Bar Exam Tips: #1 Reason Why People Fail the California Bar Exam

February 2014 Bar Exam Predictions: Part Two

Hello All,

I want to wish everyone who is taking the bar exam tomorrow all of the very best of luck!

Some additional thoughts on potential areas for testing on the essays:

Typically a few subjects repeat from one bar exam round to the next. And, sometimes a subject will repeat three times back to back. This means that really anything can be tested. If you have been following this blog, you will know this as it is a theme here – be prepared for anything, as anything is testable.

That being said, I do have some additional thoughts on what could potentially show up on the exam either Tuesday or Thursday.

Of the topics from the July bar exam that might be a bit more likely to repeat, I think that perhaps Wills or Constitutional Law are possibilities.

Possibly Wills: The reason I suggest Wills, is because it could easily be tested as a cross over with Trusts. This would bring in a new topic and repeat Wills. It makes sense, but of course there are no guarantees. If you were to see Trusts (either as a cross over with Wills or alone as a Trusts only essay) I am leaning towards the essay involving either a Spendthrift/Support/Discretionary Trust scenario (these three are typically tested together) or a Charitable Trust issue (requiring a discussion of the Doctrine of Cy Pres and Equitable Deviation). Another point worth making about Trusts is that the area of Testamentary Trusts has not come up in some time. It is worth noting that the last time Trusts was on the bar exam it was in the context (primarily) of Trust Remedies, specifically a constructive trust.

Possibly Constitutional Law: Another area to keep in mind for the essays is the possibility of Constitutional Law repeating. So why Constitutional Law? There are a few reasons: 1) subjects repeat back to back, and 2) there are several areas within Constitutional Law that were not tested on the July bar exam that could make up an entirely different Constitutional Law essay exam. For example, a First Amendment Speech issue could be tested (which was not tested on the July bar exam) or a Commerce Clause or Dormant Commerce Clause issue could come up. I think the latter is more likely than First Amendment Speech.

One possible scenario would involve a state statute that essentially taxes out of staters – in this type of scenario you are faced with balancing the state’s interest in the regulation and the burden that is placed on interstate commerce. I think this is a very likely area for testing. Should you see an exam like this, you will need to identify the power that the state has to act (those powers that are reserved to the states via the 10th Amendment: safety, health, welfare, education and morals of its citizens). You will also need to identify the state’s interest and ultimately determine whether upholding the regulation places an undue burden on interstate commerce.

Torts is not my first pick of topics to repeat. However, if it were to be tested, I think that Defamation is a real possibility. It could, someday, be tested as a cross-over with an anti-slapp motion (which has yet to be tested from California Civil Procedure). An anti-slapp motion is a type of responsive pleading available in California and could be an appropriate response to a suit for defamation. This has yet to show up on the California bar exam and I do think it will some day. Of course whether that is tomorrow is another thing.

I will be posting again tomorrow after I hear what was tested on the essays. I will not address the performance test tomorrow. The reason for this is because there are examinees with accommodations who will not be taking the performance test until Wednesday. As a result, I will not be posting anything here about tomorrow’s performance test until after Wednesday evening.

I want to thank you again for following my blog.

I wish you much success on the bar exam!

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder (213) 529-0990
Bar None Review and The Bar Exam Cram Session (TM)

February 2014 Bar Exam Predictions: 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. It is quite humbling and is truly an honor to have this reach into bar examinees’s lives and to be able offer some support and advice for free. It is one of my favorite things to do. That being said, please understand that my students who pay to take our courses 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.

