It's been many months since I've written on this blog. The reasons for my absence are many. But the biggest is writer's block.
Yes, writer's block affects everyone, even the most loquacious lawyer can struggle with the written word. Hell, I've even had writer's block happen while typing out a bar exam essay!
Over the past 5 months, I've seriously considered this blog and bar exams in general, wondering aloud, "What do I have to contribute to this subject matter that is relevant or helpful?" Ultimately, I concluded that it was more important to write than to not do so.
Therefore, I will be writing and sharing over the next 2 months of your studies. Don't sleep on this blog!
On behalf of our family, we wish you a Happy Holiday season and look forward to your success on the bar exam in 2018!
North Carolina announced that beginning with the February 2019 bar exam, North Carolina will administer the Uniform Bar Exam.
For those looking to transfer in, applications will be available starting on June 30, 2018.
On the California bar exam, there are two appellate decisions you need to be familiar with to discuss business valuations in a marital dissolution on a community property essay:
Pereira v. Pereira, 156 Cal. 1 (1909) and
Van Camp v. Van Camp, 53 Cal. App. 17 (1921).
The Pereira method is used primarily when the appreciation of value is directly related to the efforts, skill, and ability of the owner/operator. This method assumes that appreciation of value during the marriage is allocable to the community subject to a reasonable rate of return on the claimant’s separate interest.
Thus, under Pereira, the owner spouse's separate property equals the initial value of the business plus a fair rate of return multiplied by the number of years of married. A fair rate of return would be 10% per annum. The community property equals difference between the fair market value of the business at the time of trial and the separate property valuation.
The Van Camp method is used when the appreciation of value is due primarily to the business structure and outside market forces, rather than solely relying on the influence of the owner’s efforts. When this method is used, the owner/operator’s “reasonable compensation” is assessed to determine if the community was sufficiently compensated during the marriage.
UnderVan Camp, community property equals the reasonable salary of the managing spouse multiplied by the number of years of marriage minus any family expenses paid from the business earnings. The owner spouse's separate property equals the difference between the fair market value at the time of trial and the community property valuation.
Knowing which case to apply to a community property question is crucial to achieving a passing score. This is just one of those California distinctions you just have to learn.
On the February 2014 California Bar Exam, the second essay question concerned community property. Many examinees read the following and began a full-fledged discussion of Van Camp and Pereira, "In 2012, Wendy purchased a small office building where she established her own accounting practice. She paid for the building with funds saved from her earnings during her marriage and took title in her name alone." A brief discussion of Van Camp and Pereira would be fine but notice the words, "she paid for the building with funds saved from her earnings during her marriage." The accounting practice in this essay question is community property. Van Camp and Pereira were inapplicable to your answer.
The ability to spot red herrings on essays is a skill you want to master. Now that California has the same amount of essays (3) as Florida on their bar exam, the margin for error is decreasing. Your failure to account for even one red herring such as the Van Camp and Pereira trap from the February 2014 could mean the difference between passing and repeating the bar exam. Good luck with your studies!
Greetings future (and current) attorneys! Life at PaulLaw Books has been hectic in recent months. A new addition to the family as well as the law practice have kept me away from this blog. I want to take a moment to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
As you celebrate with friends and family over the next few days, make sure to sneak in a few more MBE questions or another practice essay into your schedule. Now is the time to rev up your bar study preparation for the February 2018 exam. You can distinguish yourself from the competition by starting early.
After numerous delays, the 2018 Florida Bar Exam Review is finally shipping over the next 3 days. Thank you for your patience as I juggle family, 200+ hours/month as an attorney, and battling the Big C.
Day 1 of the bar exam is done and tomorrow is the beast we love to call the MBE. So, how did you do today on your essays? The Florida multiple choice? Feel free to vent below. And remember, whether you spend tomorrow in Ontario, California or Tampa, Florida, GIVE YOUR BEST EFFORT.
I was talking to one of the attorneys in my office last week about the bar exam and he kept emphasizing something that I feel compelled to discuss at this point leading up to the bar exam. The key to your success on the bar exam is how neat you organize your essay answers, By this, I mean using headers and key words to properly communicate your understanding of the fact pattern.
