays are made of).

What if Criminal Law Murder shows up on an essay tomorrow? If it were me taking the exam tomorrow, I would make sure I reviewed the tests for Insanity Defenses – past bar exam answers instruct us that perfection with respect to the rule statements is not the most important thing and that your ability instead it is 1) your ability to correctly identify the issues and 2) your ability to have a thorough discussion and detailed analysis that is paramount. But, obviously, you will be most comfortable writing in any area if you have a really good grasp of the rules. The tests for insanity have not been tested in several years – so I would give that a quick review and do your best to make sure that you can discuss all four should it be presented on tomorrow’s exam.

What if you were to be tested on Torts again (it was on the July bar exam) – then I would not be surprise if Torts came up as either a cross over with Remedies or if you were to see Defamation or perhaps some of the miscellaneous tort issues (again – review my prior posts from this week – and understand – Torts is not on my list of “most likelies” – just understand that you should be prepared for anything).

Don’t forget that subjects repeat – so far Contract Remedies repeated from July 2014 to February 2015 – anything else from July 2014 can still repeat (read my prior posts about this – even Contract Remedies from day one could repeat). Torts from the last bar round (which was Negligence) could repeat – take a look at Torts, do not dismiss it or assume it can not be tested.

For other possible topic areas for testing, review my prior posts from earlier this week.

3) if you haven’t already, sign up for our tips list and I will send out our predictions and revised predictions to you via email. We will continue to send this out through this evening as long as possible).

You can sign up for our revised predictions and tips list here:

What else should I do?

Do your best to relax. You have just been through two very long and intense days. You need to have your wits about you for tomorrow. Focus on things that will help you and avoid things that will be counterproductive. What would be counterproductive? Dwelling on how you did (or did not do) on day one’s essays or performance test, talking about what you wrote on day one . . . this will not help, and it generally only leads to more anxiety which is not helpful.

Try to get some decent sleep.

If you can get a decent night’s sleep tonight that would obviously be great. But, recognize it may not be possible and simply be okay with that. Don’t dwell on the fact that you can’t sleep, just try your best to rest. At all times, be positive and keep a good frame of mind. You will do better for it tomorrow.

Don’t give up.

Absolutely do not give up. This test is often as much about perseverance as it is about your studies. And, let’s face it, to study well over a protracted period of time definitely requires perseverance. You graduated from law school For some, perhaps a few, that is relatively easy. But, for most, it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. So you have this skill, use it tomorrow. Don’t let the test get to you.

Be positive.

This is so important. Tell yourself you are going to succeed. Actively work at being positive. Choose to be positive. Only you can make this choice, I highly recommend it.

Use Headings!

Your exam answer should be attractive and look organized. This should not be news to you, but if it is, be sure to use headings on your exams tomorrow. Let your headings to the heavy lifting for you! Make your exam answer easy to follow.

Write your heart out tomorrow!

The exam graders can not grade or give you points for what never makes it to the page. Whether you are using a laptop or handwriting, be sure to write as much as possible. Be sure to explain your reasoning. If you are dismissing an issue, I recommend that you dismiss it on your answer rather than leaving it off of your exam because you dismissed it in your head. Remember, the grader won’t know if you left an issue off because you chose to dismiss it or because you simply forgot.

I will continue to update this blog tomorrow, so stay tuned if you wish.

All the best of luck tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam: Criminal Law Murder Approach

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you again for following the blog. I mentioned earlier that murder might be on the exam. It has been absent for some time and would seem to be due. Of course, anything is possible. And, if you were studying for the bar at any time in the past couple of years, then you will know that many have been predicting a murder exam for some time. It was on my list of possible essay scenarios for July 2014 (along with Criminal Procedure – which did actually show up on the last exam).

But, most seem to have put aside the idea of a Criminal Murder exam showing up on this bar exam. I would not do that. (But, understand – my theory and philosophy towards the bar exam is to be ready for anything – I firmly believe that is the best way to prepare). And, if you have studied past bar exams, you know that on any particular bar round any subject is possible. Since murder has not been tested in a very long time, it would be a good idea to be prepared for it. The following is from an earlier post that I wrote covering the basic murder approach that we have seen traditionally embraced by the California bar examiners. You may have come across this post earlier if you have been searching through older posts. If so, this will be familiar to you – either way it is a good refresher.

