Law School Discussion

Exam question

Exam question
« on: August 17, 2004, 11:39:49 PM »
Hi there:

I'm a 1L working on sample essay exams, and I'm a little confused about what to include and omit in some of my answers. One of my study guides warns never to include non-issues in an essay answer, but also warns never to forget potential ones. I'm aware of the whole "don't say anything you wouldn't say in front of a judge" guideline, but some of the essays seem a bit nebulous. For example, I'm working on one where there is clearly a case of trespassing (via transferred intent) which results in damage to the property. Although I feel confident that there is enough to prove this, should I also include a discussion about a potential negligence case? I ask because I've got this nagging comment in the back of my head from one of my study guides about how if there are five ways to prove liability and I only address three because I'm sure they'll succeed and they don't, then I've failed. Any ideas about this? Thanks!

Re: Exam question
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2004, 03:16:26 AM »
I will give you a straight answer and then caution you on something.

A lot of it just really depends on the call of the question. Some questions are straight forward and it will be pretty obvious what they are getting at. Some questions will be pretty open-ended like the dreaded "discuss all issues." If it is pretty obvious, you really need to discuss only what is asked because the prof obviously wanted you to only go one place and you are limited as to how much time you can spend on each individual essay.

Timing during law school exams is critical. As a pointer, when you start your exam, write down your beginning and ending times and then write down a breakdown as to how much time you will spend in each particular section and then stick to that. There is noting worse than realizing you only have 10 minutes left to do 3 more essays. If the answer is not so obvious, you might want to delve into the other issues, but make sure you discuss the most obvious ones first. Again, stick to your time.

If you want, give me a brief run-down of the facts and the actual question and I can let you know what I would do.

As caution, a lot of this will really depend on the knowledge you gain after being in class for awhile. I am not giving you a hard time about doing essays now, but much of what you think you would cover will be dependent on seeing the "big picture" in torts and understanding what kind of things or the approach your professor takes toward the topic. As a lay person and a beginning student, you will look at it much differently now than you will a few months from now. A lot of issues may seem important now that will not later. However, in the area of tort law, it is often easy to see how negligence and intentional torts would overlap.

I guess my standard answer right now is, "it really depends." As you will start to experience, that will become your mantra to almost all law school questions. So many factors can influence how a situation is addressed that it really just depends. If you change one little factor, if you use the law of one state over the other, or if the court follows the minority instead of the majority rule, it really just depends.

Post the facts and question. I will be home later today and look at it for you. 

Re: Exam question
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2004, 11:51:49 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts! I'm actually working on this question as part of a take home exam, so I'm not sure how much I can really discuss this particular situation without feeling like I'm cheating! However, in this exam, the call of the question is simply to discuss D's liability to the various parties--hence my uncertainty about how much to include. With something that broad, would it be wise to include information on negligence after a discussion of trespass? In short, D threw an object in an intentional attempt to strike another person, but missed and succeeded instead in entering a nearby property and setting off a chain of events (object hitting other object, knocking over a candle, causing a fire, etc.) that resulted in substantial damage to the property. So my discussion revolves around how the intent can be transferred from the battery attempt to trespassing, and how once a trespass is established, a trespasser can be held liable for all the consequences of his or her trespass, no matter how far-reaching. In a situation such as this, should potential negligence even be addressed? Thank you for your help!

Re: Exam question
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2004, 01:43:23 PM »
Oops. Since this is the beginning of the semester for most of us, I thought you were just working in essay examples to see if you understood stuff. Since it is a take home exam for you, I don't feel right about commenting then. Sorry, I thought you were doing a practice exam.