Archive for June, 2009

The Components of the California Performance Test and the Multistate Performance Test

Posted in Uncategorized on June 30, 2009 by barprofs

The California Performance Test and the Multistate Performance Test simulates the experiences of a new attorney. 

You’ll be given a client “File” and asked to complete what would be considered a typical assignment for a first year associate.  Most likely, you’ll be asked to write a legal memorandum or persuasive brief, although it is possible to be asked to draft interrogatories, a will provision or a closing argument.  Although you may not have performed all of these types of tasks during law school, the bar examiners expect you to be able to follow their instruction memo and rely on your basic legal training to complete the assignment.

Each task is designed to test your legal skills such as fact analysis, fact gathering, legal analysis and reasoning, problem solving and ethical issue problems.

The Components of the CPT and the MPT

The File

Here you’ll find the factual information about your case in the form of:

  • Excerpts from deposition testimony
  • Client correspondence
  • Police reports and medical records
  • Invoices and purchase orders
  • Witness interviews
  • Contract provisions, a lease, or a will.

While the File contains all the facts you need to know about your problem, it also contains irrelevant information just as in real life where your client will volunteer much more information than you actually need.  The File will include irrelevant or ambiguous information, unreliable and conflicting witness testimony and inconsistent statements.

The “Task” Memo

This is the first memorandum in the File and the single most important piece of paper in the File.  It introduces your problem and identifies your task.  Your job is to answer the questions presented in the memo and perform the assigned task as precisely as possible.

The Instruction Memo

If the bar examiners think you need guidance in completing your task, they’ll include a second memo in the File.  This memo will tell you exactly what to include in your answer.  Sometimes the examiners tell you what not to include in your answer.

The Library

The Library contains all the legal authorities you’ll need to complete the assigned task.  They are the only legal authorities you may use to solve the problem.  The Library may consist of: 

  • Statues, codes and commentaries
  • Constitutional provisions and regulations
  • Rules of professional conduct
  • Cases
  • Secondary sources such as Reinstatement provisions

The cases may be actual cases, modified cases, or cases written specifically for the exam.  The rules also may be actual rules or rules written specifically for the exam.  Even if you think you are familiar with a rule or a case from law school, you must still read all the material in the Library.  You cannot assume that the material has not been modified.

Next time, we will discuss the best approach to answering the performance test.

29 Days Until the Bar Exam: Strategies for the California Performance Test

Posted in Uncategorized on June 29, 2009 by barprofs

The California Performance Test and the Multistate Performance Test (the MPT) is designed to test your proficiency in the basic skills you’ve developed in the course of your legal education and not just your ability to memorize.  The goal of the MPT is to test an applicant’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation.  It seeks to evaluate your ability to complete a task which a beginning lawyer should be able to accomplish.

In most jurisdictions, you’ll have 90 minutes to read through 15 to 25 pages, analyze the problem, outline an answer, and write a response.  In California, you’ll see one long MPT for 3 hours.  Thus, the MPT is a test of your ability to work within time constraints and remain focused and organized.

The MPT tests the following:

1)      Reading Comprehension

You must read proactively, with a critical eye toward solving a specific problem rather than answering a professor’s questions in class.  You must read carefully and quickly, while you search for useful information and answers to the particular issue you’ve been asked to resolve.

2)      Organizational Skills

You must organize your time and the materials effectively to complete the required task in the time allowed.  The MPT is extremely time-sensitive.  You must analyze an assortment of unfamiliar materials and compose either a memorandum of law, a letter to a client, a persuasive brief, a contract provision, a will, a settlement proposal, a discovery plan, or a closing argument, to list but a few of the possibilities.

3)      Communication Skills

You must write concisely, coherently, and in  a tone and manner consistent with the nature of the assignment.  You must demonstrate your mastery of the language of the law and convince the bar examination that you “sound” like an attorney ready to begin the practice of law.

4)      Ability to Follow Directions

The MPT is task-specific.  You must perform the task identified to receive credit.   If you are instructed to write a letter to the client, do that.  Do not do a brief or a memo; write the letter.  Show the bar examiners that you can read and follow directions. 

Next time, we will talk about how to organize your performance test.

The Keys to Passing the California Bar Exam Essays: “The System”

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2009 by barprofs

First, to be successful on the California essay portion of the bar exam, you must implement the correct “system” in attacking, writing, and analyzing your essays.

Once you read the fact pattern, you will organize your essay, then you must analyze.

This is where you make the outline looking for issues. Look back to the fact pattern for facts which should be used for applying the law and then you can apply the facts to the law.

Please go to barprofessors.com for more information on the California and Florida bar exams

Organization and Analysis: Essay Writing for the Bar Exam

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 by barprofs

In order to write a successful essay answer you must learn to organize your answer as your analyze the fact pattern.

Once you read the fact pattern, you will organize your essay, then you must analyze.

This is where you look through the fact pattern for facts which should be used for applying the law and then you can apply the facts to the law.

The Mechanics of a Good Essay Answer for the Bar Exam

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2009 by barprofs

I am including a checklist as to the mechanics of a good answer for a bar essay.  Whether you are writing an essay question in California or in Florida or in any other jurisdiction, use this checklist as a model for all your answers.  As you practice your essay writing, keep this checklist in mind.

