Issue spotting on exams

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robin600
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Issue spotting on exams

Postby robin600 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:41 pm

So I'm starting to go over some practice midterms and I'm having a hard time spotting some of the issues. Does anyone have any tips for spotting issues? I feel like I know the BLL pretty good, but I'm not quite sure how to find the issues on the exams. Tips, advice? If it matters, I find it easier to spot in subjects like Torts, and harder in Contracts.

Oban
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby Oban » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:44 pm

If you know the BLL down then you'd be able to spot(most of) the issues. Most should be obvious, but there are always hidden/obscurer issues. If you can't spot the majority of them then you need better mastery of the BLL

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robin600
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby robin600 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:56 pm

I do know the BLL, I just can't seem to spot the issues as easily as others, but I can recite the BLL off the top of my head. Any advice on what helps you spot the issues?

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ZXCVBNM
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby ZXCVBNM » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:15 pm

Practice and learn from your mistakes. So subjects and profs are harder than others. Remember it's all on a curve so see how your classmates are doing.

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GeePee
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby GeePee » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:18 pm

Well, 1L here, obviously in a similar situation, but here's what's helped me so far:

First of all, repetition seems to help a lot. There are only so many ways to frame a particular issue; after a couple times around, you'll be able to spot some patterns and figure out what an issue "looks like."

Second, try to just develop a basic mental checklist. In K's, for example, make sure you're starting by thinking about the basic elements that comprise a contract. Go through the motions: Who are the parties? Has a K been formed? What are the terms of that K? If a K has been formed, is it enforceable? Was D's breach justifiable? Has P been harmed, and how? If P has a reasonable claim, what damages should he seek? This is A LOT easier than, for each piece of BLL, saying, "can the promisor exercise promissory estoppel?" or "has the promisee mitigated damages?" or "was this K formed by mutual assent?" You need more abstraction than that at first when reading a fact pattern. It's a lot easier to find an address if you're already in the right zip code.

Once you have a basic checklist to start with, you'll start spotting the facts in the fact pattern which call into question each element there. In some (read: few) cases, the answer will be apparent. In others, you'll have facts which tell you two different stories about whether the answer to the particular question is yes or no. Those are the issues you want to focus on.

Finally, spend a lot of time comparing your answer to the model answer. This part is sort of like studying for the LSAT. Sure, you get some value out of just taking an exam, but you get a lot more value out of figuring out why your answer might be insufficient, and the model answer is good. Obviously, it's not quite as cut and dry -- there is not just one "credited response" -- but you'll still be able to figure out which parts of your answer were lacking, and which rules you might not have understood.
Last edited by GeePee on Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kalvano
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby kalvano » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:18 pm

Have you read Getting To Maybe?

The entire book is about spotting issues.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby Anonymous Loser » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:00 am

Protip: Every fact is there for a reason.

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stocksly33
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby stocksly33 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:09 am

Anonymous Loser wrote:Protip: Every fact is there for a reason.


including red herrings

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stocksly33
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby stocksly33 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:11 am

GeePee wrote:Well, 1L here, obviously in a similar situation, but here's what's helped me so far:

First of all, repetition seems to help a lot. There are only so many ways to frame a particular issue; after a couple times around, you'll be able to spot some patterns and figure out what an issue "looks like."

Second, try to just develop a basic mental checklist. In K's, for example, make sure you're starting by thinking about the basic elements that comprise a contract. Go through the motions: Who are the parties? Has a K been formed? What are the terms of that K? If a K has been formed, is it enforceable? Was D's breach justifiable? Has P been harmed, and how? If P has a reasonable claim, what damages should he seek? This is A LOT easier than, for each piece of BLL, saying, "can the promisor exercise promissory estoppel?" or "has the promisee mitigated damages?" or "was this K formed by mutual assent?" You need more abstraction than that at first when reading a fact pattern. It's a lot easier to find an address if you're already in the right zip code.

Once you have a basic checklist to start with, you'll start spotting the facts in the fact pattern which call into question each element there. In some (read: few) cases, the answer will be apparent. In others, you'll have facts which tell you two different stories about whether the answer to the particular question is yes or no. Those are the issues you want to focus on.

