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!
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!
By now you have taken essays 4, 5 and 6 and know that Essay number 4 was Product Liability, Essay number 5 was Civil Procedure crossed with Evidence and Essay number 6 was Business Organizations (Partnerships and Corporations) all appeared on today’s exam.
I would not be surprised if today’s PT involved Constitutional Law . . . but, of course, anything is possible . . . including some Professional Responsibility.
I am anxious to hear what was on the Performance Test. So . . . when you have a chance . . . and if you are so inclined . . . please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any details.
Al the best to all who are taking the exam today!
If you failed the July 2012 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website soon. Pass rates for the July bar exams are usually just about 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.
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.
We will offer a free bar exam writing workshop during the next week, for more information and to register, contact us at (949) 891-8831 or via email at: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.).
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.
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.
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 email me directly at: email@example.com
Good luck in your studies!
Bar None Review
For those of you who are waiting for bar results, I wish you the very best of luck! In less than 24 hours you will learn whether you have passed the California bar exam!
I want to thank all who have written in and who have made comments on this blog. I am very thankful for your following and appreciate your feedback and support. The blog has received over 270,00 views . . . thank you for reading and for spreading the word.
I want to address some of the common questions and concerns I receive around this time of year.
1. If I fail the bar exam, will I get my scores right away? (Note, I have written extensively about “what to do if you fail the bar exam” and will do so again. You can search this blog for earlier posts that provide advice on what to do in the event you fail the exam). If you fail the bar exam you will not get your scores immediately. However, the bar examiners will send you your scores via regular mail right away. Most examinees receive their scores by the following Monday or Tuesday after bar results are released. The only information you will receive from the state bar website’s pass list is whether you are on the list or not. If you passed you will know because you will see your name and will be told that your name “appears on the pass list”. If you do not pass the exam, you will essentially only be told that “your name does not appear on the pass list” (this is the message that a person receives on the state bar website at http://www.calbar.org if they have not passed). This leads me to the next commonly asked question . . .
2. If I receive the message: “your name does not appear on the pass list”, could it be a mistake? Well, sure, it is possible. But, not very likely. Rumors that people have been told they failed online and then received letters in the mail that they had in fact actually passed are just that – rumors. In past years, the state bar exam website has crashed (due to high traffic). However, when this has happened examinees were simply delayed in obtaining their results until the site was up and running again. To my knowledge, the crash did not result in anyone receiving incorrect results. So, the short answer is: no, sadly, if you receive the message “your name does not appear on the pass list” then it is pretty certain indicator that you have failed the exam. I get this question quite a bit on the evening of bar results and I always feel so badly that examinees sometimes are left wondering if there could be a mistake. It just goes to prove how difficult this exam is and how you can study incredibly hard and still not pass. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you get bad news. Instead, work on figuring out why you did not pass and then address those issues.
Should you learn that you did not pass, know that you have time to come up with a solution: a game plan, a strategy for passing the next exam. (Don’t let any bar review provider pressure you into committing to a program immediately. There is time. It is important that you take some time to find the right fit for you – don’t allow yourself to be bullied. I hate to use that word, but, quite frankly some bar review providers are pretty aggressive – others are not – trust your instincts and don’t let anyone push you around).
Here’s hoping you are not looking for another bar review course, but instead are looking for where to be sworn in . . . we will provide a list of swearing in locations soon – check back – we will post this information soon.
Also, please spread the word – we will be offering workshops on “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” (See details below).
All the best to all who are waiting for results!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are taking the February bar exam, then I recommend that you begin (if you have not already begun) your studies now. It is never too early to start preparing for the bar exam. If you are in your last semester of law school you are probably busy with your final classes and perhaps looking into or seeking employment opportunities. While these are both important, you should not delay in preparing for your next major hurdle – that of passing the bar exam. If you have not already chosen a bar review program, then you had better get going on that very quickly. Whether you have enrolled in a course or not, I recommend that you begin your studies now.
Here is what I recommend (for first time takers):
1. Prepare for your bar prep by determining where you will study when you are not in class (will it be your bedroom, an office, a library? Think about it and make a plan).
2. Make a list of your best and worst subjects in law school.
3. Identify your strengths and weaknesses early (for example, do you have trouble with MBEs or with writing? You ought to know by now which areas you have difficulty with in terms of testing. This will be important as you will want to devote more time to the areas that present the most trouble).
