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The Basics of Writing Great Legal Exams

Posted on May 28, 2019 in Uncategorized

Legal educators often don’t feel compelled to teach exam-taking techniques for a couple of reasons. First, the main function of an exam is to place students on a grading curve according to their scores. Unlike in college, where some students study harder than others and consequently know the material better, in law school it is common for virtually all of the students to have learned the law thoroughly. This fact makes it very difficult for law professors to place all of their students in different places on the grading curve. Thus, if some students apply good legal reasoning skills and some don’t, deriving the grading curve becomes easier.

Second, many law professors believe that there is a direct correlation between intelligence and the innate ability to analyze a problem like a lawyer. Because of this belief, they’re reluctant to upset the natural balance by teaching exam-taking skills to anyone. While there is some correlation between IQ and law school success, it’s not uncommon for very bright students to do poorly because they lack legal reasoning skills or don’t how to write an exam. The good news is that the technique of legal reasoning can be taught just as easily as the technique for playing the piano.

Three Principles of Legal Reasoning

If you’ve had or are currently in a first-year legal writing course, you probably learned some of the basic principles of legal analysis when you learned how to write a research memorandum. There are three main principles to be aware of.

First, analyze by individual issue, not holistically. Don’t oversimplify. When you look at a complex legal hypothetical, you may be tempted to boil everything down to a general observation or conclusion about the applicable law and likely outcome. At all costs, you must avoid this temptation. Legal hypotheticals simply cannot be analyzed in an overall manner like this. Rather, they must be analyzed part-by-part, issue-by-issue.

Second, spot every issue, but only elaborate on major issues. Don’t overwrite unimportant issues. Legal rules are generally comprised of several elements. For example, negligence consists of four elements: duty, breach, cause and damages. Typically, when an exam hypothetical calls for the application of a rule, some of the elements will clearly be present and some will not be. When you write your answer, you should merely touch on the elements that are clearly present, in order to show that you know they are required. However, you should spend ample time discussing elements that are not clearly present or are in dispute.

Be careful when determining whether an element of a rule is in issue or not. Sometimes your feeling that an element is clearly established may be wrong, and there may be arguments on both sides. Before deciding to treat an issue summarily, satisfy yourself that no colorable arguments can be made against it.

Third, analyze every major issue from both viewpoints. The ability to analyze facts objectively is an extremely important lawyering skill. When you begin practicing, clients will frequently ask your opinion concerning their potential civil or criminal liability, or the liability of others, for past or future acts. With the threat of a malpractice suit looming in the background, you will almost never make statements that suggest a party is definitely liable or not liable, or a questionable act is definitely legal. Rather, you will limit your answer with disclaimers and couch it in a consideration of arguments on both sides.

To be sure, this tendency of lawyers to hem and haw drives clients crazy and is one reason people hate us. Nevertheless, it is a method that you will use frequently when you practice and should begin using now on exams. Whenever a legal proposition is subject to differing interpretations or outcomes under the facts, you must present every argument you can think of both for and against the proposition.

In other words, don’t try to solve the problem – just analyze it.

Before the Exam

When you arrive at the exam room, try to avoid discussing the law, potential issues, likely questions or other matters pertaining to the exam or the course with others before the exam. Such last minute conversations are likely to confuse you or sap your confidence. Another student may advance some abstruse policy argument of which you were unaware, or state a legal rule in a different way from the way in which you are accustomed. You probably won’t learn anything from these discussions, and you risk becoming confused or agitated.

During the Exam

You may want to wear earplugs during the exam. If sounds of paper rustling, chairs creaking and people coughing are likely to be even marginally distracting to you, then earplugs are a wise investment. These things always distracted me, and I wore earplugs routinely.

Don’t let yourself get intimidated by the exam or by other students. In an open-book exam you’ll see students with all sorts of hornbooks and other materials, including some that you didn’t even know existed. Your natural tendency may be to think “Wow – if they have all those resources, they’ll probably do better than I will.” In fact, few students will (or should) use their materials during an exam, and those who use their materials extensively will almost certainly do worse than you. Except for a course outline or codified rules such as the UCC or the Federal Rules of Evidence, most secondary materials will at best be only marginally helpful.

After the Exam

Unless you enjoy feelings of anxiety, regret and remorse, don’t talk about your exam when you’re finished. Instead of giving you a warm fuzzy feeling, post-exam conversations will usually leave you with nagging questions and doubts. If you have other exams left to take, allowing yourself to slip into a negative attitude can be destructive. There are many ways to write a good exam answer, and you’re not going to spot every single issue or argument on an exam. You might as well move forward with the attitude that you did well, and let your professor be the judge.

