Bar Exam Tips: 10b5 and 16b

Hello All,

One of the areas we spent a little extra time on in our Two Day Cram Sessions was Corporations – and in particular – 10b5 (tipper and tippee liability, corporate pronouncements and misappropriaters) and 16b (short swing profits). This (federal securities law) is an area that has not been tested in several years. As a result, in our class sessions we gave it a little extra treatment just in case. There are past exams as examples of this area, but I do not believe there are any on the bar website (as the exams on the bar website do not go back far enough). So, here is an example of one of the past exams testing federal securities (this essay also tests Professional Responsibility – it works out to be a nice cross-over essay). You can download the sample Corporations essay here: Corporations SEC & PR Essay - it can’t hurt to take a look – do not test yourself on this – just review it. I personally prefer Answer B.

I recommend reviewing this essay (spend 15 to 20 minutes on it) and spend a few minutes to review Sarbanes-Oxley. It can’t hurt. You can do this over breakfast if you wish. And, if you would rather read something for comic relief – I recommend this blog post by a bar taker – it is quite funny: “A Strongly Worded Letter to the Bar Exam”

Okay, I really am calling it a night.

All the best to all who are taking the exam tomorrow!  You can do it!

Best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review & Bar Exam Cram Session
www.BarExamCramSession.com

If you have found this blog helpful and wish to make a donation, you may do so through the following link: 

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California Bar Exam Predictions: July 2013 Bar Exam – Part One

First of all I want to wish you all the very best of luck in your studies this week and I want to thank you for following my blog. I am truly humbled by the responses from examinees who have sent emails – thank you so much.

If you would like to reach me directly, please feel free to send me an email at: pass@barnonereview.com

Today, this blog will likely reach over 400,000 views. I am deeply humbled by the following. It truly gives me great satisfaction to be able to reach so many and to provide assistance to those who are in the midst of their bar studies.

A few caveats about my “predictions” . . . 

If you have been following my blog you will know that I do not really like to call my “predictions” predictions. I do not claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I have simply come up with what I call essay scenarios that I think might be worth considering. In the coming days (today included) I will be releasing these essay scenarios. Know that no one can predict what will be tested on the bar exam. And, anyone directing their studies completely around what someone has “predicted” is not making a sound bar exam prep decision. That being said, it cannot hurt to entertain potential essay scenarios – especially if this causes you to seek out examples and to improve the focus and intensity of your review. You should, of course, be prepared for any subject as any subject can be tested.

My commitment to my enrolled students: Please understand that my students who pay to take my course do not appreciate it if I release our “predictions” weeks in advance to the world. They pay for the privilege of our insights – at least they see it that way. So it simply isn’t fair to give away part of what they pay for to everyone else for free. In past rounds I have not made this available outside of our course. However, last year, after being asked over and over again, and after discussing it with my paying students (how they felt about it) I decided to release “predictions” – or – possible essay scenarios.

So here is the plan, As I have done in the past year, I will release the essay scenarios I have come up with over the coming days (one or two topics a day). To do anything else would really not be fair to my enrolled students. I hope you understand.

So here are a few thoughts on what I think could be tested:

Constitutional Law: Note: this was on my list of possible repeat topics for the last bar exam. It did not repeat and therefore, now that it has been skipped for an entire bar round, it is a subject that many are predicting. I also think that Constitutional Law is a very likely subject for testing. Possible areas of testing within Constitutional Law: I think an essay that requires you to address the constitutionality of a statute (state or federal) which can then require you to address due process (both substantive due process and procedural due process), commerce clause, dormant commerce clause (if it is a state statute regulating an interstate activity). While this is not the only area that could be tested, it is an area that the bar examiners have not tested as recently as some of the other testable areas. Free Handout: I provide a free downloadable approach for determining the constitutionality of a state or federal statute –  this approach will tell you when you should and should not address 11 Amendment immunity and provides a checklist of the order of things to go through in writing an exam like this – often students do not understand how a constitutional law question can bring up many different issues – 11th Amendment Immunity, Due Process, Equal Protection and Commerce Clause OR Dormant Commerce Clause can all very easily be tested on the same essay exam. So it is often not a matter of which you discuss but, how quickly you can manage to discuss all of these topics. I will be making this handout available again through this blog later today.