You see, my co-worker is a bar tutor for a major bar review company and he reads hundreds of essays every testing period, In other words, he's the kind of overworked attorney who is going to have the pleasure of grading your essays,
As you probably have heard before, these graders spend a very limited amount of time reviewing your work. To some, it might seem shocking that something you spent an hour or more typing can be read and graded in a matter of minutes. The truth is, most of your grade is decided in how you lay out that first page or so of your answer.
Therefore, you want to make a strong impression on your first page. Use headings to identify issues and to also break down the elements of rules.
Here's one of my obsessions. You see, I failed at something last year and I'm going to fix that this year. It's something my family is pretty tired of me talking about but I absolutely deplore failure. The Winsor Trail does not stand a chance. I am coming for it.
Last summer, my family spent two days in Santa fe, New Mexico during our cross country road trip. On the first day, we hiked a small mountain near St. John's College known as Monte Sol. In short, the hike was fun and my children, ages two and seven at the time, fully enjoyed themselves. Emboldened by the first day, we set out on day two on a second, more intense hike. This was a hike that I'd done many times in my twenties. But I was now 42 and a little concerned about my fitness. I dreamed about taking my family on this hike for many months prior to our trip.
To get to this hike, we drove 16 miles up to the Santa Fe ski basin and parked our car 10,350 feet above sea level. Naturally, the air was thinner and as we embarked on the trail, my family peeled off one by one. Within twenty minutes, the only hikers left were me, my daughter, (who I was carrying) and my sister-in-law. I knew beforehand that the initial series of switch backs would be the most challenging part of this hike for me but as I actually hyperventilated on the side of this mountain and grabbed my hips as hikers much older than me breezed past. Not giving up, I picked up my daughter with my left arm and continued up the next switch back, It became clear that my daughter was feeling disoriented from the elevation. None of us were accustomed to hiking a mile and a half above sea level!
After admitting our inability to continue, my sister-and-law and I took turns carrying my daughter as we descended back to the ski basin parking lot. Every step of that hike back to my car felt like the walk of shame. In my mind, I had failed miserably. We spent the rest of our final day in Santa Fe eating amazing food and soaking in the sites of an incredible state capital. The whole time, I scrolled through websites, blogs, maps, and pictures about this trail. I couldn't let this go.
If don't succeed at a goal, I get obsessed about fixing that. This was no different. I decided that I needed to get away for a week to the Southwestern United States. So, I've made plans to hike that trail again in August. I'm not giving up on this.
Tomorrow morning, I am going to wake up at 5 am and hike a trail in the mountains near my home to prepare for what I have to do in August. You may ask, "Why is he obsessed about hiking a mountain?" The best answer that I can provide you is that just because I'm in my forties and hobbled from three bouts with cancer does not mean that I can't finish this hike or anything else that I put my mind to.
I'll leave you with a cheesy slogan I remembered from my Catholic high school football team - Pain is temporary but pride is forever. I can't tell you how many times I've powered through intense pain ONLY because I knew what was on the other side of that pain. Preparing and taking the bar exam doesn't have to be painful, but if it is for you, just remember the goal:
I WANT TO BE A LAWYER.
If you are about to or just graduated from law school, congratulations! If you are taking the July bar exam, you need to know that now is not the time to rest on your laurels. The next step to becoming a lawyer is passing the bar exam. And the competition you experienced in law school is about to significantly intensify. Whereas before you might be the unfortunate victim of forced curve grading in law school, on the bar exam, you either pass or fail - you are either employable or not.
The next two months should be grueling but fun. Because trust me, after you're licensed, most of you will be expected to bill for far more work than you're used to performing.
I wish you the best of luck in this journey,
Hello everyone. It's been some time since I last posted, I know. I am back battling cancer again for a third time as well as working full-time.
I hope everyone had a positive first day at their respective bar exams. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.
I look forward to posting more once I get through this medical ordeal. In the meantime, I'll be thinking of all of you.
Until January 1, 2017, take 20% off your order at checkout. Note: These orders ship FREE via USPS Media Mail.
We are quickly approaching my favorite time of the year - Halloween! Candy and the Great Pumpkin signal cooler weather and fall memories. This is the perfect time to get a jump on your studies for the February 2017 bar exam. Whether you are a repeater who took time off, failed July, or you simply graduate in December, you can gain an edge in your preparation by starting early.
