Dramatically raise your bar exam scores

Can Bar-Prep Mentors Help With Bar-Prep Anxiety?

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Continue reading Can Bar-Prep Mentors Help With Bar-Prep Anxiety?

Failed the bar exam?

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Failed the bar exam?

Help! I failed the bar exam, and I don’t want to do that again!

Here’s what you must do.

  1. Once you have recovered from the shock, find out the facts and face them. First, take a little time to adjust. Then jump right back in. Study what happened. Did you spend enough time studying? Were you working? Worried about your own health or a family member’s? Concerned about money? Whatever it was, make sure that Continue reading Failed the bar exam?

MBE Disaster on the Way?

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MBE Disaster on the Way?

MBE Disaster on the Way? Reports from Pennsylvania suggest that nationwide MBE scores on the February 2017 bar exam have hit an all-time low. MBE scores fell from 136.2 to 135 on the February 2016 bar exam. But on the February 2017 exam the MBE plummeted to 134. The previous lowest score, in 1980, was 134.3. With the New York results not yet out, this news causes nail-biting from Brooklyn to Buffalo.

What’s going on? Derek Muller has shown that the reason the decline in MBE scores is Continue reading MBE Disaster on the Way?

2-Day MPT Crash Course

BarWrite to Offer 2-Day MPT Crash Course

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Owing to popular demand, in June BarWrite will begin offering a 2-Day Crash Course solely on the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). The MPT counts for 20 per cent of the Uniform Bar Exam score, so success on the MPT is key. Students will receive the highly-acclaimed book Perform Your Best on the Bar Exam Performance Test (MPT). They will learn the MPT-Matrix(TM) and other systems the book teaches. They will draft MPT work products and receive feedback. We have received so many calls and email messages asking for this course that we had to offer it. More information here.

Gorsuch j & HObby Lobby

Gorsuch, J., & Hobby Lobby

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On the morning of Monday, April 10, Neil Gorsuch stood in the sunshine outside the White House with the President, Justice Kennedy, and Mrs. Gorsuch. He took one of the two oaths of office required to become an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Whatever your views on originalism, to which Judge Gorsuch is committed, his qualifications fit the profile for serving on our highest court. Accordingly, I have been curious about recent attacks I’ll call Gorsuch, J. & Hobby Lobby. Was his legal writing not good? Was his reasoning not defensible? As time permits, I am going to report, first, on two of Justice Gorsuch’s most controversial opinions in the 10th Circuit. After that, again as time permits, I’ll take up a case involving church and state, No. 15-577, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, set to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 19, where the new Justice Gorsuch’s vote may tip the balance. Readers wishing to review all of Judge Gorsuch’s 10th Circuit jurisprudence may consult the helpful index on ScotusBlog.
The plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sibelius were two closely-held for-profit corporations with a strong religious character and also the individual owners of those corporations, the Greens.
The plaintiffs argued that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA]. they could refuse to pay for four specific types of contraceptives for their employees. Providing those four types would otherwise have been mandated under regulations pursuant to the Affordable Care Act [ACA]. The case came before Tenth Circuit as an appeal from the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction. The narrow issue was whether the plaintiffs as a privately-held for-profit corporation, and its owners, with a religious objection, were likely to have success on the merits.

As Judge Gorsuch wrote:

In many ways this case is the tale of two statutes. The ACA compels the Greens to act. RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] says they need not. We are asked to decide which legislative direction controls. The tie-breaker is found not in our own opinions about good policy but in the laws Congress enacted.
The Tenth Circuit held that the plaintiff corporations had a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits to quality for a preliminary injunction. The question, again, was whether a private for-profit corporation with a religious objection could use the RFRA.

The Tenth Circuit held that the Department of Health and Human Services could not require closely-held, for-profit, secular corporations, where the owners had a religious objection, to provide those specific types of contraceptive coverage as part of their employer-sponsored health insurance plans. The government had not provided the most narrowly-tailored way of achieving the goals of the legislation. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed.