Evidence (or as I like to call it: Off to the races):  Like most people would predict, I am leaning towards an Evidence exam. Transcript style has not been tested in some time so I would not be surprised if you see that. Bear in mind, most are predicting this topic. As a result, most have given this area a bit of extra treatment in their review. Evidence essays are typically racehorse exams. This is important to keep in mind because you will need to work quickly and begin writing your answer as soon as possible to allow for enough time to address as many relevant (sorry for the bad pun) issues as possible. Be sure to know your form objections (for example: leading, non-responsive, assumes facts not in evidence, etc.). A great way to prepare for any essay tested subject is to review past essay exams. This is particularly true of Constitutional Law and Evidence. By reviewing past exams you can develop an efficient approach (which is necessary for both of these topics as both typically involve many issues on just one fact pattern).

POSSIBLE REPEAT SUBJECTS APPEARING ON THE JULY 2013 BAR EXAM (third time could be a charm):

Every bar round, the bar examiners repeat subjects from the prior bar round. Therefore, you should not eliminate any topic or presume that a subject will not be tested this July simply because it showed up on the last bar round or, showed up on the last two consecutive bar rounds. That’s right – subjects repeat sometimes back to back - three times. Civil Procedure has appeared back to back three times as have many other subjects. Therefore, I would not be surprised – nor should you be surprised – if you were to see either Civil Procedure OR Criminal Law – tested again (for a third time in a row) on the this next bar exam. Below are a few scenarios to consider should you see either Civil Procedure repeat or Criminal Law repeat:

Civil Procedure could come up again:  Some of the most commonly tested issues in civil procedure are: jurisdiction and collateral estoppel and res judicata. Another area that has not been tested all that recently is supplemental jurisdiction (bear in mind that if supplemental jurisdiction is tested, it will likely be what I refer to as a “tack on” issue or call because it would not be a large part of the question, but rather a shorter call within an essay exam). Typically you would expect supplemental jurisdiction to come up in the context of a Federal Diversity Jurisdiction essay. Class actions has not been tested in a very long time – I keep thinking that is due, but, If you look at what is most often tested in Civil Procedure it is jurisdiction (PJ and SMJ and Venue) and Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata, it is not all that unusual that it has not come up in a while. Still, it is an area (Class Actions) that I would be certain to be familiar with in the event that it is tested. Even though class actions has been absent for many bar rounds, it is still no more likely in my mind, than jurisdiction or Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata. What about California Civil Procedure? Well, one area that has yet to be tested on the California bar exam is the area of SLAPP Suits and Anti-Slapp Motions. I will write more about this possible area of testing in the coming days. In the meantime, I would give it a quick review.

Civil Procedure Tip: Be sure not to mix up Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel – make sure you know which one is issue preclusion and which one is claim preclusion. Here is one way to keep the two straight: the “C”s do not go together – in other words: Collateral Estoppel is Issue Preclusion and Res Judicata is Claim Preclusion. Should you get tested on this area – be certain to make note of the California (and minority) “primary rights” view with respect to claims. If you need further explanation of the “primary rights” view – please let me know and I will add a bit more here.

Criminal Law – especially – crossed with Criminal Procedure could come up again: Criminal Law was tested last on the February 2013 bar exam and on the July 2012 bar exam. However, Criminal Procedure has not been tested recently and neither has a murder exam. (The  February 2013 exam tested accomplice liability heavily and did not include any criminal procedure and the July 2011 exam tested larceny and other possession crimes but, no murder). As a result, I think that a Criminal Law murder exam, crossed with a significant amount of Criminal Procedure is a good possibility. I also think that an exam with only Criminal Procedure is possible as well.

NOTE: I do not think it is incredibly likely that you will see both Criminal Law/Procedure and Civil Procedure on the July 2013 bar exam. However, I do think that each is as likely to show up – so be sure to review both topics – do not dismiss either subject.

Okay, so that is it for now. Okay, well maybe not . . . make sure you know the California tests for value enhanced separate property businesses (Van Camp and Pereira) . . . more on this (Community Property) soon (this should serve as a hint to one of the next topics on my “predictions” list).

In the meantime, keep at it. Believe in yourself and stay positive. Maintaining a positive attitude in the days leading up to the exam is key. There is still a lot of time – use it well. You should expect any topic and be ready for any topic. To that end – please read my prior posts about the importance of reading and studying past bar essays.

