California Bar Exam: Free Workshop, Predictions & More

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Hello all,

Thank you for following the Bar Exam Guru blog! We have now had over 800,000 views. I am humbled and grateful for the followers.

Due to the high demand of our free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop, I will be teaching a second workshop to be held this Wednesday, June 1st from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. This session will be held in Orange County.

As a bonus, I will be covering the Performance Test and will address some early predictions for the July 2016 bar exam.

Class fills up quickly, so be sure to reserve your space early!

Students will receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as free bar exam writing templates. The workshop will provide substantive coverage on how to successfully write for the California bar examiners. Get answers to when and where you should include California distinctions, how long is a typical passing essay answer, learn the proper form and structure of a solidly passing essay and performance test. And, as time allows, we will discuss strategies for the MBE.

Come and learn how to develop a plan for succeeding on the July 2016 bar exam. Space is limited. Reserve your space today!

BNR Classroom Image

Performance Test: Last Minute Tips!

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Hello All,

Congratulations, you are three essays and one performance test away from being done with the California Bar Exam!

Please refer to my two earlier “predictions” posts for advice on tomorrow’s essays. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I do not claim to be able to predict the essays. I did have some very good predictions for day one (as in it was pretty close to what showed up). But, obviously the bar examiners can test anything tomorrow. So please do not assume that since the predictions were very close on day one’s essays, that tomorrow’s essays will prove to be as much of a match up. I would take a look at my predictions for examples of essay scenarios that could come up and I would also review any area of law that feels uncomfortable for you or that you think you might not remember (regardless of whether it is something I have “predicted” or not).

I want to wish you all the very best of luck on tomorrow’s exam. If you are new to my blog, I suggest reviewing the “predictions” posts from February 17th and 18th as well as yesterday’s post.

And now some last minute tips for the performance test:

1. Follow the instructions carefully! Exam pressure can lead to missing things and to misreading instructions – so slow it down enough to make sure you are not missing something in the instructions. You are going to base your whole answer on your interpretation of the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss) –so make certain you read it very carefully and more than once! (See more on following instructions, and evidencing that you have followed instructions, in # 2 below).

With respect to following instructions, do so to a T. If the senior partner memo tells you not to write a statement of facts, then do not write a statement of facts. Pay close attention to the instructions you are provided. Failure to adhere closely to these instructions will cost you dearly – so be careful!  Examinees are often in a rush to get through the materials quickly and end up missing something in the instructions, failing to pick up some of the easier points. So make sure you read through the senior partner memo a few times and be certain about what you are being asked to do.

2. Make your answer look like it is an answer to that particular performance test. Whatever you are asked to do on the performance test, make sure that you create a document that looks like what you were asked to produce. There will typically be two places from which to obtain your format and instructions for the document you are asked to prepare. The first source is the from the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss). The second source is also in the case file portion of your performance test and it is a firm wide memo (usually with the title: “To all associates . . .”) that provides instructions on how to write an appellate brief or a memorandum (or whatever it is that you are being asked to write). It is critical that you refer to both of these sources to make certain that you include all sections that you are supposed to include (assuming there are sections, i.e., statement of facts, or point headings, etc.) in your document.

These two sources will also help you to format and organize your document – for example, if you are asked to write a memorandum about the the Constitutionality of a proposed ordinance, then a) you need to make sure that your document is identified as a “memorandum” and b) you need to make certain that your document visually makes it clear that you are in fact addressing the constitutionality of a proposed ordinance. This may seem obvious and it may seem less important than figuring out what the cases mean, but the reality is that many examinees simply fail to do some of these very basic things and end up losing points. So, make certain that you do not forget to make your performance test answer look like it is the very document that you have been asked to produce.

3. How do I know which cases to use? Use them all if you can. Seriously. Really. Do not be afraid. Try to find a use for each case. That is it.

4. What part of the statutes should I include? Assuming you have statutes (not all performance tests do) then look to see which parts of the statutes are referred to in the cases. It is a pretty safe bet that you should also use the sections that the cases refer to as well.

5. Use headings. (first make sure you follow any format that you are instructed to follow). Always err on the side of following instructions. Some of your formatting will likely come from the instructions (either from the senior partner memo and/or potentially from a firm wide, memo to “all associates” in the case file). Remember that your performance test answer (whether it is a memorandum, a points and authorities, an appellate brief, a letter to a client, a closing or opening argument) it is still an exam answer. It will be graded by a human being and you need to be cognizant of that – make it easy to read and easy to follow. Use headings.

6. What if I don’t finish my answer? This is not an option. You need to make certain that you do finish your answer. Just do it. I take my job very seriously and I work hard, I go the distance, I do whatever it takes to get whatever I need done. Why am I telling you this? Because you should too – you should work your butt off and I don’t just mean in your preparation for the bar exam – but I mean right now, right now on this test, today. Suck it up and get through it. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but if you want to pass this thing then go after it, especially in these last hours. Insist on finishing today’s performance test – because you can and because you need to.

