Sunday, July 27, 2008
Absolutely the very best wishes for everyone!
P.S. Go watch the Dark Knight on Thursday after the test, it'll be the perfect treat!!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Ahh, here we go…yet another post on what someone did to pass the bar exam. I do not delude myself in thinking that I know the magic formula to passing this thing. Not at all. But I put this up in hopes that it provides insight and reassurance to those who are studying. For me, I appreciated knowing what people were doing daily because it made me feel like I was on the right track as well. I’m not going to tell you how many hours a day to study or what books you should use. I’ll list the books I used because I’ve done extensive research on these books, as well as various programs and tutors, and I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having tried many different things. So others should benefit from my costly endeavors and use that time to, you got it, study or do something else for your state of mind. At this point, you all know your studying “style.” I can tell you I went to library from 9-5 every day with 30 minutes for lunch and no breaks and if that’s not your style, you’re not going to do it. Instead, I’ll tell you what books I tried and which programs I used along with how I coped mentally. This and that may pique your interest and work for you. Other things will not. Everyone is different, so use the information available to you to formulate your own unique plan!
I’m compulsive. I really want to be able to go to a library at 9:00 after a healthy breakfast and settle in to a day of studying, treating it like a “job.” But I can’t. So I studied in a variety of ways. I really liked studying at home because I didn’t have to wash up or prep, and I could always have something to eat or drink handy. I also like it cozy and dark with one lone study light shining across my books. Sometimes I’d burn a candle. Starting off this way got a couple of hours of studying “out of the way” so to speak. When I was no longer being productive, I’d wash up, pack all my stuff, and go to a bookstore. Since I already got a few hours of studying in, I didn’t feel so bad about taking the time to do this. I’d get some books or magazines and use those as study breaks. And let me tell you, some of those breaks were loooong. Yes, I felt guilty. I’d usually have a bowl of soup or something and stay for 4 hours or so. Then I’d try to get to the gym for a little bit, go home and unwind, and then try to get 1-2 more passive studying in. All in all, it probably took me 14 hours to do about 5-6 hours of solid work. Efficient? No. But I was admittedly tired of the process and no longer filled with the energy and optimism of the first time takers. And my problems with the exam were not writing or the MBEs. Mine were about luck, psyche, and getting the black letter law. This meant I didn’t really have to write out full essays over and over again. I had to memorize, so this plan worked for me.
The Books: I’m only going to list the ones that I used that I found most helpful. Meaning, this set of books was all I needed to pass the exam.
- Strategies & Tactics for the MBE: Excellent resource for breaking down the MBEs and telling you helpful tips. It tells you what to focus on (i.e. that negligence makes up the majority of the Torts questions) and even breaks it down by numbers.
- Barbri Conviser: This is the go-to book. I don’t even need to explain it, everyone knows what it is! But I used it as a way of making my outlines, essentially re-writing it in a format that made it easy for me to understand.
- Bar Breakers: This is what I used on the days I was writing essays. If I was on a Contracts day I would carefully read the introduction to that section, noting all the tips, and then I would go through the essays, spotting issues and doing brief analysis. I’d then move on to the answer and compare.
- Whitney Roberts’ Cheat Sheets: This book is near to my heart because it breaks it down in a very organized manner, which I love! The templates were very, very useful in helping me to understand the law as well. There is no other essay book like this, no one else provides templates. For instance, an attractive nuisance argument would fall under breach of duty in an essay analysis. This kind of stuff is great to know because sometimes during the exam, you’ll spot all these issues but clumsily portray it on paper, losing yourself in your own confused analysis. Then BAM, your hour on that essay is up, and you’re forced to move on, confidence shaken, to the next question. Not good.
- Jeff Adachi’s Bar Cards: Used during the last couple weeks of the memorization period. There’s a tendency to read your outlines blindly and think you understand it exactly. But if someone covered up part of it, it’s hard to regurgitate the information. It’s nice that you understand your outlines, but at the exam, you have to be able to regurgitate it! So these little flash cards helped me to formulate nice, clear definitions for various elements of law, like assault, NIED, etc. That way, I could spit them out on paper then use the facts in the essay to nicely analyze how each fact demonstrated the definition I had just written. Plus, they are small and handy so you can carry them around and use them when you’re running errands or waiting somewhere.
