How to write a demand letter on the MPT
Yes – the most common MPT tasks are persuasive briefs and objective memoranda. However, demand letters have been gaining traction recently. They have been assigned on three of the last five exams. And one of the MPTs on the February 2016 exam even asked examinees to draft a demand letter and an objective memorandum! It is important to have a solid approach to this type of MPT before exam day. Below are five tips to help you get started.
How to Write a Demand Letter on the MPT
1. Read the task memo!
Begin by reading the task memo. Underline any key terms, basic facts about the client’s case, as well as any guidance on how to format your memo. Historically, demand letters have not been tested frequently. Therefore, more directs are included in the memo. For example, In re Linda Duram on the July 2014 exam, asked examinees to write a demand letter to the client’s employer arguing that the client was entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Examinees were instructed to write a persuasive legal argument and to address counterarguments raised by the client’s employer. Additionally, examinees were instructed not to discuss whether the employer and the client were covered by the FMLA. These are very specific instructions!
2. See if additional instructions are provided in the file.
When examinees are asked to complete an uncommon task, the task memo will generally be at least a page longer than usual or an additional document in the file will provide formatting and substantive guidelines. For example, the task memo for In re Linda Duram instructed examinees to follow the format for demand letters, which were set forth on the following page. The instructions enumerated the sections of the demand letter:
1) [A] brief statement identifying the sender, and if appropriate, identifying the attorney-client relationship; 2) a brief statement of the purpose of the letter; 3) a brief description of the situation; 4) a thorough analysis of the basis for the client’s claim, including a response to arguments raised against the claim; and 5) a specific settlement demand.
Note the instructions do not tell you to omit any section. Therefore, a high-scoring demand letter must include all of these sections.
3. Include responses to any arguments made against your client’s claim.
Remember, the purpose of a demand letter is to urge the recipient of the letter to take the action that you recommend in the final sentence of paragraph of the letter. Keep in mind that many of the objections to your client’s claim will be contained in the correspondence found in the file. However, other objections are likely to be located in the cases found in the library. Pay attention to the arguments that the parties raised in the cases! Specifically, pay attention to the ones that the court accepts or dismisses in its discussion.
4. Do not exaggerate any facts or laws.
Many examinees make the mistake of interpreting a persuasive assignment as a carte blanche to embellish certain facts. Or to only focus upon certain elements of a particular rule statement. Do not fall into this trap! The instructions for In re Linda Duram specifically state: “…[D]oing so can undermine the strength of [the] client’s position.” Discuss the merits of your client’s case, explain why any objections to your client’s claim should be dismissed, and distinguish any unfavorable law.
5. Refer to high-scoring student answers as you practice.
If you are not familiar with demand letters, it is a good idea to read through high-scoring student answers. This will give you an idea of how examinees structured their answer and what substantive arguments they made.
If you visit the “Essay and MPT Questions and Selected Answers” section of the Georgia Bar Admissions website you can find past MPT questions from July 2011 onwards. This is a valuable resource because it gives you an idea of what an actual bar examinee wrote in 90 minutes.
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