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Friday, March 08, 2013

Civ Pro now on the Bar

It's official: Civil Procedure will be on the Multistate Bar Exam starting in 2015.   See here.  So, there will now be seven subjects for multiple-choice testing on the Bar: Contracts, Criminal Law/Procedure, Property, Torts, Con Law, Evidence, and Civ Pro.

As a Civ Pro professor, I think the change makes sense.  I've never been sure why Civ Pro was left off the above list when all the other standard 1L classes -- plus Evidence, which isn't even required at many schools -- were included. 

I'm curious, though, what those who teach the now-seven MBE subjects consider their obligation with respect to the Bar.  Do you look at the outlines issued by the National Council of Bar Examiners (here) about which particular topics are covered within your subject, and take that into account when creating your syllabus?  Do you include multiple choice questions on your final to mirror the types of questions students will see on the Bar?  Or do you leave all of this to the various test prep companies like BarBri and Kaplan?

Since I started teaching Con Law two years ago (before that, I hadn't taught any MBE classes), I've been thinking about these questions.  Where I've ultimately come out is that I haven't changed my preferred exam format (all essays), but I do look at the NCBEX outline and take it into consideration in creating my syllabus.  I also occasionally end class with a couple of multiple choice questions that we discuss (though I find it maddening that NCBEX is so stingy about releasing actual past questions).  What do others do?  Does your law school have a certain culture about this?

Posted by Emily Gold Waldman on March 8, 2013 at 01:58 PM | Permalink

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I'm the opposite--I use multiple choice testing, although I don't look at the outlines. Civ Pro is fairly obvious, topics-wise. And in four hours, there isn't a lot of flexibility anyway.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Mar 8, 2013 2:51:15 PM

The topics list is always pretty obvious, I think, but it is helpful when they give some indication of which topics are going to be tested the most. At Pace, we do a 1-semester 4-credit class that's supposed to cover all of Con Law, so there are inevitable trade-offs. Seeing that breakdown--i.e., that the Con Law questions are divided 50/50 between individual rights and everything else--was helpful to me, though I would have preferred more detail.

Posted by: Emily Gold Waldman | Mar 8, 2013 3:13:38 PM

Whose civil procedure? Given the overwhelming majority of lawyers practice in state court (if in any court at all), I would hope it isn't entirely federal.

Posted by: brad | Mar 8, 2013 3:30:46 PM

The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is the portion of the Bar Exam that's common to all Bar-exam takers across the country (except those in Louisiana). Accordingly, the civ pro questions on the MBE have to be solely on federal civil procedure. Many states do test state civil procedure on the state portion of the Bar--I know that NY has included questions on NY Procedure for a number of years.

Posted by: Emily Gold Waldman | Mar 8, 2013 3:39:39 PM

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