During the last February bar round, out of respect for my enrolled, paying students, I did not release my “predictions” publicly until the day before the bar exam. But, this year I am releasing predictions a bit earlier. I know, not as early as some would like.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ME: I will post predictions here today and additional predictions in the coming days. The “predictions” are really just possible essay scenarios that I think are a bit more likely on this bar round. Always, my enrolled students needs must come first. But, I will continue to post here as often as I can.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH THIS INFORMATION? The point of making predictions is not to tell you that you should study these areas exclusively. It is simply intended as some guidance for what might show up and should it show up, the fact that you have given these areas a little bit of extra thought will feel very good on exam day. If you are weak in any of these areas, then it especially deserves some extra treatment. If you are weak in an area that is not on my list – you NEED to give that area extra attention. Do not assume something will not be on the bar exam. ANYTHING can be tested on the essays and you should have prepared with that in mind. Anyone who tells you something is not going to be tested is ignorant of what the bar exam in California is like – topics repeat back to back on multiple bar rounds – so do not discount any topic.

CAVEAT: NO ONE CAN PREDICT WHAT WILL BE TESTED ON THE BAR EXAM. 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.  I do not recommend that someone conduct their studies around predictions. However, I do think it is helpful to focus a little extra time on some of the areas that might be a bit more likely to show up on the bar exam – especially if any of these topics are areas that are weaker areas for you. So with that in mind here are some of my thoughts on what could be tested on the February 2014 bar exam.

Last bar round, I felt strongly that Constitutional Law could be tested. I also thought that Community Property (specifically the area of Van Camp and Pereira) would be tested. Both essays came up, and in the way that I would have expected. No, I did not see the 13th Amendment coming – but – the 13th Amendment on that last bar exam should not have thrown anyone – if you simply know how to handle the bar exam (more on “handling the bar exam” later). Of all of the essay topics that I thought might come up, I was most certain about Constitutional Law and Community Property (specifically Van Camp and Pereira). I tell you this simply because there were other areas that I thought were less likely, but possible areas for either repeat testing or simply possible, but not my first choice. Some of those areas (like Civil Procedure) are now on the top of my list.

Civil Procedure: This topic is being predicted by many and is sort of an obvious possibility. The most commonly tested issues in civil procedure are jurisdictional issues (Personal Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction) as well as venue (generally always a very short issue in terms of how much time you should spend on it), removal (also a very short issue coverage) and collateral estoppel and res judicata.

So, what specifically do I think could come up in Civil Procedure? Always Personal Jurisdiction and Subject Matter Jurisdiction are likely – since these areas are historical favorites for testing on the California bar exam. But, there are some areas that we just have not seen tested in a while (and many of these areas actually have a Federal/CA distinction).  These areas – that have been tested heavily historically – but have not been tested recently – are where I am leaning a bit more heavily for this bar round.

The areas that I feel are particularly due include: Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata (one of my first picks if you were to have Civil Procedure on this bar exam) and the possible tack on type issues of: Notice and Code Pleading and/or Remittitur and Additur. See more detail below:

Pleading issues – like Notice and Code Pleading – would not require a long discussion, but it is tested often and does include a Federal/CA distinction. Federal Courts utilize Notice Pleading and California follows Code (or what is also referred to as “Fact” pleading). Another tack on area (by tack on – I mean it is typically a shorter issue on your essay exam, not something that can make a full one hour essay) that I could imagine might be on this next bar exam is the concept of remitittur and additur. But, recognize that these “tack on” type issues of Notice/Code Pleading and Remittitur/Additur are typically short issues.

What about Supplemental Jurisdiction? Sure, it can always be tested. BUT, 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.

What about Class Actions? 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, Supplemental Jurisdiction) and Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata the absence of Class Actions does not necessarily mean it is coming. So while class actions has been absent for many bar rounds, it is still no more likely in my mind, as jurisdiction or Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata. But, if you were to see a class actions issue, it is easy. Simply know the requirements, state each and address each separately (using separate headings for each requirement).

Incidentally – 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 claim preclusion.

Final thoughts on Civil Procedure: I do think that Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata are both long overdue for testing. I still think you could see jurisdictional issues (it is, after all, a favorite area for testing) but, I would also expect to see some of the shorter, tack on issues appear (especially the areas where there is a relevant California distinction). Okay, enough said about Civil Procedure!