4. Set aside time now, each week, to study for the bar. Your bar class will likely not begin until after you graduate from law school. However, you should NOT postpone your studies until then. Instead, begin taking practice mbes so that you can begin to familiarize yourself with the format of the bar exam and re-acquaint yourself with subjects that you have not studied in a long time. if you are currently in law school and about to take the February 2012 bar exam, I recommend that you devote four hours per week during the months of October and November to early bar study.
5. Begin preparing your family and friends for your upcoming unavailability (see our post about “disconnecting” during bar studies). Your family and friends know what it has been like to have you in law school. They certainly remember that you have midterms and finals and that during those few weeks each year that you were probably unavailable or less available. However, they may not have an appreciation for the battle that is ahead of you when you begin your preparations for the bar exam. You will do yourself a great service in explaining to everyone now what this process will require. Let your family and friends know that you will be unavailable once you begin your bar review program.
It is very helpful to prepare those around you for your absence. I am not suggesting that you don’t talk to anyone at all for two months. However, if you are serious about passing the bar exam, you will limit your social activity and focus on your studies. To really have an excellent chance of passing the bar on your first attempt (or any attempt for that matter) you will need to study all day and everyday for two months. During this two month period of time you will need to take breaks. BUT, you will not have time to go out several nights a week, to take lots of phone calls, spend copious amounts of time emailing and text messaging and surfing the net.
Stay tuned for more advice in the coming days and weeks. Also, if you are interested in receiving our free MBE handouts, send us an email at: email@example.com
Congratulations to all of you who are about to graduate from law school and good luck to all who are awaiting bar results from the July 2012 bar exam!
Bar None Review
So far I have suggested the following topics as possible essay scenarios (please see Parts One and Two below for details): Civil Procedure, Torts (perhaps Products Liability, but, anything is possible – defamation has not been tested in a very long time . . .), Criminal Law/Procedure and Community Property.
Here is a bit more on Civil Procedure (and yes, additional essay “predictions” or essay scenarios):
Civil Procedure (possibly In Personam Jurisdiction – since the last time it was tested was on the February 2006 bar exam – along with other potential issues – Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata are always testable. And, while I don’t think I mentioned it earlier, Class Actions has been absent for a long time as well). Just know Civil Procedure and, read my prior posts addressing Civil Procedure for more details.
Know all of the topics as well as you can – do NOT predict a subject is NOT going to be on the exam and fail to study that subject. Anyone who tells you that Property can’t be on this exam “because it was tested three bar exam administrations in a row” is flat out wrong. I am not predicting Property, but, you should be ready for it. Anything is possible . . . anything. So, if you were to get Property, I would expect something that tested easements – perhaps in a land sale contract setting where you have a marketability of title issue (perhaps a general warranty deed discussion, notice and recording acts) or Covenants and Equitable Servitudes. These areas are not complicated. And, you might very well get tested on Property again. It is definitely not out of the question. So, just endeavor to review all that you can, don’t discount any topic and remember the bar examiners do not expect perfection. They do expect you to spot enough issues.
A few words about issue spotting: Your ability to issue spot is very, very important. Think about it . . . how can you be a good lawyer if you are unable to determine what the actual and potential issues are when given a particular set of facts? Your ability to evidence an understanding of the legal problems/issues and resolve these legal problems/issues is far more important than reciting exact rules. Show the graders that you understand the law by identifying the issues, using the facts and analyzing. This is where the points are – in your ability to identify the correct issues (both actual and potential) and apply the law (hopefully a decent definition, but, it does not have to be perfect).
The best way to improve issue spotting: The best way to improve your ability to identify the correct issues on the actual exam is to see how these issues come up in the context of actual past bar exams. I have written about this quite a bit – the value of reading past essays. If you do not know what to do for the remaining days, then spend a significant amount of your time reviewing (not testing yourself – just reading and reviewing) past essays and answers. Anything you read in the coming days you will remember on the actual test days.
Other Essay Possibilities:
Contracts and or Contract Remedies: The last time Contracts was tested was in July 2011. The July 2011 Contracts essay was a common law formation exam with no testing of remedies. While the examiners could very well test all of these same things again (common law formation, defenses to formation etc.), I think that a UCC formation and remedies exam is possible.
