Maryland Bar Exam Essay

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STARO – The Call
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S – Subject T – Topic A – Assignment (Write a memo to a senior partner; rule on an objection; arguments to exclude; advise a client) R – Role Advocate – What arguments would you make Umpire – Evaluate, Advise, rule Combination – What arguments and likelihood of success O – Organize – Identify organizational clues from the call
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Steps to answering a question
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STEP 1: WRITE START & STOP WRITING TIME. STEP 2: READ AND \”S.T.A.R.O.\” THE CALL FIRST. STEP 3: SKIM THE FACTS. STEP 4: READ & TAKE NOTES. STEP 5: STOP & THINK. STEP 6: WRITE & MANAGE YOUR TIME.
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WRITE START & STOP WRITING TIME
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8 / 16 / 24 HIKE! – Write it on the QUESTION
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CAREFUL & SENSITIVE READING – RTFQ
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READ LIKE THE TESTER, NOT THE TESTED Looking for clues to issue(s); not like reading a novel; question creators put in specific facts to raise specific issues – find them, learn to recognize them. DISTINGUISH MATERIAL FROM NON-MATERIAL NOT ALL FACTS ARE CREATED EQUAL. Some facts are more important. Learn to discriminate between more important and less important facts.
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ISSUE SPOTTING
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Role and Assignment Issue Identification. a. Consider all potential issues in context of the role(s) and assignment(s) in call of the question. b. If the call doesn’t ask about it or it’s outside your role or assignment, it is NOT an issue. Fact-Driven Issue Identification. a. If the facts don’t raise and / or resolve an issue, it is NOT an issue. An Issue Is Worth Writing about Only If It’s: a. responsive to the call (Role and Assignment Issue Identification), AND raised by the facts (Fact-Driven Issue Identification) Process of Issue Spotting. 1st – Recognition – recognize legal issues from facts. 2nd – Recollection – review law you recall of concepts related to those you recognized.
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NAME THE LEGAL CONCEPTS
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Name the legal concepts associated with the issues you spotted and / or the legal concepts the facts made you think about (the \”N\” in NRAC).
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SPOT THE ISSUES ON PAPER
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Don’t dismiss issues in your mind; do it on paper. If an issue is responsive to the call and raised by the facts, write about it. If you don’t write about it, the Examiners won’t know you saw it. The Essay Test is about issues, not answers. Even though one theory will accomplish the task assigned, discuss others that are relevant to the facts and call that also may achieve the objective. Success is NOT the measure of an issue. If an issue is suggested by the facts, but clearly won’t be successful, it’s a minor issue; spend minor time on it, but don’t ignore it.
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Sparks
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Oddball Facts Predictable Facts Law-Related Lingo Anything \”Oral\” Express Knowledge or Ignorance Express Inaction or Failure Extreme Words Physical Look of the Question Excessive or Hyper-Specific Details Timing / Sequencing Geography Multiples Reason / Purpose Judge Even Hand Facts
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Oddball Facts
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Facts include unusual behavior or events
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Predictable Facts
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Facts are sooooo predictable, you usually can see an event coming.
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Law-Related Lingo
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Facts include words associated with a legal concept, e.g., \”pat down\” = stop and frisk; \”ingress and egress\” = easements; \”share profits\” = partnerships.
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Anything \”Oral\”
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Facts tell you something was done orally; should that have been in writing?
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Express Knowledge or Ignorance
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Facts tell you someone did or didn’t know, see, hear, learn something; knowledge or intent will be at issue
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Express Inaction or Failure
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Facts expressly tell you that someone didn’t do something, didn’t accomplish something or something didn’t happen; some legal foundational requirement will be at issue
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Extreme Words
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Facts include absolutes, limiting, crisis and severe words
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Physical Look of the Question
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Facts include indents, quotes, underlines, bolds, italics, etc.
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Excessive or Hyper-Specific Details
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Facts include lots of detail about something or very specific detail – like a person specific age – about something.
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Timing / Sequencing
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Facts include a number of dates, or facts expressly indicating that one event followed another.
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Geography
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Facts include a number of counties (venue) or states.
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Multiples
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Facts include more than one of something – persons, things or events in the fact pattern.
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Reason / Purpose
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Facts include why something was done.
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Judge Even Hand Facts
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Good / Bad Guy Facts – On the MBE, the good guys often lose. But on the essay test, the good guys usually win. Either way, if someone is doing right or doing wrong, you should think about what issues those good or bad behaviors raise and use those facts in your answer.
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Note Taking – Circles
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Circle a facts Note P, D, Cause of action, other persons of significant events Diagram the fact pattern
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Note Taking – Line
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Draw a line out to the margin – Line connects specific fact to the margin note
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Note Taking – Margin notes
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Law Margin notes – note the legal concepts that a fact made you think about Fax/index/Summary Margin Notes – Note/summarize facts to aid recall or to note where certain facts can be located
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Allow the Facts to Direct Your Answer
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The facts identify the issues / problems to be addressed; what legal issues / concepts do the facts make you think about? \”Facts to law\” issue identification, NOT law to facts or law to law.
