Friday, July 30, 2010

The Bar Exam Is Over!!!

Now it's time to relax and have fun!! Take some time off. You deserve it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Continued Good Luck to Those Who Are Still Taking the Bar Exam

Keep your spirits up. You are almost to the finish line. Good luck on your final day of the bar exam. You can do this. Good luck on this last day of the bar exam.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today is the MBE Exam

Today is the MBE for everyone taking the bar, no matter where you are taking the bar exam. Everyone has to take it so relax and be confident. Pace yourself. Remember, 1.6 minutes a question. Keep your time. Your must answer every question. You have studied hard for this day and you will perform to the best of your ability. Good luck to everyone. Keep believing in yourself.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Florida Multiple Choice Subjects Tested for July 2010

The tested subjects for multiple choice questions for the July 2010 Florida bar exam were:

Criminal and Civil Procedure


Business Entities - Partnerships and Corporations

See the prior post for the essay subjects tested:

Constitutional Law, Trusts/Professional Responsibility and Contracts/Real Property

Florida Essay Subjects Tested on the July 2010 Bar Exam

Here are the Florida essay subjects:

Trusts with a Professional Responsibility

Constitutional Law and Real Property - Ad Volorem Taxes, Homestead, Creditors, Tenants by the Entirety

Contracts, Conveyance of Real Property, Easement, Warranties and Damages.

Today Is the Bar Exam and You Will Begin the Rest of Your Life

Today is the bar exam. Relax, be confident and do your thing. You have studied hard for this day and you will perform to the best of your ability. Tonight, go back to your home or to your hotel and rest. Don’t do anymore studying for the MBE. Eat, watch a little television and then go to sleep. You will be so tired, you will be asleep before your head hits your pillow. But it will be a well earned rest. Good luck to everyone. Keep believing in yourself. This is the first day of your life as an attorney.

Monday, July 26, 2010

1 Day Until the Bar Exam: Relax and Be Confident

You are almost to the finish line. Get ready today by relaxing and being confident in your abilities. You have been preparing for your chance to be a lawyer for 3 years or more. You can do this. Go to your hotel room and try to have a quiet, restful day. No upsets and no panic is allowed. Review your essay notes today, get to bed early and relax. Even if you can’t sleep, lay down with the lights off and get some rest.

Wake up early on Tuesday, get to the exam site in plenty of time to get registered and kick the stuffings out this bar. Do well, my friends. You can do this.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2 Days Until the Bar Exam: Good Luck to All

For those taking the bar exam, good luck to all of you and remember the lessons I gave you in this blog. Come in with a plan, remember your goals and you will be calling yourself an attorney in a few months.

Be confident in your abilities. You have studied hard these past couple of months, you have practiced endlessly, and you know what you need to do. Don’t psych yourself out. You can do this and will do it. Keep your focus and you will do well.

A special shout out to my students. Good luck people – now you know why I was so hard on you and you know that the “Parson Group” believes in you. Good luck to my Pass Florida Program students. – God Bless.

Good Luck to all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

3 Days Before the Bar Exam: Find the Exam Zone

Being in the Moment

No matter how hard you’ve studied and how many practice exams you’ve taken, once you get to the bar exam, you will do well.
Everything you’ve been doing during your bar review has prepared you for this moment. And, if you’ve prepared properly, you will know what to do once you get started.

Allocating Your Time

Using the exact time you were told to begin the exam, set your timetable and write down the starting and ending times for each question.

You have to complete between 16 and 17 questions in a 30 minute period, averaging 33-34 questions every hour to complete the 100 questions in a three hour period; set your clock on the half hour with appropriate milestones.

If You Get Stuck on an MBE Question

Make your best choice, but circle the question and if you have time at the end of the exam, you can go back to it.
With only 1.8 minutes per question, there’s only so much time to allow for doubt. There will be questions you just don’t know. Don’t squander precious time that could be spent on questions you can answer.

