kalvano wrote: Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
kalvano wrote:Wait, exams are basically open-ended questions that use whatever the class has covered throughout the semester, right?
So then what are they?
Your typical issue spotter is something like an LSAT logic game embedded in an RC passage.
Consider a simple property rule (this is what is called "black letter law"):
A and B may jointly own a property under the legal construction of "joint tenancy" or "tenancy in common". The two have different legal characteristics, among them being that joint tenancies have a right of survivorship. Ie: if one person dies, the other automatically absorbs his interest in the property - it does not get passed onto his heirs via his will.
Next consider a simple fact pattern:
John leaves his farm to his two sons Bob and Joe. He doesn't like lawyers, so he writes is own will which says "I leave my farm to my two sons to hold together. Bob continues to live on the farm house while Joe works as an investment banker in NYC and embezzles a lot of money. Joe's clients bring suit and the judge awards millions in damages, but Joe is broke after betting on a lot of toxic mortgages and has no assets besides the farm. Instead of declaring bankruptcy he decides to kill himself. Joe's creditors find out about the farm and try to get Joe's interest sold to satisfy the judgement. What can Bob do?
A response might be something like:
The first thing the court will do is attempt to construe the will. It is unclear whether the will passes the farm to Bob and Joe as tenants in common or as joint tenants. If the farm was passed as a tenancy in common, Joe's creditors might be able to attach Joe's interest in the farm and sell it to satisfy the judgement. If the farm was passed as a joint tenancy, Joe's interest will be extinguished at his death and complete ownership will pass to Bob, leaving nothing for the creditors to attach.
Of course a real exam will usually be 2-3 questions, and each question will be a narrative of 1-2 pages in the basic style of the fact pattern above. That's where the 6000+ word responses for a 2 question 3 hour exam come from - professors can construct hypos such that pretty much every sentence introduces an issue like the one described above, the rules tested in the facts can interact with each other giving rise to second-order issues, and ambiguities in the facts can lead you down fairly long alternative chains of possibilities. Eg: there are other characteristics that differ between tenancy in common and joint tenancy (eg: ability to sell one's interest, what happens when one party wants a judicial separation of the property interests, etc) so you might have to apply a bunch of other rules considering the two alternative ways the property could've been passed along.