California Bar Exam 》predictions

California Bar Exam 》predictions

Pictured above: The New United States Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles is a 10-story, 633,000-square-foot building that contains 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers. It houses the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, accommodates the U.S. Marshals Service, and provides trial preparation space for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Public Defender.

Subject My predictions
MPRE (Ethics exam, November)

  • Regulation
  • Client-Lawyer Relationship
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Confidentiality
  • Competence
  • Litigation
  • Communication with non-clients
  • Different Roles
  • Safekeeping Funds
  • Advertising for Legal Services
  • Duties to the Public Judicial Conduct
Basically the same as the professional conduct and regulation codes here in England. I’m not too worried about this, not least because the advice I’ve seen online points to needing only a month or so of moderate study. It’s multiple-choice, over and done in two hours. I just need to pass this and clear the way for the bar exam.
Agency & Partnerships

  • Formation
  • Authority: Actual, Apparent & Ratification
  • Rights & Liabilities
  • Fiduciary Duties
  • Partnership Property
  • Termination of Agency Relationship
  • Dissociation or Dissolution of Partnerships
Partnerships are the first thing taught in the Business Law course for the English law degree (both on the GDL and the LPC). Partnerships are he building blocks of company law. I anticipate that this subject will have considerable overlap with English company law, and be pretty straight forward for me on that account.

  • Formation
  • Stock Issues
  • Shareholders
  • Directors
  • Officers
  • Promoters
  • Merger & Dissolution
As with “Agency & Partnerships” noted above, this should be pretty similar to English company law. Plus, having spent six months in a corporate team, I’m not too intimidated.
Civil Procedure

  • Subject Matter Jurisdiction
  • Personal Jurisdiction
  • Venue & Choice of Law
  • Pleadings
  • Joinder of Claims/Parties
  • Discovery & Pre-trial Motions
  • Trial, Appeal & Preclusion
This is apparently the most tested-on subject of the bar exam. I’m somewhat apprehensive about this for a few reasons. While the “basics” might be similar to English public and administrative law, I’m not a litigator and procedure isn’t something I deal with on a regular basis. Secondly, civil procedure is very nuanced according to jurisdiction. Although the framework might be similar in England, the American (federal) and Californian (State) rules will be their own creatures.
Community Property

  • Community Property?
  • Presumptions
  • Difficult to Classify Assets
  • Source
  • Actions – By Agreement & By Conduct
  • Management & Control
  • Divorce & Death
Community Property is only a “thing” in nine US states, including California (and my home state of Washington). From what I gather, community property – which is the marital property regime – is basically family law mixed in with trusts and estates. I did fairly well on those topics in law school, but that was nearly five (!) years ago. I think I’ll be okay on this subject generally, but like Civil Procedure the devil will be in the details.
Constitutional Law

  • Judicial Power
  • Legislative Power
  • Executive Power
  • Federalism & Interstate Commerce
  • State Action
  • Due Process & Equal Protection
  • First Amendment
Red alert! I’ve only recently started to feel comfortable with the absence of a written constitution here in the UK – the idea of rewiring my little legal neurological pathways back to their “American default” gives me a headache! Thankfully I took a handful of constitutional law courses as an undergrad at Washington State University, but that was… ten (10?!) years ago. This will take a lot of work, but at least  no special Californian rules apply!
Contracts and Uniform Commercial Code

  • Preliminary Issues
  • Formation
  • Defenses
  • Parol Evidence & Interpretation
  • Discharge
  • Breach & Remedies
  • Third Party Rights & Obligations
As a commercial contracts lawyer, this stuff is my bread and butter here in the UK. I’m not anticipating any real surprises, but will need to get my head around the UCC, which I’ve never looked at before. The other contract basics should be very, very similar in both style and substance to English law.
Criminal Law

  • Elements: Mens Rea, Actus Reus, Concurrence & Causation
  • Inchoate Crimes & Accomplice Liability
  • Crimes against Persons
  • Crimes against Property
  • Defenses
  • Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Amendments
  • Other Criminal Procedure
As with civil procedure, criminal law is pretty foreign to me in general, and really nuanced according to jurisdiction. To add insult to injury, I only managed to scrape a “pass” out of my criminal law exam in law school back in 2015. Although the foundations between English and American criminal law will be the same (the elements, theory, etc) I’ll really have to put some effort into this subject.