Incidentally, if murder were to show up on the exam on day one or day three of the February 2015 bar exam, then I would not be surprised if it were crossed over with some of the lesser tested areas of Criminal Procedure. We have not seen any 8th Amendment issues in some time (see the “Free Stuff” page for a free download of an exam template for this area) and we also have not seen much testing of the 6th Amendment areas of void dire (peremptory challenges, right to an impartial jury, etc.). So these areas could easily be tested this bar round. Evidence is also an area that can repeat and sometimes we see it as a cross-over with Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure (and if you read my post from a few days ago – we have seen it tested with Wills and Community Property as a cross over with marital and spousal privileges).

It is this simple – as I have always maintained over the many years of writing this blog – the bar examiners can test anything on any bar exam round. I do not say this to send you into a panic. It is simply true. As a result, there will be topics that you are hoping for and there will probably be a few you hope not to get – that is the nature of the bar exam. But, you can do it, do NOT give up no matter what you see on the exam –  write your heart out tomorrow.

Did you know that many topics show up back to back (from one bar round to the next) sometimes even three times in a row? Therefore, all bets are simply off on presuming something is not likely to come up.

My main focus in writing during the bar exam days is to simply provide you with something to hang onto, some peace of mind and hopefully even a little bit of sanity.  

I know how demanding and draining and how seemingly impossible taking this exam can sometimes feel like to examinees. But, it doesn’t have to be that way – sometimes a few words of encouragement – or a quick review of an approach – like the approach below :) – can be all a person needs to make that little bit of difference between passing and failing. That is why I write here. I tell you this as a source of encouragement: it is completely normal to be a little bit freaked out about tomorrow (assuming you are awake – like most, and are thinking about the exam). This is normal. It is also normal to feel somewhat calm – we are all different. There is no one size fits all approach to this exam. Ideally you would get a good nights sleep before the bar exam. Some do. I never did – and yet I passed. So where ever you are at (asleep early or awake still and reading this post) you can do it!

OKAY – WHAT TO DO IF YOU WERE TO GET A CRIMINAL LAW MURDER ESSAY TOMORROW (OR THURSDAY)?

As a bar taker you undoubtedly have a very good grasp of the rules for Murder. However, it is very important that you are able to make your way through all of the necessary points efficiently and in a manner that the grader will recognize as a passing or above passing answer.

Here is a quick, basic essay approach for murder. (Note that you should use a lot of headings and have a physical structure that evidences your approach – this will give the graders a sense that you actually know what you are talking about and it will make your essay far more appealing to read, it will appear organized and it will make it easier for you to write your answer because you have an approach).

Approach for handling a murder question:

Address: Common Law Murder – Common Law Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is proven four ways: 1) intent to kill, 2) intent to inflict great bodily injury, 3) depraved heart killings, and 4) felony murder.

(Address the above and then if you have a felony murder issue, prove up the underlying felony (BARRKS – Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping or Sodomy – incidentally, if this area is tested, the examiners may not test one of the above common law inherently dangerous felonies – watch out for a dangerous felony like drug trafficking or another dangerous (but not enumerated as a FMR felony) felony – it forces you to reach a bit and explain that the prosecutor could charge the defendant for felony murder on the basis that it was an inherently dangerous felony, but not a common law enumerated (BARRKS) felony)

Then move onto:

Statutory Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the intentional killing with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation. (here do not spend all day on defining or explaining premeditation or deliberation – it either was premeditated and deliberate (lying in wait, planned, thought out etc.) or it wasn’t – address the issue and conclude and move on).

Second Degree Murder (here is the quick way: “all murders that are not first degree are second degree unless mitigated down to some form of manslaughter”).

Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary). If you know right away that the facts support a heat of passion killing, then address that first under Manslaughter as: Voluntary Manslaughter. (By the way, anytime there is a fight that results in a death – you should address heat of passion/voluntary manslaughter)

Voluntary Manslaughter: is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation and insufficient cooling time. (there are elements here that you could develop, but, the reality is that if you have a cross over exam and it involves a full murder discussion – from common law murder to manslaughter, then you simply do not have a lot of time. So spend your time focusing on whether what happened would arouse the passions of reasonable person to kill AND whether or not the person did not have time to cool).

Involuntary Manslaughter: A killing is involuntary manslaughter if it was committed with criminal negligence or during the commission of an unlawful act.

There is also the concept of Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule – it is simply an accidental killing that occurs while the defendant is engaged in a non-dangerous felony or misdemeanor.

Obviously there are defenses like: Intoxication, Insanity (know the four tests as best you can), self defense, defense of others etc. that can all word to either relieve the defendant of liability for common law murder and reduce the crime down to some form of manslaughter. Keep in mind the above is a basic approach. But, sometimes that is really the best thing to have in your head on the day of the exam. You should have a framework or basic approach and then allow yourself the freedom to write your answer based on the particular fact pattern you face.