Also, take a look at hybrid contracts – where you have an important or significant part of the contract that is clearly a service (and therefore, governed by the Common Law) and another important or significant part of the contract (a moveable, tangible good) that is governed by the UCC. The test to use is the predominant purpose test. However – be aware of the fact that sometimes the examiners will give you a fact pattern that is a hybrid contract - where both parts of the contract (the part governed by the UCC and the part governed by the Common Law) are really both important and significant and therefore you can not simply just choose to apply the Common Law or the UCC – instead, you must treat it as a hybrid contract and apply both. When the examiners are testing you on a hybrid contract you will be given a fact pattern where this is obvious (or fairly obvious). For example, past exams have tested it in this way: Buyer contracts with Seller for the purchase and installation of a large turbine. The cost of the turbine is a majority of the cost of the contract. However, Seller is the only person/company that can install the turbine because it is being installed out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
So how would remedies come up in a situation like this? Breach of the contract would result in a remedies discussion – for example Specific Performance to deliver and install the turbine. There would be obvious problems here – feasibility of the court to supervise – for example. But, you would simply address all aspects of Specific Performance and take each required point (inadequate remedy at law . . . etc.) and explain each element – how it is met or how there may be a problem with the element being met – and keep moving through it.
Professional Responsibility (duh . . . but, watch out, maybe not this time . . .). Professional Responsibility is generally a given. However, on occasion, the bar examiners skip Professional Responsibility on the essays and leave it for the Performance Test alone. However, be mindful of how rare this is: out of the past 23 bar administrations, the California bar examiners skipped Professional Responsibility on the essay portion only twice (It was tested 21 out of 23 times – 90% of the time). Still, it was left off twice . . . so this is always a possibility.
Wills or Wills/Trusts - I know Trusts was just tested. But, subjects do repeat. While it is not my first pick of subjects to repeat from the February 2012 bar exam, it is a possibility. I think that either Community Property OR Wills (possible crossed with Trusts, which is very common) could be on this exam. When you look at the statistics either is equally probable. I am leaning a bit more towards Community Property, but, be sure to be prepared for Wills (and of course any topic) as well.
Possible Repeat Subjects: Remember the bar examiners can repeat any topic they wish to repeat – and – they do repeat topics. Property was tested on the past three bar exams – and could be tested yet again. However, of the subjects that I think are possibly most likely to repeat are Evidence and/or Constitutional Law and perhaps Trusts (if you have a Wills exam for example, Trusts could easily come up again in this context). Know your Evidence approach, know how to handle form objections - I could easily see you getting a transcript style Evidence essay or simply getting an essay that asks you about a privilege (for example, marital and spousal privilege could come up as a cross over issue with Criminal Law/Procedure or Community Property. Also, know how to deal with the constitutionality of a state (or federal) statute - a very possible area to be tested would be a state statute – perhaps testing the dormant commerce clause as well as other issues. Always, always, always the bar examiners can retest any of the prior subjects and they have – First Amendment Speech was tested three times, back to back – so anything is possible.
Okay that is it for now. I have received many emails and am doing my best to respond to everyone. There are a couple of questions that have come up repeatedly and so I will likely address these in a blog post (I won’t release your name, just the question).
Keep at it, you are in the home stretch. Above all, stay positive, believe in yourself and in your abilities. This is key. Resolve to be positive and to remain calm. Encourage yourself, reassure yourself, be your own cheer leader.
Best of luck to all who are studying for the bar exam. Please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bar None Review
The bar exam is one week from today. So here are more of my “predictions”. Remember that I use the word predictions loosely. However, I really do think that it is helpful to think of potential exam scenarios. I pass these along to my students throughout our review course. And, now I am passing some of these along to you.
So here are my thoughts:
So far we have suggested Civil Procedure and Criminal Law & Procedure. I want to make a few additional comments about Criminal Law/Procedure: First of all, as I stated in my previous post (“Part One”) Criminal Procedure has not been tested since July of 2010 (four bar administrations ago). That is a long time for it to be absent. What is also significant (at least I attach significance to this) is what was tested and what was not tested on the past Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure essays:
July 2011: Criminal Law was tested without Criminal Procedure (the Criminal Law issues were: burglary, robbery, larceny, criminal battery and accomplice liability issues - no murder)
July 2010: Both Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure were tested (the Criminal Law issue was kidnapping – no murder, the Criminal Procedure issues were: 4th Amendment admissibility issues – which are very typical and common – and a guilty plea issue – not so common – no 5th Amendment, no 8th Amendment).
So, here is what I think you should keep in mind: 1) Criminal Law and Procedure is a likely topic – know it, 2) Criminal Law and Procedure may very well not be on the exam, but KNOW IT, 3) if you were to be tested on Criminal Law and Procedure it would seem like a cross over with Murder (the whole Murder approach* crossed with Criminal Procedure issues is likely.
