I’ve written previously about the link between Legal Research and Writing (LRW) and other law school classes and about the MPT. It’s time to put those pieces together and explain how your LRW class prepares you for the MPT, which resembles a closed legal writing assignment. You’ve been preparing for this component of the bar exam since your first semester of law school without even knowing it. Here’s how:
The MPT tests six sets of skills.
- Factual analysis
- Legal analysis
- Application of law to facts
- Resolution of ethical dilemmas
- Effective written communication
- Ability to work within a time limit
Four of these skill sets are at the core of LRW.
Although the NCBE places legal analysis second on its list of skills, it will be your starting point on the MPT, just as it’s the starting point in legal writing. The Library for each MPT consists of a set of legal materials, which may include statutes, cases, and other items, such as regulations and advisory opinions. You will have to identify and extract the legal rule(s) from these sources. You may have to synthesize a rule from several cases, or you may face a case of first impression in your jurisdiction. You may confront a mix of mandatory and persuasive authority, or federal and state authority. Whatever you’re given, it’s likely you’ve seen something similar in LRW, where you’ve explored rule synthesis, statutory construction, and mandatory/persuasive authority. In fact, your LRW assignments were probably engineered much like the MPT, with sources carefully selected to develop your skills.
Once you have identified the legal rule, you can move on to another major MPT skill: identifying relevant and irrelevant facts. Each MPT File contains a number of sources, which may include interview notes, deposition transcripts, contract provisions, police reports – almost anything you might come across in an actual case. You’ve probably seen something like this in LRW. While your 1L memo assignments may have presented the facts in a tidy memo, your spring semester trial and/or appellate brief assignments probably used a hypothetical record. If you took an upper-level writing course, you almost certainly worked with such a record. The skills you developed in these LRW assignments are the same skills you’ll apply on the MPT: identifying determinative facts and diagnosing contradictions or gaps in the facts.
Application of law to facts.
“Application” is the “A” in CREAC; it’s the process that allows you to predict the outcome of a claim, or to argue persuasively for your client. You’ve learned and practiced this skill in each of your LRW assignments, from the first time you analogized from a case to a fact pattern, to the time you humbled your opponent during appellate brief oral arguments. On the MPT, as in LRW, you’ll apply the law with a view toward satisfactorily resolving your client’s problem.
Effective written communication.
One of the keys to success on the MPT is to “write like a lawyer.” If you can’t communicate your analysis effectively and in accordance with professional conventions, you will receive a lower score even if your content is fundamentally correct. Fortunately, you’ve been working on your written communication skills in LRW. The MPT will ask you to draft a document. It may be a memo, a brief, a letter to a client or opposing counsel, or a “wild card” document, such as a bench memo, an EDR statement, or a lobbyist’s “leave behind.” The most frequently requested document is one of the most familiar: a memo. The second most requested document is a brief. It’s virtually certain that you’ve written a memo and a brief in LRW. The MPT puts its own spin on these familiar documents, primarily by focusing on the discussion or argument section (you won’t have time for much more in 90 minutes). Fortunately, the MPT provides detailed format and content guidelines for many of its tasks, including any “wild card” requests.
Regardless of the document requested, you’ll apply at least two important lessons from LRW: (1) organize your answer and (2) follow directions. By the time you reach the bar exam, you’ve internalized the basic structure of IRAC/CRAC/CREAC. Use it on the MPT unless you’re explicitly instructed otherwise. It’s a professional convention, and the MPT graders will expect to see it. LRW has also taught you to follow directions. Just think of the first time you learned the components of a memo or brief, not to mention all those font and spacing and word limit requirements. The directions on the MPT may be different, but you need to follow them just as closely as you followed directions in LRW – even more closely, because the stakes are higher.
You can’t succeed on the MPT without preparation and practice, but your preparation began in your first LRW class.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- When and Where I Studied for the Bar Exam
- Tackling Bar Exam Materials Like a Pro
- What You Can Do Now to Prepare for the Bar Exam
- Can Studying Early Help You Pass the Bar Exam?
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