If You Get Stuck on an Essay Question

Write the issue, whether or not you know the rule at this point. Formulating the issue will get your points from the grader even if you blank out on the rule. Rely on your knowledge of general legal principles and standards to guide you, even if you don’t know each and every element of the rule.

Be confident in your abilities to have prepared as best you could for the exam.

Friday, July 23, 2010

4 days until the bar exam: Powering Down This Weekend

Like most law students, you’re probably conditioned to study hard even the day before the exam. In fact, you may think it’s wise to study right up to the last minute. With the bar exam, that’s a serious mistake. This isn’t a two or three hour exam. The test’s duration is nearly eight hours, including your lunch break.

One of the most important factors in your performance is going to be your endurance. You need to remain focused and energized throughout the bar exam and this is difficult. Most students find themselves hitting a brick wall somewhere during the exam day. There are some ways to try and minimize this detrimental impact.

First, you need to catch up on your rest and start powering down on your studying. This weekend try to have a normal couple of days. Put in study time, but also sleep, rest, watch tv, and relax. Do your sleeping this weekend. Why? Because you probably will not be able to sleep soundly on Monday night. Tuesday night you will sleep like a rock because you will be exhausted from a good day of focusing. Sleeping longer on the weekend prior to the exam will enable you to get rest and not be too groggy on Tuesday.

Second, eat well this weekend since you probably have had a lot of fast food these past 6 weeks. You may not be able to eat much on Monday if your nerves start showing. Try not to eat rich food or foods you know have adverse effects on your stomach. Monday, eat solid but light foods to keep you alert. Just think boring foods because you stomach may be upset due to nerves. Try to relax a bit because you have done your preparation and now its time to get in the game.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

5 Days Until the Bar Exam: Blueprint for the Taking the California Performance Test

I’ve had a number of questions about the California performance tests. Here is an Outline for taking the California PT and the MPT.

Review the Instructions

1. Skim the paragraphs to check the requirements. There is an instruction sheet on the back of every MPT. Read it during your preparation so as not to waste precious time on the exam.
2. Verify the jurisdiction paragraph to know what is mandatory as opposed to what is merely persuasive authority. You must know the court structure before you read the cases so you can determine what is mandatory and what is merely persuasive authority.

Scan the Table of Contents

1. Identify the general area of law. From the listings in the Library, you can often determine the general subject area and use it to inform the rest of your reading. Don’t freak out if the subject area is unfamiliar to you. You’ll be given all the relevant law you need to solve the problem.
2. Determine whether it’s a statutory or common law problem

Read the Task Memo Carefully and Completely

1. Identify the issue you’re asked to resolve. Are there sub-issues? The Task Memo reveals the precise issue you’re asked to resolve. Read these paragraphs two or three times to be certain you have identified the issue. It’s usually in the last 2 paragraphs of the memo. Write the issue on your scratch paper so that you remain focused as you proceed. Be careful not to change or vary the language of the question.
2. Read the directions carefully. You may be asked to identify additional facts. Also, note any exclusions.
3. Identify your specific assignment by noting the precise nature of the task: memo, persuasive brief, client letter, contract provision, etc. Identify your point of view – whether it’s objective or persuasive. This will inform the nature of your reading because you’ll read the materials with a critical eye.
4. Identify your audience – is it a lawyer or layperson?
5. Note any exclusions. Sometimes you are told not to consider a specific issue. Your job is not to discuss it.

Review the Instruction Memo

1. The bar examiners include this memo if they think you need guidance in completing the assigned task.
2. Note for a particular format or structure required for your answer. The memo provides guidelines for opinion letters, persuasive briefs, memos, etc. telling you exactly what to include and sometimes what not to include.
3. If a brief is required, make sure you need to include a statement of facts, a jurisdictional statement or persuasive subject headings. The Instruction Memo will advise whether your persuasive brief requires a statement of facts or not. A persuasive brief might require a factual statement while a trial brief might not.
4. Are there specific examples/models to follow.

