California Bar Exam Tips: Coming Soon – Rehash of the February 2011 Bar Exam

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Hello All,

Congratulations to all who just took the bar exam. Hopefully you are enjoying some much needed post bar studies rest and relaxation.

In the coming week we will be revamping our blog a little bit to include additional free study materials and study calendars. We have many available here already, but, these were provided  in individual posts and so to find these materials you would likely have to search the archives.

Also, as soon as the bar exam essays are made public by the California bar examiners, we will provide an issue list of all of the essay exams. So stay tuned.

And thank you again for your readership – we had over three thousand views during the days of the bar exam alone. It is very rewarding to know that the blog is read.

Sincerely,

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

California Bar Exam Predictions, Continued: February 2011

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Hello All,

It is Wednesday night, the night before day three of the California bar exam (actually, it is 12:05 am of Thursday morning now). It is late, but, I am posting as I know some of you will still be up.

First of all, congratulations to those of you who are on your way to day three of the California bar exam!  You are almost done!

This evening I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with my students discussing possible essay testing scenarios for tomorrow as well as reviewing these areas and simply calming the typical bar exam nerves. While it is not realistic to think one can predict the bar exam, it doesn’t hurt to speculate, especially the night before. I would never suggest that someone direct their review period (the months preceding the bar exam) based upon predictions of what might or might not show up. However, it is harmless and even comforting, in the days leading up to the test to attempt to project some of the essay scenarios/combinations that might show up. We did have good luck on day one as three of the essay topics we predicted showed up.

As for what might come up tomorrow, here are my thoughts:

Professional Responsibility typically shows up on the essay section most every bar exam. So that is an easy one to predict. However, this could be one of those bar exams where the examiners put it on the Performance Test instead. Do I think that the examiners will do that this round (leave PR for the PT)? No. But, keep in mind . . . they could.

I mentioned in one of my prior posts that typically the examiners repeat two to three topics from one bar round to the next (one of these repeats is usually Professional Responsibility). Given that nothing has repeated so far on the essays – any of the six are candidates. I am leaning towards the following possibilities:

Civil Procedure (most would predict this simply from the fact that it was not on the July 2010 exam), Criminal Law/Procedure, possibly Evidence. I originally had thought either Tort Remedies or Defamation – but, the PT contained an injunction issue . . . so this changes my initial essay prediction of a Tort Remedies essay (not that Tort Remedies couldn’t still come up on the essays – I just feel that now, with the injunction issue on the PT that it could either mean Remedies is off the table for the essays – or perhaps Torts will be tested in another context – or that you could get a Tort Remedies/Contract Remedies cross-over.

I also originally was thinking that if Torts were not tested that perhaps Corporations in the 10b5/16b context could come up (see my previous post from two days ago for more explanation of this and other possible topics).

In addition to the above, I would not be surprised if there were cross-over essays tomorrow. Please see my previous post from two days ago for further discussion of “predictions” and of topics that are good candidates for cross-over testing.

Good luck to all who are taking the February bar exam! And, thank you for spreading the word – we have had over two thousand hits this week on our blog! Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

California Bar Exam Predictions, Continued: February 2011

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Hello All,

And, thank you for reading. It is now the evening of day one of the California bar exam. I now have heard from examinees that the performance test portion of the California bar exam was an objective memo (not uncommon). Of more importance, is that this performance test seems to have involved Evidence. Today’s subject coverage was: Wills, Constitutional Law and Property (on the essays) and an injunction issue on the performance test (in the context of Evidence). As a result, I am still leaning towards a Professional Responsibility essay on Thursday.

For more information on “predictions” for the February 2011 bar exam, see the two prior posts from earlier today.

Feel free to leave a comment if you want to let us know you like this blog, or, if you have any questions, feel free to post these as well and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Stay tuned for new posts tomorrow.

Good luck to everyone taking the California Bar Exam!

Sincerely,

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

Day One Essays for the California Bar Exam: Wills, Con Law and Property

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Hello All,

I have spoken to some of my students now and have learned that this morning’s essays were: Wills, Constitutional Law (Religion) and Property (landlord/tenant & covenants).

So . . . we predicted three so far, including the subtopics for both Con Law and Property. Not bad. (For more on “predictions”, see my earlier post from this morning, below).

Given what was tested today, I would think that you will see topics on Thursday that were tested on the July 2010 bar exam. As I mentioned in my previous post, usually each bar round includes topics that were tested on the preceding bar round.

I still think that Civil Procedure is a possibility (if not this bar round, then I would expect it for July). Also, typically each bar round there are three MBE topics tested. So far two have been tested (Property and Constitutional Law). Perhaps then we will see Evidence or Criminal Law/Procedure or Torts (maybe as a tort remedies or defamation essay) repeat from the July 2010 exam and show up on Thursday. We shall see. Obviously it is not realistic to think that one can predict this exam. But, we are excited that so far, today, three of our essay “predictions” were tested: 1) Wills, 2) Property (landlord/tenant & covenants) and 3) Constitutional Law – Religion (free exercise and establishment clause). While I have not seen these exams yet (obviously) it sounds like the Constitutional Law exam may have presented an issue with respect to compelling government interest since the backdrop for the First Amendment Religion claim was in the context of the military. The examiners may have wanted a discussion of compelling government interest having been met since national security is a compelling government interest. Again, since I have not seen this exam and am only hearing about portions of it from students, I can not be sure. But, clearly the topic coverage for today was: Wills, Property and Constitutional Law.

