California Bar Exam Predictions: Feb 2013 – 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:

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.

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 February, 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, 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. Once I have released all of the essay scenarios that I think are likely, I will put together a comprehensive post of all of the predictions (just like I did for the February 2012 bar exam – here is the link to this post: February 2012 bar exam predictions – it is worth taking a look at for some of the areas that I addressed thatdid not come up as these may be more likely now).

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

Last bar round, I felt strongly that Evidence or Constitutional Law could repeat. I felt a slight preference for Evidence and it was in fact slated

Since I released my predictions last time, there is now an expectation that I will provide these again this bar round. I will do this. But, I need to respect my paying students and so I can not simply give out all of my predictions today. (Last bar round, out of respect for my enrolled, paying students, I did not release my “predictions” publicly until the day before the bar exam).

Civil Procedure: This topic is being predicted by many and is sort of an obvious possibility. Most commonly tested issues in civil procedure are: jurisdiction and collateral estoppel and res judicata. The last time in personam jurisdiction was tested was in 2006. This exam is no longer on the California bar website. Incidentally, that administration tested Personal Jurisdiction (specifically: IPJ with a full minimum contacts analysis) and Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata. This is a very possible combination. 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. I am leaning more towards an essay that has personal jurisdiction – since it has been since 2006 that the California bar examiners have tested In Personam Jurisdiction. But, anything is possible so be prepared for everything. 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. 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.

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 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/Procedure: Criminal Law was tested last on the July 2011 bar exam. However, Criminal Procedure has not been tested since 2010 and neither has a murder exam. (The July 2011 exam tested larceny and other possession crimes but, no murder and no procedural issues). 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.

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.

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 post 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 pretty 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

July 2012 California Bar Exam: Free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop”

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Hello All, 

June 2nd will conclude our series of free workshops for this bar round season as we will then need to focus exclusively on our enrolled students.

Our next, and final, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” workshop will be held tomorrow, Saturday, June 2nd from 10:00 am until 12:30 pm in the city of Orange. This workshop will be taught by Lisa Duncanson (the author of this blog).

Workshop attendees will receive free handouts (including selected Bar Exam Writing Templates). Space is limited, but, at the moment there is still room in our morning workshop. To reserve your space, contact us at: (949) 891-8831 or via email at:

Note: if you wish to reserve a space this evening or early tomorrow morning, please send us an email and we will get back to you.

All the best to all who are studying for the July 2012 Bar Exam!

July 2012 California Bar Exam: Free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop”

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Our next “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” workshop will be held Thursday, May 31st from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm in Orange, California.

Workshop attendees will receive free handouts (including selected Bar Exam Writing Templates). Space is limited. To reserve your space, contact us at: (949) 891-8831 or via email at:

Additional workshops to be held on:

Saturday, June 2nd – 10:00 am – 12:30 pm (How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop)

June 2nd will conclude our series of free our workshops for this bar round season as we will then need to focus exclusively on our enrolled students.

All the best to all who are studying for the July 2012 Bar Exam!

California Bar Results February 2012: What Should I Do If I Just Failed The Bar Exam?

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NOTE: This is a repeat of a former posting, but relevant now, if you have just received failing results. Therefore I have posted it again. Good luck to all of you who are either repeating the bar exam this July or taking the bar exam for the first time this July. Time is on your side, especially if you utilize it. Here is my earlier post about “What to do if I failed the bar exam” – Also, please consider attending one of our free upcoming workshops: NEXT FREE “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on May 23, at 7 pm in the city of Orange, California.

Also, I will post rate sheets for our various course offerings here on this blog. However, you should wait until you receive your test scores before deciding upon what you need. For example, we offer a variety of course options (including a live course designed specifically for the repeat taker as well as home study options, exam grading only options, tutoring via Skype and online, Performance Test Courses – held live in both Orange County and Los Angeles). We will consider a Northern California Performance Test course based upon enrollment. However, again, I can not emphasize enough that you need to have your scores before making a decision. Best of luck to all.

What should I do if I just failed the bar exam?

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.

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. 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 or contact me (Lisa Duncanson) directly at:

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 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, 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.

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.


Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(949) 891-8831

California Bar Exam Tip: Rest!