- PMBR CD lectures: I uploaded them into my iPod and listened to it in my car and sometimes just laying around. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to them as I worked out as some do, but it’s nice to have a different method of transmitting this information other than reading or writing. Some people learn by hearing, and this was a good way to fill in those hours I spent driving or when I was tired but wanted to study in some way.
- Calbar Website Essay Questions & Answers: I went online at the calbar site and printed out every single essay and sample answer they have listed. In the end, I had two huge binders full of essays. Since I divided my studying by subject, I tried to get through each of these essays on the days I had assigned myself that subject. Mostly, I read and issue spotted and analyzed. Some I just read through. My goal was to at least get through each essay in some way. It's an invaluable way to get used to the format, the types of essays that are tested, and to recognize common fact patterns.
Some of these books might seem like they are teaching gimmicky tips and tricks, and although some do, this was not the case for me. These are not shortcuts or the “easy way.” This exam is extremely voluminous. It has been likened to trying to memorize a New York City phone book and this comparison is somewhat fitting. These tips and tricks help you focus on what is important and teaches you the particular way the exam tests. Yes, it is important what you know, but it is priceless to know what is most likely to be tested and how it is tested. That’s a gift! So take it.
The Courses: Soooo expensive…
- Barbri: Ugh...as much as everyone loves to hate it, they are without a doubt the most widely used and popular bar prep class in the nation. And yes, they are expensive, but so is everyone else. People sneer that Barbri is like Starbucks in that they are commercialized and lack individual attention and they would rather go to a more personalized bar course. This is your choice, but the very fact that Barbri is so commercialized and wide-spread is actually a benefit in that they have access to the best resources, the best teachers, and the best locations. Simply put, they have the most money. Is it unfair? Is it a monopoly? Are they cold, hungry money grubbers akin to scavengers at a funeral? Probably. But honestly, when you’re studying for this exam, you want the best. You do not want to risk it. You can do pro bono and frequent coffee shops frequented by sole proprietors for the rest of your life after this exam.
- The Bar Code: Private tutoring led by Whitney Roberts, author of the Cheat Sheets. This course varies by tutor and includes an essay and PT workshop. The tutors are helpful in that it forces you to write a certain amount of essays. However, I found that the time I took this course, I did the worst. That’s because I was always trying to complete the essays and usually just copying the answers somewhat and not really focused on “getting” the law. This is my own fault, and I didn’t use the course correctly. But it’s an excellent resource for getting the books for free and getting some workshops out of it. The PT workshop is very helpful and I strongly believe everyone should take one. It’s an overlooked part of the exam but it will make or break you. Every time I’ve taken this exam, I could have passed had I scored just a little higher on ONE PT. That’s how much these things count. For me, I didn’t practice the PTs because my writing skills were good enough and I found it most helpful to recognize the format and stay organized and meticulous, but you can’t do this as easily if you don’t take a course. As for the feedback on the essays, well, mine weren’t that impressive. Those with major problems on their writing will benefit the most but mine were just, “Analyze more, etc.” Patrick Lin, one of the tutors, is probably the best one they have. He’s recent bar grader and has a reputation for cutting to the chase and breaking it down and letting you know what issues are considered important and which ones aren’t. This is good to know so you don’t waste your time on the exam!
- Barbri Essay Advantage: As if barbri hadn’t already taken enough of my money. This course is recommended only for repeaters, as it conflicts with the regular Barbri course and is really just overkill if you do it. It was great because they did an overview of each subject, which is a nice refresher and especially useful with the new CA topics since no one knows what to expect with those and with their vast resources, I figured Barbri would know best. Then you did practice essays and got feedback. Again, not as useful for me but still got me reading and doing essays. Plus, the classes were only once a week so it was manageable and felt productive. It also gave me a schedule to work my study plan around. Overall, the best course for repeaters I think. Going through the regular paced program is redundant and overkill but this course combined private tutoring and writing emphasis with subject overviews.
During the Exam:
These days are grueling and exhausting. You have to do what you can to stay sane. At this point, the studying is done and the majority of the time should be devoted to rest and little bit of strategic studying (explained below). These are all little things that somehow manifest themselves into major problems under the stress of the exam, but sometimes, it’s the culmination of these things that can be your downfall. So it’s important to try and alleviate as much of this tension as possible. Some tips I used that I found useful:
- Don’t waste your time: That’s what all these books and courses are about. You’ve got to be able to go in knowing negligence inside and out, and knowing that if you get a riparian water rights subissue, that warrants only a brief analysis. This exam is super fast, you have to know where the money points are and hammer those home!
