How to Conquer Remedies on the California Bar Exam
Here, we tell you how to conquer Remedies on the California Bar Exam. Remedies is regularly tested on the California Bar Exam. It is often combined with other subjects, and the California Examiners often test Remedies in particular ways. (In fact, some exam questions are nearly identical to one another!)
Here, we tell you how to approach Remedies on the California Bar Exam, including some of the highly tested issues in Remedies questions.
Remedies on the California Bar Exam
1. First, know how Remedies is tested.
California has virtually always tested “general” law (rather than California law) on Remedies questions.
When you approach a bar exam essay that tests Remedies it is helpful to determine the claim that might be raised as well as any remedies that the party might seek. Discuss legal, restitutionary, and equitable remedies. Be sure to analyze legal remedies prior to analyzing equitable remedies.
California Bar Exam essays on Remedies often are predictable and test many of the same issues.
Note that bar exam fact patterns often will specifically ask about the remedy, remedies, or relief that could be granted. Those are your cues that a Remedies question is being tested.
2. Be aware of the highly tested issues.
The State Bar of California tests certain issues over and over again on Remedies questions. (We have a nice summary of these in our California Bar Exam One-Sheets!)
Some of the “favorite” California Bar Exam issues in Remedies questions include the following:
- Compensatory damages, punitive damages, and restitutionary damages in tort
- TROs and preliminary injunctions (These are tested together so if you see one, discuss the other!)
- Compensatory damages in contracts
- Specific performance in contracts
- Equitable defenses (Unclean hands and laches are the two that are tested over and over again.)
3. Be aware of the approach you should use to highly tested Remedies topics.
Look over past Remedies questions and you will see some patterns.
- When specific performance is tested, you should say something like: “Plaintiff must first show (1) a valid contract, (2) all conditions have been met and plaintiff has performed (or is ready to perform) under the contract, (3) the legal remedy is inadequate, (4) it is feasible for a court to enter a decree for specific performance, and (5) the defendant does not have any defenses—and briefly discuss each of these five things.
- When a constructive trust is tested, an equitable lien is virtually always mentioned with it (even if a constructive trust is the more appropriate remedy). (Check out the July 2003 essay and Feb 2013 essay if you want to see how similar some of these Remedies fact patterns are!)
- Some principles are mentioned repeatedly.
- E.g., damages must be foreseeable and not speculative. The plaintiff must mitigate damages. Punitive damages are not appropriate in negligence cases.
Getting a general approach for what the examiners expect to see when certain issues are tested will help you maximize your score on a Remedies question.
4. Don’t be surprised if you see a “crossover” Remedies question.
Remedies is frequently tested on its own. But it is also tested with other subjects—e.g., Torts, Contracts, Evidence, and Professional Responsibility, as you can see from the chart below. So, don’t be surprised if you see it tested with another subject.
Note: sometimes Remedies issues appear in Tort and Contracts questions even though the Examiners do not classify the question as a Remedies question.
The best way to get good at Remedies questions is to practice essays. This will help you become acquainted with how Remedies is tested (including crossover essays). And, it will help you master the highly tested issues.
Here are a few essay questions with student answers that we recommend you practice to get exposed to some highly tested topics in Remedies essay questions:
- February 2017 essay question and student answer (see essay question #2 on the exam—this is a crossover question with Torts)
- February 2015 essay question and student answer (see essay question #4 on the exam)
Good luck studying for the California Bar Exam!
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