When I talk to students about the bar exam, there is always one thing I want them to absolutely remember:
The bar exam requires minimum competency knowledge of the law. That means that you don’t need to know every legal rule in your bar outlines.
However, that does not mean that you can be minimally competent in your test- taking skills. Remember, the bar exam is like an interview. Your essays are being presented to the bar graders as your written interview for admission to the state bar.
So let’s talk about interviews. Would you wear a sloppy or wrinkled suit to an interview? No, of course not!
Is your writing leaving a good first impression?
Now I wish that I could say that students felt the same way about their written presentations. I frequently get essays submitted to me that, in my opinion, are not professional. They are not in a condition that I would give to a boss or a judge. So why would you think the bar graders would consider you ready to practice law if your work doesn’t present itself as such?
I think you need to put yourself in the mindset of the grader of your exam. Let’s say, you sign up to be a bar grader. And let’s be honest, it isn’t an incredibly profitable job, so to do it you must take pride in the fact that you are helping select the next generation of attorneys. A bar grader in California, on average, spends two to three minutes reading a one-hour essay.
So in those two to three minutes, how can you convince him/her that you are ready to practice law?
Write like you’re writing to a Judge
Your writing must be clear, concise, easy to read, full of helpful headers, and organized. Now does that mean you should spend time proofreading to prevent typos? No, of course there will be a few typos. But should it be riddled with typos? No, you risk looking unprofessional to the bar grader.
As you practice writing for the bar exam, keep in mind these tips. Remember a person is grading your exam. What are you communicating to that individual through your writing? How are you going to show him/her that you are ready to practice law?
Please contact me if you want help with bar exam writing.
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