The February 2016 Bar Exam: Be Definitive in Your Essay Answers

Lawyers are always confident and definitive, even if they have a weak argument (and they know it). When you write out your essays, be definitive about your answer and your conclusion. Even if you are wrong, you may be able to get a point or two because your argument and conclusion were well stated. The bar examiners have the ability to give you points for your conclusion even if wrong, as long as it is well reasoned and the analysis flows.

Don’t forget that most cases you have read in law school (and cases you will work on when you become a lawyer) are in the gray area – a well-reasoned argument will give you a victory for your client. There are no smoking guns in the practice of law. There usually are no right or wrong argument to make. As a lawyer, you just hope that the judge or jury sees that your argument is better than you opponent. It is how you, as a lawyer, interpret the facts of your case. This is similar to your bar exam essays.

Don’t be wishy-washy in your analysis or your conclusion. It makes lawyers unhappy to have to wade through either-or type of arguments and bar exam graders will be reluctant to give you points. You’ve probably learned in law school to put “probably” or “may” in your conclusion, i.e “Dan will probably be found guilty.” You will not do that as a lawyer and do o not do that in the bar exam – write, “Dan will be found guilty.” If you really don’t know the answer and you are reluctant to commit, then use words like, “likely”, i.e. “Dan will likely be found guilty.” It is must more effective than probably or possibly.

Remember, write like a lawyer – be confident and definitive in your bar exam answer.

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