July 2012 Bar Exam Tip: REST

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Hello all,

Congratulations to everyone who took the July 2012 California bar exam! I want to thank you all for following my blog and for writing to me personally. I also want to thank those of you who read my story of my battle with cancer (here) and made a donation – I am incredibly grateful – one person even donated within a couple of hours of having completed the test – I am so touched and so appreciative.

Cancer leaves a pretty big, vacuous, financial hole in its wake. Thankfully though – I am well and able to do what I love to do most – teach and help others. This blog brings me so much satisfaction – to be able to reach so many people and to provide some support to those who really need it – well, it means a lot to me. If you found my blog helpful and want to make a donation of any size, it would be so appreciated.

Like you should all do – I am taking some time off. However, please continue to send in your questions – I will get back to you – just know that it might not be until Monday.

Again, thank you for following my blog and for sending in donations, it is truly appreciated.

I will be writing more posts in the coming days (including posting answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that I receive during this time).

Until then – enjoy your weekend – you deserve it!

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review

Finally – No PR!


Hello All,

Still collecting data – but so far, have heard: Contracts/Remedies, Wills (some undue influence), and Criminal Law/Procedure. (If you took this exam today, then you already know this – I am waiting for more details and will post as soon as I hear more).

You are almost done – Congratulations!

So far, thinking you might have PR this afternoon (but, who knows . . . maybe they will throw in Torts on this one) . . . in any case, I expect today’s PT to be easier than PTA and I would expect a persuasive type of assignment. It has been a while since the examiners have required more than one task on the PT, so I would not be surprised if you saw a PT this afternoon that asks for more than one document or task.

Best of luck,


July 2012 California Bar Exam – Day Three!


Hello bar takers!

Congratulations for nearing the finish line. Right now you are probably writing essay 4 – I can’t wait to hear what it is. I know many of you will write to me on the break (thank you in advance for doing that). I am so curious to know the essay topics!

In the meantime – while I sit here waiting to hear from you – I want to share something with you that you probably do not know about the bar exam guru. First of all, I want you to know that my Mom put me up to this – she is a very persistent woman (she would have made a great lawyer – when she makes a case for something it is pretty much impossible to say no to her) 🙂

So here goes . . .

A few years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was devastating for me and my family. The cancer was aggressive and thus required aggressive treatment – chemo, surgeries, radiation  (yep – the bar exam guru was once bald – see below for a picture of me back then).

It was by far the hardest fight of my life. I am happy to say that I am now cancer free. I am back to work – 14 and 15 hour days, thank you very much – I am healthy and I am strong. On the two year anniversary of my diagnosis I completed a half marathon (wearing a shirt with a sign on my back stating: “Leaving Cancer Behind” and a large arrow pointing down to my  behind (I have to have a sense of humor about all of this – otherwise I would have just given up).

When I was studying for the bar exam, my Aunt died of breast cancer. So the concept of cancer taking my life was very real to me. She passed away a few weeks before the exam. I didn’t want to take the exam. But, my family encouraged me to take it saying: “it would be what your Aunt would want you to do, take it in her honor

So, I took the bar, and in spite of everything that happened (and didn’t happen) leading up to the exam, I was lucky enough to pass it. And then shortly after, I was lucky enough to be offered a job at a law school – doing THE thing I wanted to do the most – teach.

The short version of this story is that after teaching for a few years and also doing bar review on my own time, at no charge to our students, I decided that I was onto something and that I wanted to focus on teaching bar students – so I quit my comfortable job with great benefits and started Bar None Review.

I have worked with hundreds of students over the years. It has been very satisfying work.

I fought very hard to be here today. My family and friends fought hard too. Fighting cancer is not only draining physically and emotionally, it is extremely expensive. I had excellent health insurance (albeit very expensive as a self employed person), and yet there is so much they did not pay for. In fact, I have postponed a reconstructive surgery because the co-pay is three thousand dollars and I am still dealing with unpaid medical bills from the portions that insurance just simply did not cover. And while I am back to work full time  – and have been for some time now (and so, so incredibly grateful to be well) the financial fallout from a cancer diagnosis and a nearly two year battle is long lasting.

One of the most satisfying things for me is to help others. It is why I write this blog. I know there are so many missing gaps with bar prep courses and so I write here to try to help fill in some of those gaps and to provide you with some free advice and support. I am humbled by the following here and by all of your  emails, praise and thanks. I am truly grateful and I am SO grateful to be here, to be able to help.

I am not someone who is comfortable asking for help. But, if you have found my blog to be helpful to you and you are able to help me by making a donation of any size, I will be grateful. It will help me deal with the financial fallout that still affects my life today. Again, I am so humbled by your emails and following and I am so glad to be of help.

