Archive for May, 2009

Qualifications of Supreme Court Justices

Posted in Uncategorized on May 31, 2009 by barprofs

A friend of mine prepared this chart to compare the qualifications of the Supreme Court Justices presently on the court and Judge Sotomayor’s qualifications.                                                        

 QUALIFICATIONS OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES

 Stevens:

 Education:    B.A. and Masters in English University of Chicago, JD at Northwestern School of Law on GI bill, highest GPA in school’s history Magna Cum Laude

Professional Experience:   Int. Officer WWII, Bronze Star for Codebreaking, Clerked for SC, 18 yrs private practice w/some govt work too

District Court Experience:   0 years

Court of Appeals Experience:   5 years

Professorial Experience:   Professor at University of Chicago School of Law in Anti-Trust

Scalia

Education:    A.B. Georgetown Summa Cum Laude History, J.D. Harvard, Magna Cum Laude, Law Review Notes Editor

Professional Experience:    5 yrs private practice, 6 yrs serving as Gen Counsel for various Telecommunications Agencies for Nixon/Ford

District Court Experience:    0

Court of Appeals Experience:   4 years (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professorial Experience:   Professor at University of Virginia, University of Chicago, Georgetown, Tulane, Stanford

Kennedy

Education:    B.A. Poly Sci Stanford, LLB Harvard Law School

Professional Experience:  14 yrs private practice, various govt committee representation work

District Court Experience:   0 years

Court of Appeals Experience:  13 years

Professorial Experience:   Professor McGeorge School of Law University of Pacific (Con Law)

Breyer

Education:    A.B. Stanford, B.A. Magdalen College Oxford, LLB Harvard Law School

Professional Experience:   Clerked at SC, 15 years govt counsel work including a Watergate spec. prosecutor

District Court Experience:   0 years

Court of Appeals Experience:  14 years

Professorial Experience:   Professor Harvard Law School

Souter

Education:   A.B. Harvard, AB Magdalen College (Rhodes Scholar), M.A. Oxford, LLB Harvard Law

Professional Experience:   3 yrs private practice, New Hampshire AG office until made Atty Gen of NH

District Court Experience:  0 yrs (but 5 yrs Sup Ct. Judge NH plus 7 yrs NH Supreme Ct.)

Court of Appeals Experience:    4 months

Professorial Experience:   none

Thomas

Education:   A.B. Holy Cross (cum laude), Yale, J.D.

Professional Experience:  3 yrs Asst Atty Gen Mo, 2 yrs private practice, 11 yrs various Govt Agency work including 8 yrs head of EEOC

District Court Experience:  0 years

Court of Appeals Experience:   1 year (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professor Experience:    None

Ginsberg

 Education:   B.A., Cornell, LLB, Columbia Law School

Professional Experience:   Law Clerk S.D.N.Y., 7 yrs ACLU Gen Counsel

District Court Experience:   0 years

Court of Appeals Experience:  13 years (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professorial Experience:   19 yrs Law Professor/legal scholar at Columbia, Rutgers, and Stanford

Alito

Education:   B.A. Princeton, J.D. Yale Law School

Professional Experience:  Law Clerk (3rd Cir), 4 yrs Asst US Atty, 6 yrs Asst to Sol. Gen. and Atty Gen, 3 yrs US Atty NJ

District Court Experience:   0 years

Court of Appeals Expereince:   16 years

Professorial Experience:     Seton Hall Law Professor

Roberts (Chief Justice)

Education:   A.B. Harvard, J.D. Harvard Law School

Professional Experience:   Law Clerk (2nd Cir), SC Law Clerk, 6 yrs var govt atty jobs incl White House Counsel for Reagan, 6 yrs private practice

District Court:   0 years

Court of Appeals:   2 yrs (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professorial Experience:     None

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S APPOINTEE TO THE SUPREME COURT

Sotomayor

Education:    A.B. Princeton, Summa Cum Laude, J.D. Yale Law School, Editor of Yale Law Journal

Work Experience:   5 yrs ADA NYC, 7 yrs private practice

District Court Expereince:   7 yrs S.D.N.Y.