  • Logical Relevance
  • Legal Relevance & Judicial Notice
  • Public Policy Exceptions
  • Personal Knowledge, Testimonial & Documentary Evidence
  • Privileges
  • Character Evidence & Impeachment
This was not a key feature at all in law school, in part because of the separation we have between solicitors and barristers here in England. As a solicitor, I didn’t spend much time at all on evidence in law school. This will all be new to me. As a commercial lawyer I’m a bit annoyed that I’ll have to study this, but maybe it will make watching Law & Order re-runs just that more enjoyable…
Professional Responsibility

  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Confidentiality
  • Communication
  • Competence
  • Other Duties
  • Regulatory Controls
I assume that this is simply a reiteration of the topics and codes covered on the MPRE, which will largely be a refresher. Thankfully I will have taken it recently by the time I sit the California Bar (I know other candidates take it two years prior).
Real Property

  • Ownership
  • Natural Rights
  • Landlord & Tenant
  • Your Rights in Another’s Land
  • Conveyance
  • Contracts for Security Interests (Mortgages)
  • Zoning & Constitutional Protections
I hated land law (real estate) in law school. I never payed attention in the lectures and usually spaced out in the workshops. But somehow, perhaps because I panicked so much during my revision, I smashed this exam and earned a distinction. Plus, I spent six months in the commercial real estate team immediately after graduation, so I have a pretty good grasp of real estate transactions. However, that having been said, who knows what weird and wonderful things will pop up in respect of Californian law? I expect this will take some getting used to, not least because I’ll have to un-learn English statute as I go along.

  • Legal Remedies – Damages & Restitution
  • Equitable Remedies for Torts – Injunctions
  • Equitable Remedies for Contracts – Rescission & Reformation
  • Equitable Remedies for Contracts – Specific Performance
  • Land Sale Contracts
  • Personal Property Ks, Construction Ks & Personal Service Ks
  • Torts Committed Against Real & Personal Property
Legal remedies are a key aspect of contractual commercial law, so I’ve got that pretty much in the bag – provided US and English law aren’t too dissimilar. Equitable remedies are an English invention and a lot of emphasis is put on this in law school, but I’ve not saved any of my notes. I anticipate needing to spend a good amount of time on this subject, just to ensure I have all of my bases covered. If you mess up in your initial analysis, the entire IRAC structure falls apart. Also, I have no idea what “Ks” are in this context – do they mean questions? Claims?

  • Intentional Torts
  • Negligence
  • Strict Liability
  • Products Liability
  • Defamation
  • Privacy & Nuisance
  • Extras
I really enjoyed my tort law module in law school. Unfortunately, stress and a tube delay resulted in me having a minor meltdown the morning of my exam (sorry Joe, sorry Ivana!) and I barely passed. The nice thing about tort law (compensation for harm) is that it overlaps beautifully with contract law, which is my specialism. I’d jump for joy if there was a specific question on privacy! If it’s an essay, I’ll even slip in a reference to the new California Consumer Privacy Act or the GDPR. I will. just watch me!

  • Elements
  • Types of Trusts and Legal Requirements
  • Beneficiaries
  • Trustee Powers
  • Fiduciary Duties of Trustees
  • Liability of Trustee
  • Termination & Modification
I did well with trusts in law school, but I have a sneaking suspicion that California-specific rules will be somewhat difficult. I just have a feeling! Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be something that is tested on for the essays, but I don’t know how much I’d necessarily trust my intel. In any event, trusts – together will community property and wills – will probably soak up a fair amount of my time.

  • Wills
  • Intestate Succession
  • Requirements & Components
  • Contests
  • Revocation
  • Interpretation & Conflict of Laws
  • Contracts Relating to Wills and Powers of Appointment
  • Probate & Administration
All I remember about my course on wills was drawing family trees and deciding that private client and probate was definitely not an area of law I was interested in, career-wise. Now that I’m actually named as executrix of my parent’s estate, I suppose this is something that I have a vested interest in (literally…hah hah). As with trusts, I expect Californian rules to throw me for a loop on this one. I’ll probably come up with some pretty elaborate plots and fantasy scenarios while studying.
Related image
the old LA County Court House, built in 1891 and later damaged in the 1933 earthquake (razed in 1936).