*Note: For a good example of how to address murder in a quick fashion, search this blog for: “shorthand murder approach”
The 4th and 5th Amendments are always likely in this context. But, what hasn’t been tested in some time are the jury issues (6th Amendment) that can come up within the context of a murder exam. For example, peremptory challenges on the basis of not believing in the death penalty and then an 8th Amendment issue about the constitutionality of imposition of the death penalty (the most commonly tested aspect of 8th Amendment imposition of the death penalty issues are: the requirements that there be guidelines and discretion (discretion to impose – “automatic imposition” of the death penalty is NOT allowed, anything that would require a judge or jury to automatically impose a death sentence would be unconstitutional) and allowance of mitigating factors (defendant must be allowed to present mitigating evidence, also hearsay evidence IS allowed in the penalty/sentencing phase).
In addition to the above, you should be cognizant of issues that can come up in the context of the imposition of the death penalty and felony murder – imposition of the death penalty will not be allowed where a co-felon was not a major participant in the felony murder).
Review the 8th Amendment in general (search this site for “8th Amendment Template” (I released it as a download in a prior post – you should be able to easily find it by searching the blog for it. It covers both the capital punishment issue as well as bail issues (another area I would review).
The above issues are things that I would want to brush up on. Just as likely is a very run of the mill, straight forward, Criminal Law Murder crossed with 4th and 5th Amendment issues. Still, be ready for any of the above.
Okay, that is what I wanted to pass along about Criminal Law and Procedure.
Torts – Products Liability or Miscellaneous Torts (miscellaneous torts like: Abuse of Process & Malicious Prosecution). So it should be no real surprise that I think Products Liability is a likely possibility (see last February for my “predictions” where I indicated “IF you were to be tested on Torts, here is what I think might be likely . . . products liability . . .” ).
So, if you were to get Products Liability (or defamation, or any other topic) would you know how to start your exam? You should work on having an introduction to sort of get the ball rolling and to use as a framework for the organization of your exam. Remember, Products Liability is a race-horse exam. As a result, you do not have a lot of time to think about it, you simply have to get writing. So, having a canned up approach ahead of time (one of the cornerstones of our program) is not only a good idea, I think it is a necessity.
Here is a good introductory statement: The plaintiff may have claim against defendant (here, insert the defendant or defendants plaintiff is suing) for Products Liability. A Products Liability claim may be based upon the following theories: 1) Intentional Tort, 2) Negligence, 3) Strict Liability (for defective products), 4) Implied Warranty theories and 5) Express Warranty.
Something like the above is very handy. It will work on virtually any Products Liability exam even if your particular essay ends with a discussion of Implied Warranty of Merchantability and does not have any relevant discussion for Implied Warranty of Fitness for Particular Purpose or Express Warranty. Why is this the case? Because you have just, in one quick paragraph, at the very beginning of your exam, told the grader that YOU know what you are talking about, that you get it. You can modify the above paragraph, but, keep in mind that laying it out ahead of time not only puts the grader at ease with your knowledge and where you are going, it also anchors YOU in an approach. It is much easier to write from this position – having an approach.
Community Property – Value Enhanced Separate Property Business Like many, I think Community Property is likely. I would definitely know the two tests for determining the Community Property interests in a separate property business that has increased in value (Van Camp and Pereira). One of these tests favors separate property and one favors community property (meaning that one favors finding more of the value to be considered separate property and the other favors finding more of the value of the business to be considered community property).
So how does this come up? Often it comes up where an ex-spouse is attempting to collect for child support – and you have to determine whether the ex-spouse can reach a separate property business. Here is an example: Wilma and Hank were married in 2001. In 1999 Wilma opened a brokerage account. Wilma continued to manage her brokerage account through the course of her marriage to Hank. The brokerage account increased in value. Wilma and Hank divorce in 2012. The call of the question is whether Wendy, Hank’s first wife, who has obtained a judgment for past due child support may reach Wilma’s brokerage account.
Keep in mind, it could be any creditor of Hanks that is trying to reach Wilma’s brokerage account.
The key is to recognize that the only way you can properly answer this call of the question is to apply the tests (Van Camp and Periera) for value enhanced businesses so that you can determine what portion of the business is considered Community Property and therefore what Wendy (or any other creditor) can reach.
