Recent law grads usually have been exposed to most of the topics on the bar relatively recently; they often need mostly refreshers of stuff they have more or less seen within the last two years. Professors twenty years out are in a different place. We know an insane amount about a few topics, but next to nothing about others. So I needed to learn a bunch of subjects from scratch and to do it quickly.
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For me, at least, the fastest way to learn a new area of law is to first learn what the law is trying to do. Most fields of law are trying to achieve some goals or balance some interests in a way that you can state in a sentence or two. Once you know the goals of the law, you can understand the rules in that field as an effort to achieve the goals. It becomes a lot easier to learn the rules because they tend to fit the goals.
The rules were just rules, hundreds or thousands of rules to memorize, presented rule after rule after rule.
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It was something like memorizing Pi to a thousand places. It may have been a good fit for students who have recently taken classes in related subjects. But from my odd perspective, at least, it was frustrating. I was interested to see, when I signed up to take the bar, if it would be as stressful as it had been the first time.
When I was a student, way back when, I didn't test lightly. I would go all out, being super-stressed for weeks. So I wondered if taking the bar exam a second time would be a lot easier and less intense twenty years later. I wish I could say I was pretty chill about the whole thing.
But nope, I wasn't. Yup, it was just as stressful in as it had been in I had more or less set aside about four weeks to study for the exam, and that meant about two days for each subject. I tried to spend roughly one day learning the basics of each subject, and then one day just memorizing the rules for that subject. But it was hard, and stressful, just as it had been right after law school. Part of the problem was that intense memorization seemed so foreign. I wasn't worried about writing a nice lawyerly answer if I knew the rules.
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But studying meant trying to memorize a few hundred rules about random subjects I would never need. My middle-aged brain didn't take kindly to that. In my world, you pretty much never need to memorize anything. You can always consult your notes.
It is just two days, but only around 32% of people will pass!
Getting back into the memorization mindset after two decades off was harder than I expected. Granted, I had the luxury that I didn't actually need to pass for my job. Most professors are not members of the state bars where they teach. So no worry if I failed, right? Well, yes and no. A lot of people were quick to remind me that former Stanford Law Dean Kathleen Sullivan had failed the California bar the first time. Many remembered that about her despite her brilliant academic and professional career.
I could see how it happened, too; if you don't spend enough time memorizing the silly rules you know you won't need IRL, you're unlikely to pass. So while I didn't need to pass the bar, I also kinda did. The actual process of taken exam was pretty similar to what it had been in The biggest difference was that in , you either wrote your essays by hand as I did or you used a typewiter. By , the standard was to use laptops, and that meant getting used to the ExamSoft software.
As luck would have it, my laptop froze about 10 minutes into the exam. I was able to get back up and running without losing much time, though, and fortunately it didn't freeze up again. The exam itself went fine.
It was strange to be back in the position of legal exam taker instead of legal exam writer and legal exam grader. But I figured that was sort of an advantage, too. When I wasn't sure about a rule, I knew from experience how to write an answer that best obfuscated my lack of knowledge by burying it in a sea of otherwise-seemingly informed and intelligent words.
In the problem, you are a defense attorney and you are writing a letter to an AUSA about why he shouldn't bring a case in light of a Fourth Amendment violation you articulate your letter. They give you a fake Fourth Amendment opinion to rely on as precedent in your letter. I had to laugh when I saw the opinion, as I remembered reading the circuit court decision on which the fake opinion was loosely based. Happily, I passed.
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So the story has a happy ending. But we law professors like to make everything a learning experience, so here are some possible lessons I take from the experience.
It seems silly to not permit any reciprocity with lawyers who are practicing in other states. It would be fair to require experienced lawyers from other states to take a CLE course on a few specific areas of California law that may be particularly important. The Multistate Bar Examination MBE portion of the exam is a nationally-administered, question multiple-choice exam.
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As of February , only questions will be scored, and the other 25 are unscored experimental questions used to gauge their appropriateness for future exams. While the essay section of the exam may test one or more of these areas as well, the MBE section is dedicated to these subjects. The MBE currently counts for 50 percent of the total score in California.
The performance test portion of the exam is designed to test practical lawyering skills by presenting applicants with simulations of actual legal tasks such as client letters, motions, and memoranda. The performance exam is a "closed universe" setting, meaning that the only substantive information the applicant needs to know is provided during the exam. Click here for all the details on the California Self-Study Program.
Easier said than done, unfortunately! The California WOW program will help ensure you do at least one hour of practice essays a week for the eight weeks leading up to the bar exam. The substantive essays cover a variety of commonly-tested topics, from Torts and Contracts to Community Property and Professional Responsibility, along with three bonus essay on heavily-tested topics. The Writing of the Week program has been updated to reflect the new format of the California bar exam.clublavoute.ca/wohid-aplicaciones-para.php
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All PT practice tracks the new minute California performance test. Definitely a lot of very good structured practice, which can help you get the results you want on exam day! Click here for all the details on WOW California.
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