Getting the law wrong on essays

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iliketurtles123

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Getting the law wrong on essays

Postby iliketurtles123 » Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:03 pm

I think I'm a decent essay writer and I'm decent at issue spotting and analysis. I'm guessing if I got all the laws correct, I'd get about a 65 or 70 or maybe a 75

However, the only problems with my essays are that I'm sure I've gotten a couple laws incorrect. Nothing major but still incorrect.
For example, in a professional responsibility question, there are issues of whether the lawyer should withdraw or decline representation (this is not a real essay question. This is something that happened to me during my prep)

If I write: Lawyer should decline for reasons A, B, and C, and withdraw for D, E and F. [Analyze based on these laws]
However, the correct answer is: Lawyer should decline for reasons A and B, and withdraw for reasons B, E and F

Essentially, i get some of the law right, but some of it is incorrect.
So if there are about 6-10 of these legal issues (ie: duty of loyalty, duty to withdraw, duty of competence, etc.) and i get about 1-3 incorrect, how much does that hurt my score?

9xSound

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Re: Getting the law wrong on essays

Postby 9xSound » Sun Jul 31, 2016 3:33 pm

You're focusing on the wrong thing, IMO. The essays test more than your knowledge of the BLL. The purpose of the essays is to see whether the candidate thinks about factual situations like a lawyer. The graders know that no competent lawyer would ever approach a case relying on memorized law. You look it up. And there are many examples from released model answers with incorrect rule statements, yet the essay received a high score nevertheless. The money is in your analysis. They want to see what you are going to do with the facts that they've given you. Obviously, you cannot expect a high score if you get a lot of rules completely wrong. But when you don't know the precise rule on point, many prep companies will tell you to make up a reasonable rule, then analyze the facts in light of your rule. How you handle the facts matters more than an occasional blown rule statement. Bar candidates go into the test site and puke BLL all over their papers, then wonder why they failed when they clearly knew the law inside out. It's often because they were too busy showing how much law they'd memorized to do anything meaningful with the facts. Thinking like a lawyer means thinking about the facts.

Go back to the LSAT. The LSAT tested your ability to use deductive reasoning to see and use facts that are not expressly given among a few facts that are. The bar does the same thing. From 1L forward, law students are urged to "use the facts." This is absolutely critical, but students make the mistake of thinking that using the facts (and competent legal analysis) means hunting through the fact pattern for the one or two express facts that the fact pattern gives. The problem is that everybody in the test site sees those same facts. Everybody. To elevate your paper above the average failing essay and show that you are thinking like a lawyer, you need to contemplate the facts that are not stated in the fact pattern, i.e., facts that can be inferred or deduced from the express facts. That's how to "use the facts" like a lawyer. You discuss their significance under the law, rather than merely identifying the obvious. This is much more important than worrying about whether you flubbed a rule statement here or there.

bnghle234

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Re: Getting the law wrong on essays

Postby bnghle234 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:53 pm

iliketurtles123 wrote:I think I'm a decent essay writer and I'm decent at issue spotting and analysis. I'm guessing if I got all the laws correct, I'd get about a 65 or 70 or maybe a 75

However, the only problems with my essays are that I'm sure I've gotten a couple laws incorrect. Nothing major but still incorrect.
For example, in a professional responsibility question, there are issues of whether the lawyer should withdraw or decline representation (this is not a real essay question. This is something that happened to me during my prep)

If I write: Lawyer should decline for reasons A, B, and C, and withdraw for D, E and F. [Analyze based on these laws]
However, the correct answer is: Lawyer should decline for reasons A and B, and withdraw for reasons B, E and F

Essentially, i get some of the law right, but some of it is incorrect.
So if there are about 6-10 of these legal issues (ie: duty of loyalty, duty to withdraw, duty of competence, etc.) and i get about 1-3 incorrect, how much does that hurt my score?
please stop.

iliketurtles123

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Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:14 pm

Re: Getting the law wrong on essays

Postby iliketurtles123 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 2:46 pm

9xSound wrote:You're focusing on the wrong thing, IMO. The essays test more than your knowledge of the BLL. The purpose of the essays is to see whether the candidate thinks about factual situations like a lawyer. The graders know that no competent lawyer would ever approach a case relying on memorized law. You look it up. And there are many examples from released model answers with incorrect rule statements, yet the essay received a high score nevertheless. The money is in your analysis. They want to see what you are going to do with the facts that they've given you. Obviously, you cannot expect a high score if you get a lot of rules completely wrong. But when you don't know the precise rule on point, many prep companies will tell you to make up a reasonable rule, then analyze the facts in light of your rule. How you handle the facts matters more than an occasional blown rule statement. Bar candidates go into the test site and puke BLL all over their papers, then wonder why they failed when they clearly knew the law inside out. It's often because they were too busy showing how much law they'd memorized to do anything meaningful with the facts. Thinking like a lawyer means thinking about the facts.

Go back to the LSAT. The LSAT tested your ability to use deductive reasoning to see and use facts that are not expressly given among a few facts that are. The bar does the same thing. From 1L forward, law students are urged to "use the facts." This is absolutely critical, but students make the mistake of thinking that using the facts (and competent legal analysis) means hunting through the fact pattern for the one or two express facts that the fact pattern gives. The problem is that everybody in the test site sees those same facts. Everybody. To elevate your paper above the average failing essay and show that you are thinking like a lawyer, you need to contemplate the facts that are not stated in the fact pattern, i.e., facts that can be inferred or deduced from the express facts. That's how to "use the facts" like a lawyer. You discuss their significance under the law, rather than merely identifying the obvious. This is much more important than worrying about whether you flubbed a rule statement here or there.



This was really helpful. Thanks! hopefully someone taking the bar next year will see this
I wish I knew this before the exam...or at least my bar prep company told me this

UMich11

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Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:34 pm

Re: Getting the law wrong on essays

Postby UMich11 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:17 pm

iliketurtles123 wrote:I think I'm a decent essay writer and I'm decent at issue spotting and analysis. I'm guessing if I got all the laws correct, I'd get about a 65 or 70 or maybe a 75

However, the only problems with my essays are that I'm sure I've gotten a couple laws incorrect. Nothing major but still incorrect.
For example, in a professional responsibility question, there are issues of whether the lawyer should withdraw or decline representation (this is not a real essay question. This is something that happened to me during my prep)

If I write: Lawyer should decline for reasons A, B, and C, and withdraw for D, E and F. [Analyze based on these laws]
However, the correct answer is: Lawyer should decline for reasons A and B, and withdraw for reasons B, E and F

Essentially, i get some of the law right, but some of it is incorrect.
So if there are about 6-10 of these legal issues (ie: duty of loyalty, duty to withdraw, duty of competence, etc.) and i get about 1-3 incorrect, how much does that hurt my score?


Don't know what state you sat for, but here is what i found online re a grading rubric explanation for Michigan, which is graded out of 10. Target score for Michigan, pre scale, is a 7/10:

"[A score of 7]: Average answer and minimum passing score on a question. A score of 7 is considered a passing grade, although it would likely translate to a C in law school.

This answer must at least identify all main issues, and demonstrate some knowledge of the applicable rules, with some application. This answer is typically not well organized and might have an incorrect statement of the law or incomplete analysis, but it essentially demonstrates to the grader that the examinee has a basic understanding of the relevant issues and rules."



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