Read the Library

1. Although the first part of the exam booklet is the File, you’re going to begin with the Library. Reading the law first informs your subsequent reading of the File. If you read the File first, with its various excerpts from depositions, client communications and attorney notes, it would be very difficult to sift the relevant from the irrelevant information. It would not be possible to know which fact were “relevant” until you knew the law and how the cases in your jurisdictions have interpreted that law. While reading the Library first does not guarantee you won’t have to review it again, it will make your subsequent reading of the File meaningful and immediately productive.
2. Read the cases first. Often, they will explain the statutes that are also in your file, thus saving some time.
3. For each case read the earliest case first and proceed chronologically; verify the jurisdiction to determine whether it is mandatory or persuasive authority for your problem; skim the facts to get a sense of story; identify the statement of the rule including determining if it is element-based or if you need to synthesize the rule from the cases or if it is a multi-part test formulated by the court; note any footnotes.
4. Adapt the rule in the cases to form your outline. Use the elements, the prongs of a rule or the components of a statute to form the roman numerals of your outline. A general outline is then in place as you read the rest of the Library. Add to and refine your understanding of the rule as well as add any exceptions or limitations to the rule as you read the other materials in the Library.
5. Be sure to leave adequate space under each section of your outline so you can add the appropriate facts when you read the File.

Read the File

1. After reading the Library and outlining the rule, you’re ready to read the File and add the relevant facts to the appropriate places in your outline. Use your outline of the issues and rules to keep focused.
2. Write your issue above your rule outline. By reading the File with the issue clearly in place, you can more easily identify the legally relevant facts from the sea of material in front of you. As you proceed, add the critical facts to the appropriate part of your outline.
3. Characterize the legal relationship of the parties
4. Identify the relevant facts based on your knowledge of the law from the library.
5. Add these facts to the appropriate sections of your rule outline.

Begin to Write Your Answer

1. Review the Task memo and make sure your outline incorporated or accounted for each required issue; note the relevant facts; cite applicable legal authority; account for how the law and facts support your theory; and if appropriate, cite contrary authority and distinguish it.
2. Review the Instruction Memo quickly to verify your task format and its required components

Write the Required Response

1. After completing your reading of the Library and File, you’re ready to begin the task of writing. Your job is to discuss the issues and the controlling rule of law. Here is where you get your points. Don’t waste time by reciting the facts or providing needless background information.
2. Answer the question that was asked of you
3. Adopt the tone and format required for the task
4. Write persuasive subject headings including stating the legal conclusion you want the court to reach and the factual basis on which it can do so; write each point heading as a conclusory statement combining the law with the relevant facts; and write in a coherent, logical and persuasive thesis sentence.
5. Gove adequate treatment to the cases in the Library.
6. Avoid copying passages from cases or statutes.
7. Make the relevant arguments on how the law and the facts support your theory
8. Make sure the contrary authority has been cited and distinguished.
9. Cite to the appropriate authorities for statements of the rule.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

6 Days Until the Bar Exam: Analyzing the Answer Choices of the Multistate Questions for the Bar Exam

It is important to recognize that analysis of the answer choices deserves as much of your time and attention as the fact pattern or story.

Identify the Issue in Each Answer Choice

Not only is there an “issue” in the fact pattern, but there is an “issue” in each answer choice. Only the issue that addresses and answers the one presented in the fact pattern can be the correct answer choice.

Use “the Process of Elimination”

Sometimes, despite all you best efforts to work through a question according the your process, you may find that the only way to arrive at an answer choice is through the process of elimination. You’ll have to examine each of the answer choices and eliminate those that can’t possibly be correct. You’ve already learned how to eliminate an incorrect answer choice based on whether its legal theory addresses the issue in the fact pattern.

When can’t an answer choice be correct?

When it’s Not Completely Correct

When It Misstates or Misapplies a Rule of Law

When the Answer Choice Mischaracterizes the Facts

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

1 Week Until the Bar Exam: Stay the Course

Your goal for this last week is to stay the course while you solidify your knowledge of the black letter law and improve your timing.

Take care of your body and mind. This means eating well, getting some sleep and working on self-confidence.