PROPERTY: Most are predicting Property. I would tend to agree that Property is very likely. I have some specific thoughts about what could come up if you were to see Property on this next bar exam. I think the area of Covenants (either in the restrictive covenant/equitable servitude context or the covenants of title) is a likely possibility. I also think that Easements are possible. The area of Landlord/Tenant is a favorite of the California bar examiners and it could be tested with either a covenant or easement issue. If covenants of title were to be tested, you would also have other issues that typically come up in the land sale context like: notice (constructive, inquiry, and actual) and recording act statutes. Be prepared to also (potentially) discuss constructive, inquiry and actual notice in the context of an Easements essay – where you might be asked to discuss whether or not the buyer of a parcel of land is taking that land subject to a purported easement.

Possibly Criminal Law – Murder: Make sure you know your essay approach for murder – murder has not been tested in a long time and it would make for a nice cross over with Criminal Procedure. Criminal law has been tested quite a bit over the last few years. This is not uncommon. But, what is unusual is the long absence of murder. It is due for testing. It is not my first pick for this bar exam, but the simple fact that murder has not appeared on the California bar exam for a few years now, ought to suggest it is coming sometime soon.

OTHER TOPICS that I think are likely: Business Organizations, Evidence (perhaps – finally – a transcript style essay) and of course Professional Responsibility (as you know Professional Responsibility is generally always tested on the essay). Take a look at my predictions from July 2013 bar exam – you will note that I suggested that you could see a professional responsibility fact pattern that straddles corporations a bit – for example, a lawyer who is representing a corporation and the specific issues that come up in that context. This did not show up on the last bar exam and as a result I feel it is more likely).

I will post more on the “predictions” very soon.

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.

All the best,

Good luck to you!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder (213) 529-0990
Bar None Review and The Bar Exam Cram Session (TM)

February 2014 Bar Exam Cram Session – 4 Seats Left!

Hello All,

I don’t usually put advertisements on my blog. But, I do have students who only find out about our classes after they have already taken and failed the bar exam and they tell me that they wish I had put up more information about our course offerings. So, here goes . . .


TO LEARN MORE OR REGISTER

PREDICTIONS AND TIPS: I will be posting predictions as it gets closer to the bar exam (I know, it is close already, but I do promise this material to my enrolled students first). Also, take a look at last July’s predictions – anything that did not show up on the last bar exam that I was leaning towards as possibilities then are even more likely now (at least that is my opinion). And, remember, it never makes sense to study around what is being predicted. Anything could be tested – so your goal is to be ready for whatever comes your way.

Also, if you find this blog helpful, please spread the word. And, don’t forget to join our bar exam tips list (see my earlier post here, to sign up).

Remember to stay positive and to believe in yourself. You CAN do this! Stay tuned for predictions. Wishing you all the very best in your studies!

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

Bar Exam Tips and Free Evidence Handout

Hello All,

If you would like to be added to our February 2014 Bar Exam Tips Email List and/or receive a free copy of our Evidence Handout, complete the form below and we will send the handout to you via email and add you to our Bar Exam Tips Email List.

Please select “yes” or “no” in the drop down menus below and click on the “submit” button at the bottom of the form.

Good luck in your studies!

Note: This handout will be available until 1:30 pm on March 1, 2014.

Your contact information is safe – we do not share, or sell your information.

California Bar Exam Prep: Do You Have A Plan? Do You Need A New One?

Hello All,

We just finished up our first weekend of our Writing Maximizer Program. I love teaching this program and was very happy to see such a great group of students, so eager to take on work and pass the bar exam! Every bar round I am reminded of how so many, very, very bright, smart, studious bar takers simply miss the boat because they do not have a plan and because they simply do not know what to do.

I personally believe that many courses out there throw what is called a “study schedule” at their students simply to keep them from ever having the time to actually bother anyone with a question. Think about it – if you are given a study plan, the pace of which is so rigorous and so time consuming that a normal human could not finish it – the odds are you will not bother asking a course instructor a single question. That is, of course, assuming there is even a person that you can actually ask . . .