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Hello all,

Congratulations to all who have completed the bar exam! My tip for today is to try to get some rest, unwind, decompress. I will be posting more here in the coming days (a rehash of day three’s essays and PTB for example, posts on whether you should continue your studies – not to be grim or negative – but, some students actually prefer to pick up their studying again – after a break – while they are waiting for bar results – just as a bit of insurance). I am sure the last thing you want to hear from me right now is anything about studying. But, it will be one of the topics that I will address in the coming weeks. First, however, I will post on what seems to have been tested on day three’s essays (which, I am sure is of more interest to you than study tips at this point) soon.

Again, I want to thank you for following my blog. We had 4,478 views just yesterday alone and had over 3,000 views as of 6:30 pm today. I have received many emails from examinees relaying what they felt was tested on today’s exam (thank you to all who have provided your breakdowns and analysis and for those of you who would still like to, please do). I will be compiling this information and reporting it here soon. I also want to thank those of you who have, during this exam, taken the time to write to me personally and thank me. It really makes me want to continue providing this information. I am humbled. Thank you.

The point of doing this is to hopefully give you some peace of mind (to know that you addressed the right issues enough of the time, that you weren’t – as some worry – completely off track).

I will say this for now: today’s exams threw many for a loop. It was not “fun” and many examinees have expressed their fears about having “messed” up. I can also say, from what I have heard about the essays from day three so far, that there were definitely differing ways to interpret some of the issues tested. Therefore, if you are talking with friends about the exam and you hear that someone addressed different issues than you did, this does not mean that one of you is wrong. I believe (as often is presented by some of the essays on the California bar exam) that there were some areas that allowed for multiple interpretations. So hopefully this will give you some peace of mind tonight (assuming you are here reading this) :)

Feel free to contact me directly at: I am happy to continue answering questions as I can. I will be taking a bit of a break tomorrow and possibly for a day or so. But, I will most definitely provide what I think the bar examiners were testing on Day three’s essays (I think that is mostly what examinees are looking for me to address at this point). If you have something else you are concerned about, please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment on this blog.

Congratulations to all who have finished the exam today! Wishing you all the best in your results!


Lisa Duncanson

Bar None Review

February 2012 Bar Exam “Predictions” For Day Three: Final Thoughts

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Hello All,

First of all, congratulations to all of you who are taking the California bar exam today for getting through day one and day two!

So I promised that I would prepare something with respect to what I think might show up on Thursday. Several days ago I released my initial predictions – please see my earlier post here: February 2012 Essay “Predictions”/Essay Scenarios

I think you should review my first set of “predictions” before reading this post.

First, here are some fairly consistnet constants with the bar exam (the caveat being that the bar examiners can always test anything they want and in any fashion as many times in a row as they wish):

1) Usually the bar examiners repeat at least two subjects from the preceding bar round (so far, day one’s essays did not include a repeat of any topic from the July 2011 bar exam). And, just so you know, here are the topics that were tested on the July 2011 bar exam: Criminal Law (but, not murder), Civil Procedure (but not jurisdiction), Contracts (Common Law, no remedies, no UCC), Professional Responsibility, Real Property (JT, TC, restraint on alienation, adverse possession), and Community Property. So, if the bar examiners do what they usually do, something is going to repeat. Really any are fair game, given that day one has not repeated anything from the July 2011 bar exam. And, just so you know, the July 2011 bar exam repeated the following subjects from the February 2011 bar exam: Property and Professional Responsibility. And, the subjects that repeated on the February 2011 bar exam that were tested on the July 2010 bar exam were: Torts, Professional Responsibility, Evidence and Business Organizations (yep, FOUR subjects repeated from the July 2010 bar round to the February 2011 bar round). I mention all of this because I want to make certain that those of you who think something will not be on this bar exam simply because it was tested on the last bar exam will realize that this is wrong.