Court of Appeals Experience:   11 years

Professorial Experience:    NYU Law School Professor and Columbia Law School

Bringing Up the Rear – Georgia Bar Results February 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2009 by barprofs

Georgia bar exam results for February 2009 will be posted at 4:30 pm today, according to their website.  I wonder why they are so late?  Repeat takers and first time takers should already be studying for July’s bar.

Your Study Plan for the Bar – Read, Learn, Recite, Memorize, Test, and Move On

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2009 by barprofs

In addition to putting in the study time, you need to learn how to maximize your study time.   How do you go about getting the biggest bang out of your study time? 

First, build a good, solid foundation of the black letter law.  In order to have a good foundation, you must review each bar exam subject.  Go through each subject, one by one and absorb each subject as best you can.  As you go through the subject, make sure you understand the basic law before you move on.

To build a foundation of the law, you need to break the subject areas into more manageable components.  Break your subject into topics. And go through the elements of the topics of each subject.

What I mean by that is to take a subject, like Torts.  Then break the Tort subject down to topics, i.e. Negligence.   Do you know all the elements of negligence?  Do you know the elements of battery?  You can outline it and/or make sure you know it by heart before you move on.  You can do that memorization by reciting it or writing it down without looking at your notes or outlines.

Once you feel you know that topic, do a few essay questions and some MBE on that topic just so you know you have it.   

Don’t scatter-shoot your studying.  Learn the topic thoroughly before you move on to your next topic in the subject area.  Don’t go through the topics of the subject areas all at once, i.e. don’t go through battery, assault, false imprisonment and not know each one by heart.  Stop at battery, recite it, do some MBE and then move to assault, and false imprisonment and the other topics of Torts.  Do this for every topic in every subject.  You do not want to read your subject outlines like a novel. 

Read, learn, recite, memorize, test yourself and move on.

Your Study Plan for the Bar – Study, Sleep, Eat and Exercise Your Way to the Bar Exam

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2009 by barprofs

Today marks 62 days to the July bar exam.  Study, sleep, eat, and exercise. That is all you should do.  The temptation to stray or take a few hours or few days off will be with you all summer.  Birthdays and parties will continue throughout June and July; there may be weddings, graduations, and other very significant events.  You will be tempted at every turn to allow distractions from studying.  Well-meaning people who love you will say, “Oh but it’s just one party, one night.  You’re studying all summer; you can take off this one night.  It means so much to me….”  Resist those voices.  That same person who wants you to take time off will not be around or will not understand your devastation when you fail the bar exam.  Accept that you have two more months of study ahead of you. In the scheme of your lifetime, two months is not a lot of time to get yourself ready or to sacrifice to get yourself ready.  It’s worth two months of your time to have a lifetime career as a lawyer. 

 It’s all about getting yourself ready for the best performance of your life in July.  In August you can make it up to everyone around you, but now just focus.

Happy Studying!!!

The New Supreme Court Pick will be Sonia Sotomayor

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2009 by barprofs

The new Supreme Court pick will be Sonia Sotomayor.  She’s from the 2nd Court of Appeals and she will be the first Hispanic justice, if approved by the Senate.

Sonia Sotomayor graduated with a BA from Princeton University, summa cum laude, in 1976 and earned her JD from Yale Law School where she was the editor of the Yale Law Journal.  Judge Sotomayor served as an Assistant DA in New York, was in private partner and was then  nominated by President George H. Bush in 1991 to the District Court for the Southern District of New York.  She took her seat in August of 1992. 

In 1995, Judge Sotomayor effectively ended the baseball strike when she issued a preliminary injunction against the owners, preventing them from using replacement players.  In another case, she issued an order allowing the Wall Street Journal to publish Vince Foster’s suicide note.

President Bill Clinton nominated Judge Sotomayor to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Senate blocked her nomination for over a year, but she was finally approved in 1998.

Interestingly, she threw out the firefighter case in New Haven  that alleged reverse discrimination against white firefighters when New Haven threw out the exam because there are virtually no minority firefighters in New Haven.  The Supreme Court has that case now and will be announcing their decision soon.  My guess is that Judge Sotomayor’s decision will be reversed.

She is considerate a moderate liberal.   Apparently, the conservatives are going to be gearing up for a fight.  But I suspect, conservatives would have been unhappy with any pick.

She has had lifelong diabetes.   Her parents are from Puerto Rico, an American territory.

 

Congratulations to Judge Sotomayor.