7. Okay, but what if I don’t finish my answer? Sigh. Okay, if you see that you are not going to finish what you had planned on writing, then adapt and do so quickly. The clock may not be your friend, but it does not have to be your enemy either. Watch it, keep track of your time. Don’t wait for the proctor to provide a time warning for you to know how much time you have left to finish. Keep track of your time and speed things up as you need to in order to finish your answer. And, if you are really up against the wall, then make it look like you have finished. If it is appropriate for the document that you are writing, then add a heading for “conclusion” and have a few sentences or a paragraph summarizing as best you can what you have written. And, you can even pre-write a conclusion if you think it will help (this is really only helpful to laptop examinees).

8. Be POSITIVE! (I know, how nice of me to yell at you to be positive :)) Seriously though, please do not be miserable – it will only hurt your performance. No one forced you to go to law school (well, I hope not). You presumedly wanted to do this, you want to be a lawyer. Therefore, today is about doing what you want to be doing – taking and passing the bar exam. Be proud of all the hard work you put in to get to where you are right now. So many people say things like: “I was going to go to law school” or “I always wanted to go to law school” . . . well you did go to law school. Be proud of that and don’t let the struggle of the bar exam take any of that away from you. Now go kick the bar exam’s butt!

All the best of luck tomorrow!

Please let me know if this blog helped you, I would love to hear from you: barexamguru@yahoo.com

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 Predictions: Part One

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Hello All,

Thank you for following the blog and for your patience this February regarding the expected Bar Exam Predictions. We had a record turn out in our class sessions and this “guru” has been very busy. Also, please understand that my enrolled students expect me to provide the predictions to them first. I hope that you find the materials available on thisblog helpful (see some of the “freestuff” if you haven’t already, for downloads).

Also, be sure to join our Bar Exam Tips List for additional tips and handouts, sign up here.

About my “predictions” I do not claim to be able to predict what will be tested on the California bar exam. Nor do I recommend that you study based upon anyone’s predictions. However, I do think it can be helpful to know of some possible essay scenarios when going into the bar exam. I base the essay scenarios that I come up with upon the following: 1) historically favorite areas of testing by the California Bar Examiners, 2) areas that have not been tested on the bar exam for some time (Criminal Law MURDER, for example) and 3) just my gut and my experience with the exam over the past twenty plus years.

This is PART ONE of my “predictions” – PART TWO will be a separate post tomorrow.

What I think is very possible to show up on the exam: First of all, you should know (if you do not already) that any topic can be tested on the essays AND that generally at least two topics (and I don’t just mean Professional Responsibility) will repeat from one bar exam round to the very next. And, some topics repeat three or more times back to back. My point: you should not dismiss any topic because it was already tested on the past two or even three bar exams.

Constitutional Law as a possible repeat topic – Constitutional Law was on the July 2015 bar exam. However, I think that Constitutional Law may be more likely to repeat since the testing of this subject last bar round was so narrow (regulatory takings) leaving most all areas untested. If Constitutional Law were to repeat, possible tested areas could include the Dormant Commerce Clause (as this has not been tested in years) or possibly the First Amendment (as this is one of the more heavily tested areas within Constitutional Law and is tested frequently).

What scenario generates a Dormant Commerce Clause issue? When you see a fact pattern with a state law that as applied treats out-of-staters differently than in-staters or taxes an activity that affects interstate commerce. The main issue will be whether or not the state law places an undue burden on interstate commerce. Remember that you will need to address the state’s power to act (under the powers reserved to the state via the 10th Amendment – that the state may regulate on behalf of Safety, Health, Welfare, Education and Morals of their citizens).

If you were to see an essay that tests the Dormant Commerce Clause you should be aware that this same essay could also generate issues in the following areas: 1) State action, 2) 11th Amendment Immunity (this would be a very brief discussion/mention on your exam), 3) Article III Case or Controversy requirements, 4) Substantive and Procedural Due Process 3) Privileges and Immunities (this is usually a brief discussion, if it comes up at all) and 5) a potential Contracts Clause violation. If you would like to see an example of a Dormant Commerce Clause exam testing some of these issues, be sure to join our bar exam tips list.

Professional Responsibility (areas that have not been tested in some time include: advertising rules, sexual relations with client, rules on perjury and rules for turning over evidence – for example a gun, or the whereabouts of a gun, given to attorney by client. Be sure to be able to note the ABA Rules and California distinction here. In addition, if you see an issue with respect to an a client giving their attorney evidence from a crime or telling the attorney the whereabouts of evidence of a crime – you should also address the tension between the duty of candor owed to the tribunal and the duty to keep client confidences and explain how this is resolved.

