Recap of the February 2016 Michigan Bar Exam Essay Portion
The February 2016 Michigan bar exam was a strange exam!!!! We predicted that stranger topics would be tested on the Michigan bar exam after the BLE released this cryptic statement last July (and that DEFINITELY came to fruition!) but even we did not expect a Conflicts and Agency question (both topics that have not been tested since 2008!) in one exam. So the BLE kept things interesting and finally started testing some subjects that have gotten very dusty after so many years of not being tested. Conflicts, Agency, and Secured Transactions came as a surprise to some. Wills also surprised some students. (We predicted Secured Transactions and Wills were coming up but we did not expect to see Conflicts or Agency in the same exam!)
Also, Workers’ Compensation was nowhere to be seen! We were not super-surprised by this (as before, several members of the Board of Law Examiner’s were workers’ compensation attorneys – as of now, none are!). However, we still anticipated a question on it.
Though the BLE tested stranger subjects, it did not “hide the ball” when it did so. (For example, the call of the question for Agency said “applying principles of Michigan agency law” to alert you that Agency was being tested and asked about the “choice of law decision” to alert you that Conflicts of Law was the subject.)Thus, the subjects were not standard, but the BLE made it clear. (NOTE: If you missed a subject, do not worry, you are not alone! Many students, under the adrenaline of the exam, analyzed Agency as a Contracts question or mixed up the Conflicts of Law one. You should still be able to get some points regardless! It is definitely not the end of the world, and definitely does not mean you didn’t pass! To put it in some context, on the July 2014 bar exam, the BLE tested No-Fault. Some students only analyzed it as Torts and completely missed that the BLE was testing No-Fault. Many of these students still pulled off 4’s and 5’s!)
Perhaps to make up for the lack of standard subjects, many of the topics tested were standard. Torts had a premises liability/attractive nuisance. Civil Procedure tested discovery (much better than July’s “relation-back” nonsense). Secured Transactions – while never a welcome question – tested a straightforward priority/PMSI issue, just as we predicted. Domestic Relations tested modification of custody, just as we predicted. Others like Personal Property, Evidence, and Wills were not huge surprises. But just because they were not super-surprising does not mean they were easy!
It was actually quite a difficult exam and many of the questions stumped students. Many students that we talked to said they had trouble identifying some of the exact issues due to the some of the strange wording and presentation of issues. So if you missed a subject or an issue or had no idea what to say for, for example, the Con Law one, or couldn’t think of what they were talking about in Evidence (welcome to the club), or rambled on about something that was probably irrelevant for the Real Property, you are not alone!
Even if you missed an issue altogether, do not worry. The adrenaline of the bar exam and some of the strangely-worded questions caused some students to get off track or miss issues.
Overall, the February 2016 Michigan bar exam was very nontraditional in the subjects that it tested, but somewhat “traditional” in the topics that were tested. It was still, as usual, a very difficult exam. We expect the grading to be the same and the passage rate to remain about the same (at 55-60%).
Congratulations on being done with the essay portion of the February 2016 Michigan bar exam! It is always a relief to have that out of the way! If you have any thoughts on the exam, please feel free to post in the comments below!
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