July 2013 Bar Exam: Day One Essays

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Hello Everyone,

By now you are likely getting seated to take the first Performance Test. Thank you to all who contacted me to let me know what was on the exam today. So far we are three for three (not actually that hard to do given that is after all day one). But, I am of course, very happy to learn that so far the “predictions” are pretty on spot.

Today’s essays were in the following topics:

Essay One – Professional Responsibility (no surprise – PR is tested on virtually every bar round on the essays. And, sometimes it is on both day one and day three of the essays. So, you may not be done with PR just yet. This fact pattern sounds interesting – I will write more about it later – once I hear from more examinees – so feel free to write in with your account of the fact patterns).

Essay Two – Constitutional Law (no real surprises here – evaluating a state statute and the typical issues that come along with that along with a more unusual call – a claim under the 13th Amendment – I will write more on this later as well. But, for now, I will say this: the Bar Examiners have been doing this in Constitutional Law – having one call or a short part of the question call out an area that has been historically reserved for MBE testing – the last time this was done in Constitutional Law the “oddball” or unusual aspect of the essay was a short call regarding presidential powers (the executive branch). This is an area typically reserved for the MBEs and not usually tested on the essays. This is a trend we have seen from the bar examiners for the past several years now. If you felt unprepared for the 13th Amendment you should not feel badly. The examiners are looking for your ability to utilized your common sense and common knowledge here – if you wrote about it in a logical way and analyzed this area – you ought to be fine. If it stumped you because you haven’t seen anything like that on an essay before – don’t let that get you down – you are in the same boat as a likely majority of examinees – so let it go and move on – you are still in the game – remember – this exam is scaled. Think of it as a curve – how did you do relative to everyone else AND how WILL you do on the rest of the exam relative to everyone else. What I mean by that is, if you give up after today’s essays, then it IS over for you. BUT, if instead you put today behind you and simply go forward like everything is fine and will be fine – you CAN pass this exam. So, let today go)!

Essay Three -Community Property (Again, no real surprise in seeing Community Property – that was what I was leaning towards – CP all by itself, no cross-over. I will write more about this fact pattern later – after I hear from more examinees).

My pick for today’s PT is either a Memo or an Appellate Brief or even an Opening or Closing Argument. Memos are the most common format for the performance test – so it is pretty likely on any given bar round that you would face a Memorandum as the required document. However, as many of you know, last bar round consisted of two letters. An Opinion Letter (which is a persuasive writing) and a Letter to a Client (which is often objective, but can also be persuasive). So I would not be surprised if you were to see a Memo on one either PTA or PTB. Also, it has been several years since the bar examiners have required examinees to create more than one document in one performance test. As a result, I would not be surprised if either PTA or PTB asked you to prepare more than one document (for example – you might be asked to draft a memo and to write modifications to a contract or a statute or – you could be asked to prepare a “discovery plan” and write a “points and authority” or a “trial brief” (either of the latter two documents would be persuasive documents). Bear in mind that whatever you are asked to do on PTA or PTB – ALL of what you need is there – AND you will not be asked to do something without some explanation of how they want you to do it. So, play close attention to the instructions from your “senior partner”. Also – if you are asked to prepare more than one document (past exams have asked for two memos or a combination of things like – a memo and redrafting provisions of a statute, for example) – be sure to check the boilerplate instructions for a breakdown of how much (percentage wise) each task or document is worth. The boiler plate instructions are the first set of instructions on your PT and they look the same each time – except for when the examiners are asking you to create more than one document. If you are asked to prepare more than one document, then they will typically state in the boilerplate instructions how much each is worth – for example: “task one = 70%, task two = 30%”

All the best to everyone who is taking the exam today!  Stay positive and hang in there, you can do it!

And for those of you who are taking the bar exam in Ontario and would like to join our brief meet up this evening, please complete the form below and we will get back to you. We can only make this available to a limited number of examinees (our enrolled students have first priority, of course). Please understand you must complete the entire form (full name, first and last, or we will not be able to respond to you). We are also considering an open meeting on Thursday after the exam. We will keep you posted on the details.

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