With most commercial bar review courses like Barbri starting their February 2017 courses in mid-December, there is the potential to gain two months of a cushion on your fellow examinees. With that much time, you can really build a solid foundation in the MBE subjects.
How's about an 8 week plan consisting of the following:
Week 1 (October 10) Civil Procedure
Week 2 (October 17) Constitutional Law
Week 3 (October 24) Contracts
Week 4 (October 31) Criminal Law / Criminal Procedure
Week 5 (November 7) Evidence
Week 6 (November 14) Torts
Weeks 7 & 8 (November 21- December 2) Real Property (Extra time for Thanksgiving holiday)
For 5 days during each week of this 8 week plan,(whether you do it Monday-Friday or some altered schedule due to work is up to you), you should plan to:
This can take 2 - 4 hours depending on how fast you work. This is doable. And it can have you feeling more confident and prepared come mid-December regardless of whether you are taking Barbri or studying on your own.
I always appreciate hearing from people as to how they study on their own for bar exams. Feel free to share your story of how you're trying to achieve your dream of becoming a lawyer.
I know it's been nearly a month since the July Florida bar exam but I've been moving and could not post something sooner. In most cases, I will probably omit to mention something you wrote about. Please let me know in the comments section - I would love to hear from you. These posts are just a way to get people talking about issues. Let's get started, shall we?
This is a straight contracts essay with so much to discuss. This was definitely one of those racehorse questions where the eager examinee could have spent far more than 1 hour writing about potential issues. Here, we have Professor, a surgeon with an apparent expertise in artificial limbs. She receives an offer to teach surgery and contact research in the field of surgical procedures for artificial limbs. Businessman Bill solicits Professor to enter business with him to invent and sell DNA test kits. At issue in this fact pattern is Professor's termination without notice and ownership of the patent for the DNA test kit. The call of the essay question asked you to discuss Professor’s rights and responsibilities to University, Bill, and the DNA test kit patent.
The first issue to discuss is whether either contract is valid and enforceable.
Professor v. University
Professor was hired by a private university for a term of five years to teach and conduct research. Crucial to the analysis are two pieces of information: (1) the university owns any patents developed during the 5 years, and (2) Professor’s contract cannot be terminated except for cause with 90 days’ notice.
What law applies? UCC or common law
Common law - This is a services agreement.
We are told in the fact patten's second sentence that University offers Professor a job which "she agrees" to. Now, it is not 100% clear whether "she agrees" is equivalent to "she accepts" the agreement. For the sake of brevity, we will assume that Professor and University entered into a valid contract. However, we do not know from the facts whether Professor signed an employment contract that included all of the language in the press release or whether in fact, the signed press release is being presented as the contract. I will analyze as if the signed press release is the complete terms of the agreement.
Nevertheless, doing the analysis, we get something like this:
For a contract to be valid, there must be an offer, acceptance, consideration, and no valid defenses to contract formation.
Professor is offered a job at University where she will teach surgical procedures for artificial limbs and conduct research in that area, with the University owning any patents she develops during this time. Professor is to be paid $250,000 a year for five years and cannot be terminated except for cause upon 90 days' notice.
Professor signs a copy of the press release and delivers it to the University's President on her first day of work.
Yes, $250,000 per year for 5 years in return for teaching and research.
Statute of Frauds - This agreement cannot be performed within 1 year. As such, the agreement needed to be in writing and signed by the person to be charged.
Due Process - Professor's agreement required a 90 day notice for termination for cause. You can waste valuable time here arguing whether University had cause to terminate (definitely possible) but the real issue is she was terminated without notice. You could write a nice paragraph about how the termination was a Due Process violation.
Expectation damages - Professor could collect 4 years of salary at $250,000 annually for a total of $1,000,000, reduced by the salary from Professor's new job producing DNA test kits (Duty to mitigate).
University will contend that if they are liable to pay Professor the remaining balance of salary on the 5 year contract, then the provision granting University ownership of any patents developed by Professor during this time period should also be enforced.
Professor will counter that she signed an agreement she understood gave University ownership of any artificial limb patents developed during the duration of the contract. Since the development of the DNA test kit is not a result of her teaching and research as part of her University duties, she will contend that she owns the patent for the DNA test kit.
