Practical things like the rules of court and civil procedure are often the most difficult things for law students to master because this is one area where experience is more important than memorization. While there are some rubrics all lawyers come to know, such as the deadline for responding to a complaint, many find it easier to just look up the applicable rule when the need arises.
Unfortunately, law students sitting for the bar exam soon will not have that luxury. Starting in 2015, civil procedure will be tested on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the multiple-choice section of the exam that is used in most states.
The MBE currently tests knowledge of constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, and torts. These sections will be shortened to accommodate civil procedure questions. It will be the first major update in 35 years.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners made the decision to add the new legal subject after surveying educators and other members of the legal community. While most concluded that civ pro knowledge is essential for lawyers, law students may not agree.
“We know, from what students tell us, that civil procedure tends to be one of their most challenging areas of study,” Christopher Fromm, director of bar review programs, Kaplan Bar Review, stated. “Adding a section to the MBE in an area of study that students have traditionally found difficult will make the exam more challenging overall.”
For students sitting for the bar in California, Arkansas, Washington, Louisiana, and Nevada, the news may be extra difficult to swallow. The five states topped a recent ranking of the most difficult bar exams in the country. For those reading this post from New York or New Jersey, nether state made the top ten.