Always in Professional Responsibility you should be prepared to discuss the issue of an attorney’s withdrawal- when must an attorney withdraw, when may an attorney withdraw and how must an attorney withdraw properly (assuming the attorney may withdraw in the first place). In addition, always be sure to address any potential and actual conflicts on your exam (an example that has not been tested in some time is where a third party pays the attorney’s fees – for example: Mother pays for son’s legal fees – first this is generally discussed as a potential conflict. When and if it becomes an actual conflict – you should discuss the actual conflict).

Evidence – Evidence was not tested on the July 2015 bar exam. As a result, many are predicting this subject. Evidence could be tested as a full essay or as a cross-over or both. Be prepared for the possibility of a transcript style Evidence essay. Remember if you see this type of Evidence exam that you need to look to discuss form objections (For example: leading, non-responsive, etc.) and also, since it is a racehorse exam, you will likely need to discuss relevance in a somewhat truncated way.

While transcript style essays are not as common, this format has not been tested in some time and is therefore due. Be prepared to address form objections and all areas of Evidence, know your approach. Hearsay is of course the most commonly tested essay area of evidence. Other commonly tested areas within Evidence: Spousal and Marital Communications Privilege. Know all hearsay exceptions. Judicial Notice has not been tested in some time. This could show up as a short call or issue on your exam.

Evidence as a cross-over topic – Evidence is also possible as a cross-over with with any essay subject – including community property, wills (if so, then it would likely be marital and spousal privilege with the CA distinctions) or even a hearsay issue.

Criminal Law/Murder – It has been some time since the bar examiners have tested murder. Typically murder is tested in conjunction with Criminal Procedure, but can also be tested with other topics. I believe Criminal Procedure is a likely repeat topic from the July 2015 bar exam as it would be a good cross-over topic in the event you were to be tested on Criminal Law Murder. Be prepared for a repeat of a 4th Amendment issue (because the examiners certainly could repeat this) but more likely you may see a 5th, 6th and/or 8th Amendment issue crossed over with a murder exam. Evidence can also be tested in the Criminal Law context. If you do see this, be sure to mention Proposition 8, that it applies in California Criminal cases (this is typically just a mention on your exam – but only in the criminal context and only if you are being tested in evidence).

Wills/Trusts – Wills and Trusts could show up as a cross-over or you could see either topic tested separately. Understand there is no guarantee that these topics will show up. Things to remember about Wills and Trusts: both topics have a formation component as part of the approach. One area that is a favorite for testing within the area of Trusts are issues with respect to Trustee duties. In Wills issues with respect to omitted heirs, pretermitted heirs are very commonly tested. Wills formation issues come up and often require a discussion of dependent relative revocation – be prepared to discuss this issue when you see more than one will on your fact pattern.

Remedies – Either in Contracts or Torts. More on these topics tomorrow, but be on the look out for Torts Strict Liability (products liability or abnormally dangerous activities – again, more on this tomorrow). I think either Contracts or Torts could be tested and feel each is equally likely. Remedies is very likely to show up as it is tested frequently and could easily come up in conjunction with Torts or Contracts.

Stay tuned for PART TWO of my “predictions” tomorrow.

Remember, anything can be tested.

I love helping people pass the California bar exam. Be sure to sign up for the tips list.

All the best in your studies and on the exam!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru

213-529-0990
barexamguru@yahoo.com

 

 

California Bar Exam Workshop – Last Free Class before July 2015 Bar Exam Plus BONUS Performance Test coverage!

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Hello all, 

We still have a few spots left in this evening’s workshop.  This is not just our everyday free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” 

Instead, tonight’s workshop will provide a few significant bonuses!

As a bonus, what will be different about this workshop?
  • I will address the Performance Test (including how to maximize points on this portion of the exam, how to start organized and stay organized on the PT so that you can write a passing or better than passing answer)
  • I will give out my first set of bar exam predictions to you live in class.
To register, click on this link: 

This workshop is our last free workshop prior to the July 2015 bar exam! I will teach the same coverage with respect to how to pass the California bar exam. However, I will also spend time on how to properly approach the Performance Test and will give out my first set of predictions live.

***Parking is free. But to take advantage of free parking, please use the valet parking at the hotel and we will provide you with validation. Space is limited. 

California Bar Exam: Last Minute Performance Test Tips

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Hello All,

Congratulations, you are now done with the essays! You are one performance test away from being done with the California Bar Exam!

Here are some tips for the performance test:

1. Follow the instructions carefully! Exam pressure can lead to missing things and to misreading instructions – so slow it down enough to make sure you are not missing something in the instructions. You are going to base your whole answer on your interpretation of the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss) – so make certain you read it very carefully and more than once! (See more on following instructions, and evidencing that you have followed instructions, in # 2 below).

