Congratulations on finishing the July 2014 California Bar Exam!

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Congratulations on completing the July 2014 bar exam! You should be proud.

So by the time you are reading this post you will have finished the last performance test (and at some point soon I will hear from students and blog followers about what was on today’s performance test). I will not be writing about either Performance Test A or B until next week. But, I will come back here to comment a bit about it and share with you some of the feedback I receive about the Performance Tests.

Since I have not posted on it yet – today’s essays were in the following areas:

Essay 4 – Criminal Procedure and a little bit of Professional Responsibility* (I am SO happy that Criminal Procedure was tested – I really try hard to be selective in what I give out in the hopes that what I release is actually on the test. This year was pretty good that way).

Essay 5 – Trusts (with some Community Property and Wills)*

Essay 6 – Torts Negligence

*Remember, I have not seen the essays, I am relying on reports from examinees. I do my very best to report responsibly. If you do not recall seeing anything other than Trusts on essay #5, please do not freak out. If you did not see an ethics/Professional Responsibility issue on essay #4, please do not panic. We will only know for certain what was tested once the essays are released. And, regardless of what was actually tested – as long as you focused on resolving the legal problems, you should be fine. If you would like to add anything about what was tested, or if you have any questions, or would simply like a little reassurance, feel free to contact me at: barexamguru@yahoo.com. I respond to all emails personally.

Thank you for following this blog. I am grateful for the following on this blog, it means a lot to me. I love teaching and I love helping people. My career path has enabled me to do just that. When I am asked what I do for a living sometimes the response is something like this: “Oh, great, you help make more lawyers, super . . . ” (insert sarcastic tone). But, I am proud of what I do. And I know that lawyers make a real difference in the world. Justice and equality are more than just concepts to lawyers and lawyers are often the champions of those who are most in need of championing.

I hope that you have found this blog helpful to you in your studies and especially during these most challenging of days while you are taking the bar exam. If you have found my blog helpful, please spread the word. And, if you feel so inclined, I happily accept donations to help host this blog. Like you, during the bar exam, I sacrifice time with family and friends. But, I do it knowing that I am helping people and that is something I truly enjoy.

I founded, and run, a commercial bar review company and I love my enrolled students. But, I also really love providing free help here. There is a need for free support. So many examinees fail on their first attempt (who might not if they just had a little bit better direction and a little encouragement). When examinees fail, they are often left with little to go on in their studies. I try to help fill this void a bit. If you find this blog helpful and would like to make a donation, you can do so here:

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Thank you for following this blog and please let others know about it if you think they can benefit!

All the best to you on results day!  And, I do hope you go forward into a career that you love!

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

 

Bar Exam: Criminal Law Murder Approach

Hello Everyone,

I mentioned that murder might be on the exam. It has been absent for some time and would seem to be due. Of course, anything is possible. But, since murder has not been tested in a very long time. it would be a good idea to be prepared for it. As a bar taker you undoubtedly have a very good grasp of the rules for Murder. However, it is very important that you are able to make your way through all of the necessary points efficiently and in a manner that the grader will recognize as a passing or above passing answer.

Here is a quick, basic essay approach for murder. (Note that you should use a lot of headings and have a physical structure that evidences your approach – this will give the graders a sense that you actually know what you are talking about and it will make your essay far more appealing to read, it will appear organized and it will make it easier for you to write your answer because you have an approach).

Approach for handling a murder question:

Address: Common Law Murder – Common Law Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is proven four ways: 1) intent to kill, 2) intent to inflict great bodily injury, 3) depraved heart killings, and 4) felony murder.

(Address the above and then if you have a felony murder issue, prove up the underlying felony (BARRKS – Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping or Sodomy – incidentally, if this area is tested, the examiners may not test one of the above common law inherently dangerous felonies – watch out for a dangerous felony like drug trafficking or another dangerous (but not enumerated as a FMR felony) felony – it forces you to reach a bit and explain that the prosecutor could charge the defendant for felony murder on the basis that it was an inherently dangerous felony, but not a common law enumerated (BARRKS) felony)

Then move onto:

Statutory Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the intentional killing with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation. (here do not spend all day on defining or explaining premeditation or deliberation – it either was premeditated and deliberate (lying in wait, planned, thought out etc.) or it wasn’t – address the issue and conclude and move on).

Second Degree Murder (here is the quick way: “all murders that are not first degree are second degree unless mitigated down to some form of manslaughter”).

Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary). If you know right away that the facts support a heat of passion killing, then address that first under Manslaughter as: Voluntary Manslaughter. (By the way, anytime there is a fight that results in a death – you should address heat of passion/voluntary manslaughter)

Voluntary Manslaughter: is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation and insufficient cooling time. (there are elements here that you could develop, but, the reality is that if you have a cross over exam and it involves a full murder discussion – from common law murder to manslaughter, then you simply do not have a lot of time. So spend your time focusing on whether what happened would arouse the passions of reasonable person to kill AND whether or not the person did not have time to cool).

Involuntary Manslaughter: A killing is involuntary manslaughter if it was committed with criminal negligence or during the commission of an unlawful act.

There is also the concept of Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule – it is simply an accidental killing that occurs while the defendant is engaged in a non-dangerous felony or misdemeanor.

Obviously there are defenses like: Intoxication, Insanity (know the four tests as best you can), self defense, defense of others etc. that can all word to either relieve the defendant of liability for common law murder and reduce the crime down to some form of manslaughter. Keep in mind the above is a basic approach. But, sometimes that is really the best thing to have in your head on the day of the exam. You should have a framework or basic approach and then allow yourself the freedom to write your answer based on the particular fact pattern you face.

If you were to get a murder essay, I am thinking it could be in the context of Criminal Procedure (specifically in the context of the 8th Amendment and/or 6th Amendment).

Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

July 2014 California Bar Exam: What to Study for Day Three?

Hello all,

Congratulations, you only have one more day! I realize in saying that – many are very worried about tomorrow’s essays and performance test. Hopefully this post will help ease some anxiety. That is my hope. If you feel you need more, be sure to sign up for our tips list (you can sign up below).

I promised I would provide an update to the “predictions” that I made earlier. So here we go:

First, the topics that were tested on day one’s essays and performance test were all within those expected. As a result, I do not have major revisions to the predictions. And, in case you are new to my blog, let me re-iterate that I do not think anyone can predict what will be on the bar exam with any certainty. I thought Evidence was going to be tested on the July 2014 bar exam, so did a lot of other people. It had not been tested on the essays in some time. But, it was on the performance test b on the February 2014 bar exam. So, it was somewhat up in the air. I felt that Professional Responsibility could be tested in the business organizations context and you saw that yesterday. Contract Remedies was probably the least expected by most who study the frequency of topics tested by the bar examiners. But, Contracts was on my list and any time you have Contracts you need to expect Remedies. Still, I doubt many walked into the exam expecting a Remedies exam. Okay, enough about day one.

As you may know, I am choosing not to discuss the performance test until next week. But, knowing what I know about Performance Test A from day one does not change any of my predictions that I made prior to the exam.

So, here is what I recommend you do this evening. Study. I really do think it makes a difference to do some studying the night before. Of course, this is up to you. But, I do believe that reviewing material the night before is helpful and I do think that you can still learn new material (although I hope you do not need to learn new material tonight).

Now what should you study?

Number one, study any area that you fear seeing on the exam tomorrow. If you are fearful of getting Civil Procedure, then you better study it. Same goes for any other topic that you are fearful of seeing on the exam.

Number two, review the “predicted” areas (see earlier posts) and remember Professional Responsibility could show up again. Review my prior posts for essay scenarios. It can not hurt to walk into the bar having just read about a particular issue combination. And, yes, I do think Civil Procedure my repeat from February . . . read my prior posts for more details.

Number three, if you haven’t already, sign up for our tips list and I will send out our predictions and revised predictions to you via email. We will continue to send this out through this evening as long as possible).

You can sign up for our revised predictions and tips list here:

What else should I do?

Do your best to relax. You have just been through two very long and intense days. You need to have your wits about you for tomorrow. Focus on things that will help you and avoid things that will be counterproductive. What would be counterproductive? Dwelling on how you did (or did not do) on day one’s essays or performance test, talking about what you wrote on day one . . . this will not help, and it generally only leads to more anxiety which is not helpful.

Try to get some decent sleep.

If you can get a decent night’s sleep tonight that would obviously be great. But, recognize it may not be possible and simply be okay with that. Don’t dwell on the fact that you can’t sleep, just try your best to rest. At all times, be positive and keep a good frame of mind. You will do better for it tomorrow.

Don’t give up.

Absolutely do not give up. This test is often as much about perseverance as it is about your studies. And, let’s face it, to study well over a protracted period of time definitely requires perseverance. You graduated from law school For some, perhaps a few, that is relatively easy. But, for most, it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. So you have this skill, use it tomorrow. Don’t let the test get to you.

Be positive.

This is so important. Tell yourself you are going to succeed. Actively work at being positive. Choose to be positive. Only you can make this choice, I highly recommend it.

Use Headings!

Your exam answer should be attractive and look organized. This should not be news to you, but if it is, be sure to use headings on your exams tomorrow. Let your headings to the heavy lifting for you! Make your exam answer easy to follow.

