Recap of the February 2019 California Bar Exam Essays and Performance Test
As per usual, the February 2019 California Bar Exam essays had quite a few racehorse questions! We were not surprised to see this given the difficulty of the California bar exam generally. Here are our general thoughts about what appeared on the February 2019 California Bar Exam essays.
February 2019 California Bar Exam Essays
This is the fourth time that the California Bar Exam consisted of five essays (previously examinees had to write six essays). Examinees reported that there were more crossover essays (more than one subjected tested in an essay) on this exam as compared to the July 2018 exam. Through the course of the five essays, the Examiners tested eight subjects! Although examinees answered one less essay question than they did in the past, the Examiners have not changed the scope of the subjects tested on the exam.
The following subjects were tested:
Civil procedure (Federal) / Evidence (federal)
Interestingly, one of the afternoon essays included a crossover between the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence. The Civil Procedure portion of the question tested subject matter jurisdiction and the remainder of the question focused upon the admissibility of different evidence. Students reported that there were too many issues to cover in sixty minutes. This fact pattern required examinees to discuss logical and legal relevancy, nonhearsay, hearsay, lay witness testimony, expert testimony, impeachment, and public policy exclusion (e.g., subsequent remedial measures). It is helpful to have a checklist memorized so that you can systematically issue spot and analyze issues, especially on racehorse essays such as this one.
The issues tested in the Community Property/Trusts/Wills crossover included quasi-community property, whether a spouse can gift away his community property interest, separate property, validity of a will that was executed in another state, whether a conservator may alter a will, and whether creditors can access the property in a revocable trust. Many examinees reported being confused by the nuances of this question and indicated that they ran out of time.
The February 2019 California Bar Exam essays included a full essay on the Examiners favorite subject, Professional Responsibility. Unlike some recent exams which tested more lesser tested issues, bar exam takers stated that this essay was much more mainstream. Note that if you struggled with this essay you are not alone (mainstream does not necessarily mean it was an easier Professional Responsibility essay)! In answering this question, among other things, examinees discussed the unauthorized practice of law as it pertained to a disbarred attorney, duty of loyalty, duty of competence, making threats to opposing counsel, when an attorney may speak to a party who is represented/unrepresented, and the duty not to bring frivolous lawsuits.
The Real Property essay was a more traditional question focusing upon landlord/tenant law. The issues that appeared in this question included whether a landlord must give a tenant actual or constructive possession of the property, periodic tenancies, how to modify the terms of a lease, breach of the warranty of habitability, and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.
The Torts essay tested focused on some of the highly tested issues such as negligence and strict liability (dog bite, chimpanzee).
February 2019 California Performance Test
This was the fourth time that exam takers had to write a single 90-minute California Performance Test (CPT). A number of exam takers reported that the California Performance Test was difficult and as a result, they ran out of time. Examinees were asked to write a persuasive brief, which is one of the most highly tested type of tasks. Specifically, students were asked to write a brief about the exoneration of a bail bond. Examinees reported that file and library were lengthier than they had expected and reported that the library consisted of a mix of statutes and three cases. We were not surprised to hear that the amount of material in the library and file for the 90-minute California Performance Tests have increased over the course of the last four administrations. We suspect that the Examiners are expecting students to have familiarized themselves with these types of PTs over the last two years.
If you feel unsure about what you wrote for any of the essays or the CPT you are not alone! Many students found the Civil Procedure/Evidence and Community Property/Wills/Trusts essays to be particularly challenging. If you are struggling with how you think you performed on the exam, take a moment to check out our post entitled “How will I feel after the bar exam?”. It is very likely that other examinees are feeling the same way as you.
We hope you found our recap of the February 2019 California Bar Exam helpful and wish you the best of luck on the MBE today!
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