Clearly, no one should try to rely on predictions to guide their studies. You simply need to know everything as well as you can. Still, I think it can be helpful to have some possible essay scenarios to keep in mind especially in the few days leading up to the bar exam, just to have something new to focus on. Then in the event that you see any of it, you will feel good. And the odds that some of the above will be on the exam is fairly high (and that is not because I have some crystal ball, it is simply because there are only so many subjects, a person could throw a dart and get at least some right).

I hope this is helpful. Please, please understand that I give this out at this time as a way to be helpful and also to respect my enrolled students who are, after all, entitled to receive this information first. I wish you all the very best of luck. Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
barnonereview.com

California State Bar Exam Releases Answers to February 2013 Bar Essays

Hello everyone,

The California bar has released their “selected answers” to the February 2013 bar exam.

You can view and download the February 2013 released answers here.

All the best to all who are studying for the July 2013 bar exam!

California Bar Exam Tips: Free Workshops and Free Score Review

Hello All,

If you failed the February 2013 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website soon. Each year, pass rates for the February bar exams are usually lower than the pass rates for July. Typically, the February bar exam pass rates range between 39% and 50%. So, if you did not pass, you know that you are among a significant number of people who are in the very same position.

What do I do now?

So what do you do now? Do you take another bar review course? Do you hire a private tutor? Do you study on your own? The answers to those questions will be different for everyone. First, you need to properly evaluate why it is that you failed. Second, consider attending one of our free bar exam workshops.

Free Bar Exam Workshops

Our next free “How To Pass The California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on May 22nd. We will host additional workshops, but we always suggest that you attend as soon as possible to allow yourself the greatest opportunity to benefit from the strategies and techniques covered in our workshops. Here are the details for next week’s workshop:

Los Angeles County Workshop
“How to Pass the California Bar Exam”
Date: Wednesday, May 22nd from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Instructor: Professor Duncanson
Location: Los Angeles, California (adjacent to the 405 freeway, parking is free)

Workshop attendees will receive handouts (including free bar exam writing templates and MBE handouts), instruction on how to write for the California bar examiners, test taking strategies and techniques, how to simply make sense of failing and move forward as well has have an opportunity to meet with our course instructor. This workshop will be taught by Professor Duncanson (Bar None Review Bar Review course founder and author of The Bar Exam Guru Blog).

Space is limited. To make a reservation for this workshop, please contact us via email at: pass@barnonereview.com or you may call us at: (213) 529-0990 or (949) 891-8831.

Free Bar Exam Score Review

We provide, for a limited period of time (as our classes and private tutoring obligations begin and then we are just not available to provide this service) a free review of your past bar scores. In order to participate in this program, you will need to send your scores to pass@barnonereview.com. We only accept scanned in score sheets or faxed scores sheets at this time (we do not accept your typed in scores in an email). We have to be sure that we are dealing with you. In addition, provide a phone number where you can be reached (all score reviews and evaluations are conducted via phone). If you would like to send your score sheet to us via fax, simply send us an email and we will provide you our fax number.

Why should I have my scores reviewed?

As a repeat bar examinee, the first step to passing the next bar exam is to review your bar exam score sheet. This can be a very confusing piece of paper. Partly because it is simply just painful to look at. Here you are, you have just received the terrible news that you have failed the bar exam and now you have to make sense of the scores. In my experience, examinees very often do not understand how the scaling works or what equals a passing “raw” score. So hopefully, what follows below will be of help to you.

Because the scoring of the California Bar Exam is scaled, it is not easy to understand what a given raw score means nor is it clear where you will need to focus from numbers alone. For example, if an examinee scores consistently the same scores on their essays (i.e., all sixties or three fifty-fives and three sixties) it will indicate a different problem than an examinee whose scores have a greater range (i.e., one 45, one 75, two 65s and two 60s etc.).

What is a passing raw score for an essay or performance test?

First of all, the raw score that is passing for the essays, performance tests and the MBEs varies from bar exam to bar exam. Most examinees incorrectly believe that a 70 is always required to pass an essay. However, this is simply not the case. In the past several bar rounds, a passing raw score on the essay has been as low as a 61 and as high as a 63 – not a 70. Of course, a 70 is a much better score to receive and better yet, 80s are really what you should be shooting for – this is the score we do our best to teach our students to be able to achieve consistently.

