Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's 3:28 p.m., do you k now where your mind is?

I know where mine is - it's out with the rich guys swimming around their yachts in Lake Michigan, not 100 yards from where I sit in front of a multiple choice practice section I've managed to bomb, despite feeling a little more confident due to some good scores yesterday. Have I peaked? Have I used up my brain's allocation of concentration for the month?

Time to chill on the hyperbole for a minute. I've been writing about multiple choice questions and essays a lot lately. Lemmie break the bar down for you underclassmen and non-law school types:

Multistate Performance Test (10%): This is a "closed universe" in which everything you need to know is presented to you and all that remains to be done is a cursory analysis in whatever form they ask you for (memo, client letter, brief, whatever). K thinks this part is a gimmie, and she's probably right.

New York Essays (40%): It turns out that New York is a little like Texas in that it occasionally sees itself as another country. We don't have a law against arson, the right to wear socks is enshrined in the state constitution and it's not considered hearsay if it came from Page Six.

I exaggerate. But it's not the best thing for one's sanity to memorize rules for nearly every corner of the law, then toss them out the next day for a new set of rules that is in many ways completely different. An example: on the portions of the exam that everyone in the country takes, assault and battery are separate crimes. In New York, what we call "assault" is "battery" everywhere else and your "assault" is our "attempted assault." Get it? Also, embezzlement is larceny and there are eight degrees of everything.

But the worst thing is that the sample essay answers give the impression that it's hit or miss as to what issues they actually want you to identify and answer. There are a thousand things that can go wrong with a contract, a will or a search and seizure, but you're somehow supposed to find the three that they actually want, based on nothing but a vague fact pattern. Oh, the time I've wasted explaining why a court has personal jurisdiction when all they want to know is if the divorce decree is valid. Oy.

Multistate Bar Exam (40%): These are the dreaded multiple choice questions. You're really only supposed to get about 60% of these right, and the harder question sets have stated targets in the mid-40s. People who just finished law school aren't used to being happy getting 60% on anything. The MBE is the main reason nearly all of America's best and brightest legal minds are convinced that they're going to fail.

Plus, there is nothing worse than grading some practice questions and finding that the answer you picked is "correct, but choice (B) is more correct." Go to hell.

New York Multiple Choice (10%): All I'll say about these is that I'm glad they only count for 1/10th of my score, because I'm taking more of a dive on these than the Mets in September. Ba-dum-bum.

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