Please understand, I often work with students who have been through this drill before with other bar prep companies and have taken the exam several times without the success that they worked so hard to achieve. It makes me mad. Why? Because their failures are completely unnecessary. I believe their prior unsuccessful bar attempts simply could have been avoided if perhaps their bar prep course had provided them with a) a realistic study plan and b) actual exam feedback.

I am frustrated for these students – these students who are clearly very bright, who clearly worked very hard and were, in my opinion, mislead – told that if they simply studied for 12 hours a day, that it would result in passing the bar exam.

Memorization IS important. But, it is critical to write practice exams, and even more critical to receive detailed feedback on your exams. I have several students right now who came to me after having taken the July bar exam (utilizing another bar prep course). They were given a study plan that kept them busy every day, all day and into the evening. They tell me they did everything they were told to do. I believe them. The problem (one of many I think) is that they were only told to write three essays. Three essays! That is not enough. I have also had the opportunity to see their “graded” essays from this course and I am appalled at what apparently passes as “exam grading” these days.

Three comments were repeated over and over: “use more facts”, “not enough facts here” and “missed issues” . . .

Folks, that is NOT exam grading – not in my opinion. “Review page 83 of your Torts Outline” is also, in my opinion, NOT exam grading.

So, yes, I am a bit perturbed, and yes, it probably shows. But, I find it increasingly frustrating to see intelligent, hardworking examinees fail because – in my opinion – the course they took failed them.

If you would like to see what I think is real exam writing feed back, click on here:  Sample Graded Essay (this was turned in from one of my students this morning – I graded it and returned it within a couple of hours of receiving it). There is no name provided for privacy reasons, of course. My hope is that in seeing this exam – with actual feedback – that you as a bar examinee will come to expect a bit more from your course providers.

With respect to having a plan, be careful. I am currently working with a group of students who all followed the plan they were given by their bar review provider in July and it did not work for them. I can see why it did not work as they only read a few essays and only wrote three or four practice exams – most of their time was spent watching videos and memorizing the law (because this is what their bar prep course told them to do). So, if you have a plan, look at it carefully and modify it if you think it is simply providing you with a bunch of busy work. Don’t get me wrong – memorizing is important. But, the bar exam takes a lot more than your ability to spit back rules. You need practice in writing the essays – this is paramount and a significant amount of your time should be dedicated to preparing for the actual test taking (practice issue spotting essays, reviewing essay answers and writing your own practice essays).

If you need help in putting together a study plan, search this blog for prior posts on creating a bar exam study plan.

All the best in your studies!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

Good Luck to all who are studying for the California Bar Exam!

Hello Everyone,

We are having another free, “How to Pass the Bar Exam Workshop” next week! Details to follow very soon . . . until then . . . all the best of luck to you! (See post below for how to create a study plan).

Good luck photo for blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder (213) 529-0990
Bar None Review and The Bar Exam Cram Session (TM)

California Bar Exam: Free How To Pass The California Bar Exam Workshop on December 5, 2013

Hello, we are offering a second free, “How To Pass The California Bar Exam” Workshop on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

“How to Pass the February 2014 California Bar Exam Workshop” - THURSDAY, December 5th from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Orange, California

Learn how to write for the California bar examiners in our popular free workshop! Students will receive free exam writing templates, an MBE approach handout and instruction on how to write for the California Bar Examiners (applicable to both essays and the performance test). If you would like to reserve a space in this workshop, click on the registration link below. Please understand that space is limited. Our last workshop filled up very quickly. Reservations will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

We look forward to helping you pass the California bar exam!

 Click here to make your reservation

Bar Exam Tip: What to do if you failed the July 2013 California bar exam . . .

Hello Everyone,

By now, if you have taken the July bar exam, you have received your bar results. If you have failed the July 2013 bar exam, I want to encourage you and let you know that all is not lost. First of all, it is devastating to fail – and it is absolutely the last thing that you planned to have happen. The California bar exam is considered the hardest bar exam in the country. Having taken it, you know that is a very challenging test – you don’t need me to tell you that. But, there are some things I would like to pass along to you that might help you in the days ahead. Below is some advice on what to do if you did not pass.

If you have failed the bar exam, keep in mind that you are in good company. Also, realize that the bar exam is not an IQ test. Many very bright and hardworking examinees fail the exam. If you have failed, you will need to do the following:

1) Get past being devastated as quickly as possible – as harsh as this sounds, you really do just need to get back to work as soon as you can. Those that do, have the best chance of passing the next exam. Start by doing MBEs. I am not suggesting that you don’t mourn having failed the exam, but do your best to move on from it as soon as you can.

2) This is going to hurt, but – find out why you failed - this starts by getting your scores back from the bar. The bar will automatically mail score sheets to all examinees who failed the bar. This usually takes 1 – 3 days after bar results come out (so, for July 2013 examinees who fail, it could be as soon as November 25th and even some will receive their score sheet as early as today). When you get your scores, don’t panic and don’t make assumptions about any one section. You will receive both a raw score and a scaled score. Take the time to read the materials that come with your score sheet that explain the raw and scaled scores. See also, other posts on this blog about making it to re-read and interpreting bar scores. And, if you need help interpreting your scores, you can get it free through Bar None Review barnonereview.com (You can email it to pass@barnonereview.com). Please be sure to include your phone number with your actual score sheet (we apologize, but we will not be able to review your scores for you unless it is your actual score sheet, we will keep your information confidential and will never share it in anyway).

3) Commit to taking and passing the next exam- in almost every case, I would recommend taking the very next bar exam. Obviously there are sometimes good reasons to sit out a bar exam administration – but in most cases, the best advice is to take the very next exam. Think about it, if the material seems like it has fallen out of your head right now – just think how hard it will be to put it all back together if you wait another six months – that would be a whole year since your last review – not a good plan.

4) Develop a plan of attack- Your plan might include taking another bar review course, hiring a tutor, or continuing your studies on your own. There are many courses available (assuming you already tried barbri) that cater to different needs – small classes, private tutorials. Do your research and due diligence before enrolling in a course. Ask for references, ask to see the course materials before enrolling, make sure the bar review provider is a good fit for your needs. And, don’t abandon your common sense – if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. But, whatever you do (take a course or study on your own) make a plan – figure out how many hours you will study each day, where you will study, how long will you have to review each topic, how many essays you will write each week, how many MBEs you will do each day, how many PTs you will write – figure it out, map it out and develop a plan. Also, search this blog for past study plans (I have posted several) and continue to follow this blog for additional tips and study plans.

5) Work hard - no matter how hard you worked the first time, you are going to have to work just that hard again. And, if in your honest assessment of your prior bar studies you conclude that you did not work hard enough – well then you are going to have to work harder. There simply is no magic bullet.

Also, if you are in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas, consider attending one of our free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshops. Our next free workshop will be held in Los Angeles on December 4th from 7:00 to 9:30 pm. You can register online here.

All the best,

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

California Bar Exam: Free How To Pass The California Bar Exam Workshop on December 4, 2013

Hello, we are offering a free, “How To Pass The California Bar Exam” Workshop on Wednesday, December 4, 2013.

How to Pass the February 2014 California Bar Exam Workshop” - Wednesday, December 4th from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Los Angeles, California

Learn how to write for the California bar examiners in our popular free workshop! Students will receive free exam writing templates, an MBE approach handout and instruction on how to write for the California Bar Examiners (applicable to both essays and the performance test). If you would like to reserve a space in this workshop, click on the registration link below. Please understand that space is limited. Our last workshop filled up very quickly. Reservations will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

We look forward to helping you pass the California bar exam!

 Click here to make your reservation

If you have questions, please feel free to contact the Guru at (213) 529-0990.

 

 

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