a male human wrote:Does an essay have a client, though?
Agreed with using defenses as the place to provide counterarguments—legal counterarguments.
I think ping-ponging may be appropriate for objective PTs since you're typically writing a memo to your supervisor who wants to know arguments on both sides and citation of cases that point in different directions. It's back to legal writing class. Even then, I've seen a PT answer that got a 70 without doing any ping-ponging. (I haven't seen enough PT answers to say it's totally unnecessary, however.)
The PTs are a different animal. I still think ping-ponging sounds law schoolish, but my comments were geared more to the essays.
Yes, I would submit that essays have clients. The bar isn't about mediation (PTs aside). They want to see how well you can advocate for clients. In other words, you have to represent your client against his or her opponent(s). Sometimes the essay requires you to switch hats/clients from call to call. But in my view, every call should be approached as a lawyer advocating persuasively for a particular side in front of the jury, whichever side (client) is appropriate in view of the call. It promotes stronger arguments and stronger essays. Writing as a dispassionate spectator from the back of the courtroom is punditry, not advocacy, and it sidesteps the bar's mission of legal representation.
Many essays introduce the call of the question by saying, "X has come to you for advice." With this sort of call, you're clearly tasked with putting yourself in the shoes of X's attorney and arguing for X. While outlining, you need to consider points and counterpoints, sure. But when writing the essay, you should affirmatively establish the elements that support X's position, and do it unequivocally, the way X's attorney would in real life. In other words, don't be nice to Y. Don't let the unconscionable jerk off the hook by giving him a pass when the facts are gray — as they often are. You're X's attorney. X could sue you for malpractice if you don't fight tooth and nail for her side.
Conversely, a subsequent call may ask, "What defenses could Y reasonably raise against X?" Here, you'd switch hats and become Y's defense attorney, this time arguing vigorously for Y. In the end, you conclude based on the relative merits and in light of what the precise call of the question instructs you to do.
At times, the identity of the client can be a bit nebulous. But you still need to advocate on the bar, one side at a time. If the call asks, "What crimes has C committed?" you should approach the criminal elements like you're the DA. Ask yourself, would the DA let this guy off the hook? When you get to the defenses, you switch sides and argue like the PD. Conclude on the merits. The point is simply that lawyers don't pontificate impartially in court. They argue for sides. The essays test one's ability to take up any given side in any given dispute and advocate for that client's position. I don't view the essays as an exercise in showing what a fair and balanced mediator you'll be someday. They give you a side/client and they want you to argue like hell for that client.