2) Usually (usually) there are three MBE topics tested. But, this does not always happen. However, there has only been one bar round in the past four years that has NOT included at least three MBE topics. This was the February 2008 bar exam – on that administration the bar examiners tested to MBE topics on day one (Torts and Criminal Law/Procedure – so I suppose the cross over of Criminal Law and Procedure could be viewed as two MBE topics, but, still it was light on MBE topics for that bar round) and then day three had essays that were all non-mbe topics (corporations, wills/trusts and I believe community property – I need to confirm that last topic to be sure). So, I would think that just based on history – statistically – you should see one more MBE topic – I think either Criminal Law/Criminal Procedure (specifically murder and procedural issues) or perhaps Torts (products liability) – the thing is that we are looking for something to repeat from the past bar exam and of those two MBE topics, Criminal Law was  on the prior bar exam (but did not test murder – they tested mostly crimes of possession, assault, battery and accomplice liability). Murder has not been tested since February of 2008, so it is due.
3) Statistically, Professional Responsibility shows up on nearly every essay portion of the bar exam – it has only been left off of the essay exam twice since 1994. However, on a few recent bar rounds it has only been tested as a cross over (especially when there is heavy coverage of Professional Responsibility on the PT and coverage of any other duty relationships like in trusts – the duty of the trustee for example). So this could  be a bar round where they either skip Professional Responsibility altogether from the essays or they may have it only as a cross-over. Still, keep in mind that statistically it usually shows up as a full essay – so be prepared for it. Definitely be prepared for it. And, since there has not been a heavy emphasis on California law (there does not have to be any emphasis on California law, by the way) Professional Responsibility would make for a nice topic to be able to include some California specific issues.
4) It would not be unusual to see a repeat of one of day one’s essay topics as part of a cross-over on day three. I know that sounds horrible, but, if it happens it won’t be horrible (especially if you know that it could  happen). For example, they could have a community property exam and add one evidence call that deals with marital and spousal privilege. Just a thought (not designed to freak you out). It has happened in the past and people seem to get really bothered by it, but, there really isn’t any reason to let it bother you. If they do repeat anything from day one’s essays, it will be a minor, one short call kind of issue. And, the examiners almost always spell it out for you pretty clearly in the separate calls when they are asking you any cross-over questions. So don’t worry about it, but do conduct a quick, light review of Evidence, for example, just to feel prepared for the possibility.
5) Civil Procedure – to be or not to be. It seems everyone is predicting this topic. I too feel it could come up and if it does here are a couple of areas that have been absent on the exam for some time: class actions and jurisdiction (subject matter and personal jurisdiction). Jurisdiction was tested far more recently than class actions. But, jurisdiction issues are probably the most commonly tested areas of Civil Procedure. And, if they really wanted to (the bar examiners, that is) they could test you on both class actions and jurisdictions (for example a class action brought in federal court based upon diversity of citenship – that is one way they could combine the two).
Please read/review my prior “predictions” (as I have not repeated it all here – so you should take it upon yourself to review this earlier post: February 2012 Essay “Predictions”/Essay Scenarios and please understand that no one can predict the bar exam.
I am still of the belief that you could see Criminal Law murder crossed with Criminal Procedure and/or Products Liability (keep in mind that Torts has made its way to the test quite a bit in the past four years and more than once strict liability has been tested, but, in the context of abnormally dangerous activities – so this one is a close one for me – I can completely see the bar testing products liability or as I mentioned before some miscellaneous torts area – including tort remedies or as a cross with professional responsibility).
Also given that there was only one (well, sort of two, non-mbe topics tested on day one – the Trust/Wills question) there obviously has to be some additional (at least I would think) non-mbe testing. Civil Procedure would fill that void, so too could Corporations or Community Property (remember that something usually repeats from the prior exam – anywhere from two to four topics – so far there have been no repeats. Therefore, based upon history, one would expect to see something from the list of topics tested on the July 2011 bar exam – see above list of what was tested on the July 2011 bar exam).
I know this is a lot. But, here is what I recommend that you do. Read over my initial “predictions” in the link above and see how that jives with what you saw on day one. Do not, I repeat DO NOT study only the topics on that list or anyone’s list. Instead, think about what you would be most afraid of seeing tomorrow morning and study that topic a bit extra. Then review all of the subjects (either in a condensed outline form – hopefully you have something like that to work from) and try to relax.
I have found that students generally know a lot more than they give themselves credit for. So be positive, and feel free to ask questions via email today – send questions or comments to: I will do my best to return your questions. Also feel free to add any feedback you wish on this blog, especially if you think it would be helpful to someone else.
All the best to all who are taking the exam!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review

February 2012 Bar Exam – Day Two

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Good morning bar takers!

Come back this afternoon to see more tips on last minute preparation for Thursday’s essays, my thoughts on what might be on the essays and just some good old fashioned encouragement! In the mean time, I thought hearing what a few examinees had to say to me privately (no names are included here) might be helpful to you.