If you were to get a murder essay, I am thinking it could be in the context of Criminal Procedure (specifically in the context of the 8th Amendment and/or 6th Amendment).

Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

How to Pass the California Bar Exam – Free Workshop

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Hello all,

Good luck to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

For those of you preparing for the February 2015 bar exam, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching another free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” on December 3, 2014. This workshop will focus on writing for the California bar examiners as well as: test taking strategies, study plans, and simply how to get through this grueling exam with passing results! If you have failed the bar exam previously, this workshop is an excellent program to jumpstart your studies and to figure out how to prepare differently this time. I will also address the updates to the February 2015 bar exam. The workshop is limited to thirty attendees, so please sign up early to secure your spot.

Unfortunately, we cannot make this workshop available online. However, we hope to see you in person! To register, click here and be sure to check out our Bar Exam Cram Session Website for our other course offerings.

All the best to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director Bar None Review and Bar Exam Cram Session

California Bar Exam: Good luck Today!

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Hello All,

Good luck on this morning’s essays! Remember to stay calm, believe in yourself and write your heart out!

You can do it!

I will be writing again during the lunch break (once I hear what was on the essays, feel free to email me with your thoughts at: barexamguru@yahoo.com).

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendment Approaches

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Hello All,

This may be my last post this evening. I noticed that several people were searching this blog for Criminal Procedure. In the past, I have given away several excerpts from our Criminal Procedure Bar Exam Writing Templates. These are still available on this blog, but you would have to search for it. So, I thought I would post links to our 4th, 5th and 8th Amendment Exam Writing Templates. You can download each below:

Fourth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Fifth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Eighth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Wishing you all the best of luck tomorrow!

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

Bar Exam: Criminal Law Murder Approach

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Hello Everyone,

I mentioned that murder might be on the exam. It has been absent for some time and would seem to be due. Of course, anything is possible. But, since murder has not been tested in a very long time. it would be a good idea to be prepared for it. As a bar taker you undoubtedly have a very good grasp of the rules for Murder. However, it is very important that you are able to make your way through all of the necessary points efficiently and in a manner that the grader will recognize as a passing or above passing answer.

Here is a quick, basic essay approach for murder. (Note that you should use a lot of headings and have a physical structure that evidences your approach – this will give the graders a sense that you actually know what you are talking about and it will make your essay far more appealing to read, it will appear organized and it will make it easier for you to write your answer because you have an approach).

Approach for handling a murder question:

Address: Common Law Murder – Common Law Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is proven four ways: 1) intent to kill, 2) intent to inflict great bodily injury, 3) depraved heart killings, and 4) felony murder.

(Address the above and then if you have a felony murder issue, prove up the underlying felony (BARRKS – Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping or Sodomy – incidentally, if this area is tested, the examiners may not test one of the above common law inherently dangerous felonies – watch out for a dangerous felony like drug trafficking or another dangerous (but not enumerated as a FMR felony) felony – it forces you to reach a bit and explain that the prosecutor could charge the defendant for felony murder on the basis that it was an inherently dangerous felony, but not a common law enumerated (BARRKS) felony)

Then move onto:

Statutory Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the intentional killing with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation. (here do not spend all day on defining or explaining premeditation or deliberation – it either was premeditated and deliberate (lying in wait, planned, thought out etc.) or it wasn’t – address the issue and conclude and move on).

Second Degree Murder (here is the quick way: “all murders that are not first degree are second degree unless mitigated down to some form of manslaughter”).

Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary). If you know right away that the facts support a heat of passion killing, then address that first under Manslaughter as: Voluntary Manslaughter. (By the way, anytime there is a fight that results in a death – you should address heat of passion/voluntary manslaughter)

Voluntary Manslaughter: is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation and insufficient cooling time. (there are elements here that you could develop, but, the reality is that if you have a cross over exam and it involves a full murder discussion – from common law murder to manslaughter, then you simply do not have a lot of time. So spend your time focusing on whether what happened would arouse the passions of reasonable person to kill AND whether or not the person did not have time to cool).

Involuntary Manslaughter: A killing is involuntary manslaughter if it was committed with criminal negligence or during the commission of an unlawful act.

There is also the concept of Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule – it is simply an accidental killing that occurs while the defendant is engaged in a non-dangerous felony or misdemeanor.