Write your heart out tomorrow!

The exam graders can not grade or give you points for what never makes it to the page. Whether you are using a laptop or handwriting, be sure to write as much as possible. Be sure to explain your reasoning. If you are dismissing an issue, I recommend that you dismiss it on your answer rather than leaving it off of your exam because you dismissed it in your head. Remember, the grader won’t know if you left an issue off because you chose to dismiss it or because you simply forgot.

I will continue to update this blog tomorrow, so stay tuned if you wish.

All the best of luck tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam: Three Days Away!

Good luck photo for blog

Hello All,

The bar exam is now just three days away. It is normal to have some anxiety right now (okay, it is normal to have a lot of anxiety right now).  But, there is still time to review, and still time to gain a better understanding of how areas are tested, and still time to continue to memorize the law. You need to believe this in order to make the best use of the remaining time. Actively work at remaining calm and maintaining a positive attitude – it will only lead to a better study period in the next couple of days.

If you would like to be added to our July 2014 Bar Exam Tips Email List, please see my earlier post to sign up.

If you have read my prior posts, you know that Evidence is one of the subjects that I have suggested as a possibility for this July’s exam. Also, Constitutional Law could repeat – remember, anything can show up on the bar exam. Of course, you may not see either Constitutional Law or Evidence on the July 2014 bar exam. But if you were to see either subject on the essay portion of the exam, would you know how to handle it?

If you do not feel confident on how to handle a Constitutional Law essay or an Evidence essay today, just a few days before the test, is it too late?  Should you give up?  Of course not!

Two essays for your review: I am posting two essays here (I have posted these same essays previously on this site, I mention this in case you have already downloaded these). One is a Constitutional Law essay (involving a state statute that treats out of staters differently than in-staters . . . so what area does that bring to mind? If you do not know the answer to that, then you definitely need to read this essay and the answers . . . hint: you are required to determine whether the state law places an undue burden on interstate commerce). So, if Constitutional Law is something you are fearing – then I would take a look over the subject again (preferably by relying on a condensed outline of some kind). In addition, I would recommend that you take a look at a few essays in Constitutional Law. I would do the same for Evidence. Both subjects can be race-horse exams. So, keep this in mind when you are writing your answers. Get to writing as quickly as you can.

I have attached as downloads, a past Constitutional Law Essay and a past Evidence Essay that I think are worth reviewing (yes – even the Sunday before the exam – why not)?

The reason I think it makes good sense to review these exams a few days before the exam is because of this simple fact – a very similar essay exam could appear on day one or day three of the California Bar Exam. Therefore, it just makes sense to read through both essays. You can download the Constitutional Law Essay here: ConLaw Handout 2 F-05 and the Evidence Essay here: Evidence Transcript Style Essay

A couple of thoughts about Evidence: If you were to see Evidence on the exam (as you know) Hearsay is likely. It is hard to imagine an Evidence exam without hearsay showing up. Beware that the most commonly tested exceptions are Present Sense Impression and Excited Utterance (and both exceptions should be discussed if you think either is colorable). I would review Judicial Notice and Subsequent Remedial Measures as I think either could come up if you have Evidence (or even as a cross-over on another topic). Also, Best Evidence Rule is tested frequently on Evidence essays. If you have been reviewing past Evidence essays then you already know this. If, however, you have not reviewed many Evidence Essays, then it is not too late to review a few now, before the exam.

A couple of thoughts about Constitutional Law: This Constitutional Law essay is from the February 2005 bar exam. I think it is worth a read. DO NOT test yourself on this. Instead, simply read through it (stay calm while you do so) and read and study the answer. Spend about 25 – 30 minutes on it (a few more minutes if you think you will benefit from it). The key here is to be able to glean some insights into both the approach for Constitutional Law (the approach that is embraced by the California Bar Examiners) and also how to handle an essay that is similar to this Constitutional Law exam. I think it is quite likely that you would see something like this tested. It is certainly possible. Given that possibility – it can not hurt you to read through it. And, remember, it is really important that you simply “read through it” – DO NOT TEST yourself on this – just read it and do your best to connect the dots between the fact pattern and what was generated in the answers. Focus on this: “If I were to get this particular essay exam on the actual bar exam, how would I write my answer?”

Hopefully, you would stick to the issues that are addressed in both answers and even better, if you do see something similar to this particular essay exam, you will remember how to handle it on exam day.

With respect to the Evidence Essay – note the style of writing (what I call a “shot-gun” type of approach) that is used in the exam answers. Both are brief where needed and get through all of the calls in a pretty efficient manner. Also note that in a transcript exam you need to be prepared to write on form objections (examples of form objections include: leading, compound, assumes facts not in evidence, non-responsive, etc.).