Professor v. Bill
Professor received a written proposal by businessman Bill to produce and sell DNA test kits created by Professor. The proposal also included a licensing agreement providing that: (1) Bill has exclusive rights to DNA test kits developed by Professor, (2) Bill will pay Professor $5,000 for each kit produced, and (3) Professor receives a 25% interest in the company if an item is produced in the next five years. Further attached to the letter is a schedule of infomercials for Professor to tape and a non-compete clause.
What law applies? UCC or common law
Was there a valid contract between Professor and Bill?
Letter, licensing agreement, schedule, and non-compete form.
Professor signs letter and writes, “We’ll see how it goes.”
She changes $5,000 fee to $75,000. Is this a counteroffer? Accepted by Bill?
Mailbox Rule - Professor's acceptance effective when she mails documents back to Bill
Professor is to develop DNA test kits. Bill will pay Professor $5,000 for each idea that is produced. Professor will receive a 25% interest in the company if any item is produced in the next five years.
Statute of Frauds - not applicable
Valid acceptance? Changing the compensation on the licensing agreement from $5000 to $75000 is materially significant.
Modification/ Accord and Satisfaction - If Professor's alterations to the licensing agreement are viewed by the court as a modification, Bill would contend that Professor cashing the second check for $10,000 created an accord and satisfaction.
Does Professor never taping infomercials matter? It appears that the company made its' fortune as a result of Bill's controversial ads.
Non-Compete clause - A 10 year non-compete agreement in an employment contract will generally not be upheld by the court.
Promissory Estoppel - Would Professor, Bill, or University be unfairly compensated?
However you argued for or against valid contracts, I would conclude with the likelihood of Professor owning her DNA test kit patent as well as compensation that might be owed to University and Bill.
What do you think about this essay?
Greetings everyone! We've been moving and traveling all over the United States. Anyhow, we're back to business.
The July 2017 California bar exam tested the following subjects:
The subject of discussion by nearly everyone was the California civil procedure essay where a case was filed in a California state court.
What were your thoughts on the California essays?
With only 3 days until the July 2016 bar exam, PaulLaw Books is pleased to announce that we are now taking pre-orders for the 2017 books. For a limited time (until September 1st), you can save 20% on all of our products. As always, we ship to you via USPS Priority Mail.
Currently, PaulLaw Books is in the process of moving our offices and updating the outlines to reflect changes for 2017. Specifically, the scope of Real Property coverage on the MBE will change beginning with the February 2017 MBE.
Now, the MBE will include the following Real Property topics:
Additionally, outlines will be updated to reflect changes happening in your jurisdiction.
We anticipate pre-orders will ship at the end of August 2016. Order now and save!
Yesterday, I saw a Twitter post by a reputable bar review company that caters to repeat takers, especially those who are older with families. The tweet basically said that what you need to do the last two weeks before the bar exam is practice, practice, practice. In another tweet yesterday, they stated that by now, you should have memorized as much law as you can. But what if this is not the case?
Now, I'm not advocating that for the remaining twelve days you never do another MBE practice question or essay. However, you have a finite amount of time left to study and your preparations could be better spent memorizing and retaining as much black letter law as you can fit in your brain.
I see very little benefit from the last two weeks being spent on typing out practice essay answers or doing practice MBE questions. Chances are that these exercises will not optimize your limited study time. How many Rule Against Perpetuities questions do you really think you're going to see on the actual MBE?
For bar takers, especially those who are repeaters or burdened with jobs and families, the biggest challenge is to memorize enough law to think and write like a lawyer on the bar exam. If you've taken and failed a bar exam, you know the experience of writing an answer to a performance test or essay. However, you may not have a mental game plan for answering a contracts or trusts essay. That is why I disagree with a bar prep course's strategy to practice, practice, practice for the final two weeks.
Something I like to call "deep learning" will give you time to think about subjects and every nuance you must address to achieve a passing essay score. In 2013, I made some essay strategy materials for the Florida bar exam to give bar takers a roadmap for frequently tested subjects. I posted them on this blog (search for the June 2013 posts). Use these as a starting point for your own final deep memorization of bar exam subjects.