Crunch Time to the Bar – Do You Have Your Study Plan?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2009 by barprofs

Congratulations to all the law school graduates and the families that supported you through your law studies. 

Why a study plan?  In order to pass the bar, you need two things:  time-management and discipline.  Sticking to a study plan will conquer both requirements.  Thorough preparation is the key to passing the exam and having a plan in place will allow you to manage your time and using your discipline to stick to the study schedule. For a plan to work, you have to address your learning style as well as the substantive areas you will be tested on.

What do I mean by learning style?  Ask yourself, how do you learn?  What worked for you in law school?  Some people like reading outlines, some like to do practice questions and then read the answer explanations, some like to do their own outlines, or make up flashcards.  You should know the answer to this question by now.  How do you best learn or memorize the substantive law?  Also, ask yourself, when do you best learn?  I personally am a better morning learner.  As the day goes on, I start to lose focus.  I also like to do my work in blocks of time.  My colleague is like a sprinter.  He focuses on his work in short bursts.  I’m like a marathon runner.  I like to do my work, and, not be disturbed for a few hours at a time.  While practicing law, I tell my secretary to hold all calls for a stretch of time until I’m ready to take a break. What works for you?  Do you like the evening hours to study, do you take frequent breaks.  Know all of that before you write your study plan.  Also, just prior to the bar, switch over to the bar schedule.  Get up early, as if you are taking the bar, and work for those 3 hours as if you are sitting for the bar, break for lunch and do another 3 hour stretch to mimic the bar.

For your study plan, you should first start with relearning and reviewing the outlines with some practice questions thrown in and as you pick up the pace, you’ll reverse it and do more practice questions and essays and only use your outlines for clarification on questions you get wrong or confused about. 

In the beginning, you are going to struggle with the voluminous materials, but keep at it and keep pushing the pace.  It’s like training for a race.  You first have to struggle through the repetition until it starts feeling right and you start performing at your optimal level.

Be realistic with your goals and your study habits.  For example, you can’t go throughout the entire day with no lunch or no exercise or no breaks because you were unrealistic in the time aspect of your plan.  You have to write a study plan that suits you and your personality without slacking off.

Don’t ignore your weak areas or your strong areas.  You may not need to schedule as much time in your stronger subjects, but review them as consistently as you do all the other subjects.  You may not need to read or reread the outlines of your strong subjects, but during those time periods, practice your questions.  You may need those extra points on the bar.  For your weaker subjects, don’t spend too much time obsessing on your lack of knowledge or take away from other subjects you also need to study; and do not ignore your weak subjects.  All bar examinees have weak subjects.  Again, spend time on those subjects as you would other subjects and just keep practicing.  You’ll be surprised at how much you really do know in those weak subjects. 

Where should you study?  Again, that depends on your learning style.  Can you get work done at home or does the distraction of the television or the computer or the phone make you turn it on? Does studying at your school make you study more or do your fellow students distract you and make you chatter rather than study?  Make sure wherever you go that it is quiet.  Turn off the phone, the text messaging, and the internet.  This is too important for you and your career to be easily distracted.  Let’s face it – none of us what to spend the next 6 weeks in constant study – it’s torture.  As the holidays go by, the warm weather beckons you outside, you are stuck inside studying, studying, studying and having absolutely  no fun at all.  Just remember this is your career you are talking about.  You sacrificed to go to law school, you can sacrifice for the next 6 weeks and you’ll be a lawyer for the rest of your career.

Should you have study partners?  I am not a fan of them, myself, but I have changed my mind as I’ve seen many a successful pair that have pushed and pulled each other, with both coming out successfully in the end.  I would not advise more than 1 other study partner except on rare occasions.  For those who like to study alone, maybe once a few days, studying with someone can help keep you focused.  I also think that knowing you are not the only one studying away is helpful to keep up your morale. 

I have a few more ideas for you but I’ll leave that to another day.

