I’m trying to figure out what “bar courses” to take…

I’m trying to figure out what “bar courses” to take. I plan to take the Oregon bar exam. I went to osbar.org and looked at the exam FAQ (pdf), and it gave pretty broad categories of areas tested. Is this where I should be looking, or is there a better resource?

You’re looking in one of the right places.  Another resource is a pamphlet put out by BarBri that the Career Services office has on hand.  It has information about every bar in the country.  I think what can be a little confusing is figuring out what courses correspond to the the subjects listed by the bar.  Let me explain a little about how the bar works and then lay out the courses that cover the subjects on the exam.

The Oregon bar consists of three parts.  There’s the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) which is one day of  multiple choice questions.  Next, there are 9 essay questions (MEE and Oregon-written questions) and a multistate performance test (MPT) that take place on the second day of the exam.  The subjects on the MBE multiple choice exam are property, contracts, criminal law, criminal procedure, torts, evidence, and constitutional law (I&II).  The essays, on day two of the exam, may be on any of the subjects tested on the multiple choice exam, plus administrative law, business associations, advanced contracts/sales or advanced contracts/commercial transactions, secured transactions, civil procedure — both federal and state, income tax, legal ethics, wills and trusts, and property transactions.  Obviously, with such a long list of possibilities, not all subjects are tested each time in the essay portion.  The MPT is a “closed universe” test where you are given a statute or complete an assignment such as writing an opinion or a memo.  The MPT does not test substantive law. NOTE that in July 2012 Oregon is adding a second MPT and reducing the essay questions to 6 from 9.

Although you didn’t specifically ask for it, I’ll give you my thoughts about bar courses.  First, ask different faculty members and deans about bar courses.  I expect you will get varying advice.  My views are my own and may not feel like the right advice for you, so take it for what it’s worth.  My view is that a person does not have to take every bar course to pass the bar.  So, how to make the decision — which courses should you take?  Which ones to take is shaped by your interests and your fears.  Many of the bar courses will dovetail into an area of interest.  For instance, if you are interested in environmental law, you will be taking administrative law at some point.  If you are on a business track, you will take business associations and perhaps some of the advanced contracts classes or secured transactions.  Some of your choices may be driven by the feeling that you would rather get a whole semester of exposure to a subject that sounds gnarly to you, rather than try to learn it in one to two days in a bar review course.  Maybe you’re a gambler and you’ll decide to take your chances that the course you didn’t take won’t be on the bar.  In the end, I believe that it’s not so important which specific courses you take as that you take a fair number of them.  Keep in mind that the bar review courses are designed to be primarily a “review” rather than learning ten to twelve brand new subjects.

Keep an eye out for a visit from the Oregon bar examiners.  They come to campus at least once a year, usually in the Spring.  They will meet with any interested students and answer questions.  Especially as you get closer to taking it, think about attending a session.  The National Conference of Bar Examiners web site, http://www.ncbex.org/, has detailed information about the MBE and MPT.

Finally, don’t forget that there is one more piece to becoming a member of the Oregon bar. You must pass the multistate professional responsibility exam (MPRE).  It is a half-day test given on Saturday several times a year.  Many students take it during their last year of law school, either Fall or Spring semester.  Some people wait and take it in August after taking the July bar.

—Martha Spence (spence@lclark.edu)
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

How do I access faculty reviews?

Is there a way for students to access reviews of the faculty before we register for classes?

Yes.   Faculty evaluations can be found on the web site at http://law.lclark.edu/faculty/evaluations/ They are listed by professor or by course.  You will need to use your L&C email user name and password to access the evaluations.

Evaluations are posted about 6 weeks after the end of final exams.  They get posted after all the grades have been turned in, because the evaluations are not available to faculty until after grades are turned in.

-Martha Spence (spence@lclark.edu)

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Summer Transfer Credits — Do they count as “graded?”

Do credits transferred in from summer abroad programs at other law schools, count against ungraded credits?

No, they count as graded.  This is because we only accept graded credits in transfer, whether from a summer program abroad or other components of an ABA-accredited program.  However, even though the credits count as graded credits, they are not used in calculating your Lewis & Clark grade point average because of the variation in grading systems among schools.

Martha Spence

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Registration Materials

Are you going to publish updated 3 year plans (2011-2014) of available classes and available professors for each semester? I would find that invaluable in planning my curriculum over the next 2-3 years.

Yes. The three-year plan will be updated, a schedule of class times will be published, and lists of courses that meet graduation requirements like the WIE, Capstone, and professional skills will all be available on the web. An announcement will go out to everyone when the materials are ready.

Registration — Class Sizes

I am told that we should try to register for the smallest classes first. How do we know which classes are the smallest? (many of us aren’t on campus to look at the room sizes)

Good question.  On the registrar’s web pages, in the registration instructions, there is a list of the classrooms and their sizes.  It’s in the section titled “Priority Planning” and can be found at http://law.lclark.edu/dept/lawreg/reginfo.html  There are also a few other guidelines listed that can help you decide what classes to make a priority.

In general, seminars tend to fill quickly because they have a cap of 14 to 20.  Classes that are only offered every other year may fill, although the reason they are offered every other year may be because the enrollment hasn’t justified offering the course every year.  Look to see how many sections of a course are offered in a year.  For instance, there will usually be two sections of administrative law plus one in the summer.

There should be enough spots for all those who want to take the course.  Nevertheless, a particularly popular professor or a course in a time slot where it doesn’t conflict with many other classes, can cause a course to overbook and leave another section of the course with open slots.  Think about who your class feels are the most popular professors.  The classes of those profs may have some pressure on them.  In the end, most people get into most of the classes they want.   The curriculum committee looks at enrollments each year and attempts to provide enough sections of classes to satisfy demand. If you don’t get into a class you really want, make sure to get on the wait-list as soon as priority registration ends.  There is an active add and drop period over the summer. Wait-list invitations go out in early August.

-Martha Spence (spence@lclark.edu)

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

What are “professionalism study” courses?

What are “professionalism study” courses?

There is a professionalism requirement for graduation.  It can be met either by taking the course titled “Regulation of Attorneys and Ethics” offered three times a year and once in the summer, or by taking the civil litigation clinic.  The civil litigation clinic — the Lewis & Clark clinic — is the only clinic that meets the professionalism requirement. It has a specific class component as well as the live client clinic component.

-Martha Spence (spence@lclark.edu)

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs