You cannot perform legal analysis without discussing the facts. Remember, most law school essay questions are written in the form of a lengthy fact pattern or story. The facts within these stories create the issues that you must discuss. Almost every fact in these stories must be reproduced and discussed in your examination answer. While it is true that your professors will know the facts in the problem, your professors do not know whether you understand which facts are relevant to resolving each issue.
To ensure that the facts are making their way into your essay answers, place a line through each fact as you use it. Do not cross the fact out so that it becomes illegible, however, because a single fact may be relevant to more than one issue. After you finish your essay answer, look back at the fact pattern. If there are facts left over, one of three things has occurred: (1) the facts are truly irrelevant and do not need to be discussed; (2) the facts are relevant to an issue or issues that you have already discussed; or (3) the facts are relevant to an issue that you have not addressed at all.
Caution: Listing facts is not the same thing as discussing them. True legal analysis occurs when you explain to a reader why a fact (or facts) leads to a legal conclusion. Consider the following examples.
Example 1 - John told the plaintiff “I will hit you if you come around here again.” Therefore, the battery was not imminent.
Example 2 – John told the plaintiff “I will hit you if you come around here again.” Generally, words alone cannot satisfy the imminence element of an assault. More specifically, these words merely inform the listener that he might be “hit” at some point in the future. The words “if you come around here again” placed a condition on the plaintiff being struck, which means that the plaintiff might never be struck by John. The fact that John might never strike the plaintiff means that the battery cannot be imminent.
If you were not sure, example 2 is the better answer! This is a somewhat obvious example to illustrate the point. The pattern in the second example – note a fact (or facts) and then explain why you have brought it to the reader’s attention – consistently appears in well done legal analysis.
If you are planning to take a make-up exam, please submit your request to take a make-up exam form to Student Records by Monday, April 19.
This is a reminder that the deadline for submitting an Exam4 practice test for Spring 2010 is Friday, April 16, 2010 at 6:00 PM EDT.
The following practice tests, already submitted, are invalid as they are unidentifable:
Never, ever, ever use one's student ID number with Exam4 -- not for a practice test, and not for a real exam. For practice tests, only use one's user name (e.g., ldbran01). For real exams, use the exam number given to you each semester by Student Records.
The following was published in the Daily Docket last week, but is repeated below for your convenience:
Hardware and operating system requirements, and download and installation instructions, are posted at www.law.louisville.edu/it/exam-software-download. Students are also urged to review the policy governing exams taken on computer.
Exam4 is available for Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard), and Windows XP and Vista and now Windows 7.
Any student who wishes to use his/her computer for final exams this semester must download and install the finals version of Exam4 AND properly take and submit a practice test by 6:00 PM EST, Friday, April 16, 2010. A properly taken and submitted practice test identifies the student by his/her UofL user name (e.g., ldbran01) -- not by one's student ID number, or any other combination of letters or numerals. To submit a practice test electronically, one must be on campus and connected to the University's wireless network. The University's firewall prevents off-campus submission.
Any student who wishes to use his/her computer for final exams this semester and cannot comply with the practice test requirement by the deadline must contact the Associate Dean for Student Life before the deadline if he/she wishes to petition for an extension of the practice test deadline or exemption from the practice test requirement.
VERY IMPORTANT: Any student who takes any exam on computer who: 1. has not properly taken and submitted a practice test, or 2. has not brought a working USB flash drive to any exam, will be refused technical assistance by the IT staff, including, but not limited to, submitting a completed exam.
After the practice test deadline has passed, the IT staff will send an e-mail confirmation to each student who has properly and timely submitted a practice test. In the meantime, you may check whether your practice test was received at www.law.louisville.edu/it/exam-tracker. Any practice test listed on the Exam Tracker is presumptively o.k.
Skeletal Outlines - You will be nervous when the examination proctor says “Begin,” so the worst thing you can do is to start writing out your answer immediately. Instead, consider writing out your skeletal outline as soon as the exam begins. A skeletal outline is merely an organized list of principles and issues, created by you, which relates to a given area of the law. Think about the outline you have been creating all semester, but now reduce it down to a page or two – this is your skeletal outline. Writing out this list will give a few moments to compose your thoughts before digging into the exam.
Instructions - Read the instructions! This is the most obvious advice imaginable, but every exam period several students will, for example, answer 3 short exam questions, only to discover that the instructions said “provide an answer to 1 of the following 3 hypotheticals.” Most students get flustered at the start of an exam, so this type of mistake is more common than you might imagine. When the exam starts, take a deep breath, slow yourself down, and read the instructions.
Organization - Before answering an essay question, you must outline and organize your response. Too many students read the first sentence in an essay exam question, recognize an issue, and are so overjoyed at finding an issue that they spend the next 20 minutes responding to it. The problem with this approach is that the fact pattern was probably over a page long, and the writer just spent more time than was necessary in responding to a relatively straightforward issue. While different students outline differently, students who perform well on law school exams take the time to read through the entire essay question, create a list of the various issues contained therein, and then take a few more minutes to separate out the major issues from the minor ones. This approach will give you a better sense of how much time you have to complete your entire answer.
On March 30th, Ryan Feola auctioned one law review course and two gift certificates that were generously donated by Barbri. The money that was raised will fund the first Legal Aid Barbri Fellow, Greg Thompson. Lauren Bean, Doug Dawson, and Barry Dunn were the winning bidders. Kudos to Colleen Hagan for organizing the event!
All graduating law students are invited to attend Senior Day at the Downs. On Thursday, May 6th, the Churchill Downs gates will open for a celebration for the May 2010 graduates. Admission for May 2010 Graduates is free. $15 is the price for everyone else.
Tickets must be reserved by April 29th. Visit UofL's Alumni Connections for details.
The University of Louisville's Law Clinic serves low income individuals and victims of domestic violence in Jefferson County District and Family Courts and provides an opportunity for third-year law students to practice law under supervision. During the 2009-2010 academic year, we handled 169 cases.
On Thursday, April 15, we were joined by friends and partners in celebration of the success of the Law Clinic at an Open House. We gratefully acknowledge our partners, donors, students and staff who have helped us make an impact in our community.