You should always address BOTH tests, even if you believe that based upon the facts, one test is more applicable than the other. If you do feel you can make that call – then simply bring up both and weigh in on which test you think is more applicable. But, remember the bar examiners really want to see your breadth of knowledge – so bringing up both tests is important.
You may not be given numbers to deal with and you need to be comfortable with the absence of numbers. You may also get numbers (what Wilma initially used as start up capital for her business, what it is now worth today, etc.). So either is an option. Review past exams for how the bar expects you to deal with this – it is simpler than you might think.
What is Goodwill - another consideration for community property when dealing with a separate property business is the concept of goodwill. This is something that is important to address when you have a separate property business that has NOT increased in value. In these situations, a court may assign a value to the “goodwill” of the business. For example, any business where there are repeat customers and/or a good reputation, long standing business, etc. the concept of goodwill is important to mention. The goodwill of a business has some value – the fact that there will be continued customers, a future business, etc.
Therefore, if you end up in the situation on the exam where you have a separate property business, but, there is no increase in value or the business has gone down in value, the non-owner spouse may receive some interest based upon the “goodwill” of the business.
With respect to Community Property, be sure to be ready for any issues and remember that you MUST know the introductory paragraph for Community Property. You should have it as I do not know if any bar review course that does not provide it (and if for some reason you do not have it, you ought to be able to find it in virtually any California bar released answer for Community Property). Still, if for some reason you can not find it, feel free to email me or leave a comment here and I will provide one for you.
Okay, that is it for right now. Do a search for the “Shorthand Murder Approach” (I put this up in a blog post for the February 2012 bar exam, it is easily found by searching this blog for” shorthand murder approach”).
Stay tuned . . . there is more to come.
Good luck to everyone who is studying for the July 2012 bar exam!
Bar None Review
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!
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.
Bar None Review
Right now California bar examinees are taking the Performance Test. I am currently working on my predictions for Thursday’s essays. So far on day one of the bar the essays were as follows:
Essay One: Trusts and Wills (as I predicted here – see post below – where I thought that Trusts or Trusts & Wills would be a likely topic for testing. I also thought that if there were a Trusts exam that was crossed over with Wills that you should look for a pour over trust issue or what is some times called a pour over will. The other area that we suggested would be ripe for testing within Trusts is the area of discretionary or support type trusts. While I have not seen the exam, from the many examinees who have voluntarily sent emails and from my students who have called me, it appears that this is what was tested. There were clearly breach issues as well (potential breaches by Tara, the Trustee who resigned after distributing most of the trust assets to only one of the three daughters – her reasoning being that the one daughter (Ann) needed the money more because she was ill). the two remaining sisters were not happy and so they wish to seek to terminate the trust and to sue Tara. There were three calls on this exam:
Call # 1 – What are Dave’s rights (apparently Dave is an unknown son of the Settlor/Testator Sam)
Call # 2 – Can sisters terminate the trust?
Call #3 – Can sisters sue Tara (cousin who became a subsequent trustee after Sam’s death)
Please bear in mind that I have not seen the actual exam, and that this information has been compiled from several examinees who have reported what what was on the exam.
Essay Two – Con Law (as predicted, although this involved a the First Amendment. Still, since it was a suit/claim brought against the state, and not the federal government, therefore, the 11th Amendment could have been addressed (this is always a brief discussion), also standing – specifically associational standing since there was a group: America for American’s Organization (something like that) referred to as AAO, who brought suit against the city for requiring them to post in both English and Spanish if they wanted to make use of a city provided bulletin board. AAO wanted to post a flyer about a meeting (where they would charging $10.00 per person to attend) that was for the purpose of restricting immigration. As a result, this would require a fairly heavy First Amendment analysis – content based as well as content neutral (valid time place and manner restriction). There is also the possibility (although – please bear in mind that I have not seen the exam) that there may, and I say may be a place to discuss commercial speech since this was an advertisement (the flyer) for a for pay meeting. The other issue is that it is very likely political speech – speech that deserves the utmost protection under the first amendment. So, clearly a lot to talk about here. There was one general call essentially stating that AAO has asserted that their First Amendment rights have been violated and your job was to discuss that. Anytime you have a First Amendment speech claim you want to also be mindful of a possible freedom of association claim. I feel this is likely not a big part or even required on this exam. But, again, I have not seen the exam.
