We are starting an MPT (multistate performance test) series where we cover various “wildcard” tasks–e.g. the MPT tasks that are not tested often. The more you are familiar with the wildcard tasks, the less intimidated you will be if you see them on the MPT!Examinees were only asked to format a closing argument once on the MPT and that was in February 2011 in the Butler v. Hill MPT. Indeed, in that MPT, examinees were asked to write both an objective memorandum and a brief closing argument.
In that exam, both the objective memorandum and the brief closing argument were “short” and examinees were instructed to discuss specific issues in each. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) could combine these two tasks together or they could simply instruct examinees to write a longer closing argument section.
On the February 2011 MPT, Examinees were asked to convince the court via the closing argument that (1) there was a valid marriage between the parties and (2) that the home was marital property and that the client was entitled to more than 50% of its value.
Examinees were specifically told to format the closing argument on the MPT as follows:
- (1) A brief introduction of the case;
- (2) Argument; and
- (3) Relief sought.
If you see a closing argument on the MPT, you will likely be instructed to format it in a similar manner. The important thing is that you pay close attention to the task memo.
Remember that the goal of an argument is to persuade.
Indeed, the Butler v. Hill MPT instructed examines to do all of the following:
- Tell a persuasive story about why the client should prevail (Note: This means that you should be recapping the facts in a persuasive way!);
- Highlight the evidence that the client intends to bring out at trial to support the factors enumerated in the statutes and case law (Note: This means you should apply the law to the facts in a persuasive way); and
- Address the other side’s position by showing how the evidence fails to support its case and in fact supports the client’s case instead. (Note: This means you should still address counterarguments, but show how they work in your favor! You should also state exactly what you want–the relief sought.)
The basic purpose of a closing argument is to be persuasive, highlight the key facts and law in support of your client, and minimize the arguments that the other side may have.
If you remember this general goal as well as the format listed above, you should do great on an MPT that requires a closing argument!
If you want to try writing a closing argument on the MPT, check out the February 2011 MPT of Butler v. Hill here.
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