What is a passing raw score for the MBE?

The passing raw score for the MBE in the past few years has gone down dramatically. Several years ago, to pass the MBE portion of the exam you really needed to achieve at least 70% correct (a raw score of 140). However, in the past couple of years, the raw passing score has been between 62% – 66% (a raw score of 124 to 133). However, your practice scores should be much, much higher to ensure that you will do well enough on the MBE portion on the actual exam day.

Once the California bar releases the full statistics, some of these numbers will become more clear. However, what is most important is where you are – how far away from passing were you really? Most examinees that I speak with are quite off base when they call in to discuss their scores. There is a lot of misinformation out there. I have been following message boards and I am shocked at how little examinees know about how the test is scored. This is the fault of both law schools and bar preparation courses. It can be incredibly helpful to have someone who is knowledgeable about it to help you interpret your scores. This is really the first step in figuring out what you need or don’t need.

Free Downloads & Further Assistance

Also, be sure to visit our bar review course website free downloads of some of our Bar Exam Writing Templates as well as advice for those who are repeating the bar exam. Click here for additional Repeat Taker Information and click here for free downloads of some of The Exam Writing Templates.

Good luck to you and do not give up, this exam is do-able!

Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment here on my blog or to email me directly at: pass@barnonereview.com

Good luck in your studies!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam Delays Release of Exam Questions

Twice a year the Los Angeles Daily Journal publishes a Bar Exam Results Issue of their paper. This issue is specifically geared towards those who are about to take, and who have just taken, the bar exam. In each issue (it is published twice a year to coincide with the release of the California bar exam results) the Los Angeles Daily Journal publishes the California bar exam pass list (all of the names of those who successfully took the most recent bar exam). Everyone waiting for results from the February 2013 bar exam certainly hopes to be on that list. The paper comes out just a few days after examinees receive their bar results online.

Years ago, examinees did not get the news that they passed by going on the internet. Instead, we got letters. When I passed the bar exam in 1994, the California bar examiners did something new – they set up a staff to answer the phones and we were allowed to call in and get our results over the phone. It took me 45 minutes to get through . . . what seemed like forever. We still got a letter (a few days later) and we still had the Los Angeles Daily Journal (and even some other newspapers) that published the pass list. For some, before you could get your results online, the Los Angeles Daily Journal was the first place that an examinee would learn whether they passed the bar exam or not because the letters did not always arrive before the pass list came out in the paper.

So this year the Los Angeles Daily Journal will be publishing, as they always do, the pass list from the most recent bar exam. However, what you will not see this year, is the publication of the most recent bar exam questions. As some of you know, the past questions (all six essays and both performance tests) are published in The Los Angeles Daily Journal’s Bar Results issue along with “model” answers. The model answers are typically written by individuals who do bar exam prep. I write pretty much every year and have for I think a decade now. I enjoy it and it has been an honor to be chosen year after year to write for the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

But, this year, the California bar will not release the questions from the February 2013 bar exam until “sometime in July”. This is unusual. I do not know the reason. But, it is what I am told. And, as a result, The Los Angeles Daily Journal’s Bar Results Issue will not contain the questions or model answers to the most recent bar exam. Instead, they will publish the questions, along with model answers, from February 2012. I will be writing an answer to Question 2, the Constitutional Law essay.

It is an interesting turn of events. I know first hand from my work with repeat bar takers, that examinees who have failed will be very interested in seeing the test questions from their most recent exam. And, there is always a high degree of interest in seeing “model” answers so that a person can get a sense of where they might need to improve and gain insight as to what went wrong.

It is not impossible to do this without the actual test questions, but, it will be harder. The same skills are required to pass the bar exam each bar round. As a result, it is not a requirement to see the past set of essays and performance tests in order to succeed on the next exam. However, psychologically, I think that for examinees who find out they have just failed the February 2013 bar exam, I do think it will be harder not being able to see the actual questions until sometime in July.

*Note: I have not spoken directly to the California bar regarding the release of the exam questions. I learned this information the same day the Los Angeles Daily Journal learned that the questions would not be available in time for their Bar Results issue that comes out in May. The California bar may decide to release the questions earlier than July. However, at the moment, this is the information I have been told – that the questions will not be released until “sometime in July”.

