If you’re taking the bar exam in any of the 38 states that require the MPT, you’ve probably been preparing for this component of the exam, which may count for a significant percentage of your score. At this point, you may be tired and frustrated with taking practice MPTs.
Here are some last minute tips to help restore your focus. First, we’ll review the MPT tasks you may encounter, with quick tips for tackling each one. Second, we’ll review the MPT components, with quick reading tips for each one.
Memo. The most common MPT task is the memo. It will be addressed to a supervising attorney and written with an objective tone.
- Organize your answer. While some MPTs provide specific drafting guidelines or templates, memo MPTs usually don’t, although the task memo may remind you not to spend time restating the facts. Don’t waste time pondering how to organize your MPT memo. Be prepared to use a default organization consisting of a heading (To/From/Date/Re), Introduction (state the question you were asked, your conclusion, and briefly explain the rationale), and Discussion (CREAC each issue; separate the issues with subheadings).
Brief. The second most common MPT task is to write a persuasive brief. It will be addressed to a judge and written to convince the judge to rule in your client’s favor.
- Use headings. Many MPTs requesting briefs provide drafting guidelines. Pay particular attention to the sample headings that are often included. A well written heading succinctly refers to both the rule of law and the determinative facts. You should be able to draft effective headings while you’re taking notes, prior to actually drafting your answer. The task memo has identified the issues; you’ve extracted the rules from the Library; you’ve noted key facts from the File. Put the pieces together to construct your headings and organize your answer. But don’t waste time here. If you’re struggling to draft a persuasive heading, do the best you can – a weak heading is better than none at all. Then move on to the body of the argument, where more points will be allocated.
Letter. The third most common MPT task is the letter. While the audience and tone are consistent for memos (attorney, objective) and briefs (judge, persuasive), these may vary considerably for letters.
- Know your audience and tone. Be alert for a description of the recipient, including her level of legal knowledge, and the purpose of the letter, which may be to inform, predict, or persuade. You’ll be expected to tailor your tone and style appropriately.
- Organize your answer. Some letters provide drafting guidelines, but some do not. Be prepared to follow a standard structure: salutation; body of the letter, featuring a CREAC of each issue, separated by subheadings; and closing.
Wildcard. The final MPT possibility is a “Wildcard” – a unique document or task, which may include review or revision of a sample document. Take a deep breath and stay calm.
- Follow guidelines. Wildcards typically include drafting guidelines. Follow them precisely. You’re simply being asked to demonstrate the same skills of legal and factual analysis you’d apply in a memo, brief, or letter in an unfamiliar context. Rely on your skills, follow the guidelines, and don’t panic!
Remember to follow the Attack Plan. Don’t simply read through the MPT packet in order. Here are some tips for reading each component.
Task Memo. The single most important document in the MPT, the task memo identifies the issues to be addressed (or omitted) and provides an overview of the facts. It establishes the audience, tone and organization of your product.
- Look for numbered lists (of issues, requirements, etc.), references to documents in the File, and background info about your client.
Library. Zoom in on the legal rules.
- If there is a statute, use it to outline the law. Understand that it may include some extraneous provisions. A provision is extraneous if it does not pertain to any of the issues you’ve been told to address or if none of the facts in the File relate to it.
- If you’re given cases, look for numbered lists of elements, references to precedent – including references to other cases in the Library – and the interpretation and application of legal rules, including any statute provided. Pay attention to the court and date of each opinion so you can assess hierarchy of authority.
File. Four tips for interpreting the facts:
- Look for facts that relate to each element of the rule(s) you extracted from the Library.
- Let go of extraneous facts.
- Look for facts that are similar to or distinguishable from facts in the Library cases.
- Look for consistencies and inconsistencies in testimony and documents.
Good luck on the MPT!
___ _ ___
Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- What are Bar Exam Graders are Really Looking For
- Steps to Making Your Own Bar Exam Schedule
- Are You Wasting Time Studying for the Bar Exam
- What are You Waiting For? It’s Time to Study for the Bar Exam
Photo credit: Shutterstock