 

You must state a rule of law.

You must apply the rules to the facts.

You must reach a conclusion.

 Keep Sentences Short

Keep your sentences short and concise.  You are not writing a book or some thesis.

Write for an Uninformed Reader

Use your IRAC.  For those applicants in New York, that state requies you to use IRAC in answering your essay question.

Also, restate your question as an answer or conclude how you want the court to rule and then why.

Conclusion

Take the call of question and convert it into a statement.

5 Weeks Left to the Bar Exam: Approaching the Essay Question

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2009 by barprofs

In order to be successful on the state essay question:

Read the Call of the Question First

Read The Essay Fact Pattern Carefully

Outline an Answer

Write an Answer

Remember to write in the order that the call of the question presents itself.  If you have an (A) and a (B), don’t do (B) first;  write in order that the question is given.

 

The Hardest Bar in the Nation: California Results by Law School for February 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on June 22, 2009 by barprofs

I thought it would be interesting to also post the California Non-ABA accredited schools to see how they stack up with the California ABA accredited schools. Yesterday, I posted the results of the California ABA accredited schools. 

The California ABA accredited schools had a 53% first time bar pass rate and a 37% repeat-taker bar pass rate. 

Out of state ABA accredited schools had a 45% first time bar pass rate and a 33% repeat-taker bar pass rate.

Here are the list of Non-ABA accredited and some non California accredited schools.  Surprisingly enough, the correspondence schools seem to have the best bar pass rate of all the non accredited schools.  It looks like going to a California ABA accredited school is still your best bet to pass the bar.

It still looks like California holds the title of the hardest bar in the nation.

 

CALIFORNIA ACCREDITED, NOT ABA APPROVED LAW SCHOOLS

LAW SCHOOL:   FIRST TIME:  TOOK/PASS/%PASS…………………REPEATERS:  TOOK/PASS/%PASS

 

California Northern:   0/0/0%—–9/1/11%

Empire College:  3/1/33%—–21/4/19%

Glendale Univ:   2/2/100%—–21/2/10%

Humphreys College:   1/0/0%—-9/1/11%

John F. Kennedy Univ:   12/2/17%—-39/2/5%

Lincoln Law School of Sacramento:  1/0/0%—-27/2/2%

Lincoln Law School of San Jose:  7/2/29%—20/3/15%

Monterey College of Law:  10/4/40%—20/0/0%

New College of California School of Law:  2/0/0%—54/3/6%

San Francisco Law School:  2/0/0%—-35/4/11%

San Joaquin College of Law:  1/1/100%—-44/12/27%

Santa Barbara College of Law:  13/7/54%—–13/0/0%

Southern California Institute of Law — Santa Barbara: 0/0/0%—4/1/25%

Southern California Institute of Law – Ventura:  3/0/0%—-11/0/0%

Trinity Law School:  21/1/5%—-55/3/5%

University of West Los Angeles School of Law – San Fernando Valley: 3/1/33%—-14/0/0%

University of West Los Angeles School of Law – West Los Angeles:  17/4/24%—74/10/14%

Ventura College of Law: 12/2/17%—–23/3/13%

 Total:  110/27/25%——493/55/11%

 

 

CALIFORNIA UNACCREDITED LAW SCHOOLS – CORRESPONDENCE

LAW SCHOOL:   FIRST TIME:  TOOK/PASS/%PASS………………REPEATERS:  TOOK/PASS/%PASS

Newport University School of Law:  1/0/0%—–5/0/0%

Northwestern California University: 7/3/43%—-21/3/14%

Oak Brook College of Law & Government Policy:  9/5/56%—-7/2/29%

Southern California University For Professional Studies:  1/0/0%—3/0/0%

University of Honolulu School of Law:  0/0/0%—-1/0/0%

West Coast School of Law:  1/0/0%—-5/0/0%

William Howard Taft University:  6/2/33%—-13/1/8%

Total:  25/10/40%——55/6/11%

 

CALIFORNIA UNACCREDITED LAW SCHOOLS – DISTANCE LEARNING

LAW SCHOOL:   FIRST TIME:   TOOK/PASS/%PASS…………REPEATERS:   TOOK/PASS/%PASS

Abraham Lincoln Univ: 19/2/11%————-57/3/5%

Concord Law School:  54/18/33%————-55/11/20%

Total:  73/20/27%————112/14/13%

 

CALIFORNIA UNACCREDITED LAW SCHOOLS – FIXED-FACILITY

LAW SCHOOL:   FIRST TIME:   TOOK/PASS/%PASS………………………REPEATERS:   TOOK/PASS/%PASS

American College:   0/0/0%——-18/1/6%

California So. Law School:  3/0/0%——26/2/8%

Inland Valley University College of Law:  1/0/0%——-0/0/0%

Irvine University College of Law:  0/0/0%——2/0/0%

John William University School of Law:  0/0/0%—–1/0/0%

Larry H. Layton School of Law:  0/0/0%——-1/0/0%

Pacific Coast University School of Law:  7/0/0%—-18/0/0%

Pacific West College of Law:   4/0/0%—-10/0/0%

Peoples College of Law:     3/0/0%—–10/1/10%

University of San Luis Obispo School of Law:   2/0/0%—-1/0/0%

Northern California Lorenzo Patino School of Law:  2/0/0%—-17/0/0%

Western Sierra Law School:   2/0/0%—-10/0/0%

Total:     24/0/0%——114/4/4%

California Law Schools Bar Results for February 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2009 by barprofs