As to practical things, make sure you have confirmed your hotel reservation, that you have packed what you need to take with you, including your admission ticket, your identification, your watch, etc.

Whatever it is you’ve been doing the past couple of weeks, keep it up. Stick with what you know, confirm you knowledge and reinstall your confidence in the material. As to the bar exam itself, make sure you have taken at least one or two simulated exams.
• Make sure your timing was within range for the MBE, MPT and the essay questions.
• Make sure your scores are within range to pass

Your focus is critical.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Analyzing the Answer Choices of the Multistate Questions for the Bar Exam

For the MBE, here is a checklist to help you choose the right answer.

Watch out for “Because,” “If,” and “unless”

Working with because

On the MBE, because is the predominant modifier and the simplest to master. Because statements are relatively straightforward. Simply ensure that the reasoning supports the conclusion both on a factual and legal basis. If either is incorrect, then the entire answer choice is incorrect and can be eliminated.

Working with if

Unlike because, when if is the answer choice modifier, you need determine only whether the reasoning could support the conclusion. It need not always be true, but only possible under the facts in the hypothetical.

Working with unless

Unless is as restrictive as because. For an unless answer choice to be correct, it must present the only circumstance under which the conclusion cannot happen. If you can conceive of even one other way the result could occur, then the answer choice cannot be correct.

If You Must Guess, Do So With a Strategy

While it sounds like an oxymoron to guess with a strategy, it’s true nonetheless. You’ve absolutely nothing to lose by guessing since there are no penalties for incorrect answers on the MBE. Even if you can narrow the odds only slightly, you’ve got a decent shot at making a correct selection.

Eliminate all the obviously incorrect answer choices

Usually you can safely eliminate one or even two responses as incorrect. Now that you’ve narrowed the field a bit, even if it’s a little bit, you’re ready to make the most of some informed guesses.

Dismiss answer choices that address other principles or unrelated rules of law

Be wary of words which speak in absolutes

Assuming that the issue is disguised, then you still need to distinguish between answer choices. In this case, carefully consider statements that include such words as always, never and must. No doubt you’ve learned as a first year law student that there are few if any certainties in the law. For practically every rule, there is an exception, if not two or three.

Finally, move on

With only 1.8 minutes per question, there’s only so much time to allow for doubt. No matter how well you’ve prepared, there are bound to be questions that present difficulty. Just don’t dwell on them or you’ll squander precious time that could be spent on questions you can answer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

MBE Question Worksheet for the Bar Exam

As you practice your approach to the MBE, you might want to use this MBE Question Worksheet to track your reasoning process until it becomes second nature.

1) What is the Subject Area?

2) What is Happening?

3) Isolate the Legally Relevant Facts

4) Steps of Analysis:

A. What is the Legal Issue?
B. What Rule of Law Addresses this Issue?
C. What Should be the Outcome?

5) Identify the Issue in Each Answer Choice:

A. What is the Issue in Answer Choice A?
B. What is the Issue in Answer Choice B?
C. What is the Issue in Answer Choice C?
D. What is the Issue in Answer Choice D?

6) What Answer Choice Best Corresponds to My Answer

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2 Weeks to the Bar Exam: Practice Makes a Passing Score

You have 2 weeks until the bar examination. Instead of spending the day getting nervous about the time, concentrate on what you have left to do.

By this time, you should have pretty much memorized as much black letter law as you can cram into your brain. It is now time to put away the books and stop studying the law.

What you now need to do in these final 2 weeks to prepare yourself for the bar exam is to practice, practice, practice and do more practice tests. You want to become some familiar with your state test and the MBE that you can almost do it in your sleep.

Try to do an essay or two every day, testing yourself on a variety of subjects that you know your state tests. Do the essays under test conditions. If your state is Florida, do a series of 1 hour essays, including subjects like property, torts, constitutional law, family law, trusts and the other subjects Florida likes to test. If you are from a state that does 30 minute tests, do 3 or 4 a day. Once you finish your essay under time constraints, an equal amount of time reading your essay and comparing it to the model answer. Read for comprehension, also. There might be a point of law that you did not know that you can learn from reading the model answer.

