In his first book, author Donnelly provides a general tutorial for the aspiring lawyer studying for the bar exam.
Donnelly clearly states three primary objectives. First, he wants to improve the test taker’s overall essay writing skills. To this end, Donnelly furnishes an excellent discussion of the well-known IRAC format (Issue-Rule-Analysis-Conclusion), helpfully explaining both its effectiveness and limitations as a paradigm. Second, Donnelly focuses on Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, a topic that often arises on the bar exam but gets short shrift in other preparatory manuals and courses. Finally, the author directs the reader to myriad free online resources for studying for the bar, including the websites of the National Bar of Conference Examiners. He astutely reviews the websites, itself a valuable service. The emphasis on sharpening writing skills also expands the utility of the volume; as Donnelly notes, “The sooner the student can develop a strategic methodology with which to approach essay exams and develop their expertise with writing essays, the more rewarding their law school experience will be.” Donnelly is a lawyer who has passed four different bar exams, so he writes confidently from the perspective of successful experience. Maybe the most profitable aspect of the work is the extended discussion of what Donnelly calls the “exam paradox,” or the problem presented by the pulverizing mountain of material a student must learn within tight time constraints in order to be ready to pass the bar. Even the student faithfully dedicated to his studies can, and likely will, neglect some material that will appear on the exam. Donnelly sketches out a reasonable strategy for apportioning one’s time, which involves taking seriously practice exams while also acknowledging the potential pitfalls to overemphasizing them. This is a lucidly written handbook that covers an extraordinary amount of ground given that it is intended to be a “short book with a narrow focus.”
An excellent supplement to any bar-examination study regimen.