Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I think that at this point in law school (and this goes DOUBLE DOUBLE DOUBLE for the bar exam) a closed book, closed note exam is absolute crap. Seriously. I've worked three law jobs. At no time did my boss come to me and say, "Without going on Westlaw, what is the common law rule on the Collateral Source Rule?" I haven't had one say, "Here's our client. He's been busted for distribution. While fleeing the scene, he swerved to intentionally run over a spotted owl while lighting a crack pipe with the Antonin Scalia's blazing fourth amendment novelty lighter in violation of federal law. Having a better hit than he intended he accidentally ran over his own grandmother. He stopped the car and robbed her. Without looking it up, what is our best defense based solely on the 16th Amendment?" Do you know why they haven't done that? Because doing legal work closed book, closed note, closed Westlaw is usually called malpractice!

I think all exams should be take home exams. These can be as complicated as you want to make it but make us show you that we can practice in this area if we had to! Worse case, make it timed with our notes.

Sorry, pet peeve.


the Rising Jurist said...

I absolutely agree. With the standard in-class exam, it ends up being a contest of who can cobble together the most random ideas. The take-home allows for a more thorough and nuanced answer (and one that could actually win in court).

tacojohn said...

This all proceeds from a premise that law exams should (or at least could) replicate real legal work as closely as possible.

El Guapo said...

Shouldn't it?

Even if it didn't (and in some classes, theory takes the lead) take home exams should be able to better parse out those who really understand it from those who don't.

Sharon said...

I agree, and I'd also extend that to multiple choice exams. This is not math class; usually, there is no one correct answer.