Obviously there are defenses like: Intoxication, Insanity (know the four tests as best you can), self defense, defense of others etc. that can all word to either relieve the defendant of liability for common law murder and reduce the crime down to some form of manslaughter. Keep in mind the above is a basic approach. But, sometimes that is really the best thing to have in your head on the day of the exam. You should have a framework or basic approach and then allow yourself the freedom to write your answer based on the particular fact pattern you face.

If you were to get a murder essay, I am thinking it could be in the context of Criminal Procedure (specifically in the context of the 8th Amendment and/or 6th Amendment).

Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

July 2014 California Bar Exam: What to Study for Day Three?

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Hello all,

Congratulations, you only have one more day! I realize in saying that – many are very worried about tomorrow’s essays and performance test. Hopefully this post will help ease some anxiety. That is my hope. If you feel you need more, be sure to sign up for our tips list (you can sign up below).

I promised I would provide an update to the “predictions” that I made earlier. So here we go:

First, the topics that were tested on day one’s essays and performance test were all within those expected. As a result, I do not have major revisions to the predictions. And, in case you are new to my blog, let me re-iterate that I do not think anyone can predict what will be on the bar exam with any certainty. I thought Evidence was going to be tested on the July 2014 bar exam, so did a lot of other people. It had not been tested on the essays in some time. But, it was on the performance test b on the February 2014 bar exam. So, it was somewhat up in the air. I felt that Professional Responsibility could be tested in the business organizations context and you saw that yesterday. Contract Remedies was probably the least expected by most who study the frequency of topics tested by the bar examiners. But, Contracts was on my list and any time you have Contracts you need to expect Remedies. Still, I doubt many walked into the exam expecting a Remedies exam. Okay, enough about day one.

As you may know, I am choosing not to discuss the performance test until next week. But, knowing what I know about Performance Test A from day one does not change any of my predictions that I made prior to the exam.

So, here is what I recommend you do this evening. Study. I really do think it makes a difference to do some studying the night before. Of course, this is up to you. But, I do believe that reviewing material the night before is helpful and I do think that you can still learn new material (although I hope you do not need to learn new material tonight).

Now what should you study?

Number one, study any area that you fear seeing on the exam tomorrow. If you are fearful of getting Civil Procedure, then you better study it. Same goes for any other topic that you are fearful of seeing on the exam.

Number two, review the “predicted” areas (see earlier posts) and remember Professional Responsibility could show up again. Review my prior posts for essay scenarios. It can not hurt to walk into the bar having just read about a particular issue combination. And, yes, I do think Civil Procedure my repeat from February . . . read my prior posts for more details.

Number three, if you haven’t already, sign up for our tips list and I will send out our predictions and revised predictions to you via email. We will continue to send this out through this evening as long as possible).

You can sign up for our revised predictions and tips list here:

What else should I do?

Do your best to relax. You have just been through two very long and intense days. You need to have your wits about you for tomorrow. Focus on things that will help you and avoid things that will be counterproductive. What would be counterproductive? Dwelling on how you did (or did not do) on day one’s essays or performance test, talking about what you wrote on day one . . . this will not help, and it generally only leads to more anxiety which is not helpful.

Try to get some decent sleep.

If you can get a decent night’s sleep tonight that would obviously be great. But, recognize it may not be possible and simply be okay with that. Don’t dwell on the fact that you can’t sleep, just try your best to rest. At all times, be positive and keep a good frame of mind. You will do better for it tomorrow.

Don’t give up.

Absolutely do not give up. This test is often as much about perseverance as it is about your studies. And, let’s face it, to study well over a protracted period of time definitely requires perseverance. You graduated from law school For some, perhaps a few, that is relatively easy. But, for most, it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. So you have this skill, use it tomorrow. Don’t let the test get to you.

Be positive.

This is so important. Tell yourself you are going to succeed. Actively work at being positive. Choose to be positive. Only you can make this choice, I highly recommend it.

Use Headings!

Your exam answer should be attractive and look organized. This should not be news to you, but if it is, be sure to use headings on your exams tomorrow. Let your headings to the heavy lifting for you! Make your exam answer easy to follow.

Write your heart out tomorrow!

The exam graders can not grade or give you points for what never makes it to the page. Whether you are using a laptop or handwriting, be sure to write as much as possible. Be sure to explain your reasoning. If you are dismissing an issue, I recommend that you dismiss it on your answer rather than leaving it off of your exam because you dismissed it in your head. Remember, the grader won’t know if you left an issue off because you chose to dismiss it or because you simply forgot.

I will continue to update this blog tomorrow, so stay tuned if you wish.

All the best of luck tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com