Readers of the Supreme Court opinion know that making employees forego coverage was never an issue in the case. The government has come up with alternative ways of providing full coverage for all employees, either where employers are sponsored by a religion or where they are religious non-profits. And, now, where they are privately-held for-profit corporations with a religious character.

Here is how Westlaw summarizes the Hobby Lobby holding, with Gorsuch as a member of the majority. I do not find anything in it that demonstrates either religious discrimination or indifference to women’s health. ScotusBlog quotes Westlaw:
En banc court held that petitioning companies, closely held family businesses, were likely to prevail on their claim that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdened their exercise of their religious beliefs.
In his concurring opinion, which had four rather than five votes, and was therefore not the opinion of the Tenth Circuit, Judge Gorsuch argued that the individual owners of the plaintiff corporations were also entitled to relief under the RFRA.

This is the opinion that critics challenge. Here is how ScotusBlog, quoting Westlaw, summarizes Judge Gorsuch’s concurring opinion:

Gorsuch would have held that the business-owners as individuals were entitled to relief, stating that “it is their personal involvement in facilitating access to devices and drugs that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg that their religious faith holds impermissible.” Moreover, he added, “it is not for secular courts to rewrite the religious complaint of a faithful adherent.”

Critics disparage the way Judge Gorsuch framed the issue:

All of us face the problem of complicity. All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others. For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability. The Greens [owners of Hobby Lobby Stores] are among those who seek guidance from their faith on these questions.

The issue Judge Gorsuch’s opinion addressed was just whether the Greens as individuals could use the RFRA. Slate interpreted this concurring opinion to mean that Judge Gorsuch is hostile to women’s health care. The Atlantic.com called it religious discrimination. Others have alleged that the holding of the Supreme Court permits conservative Christians to override the interests of women and minorities. These objections seem to me to stretch their points.
5 Good and 5 Bad Study Strategies for the UBE

5 Good and 5 Bad Study Strategies for the UBE

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By Mary Campbell Gallagher, J.D., Ph.D.,
Founder and President of BarWrite and BarWrite Press

This post originally appeared in slightly different form as a guest blog post on the Lawyerist blog.

Are some study strategies better than others? Emphatically yes. For one thing, good ways to study for the bar exam are active, not passive. Studying actively helps you wrestle with the rules, work out how they apply, and get them into your mental inventory.

Here are 10 study strategies: five bad ones and five good ones. We teach the good study strategies in our BarWrite bar review courses, and we help students use then in our Private Coaching Programs.

5 Bad study strategies for the UBE

Most important, bad study strategies make you feel like you are working hard–and you are working hard–but they do not cause the law to stick to your brain or increase your ability to do legal analysis. Therefore, they exhaust you, but they do not challenge you.

1. Just reading and reading. First of all, if the aim is to learn the law, just reading will not work. Period. We all tried it in law school. If it didn’t work then, it will not work for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). Thus, you need to study actively, not just passively.

2. Re-outlining your long outlines or making new long outlines or recopying notes. Writing things out feels like real work, and as you write and the law passes by your eyes, it seems like you are learning something. But just wait three or four hours and ask yourself what you have learned. Probably, Nothing. Accordingly, these are not good study strategies.

3. Listening to tapes or other recordings covering material you have not yet learned. You can only review what you already know. Thus, I have never heard of anyone’s learning Evidence solely by listening to a recording.

4. Listening twice to new lecture material on a DVD. Or even listening once at normal speed. Do NOT push the cursor back and listen to any part of a lecture again. If there’s something you didn’t catch, study the topic in your books. In addition, there are ways to speed up a DVD without altering the sound. Don’t let watching DVDs eat up all your time.

5. Doing 35 or 50 or 100 MBE practice questions a day . . .  before you have learned the law. If you don’t know the law, doing practice MBE questions will not magically raise your grade. Students come to me who have worn themselves out doing thousands of practice questions, year after year. Their children never see them. Alas, they never raise their grades. First learn the basics of the law, then do practice questions.