If you've only done 500 MBE practice questions at this point, it is very unlikely that practicing 500 more over the next twelve days will significantly improve your score. However, you can spend quality time memorizing and truly absorbing black letter law and its' exceptions. I'm not referring to a quick run through outlines. Rather, I'm talking about deep understanding of the material in your possession. Your comprehension should be so thorough that you could teach the subject to your mother. It's kind of like mindfulness for bar takers.
Good luck and study hard!
I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July tomorrow. Celebrate, but remember that it is very easy to get derailed celebrating the 4th of July on a Monday. Try to do 25 MBE questions or spend a couple of hours studying outlines. Whatever you do, make it productive. Do not party harder than you study over the next 3 weeks. Good luck!
If you're in southern California or traveling to southern California from another place to take the bar exam, chances are, you're spending three or more days in Ontario, California. It's not as bad as it sounds though. I am here to give you some practical advice for making the most of your time in the Inland Empire.
Fortunately, there are plenty of lodging options near the convention center easily within walking distance of your bar exam. I like the Holiday Inn for it's price, proximity, and shuttle that took me to and from the airport. There are tons of options here and you've probably already reserved a room so there's no need to belabor here.
I would say that depending on your diet, the food options near the convention center are limited. You can walk to a Marie Callendars, Denny's, In-and-Out, and Wendy's. There is a Stater Bros. supermarket that will probably require you to use transportation to get to. Nearby is a cool Mexican market called Cardenas.
The Ontario convention center is a huge place to take the bar exam. If you are typing your exam, you will be grouped in a very large hall that can hold thousands of examinees. I am told the room for writers is large as well. If commotion and noise are a problem for you, then I strongly implore you to seek out the best earplugs you can find because the sound of over one thousand people typing in this cavernous space can be distracting. The hall can also get cold so dress in layers.
The biggest issue I noticed in the convention center was the layout of power strips for the bar exam. Be prepared for days one and three by having an extension cord that works and is long enough to reach the power strips. Additionally, I would recommend having a good battery in your laptop. There are countless stories of examinees not having proper access to electricity in this room.
During my bar exam, someone at the table in front of me kicked a power strip, causing it to detach from the main extension cord. Although I was fine without power due to my relatively new Macbook Pro's long-lasting battery, my table mate's laptop ran out of power and shutoff during the last essay of the first day. Clearly, distressed, she had to flag down a proctor and handwrite the rest of her answer. The proctor was slow to respond to her and obviously, she wasted valuable time. Keep in mind that nobody noticed that this person in front of me did this to the power strip until it happened. Nevertheless, it was a huge distraction to my table mate as well as everyone around her.
There are bathrooms located at the front of the hall though I must warn you that there are occasional lines to use them. I would advise you to use the bathrooms outside your room before entering. If you are seated upfront near the bathrooms, I hope you have earplugs. I've heard people vomiting in the bathrooms during the exam and I've also seen people faint during testing, only to be removed on a stretcher. The pressures of the bar exam can overwhelm some people so do not be surprised if you see people becoming violently ill due to stress and illness.
The lunchtime breaks during the bar exam are best spent in your hotel room, especially if you are within walking distance to your room. Some hotels allow you to order room service in advance so you have a meal waiting for you when you get back to your room. The scene around the convention center during lunch is the opposite of relaxing. I've seen lots of conversations discussing issues missed on essays or MBE questions that were difficult. These social interactions only increase anxiety and I advise people to avoid them by returning to their room to have some alone time.
Remember to procure a working analog watch for the exam. You will not be allowed to bring in a digital watch. Be prepared with a good timepiece because unlike Florida, there is no clock on the wall to rely on during the exam.
Undoubtedly, the last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of July in Ontario, California will be an experience you will never forget. If you've put in the work and prepared accordingly, you will never have to experience it again.
It is very likely that you are devoting a significant amount of time these days to memorizing law in anticipation of the July bar exam. If you are struggling to retain this knowledge, you might want to try exercising four hours after studying.
Why four hours? Well, a study published in the journal Current Biology found that physical exercise after learning improves memory and memory traces, but only if you exercise four hours after learning. The scientists discovered that those who exercised four hours after their learning session retained the information better two days later than those who exercised either immediately or not at all. It is still unclear why the delayed exercise has such an effect on memory.
If you are struggling to memorize the elements of crimes or torts, you might want to go for a run or hit the gym four hours after studying. It couldn't hurt to try.
