Are you writing your Michigan bar exam appeal? If so, we are happy to give you some guidance! We write Michigan bar exam appeals ourselves (through our law firm) – but we also know that many students want to write their own appeals rather than paying an attorney to do it for them. We have plenty of information of what we have seen work – and not work. Please click here to see all of our blog posts on how to write a Michigan bar exam appeal if you are seriously considering your own appeal.
In this post we are answering one simple (but extremely important) question: How many points should I ask for when I write my Michigan bar exam Appeal? If you are writing your own Michigan bar exam appeal, it is crucial that you are smart about asking for the right amount of points. Below we have outlined a few approaches we have seen students take when they request points on appeal, and we tell you what the best approach is.
Approaches to requesting Points on a Michigan Bar Exam Appeal:
(1) Approach One: Only ask for points back on essays that you truly believe deserve more points. (Students who follow this approach usually appeal between 1 and 5 essay answers.)
(2) Approach Two: Appeal every single essay that received a score of less than 10 in hopes of getting the most points possible. (Students who follow this approach usually appeal 13-15 essay answers).
(3) Approach Three: Appeal any essay where you can make a credible argument for appeal, even if you don’t think you necessarily have a good argument. (Students who follow this approach usually appeal between 7 and 11 essays).
The best approach?
We find that the third approach is the best way to maximize your chances of passing the Michigan bar exam on appeal. We recommend that you appeal as many essays as you credibly can – this will likely be between 7 and 11 essays.
This also means that you should ask for the most amount of points that you credibly can. If you received a score of a “2” on an essay and think you deserve at least a 4, ask for two or three points back. Don’t ask for eight points back if you really don’t deserve a 10! Keep it credible, but err on the side of asking for more points rather than fewer points. On most of our appeals, we generally end up asking for between 14 and 20 points total. We have received as many as seven points utilizing this method.
Why shouldn’t I only appeal the essay answers that I know I really deserve points (The First Approach)?
We have seen many students take the first approach – of only appealing 1-5 essays where they truly think they deserve points. Unfortunately, sometimes these students get zero points back on appeal. Why? There could be several reasons, but the one that jumps out to me is that you and the grader simply may not see eye-to-eye on which essays really deserve points. I write bar exam appeals and I am always surprised to see where I get the points I need to win the appeal. For example, I will tell my client something like, “Essay #6 is our best chance at getting points – you probably deserved a score of 8 or 9 rather than a score of 5. I am appealing essays 13 and 14 too even though we really don’t have very good arguments…” Then, to my surprise, I will get zero points back on Essay 6 and a point back on Essay 13 and Essay 14.
The moral of the story is, if you have any kind of credible argument at all, appeal it! This approach is very similar to what you will do when you practice law. When you have a case and you are arguing a motion, you might have five arguments. You might really believe in two of them and think the other three are just okay. But you will argue all of them – why? Because the judge might find one of the other arguments that you are less-impressed by to be the better argument. As an attorney, you don’t care which argument wins – so long as one of them wins. It is the same principle when you write an appeal.
So why not appeal everything (The Second Approach)?
If you take the second approach of appealing everything, you risk losing your credibility. If you happened to get a high score of 8 or 9 on an essay – even though you missed much of the analysis in the model answer and arrived at the wrong conclusion without any good reason – appealing this will only annoy the grader and make it less likely that they take any of your arguments seriously. As an attorney, you would not make an argument in open court if you couldn’t at least keep a straight face. It is the same principle when you are writing an appeal.
Looking to Pass the Bar Exam on Appeal?
Check out our information on Michigan bar exam appeals here. JD Advising founder and her partner founded the Heidemann Jabbori law firm, which wrote all of the passing appeals in Michigan for the July 2018 Michigan bar administration.