5 Good study strategies for the UBE

Good study strategies for the UBE are active, not passive. Thus, they get you out of your comfort zone. In some cases, in fact, they are excruciatingly painful. But with good study strategies, the law and how it applies stick to your brain.

The best study strategies involve flash cards, on the one hand, and practice questions, on the other.

1.  Ask questions about the material before you read it. Then quiz yourself afterwards. Surveying and quizzing are classic study methods. They are simply a helpful framework for your studying. Accordingly, you also need other strategies.

2. Make your own flashcards, learn them, and see how those rules fit into the short outlines your bar-prep courses or the NCBE give you. These are two parts of the structure, the individual rules and how the rules fit together.

3. Do quizzes and practice essays. Review the questions and answers until you can explain the answers to a six-year-old. We all enjoy looking at “new” material. That’s human nature. But doing quizzes and practice essays and then studying how the law applies is one of the best ways to learn the law for the bar exam. Especially important is that doing quizzes and practice essays by itself is not enough. Studying how the law applies is key.

4. Especially painful, and very valuable, for the MBE: analyze the fact patterns to see how the rules of law apply to the facts. Analyze the fact patterns of MBE questions to make sure you know exactly how the rules of law apply to the facts. In my view, the MBE questions rarely contain traps or tricks. But it certainly does seem that way, if you can’t systematically apply the rules to the facts. Finally, analyzing how the elements apply to the facts is key.

5. Review every subject three or four times before bar exam day, quizzing yourself each time. Keep track of the date on which you reviewed each set of notes. It seems like one review is enough, but it isn’t. Accordingly, it helps to make a chart to be sure you are reviewing each area of law several times. Hat tip: John Pieper.

In conclusion. Use good study strategies. Learn the law. Pass the bar exam.

Mary Campbell Gallagher is founder and president of BarWrite® and BarWrite Press, which helps LLMs and retakers raise their scores on every part of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). BarWrite’s award-winning program is the pioneer in recognizing the needs of LLMs in bar preparation. Dr. Gallagher is the author of Scoring High on Bar Exam Essays and Perform Your Best on the Bar Exam Performance Test (MPT).

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carlc/3846080374/)

Continue reading 5 Good and 5 Bad Study Strategies for the UBE

UBE, Uniform Bar Exam, in NY, July 2016

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New York UBE Uniform Bar Exam July 2016New York UBE Uniform Bar Exam, July 2016

A word to the reader. If you are reading this post because you failed the July 2016 bar exam, our condolences. The best thing you can do to help yourself now is to order copies of your essays and MPTs right away. Know your adversary, and you will enjoy overcoming it next time. “Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill

And congratulations to all New York bar passers!

The best news about the first administration of the Uniform Bar Exam in New York State in July 2016 is that the pass rate went up, slightly.

Continue reading UBE, Uniform Bar Exam, in NY, July 2016

Tips for Faster UBE Writing

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Eight Tips for Faster UBE Writing and Law School Writing

Tips for Faster UBE Writing and Law School Writing

Do slower writers just have slower DNA? Is faster writing humanly impossible? In my more than 20 years of teaching legal writing, I have not found that slower writers move their hands more slowly than faster writers. Instead, slower writers are doing totally different things from faster writers.

Here are seven actions to avoid if you want to write more quickly and eight things to try, instead. These are the skills we teach in our 4-Day MPT-Essay Bar Camps, in Manhattan and on the Hofstra campus on Long Island.

Continue reading Tips for Faster UBE Writing

Perform Your Best on the Bar Exam Performance Test MPT

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Perform Your Best on the Bar Exam Performance Test (MPT) is a best-selling study guide to the MPT part of the bar exam.
Perform Your Best on the Bar Exam Performance Test MPT

This is the name of Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher’s best-selling study guide for the MPT. The MPT is a part of the bar exam in many jurisdictions that gives bar candidates 90 minutes to demonstrate their ability, using simulated research and law office materials, to research and write a law office task like a first-year associate. The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) includes two MPT tasks.

Continue reading Perform Your Best on the Bar Exam Performance Test MPT