IRAC: Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion
This is the basic essay format that has been drilled into law students’ heads since their 1L (first) year. It is also the format used for the essay portion of the bar exam. I’d been putting off working on practice essays for a while because, well, frankly I just wasn’t that worried about them, and because I can BS my way out of just about anything and figured that would work for the essays, too.
Well, I started working on essays last Friday and felt like I’d just been slapped in the face by Reality and punched in the stomach by Denial. I attempted three practice essays and, upon finishing them, began thinking of alternative careers for when I failed the bar. The essays were supposed to be my saving grace and yet I felt like I’d never even been to law school when I actually started doing them. I’m not sure what it was about them that intimidated me so much. One of the essays I did online and submitted to an attorney grader somewhere. I quickly got it back with the grade of “exceeds the standard.” Wait, what?! I was SURE I had failed the dang thing and yet I actually knew what I was doing?! Interesting.
Now let me explain a little about my essay writing style. I’m not a fluffy writer, I’m a concise, to the point, if it’s not absolutely integral to the question, it’s not going to be in my essay kind of writer. This hasn’t always worked out well for me, especially in classes where they want you to do discuss both sides and pretty much every possible legal action that you could think of that may arise out of the fact pattern. Lucky for me, the questions I am seeing on the practice essays (which are actual essays that were on past exams) are pretty straightforward: Can P sue D? Does State A have personal jurisdiction over D? Who gets what from A’s will when A dies? Simple enough. As it turns out, my simple writing style will work out perfectly for me.
Thanks to a suggestion from a friend who is currently studying to take her second bar exam (not because she failed but because she is taking it in a different state), I started going though loads of practice essays and, as she said I would, I started to see patterns in the questions as well as in the answers. For all my fellow bar-takers: I absolutely suggest going through your MEE study book and looking at as many essays as possible, either writing the full essay or just jotting down an outline (this is what I did to make better use of my time), then look at the outlined answer to compare. I am completely confident in my ability to pass day 1 of the bar exam now. Mischief managed.
Now it’s time to start tackling more multiple choice questions for the next 8 days…