Is It Expensive To Gain A Paralegal Education?

Posted on May 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

It was in the late 1960’s that the concept of having a paralegal was born. It started when lawyers were looking for ways on how to better serve their clients without increasing the overall cost of their legal services.

How to distinguish paralegals from lawyers?

The tasks of the lawyers are regulated by laws and policies of each state in the US. Although laws vary from state to state, each state prohibits paralegals from practicing law.

Paralegals cannot perform the following:

• Presenting cases in a court of law

• Accepting or refusing a case

• Providing legal advice

However, paralegals can carry out the following functions:

• Updating clients about their case

• Researching legal documents to assist lawyers in handling their legal cases

• Drafting legal documents

Paralegal education costs

Unlike the educational costs related to becoming a lawyer, the cost of earning a paralegal education does not involve a heavy price tag. Although paralegal careers are not as lucrative as the careers of a lawyer, paralegals can earn decent salary. In addition to that, they do not have to spend thousands of dollars each year for their paralegal education yet they can still land a high-paying career within the legal industry.

Paralegal schools

Nowadays, finding a paralegal school is no longer as frustrating as it was before. With the birth of online schools and colleges, you can earn a legal education right at the comfort of your own home.

What are the various paralegal educational options available?

• Associate’s degree in paralegal studies – This educational degree is offered by community colleges, technical schools, and other institutions of higher learning. To obtain an associate degree in paralegal studies, you need to spend two to three years studying paralegal courses.

• Bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies – This paralegal education option enables you to earn a bachelor’s degree and obtain more detailed necessary training that can prepare you to become a legal assistant. In here, you will learn the proper ways to communicate with clients, lawyers and other individuals that work in the legal field. Having this educational degree opens your door to more job opportunities in the paralegal world.

• Paralegal certificate – This option requires completing a bachelor’s degree in a certain field of study before you can obtain a paralegal certificate. It takes a few months of intense study about the existing laws. To obtain paralegal certificate without actually going to a certain school, you may opt to earn online paralegal degrees from any of the online paralegal accredited schools.

Caution when opting for online paralegal degrees

When you choose to become a paralegal and obtain relevant degrees over the Internet, be sure to study your options. The reason for this is that some of these schools are nothing but hoax. Thus, you need to make sure that the one you choose is one of the paralegal accredited schools approved by the American Bar Association.

Paralegal education does not have a heavy price tag. It may not carry a high-paying salary but legal assistant’s careers do offer reasonable salaries and huge bonuses. To become a paralegal, you are required to obtain any of the paralegal courses from one of the paralegal accredited schools. If you opt to earn online paralegal degrees, be sure that the school you wish to attend to is approved by the American Bar Association. Else, you will only end up spending your hard-earned money for nothing.

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Struggle and Joy With Continuing Legal Education

Posted on May 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

Law school is not for the weak. Any person who has ever considered law school has had to contend with the daunting thought of the reality. Months spent indoors pouring over decades of legalese. Cramming so much information into your head that it almost physically feels like it is going to explode. Presentations for you to create and lectures for you to soak in. A breath of knowledge that is beyond most people’s ability to comprehend or even hope to pursue. This is what going to law school means. And it does not stop there. Graduating law school then leads to bar exams. Bar exams lead to daunting internships or at the very least troublesome and complex interviews with people repeatedly testing your mettle. Then there are the cases or the other work that you do. Working in law has never been and will never be an eight hour a day forty hour a week job. This is hard grueling brain work combined with high stress demands to deliver on a regular basis. In between all of that you are expected to keep educating yourself of the latest developments in law.

Continuing legal education courses, when added to this whole breath of things pulling you, might seem like an unnecessary time suck but the fact is keeping your tools, mostly your brain and ability to talk your game, in top shape is a major part of any work in law. When you decide that continuing legal education is vital for your career you will, as you have with all things in your line of work, simply make it work for you. Good lawyers are strivers by their very nature, dedicated to growing and being better. Continuing legal education is a means to that seemingly never ending end. It is the proverbial carrot on the stick dangled in front of you but always out of reach. Getting good is hard in legal work, getting great is next to impossible.

Pursuing the law as a career should be a passion. It should be something that gets your juices flowing and makes you excited to see what’s next. If you have this in you the daunting reality can almost begin to seem like a fun challenge to yourself and those around you. If you believe in what you are doing taking some continuing legal education courses should not only be a professional no-brainer it should be a personal joy.

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