With respect to following instructions, do so to a T. If the senior partner memo tells you not to write a statement of facts, then do not write a statement of facts. Pay close attention to the instructions you are provided. Failure to adhere closely to these instructions will cost you dearly – so be careful!  Examinees are often in a rush to get through the materials quickly and end up missing something in the instructions, failing to pick up some of the easier points. So make sure you read through the senior partner memo a few times and be certain about what you are being asked to do.

 2. Make your answer look like it is an answer to that particular performance test. Whatever you are asked to do on the performance test, make sure that you create a document that looks like what you were asked to produce. There will typically be two places from which to obtain your format and instructions for the document you are asked to prepare. The first source is the from the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss). The second source is also in the case file portion of your performance test and it is a firm wide memo (usually with the title: “To all associates . . .”) that provides instructions on how to write an appellate brief or a memorandum (or whatever it is that you are being asked to write). It is critical that you refer to both of these sources to make certain that you include all sections that you are supposed to include (assuming there are sections, i.e., statement of facts, or point headings, etc.) in your document.

These two sources will also help you to format and organize your document – for example, if you are asked to write a memorandum about the the Constitutionality of a proposed ordinance, then a) you need to make sure that your document is identified as a “memorandum” and b) you need to make certain that your document visually makes it clear that you are in fact addressing the constitutionality of a proposed ordinance. This may seem obvious and it may seem less important than figuring out what the cases mean, but the reality is that many examinees simply fail to do some of these very basic things and end up losing points. So, make certain that you do not forget to make your performance test answer look like it is the very document that you have been asked to produce.

3. How do I know which cases to use? Use them all. Seriously. Really. Do not be afraid. Try to find a use for each case. That is it.

4. What part of the statutes should I include? Assuming you have statutes (not all performance tests do) then look to see which parts of the statutes are referred to in the cases. It is a pretty safe bet that you should also use the sections that the cases refer to as well.

5. Use headings. (first make sure you follow any format that you are instructed to follow). Always err on the side of following instructions. Some of your formatting will likely come from the instructions (either from the senior partner memo and/or potentially from a firm wide, memo to “all associates” in the case file). Remember that your performance test answer (whether it is a memorandum, a points and authorities, an appellate brief, a letter to a client, a closing or opening argument) it is still an exam answer. It will be graded by a human being and you need to be cognizant of that – make it easy to read and easy to follow. Use headings.

6. What if I don’t finish my answer? This is not an option. You need to make certain that you do finish your answer. Just do it. I take my job very seriously and I work hard, I go the distance, I do whatever it takes to get whatever I need done. Why am I telling you this? Because you should too – you should work your butt off and I don’t just mean in your preparation for the bar exam – but I mean right now, right now on this test, today. Suck it up and get through it. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but if you want to pass this thing then go after it, especially in these last hours. Insist on finishing today’s performance test – because you can and because you need to.

7. Okay, but what if I don’t finish my answer? Sigh. Okay, if you see that you are not going to finish what you had planned on writing, then adapt and do so quickly. The clock may not be your friend, but it does not have to be your enemy either. Watch it, keep track of your time. Don’t wait for the proctor to provide a time warning for you to know how much time you have left to finish. Keep track of your time and speed things up as you need to in order to finish your answer. And, if you are really up against the wall, then make it look like you have finished. If it is appropriate for the document that you are writing, then add a heading for “conclusion” and have a few sentences or a paragraph summarizing as best you can what you have written. And, you can even pre-write a conclusion if you think it will help (this is really only helpful to laptop examinees).

8. Be POSITIVE! (I know, how nice of me to yell at you to be positive :)) Seriously though, please do not be miserable – it will only hurt your performance. No one forced you to go to law school (well, I hope not). You presumedly wanted to do this, you want to be a lawyer. Therefore, today is about doing what you want to be doing – taking and passing the bar exam. Be proud of all the hard work you put in to get to where you are right now. So many people say things like: “I was going to go to law school” or “I always wanted to go to law school” . . . well you did go to law school. Be proud of that and don’t let the struggle of the bar exam take any of that away from you. Now go kick the bar exam’s butt!

All the best of luck this afternoon!

Please let me know if this blog helped you, I would love to hear from you: barexamguru@yahoo.com

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

July 2014 Bar Exam Predictions and Tips

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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 Tips: Free How to Pass the Bar Exam Workshop

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Hello all,

Thank you for following the blog, thank you for taking the Bar Exam Guru past half a million views! I am grateful for the following and look forward to providing more tips!

Our next free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on Thursday, May 22, 2014 in Los Angeles. Stay tuned . . . I will post a link for examinees to sign up online.

Best,

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