With the Florida bar exam a mere 30 days away, now is the time to really memorize law. Every year I receive e-mails asking me what subjects do I think are going to be tested on the Florida bar exam. There is no responsible way for me to respond because my prognostications are never 100% accurate. I always tell students to study like EVERYTHING is going to be tested on the Florida bar exam. That way, you won't be disappointed with me when the test is over.
However, there is one area of law that I can guarantee will appear on the Florida bar exam essays. I am referring to ethics or as the 2016 Florida Bar Review refers to this topic - Florida Professional Responsibility and Florida Professionalism. In other words, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners wants to see from your essay answers if you possess the ability to not only think like a lawyer but behave like one as well.
If you review recent essay questions from Florida bar exams, you will see how frequently ethics is tested. The February 2016 bar exam asked you to discuss ethical considerations in essay questions 1 and 3. The July 2015 Florida bar exam had an attorney ethics component in all 3 essay questions.
I know that the last month of studying for an important exam such as the Florida bar exam can be stressful and overwhelming. There is so much information being thrown at you by commercial bar courses. It can be daunting to reach a point where you feel prepared for this test. This is a natural emotion to have.
Attorneys must self regulate their behavior and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners expects you to know when an action is ethical or unethical. Understanding your responsibilities as a lawyer to your client, court, and society is imperative. Take the time to focus on professional ethics in your bar studies and that work will pay off for you on the exam.
My 1L year in law school was a harsh, brutal learning experience. Admittedly, I struggled to ascertain how to write law school exam essay answers that earned "A"s rather than the "B"s and "B+"s I was receiving. Whereas I was surrounded by classmates who had parents or significant others who were attorneys or judges, I knew no one in the legal profession. I was clueless as to how to think like a lawyer.
During the summer after my 1L year in law school, I took a class with Richard Michael Fischl. He suggested that I read his book, Getting to Maybe to improve my essay writing skills. I sought out a copy on Amazon and when it arrived, I spent the better part of a week reading and absorbing the book's wisdom. This book helped me improve my GPA by almost one letter grade. If you are struggling with writing passing essays on the bar exam, then you might want to get this book.
So many bar exam essay questions are open-ended, asking the examinee to analyze the problem whilst considering the potential of multiple outcomes based on the fact pattern. Yet, so many bar examinees only write about one "fork" of the problem, leaving others unmentioned. This is a surefire way to achieve a failing score on an essay.
Let me provide you with a basic example of how stress and time constraints, coupled with inadequate preparation, can cause an examinee to miss certain points to discuss on a bar exam essay. Say for example you encounter a criminal law/criminal procedure/evidence crossover essay question concerning the admissibility of a gun used during the commission of a crime. It would be inadvisable to only write an answer containing analysis and a conclusion that the gun is inadmissible because of the exclusionary rule. The better essay answer would argue both sides of whether the gun is admissible, discussing limitations on the exclusionary rule, the 4th Amendment, and any other pertinent law. This is how you demonstrate your ability to think like a lawyer.
My entire first year of law school consisted of me writing "binary" answers on law school exam essays. I always wrote about whether something was admissible or not. I never discussed both possibilities in my answers and I paid dearly for this foolishness. Professor Fischl's book trained me to think about the "forks" in law school exam fact patterns and how to write my answer accordingly.
Of course, not every bar exam essay requires you to think like this. If you encounter a contracts essay question concerning the sale of widgets, you would be wasting valuable time spending 10 minutes on why the common law might apply. Furthermore, it might not be prudent to pick up Getting to Maybe with the bar exam only a month away. However, if you are feeling unsure about your writing habits, this book might be worth your effort to skim for helpful tips. I know it helped me immensely.
Hi everyone. Due to recent events in my neighborhood of Orlando, the blog has been quiet. The last seven days have been tough for Orlando. Just last night, a two year-old lost his life not ten minutes from my office - to an alligator!
In the coming days, there will be several blog posts addressing the Florida and California bar exams. Thank you for your patience and pray for Orlando.
I receive so many questions about how to prepare for the Florida bar exam's 100 multiple-choice questions on the first day. They make taking this exam somewhat challenging. Yes, Texas has the Procedure and Evidence questions and New York has the New York Law Exam. However, neither can induce the same type of headache produced by these Florida questions.