Essay Three – Evidence (also as predicted). The bar examiners on this one did something interesting (and something they often do) which is to sort of combine some of the features of a transcript style exam with a regular paragraph style evidence exam by referring to “on direct exam . . . Paul testified . . . “
This exam brought up several issues, Relevance (of course, as this is ALWAYS tested on every Evidence essay) hearsay, likely a double hearsay on the second call, hearsay exceptions (declaration against interest, present sense impression as well as possibly other hearsay exceptions). By, the way, I am not taking this in any particular order. But for example on paragraph one where reference is made to Paul’s testimony where he states that “Vera ‘calmly’ said to Paul that there is a black SUV weaving recklessly through traffic behind us . . . ” this would be hearsay – since Paul is relaying a statement by Vera that was made out of court and is now being used to prove the truth of the matter asserted: that there was a black SUV driving recklessly. The typical hearsay exceptions for a statement like this would be both present sense impression AND excited utterance. However, here the examiners have told you that Vera spoke “calmly”. Still, I would bring up Excited Utterance and explain that it could be problematic since one would think that if she were acting under the stress and excitement of the event that she would speak loudly or make an exclamation. There were other issues – for example on the second paragraph where Dave testifies that Molly (who was a witness) told Dave that Paul admitted to her that the accident was his fault and that she immediately wrote down everything that she witnessed into a journal. This is where the double hearsay comes in (assuming I am being told the facts correctly), also there is the admission of her journal and this could bring up issues with respect to past recollection recorded, refreshing the witnesses’ memory. I haven’t really heard enough about this last call to feel confident in relaying what the issues would be. But, there are, as with most Evidence exams, many issues. I will write more about the exams after the exam is over. The main thing is to move forward and not to worry about what you did or did not do today. AND, remember I have not seen this exam yet. So, I am writing based upon what I have heard from examinees.
CAVEAT: It is not typical for me to provide a rehash of what was tested on the essays. There are two main reasons for this: 1) I have not seen the essays and can therefore, only base my assumptions on what has been relayed to me and 2) What has already been tested has been tested – it is best to let it go and simply move on to the next task – continuing to prepare for day two and day three of the exam. However, I have already received several emails over the lunch break from non-students asking if they should have discussed this or should have discussed that. And so I thought I would post a little bit about what I have heard was tested on the three exams here. Also I am excited to once again have three essays pretty much spot on for day one.
The most important thing to do right now is to let go of whatever you did today and move forward. Everyone misses something, no one is perfect and the bar examiners are not looking for perfection. Just keep moving forward, stay positive and believe that you CAN do this. And, remember, my notes above are from a poll of some examinees. It is definitely not the end all or definitive anything on what was actually tested – other than the fact that we know for sure that 1) Trust/Wills, 2) Constitutional Law, and 3) Evidence were all tested.
I will be posting in a separate post – soon – my thoughts on what I think might come up on Thursday. I want to wait to hear what the performance test was like (for example, did it heavily test Professional Responsibility – because if it did, there is a possibility that Professional Responsibility could be skipped from the essays. While this is rare, it does happen, and when it does Professional Responsibility is then tested pretty heavily on the performance test). So, I will reserve further comments until I hear from examinees on what was tested this afternoon.
Also – please feel free to provide any feedback on your take on what was tested on the essays today (the fact patterns, the issue you thought were tested, etc.). This always helps me to come up with a closer approximation of what I think might show up on Thursday’s essays.
One final note (before I sign off to get ready to meet my students here in Ontario): the bar examiners usually test at least one or two topics that were tested on the preceding bar exam administration. For example, this past July 2011 tested Professional Responsibility (no real surprise) and Real Property which were both tested on the preceding February 2011 bar exam. And the February 2011 bar exam tested: Evidence, Torts, Professional Responsibility and Business Associations – all of which were tested on the preceding July 2010 bar exam (mind you, the Business Associations exam in February 2011 was in the area of Corporations and the Business Associations exam tested in July 2010 was in the area of Partnerships – still that is 3 to 4 repeated subjects from the preceding July 2010 exam to the following February 2011 exam). So my point is that the California bar examiners like to repeat topics back to back. Today you had four subjects – Trusts&Wills, Evidence and Constitutional Law – none of which were tested on the July 2011 exam. So, my prediction so far is that something has to come from the prior exam, historically this is what they do. So expect some subject(s) from July to pop up on Thursday again.
I am still predicting that there could be a Criminal Law/Procedure Exam (a murder exam crossed with procedural issues), but, I want to wait to see what was covered on today’s performance test before I write any further about Thursday’s likely topics.
All the best to all who are taking the bar exam.
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Bar None Review