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

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!


Lisa Duncanson