Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What I have learned about the MBE

The MBE, the Multistate Bar Exam, is a multiple-choice question test. Assuming that my study prep so far has been accurate, I have learned at least two things about the implicit assumptions of test questions:
  • (Real Property) If there's a chance that it's a fixture, it's a fixture.
  • (Constitutional Law) If there's a federal statute that touches on the same matter as a state law, that federal statute is a comprehensive scheme of regulation.
Assumptions like these are important, because the MBE tests one's knowledge of the intricacies of legal rules. The above classifications have legal ramifications. If you put something onto a piece of real estate, whether or not the thing is considered a part of the estate depends on its characterization as a fixture. Whether or not a piece of federal legislation preempts a state law depends on whether there's a comprehensive federal statutory scheme. I just did a question where a federal statute characterized as "similar" to a state statute counted as a comprehensive scheme.

On some level, this sort of learning is about the application of law to facts, something that law school itself doesn't really try to teach (the "replevin for a cow" syndrome).* On another level, it's about learning which trifle's being tested.

And there's less than a week to go!

*To paraphrase, "You people could delicately argue the finest point of constitutional law, but you couldn't get replevin for a cow!" Replevin is the "give it back" action. If Farmer A steals Farmer B's cow, Farmer B's lawyer would seek replevin for the cow. The action recovers property.


scarlet panda said...

Yeah, this is something that's very frustrating. Half the time, I'm like, I know what you're getting at, MBE question writer, and I know what the rule is. What I don't is know is whether I'm supposed to think Sandra Socialite is a public figure, or Harry Homeowner could have discovered the rusty nail on his lawn after a reasonable inspection, or William Wifekiller was adequately provoked by what he saw his wife doing, or whatever. On a law school exam you can argue both sides, but not on the MBE.

So, if you decide on any more guidelines, post them!

arfanser said...

I have even better news. My friend who took the test in february says that the real MBE is even more vague than the barbri practice questions.

Matt said...

Well, that's all very reassuring. I swear that I've run through this question on 2 different occasions, and I've been told 2 different answers to the same fact pattern:

Bob walks up to Steve. Steve stands next to a vase. Bob asks, "How much for the vase?" Steve says, "$100." Bob pays and takes the vase. Steve didn't own the vase.

The question is, what did Steve commit - larceny or obtaining property by false pretenses.

Unless I'm remembering incorrectly, I think that my review dealie has told me both answers.

permathreeseat said...

I think it's larceny for the vase but false pretenses for the money. Except that it's not from the physical presence of the owner of the vase, so that makes it just robbery. Why don't they just call everything theft and make it easier on us?

scarlet panda said...

Missouri calls everything "stealing," which I kind of like because it sounds so unofficial and colloquial.

Matt said...

I think perma you're right about that - larceny for the vase, false pretenses for the money.

Pennsylvania does a similar thing with taking other people's stuff. It's all "theft."

arfanser said...

Funny, I read the hypothetical and started thinking cloak of authority and agency. I guess you assume he didnt own the vase?