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Bullet Point a California Bar Exam

How to Bullet Point a California Bar Exam Essay

While there are plenty of benefits to writing out full essays under timed conditions (particularly if you are not a great writer, or struggle with timing), writing out every single practice essay can be very time-consuming.  After you have written some practice essays and have a good grasp on the process of writing an essay under timed conditions, a great way to gain exposure to more practice essays in an efficient manner is to bullet point a California bar exam essay!

A big mistake that we commonly see students make is that they ignore the essay section as they study and focus too heavily on the MBE section.  One reason many students make this mistake is that it is much easier to practice MBE questions, which might take just a couple minutes each, compared to essay questions, which could take well over an hour each after you write an answer, check the answer, and self-grade your answer.  Incorporating bullet-pointing into your study schedule will hopefully allow you to incorporate more essay practice into your studying without feeling overwhelmed.

How to Bullet Point a California Bar Exam Essay

Bullet-pointing or outlining essays is a very efficient way of gaining exposure to the types of issues that are tested, the facts that you might see with those issues, and practice organizing an answer.  You can also use bullet-pointing to improve upon your weaknesses.  For instance, if you struggle to come up with rule statements, but you are doing okay with the analysis, you can write out just the rule statements as you practice, while not taking the time to write out the analysis.  Or, if you know that issue spotting is a weakness, you can focus on spotting the issues and organizing your answer rather than writing out full rule statements and analysis.

Here is a sample California essay and what a bullet-point answer could look like:

The following is a sample bullet-pointed answer of the July 2019 Civil Procedure essay, which can be found on the California State Bar website.

The first step is to outline the call(s) of the question:

  1. Priscilla’s motion to compel responses to interrogatories

 

  1. Grocery’s motions to compel

 

  1. Grocery’s response to Priscilla’s interrogatory

 

  1. Grocery’s assertion of privilege

Next, identify any legal issues and sub-issues that need to be addressed for each heading:

  1. Priscilla’s motion to compel responses to interrogatories
  • Scope of discovery
  • Timing of discovery requests
  • Number of interrogatories
  • Request for production of documents not proper in interrogatories
  • Need to meet and confer

 

  1. Grocery’s motions to compel
  • Scope of discovery
  • Need to meet and confer
  • Request for physical/mental exam
  • Overly burdensome request

 

  1. Grocery’s response to Priscilla’s interrogatory
  • Disclosure of experts at 26(f) conference
  • Proper objections

 

  1. Grocery’s assertion of privilege
  • Work product

Finally, add detail to whichever section(s) you want to focus on. 

You could bullet-point the elements for the rules.  Additionally, you could bullet point the facts that you will use in the analysis.  You could also write a quick conclusion if you struggle to reach the same conclusions as the Examiners’ Analysis and need to practice this part of essay writing!  Bullet pointing allows you to efficiently practice the areas that still need work, while not wasting time doing things that you are comfortable with and are capable of doing efficiently.

 

  1. Priscilla’s motion to compel responses to interrogatories
  • Scope of discovery
    • Names are relevant, asking for addressees is too broad
    • Training manuals are relevant
  • Timing of discovery requests
    • Cannot seek discovery prior to 26(f) conference
  • Number of interrogatories
    • Limited to 25
  • Request for production of documents not proper in interrogatories
  • Need to meet and confer

 

  1. Grocery’s motions to compel
  • Scope of discovery
    • Physical/mental exam is relevant for issue of damages
    • Tax returns are relevant because she is claiming lost wages
  • Timing of discovery
    • Cannot seek discovery prior to 26(f) conference
  • Need to meet and confer
  • Request for physical/mental exam
    • Requires a court order. Court shall order upon showing good cause.
    • Good cause for physical exam, no cause for mental exam
  • Overly burdensome request
    • 20+ years of tax documents likely exceeds scope of what is relevant

 

  1. Grocery’s response to Priscilla’s interrogatory
  • Disclosure of experts at 26(f) conference
    • Parties need not disclose unfavorable experts
  • Proper objections
    • Must state the basis for objecting; general objection insufficient

 

  1. Grocery’s assertion of privilege
  • Work product – material prepared in anticipation of litigation
    • Xavier was hired in anticipation of litigation

Do I still need to self-grade? 

Yes!  Self-grading is the most important and most helpful part of essay practice, even when you are just bullet-pointing!  After you bullet point a California bar exam essay, carefully review the sample student answers and take note of any issues you missed, any rule elements you left off, any facts you did not mention, etc.  Keep track of anything you missed (and keep reviewing your notes of what you missed!) so that those items stay fresh in your mind and you learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same mistakes again on the day of the exam! Check out this post for more tips on how and why you should self-grade.

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