Bar Exam Tips: Quick Recap of Bar Exam Predictions

First of all, good luck to all who are taking the bar exam today! Stay positive and keep your wits about you. Believe in yourself and be confident.

I thought I would put up a quick recap of the “predictions” to date (with the strong caveat that no one can predict this exam).

1. Most everyone is predicting Torts (this is a pretty obvious one, which makes me a bit suspicious of it . . . but, like most everyone else, I think you will likely see a Torts exam). Note earlier (more detailed posts about possible Torts scenarios that included products liability, or nuisance, tort remedies. Also a possibility is defamation – the fact that it has been a while since Torts has been tested, most anything is “up” so to speak).

2. Civil Procedure (generally a subject or two or sometimes three – will repeat from one bar exam round to the next). One of my first picks for repeat topics is Civil Procedure (of course there is always the great likelihood that Professional Responsibility will show up – it has only been skipped on the essay portion twice in the past 23 bar exam rounds).

3. Criminal law & Procedure (I already indicated earlier that I was leaning towards a Murder exam perhaps in the context of a 6th and or 8th Amendment – Capital Punishment issue). This scenario has not been tested in some time and murder has been absent from the bar exam for some time.

4. Constitutional Law (I think this is a very good possibility. And, if you were to see Constitutional Law, I think that there would be a high probability of seeing something in the arena of evaluating a state statute – which could generate a number of issues – equal protection, substantive due process (could involve fundamental right, privacy is commonly tested) and I provided an essay handout on a post from Monday that gives an example of a state statute and whether it places an undue burden on interstate commerce – this area is highly testable – review the essay I posted as well as the approach I posted for evaluating the constitutionality of a state law/statute (this was posted earlier on Monday).

5. Corporations/Business Organizations – most are predicting this subject. I could see it happening. The last bar round was light on Professional Responsibility – therefore I would not be surprised if you had other subjects that involve duty issues (like Corporations: duty of loyalty, duty of care + the business judgment rule as a potential defense, or Trusts – with a focus on Trustee duties – these are favored areas for testing). An area worth noting that has been absent from the essays is the area of winding up a partnership. This is ripe for testing. Securities laws (10b5 corporate pronouncements and tipper/tippee and 16b Shortswing Profits) have not been tested in some years. Still, anything can come up in this area – in past years the bar examiners have provided a fact pattern that seems to scream of 10b5 and 16b and then the call of the question tells you NOT to answer under the federal securities law, but instead to answer according to the common law – many are stumped by this and do not know what to do. Well, this is part of what you would do – if you were given such an essay – write about common law misrepresentation and fraud and ultra vires.

6. Property – now this one is tricky. It has been on the exam – but there are areas that have been absent for some time (Covenants & Equitable Servitudes and Easements. Covenants and Equitable Servitudes could come up in the context of a Land lord/tenant issue (this is fairly common) OR it could come up with respect to a landsale contract (so too could Easements). The area of recording acts, notice have not come up in a while and could in the context of marketable title for example or simply to determine if a buyer takes subject to an easement. The reason Property is a tricky pick is because it has shown up on the bar exam with some regularity. However, the issues tested have not been the most typical (for example – in 2011 the bar examiners tested a FSA with a future interest, restraint on alienation, ouster, adverse possession – and that just mentions a few of the areas tested on one of the past Property essays – so not your most typical coverage/testing. That is why I think it could be a real possibility.

7. I also think you could see Community Property OR Evidence again – these could come up as cross overs with other topics or alone. Wills and Trusts (although both tested in the past year) are always possibilities. As mentioned above, an exam with Trustee duties is a possible area – it is favorite area of testing and see earlier “predictions” posts regarding spendthrift, support and discretionary trusts).

Remember, no matter what you see on the exam tomorrow, do not let it get the better of you . . . if it seems hard, it is because it is hard – which means that everyone  thinks it is hard. Keep it all in perspective and don’t allow yourself to doubt yourself or to hesitate too much – just write. Trust your instincts and show them what you know – remember not to dismiss issues in your head, but instead to dismiss issues on your paper – this shows a breadth of knowledge the examiners seem to be looking for.

Above all, remember you do not have to be perfect! Just do your best to resolve each legal issue presented . . . and DO NOT throw common sense out the window!