California released their results by law school for the February 2009 bar.  I hope all states will eventually be as transparent with the bar results as California is.  First, I will post the ABA accredited schools:

CALIFORNIA ABA APPROVED LAW SCHOOLS

………………………………….FIRST-TIMERS……..………………………REPEATERS

LAW SCHOOL……TOOK……PASS…%PASS…TOOK…PASS…%PASS

California Western———68——-44——–65%————53——-23——–43%

Chapman University——10———3——–30%————54——-19——–35%

Golden Gate University–37——–19——–51%————66——-22——–33%

Loyola Law School-LA—28——–15——–54%————64——-22——–34%

McGeorge——————–41——–25———61%———–70——-25———36%

Pepperdine Univ——–11——–9———82%————22——-9———41%

Santa Clara Univ——26——-13———50%————45——-22——–49%

Southwestern Univ—–36——-19———53%————85——-29——–34%

Stanford——————–10——-7———-70%————5——–3———60%

Thomas Jefferson———64——27———-42%————59——-18——–31%

UC – Berkeley————–7——-4———–57%————29——-15——–52%

UC – Davis—————-10——-7———–70%————39——-16——–41%

UC – Hastings————17——-10———-59%————79——-40——–51%

UC – Los Angeles———12——-9———–75%————30——-13——–43%

La Verne College———12——-3———–25%————40——-13——–33%

Univ. of San Diego——-42——-22———-52%————67——-25——–37%

Univ. of San Francisco—15——-7———–47%————34——-17——–50%

USC—————————–12——7————-58%———–21——–11——-52%

Western State———–19—–6————–32%———–88——–20——-23%

Whittier Law School—–27—–12————44%———–84——–23——-27%

Total———————-504—-268———53%——–1034—–385——37%   

Post Conviction DNA Testing is Not a Constitutional Right

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2009 by barprofs

Yesterday, the Supreme Court said that while DNA possesses a unique ability to free the innocent and convict the guilty, the justices nonetheless ruled that prisoners do not have a constitutional right to demand DNA testing of evidence that remains in police files.  The United States Supreme Court ruled  that prisoners do not have a constitutional right to DNA testing after their conviction,  even though the technology provides an “unparalleled ability both to exonerate the wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty.”  Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for a majority that said it is up to the states and Congress to decide who has a right to testing that might prove innocence long after conviction.  The “challenges DNA technology poses to our criminal justice systems and our traditional notions of finality” are better left to elected officials than federal judges, Roberts wrote for the majority in a 5 to 4 decision.  “To suddenly constitutionalize this area would short-circuit what looks to be a prompt and considered legislative response,” Judge Roberts wrote. “A criminal defendant proved guilty after a fair trial does not have the same liberty interests as a free man,” he wrote, and thus states have more “flexibility” in deciding procedures for post-conviction relief.

William G. Osborne was convicted of the brutal rape and assault of a prostitute in a secluded area near Anchorage International Airport in 1993. Osborne wanted to pay for a more discerning test of semen found in a condom at the crime scene, a test prosecutors agreed would almost definitively prove his guilt or innocence. But prosecutors refused to allow it, and Alaska courts agreed that Osborne did not qualify under the procedures they had established.

While Roberts stressed the virtues of judicial restraint, the dissenters said the court was abdicating its duty to seek justice.

Dissenting justices, led by John Paul Stevens, said the right to post-conviction DNA testing should not depend on the widely varying laws enacted by the states. Allowing a prisoner to test DNA evidence at his own expense would “ascertain the truth once and for all,” Stevens wrote.

Only four states — Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts and Oklahoma — do not have laws in place specifically dealing with postconviction DNA testing, and Alabama recently enacted one limited to death row inmates that will become effective soon. Many states that do allow postconviction testing impose conditions on who may seek it. Including Alabama, 47 states and the federal government have enacted laws or rules that allow prisoners under some circumstances to obtain DNA tests, the high court said.

Essay Writing for the Bar Exam

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2009 by barprofs

Essay writing is a  skill that you must master in order to pass the bar exam. For those persons who have failed the bar exam and are repeat takers, you have to examine how you have answered your essays and look for ways to improve your performance.

Always, write for an uninformed audience. For example, assume your audience knows nothing about the law. The bar examiners look for how well you know the substantive knowledge and how well you apply it.

You want to be able to show you can communicate the law, through your essay, in an organized fashion. If you are poorly organized, the examiner will find it hard to follow your train of thought or to give you much needed points. Your writing skills do matter as does spelling and grammar and using legal terminology.

Practice Time Management

Practice Writing

Keep sentences short and concise