The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Friday, December 10, 2004

Contracts exam dissected

Even if I don't get the highest grade in the class (which is pretty doubtful anyway), I am pretty proud for getting through that Contracts Exam. The more people I speak with and read, the more I think that it was pretty damn hard. Now that I have had a bit of time to let it all sink in, I realize I sure have come a long way to be able to answer some of those questions and furthermore, to be able to understand most of it.

The low-down on the test...six questions (three "hypos" and three "policy") three pages, three hours. I love the hypotheticals. Prof. gives you about 45 minutes for each and it takes pretty much that entire time to answer. Actually, it takes about 5 whole minutes just to read the long questions. During the semester, we read cases as a means of teaching the law of Contracts. Each case has it's own reason for being in the case book and each case deals with and explains one aspect of the law (for example: what constitutes an offer, how reliant must a person be to envoke promissory estoppel, how do courts look at intrafamilial promises, etc.) The hypos on the test are about 10-12 cases rolled into one. Basically, Prof. takes a whole lot of legal concepts and makes up ficticious clients and scenarios that go through all of it. Those are the questions that you just talk yourself through. Fun Stuff.

The policy questions, on the other hand kill me! He only gives us 20 minutes on these. (I am hoping the less time means they count for less in the end.) I find that these are extremely thought provoking and after being so mentally exhausted from the hypos, I really struggled through these questions. I studied right before the test with a group of guys who had formed a list of possibly policy questions. In that discussion, one of the guys listed the cases he thought fell into certain policy categories. I jotted down what he said "just in case". Luckily, ALL THREE policy questions were ones the guys had come up with. The questions dealt with the underlying process of the mind of the courts when deciding whether or not to enforce a promise. Basically, Prof. comes up with some sort of hypothesis as to why courts do what they do and I am supposed to discuss which cases (of the million we learned) fit into his hypothesis and which ones don't. Prof. is extremely economics focussed, so the questions dealt with "recognizing opportunistic behavior in parties and deciding against the opportunistic party", "deciding based on the lowest cost avoider" and "cases in which proponents of fairness and proponents of efficiency in contracting would agree to the outcome". Seriously, if you would've asked me any of those at the beginning of the semester, I may very well have dropped out of law school just in time to get my money back. It wasn't so bad...I think I was able to b.s. my way through most of it.

I must tell you, I came across another synopsis for a Contracts exam and realized I surely don't take the easy road. I don't know what the norm is with regards to these tests, but I am seeing both ends of the spectrum here. While it would've been nice to go into an exam that actually had "no brainer" questions...at least I can be proud that I accomplished a much more difficult feat. (Who am I kidding...I would've much rather taken a multiple choice! Jackal, you are so lucky:-)