All the best to you all tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam Predictions: February 2013 – Part Two

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for following my blog and for your kind words and emails. Okay, so here we are (here you are) about to take the bar exam in a few days. And there is so much to know . . . and it might seem like there isn’t enough time to know it all . . .

You should know that everyone feels this way. I felt this way before the bar exam when I took it (and passed it) and everyone I know who has passed the exam feels this way leading up to the exam. So, before I get into more “predictions” (and the caveat about how there is absolutely no way that anyone can “predict” the essay topics) I wanted to give you some advice about how to approach the weekend.

1) Actively work at being calm. It is perfectly normal for bar examinees to go into panic mode. While it is normal, it is not helpful. Therefore, you simply have to keep your level of panic and anxiety under control – I tell my students to actively concentrate on being calm while they study and to constantly tell themselves (especially in these final days leading up to the exam) that they can do it.

2) Be realistic. Understand that no one walks into the bar exam knowing everything and, thankfully, that is not what is required of you to pass. Instead, your focus should be on identifying and resolving the legal issues and problems presented by each fact pattern. All too often, examinees lose sight of this and think that the exam is about having an absolutely perfect memory of definitions and rules. Take a look at any released bar exam answer and you will know that this is not true. Of course, it is important to know the law and to have the ability to write proper rule statements. But, far more important than perfect rule statements is to be able to show the graders that you truly understand the legal concepts that are being tested and that you can resolve these issues by having a solid discussion (using the facts and explaining why something is or is not . . . something). This is the key – to identify and resolve legal issues and to do so consistently.

Some of the released answers are flat out wrong when it comes to the definitions. However, what the released answers evidence consistently is that the examinee has a breadth of knowledge about the subject and that they have a command of what the legal issues/problems are presented by the fact pattern. Therefore, you should . . . READ ESSAYS (see number 3, below):

3) Read past bar exam essays and answers. I know that I have emphasized this before many times. But, you may not see the benefit of reading essays right now, on Friday or on Saturday, for example. I know the temptation is to simply stick to your memorization (and this is certainly something that you should spend time on). However, if you can not identify the issue on the fact pattern – your memorization of an outline will be of little service to you. So, to that end, please take time out to review essays and to especially study the answers (this is often the only way to truly gain an understanding of how the issues and legal problems come up on the California bar exam).

Okay . . . “predictions”

So I have mentioned that I think Civil Procedure could repeat and that Criminal Law and Procedure could  repeat. And, I believe I already suggested that you take a look at Property Easements as well as Torts (with Products Liability being a possibility as well as a Tort/Remedies crossover – remember, however, that whenever a subject has been absent from the test for a while – as Torts has – that virtually anything could be tested within the topic – so do not skip Defamation – that is certainly a possibility).

If you would like to see some past exams and receive other tips, I will be happy to put you on our email list for tips – simply send me an email to: pass@barnonereview.com and indicate: “Send me bar exam tips” in the subject line and I will add you to our list.

Okay, now onto . . .

Other Possible Areas for Testing:

Constitutional Law: Constitutional Law was not tested on the last bar round. Now, that on its own is not enough to simply put it on the table so to speak. However, I do think it is a real possibility. But, this whole exam is not usually made up of all six essays from the MBE topics. So, something has to (in my opinion) come into the mix other than the MBE subjects being tested on the essays. Still Constitutional Law I think is a real possibility. First Amendment was tested last time (in February 2012). Now that does not mean that the First Amendment will not be tested again this time. However, I do have some thoughts on what I think might be a bit more likely. Just also keep in mind, the First Amendment is a favorite and is tested heavily – so do not presume it will not be on the test.

Possible Constitutional Law Essay Scenario: Evaluating the Constitutionality of a state or federal statute. Now this is a broad area as it could involve Equal Protection, Fundamental Rights (Privacy is a typical hot topic) and Due Process and either the Commerce Clause or Dormant Commerce Clause. And, of course whenever you are facing a Constitutional Law exam, you will typically begin your answer (but, pay attention to the call of the question) with an “Article III, Case or Controversy Requirements” discussion and State Action (both must be present to make a Constitutional claim). So, you might be thinking, she just predicted the possibility of virtually everything within Constitutional Law. Not really. If you have to evaluate the Constitutionality of a state statute – you will handle certain things in a certain order (unless directed otherwise by the call or calls of the question). For example, if you have to determine the Constitutionality of a state statute you will likely go about it in this order:

1) State Action (prove this up quickly – it is a preliminary issue generally – unless the facts really pose it as an issue – for example, a company town or a private entity performing some service or business that is generally conducted by the government – if you have facts like that, then develop this area, if not, then prove it up and move on)

2) Article III Case or Controversy Requirements (Standing – actual injury or personal stake in the outcome, causation, and redress ability (also, could be tested on third party standing or associational standing or the exception to the general rule that there is not “taxpayer standing” – but only bring these up if the facts generate it), the issue must be ripenot moot, and must not involve a political question)

3) Is there an issue with respect to 11th Amendment Immunity?  This is generally a very quick discussion – but worth points to bring up IF you are dealing with a state statute (but, don’t dismiss the whole Constitutional Claim because of the 11th Amendment – it is just an area to bring up, address quickly and move on).

4) Does the state have the power to act? There will generally be a basis here and you should identify the state’s power as stemming from the 10th Amendment (certain powers are reserved to the states via the 10 Amendment – health, welfare, safety, education and morals)

5) Are there any pre-emption issues? Be careful here – there does not necessarily have to be a federal law provided to you on the fact pattern in order for preemption to be an issue (Supremacy Clause issue). Watch out for situations where the state is regulating the radio or television – if so – the FCC regulates this area and you then need to address the possibility that the state regulation is preempted by federal law.

6) Does the state law place an undue burden on interstate commerce? (this may or may not be an issue – it is simply a question you should ask yourself so that you are able to generate the issue, spot it, if it is present). If the state law discriminates between out-of-staters and in-staters (for example, a tax on all trucks coming in from out of state to deliver milk in plastic milk containers or a tax on all large trucks of a certain size and many of these trucks travel across the US) then you likely have an issue to discuss here.

7) Does the state law violate the Constitution? Here you should ask yourself whether or not there is an Equal Protection violation (it may be obvious and it may not be – hence, the reason to ask yourself). Also ask whether there is a Due Process violation (address both Procedural Due Process and Substantive Due Process and note that your discussion of Procedural Due Process on an essay exam is usually limited to notice and an opportunity to be heard . . . usually) and of course look to see whether there is a First Amendment violation (infringement on speech, the freedom of association or Religion – both free exercise and establishment clause. Also note: if you were tested on religion, you should discuss both Free Exercise and Establishment Clause – these come up together)

Possible Community Property Scenario:  You may not want to hear this, but Van Camp and Pereira have not been tested in a while (these are the tests – or “accounting methods” for value enhanced separate property businesses). If this concept makes your eyes roll into the back of your head – take a deep breath and calm down. Remember that these tests are to determine what portion of a separate property business should be considered community property. It is not too much more complicated than that (for bar exam purposes). Review these tests, know which favors community property and which favors separate property – try your best to keep these tests straight – don’t worry – you can rely on short term memory for this. Also, remember that you should generally talk about both if either seems to be tested. It may be that the fact pattern (assuming you get a Community Property fact pattern that tests this area) where Van Camp seems to be the more applicable test. That is fine, write about it and still explain Pereira and quickly explain what the result would be if the court were to apply Pereira – remember, you are trying to show the grader your breadth of knowledge).

Okay, I will write more tomorrow.

Keep reading essays and stay positive!

All the best to you in your studies!

Best of luck to you all!
Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
barnonereview.com

February 2013 Bar Exam Tip: Shorthand Murder Essay Approach

Hello Everyone,

I wish all of you who are studying for the February 2013 bar exam this week the very best of luck!

I mentioned that murder might be on your upcoming bar exam. It has been absent for some time and would seem to be due. Of course, anything is possible. But, many will presume that Criminal Law and Procedure is not going to be tested simply because it was tested on the preceding bar exam. Remember, the bar examiners do repeat subjects from one bar round to the next – back to back. And, murder (while within Criminal Law) was not tested on the last bar exam. And, murder has not been tested in a very long time. As a result, I would be prepared for it.

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 if you have an approach going into the exam).

Shorthand approach for handling a murder question:

Address: 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). I will write more on that possible scenario soon.

Best of luck to you all!
Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam Tips: A few words about essay “predictions” and studying . . .

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to those of you following this blog. We have now had over 300,00 views – I am grateful and humbled.