Finally, spend a lot of time comparing your answer to the model answer. This part is sort of like studying for the LSAT. Sure, you get some value out of just taking an exam, but you get a lot more value out of figuring out why your answer might be insufficient, and the model answer is good. Obviously, it's not quite as cut and dry -- there is not just one "credited response" -- but you'll still be able to figure out which parts of your answer were lacking, and which rules you might not have understood.


that was very helpful. seriously, thanks.

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robin600
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby robin600 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:26 am

so I'm a huge dumbass. It helps when you take an exam that has issues that you have studied so far, not ones that you will learn about...goddammit. Sorry guys

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traehekat
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby traehekat » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:36 am

robin600 wrote:so I'm a huge dumbass. It helps when you take an exam that has issues that you have studied so far, not ones that you will learn about...goddammit. Sorry guys


haha can't spot the issues if you dont know what the issues are!

if you have like, a ridiculous amount of practice exams (like some from other schools), i think you can still go through them and spot the issues you DO know. spotting the issues is only half the battle anyway. you need to practice "lawyer-like reasoning/analysis" and intertwining the facts and the law. issue spotting is a little easier to get a system down for, like others have said (checklists, etc.). the skill of analysis isn't so straightforward though, so practice can help even if you don't know ALL of the law yet. just do one piece at a time.

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nealric
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby nealric » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:41 am

I think making a list of possible issues is key. Put together an issue outline that breaks down the main issues, the sub issues, and the sub-sub issues. If the exam is open note, use that list as a checklist, and make sure you at least mentioned everything on the list that could at least potentially apply.

Old exams, if available can help you identify what the potential issues are.

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kalvano
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby kalvano » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:43 am

nealric wrote:I think making a list of possible issues is key. Put together an issue outline that breaks down the main issues, the sub issues, and the sub-sub issues.


That's awesome advice.

sk95
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby sk95 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:15 pm

kalvano wrote:Have you read Getting To Maybe?

The entire book is about spotting issues.


too late to read it now-no time

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kalvano
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby kalvano » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:37 pm

sk95 wrote:
kalvano wrote:Have you read Getting To Maybe?

The entire book is about spotting issues.


too late to read it now-no time


It's pretty short.

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GeePee
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby GeePee » Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:06 pm

sk95 wrote:
kalvano wrote:Have you read Getting To Maybe?

The entire book is about spotting issues.


too late to read it now-no time

Seriously -- it's worth your time. At this point in the game you'll probably get more direction out of it than reading a supplement.

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joobacca
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby joobacca » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:02 pm

What a previous poster said is good, that every fact is important. If you're not thinking about every fact, then there might be something wrong with your approach.

I would also practice a lot and read a lot of model answers. You might notice that the analysis isn't all that exceptional, but a ton of issues are spotted. Honestly, I can't think of a substitute for going through as many hypos as possible.

I even abandoned actually writing out exams answers for practice exams, and would rather go through as many as possible (since I started studying late and didn't have much time to write out answers) and familiarize myself how certain issues arise. The exact facts might not be the same, but, in an abstract sense, they are pretty similar.

Also, crunch time is pretty awesome. The flow charts can help you spot issues. By exam time, you're not going to have time to use a flow chart, but if you study the flow charts then I feel like you'll increase your chances of spotting more issues.

bleedcubbieblue
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby bleedcubbieblue » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:11 pm

nealric wrote:I think making a list of possible issues is key. Put together an issue outline that breaks down the main issues, the sub issues, and the sub-sub issues. If the exam is open note, use that list as a checklist, and make sure you at least mentioned everything on the list that could at least potentially apply.

Old exams, if available can help you identify what the potential issues are.


Anyone care to post an example of a "issue outline"?

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robin600
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Re: Issue spotting on exams

Postby robin600 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:04 pm

Also anyone have any success using commercial practice tests for issue spotting? My prof only has two practice tests available to us (both from the 80s) without model answers, and all are final exams that deal with offer and acceptance etc... (we've only done breach, remedies, and consideration)




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