Whether it’s the Multistate or state-specific essay component of the bar exam, it’s often difficult to know the best way to approach them in order to get the best possible score. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your essay preparation.
Think like a lawyer
Many bar takers mistake the essay portion of the test as being merely an exercise in disgorging large amounts of legal knowledge on command. In fact, the aim of the essay exam is to demonstrate your ability to think like a real lawyer. While it is crucial for lawyers to know the law, even more important is the ability to know how and when to apply the law to the facts at hand. That means that your essay performance heavily depends upon your ability to successfully spot all relevant issues and apply a thorough, well-reasoned legal analysis to the given facts.
Put yourself in the position of a real attorney taking on a new case. When you take on a new client, you don’t immediately begin to spew black letter law at them! You first carefully review the facts your client presents and then you consider what, if any, legal issues arise from those facts.
Your analysis should be fact rich
A common mistake bar takers make is that they do not adequately analyze the given facts, instead opting for a series of conclusory statements. The bar examiners don’t really care what conclusion you ultimately reach, just as your law school professors didn’t care what conclusion you reached on those exams. What they are looking for is a demonstration of your ability to persuade a court that the conclusion you have made is, in fact, supported by law.
Don’t just summarize a load of facts and follow that up with some legal-sounding comment. Your analysis should instead be a seamless tapestry of relevant facts woven together with the applicable rules of law in one clear, concise sentence. For a great example of this type of analysis, click here.
Next up: How to score extra points on those essay questions!