Exam coverage by subject matter

Topic Day 1 (Essays) Day 2 (MBE) CA Specific rules
Business associations No Yes Yes
Civil Procedure Yes Yes Yes
Community Property No Yes Yes
Constitutional Law Yes Yes No
Contracts and UCC Yes Yes No
Criminal Law Yes Yes No
Criminal Procedure Yes Yes No
Evidence Yes Yes Yes
Professional Responsibility No Yes Yes
Real Property Yes Yes No
Torts Yes Yes No
Trusts No Yes Yes
Wills No Yes Yes

California Bar Exam 》introduction

California Bar Exam 》introduction

I’ve decided to sit the California bar next year! While will still largely be devoted to legal stories I find interesting, I thought it might be a good idea to keep a written record of my experiences, thoughts, predictions, and study strategy: these posts will be marked by the “California Bar Exam” category tag.

Why become dual-qualified? And why California? Although I’ve lived in London for nearly seven years and am licensed to practice law in England, I’m still an American citizen. I earned my Bachelors’ degree in the USA, and after studying law and politics fully intended to go to law school in the States. My original plans to spend one year in London to do a Masters degree changed when I met my now-husband!

It consider it something special to be qualified to practice law in your “home” jurisdiction. The American Constitution is very much a part of my professional and personal DNA: as I’ve become more and more involved in English and European law (especially in matters concerning media, expression, and privacy) the more interested I am in American jurisprudence.

Maybe it’s the academic in me, but I’m genuinely passionate and curious about legal theory and the practice of law. I also think being dual-qualified will make me a better lawyer, not least because the majority of my clients have some sort of international aspects which routinely touch on US law.

Currently, only a few states allow foreign-qualified lawyers to bypass American law school and sit the bar as “attorney applicants” – New York and California are two of the most popular. For boring administrative reasons* I’m not eligible to sit the bar in New York without doing an LL.M. in the States. California on the other hand only cares about the fact that I’m currently a lawyer in good standing in my home jurisdiction. So California it is!

Even if I was eligible to sit the NY bar, I do honestly think that I’d prefer to do it in California. My practice is focused on media, internet companies, telecoms, creative content, defamation, publicity, and privacy: so many interesting cases on those matters come out of California. Furthermore, I come across contracts subject to Californian law on a weekly basis. It would be great to be able to advise on those contracts, and not need to defer to US counsel! Plus, as a girl originally from the West Coast of the US, I’ve always believed known West Coast, Best Coast. 

There are three key components of the exam process:

1.  The Multi-state Professional Responsibility Exam, or “ethics exam” (MRPE). This exam can be taken in any one of 300 test centers around the USA, and is offered three times each year. I’m taking the exam in November, in New York City. My test results will be “uploaded” to California.

In July 2019, I’ll be off to Los Angeles to sit the California Bar Exam, which occurs over a two-day period:

2.  The California Bar Exam. Day 1 consists of five separate one-hour essays on a variety of legal topics, and one 90-minute practice test in which candidates are expected to work through a series of documents and produce some sort of memorandum or client letter. I’m still trying to figure out which points of California law specifically will be testable.

3.  The Multi-State Bar Exam. Day 2 is the MBE, which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions on seven subjects, based upon principles of common law and Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (covering sales of goods). The questions are not broken down into sections and the seven topics are distributed more or less evenly throughout the exam. Candidates receive three hours during the morning session to complete the first 100 questions, and another three hours during the afternoon session to complete the second 100 questions.

The topics covered are:
• Business Associations
• Civil Procedure – topic on both Day 1 and Day 2
• Community Property
• Constitutional Law – topic on both Day 1 and Day 2
• Contracts – topic on both Day 1 and Day 2
• Criminal Law and Procedure – topic on both Day 1 and Day 2
• Evidence – topic on both Day 1 and Day 2
• Professional Responsibility
• Real Property – topic on both Day 1 and Day 2
• Remedies
• Torts – topic on both Day 1 and Day 2
• Trusts
• Wills and Succession


*Why not New York? According to Section 520.6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law, foreign lawyers must satisfy certain requirements to be admitted to the New York bar. In addition to passing the bar exam itself, applicants must have a “qualifying degree” that satisfies the educational requirements to practice law in a foreign country.

The normal route in England for aspiring lawyers is to do an undergraduate degree in law: the LL.B. They then do a year of law school (LPC) and two years of clerking (the training contract).

For students who don’t do the LL.B (for example. if they do history or chemistry and later decide to go into law) they can do a one-year “conversion” course known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before doing the LPC. This was the route I chose, as – like many others – I did not do an undergraduate degree in law.

Unfortunately, despite being a qualified solicitor in England, the New York State Bar does not recognise the GDL as being a full “qualifying degree.” I can “cure” this by completing a 2-year LL.M. (a Masters’ degree in law) in the USA, but… nah. That’s not happening.