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.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ME: I will post predictions here today and additional thoughts about predictions through the weekend. I will also post an update after day one of the bar exam, but this will be limited to thoughts about what might be on day three’s essays based upon day one’s essays. My “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 up through the bar exam.
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 July 2014 bar exam . . .
Criminal Law – Murder, crossed with Criminal Procedure: Make sure you know your essay approach for murder – murder has not been tested in a very long time and it would make for a nice cross over with Criminal Procedure. Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure were not on the February 2014 bar exam. And prior to that, testing of Criminal Law has focused on the theft crimes and it has been an unusually long time since the bar examiners have tested murder. It is due for testing.
Business Organizations - I think Business Organizations is fairly likely. One possible scenario could include a cross-over with Professional Responsibility. Other potential ares include federal securities law (10b5 and 16b) as this area has not been tested in a very long time. However, more typical for testing in Business Organizations are: the areas of duties (duty of care owed by officers and directors and the defense of the business judgment rule and duty of loyalty), usurping corporate opportunity, ultra vires acts and what is required to bring a shareholder derivative suit. Be sure to know rules regarding “fundamental corporate changes” and what types of things amount to a fundamental corporate change requiring shareholder approval. What has yet to be tested is the area of “winding up” (or dissolution) of a partnership, be sure to know these rules as well.
Evidence (perhaps – finally – a transcript style essay). Evidence was tested heavily on the Performance Test in February 2014. However, it was not tested on the essay section of the bar exam and appears to be “due” . . . that being said, no one can predict the bar exam. I would, however, make sure that you know your form objections so that you are prepared for writing an Evidence Transcript style essay should you see one of these on the exam next week. Evidence is usually a race horse exam and requires you to move through many issues quickly. Equally likely, in my opinion, would be a Criminal Law/Procedure essay that is crossed with an Evidence issue. In past bar rounds the bar examiners have combined Wills/Community Property, and Evidence all into one essay exam. This sounds like a nightmare, but in actuality it is not bad at all. When an essay exam tests multiple subjects like this, the calls are usually made very clear for you. For example, in the Wills context, the bar examiners have tested Spousal and Marital Communications Privilege and when they did, the call of the question for the Evidence issue went like this: “Is the communication between Hal and Wilma privileged?” So, you see, that isn’t that bad – a call like this clearly directs you to address the only kind of privilege that Hal and Wilma could have (as a married couple).
Property – Covenants & Equitable Servitudes (I will write more on this soon).
Professional Responsibility (as you know Professional Responsibility is generally always tested on the essay section every bar round). Take a look at my predictions from February 2014 bar exam – you will note that I suggested that you could see a professional responsibility fact pattern that straddles corporations or in the criminal law context (it was tested in the criminal law context last time and could repeat that way again this time or may show up in the context of business organizations – 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 a bit more likely).
Wills/Trusts I think is just about as likely for testing as Business Organizations. I am leaning towards perhaps a Trust formation issue somewhere on the exam. Again, these are my thoughts based upon my studies of the test over many years. This is not a sure thing at all – you should assume that anything could be tested.
Constitutional Law could repeat and if it does: be on the look out for a fact pattern involving state taxation of interstate commerce. First Amendment was tested last time (mostly religion, but also speech). The First Amendment is heavily tested on the bar exam, this could repeat, so be sure to know your First Amendment Speech approach.
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Civil Procedure could repeat: This topic was on the last bar exam and I think it could repeat. Remember, any topic can show up back to back on consecutive bar exams. You need to expect that – better yet – be prepared for any topic. So, if Civil Procedure were to repeat, what is perhaps the most likely? Well, 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. The last bar exam tested subject matter jurisdiction as well as final judgment rule and interlocutory appeals.
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. I think it is perhaps a bit more likely you might see personal jurisdiction over subject matter jurisdiction, but truly anything is fair game. Make sure you know personal jurisdiction (minimum contacts analysis) in case this is tested.
If Civil Procedure is tested again, what about California Civil Procedure?
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 in the event that Civil Procedure repeats in July.
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.
Okay, enough said about Civil Procedure! It may or may not show up, but if it does, I hope this post helps you.
I will post more thoughts on possible areas for testing 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,
Bar None Review and BarExamCramSession.com