Sunday, 15 June 2008

The exam itself

Has been a bit of a while since I posted. Not sure why - the first week or so I suppose I was busy, and after that it was 'oh I must post'...but I haven't anything interesting to say, and after this gap it should be interesting. Hmm. I've opted for just posting!

So, I'm about 3 weeks in to Bar classes. I haven't gone into much detail here so far about the course, but I suppose here is as good a place as any to do that. So far I've had classes in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, New York Practice (i.e. Civil Procedure), Corporations law, Real Property, Constitutional Law and Evidence.

Actually, I missed 2 of the Real Property lectures (out of 3) because my lip blew up to massive proportions. Seriously, I could be an Angelina Jolie lip double on a normal day, but this was ridiculous. It just kept getting bigger and bigger on one side, until I looked like I'd been a few rounds with Tyson. (Ok I'm a wimp, it would have been more like half a round). When we went out to join the gym a few blocks away, Boy noted rather worriedly that he hoped people didn't think he was hitting me! Anyway, I couldn't possibly go out looking like that so no classes for a couple of days.

Lips back to normal size now. I still have these classes to go:

Conflict of Laws
Federal Jurisdiction and procedure
NY professional responsibility
Secured transactions/Commercial Paper
Domestic Relations
Worker's Comp

I think that's it. Gosh that makes me realise I'm actually quite far in to the course. I forgot to mention Agency and Partnerships - had that lecture, the lecturer was great. The kind of bizarre that you start off thinking 'oookay then, he doesn't get out much' and by the end you're nearly in tears with the cumulative effect of his quirks. And that isn't me being mean, he was clearly a comic genuis, exaggerating his quirks for comic effect (he noted that he was 'very weird' by the end). Some other lecturers have been dire, making really awful jokes and puns or just having really bad voices. Corporations guy sounded like a gameshow host (I didn't think people really had those voices) and Real Property lady had the whiniest, most nasal voice I've ever heard. Tres New york. In the main though, they've been pretty good.

We are provided with a 'Paced program' (see, look up Enrolled Student Center if you're interested, I can't link to it directly) which advises a few hours of work each night. Admittedly I haven't been doing much of this. The distraction of wandering around Brooklyn, or going to the cinema, or indeed anything else has been too great. However, I am here to study and it would be fantastically stupid to fail this so I really must. My last lecture was Evidence on Friday, and the lecturer noted that if we hadn't started was the time.

The stuff really isn't hard, conceptually. A lot is obviously, completely new to me (degrees of culpability in crim law, all the civil and criminal procedure stuff, evidence, constitutional law, other subjects I didn't study at uni) but it's not hard to get your head around. The content however is fairly staggering. We are provided with handouts for lectures which covers the bare minimum that we need to know for the exam. These usually run to about 40 pages per lecture. I think there are 40 lectures in total, so 40 x 40 = 1600 pages. That can't be right?! Ok, so that's what I will have to memorise. Otherwise, I imagine it's very similar to stuff that people have covered on the BVC/LPC (minus the 'skills' stuff).

There is a difference when it comes to the exam though. Both in terms of how the exam itself is structured and how we are advised to respond. It works like this:

Day 1: One Multistate Performance Test (MPT) question (worth 10%), five NY essay questions (worth 40%) and 50 NY multiple-choice questions (worth 10%).

AM session (3 hours and 15 min.): 3 essays and 50 NY multiple choice questions.

PM session (3 hours): 2 essays and one 90 minute MPT question.

Day 2: MBE (worth 40%). 100 multiple choice questions each in the AM (3hours) and PM (3 hours) sessions.

And in plain English that means: Multiple choice questions in the main.

In the essay questions we have been told not to use cases (yay, cos I don't know any (apart from Roe v. Wade ) nor Statute references, except to refer to for example the CPLR (the Civil Procedure Law and Rules, equivalent to the CPR). We can refer to the acronym without detailing , or indeed even knowing, the full name. Any terms of art, e.g consideration, must be explained. I'm not used to doing that, so I may find that a bit tricky. That's a bit more like Philosophy or Geography - people I knew studying those subjects at uni had to define everything whereas we lawyers could res ipsa loquitor with impunity.

It looks like I may finally have to learn what a trust is. I managed to get through my entire law degree without knowing... !


Swiss Tony said...

Mel, geeeeees, good to see you back posting again. I was getting worried that the course was not working out too well, and I suppose 1600 pages to learn off by heart it isn't going too well!! I think I would have folded by now.

As for trusts, did the exam last week and I know what one is. I have my arm up in the air now, I know, I know. If you really do need a very simple explanation, because thats all I am capable of, then just shout. As you are coping with such high brow subjects as you have described, I guess its just that student thing we all do saying we can't cope, yet we (not necessarily me) fly through onto the next challenge. (See, removing me from the 'we' shows what I mean)

Actually, the day before my exam I found some very easy to follow sample exam answers that taught me more than the whole course did!

Glad to see you are enjoying yourself.

Keep on trucking


Law Minx said...

My GAWD, Mel, you've had it all to do!!! Glad to see you are generally having fun though I must say that your work load sounds incredibly intense!!!! Snaps to you, girl, I dont think I could cope with even a TENTH of that without having an absolute nervous breakdown!! Strange that you have to explain terms of art when over here you should be pretty much past having to do that by the end of your first year ...!( though I cant say I ever quite managed to give up the habit COMPLETELY)
I'm really glad to see that you hav had a moment of minty menthol clarity with respect to trusts - me, never got them, never will!! What on earth happened to your lip, you poor thing? Were you sunkissed ( mine come up like Jaggers whenever that happens, if not WORSE!!) or was it something you ate/drank? Im glad to see you are all betterified now though!

Mel said...

Oh I don't know, we'll see how I cope when confronted with 200 Multiple choice q's.

We were advised on the first day that we had to alter our way of thinking, and look for the least worst answer. For example, if the question was 'Where is New York University based'?
and the answer choices were:
a) Newark, New Jersey
b) Miami, Florida
c) Seattle, Washington
d) Washington DC, District of Columbia

Now a common sense approach would be none of the above, as it's in New York, NY, but one of those is 'right' so it must be a), Newark, NJ as that is the closest as so 'least wrong'.

Whoever law was about logic!

I blame Boy for lack of posts as well. He's always around, and I'm a bit shy of showing him the blog!!

Minx - thanks for the confidence boost, although to be fair I think I've been in denial re- workload thus far!! Oh dear, oh dear...!