Here is my P.O. Box if you would like to make a contribution: Lisa Duncanson, PO Box 853, Huntington Beach, Ca 92648 or via Paypal by sending it to: pass@barnonereview.com (thank you to an examinee who suggested I make it possible to make a donation through Paypal)  as he put it: “People are not likely to use the mail . . . set up a Paypal account . . . ”

I don’t know how to set up a direct link from here to Paypal, but, my Paypal account is linked to my email (above). Anything is appreciated. Thank you for the support.

I am anxiously waiting to hear from you about today’s essays – I will post again as soon as I hear what was on this morning’s test.

Wishing you all the very best!

And now for some bald photos! (Okay, maybe just one bald photo) 🙂

Hang tough this afternoon!

This is me (a couple of weeks ago) with my niece – I fought hard so she wouldn’t lose her aunt to breast cancer.

This was three years ago. During chemo you don’t always feel like eating, but, on this day I did . . . so glad those days are over – this isn’t easy for me to share, but, perhaps when you are taking the PT this afternoon you might find it a little easier being reminded that things could be a little worse 🙂

California Bar Exam – Day Three “Predictions”

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you for being among the over 25,000 visitors to my blog this past week.  I am grateful and humbled by the following. Also, thank you to all who have written in with kind words (and questions) 🙂 I truly appreciate it.

Yesterday’s performance test – the consensus – from everyone who has written in – was that it was a nightmare. You all know that the subject was Corporations and that included (among other areas) duty of care and the business judgment rule. From what I have heard, this was a very challenging performance test. Many have written in wanting to know if they can still pass the exam assuming they failed yesterday’s Performance Test.

First of all, YES, you can still pass. Second, don’t assume you failed anything. The only thing that is certain about yesterday is that Civil Procedure, Community Property and Professional Responsibility, and Evidence were tested on the essays AND that PTA was difficult. That is all you can be certain of – so my advice to you is to let it go, yesterday is over, be positive, assume you can still cinch this up, forge ahead and study for tomorrow’s essays!

So here are my thoughts for day three:

Thursday’s PT:

1) Day Three’s PT should be easier.

2) Day Three’s PT may involve a persuasive writing assignment

3) Day Three’s PT might require you to prepare more than one document.**

**But, I still think it will be an easier PT than PTA.

Day Three’s Essays:

I am still leaning towards the essay topics that I have already suggested – with a few caveats:

1) So far, you have only been tested on one MBE topic (usually there are two to three on every bar round)

2) Always remember that anything can still repeat from the last bar round.

3) Professional Responsibility can still show up tomorrow – either as a full essay or as a cross over with another topic.

4) I am still leaning towards any of the subjects that I “predicted” in my prior posts from this week – so please review my earlier posts.

5) Keep in mind that on some rounds Evidence has shown up as a full essay on day one and then a cross over on day three – it has happened in the past and it could happen again.

Review my earlier posts (Predictions: Part One and Predictions: Part Two and Predictions: Part Three)

Pay particular attention to the subjects that have not come up yet. Of course anything is possible, but, hopefully the essay scenarios I have provided will give you something to focus on tonight.

Best of luck to all who are taking the exam!


Best of luck to you all!
Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review

California Bar Exam – Day One’s Essays


Hello All,

Congratulations to all who have completed day one of the California bar exam! You are now one third of the way done!

I will be meeting with a group of my students in Ontario after the test this evening. But, I wanted to first let you know what I have heard was on the test, hopefully help you put it in perspective and also give you some suggested areas to focus on for Thursday’s essays.

So no real surprises so far – Civil Procedure (as most predicted), followed by Community Property  (with a little Professional Responsibility) and then Evidence (with CA distinctions). I felt that of the subjects that were most likely to repeat from the last bar round that it would be either Evidence or Constitutional Law. I also thought that IF Evidence were to repeat that you should be extra prepared for spousal and/or marital privilege. So far there was nothing that wasn’t expected.

Just so you know, many people have reported in with their list of what was tested (thank you to everyone who did that, by the way) and most people indicated that they had trouble finishing the last part of the second call on the Evidence essay. This is not unusual. If you did not finish, rest assured you are NOT alone AND it does not mean that you have failed, absolutely not. However, make sure you push yourself on day three to finish all three essays the best that you can.