- PTs are very, very important: That being said, I wouldn’t waste my time doing that many of them. In my life, I have probably done a total of 10. That’s including the ones I did on the exams. I’ve scored between a 55-75, with the median being 65-70, which is not bad. These are worth something like 26% of your ENTIRE score. They are worth 4 essay questions. They can really save you, so make sure you know the formats and how to go through them in an organized, methodical, and TIMELY manner. Note the emphasis on timely! Make sure you finish it because it automatically looks better may bump your score a little. A bump in 5 points is huge.
- Feel Good: I wore a different colored Juicy suit for each day of the exam and got a pedicure. The bright colors cheered me up, I was able to layer so that I could adjust my temperature, and I felt comfortable and cozy. I wore flip flops because I like to take my shoes off and slip them under me while writing. Somehow, it’s more offensive when someone actually unlaces their shoe and takes it off than if they discreetly slip them out of their flip flops. Plus, it’s blazing hot in July!
- Pack your lunch: My mother packed a cooler with sandwich, a Pepsi, chips, fruit, and something sweet each day. You can leave it outside (no one would dare steal it for fear of the evil karma that would be inflicted on them!) and you don’t have to waste your precious hour off waiting in line with other nervous examinees and eating something that doesn’t agree with you!
- Try to find a driver: Thoughts of traffic and parking are always foremost in one’s mind in CA. It’s nerve wracking to think of getting into an accident or not being able to find parking. If you’re not staying within walking distance to the exam site, I would suggest that you try and find someone to take you and pick you up. You can be calm before the exam and you get dropped off right up front.
- You don’t need a million highlighters: Of course, I had five. But I used only 2. You can use them in essays to highlight important facts. They are even more useful in PTs because there’s so much more information. They can be useful in color coding your issues and facts, but that depends on how you work. And sometimes, you get too caught up and confused with your color coding system if it becomes too elaborate, which it has a tendency to become if you have a lot of colors…so just be careful!
- Bring your own clear bag: You can leave your backpack outside with all the forbidden items, but have your clear bag ready with all your permitted goodies. I actually had a clear purse like thing and it was sturdy and more reliable than the ziplock bags or the ones they hand out there (like grocery store produce bags). Out of the permitted items, I thought bringing in a contact lens case with solution in it and eyeglasses was most important. I actually had to take out my lens during the exam so I was super grateful I was prepared. It’s a long exam and you don’t want your teary, irritated eyes slowing you down.
- Bring a scarf: I wrapped my laptop in my pashmina so as to minimize bulky bags and then used it as a blanket across my lap during the exam. So it was a multi-purpose item!
- Wear earplugs: I, personally, swear by them. I used them constantly while studying and in a room full of hundreds of people, the scratching of pens, scraping of chairs, pitter patter of feet, coughing, sneezing, and gasps of horror were too much to bear. When you’re somewhere desperately wishing you were anywhere else, external noises somehow have a way of becoming much more noticeable.
- Study carefully: While I don't recommend really studying during the exam, I do find that careful, selective studying can be very helpful. If you read my posts during the exam, I predicted some key issues (calculated guesses, if you will), and focused about an hour each night on issues I thought were likely to appear. Some didn't show up, but many did. That little bit of cementing the information helped for me.
In general, I found it useful to have a variety of ways to study. By reading, by writing, listening to lectures, going to a class, all of those different methods kept me from getting bored and drummed the information into me in different ways. If there was a smell or taste method, I doubtless would have tried it! Also, this past time, I stayed with my parents. Before, I would always go into hibernation and basically be alone for those 3 days. I found it very isolating in some ways though. I thought there was no way I’d want my parents hovering over me asking me how it went every day and that it would break my concentration, but instead, I found it comforting. I had a comfortable bed, there was no way I’d wake up late and miss the test (you’d be surprised how this thought alone can keep you awake and terrified in your bed all night long), they drove me to and from the exam, and there was a yummy dinner every night. They were also too scared to upset me during this time so they were amazingly hands-off and understanding. If you have a significant other or family living close to the exam site who fits this mold and it’s an option, I’d seriously consider staying with them!
