Thursday, March 28, 2013

Virginia Bar Exam Essay Questions (1995 - 2012)


Please see the tab above for all Virginia Bar Exam Essay Questions, 1995 - 2012. The essay questions are in PDF format, two PDFs per exam (morning and afternoon sessions).

I uploaded all of the essay questions with permission from the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. For suggested answers to essay questions from 2002 to present, please see the following link to William & Mary's.



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Suggested Answers to the February 2013 Virginia Bar Exam Essays


Today, various scholars from the law schools at William & Mary, George Mason, U. of Richmond, and Regent released a summary of suggested answers to the essay portion of the February 2013 Virginia Bar Exam. Their suggested answers, although typically brief, are very thorough, reliable, and they cover all the issues. Click on the link above to review them.

Please keep in mind that for many Virginia essays, there may not be a singularly "correct" answer. While the VBBE may prefer one answer over another, often they will accept several answers, so long as you pick one and discuss your reasoning behind it. All to say, if you are comparing William & Mary's suggested answers to Barbri's, both versions may be correct. And if you are pulling your hair out because William & Mary discussed XYZ in an essay, but you didn't, that doesn't mean you're automatically doomed. The suggested answers are helpful, but they're not the final word. That belongs to the VBBE.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Civil Procedure Will Be On the MBE in February 2015

Attention, law students and perennial bar takers --

You knew this day would come. All those weird quasi-civil procedure questions that we saw over the last couple years foreshadowed the NCBE's recent announcement. Beginning with the February 2015 bar exam, Civil Procedure will be added to the MBE. (See the official announcement here.)

The MBE's format will remain in line with today's standard. 200 questions, 190 of which are scored, divided among seven subjects as follows: Contracts & Sales (28 questions); Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts (27 questions per subject). 

For many bar examinees, Civil Procedure will be an un-welcomed addition to the MBE. The coverage of law within each subject is already vast; adding a seventh subject will spread the questions even thinner. On the other hand, some of you would accept any change as long as that change meant fewer Contracts or Real Property questions. Nonetheless, Civil Procedure will make the MBE experience all the more interesting. 

How, exactly, the addition will affect scores remains to be seen. On June 30th, 2013, the NCBE will release "test specifications" for Civil Procedure, which I'm translating to mean an outline of issues the MBE will test. Stay tuned for more.

All to say, if Civil Procedure is your Achilles heel, get yourself into an exam chair no later than July 2014. If you're a current 1L, then get off YouTube and pay more attention in Civil Procedure class.

Friday, March 1, 2013

February 2013 Bar Exam: Done and Done.

First, congratulations! The exam is over. Your nights and weekends are back. And in a few short months, many of you will be attorneys at law. 

Quick recap for other readers: On the essays, we saw a lot of the usual suspects (surprise, surprise!). Wills, Federal Jurisdiction, Creditors' Rights, Sales (U.C.C. Art. 2), Local Government, Corporations, Real Property, Equity, and our good friend, Virginia Civil Procedure. The VBBE gave Local Government a particularly strong showing by devoting one and a half essays to the subject. I keep telling my students -- the examiners love this subject. It's just so. . . Virginia. Anyway, I was a little surprised not to see a Criminal Law or Procedure essay. A half-essay for Virginia Civil Procedure was also light, but by no means inconceivable. On the short answer section, the questions were mostly low-hanging fruit, which was a pleasant surprise. Finally, the MBE was about as typical as the MBE gets. 

Second, let's briefly discuss how you feel now. All of you are exhausted and, hopefully, relieved. Some of you feel good, but I'm betting most of you just feel like an overcooked wet noodle. Maybe you're fretting over that one essay which gave you trouble. You might be bothered by the excess of one particular subject or the lack of another, or by a pesky short answer question. For some of you, the MBE gave you trouble. And for others, the entire exam felt like a mess.

Gradually, these feelings will wear off. You will come to terms with the VBBE's essay selection. You will accept that the February 2013 exam was fair and is now out of your control. Some of you will put the whole exam in the back of your mind until a week before results are released. I applaud you. Others will not let your anxiety subside at all.

In many respects, waiting for results is harder than preparing for or taking the exam. You go from having no time on your hands, to having lots of time -- time to think, time to wonder, time to worry. But the same advice before the exam holds true now: you must keep anxiety and self-doubt in check. Otherwise, you'll go crazy. Before the exam, this was half the battle. Now it’s the whole battle. If you think you fared horribly on the exam, it’s because the wound is still fresh and it's all you can think about. You’re thinking about the things you did wrong or missed, and not about the things you did correctly or knew cold. Chances are, you're being too hard on yourself. I bet you did just fine.

The VBBE expects to post results on April 25th. Translation: they will post results on April 24th or 25th, but not before the 24th. The wait is long and arduous. My recommendation is to do everything in your power to distract yourself from thinking about the bar exam. Put those thoughts in a lock box and throw that box in the ocean. Because thinking will only lead to worry. And worry will lead to more worry. It won’t accomplish a damn thing.

If you can't stop yourself from thinking and wondering and worrying, or maybe if you're just curious or are simply passing time, by all means please use the discussion forums to converse with other examinees. Just don't use the forums to abuse yourself.

Again, congratulations! Celebrate your accomplishment, and then give yourself some much-deserved rest.