Predictions. First of all, no one can predict the bar exam. I do publish what I think are possible essay scenarios. I will begin providing these essay scenarios in the coming days. However, you should be prepared for every topic – because any topic  can be tested. In fact, topics that were just tested on the July 2012 bar exam will likely show up again on the February 2013 bar exam. It is not likely to see all of the same subjects, of course. But, it is extremely likely to see some. Therefore, rule number one for those of you who are studying for the February 2013 bar exam should be to assume anything is testable (DO NOT presume that since something was tested the last bar round that it will not rear its ugly or pretty head again this very next bar round).

We are holding our last Bar Exam Cram Session tomorrow (Saturday, February 16th and Sunday, February 17th). There are still some seats left, should you wish to enroll, please contact Viktoria at (213) 529-0990 or email us at: pass@barnonereview.com

Since I will be teaching all day tomorrow and Sunday, I will likely not post here again until this coming Monday.

Therefore, I would like to address what you might consider doing this weekend (study wise):

1. Do not allow yourself to let the stress of the bar exam get the better of you – actively push fear and negativity aside – you will end up retaining far more material if you maintain a positive and hopeful attitude.

2. STUDY. This is an obvious one. However, how you study at this point can make a critical difference. Memorization is obviously a very important part of success on the bar exam. However, what many examinees fail to do is to read essay exams and answers. All too often examinees spend most of their focus on reading outlines, memorizing outlines and far too little time on actually gaining an understanding of the law and how the examiners test each topic.

In order to succeed: it is critical that you are able to 1) identify the issues (this requires exposure to past bar exam questions so that you can see how the issues arise) and 2) that you are able to resolve the legal issues presented. These two points may seem really obvious. However, many examinees spend all of their final days of preparation reviewing their outlines rather than reviewing essays. The bar examiners are far more interested in your ability to identify and resolve legal problems than they are with your ability to memorize and spit back rules. Rules are important. However, it is critical that you are able to evidence an understanding of the concepts that are tested. One of the best ways to improve your issue spotting and your ability to write (and set up) a successful essay answer is to study past essay questions and answers. This is really important.

Think about it this way: on exam day, you will not be asked to write out a property outline or a wills outline or a contracts outline. Instead, you will be asked to write an answer to an essay. You can only do this successfully if you are able to spot the issues. I am not saying that memorizing outlines is useless. But, I urge you to read through as many essay exams and answers as possible in the coming days. The reason? You will learn how the issues arise (and how to successfully resolve the issues) far more readily from the actual test than you ever will from an outline. You will also learn valuable insight into how to organize your own answers. It just makes good sense.

Predictions (with a caveat that there is no such thing as being able to predict the bar essay tested topics):

While you are studying this weekend, I would suggest a good review of property (1. review a reasonable outline – not a phone book sized outline, but a reasonable sized outline AND, 2) review property essays). I am leaning towards the possibility of perhaps an Easements exam or Covenants and Equitable Servitudes . . . many are predicting Property. I am continually revisiting what was tested most recently, least recently etc. Of course there is absolutely no way anyone can actually predict this test. However, I think that Property is a very possible subject for testing (many would be predicting this) and I think that something in the area of Easements is very possible.

Good luck to all who are studying for the February 2013 bar exam! And, stay tuned for more posts, tips, and yes, “predictions” . . . but, PLEASE, prepare for all subjects.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
The Bar Exam Guru
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
(949) 891-8831

February Bar Exam: How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop

Hello All,

Mark your calendars – we will offer another workshop next week! Space is limited, please email us at: pass@barnonereview.com or call (213) 529-0990 or (949) 891-8831 for more details and to make a reservation.

Los Angeles County Workshop
“How to Pass the California Bar Exam”
Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm
Instructor: Professor Duncanson
Location: Los Angeles, California (adjacent to the 405 freeway, parking is free)

Workshop attendees will receive handouts (including free bar exam writing templates and MBE handouts), instruction on how to write for the California bar examiners, test taking strategies and techniques as well as have the opportunity to meet with our course instructor. The above workshops will be taught by Professor Duncanson (Bar None Review Bar Review course founder and author of The Bar Exam Guru Blog). More details to follow!

Space is limited. To make a reservation for this workshop, please contact us via email at: pass@barnonereview.com or you may call us at: (213) 529-0990 or (949) 891-8831.

Bar None Review

(213) 529-0990

(949) 891-8831

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