Professional Responsibility is usually tested on the essay portion of the bar exam. However, this might be the bar round where the examiners decide to drop this from the essay portion and instead cover it more extensively on the performance test. (Professional Responsibility has to show up on either the essay section OR the performance test section or both).

Once I hear what was tested on the Performance Test section for this afternoon, I will have a better idea of what I think should be expected on day three.

Again, I do not claim to be able to predict this test. I have over the years had a good grasp on what is likely simply because I study this test year after year after year. As a result, I feel as though I have a good sense of what to expect. But, truly, you have to simply be prepared for every topic.

If you are wondering what you should study or review tonight and tomorrow night (in preparation for Thursday’s essays), the answer is this: study your weakest areas. Think about it this way – ask yourself what would be the worst topic for you to get on Thursday morning? Whatever that subject is for you, that is the subject you should spend a little time reviewing. Ideally, you would skim all the topics in a short  review version (for example, our one sheets are one to three page condensed outlines of each topic). Whatever your source, try to do an overview of the subjects so that you feel comfortable on Thursday. And, if there are one or two topics that bother you more than other topics (topics you hope you will not get on Thursday) then study those topics over all others.

Above all, relax, do not doubt or second guess yourself . . . write, write and write as much as you can during each essay and performance test. Remember, the graders can only grade what you put down on the page (laptop or bluebook). The graders will not give you credit for the things that you thought of but, did not write on . . . so WRITE!

Good luck to everyone who is taking the bar exam this week!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

California Bar Exam Predictions: The February 2011 Bar Exam – Expect Some Cross-Over Essays and Repeat Topics from July

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Hello All,

First of all, good luck to all of those who are taking the February 2011 bar exam.

While it is not realistic to think that one could predict the topics on the bar exam, there are subjects that seem to each round seem more likely to appear than others.

Here is our list of topics that might show up this round:

Property (Two of the most common areas of testing in property are: 1)  landlord tenant issues and 2) easement issues (which can include recording statutes – the application of which will determine whether a successor in interest takes land subject to an easement). For landlord tenant issues the typical scenario is a leasehold with a non-assignments clause in the lease, tenant subleases to a new tenant in spite of the non-assignment provision, new tenant fails to pay rent, and there are arguments for non-payment of rent – constructive eviction (as long as the tenant actually moves out), partial eviction (if tenant stays) or breach of warranty of habitability (so long as it is a residential lease, but, discuss even if it is in a commercial lease setting and explain that generally the warranty of habitability is not extended to commercial leases. Less common areas of testing are: equitable servitudes and covenants real, takings (regulatory takings are the most likely as this gives you more to discuss than a simple taking) and land sale contracts. Covenants and Equitable Servitudes have been absent from the test for a spell, so if property were tested, I would not be surprised if it were in this area or another area that has not been seen on the exam recently which is land sale contract issues (which can include mortgages, whether there is good title, recording statutes)
Wills (but, expect it to be an oddball question – the reason for that is that since it has not been tested as recently as some of the subjects, it is likely to be a topic that most people will expect or predict. Therefore, in my opinion, the bar examiners, if they test Wills this round, would likely test it in a less than straightforward way).
Constitutional Law (First Amendment Religion has not been tested in some time now. Also, constitutionality of a statute is a likely option for testing – this is always very common. If Con Law is tested and it is not a First Amendment issue, then Standing/Case or Controversy Requirements are likely)
Professional Responsibility (This is an obvious prediction since it is on nearly every bar exam. In 1994, the California bar examiners announced that Professional Responsibility will be tested on the written portion of each bar exam. Of course this could mean the essays or the performance test or both. On most bar rounds, Professional Responsibility shows up on at least one day of the essay portion of the bar exam. However, on a few occasions the bar examiners have tested Professional Responsibility only on the performance test section. This is more rare, but, is a possibility).

Civil Procedure (The California bar examiners have yet to test any California specific rules of civil procedure since the addition of this area to the test in July of 2007. As a result, it would be expected that something from the California specific areas of Civil Procedure would show up soon – even if it is to simply address a demurrer (which is motion that is only available under the California Rules – while there is a similar mechanism under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (motion for summary judgment, for example) it is something that could come up on the exam.

The most commonly tested areas of Civil Procedure are jurisdictional issues – specifically 1) subject matter jurisdiction and 2) personal jurisdiction (requiring a minimum contacts analysis).

Federal subject matter jurisdiction involves either Federal Question or Diversity based jurisdiction. Diversity Jurisdiction questions require you to address the amount in controversy and diversity of citizenship – this often brings up the following sub-issues: 1) with respect to amount in controversy: aggregation of claims to meet the amount in controversy requirement, combining the value of equitable relief (injunctive relief for example) plus a lower damages amount to meet the amount in controversy requirement. 2) diversity of citizenship: corporate citizenship often becomes an issue, requiring a discussion of principle place of business, the muscle test and the nerve center test to determine citizenship. Also, a person’s domicile can be at issue for purposes of diversity – college student moves away for college, or person moves out of state to care for a family member – these are typical scenarios.