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Interpreting Facts – Who is Speaking
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Stated facts. These are facts that the question creator presented as fact. \”The Words of the Board Are the Words of the Lord.\” You must accept these facts as true and established. Alleged facts. These are facts that a person in the facts claimed / alleged to be true. These are facts that are not necessarily true; you may need to evaluate their truthfulness or they can be used to support an argument or conclusion.
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PRIORITIZE THE ISSUES
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Major Issues: More facts or uncertain result = major issue = major time. Subtle Issues: The uncertain result part of a major issue = a little extra time, but important; difference between a 4, 5 and 6. Minor Issues: Few facts or obvious result = minor issue = minor time, but don’t ignore it or leave it out. Non-Issues: No facts or not asked about = non-issue = don’t waste your time!
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ACKNOWLEDGE WEAKNESSES / PROBLEMS
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A weakness that doesn’t defeat an argument or change the result, but does require a little more in-depth analysis. How? Address in an extra sentence or use words like \”despite,\” \”even if,\” \”even though,\” \”however\” or \”while\”.
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Macro Organization Methods
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Show your work By Call – sub-parts or parties or events named in call. By Facts – by parties, by chronological events or transaction. By Law – inverse pyramid. By Combination – of call, facts and / or law. 3-Part Answer.
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BY CALL
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Separately numbered or lettered sub-parts in call; OR separately identified parties or event or things in the call, even without separately numbered or lettered sub-parts. Each gets its own heading – own line, in caps and underlined.
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BY FACTS
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Organize following the chronological order of the facts – by factual events, by parties, by \”things\” (e.g., different statements, different items of evidence; different legislative clauses). Discuss the issues in the order they appear – paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, line by line and word by word. Excellent for laundry list questions / transactional questions. Also, excellent way to organize / issue-spot when you are \”lost\”.
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BY LAW – INVERSE PYRAMID ORGANIZATION
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From the General to the Specific – Start with broadest, most basic applicable concept. Then, move in progressively narrowing steps to element on the issue turns. An answer may have a single pyramid or multiple pyramids. Excellent for traditional essay type questions. A Digression About Legal Analysis – \”Apply Before You Comply\”. Be sure a general rule applies to your facts before you discuss the need to comply with it or that an exception is needed. (e.g., If the defendant does NOT standing, the 4th Amendment does NOT apply, and the gov’t doesn’t need an exception to the 4th Amendment warrant requirement to justify warrantless police conduct. OR If evidence is NOT hearsay, you don’t need a hearsay exception for it to be admissible.)
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THREE-PART ANSWER ORGANIZATION
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Overall organization to answer traditional essay style questions. Does NOT apply to Civ pro questions or laundry list style questions. Foundation – Introduction of the broadest legal concept at issue; the first step in the inverse pyramid; typically one to two sentences. Body – The law school part; analysis of the elements that resolve the issue and determine the conclusion on the issue; huge majority of writing and thinking time. Follow Through – Further analytical steps or legal steps which are obvious from the resolution of the issue, that need to be taken to answer the question; typically two or three sentences.
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HOW TO APPLY FACTS
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\”Fact Lumping\” – Select every fact, and only those facts, applicable to the legal point you are discussing and lump them together in a single sentence, usually stringing together a series of facts with commas. Negativing – Name the legal concept and identify the single element that obviously is not satisfied and the fact(s) that show it. Do NOT defined the rule / term. Use with a minor issue or if very time-crunched.
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Micro organization
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rules for discussion of each legal term, concept or rule or separate factual event or thing
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SEPARATE PARAGRAPHS FOR EVERY LEGAL DISCUSSION
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General Rule – Each separate concept / term / rule gets a separate paragraph – all elements in the same paragraph; lots of two sentence paragraphs. The Exception – Rarely, but occasionally, each element gets its own separate paragraph, usually when the rule is one of very few issues.
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N.R.A.C
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Sentence One – The Sentence of Law Sentence TWO (of same paragraph) – The Sentence of Facts. Exceptions – a 3rd Sentence
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The Sentence of Law
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N = Name of the Legal Concept: Put this at the beginning of the paragraph as a heading or within the first few words; puts you in the \”ballpark\”; write the name off the front of your essay flashcard. R = Rule: Then, define the term. Write the sentence off the back of your essay flashcard. If you can’t define it, leave the definition out or make it up!
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The Sentence of Facts
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A = Application of the Facts / Reasoning: Apply facts to the named term using \”fact lumping\” or \”negativing\”; connect facts to legal concept to show your reasoning and support your conclusion; the words, \”Here\” or \”Because\” are excellent connectors. C = Conclusion: Expressly state your conclusion if it isn’t implicit in factual analysis.
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3rd Sentence Exceptions
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Sometimes, you can write a 3rd sentence for the \”spark\”, the \”iffy\” element, the \”red herring\” – (unloaded handguns, unwritten partnership agreements) – etc
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ConLaw Check list
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CHECK State Action Federal or State Standing – Is P immediate harmed/facing potential harm Clues in facts Remedy – What do you ask for LIST = protection – anyone treated differently DP – Any Liberty Limited Speech – Any communication limited Religion – religion helped/harmed Commerce Clause – State – Dormant CC – state law harming out of state business. FED – federal law not regulating commercial activity OTHER – Excessive penalties, supremacy clause, takings clause, contracts clause, P&I clause

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