Everyone says stay healthy, work out, and take some breaks throughout this process. All that, you already know. The first time, you're filled with exuberance and hope. That's usually enough. The subsequent times...well, they're darker. So remember...keep your head high, and most importantly, never stop believing in yourself. The vast majority of test takers get a score between 1420-1480. Considering you need a 1440 to pass, the difference between those who fail and those who pass are often a matter of mere points. Believing in yourself can give you the edge you need. Remember, it's about getting the money shots and taking points strategically. No one can remember every rule of law. But you CAN have faith in your ability to pass this exam!
This is just a reflection of what I, personally, found useful. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll respond. Good luck everyone ~ hang in there.
I haven’t been very diligent about posting because I’m afraid to do it at work and I don’t have internet at home! (yes, somewhat archaic but since I’m either always at work or someplace that has internet, it’s a tolerable sacrifice)
- I am still diligently checking out the blogs of my favorite blogger. Sadly, most of us have seemed to run out steam. I look back with bittersweet fondness on the days we used to toil away and post daily blogs and shoot comments at each other throughout the misery of studying…now, I find myself wondering how everyone is doing and what they’re all up to…
- Watching a lot of Battlestar Galactica. During the exam, I watched a lot of Sex and the City because they were in manageable 30 minute increments where I didn’t feel TOO bad taking a break from studying (plus they were a great escape!). Now, I’ve become addicted to this extremely compelling show. For those who like sci-fi, this is obviously your thing. But for those who have never cared for it, it plays like a drama, except it’s in space. And it addresses crazy social/ethical/racial/emotional/everything else controversial questions in an amazing way. I highly, highly recommend this show!
- Work. Although I started the new job before results were released, it means even more to me now, for some reason. It’s not where I thought I’d end up, but I’m very pleased with the fact that I’m utilizing my law degree and blending law with business and consulting. I enjoy the job and it has a great deal of potential!
- Gym. *Sigh* It’s difficult to go, but I try to make it there at least 2-3 times a week. Lately, I’ve been foregoing yoga and doing the elliptical machine while reading. I don’t know how effective this is, but it’s better than nothing!
Overall, my life has changed drastically. Passing the bar exam was, really, everything I thought it would be. I went back and read my posts about the times that I had failed, and I could feel my heart stopping and stomach clenching because I really, really know how bad that feels. I always imagined reading the words “the name above appears on the pass list for the _____ bar exam” and now that I have, I printed it out and still look at it frequently. I look at my letter of congratulations from the bar examiners. I look up my name on the Calbar attorney search. After the post-results flurry of phone calls, celebrations, and tears, the excitement has died down for my family and friends. But for me, before I go to sleep at night and reflect on my day, I am still filled with gratitude and amazement. I will never, ever take this for granted.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
And in complete honest truth, I didn't even check the results until curiosity overwhelmed me because I was so certain I was doomed to be a repeater. It's not that I gave up...I was just prepared.
And now...I simply cannot believe it and I'm so grateful, happy, and relieved. And it just goes to solidify my belief that this exam, really, is a complete crapshoot.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Can only make me stronger..."
Oddly, these lyrics keep running in my head. Must've played it too many times on my iPod while running. My famed optimism has deserted me, and I am now just trying to stay calm.
Everyone has a different feeling. Some are actually excited -- like the last burst of energy before death (sorry for the pessimism), some can't wait to go in and take this thing. I get it -- you get your life back. Some are an anxiety-ridden mess. I fall somewhere in that spectrum, leaning towards the latter. I honestly don't know all the rules. Especially the new subjects. I can't differentiate things. And when I memorize one thing, I can swear I forget another.
I've been taking it fairly easy today, probably a total of 3-4 hours of studying. I'm just aimlessly going through essays and rules, trying to re-memorize stuff that doesn't come to me. My biggest problem is that I know it when I read it, but can't regurgitate it when I have to write an essay.
Oh God. After this, I have to go back to the life I've been pushing off these past couple months. Bills, jobs, apt, some random medical bill for $1000 that they just sent me yesterday (nice one, guys), loan repayments....UGH.
That being said, I am fully expecting a Civ Pro question this time around. And a Torts question. And of course, PR in some way. Wishing everyone the best of luck tomorrow!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I absolutely love her books, especially the Shopaholic series. They're filming it into a movie, called The Secret World of Shopaholics or something lame like that. It's also being shot in NYC, which is also kinda lame. But Isla Fisher is playing Becky Bloomwood! You know, the hilarious girl from Wedding Crashers -- "Cause I'd fiiind you!" aka The-One-Who-Married-Borat. And they're also making "Can You Keep a Secret?" into a movie, starring none other than Kate Hudson!
