Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Sabrina DeFabritiis (Suffolk) & Kathleen Elliott Vinson (Suffolk), Under Pressure: How Incorporating Time-Pressured Performance Tests Prepares Students for the Bar Exam and Practice, 122 W. Va. L. Rev. 107 (2019):
Law schools and students are under pressure to gain the competencies needed to gain licensure to practice law and be successful at it. Law schools have an ethical and professional responsibility to best prepare their law students for success on the bar and in practice. Incorporating performance tests into a law school curriculum gives law schools an opportunity to serve a dual role of providing students much-needed practice on bar exam skills and preparing students for practice, as the performance tests assess the lawyering skills required to successfully practice law. This Article offers examples of how law schools can do a better job of increasing students’ minimum competencies to pass the bar, gain employment, and practice law effectively while not requiring a major overhaul of law school curriculum or demanding the expenditure of a huge amount of time and effort by faculty.
Part II of the Article provides a brief history of the bar exam, including its incorporation of the Multistate Performance Test. Part III addresses why a law school curriculum should include performance tests or time-pressured writing assessments. Part IV offers ways to incorporate these types of assessments throughout the law school curriculum. Part V discusses the benefits and challenges of incorporating these assessments in law school curriculum. Finally, Part VI reviews ways in which scores on performance tests may inform law school curriculum and positively impact other assessments, including success on the bar exam and law school grades.