Diversity Jurisdiction questions lend to testing of the following issues: joinder of claims and parties and removal or venue.

Of all the areas of civil procedure that have not been tested in a while – class actions is an area that has not been seen on the exam for some time. At some point, it will be on the exam again).

If one were simply to “predict” the subtopic of Civil Procedure by what has been tested most recently and least recently, then Class Actions (which has been absent for some time now), then Collateral Estoppel/Res Judicata and finally jurisdictional issues. That would be the order of what is likely simply based upon what has not been on the test in some time (and recognizing that jurisdictional issues were tested fairly recently. Still, this is not how the bar always tests – reaching back to the subtopic that has not been tested in a long time. Like I said above, it isn’t a good idea to think you can predict this test. However, there are areas that you want to perhaps give a little extra attention to).

Expect topics from the last bar administration to repeat on this bar exam – From the last bar exam administration, I would expect three topics to repeat (that would mean three from the following: Torts, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Community Property, and Business Organizations). My pick for the repeats are: Evidence, Professional Responsibility and either Crim Law/Pro or Corporations.

I am not leaning towards Corporations, but, if it were to show up, I would think that the securities area (10b5 & 16b) could come up OR a fact pattern that lends itself to Securities but, you are told to apply on the common law – this would limit you to fraud, misrep and ultra vires issues.

While Torts is not my first pick for topics to show up on this exam administration, topics repeat back to back all of the time. (Torts was tested on the last bar exam and has been a frequent topic for testing in the past several years). However, if Torts were to be tested on this bar exam, I would predict either Tort Remedies or defamation. Also, I would not be surprised to see a Torts/Contracts/Remedies cross over. This is not unusual and is due at some point in the relatively near future.

Cross-overs – Expect to get a few (Cross-over essays were absent from the last bar exam administration. As a result, I would expect a couple of essays to test multiple topics on this bar round. An easy crossover topic is always professional responsibility. Other good candidates for crossovers are: Evidence, Community Property, Wills&Trusts and Criminal Procedure. These are very commonly tested as cross over exams).

Evidence always lends itself to a great cross over exam since it can come up in nearly any context – a property essay for example, “At trial, Hal attempted to admit the statement of Wilma . . . ” The upside of a cross-over exam is that typically the bar examiners provide separate calls that identify the different topics (for example: Can Hal prevent Wilma from testifying in the probate case? This is an example of how a marital/spousal issue can come up as a cross over exam in Wills). The key thing to remember is that it will not be harder to write an essay that is a cross over. In fact, it may be easier since the calls on a cross-over essay generally make the issues pretty clear.

“Frequent Flyers” Any topic can repeat from one bar round to the next . . . and, in fact, it is not unusual to see one topic three times back to back. Yep, that’s right, the same subject on a February bar round, again on the following July bar round and then again on the following February bar round. Most people are surprised by this and make the mistake of thinking that if something was tested on the last bar administration that it is not likely to show up on the next bar exam. This could not be further from the truth. Typically you will see three subjects repeat from one bar round to the next (either as a whole essay or as part of an essay on a cross-over essay). Of these repeating topics, there have been a few over the years that have appeared back to back a little more frequently than other topics. Evidence has appeared three times back to back, Civil Procedure has appeared three times back to back, Community Property, Constitutional Law and Criminal La/Procedure have all repeated back to back on three successive bar rounds.

I know, not what you were expecting, right? Well, it just goes to show that you need to be equally prepared for every topic.

So, these are my thoughts on this upcoming test. I have been providing my students with sample tests in these areas through out our course. I do not like to “predict’ the test as I think that is a very foolish way to study for the exam. However, there ARE some topics that have not been on the exam in some time and as a result, I make certain that my students see essays in these areas as well as the commonly tested areas. Our students begin every class day by writing a past California bar essay. I use these practice essays as a way to ensure that our students get the the actual bar examination and don’t see anything on the essays that they have not already seen, studied and written before. It makes taking the bar exam a much, much easier experience.

Okay, one more thought – the 8th Amendment has not been tested on the California bar exam in some time. This typically includes either 8th Amendment bail issues (common past areas of testing included: right against excessive bail, that the purpose of bail is to ensure the Defendant’s appearance at trial and NOT to punish the Defendant, also that there is not a constitutional right to lower bail for indigents. Another past common area for the 8th Amendment is Cruel and Unusual Punishment with respect to the imposition of the death penalty – here the examiners are testing the adherence to the guidelines for imposition of the death penalty. If this is tested, it is often tested along with peremptory challenges – based upon belief or not believing in the death penalty).

And, as I think of it, 6th Amendment issues are always a favorite. See the Criminal Procedure Exam Writing Template (found on the Bar None Review website under “Exam Templates” at http://www.barnonereview.com

Good luck to all who are taking the February 2011 bar exam!!!

Sincerely,

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