Much to look forward to this year.
This one is about a girl who has a loser BF, a going nowhere job (we can all relate), messed up teeth and bad hair. She gets amnesia in some entirely believable way and wakes up 3 years later remembering nothing. But, in a marvelous and quirky twist of fate, she wakes up to The Perfect Life. She has shiny, long tresses, a fab job, a rich, drop-dead gorgeous hubbie, great teeth, and the latest LV bag. I fully expect it meander along in this upbeat, charming way with obstacles, finding yourself, deep realizations about how the so-called perfect life can be...not so perfect...and ultimately, a happy ending. Who amongst us, choosing this career in law, has not come to the jarring realization that this is NOT the life we imagined, or thought we wanted? Right?
So, I'm ordering this book on Amazon, so that it arrives on my doorstep on the aforementioned date and I will have something to drown my depression in as soon as I return home on February 28. I think I'll write my own chick lit one day. And it's going to start, "The name above appears on the pass list for the California Bar Exam..."
Evidence of a person's character is inadmissible proof of the conduct of that person unless otherwise provided by law. This applies to criminal cases and civil cases only where character is directly in issue.
The Accused - "I'm a good guy!"
Only the accused can initiate character evidence through reputation or opinion testimony. The prosecution can rebut by cross-examining the witness OR by placing their own witness on the stand to testify about accused's bad reputation or to give their opinion of accused's bad character.
The Accused - "The Victim is the bad guy!"
Only the accused can initiate reputation or opinion testimony about the bad character trait of the victim. Prosecution can rebut by cross-examining the witness OR by placing theirown witness on the stand to testify about accused's bad reputation or opinion as to the SAME trait OR victim's good character.
Specific Acts of Misconduct
Generally, these prior bad acts are inadmissible unless they relate to motive, intent, mistake, identity, or common plan (MIMIC rule). Exceptions: prior sexual assaults or child molestation.
For some reason, it's difficult to get straight in my head! I think I confuse extrinsic evidence (which is not allowed) with specific acts....
But on to more exciting things. I finally finished watching the last episode of Lipstick Jungle. I gotta say, the more I watch it, the more I like it. I love the Victory Ford character's clothes! It's the first time I actually went on those "Seen On" sites to try and hunt down what she wore. In particular, I loved this cream, open necked coat she wore and this gigantic pearl drop earrings she had on. I've actually hunted down the designer and asked about buying them. Yes, I'm a little crazy. I've also been on the hunt for a comfortable (I'm allergic to wool), slouchy, mid-length neutral colored shrug/outerwear thing that's casual chic. Something that I can wrap around myself as I study, and something I can drag with me to the bar...basically, the clothing equivalent of a hug. I need a constant hug! God, at this point, who doesn't?? My gym carries this one: http://www.shopbop.com/kebun-cardigan-love-yaya/vp/v=1/845524441812421.htm?folderID=2534374302031126&fm=browse-brand-shopbysize in a cream/taupe color and I have a coupon...but it's kinda pricey for a hug.
But hey, this is LA. Even hugs come with a designer label!
Monday, February 18, 2008
So I take a slug of Pepsi, wishing it were Goose, and continue. Defamation. Love it. Got it nailed. And then the question is like a defamatory statement made in the United Nations and people may or may not speak English. Hmm... These folks are really particular. This really sucks. And my brain hurts.
But you know what? I like defamation. I hope it's an essay question. And this is the format I would use:
Elements: (1) A defamatory statement, (2) Of and concerning P, (3) Communicated to a 3rd party, (4) Damages (presumed if libel or slander per se)
In addition, if the the statement was of public concern, there are two constitutional elements that must be proven: (1) fault and (2) falsity (malice if public figure, negligence if private).
Defenses: Qualified privilege, Absolute privilege, Truth (if it is a private concern)
You know, something like that. I would plug in the facts and analyze away. And you know what's a weird little issue that for some reason, I always forget when it comes to defamation? Intentional infliction of emotional distress. I have a hard time with naturally coming up with this one because usually, the folks in the fact patterns are whiny b&*%#es and for some reason, my view of extreme and outrageous tends to be a lot more stringent than theirs.
In the world of law, I am not a reasonably prudent person.