Here is what a few of your fellow examinees had to say:

“Ms. Duncanson, your essay predictions were spot on!!!  I still don’t feel too good about my con law essay because it was tough, but I’m sure glad I had your blog to refer to when deciding which issues would merit some additional review!

The PT also, in my opinion, might as well have been a crossover PR/Business Associations (Partnerships) essay!  I am now eager to learn what your outlook is for PR come Thursday because I recall having read in your blog that the way PR is tested has a lot to do with how extensively it was implicated, if at all, in PT A.  Well, the gist of the PT concerned a proposed partnership between a lawyer and a non-lawyer to run a legal self-help business allowing customers who wish to represent themselves in legal matters (sort of like services provided by Legal Zoom).  One major sub-issue involved in the receptionist’s duties and their potential ethical implications under the code.  Unlike previous PTs in which the library contained case law, this PT had absolutely NO case law, but two sets of professional conduct code sections governing the prescribed/proscribed conducts in the fact scenario!  It also included a “formal opinion” from the State Bar of Columbia as to the code of professional conduct.

Just thought I’d give you a brief background of the PT and also let you know that, so far, you are batting 100% in the essay predictions!

Thank you!”

And another email from one of your fellow examinees:

“I just wanted to say thank you for posting something about the essays today. It really helps to move on to tomorrow having some closure about what happened today. I’m sure I missed a bunch, but hearing that I was at least writing on the correct subject areas (and that someone else was equally tripped up by Question 2 and rushed with Question 3) gives me some peace of mind. So thank you for taking the time to provide that information, and for making it available to the public.

The one thing I will add is that the first call for the Trusts/Wills question (whether Dave, the unknown 25 yr old son, had a legal claim to the trust) specifically said answer according to CA law. I wasn’t quite sure what this was looking for, but I thought it would be worth mentioning since I know there’s a pattern of there being at least one specific CA law question.

Ok, on to tomorrow!! Thanks again :)”

Note: I added the underlining above to highlight the apparent California interrogatory (call of question). Please bear in mind, I have not seen the test. I have heard from many, many examinees and have put together what sounds like was tested. But, your focus should not be on day one any longer. However you feel about your performance on day one, you can still get through day two and three with flying colors. So much of this exam is about rising above how you feel, forging onward, pushing ahead. And, to that degree (regardless of what you might think about the bar exam, whether it is fair or not) if you were a client, you would want your lawyer to be able to do just that – forge ahead, work through whatever physical difficulties the day might present and simply do their absolute best on their behalf. So today and tomorrow – do the absolute best on YOUR behalf!

I have a story I want to share with you. The semester before I was to take the bar exam (back in 1994) my best friend was taking the bar exam in February of 1994. She felt so horribly about day one of the exam, was so certain that she had failed, that she packed her bags, got on the elevator to head down to the lobby of her hotel, check out and head home. Now what you need to know first is that this friend of mine was tough, not a baby, not weak and was smart. But, she had convinced herself that she had failed and that was simply that.

While on the elevator another bar taker asked her where she was going (it was pretty obvious she was leaving). She told him she was going home. He asked her why and she explained that she knew she had already failed the bar exam. (I think you may know where I am going with this by now). Well, the short version is that this fellow bar taker talked her into staying, told her, “Hey, at least you will know what the MBEs are like so that when you take it next time you will be better prepared”. So, she stayed for day two and she stayed for day three and guess what? She passed. She told me about how she was sure she had failed the test before she got her passing bar results, how she had planned to walk out, how she did feel like day three was a “little bit easier” but, that she still believed that she had missed too many issues and had not finished enough of the essays to pass.

So, the moral of the above, true story, is that you should never give up, not today, not tomorrow.

And one last thing, if you think an essay is hard or the MBEs are hard or the PT is/was hard . . . remember that you are not alone in thinking that way. It is hard. But, you can do it. So stay as positive as you can and hang in there.

I am packing up and saying goodbye to my Ontario students this afternoon. But, will be back online with more tips and areas to focus on by this afternoon.

All the best to you! And, thank you so much to all of you who have written to me personally – it is much appreciated and it really makes me feel like what I am trying to do here is worthwhile. So thank you. Also, feel free to comment on my blog, it can only help others.


Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review