The Florida multiple-choice questions are a very important component of the exam and they should not be overlooked during your studies. Countless students have told me over the years how they barely studied for this part of the test, deciding to concentrate solely on the Florida essays and the MBE. This is foolish and I do not recommend this strategy.
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners explicitly state in their study guide multiple-choice examination instructions that the three afternoon segments count the same as the morning ones. Therefore, why would anyone only prepare for one-half of a day of testing? That's exam suicide! I recommend that examinees explore all of the study guides found here to fully understand what they might encounter over day 1 of the Florida bar exam.
The Florida multiple-choice questions has 3 segments. Segment 1 ALWAYS test the Florida Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure. ALWAYS. If you don't like surprises on exams, then you should feel relieved to know that you can expect approximately 33 questions on these subjects. Segments 2 and 3 can be any combination of the following 3 subjects: (1) Business Entities, (2) Evidence, and (3) Wills and Administrations of Estates. To complicate things further, a particular testing might include a majority of questions under a subject focusing on a specific area such as partnerships or hearsay.
The Florida study guide contains two important sentences telling you what kinds of questions you might encounter on this portion of the exam: "Some of the multiple-choice items on the Florida prepared portion of the examination will include a performance component. Applicants will be required to read and apply a portion of actual Florida rules of procedure, statutes and/or court opinions that will be included in the text of the question." This performance component of some questions is what can add to the afternoon fatigue caused by the multiple-choice questions.
Making your brain spin further is that many of the questions are not entirely straightforward with the correct answers. For example, you may have studied Florida civil procedure from your commercial bar review outlines and then encounter a multiple-choice question on the first day where both a plaintiff and defendant enter motions for summary judgment after the closing of pleadings. The question asks you to select the "correct statement" followed by several choices that might look appealing to you, especially if you are not 100% confident in your knowledge of Florida civil procedure. You will, in some cases, have to organize bar outline knowledge in your head to select the correct answer. This is not unlike the skills you must refine to answer some questions on the MBE.
In some instances, the Florida multiple-choice exam will ask you to make a decision on one question that affects your answer on another question, For example, a question might test a Florida/FRE distinction on former testimony. Should you answer incorrectly on one question, the odds are you will get the second question wrong as well. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you master the distinctions between the FRE and Florida rules in Evidence, as well as distinctions unique to Florida civil and criminal procedure.
People often ask me what is the best resource for practicing Florida multiple-choice questions. Other than the Florida Board of Examiner's study guides, I recommend procuring Barbri's Florida Testing Volume I & II. These two books can be found used on Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist. They contain great practice questions for each subject and it is worth your time to do every question for each subject. I have not review the Kaplan or Themis Florida multiple-choice questions but I have had some examinees tell me that they liked the Kaplan questions as well.
Barbri's questions are particularly useful for practicing the difference between per stirpes and per capita distributions in a Wills and Administrations of Estates question. Ultimately, even Barbri's questions cannot properly simulate everything you will see on this part of the Florida bar exam. Some of the actual questions are quite challenging and I have never encountered a commercial bar review that properly simulated their style and level of difficulty. So what can you do to maximize your preparations?
I tell students that the most simple way to prepare is to memorize "numbers and lists." For example, when conceptualizing deadlines in Florida civil procedure, memorize the number of days for timeliness of service or waiver or service. I made flashcards for this purpose and I was not surprised to see some of these numbers tested on the actual exam. Same for lists - memorize things like the permitted endings for Limited Liability Partnerships.
Lastly, mastering the material in your outlines will help you to raise your scores on the multiple-choice segments. I always tell students that the Florida multiple-choice is about damage control. You want to avoid missing those questions that should be "gimmes." PaulLaw's 2016 Florida Bar Exam Review does a good job of distinguishing between Florida and federal law where applicable in critical subjects such as Evidence.
Overall, the material you need to master to do well on the Florida multiple-choice questions is not mysterious. Anyone can obtain a passing knowledge, but in many instances, you will have to manipulate this information and commit to proper application to correctly answer questions. Just as some MBE questions lack straightforward "obvious" answers, the Florida multiple-choice questions demand that examinees use their lawyerly reasoning skills to choose the correct answer. You can be successful on this exam with good outlines and a decent selection of practice questions.
Good luck in your studies!