One of the hardest concepts of law for first year law students is the concept called "Future Interest" which all law students learn in their first semester of Property. Future interest is a right to receive either real or personal property some time in the future, upon a particular date or upon the occurrence of an event. Depending on the trigger events and the rights of the person holding the future interest and those holding the current interest, different rights are possessed. A simple example is, I grant my son the right to my house upon my death. I have the current right to my house and he has a future interest in my house. However, I can add conditions that can complicate things like, my son can only get the house if he complete college. If he fails to then the house goes to my daughter and she is still alive at my death otherwise, the house will go to my grandkids assuming I have any. These new conditions add different rights to each prospective party and changes the nature of the right that I posses in the property.
I personally didn't enjoy studying the subject but understand its importance. It is a very important concept in wills and trust and in real estate so work through it and figure it out because it will be tested in the State Bar examine in the multi-state portion of the test. There is always a few questions on it.
Now that the semester is over, many law student who finished early will begin to prepare for the February bar exam. The deadline to file for the 2012 exam is January 17, 2012. Most should have already started taking their preparatory course to prepare. Most have about 30 days to prepare for this difficult test. Based on the results of the last February Bar examine in California, there were 1415 first time takers of the general bar examination. 54.8% passed or 775 individuals. There were 2949 repeaters. Only 36.4% of those who re took it passed (or 1073). Overall, 4364 individual took the exam and only 42.3% passed (1848 individuals).
20 individuals took the disciplined attorneys examination and only 4 passed. The highest class of takers that passed where those coming from California ABA approved schools. 476 of them took the exam and 302 of them passed. That puts them at a 63.4% passage rate. While Accredited and unaccredited schools which are not ABA approved only had a 28% passage rate.
Those who attend unaccredited law schools in California, after their first year, have to pass, what is commonly know as the "Baby Bar" to get credit for their first year class load. These students have to pass the Baby Bar within their first three attempts after become eligible to take the exam. After passing the Baby Bar, these students then must complete the next two years of law school and then have to take the regular bar exam and pass in order to become an attorney.
If you fail to pass the Baby Bar within the first three attempts, then pass on the fourth attempt, for example, you will get credit for the first year courses but not for the classes that you take after your first year before you pass the exam. In basic terms, you have to pass the Baby Bar exam before you should take your second year course work otherwise they will not count.
In California, a ex-journalist is fighting for this right to practice law. The journalist while in his twenties was caught writing fake articles for several magazines. The gentlemen had passed the California's bar exam in 2007. His application was rejected by the Committee of Bar Examiners because they found him morally unfit. In California when its time for you to take the bar exam, you also have to submit information for the State Bar to examine your background to ensure you are morally fit to practice law. So it is a two step process but very few people fail the second part after they past the really legal test. In California, the bar examination is a three day event. It consists of two days of written examination in a total of 4 three hour periods and one day of multiple choice questions in two three hour periods.
After his license was denied, he challenged the ruling and now the California Supreme Court is going to take up his appeal. The gentleman is currently working as a law clerk while he awaits for his appeal to be heard.
Here is what your second year of law school schedule could look like:
Civil Procedure I and II (2 units and 3 units)
Constitutional Law I and II (3 units and 3 units)
Property (4 units)
Two electives of your choice
Here is the typical work schedule for a non-traditional law student in their first year of law school:
Contracts I and II 3 units 2 units
Criminal Law 3 units
Law I and Law II 3 units 3 units
Torts 4 units
Total 9 units 9 units
Most people think or consider a part time law student as a non-traditional law student because those individuals graduate in 4 years instead of 3 years. If you go to ruthless law school where 20% of your class gets cut in the first year then that is not a bad strategy. The first year in law school is the hardest. As a part time student you are able to take less classes and are able to concentrate on school with less workload. Some people go into school anticipating taking a full load and switch to part time status. It all depends on your circumstance. Others do it because of their time commitment or have a family or work a full time job. Some are night students. Whatever your reason, do what you think is best for you. Law school is expenses and you need to make sure you are going to pass and graduate otherwise it is a complete waste of money.
IRAC stands for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. It is a form of analysis that all law students employ in reading and reviewing any case. It is one of the first things that you learn in law school. You are repeatedly told to formulate a IRAC for every case that you read so that you can understand the issue involved in the case and the court's ruling on that issue. After you read a number of cases in each topic of law, you will see a pattern develop in terms of how the court address a issue in the law and what type of standards are required or test that the court employes to reach a conclusion in an area of law.
IRAC was very helpful for me to use in my first year, even though I was not your traditional law student. It trained me to think in a issue rules matter. It trained me to automatically look to figure out what the main issue of the case was about, how the court analyze that issue and how it ruled. This was very helpful because later on understanding the court's analysis of issues, help me to format arguments on why the court should rule one way or another in my own legal briefs.
A case is about providing elements of the law to establish a cause of action. For each element, there are issues that must be proven or established. Learning and understanding the IRAC method of thinking and analyzing helps one think like a lawyer if that is possible.
My first class on the first day of law school was Property. Property is not like any other areas of law. Its not straight forward like Civil Procedure or Contract law. Its based on common law and legal concepts that date back to a time the United States was not even formed. The first set of cases that all Property classes discuss on the first day of school relate to abstract concepts where no law student could possibly understand to any great degree of comprehension much less be able to articulate with any authority. The first student in my class to get called upon in Property that morning was poor Tracy. She completely froze and could not responded. The rest of us, well especially me did not pay attention to her tormet, I was too busy trying to scramble and figure out what I would say if I was called upon on the next case. Right there I knew that I came to the first day of school under prepared. I thought it would be simple like in undergraduate in my Constitution law classes but this was in another league. Thank god I didn't get called that day.
There is nothing like it. The first day of law school is not pleasant. If you been out of school for a few years and you are just starting law school, there is that nice excitement of being back to show and seeing all the girls and guys in an academic setting but that excitement quickly pasts away as you rush to prepare for that first day of class. We have all heard the horrible stories. We have all seen the television shows about law school. There is nothing like it when the first class begins and you know you did not adequately prepare because no one could have possibility been prepare for what is to happen to some poor classmate of yours on that first day.