Help me help you . . . 

I will be posting again on Tuesday right after the essay portion of the bar exam – I will be counting on my students and blog followers to send me what was tested on the essay section of the bar exam so that I can update my predictions with respect to what I think might be more likely to show up on day three of the essay exam. So, if you have a moment, please email me after the essay portion of the bar exam on Tuesday. This will help me, help you – it is always good to have a sense of where to focus in these final days and even on the days of bar exam. Of course, no one can predict this exam. But, it can not hurt to put some extra time into an area that might be more likely to show up.

I will be hearing from my enrolled students on the break after the essays on Day One. But, the more people I hear from, the better I will have a fix on what was actually tested on Tuesday (essay wise) so that I can work up my next set of predictions for day three. Just a note – because there are some examinees with accommodations who will be taking the bar exam over a six day period, I will limit my discussion to the essays only – I will not discuss the performance test until the week after the bar exam.

Thank you again for following the blog.

I wish you all the very best of luck in your remaining studies! Remember to stay positive and to believe in yourself!

Best of luck to you all!

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

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July 2014 Bar Exam Predictions and Tips

Hello All,

If you would like to be added to our July 2014 Bar Exam Tips and Predictions 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 & Predictions Email List.

Be sure to select “yes” or “no” in the drop down menus below and click on the “submit” button at the bottom of the form to be added to our list.

Please understand that the bar exam predictions are released as it gets closer to the bar exam – my enrolled students are promised that they have early access to my predictions – so while I will provide predictions to those who join our email list, it is released later than what I release to my students in my classes. Incidentally, it is not too late to join our next Bar Exam Cram Session. We have three spots left in tomorrow’s Two Day Bar Exam Cram Session. To register for tomorrow’s session, click here.

Good luck in your studies!

Note: This handout will be available until July 31, 2014.

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

California Bar Exam Results: How to Get Your Name on the Pass List

Hello all,

In the coming days I will be posting specific tips on how to ensure success on the July 2014 bar exam. We still have availability in our Score Maximizer Program and we have opened up another Bar Exam Cram Session to accommodate those who were unsuccessful on the February 2014 bar.

If you are about to take the bar exam, and especially if you are a repeat taker, please consider attending our free “How to Pass the Bar Exam” workshop this coming Thursday as well as our Bar Exam Cram Session on May 31st and June 1st enter promo code: GURU for a $50.00 discount!

Here is another testimonial from one of our February 2014 bar exam students!

“Dear Lisa,

Honestly I do not know where to begin. I have dreamt of this day for a while now. When I put my information in yesterday evening and saw that magic phrase, “the name above matches a name on the pass list,” only one thing came to mind; LISA!!! If it wasn’t for you, I would not be sitting here today. Law school came very easy to me and gave be a very big head. The first time around taking Barbri was difficult, frustrating, and over whelming.

Barbri just kept saying do what you did in law school you can do this. So I did what I in law school. That certainly worked in law school but the California Bar just sat there and laughed! My soul and spirit was crushed first time around and not knowing what to do. I have never failed at anything and you came to my rescue! I owe this all to you and bar none review! Your teaching gave me the opportunity to attack the California Bar like no-one else! On every essay there was something that I can remember you teaching us. It is not just about the information…everyone in your room knew what to talk about for every essay, you taught me how to say it in a way that showed the graders that I deserved to be a lawyer. Look at me now, because of you and Bar None Review, I am an associate attorney at one of the biggest law firms in the state of California!!!! Thank you so much, I owe you everything.”

Brett S. Sachs, Esq.

California Bar Exam: Good Luck to Examinees Waiting for Bar Results!

Hello Everyone,

Bar results for the February 2014 California bar exam will be released Friday, May 16, 2014. Good luck to all who are awaiting results!!!

Best,

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

California State Bar Exam Releases Answers to February 2013 Bar Essays

Hello everyone,

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

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

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

California Bar Exam: Day Three – Reaching the Finish Line!

Hello All,

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: pass@barnonereview.com with any details.

Al the best to all who are taking the exam today!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

California Bar Exam Tips: Free Score Review & Free Workshops

Hello All,

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.

What do I do now?

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

Free Bar Exam Workshops

We will offer a free bar exam writing workshop during the next week, for more information and to register, contact us at (213) 529-0990 or via email at: pass@barnonereview.com

Free Bar Exam Score Review

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

Why should I have my scores reviewed?

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

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

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

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

What is a passing raw score for the MBE?

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

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

Free Downloads & Further Assistance

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

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

Thank you for reading and please feel free to email me directly at: pass@barnonereview.com

Good luck in your studies!

Sincerely,

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

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