A Comparison Between February 2009 Bar Exam Results and July 2008 Bar Exam Results

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2009 by barprofs

I noticed , as I was posting the results of the various bar exams, that the February 2009 bar results were much lower than the July 2008 bar results, across the board and across the jurisdictions.  Let’s look at a few jurisdictions for first time takers:

State            February 2009                July 2008                 Change

                                                              

Florida        67.8%                                 87.8%                      20%

Ohio              77.3%                                 88.8%                     11.5%

California       47%                                    75%                       28%

DC                     57%                                   71%                        14%

NY                    73.3%                               91.0%                  17.7%

Texas               77.3%                               85.2%                   7.9%

CT                      63.7%                                81.6%                  17.9%

How do we interpret these numbers?  Are February numbers traditionally lower or was it a common denominator like the MBE that was harder this go around? 

February numbers are usually lower than July number, despite the fact that we usually just look at the first time takers.  If we went back for a few years, February numbers are lower than July bar results.  Connecticut does a comparison from February 2000 to present and their average February numbers are 68.1% while their July numbers average out to 77.4%.  Using Connecticut numbers, the difference between February bar results and July bar results are dramatic.

What about the MBE?  Do you think that the MBE is getting harder?  I heard from my students that some of the questions were truly bizarre and “not what they expected” on the February 2009 test.  As we know, MBE consistently evaluates and reevaluates its questions and we’ll see on July 2009 test whether the changes on the MBE are going to make a striking difference.

MBE Changes for July 29, 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2009 by barprofs

We would like everyone to be alerted to the changes on the MBE, effective, this July, so that all law school graduates will be prepared.

For those not taking the commercial bar review courses, studying on their own and/or who may be using materials from prior years, please be aware of these changes in the 200 question format of the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE):

  1.  There will be No “none of the above” or “all of the above” answer choices.
  2. There will be no “if” or “unless” in the answer choices.
  3. The MBE examiners will not use names, but will use common nouns (e.g. a painter, not Pat the painter).
  4. There will be no roman numeral or “K-type” questions (e.g., I is true, but II and III are not true).
  5. Instead, only one question will relate to one fact pattern.

I wonder if this will make the MBE harder or easier to understand?  Knowing the MBE, I think it will make the MBE harder.

I think most are just cosmetic changes, for example, using plaintiff or defendant instead of some ridiculous sounding names.  For my final exam one semester, just to mess with my students, I used all of their names in my fact pattern.  I didn’t know if the student would be distracted by it, but they were actually quite pleased.  I was surprised at their reactions.  A few even came up to me to thank me for making them the DA or the mayor or something equally important sounding.  Of course, I made sure none of them were the criminal defendants.

Using “none of the above” or “all of the above” in the answer choices could sometimes be tricky as well as the roman numeral or K-type questions, but I always found , the “if” or “unless” changes to the fact pattern to sometimes be so tricky, you end up blowing the question.  I think it was wise to get rid of the “if” and “unless” questions.

The most significant change and, I think, probably the most interesting change, is the series of question for one fact pattern.  I think we all went through law school with those types of questions.  The one problem with them is that if you didn’t read the question thoroughly, just glanced at it, or missed something significant in the fact pattern, you could blow 3 or 4 questions off of just one fact pattern.  The upside was you only had to read a fact pattern once and you could blow by 3 or 4 questions quickly, earning some breathing room for the 100 questions per session.  I wonder now if this will end up hurting the slower reading applicants or if it will help them.  I guess we’ll see how the MBE scores changes next September and October.

Michigan Bar Results for February 2009 Have Been Mailed

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2009 by barprofs

This afternoon, the Michigan Bar Examiners have posted a notice that the results of the February 2009 bar examination were released to applicants on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The results were mailed by United States Postal Service to the address registered with the Board of Law Examiners.

The names of certified passers will be posted on their web site on May 22, 2009
after 12:00 p.m. Applicants will be listed by name only.

Good luck to Michigan takers. Let us know how you do.

What’s Up With Michigan Bar Exam Results for February 2009?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2009 by barprofs

The law graduates who took the Michigan Bar Exam in February 2009 have still not received their results yet. What’s up with the wait? I have personally taken and passed 3 bars and each wait was an eternity. By now, I’m sure the applicants are feeling anxious and nervous.  Why make it even worse by this untenable wait for results? Even the biggest jurisdictions, like California and New York, have come out. Michigan can’t be that hard to grade. It is also makes it even harder, if the applicant failed, to not have as much time as possible to first grieve over not passing and then to begin the studying process for July. Michigan needs to speed up their results, for real.

For those still waiting, I hope you have good news when Michigan gets around to giving you the results.