Rule Statements on Exams that Get Top Grades

Hand writing word rules, for rule statements

There are ways to write rule statements on exams that get top grades.  Many students don’t know how to do this, even though it’s not a difficult skill to master. Specifically, students fail to provide thorough rule statements. A thorough rule statement is one that accurately defines the primary issue, each relevant word in the issue, and any related issues. Fact Pattern Example Brad and Bella are in the same high school math class. One day before class, Brad thinks it would be funny to pull the chair from under Bella as she is sitting down.  He quietly goes to Bella’s chair,...

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Nested IRAC

Eggs in nest.

Most students know about the IRAC method, but few know about Nested IRAC. The IRAC method is where you identify the issue, state the rule, provide some analysis, and then state the conclusion. But nested IRAC involves creating a separate IRAC for each issue and sub-issue on the exam. Battery Example Let me demonstrate this through a tortious battery example. If you don't recall the elements to battery, you may want to watch my video on battery first. Derek and John are in the same high school math class. One morning, Derek decides it will be funny to pull out John’s chair just...

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US v Carroll Towing

US v Carroll Towing is one of Judge Learned Hand’s most famous tort opinions. Judge Learned Hand served on the second circuit court of appeals, and is often called the greatest circuit court judge. For more biographical information, here is a good article on Judge Learned Hand. Contract with US Government The case starts off in the New York City harbor during World War II. The Pennsylvania Rail Road was shipping flour owned by the United States government in its railway cars. When the railway cars arrived in New York City, the railroad rented the barge Anna C. from Connors Marine. They...

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Proximate Cause

Raise your hand if you perfectly understand proximate cause (aka "legal cause"). No one? Read to the end as I explain how this concept works and how to use it on an exam. Definition In every tort, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant was not only the actual cause of the injury, but also the proximate cause of the injury. Proximate cause requires the plaintiff’s harm to be a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s wrongful action. In a negligence case, there must be a relatively close connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the injury. Proximate cause is sometimes difficult...

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Res Ipsa Loquitur

woman with purple hair told to leave meeting. Used for res ips loquitur

Today I want to discuss the Torts concept res ipsa loquitur. A Latin phrase, which translated means “the thing speaks for itself.” Though for something that should speak for itself, it sure causes a lot of confusion! (For some interesting information on the doctrine, consider reading this article on the effect of the res ipsa loquitur doctrine). The Context In negligence cases a defendant can only be found liable if the defendant breached a duty owed to the plaintiff. But sometimes, there is no direct evidence that the defendant did anything to violate the duty of care. For example, suppose that someone owns...

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Trespass to Land

No trespassing sign for trespass to land

Trespass to Land may seem unimportant, but let it serve as a reminder to all you 3Ls that you need to be reviewing early to prepare for the bar exam. And for the 1Ls and 2Ls, why not quiz yourself to see if you actually remember the four elements of this tort.  To review what you covered during your first few weeks of Torts, considering watching a video on the six intentional torts. Definition Trespass to land occurs when someone has the intent to enter the land in possession of another. The four elements of the tort trespass to land are intent,...

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Intentional Torts

Intentional torts checklist

If you are a first semester law student taking a midterm exam, intentional torts are likely on the exam. This means you will likely see some questions on Intentional Torts. In this blog post I will help break down what you should write about on an essay exam. Also, what to keep in mind on a multiple choice question. Intentional Torts These six torts require an intentional act directed at a victim or a victim’s property. Intent in this context requires that the wrongdoer either committed the act on purpose (or desired the outcome). A second way of establishing intent is when...

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IRAC: Law School Essay Formatting Method

Organization boxes representing IRAC method

The IRAC method is the most popular organizational method used on law school exams, with IRAC standing for Issue, Rule, Analysis (or Application), and Conclusion. Without a solid organizational system, students miss issues and fail to do the kind of deep analysis that law professors are looking for. ...

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