Darkness falls upon the land. Blood-curdling screams are heard in the distance. Is it a werewolf attack? The zombie apocalypse? No, something far more sinister…The Bar Exam.
On this Halloween, I want to tell you the spine-chilling tale of The Bar Examiner. A great many law school graduates have fallen victim to this blood-thirsty fiend. Some have survived to tell the tale, while others have disappeared from the legal profession, never to be seen again.
Does The Bar Examiner possess supernatural powers? If by supernatural, you mean having the power to destroy your dreams of becoming a licensed attorney, then I’m afraid the answer is “yes”. While The Bar Examiner cannot damn you straight to the fires of hell, it can send you to purgatory where you would exist in an agonizing state of limbo between law school and the practice of law.
Does this monster get its evil powers direct from Satan? Well, not exactly. The Bar Examiner derives its authority from your state’s Office of Bar Admissions. How does it exercise such evil powers over innocent law school graduates? By giving you a score that does not reflect your true knowledge and ability on the essays and MPT (Multistate Performance Test).
Just like vampires and werewolves can turn you into one of their kind with a single bite, the attorneys who grade your bar exam answers can transform you into one of their own with a single stroke of their red pen. But, before they will bestow their powers upon you, they must deem you worthy enough to join their ranks. Therefore, you must prove that you can think and express yourself like a member of the legal profession.
To succeed, you must do the following:
- Answer essay questions in the time allotted. Just like a vampire racing back to his coffin before the coming sunrise, time is not on your side when you are taking the bar exam. Therefore, you must practice writing essay and MPT answers under timed conditions to be sure that you will succeed in writing complete answers under the tremendous time pressures of the actual exam.
- What will it take to appease The Bar Examiner? A human sacrifice? Your first-born child? No. To satisfy this monster you must organize your answer in a way that is pleasing to the grader and makes his or her job easier by responding to the issues in a logical order. Use complete sentences and paragraphs that are responsive to the call of the question. Respond to all parts of the question and avoid angering the grader by raising issues that are not responsive to the call of the question.
- Like a silver bullet or a stake through the heart, The Bar Examiner does have a weakness: the IRAC method. If you use it effectively to identify key issues, cite relevant RULES of black-letter law, analyze facts, and reason to a lawyer-like conclusion then IRAC will be your silver bullet. Use it to craft an answer that leaves The Bar Examiner no choice but to give you a passing score.
- On Halloween, zombies roam the earth in search of human brains. Similarly, bar exam graders are seeking evidence that you have a brain (and know how to use it). Therefore, they are not simply looking for the “right” answer. Instead they want an essay that demonstrates your ability to engage in legal thought and analysis. The value of your answer is not based upon the conclusion reached, but rather your understanding of the facts, recognition of the issues, use of applicable principles of law, and the reasoning by which you arrive at your conclusion.
If you follow my advice, you just might live to tell the tale of the day you crossed paths with The Bar Examiner!