For those states like California who have performance tests, you also must include taking the time to do the performance test also. In California, your performance tests take 3 hours, so your practice sessions will be much time intensive. Try doing 1 performance test every other day. This way you can probably get 7 or 8 performance tests in practice prior to the bar exam. On the days you do not do a performance test, practice your essays.

In between the essays and performance tests, you also need to prepare for the Multistate. Try to get in at least 50-100 MBE questions per day, if you can. This way you can really be sharp when exam time comes.

Don’t take the time to panic, but do take the time to practice. You will be more prepared than you think possible if you follow this schedule.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The MBE – How You Get a Passing Score

The Multistate Examination is hard. You have to have a game plan when you go into the exam. Here are some suggestions:

Reading a Question

Because of time constraints, you will have time for only one reading of the fact pattern. Do not read the fact pattern as a novel. As you know, one of the major changes of the multistate is that there will be one fact pattern for one question.

You must read carefully and actively to spot signal words and legally significant facts. Pay attention to the bar examiners’ particular use of language and look for the following as you read:

1) Relationships between parties that signal the area of law and legal duties: landlord/tenant, employer/employee, principal/agent, buyer/seller;
2) Amounts of money, dates quantities and ages;
3) Words such as “oral” and “written,” “reasonable” and “unreasonable,” among others;
4) Words that indicate the actor’s state of mind. These are crucial for Criminal Law and Tort questions. Look for such language as:
• Intended
• Decided
• Mistakenly thought
• Deliberately
• Reasonably believed

Never Assume Facts

The bar examiners carefully construct MBE questions to contain all the facts you need to answer the question. You must rely solely on these facts and no others, to answer the question. Of course you may draw reasonable inferences from the facts but you cannot fabricate your own or create “what if” scenarios.

Stick to the Law

You must apply the rule of law to the facts without hesitation or equivocation. You cannot get emotionally involved with the parties or substitute your instincts for what you know is legally correct. Don’t think someone is guilty when the call of the question say he is not. That is not what the question is asking you.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The 4th of July : Incorporating Your Family and Friends in Studying for the Bar Exam

Those that really love you want to see you pass the bar. Know that with certainty. Those who are pulling and picking at you, saying you don’t have to study that long or want you to go to the clubs and party are not your true friends and do not want you to be successful. Hopefully, you have ejected them from your life for these 2 months that you are studying.

Sometimes those loved ones see you study and see your struggle and wish they could help you, but don’t know how. Bar applicants who have children find it hard to be both a parent and have a full time study plan. Don’t ignore them. Try to incorporate them into your “experience”.

I’ve known students who bring their mom to the test site. What mom does is to make sure their kid has food during the breaks, go over study material or just give their kid a shoulder to rely on during this trying event.

During this 4th of July weekend, look at those that are supporting you in ways you may not even realize. Maybe your mom makes you breakfast every morning before you leave for your bar course. Maybe your spouse is doing the heavy lifting as you study. Almost 3 weeks before the bar, let them know you appreciate their support, even if they are just getting out of your way during this stressful period.
If you have family that would like to attend a cookout this weekend, go and take a few hours off to relax your mind and have quality time with those that love you. At this point in your studies, you deserve an afternoon off. Go see the fireworks. Take the time off with no guilt attached.

For those who still want to study and for other times beyond this weekend, have your family help you. They will be glad to help and they will be proud of the little part they played in your success. Give your family members or your children one of your study books and have them test you. This is particularly good for the elements of a cause of action. By now you should be close to having them mostly memorized, but especially with those subjects that are difficult for you, have your family help you recite those causes of action. See if you can make a game out of it, with your children or family members each calling out an element of a cause of action.
You may be surprised on game day when you are calling up the exceptions to the hearsay rule and you remember the face of your loved ones yelling it out to you.

Have a wonderful 4th of July. If you worked hard, you deserve it.