Good contracts exams have this structure

How do you approach contracts exams?

You might know a bit of contracts law.

And maybe you watched The Paper Chase, even.

You might even have taken a practice hypo or two.

And maybe you have some ideas about my general approach to law school exams and issue spotting.

But that doesn’t mean that you know a strategy on how to impose structure on contracts exams and provide a coherent, issue-spotting answer.

There is a general structure that will help you succeed on any contract issue-spotting problem.

So here is the short version of how to succeed on contracts exams.

Break your thinking down into the three general areas of contracts law issues:

  • formation;
  • breach; and
  • damages.

You can analyze most contracts exams this way.

A classic issue spotting exam looks like this: Two parties enter into a contract, one breaches it, and seeks damages.

The party seeking damages must prove that a contract was formed, that the other party breached it, and that she is entitled to damages.

But the party defending against a breach of contract claim might argue on formation (that the contract was never formed), that even if the parties entered into a contract that she did not breach the contract, and that even if she breached the contract, there were no damages, for a number of reasons (failure to mitigate, etc.)

To be clear, a given contracts exam may not include all three of these pieces.

Once in a while, you will see exams that are just about damages (especially those that involve quasi-contractual claims, like unjust enrichment.)

And . . . here’s my video on this:

Just notice a couple of things about my videos (in comparison to other videos on law school, or even your prof’s lectures):

  • My videos are bite-sized.  I do short videos.  Many profs post 40 minute lectures.
  • My videos are visual.  My videos are usually not my face just talking at you or me talking about slides. I write and draw and scribble to help you visualize concepts, not just hear them.
  • My videos focus relentlessly on the exam.  This video focuses only on contracts exams. And not contracts generally, but how to take contracts exams.  But this is not what your law profs do, even though your entire grade depends on your ability to do this thing that they don’t tell you how to do.

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