And, just remember, many, many people will not have finished the third essay completely – and yet they will still pass. It is all in how you internalize it. If having run out of time ruins your confidence then that is a bad thing. Don’t throw the test away or let yourself become defeated simply because you ran short on a question. It is not the end. Today is over and make sure that you think of it that way – as being over, past, not on your mind any longer – only look forward. There is no point in agonizing over what did or did not happen today. Focus on tomorrow and on Thursday.

So, there are two things I am providing in this post: 1) a bit about today’s test (remember – I have not seen it, but, I have compiled information from examinees who wrote in) and 2) some thoughts on what you might want to focus on for Thursday’s essays.

July 2012 Essays – Day One (please keep in mind, this information comes from student accounts – if you remember something differently, do not panic or worry):

Essay 1 – Civil Procedure (PJ and SMJ, amount in controversy posed as issue)

Pam and Patrick are citizens of State A. They were travelling in State B when the got into an accident with State B driver from Corporation.

Corporation is incorporated in State B and does business exclusively in State B and its warehouse and workers and drivers are in State B.

Pam and Patrick sue in federal district court of State A. Pam is suing for personal injury of $70K and property damage of $10K. Patrick is suing for damages of $6K.

Corporation sought dismissal on the grounds of personal jurisdiction and court denied. Final judgment of $60K and $4K for Pam and Patrick. **

Corporation appeals to court of appeals on the basis of subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. How should the court rule? Discuss.

**Note: I heard from some examinees that the corporation was a Canadian corporation,  so I presume this played out in the fact pattern as well – but, again, I have not seen the fact pattern. Most examinees felt that this essay was pretty straightforward.

Essay 2 – Community Property/Professional Responsibility

Wendy and Hal are married and live in California.

Hal likes to drink and Wendy kicked Hal out of their family home and told him not to come back until he finishes an alcohol treatment program.

Hal drinks, then drives, hits and injures a pedestrian. Pedestrian brings a civil suit against Hal. Wendy learns of the suit and tells Hal she wants a divorce. Hal is unemployed and the only asset he has is his interest in the family home which he and Wendy purchased together during their marriage.

Hal consults Lawyer about representing him in the civil suit. Lawyer asks Hal for a promissory note and lien on the family home. Hal accepts.

1.     Is Wendy’s interest in the family home subject to recovery of the civil suit.

2.     Is Wendy’s liable for the attorney’s fees.

3.     Did Lawyer violate any ethical rules? Discuss.

**Note: this essay was a bit different (at least that is what some have reported). However, there were no unusual concepts tested – nothing new at all. It was of the three essays, I think the one that most would find a little awkward. There was not a ton to write about on this one (that is often how Community Property essays go and that can make examinees feel like they are missing something. So, if you feel like it was too simple, don’t worry about it. And, besides, there is no point in worrying about it at all now. Just move forward and do your best tomorrow and Thursday!

Essay 3 – Evidence (I said that Evidence was on my list of topics that I felt were most likely to repeat and thought that spousal and/or marital privilege would be a likely point on the exam – it appears this was the case – nice – hopefully you reviewed this area a bit). And, as I said above – most people expressed difficulty in finishing this essay. So don’t worry too much if you were unable to finish the third part of the second call, it is pretty typical to run out of time on these. Here are the facts as reported to me:

Vicky is murdered. The prime suspect is Dean who is a rival business owner. Dean is married to Whitney.

Two weeks before the murder Whitney learns that Dean has been cheating on her with another woman. Whitney is upset and she tells Dean that the marriage is over and she moves out. Seeking revenge Whitney agrees to testify against Dean. During recess Whitney and Dean reconciled. Prosecution calls Whitney to the stand and Whitney refuses to testify. The court threatens Whitney with contempt and Whitney reluctantly testified that on the night of the murder Dean had mud on his shoes.

Prosecution calls Ella. Ella testifies that on the night of the murder she was standing at her kitchen window that was 20 feet away from Dean and Whitney’s home and she overheard Dean say to Whitney “I just killed the gal that stole my biggest account.” Whitney and Dean were unaware that Ella was there.

Dean calls Fred to testify. Fred testifies that on the day after the murder he was eating in a coffee shop when he saw two gangsters Gus and Hit. Gus asked Hit “did you take care of the Vicky business?” and drew his index finger across his throat.

Was the prosecution proper in calling Whitney to the stand? Discuss.

Was the testimony of (a) Whitney (b) Ella, (c) Fred proper? Discuss.

**It should be noted that because this case is a criminal case, that Proposition 8 applies. This does not mean that your analysis is any different – it simply means that it is worth pointing out that Proposition 8 is applicable because this is a criminal case and you are specifically asked to address California law.

So Now What?

