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Professional Responsibility: Broadly Tested on the California Bar Exam

Professional Responsibility: Broadly Tested on the California Bar Exam

Professional Responsibility: Broadly Tested on the California Bar Exam

You took a PR course in law school. You have been told that your reputation is everything (and it is). But did you know that the California Bar Examiners love to test PR? They like to test it often and you will find it on virtually every bar exam.

You might find PR the subject matter of its own essay question. You might find it as a crossover question with another doctrinal subject. You might find it a part of or the whole topic on a performance exam. And, you might find it in multiple places in the same bar exam!

So, be on the lookout! Just because you passed the MPRE does not mean that you have seen the last of PR issues.

Here is an example:

On the February 2022 bar exam, essay question 4 seemed like an innocent evidence question. If you just glanced at the first call of the question, you would see the instructions: “Assume all proper objections have been made. Should the following items be admitted into evidence: [followed by a list of different pieces of testimony]” – classic evidence question, you think.

But then you scroll your eyes down. What is this? There is a second call of the question, and it asks: “What ethical violations, if any, did Attorney Anita commit by: (a), (b), and (c). Answer each according to California and ABA authorities.”

Hmmmm…so, you need to not only look for evidence in the fact pattern but also ethical violations. And, did you notice that the question further asked you to discuss the issues applying BOTH the California Rules of Professional Conduct AND the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct? So, it is quite important that you learn both sets of rules (and know where the differences are between the two).

Once you finish the evidence/PR crossover, you think you are safe. You won’t see PR again…until you do.

When you get to the last question of the day – the performance test – there it is. The entire PT is about whether a lawyer violated the fictional state of Columbia’s Rules of Professional Conduct. And so you prepare the memorandum that is asked of you analyzing that very issue.

Why is Professional Responsibility Tested so Heavily on the California Bar Exam?

You might be asking yourself “why” PR is tested so heavily on the California bar exam. We could probably correctly presume that the bar examiners want to ensure that those being admitted into a profession that serves the public trust have a clear moral compass and understanding of the California Rules of Professional Conduct. So, it makes perfect sense – you must know the rules that govern the profession you seek to enter.

What are some of those PR rules – or issues – that are frequently tested? You will see questions about fees, client communication, conflicts of interest, among others. You can review prior bar exam questions and answers to see how PR issues arise. The more familiar you are with when and what types of PR issues might be tested, the more prepared you will be.

PR sample bar exam practice tests (with sample answers) can be purchased through Fleming’s at Exam Books. Sample PR practice tests with sample answers are also included in the Fleming’s Law Reviews and Outlines. Every Fleming’s Bar ReviewsPerformance Test and Exam Writing workshops include sample bar exam questions with answers.

(Pro-tip: Most states in the U.S. also post past bar exam questions on their state bar web sites.)

Why don't you take a look at this one, see what you think.

Let Fleming’s Fundamentals of Law Assist You

At the end of the day, the one thing you can count on when taking the California bar exam is facing a PR question. Let Fleming’s Fundamentals of Law assist you.

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