So far what has been tested is pretty much what I expected – nothing unusual at all. Now, that doesn’t mean the rest of my “predictions” will all be on target. I am looking forward to hearing what was tested on the Performance Test this afternoon as this might change what I am thinking about what might come up on day three’s essays.

Obviously, Professional Responsibility is on virtually every essay exam. But, out of the past 23 bar exam administrations it was skipped from the essay section (completely skipped) two times. So, you just might not see it on day three. But, statistically it is more probable than not that Professional Responsibility will come up in some form (either as a cross over again or as an entire essay).

I am still leaning towards Criminal Law and Procedure (please see my previous posts: “Predictions” – Part One and “Predictions – Part Two). I am sticking to what I suggested from the beginning. Nothing happened today that was unexpected and all was from the list. I suggested Products Liability (and most have predicted this for July). However, now I am thinking that is perhaps just too easy. Be prepared for it, assume it will be there – because most people are assuming that – but, make certain that you don’t bank on it (or on any of mine or anyone’s “predictions”).

Remember that Defamation could be just as likely. And, I still think a Torts cross-over with PR is possible (malicious prosecution, abuse of process, PR – this is not an unusual combination). So be ready for Torts. If you do get Products Liability recognize that everyone is expecting that – so you will need to do a really good job on this exam in order to distinguish yourself from the pack (and that is something you need to do – make your essay look better than most – use headings, lots of headings and know the approach).

Something significant about today’s exam is that you were only tested on one MBE subject – most exams test two or three essays that are MBE subjects. So . . . that means I would expect at least one more. I would not write off any topic at this point (I know no one wants to hear that, but, you need to realize that anything is always fair game). In fact, on my bar exam we had an Evidence essay on day one (transcript style) and then on day three we had a Community Property/Wills/Evidence essay. The evidence question was a spousal and marital privilege issue. I managed to get through it, but, I had not looked at Evidence since day one – so let that be a warning to you.

I believe that Professional Responsibility could be tested as an entire essay or crossed with virtually anything. Criminal Procedure and PR show up together as do Torts and PR and really – any subject could be crossed with PR. But, Criminal Procedure and Torts both make for good cross overs with PR.

I will write more when I hear from students this evening about what was tested on the performance test.

Until then, review the areas that you are least comfortable with and also review my prior posts regarding the “predictions” (Part One, Part Two) as all of this is still relevant since nothing showed up today that was unexpected.

All the best to everyone who is taking the bar exam today. And, a big thank you to all who wrote in with your synopsis of the exams!  And, a big fat disclaimer: as you know I have not seen the test. PLEASE, please, please d0 not get worried if the facts above are different than you remember the facts to be. This is just some information that was compiled from some examinees.

Stay tuned for more later!


Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review

Thank You!

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Hello All,

I want to thank you for following my blog. I really try hard to provide quality advice and assistance. The blog has received over 21,000 views in just the past seven days. I am truly humbled by the following. And I am grateful to all who have commented on the blog and who have sent emails. Please feel free to write comments on my blog (you can ask me a question here – or by emailing me directly at: pass@barnonereview.com). Please understand that my enrolled students are my priority and so their needs are paramount. But, I will do my best to answer any questions that I can in the coming days.

Also – stay tune for future postings here.

Thank you again for following.

All the best to you

California Bar Examinees: Good Luck On Day One!

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Hello All,

First of all I want to wish you all the very best of luck on the exam tomorrow. If you have been following my blog you will know that I do not really like to call my “predictions” predictions. I do not claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I have simply come up with some essay scenarios that I think might be worth considering. So, please review my “predictions” with that in mind.

There have been over 15,000 views of our blog in the past week. Thank you for your interest . . . it is humbling and it definitely encourages me to continue providing free advice and handouts. I also want thank those of you who have expressed your appreciation via private emails – I truly appreciate it. And, I also appreciate your suggestions of things to include in the future. Please keep your suggestions coming after the bar exam. And, if you have any questions, I am still accepting questions via email at: pass@barnonereview.com at no charge. I will answer any and every question that I can.

After I learn what is tested on day one of the essays, I will post what I think may be more likely to show up on day three’s essays. I will be in Ontario, meeting with my student’s immediately after day one of the bar exam. I will put together my initial ideas about what I think you might see on day three, sometime tomorrow afternoon (while you are all taking the performance test). I will likely make some additional comments once I find out what was tested on the performance test. So . . . stay tuned.

Above all, stay positive, believe in yourself, trust your instincts and recognize that the bar examiners are not expecting perfection. At this point, believing in yourself is key, choose to believe that passing IS within your reach, it can only help you.

Best of luck to all who are taking the exam tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review