Bar Appeals

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The Michigan bar examination is made up of both essay questions and multiple choice questions.  The essay portion makes up 50% of the test and is graded by attorneys.  Pursuant to MCR 9.3, the bar examiners will consider an appeal for a candidate who is aggrieved by scores received on the exam.  While most students are fully capable of writing their own bar appeals, statistics show that only one-third of those appeals ultimately are successful.  This office has consistently had an 87%+ performance rate on all bar appeals it prepares.  This includes bar appeals which need more than five points and up to twelve points to pass.

The difference this office brings is experience.  Timothy A. Dinan has been writing bar appeals since 1994.  He has taught many people how to write for the bar examination as Adjunct Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy and his role as writing director at Bar Bri of Michigan.  Tim has presented at Michigan State College of Law, Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Wayne State University School of law.  Every year, this office takes on appeals for candidates who do not want to sit again for the bar examination.  We have a thorough and discerning criteria for any potential appeal.  Our firm is the only one with an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and that has been recognized by Michigan Super Lawyers and D Business for the last two years for practice excellence.

The Process:

Because a bar appeal can be an important step in your legal career, this office carefully screens candidates for their chance to be successful at the appeal.    We carefully scrutinize the test and the model answer to determine where possible appeals may exist.  Possible points come in many forms.  Tim Dinan breaks down the test and model answer into point components; he then compares his analysis to the candidate’s answers in a more objective form.  Please understand that more likely than not, a submitted test result will not meet our standards for writing an appeal.

Tim Dinan makes accurate estimates as to where points may be achieved and the likelihood of success on a bar appeal.  His ability to analyze tests comes from years of reading thousands of examination answers, working with over 2,000 candidates who have not passed the bar examination and systematically tracking where points are awarded.  As a professor and private tutor, Tim knows how to analyze writing styles to maximize points received on appeal.

After  breaking down the model answer and the questions, Tim personally reads over the candidate submissions.  The candidate is asked to type their answers (if they are not already typed for the bar examination), in order to promote a more efficient review of the test and to compel the candidate to review their own answers.  The process allows this office to serve the candidate better.  By reviewing the typed answers and score results, this office can make an accurate prediction of where there exists opportunities to appeal the score.  We share this information with the candidate informing them of which questions should be appealed and why.  This office’s philosophy is that this information not only helps the candidate whether to appeal or not, but helps them decide which attorney would best serve their needs.  WE DO NOT (NOR DO WE FEEL ANY LAWYER SHOULD) CHARGE A FEE TO REVIEW A FAILED TEST. We know you need support and honest feedback after not passing the Bar.

Assuming that the review yields the possibility of a successful appeal, the client has the opportunity to retain us and then we  begin it work.  This first thing done is the production of a  Review Memorandum for the candidate.  We are the only law firm that takes the time to create this memo. This memo spells out our opinion of the candidate’s performance on each question and whether it will be appealed or not.  The idea of the Review Memorandum is to give the candidate a better understanding of why a particular question did or did not do well during the last grading session.  Hopefully, this will provide feedback on the test for the candidate.

After the Review Memo has been prepared and forwarded to the candidate, the actual drafting of the bar appeal begins.  This office prepares a first draft which essentially encompasses the major arguments to be made in the appeal.  In this draft areas of law which need to be researched are identified and as many arguments which may be prepared from the materials in order to best assert the candidate’s position are developed.

The editing process then begins.  This office employs independent counsel to review the first draft of the appeal.  This is done in order to make sure the grammar, writing and spelling of all portions of the appeal are correct.  Inasmuch as the appeal is a reflection of the candidate, nothing less than perfection can be accepted in the presentation.  The independent counsel also offers criticism, insight encouragement and suggestions or rewording the arguments and presentation of the law.  We consider the expense of an editor for your bar appeal to be a necessary and worthy investment into the quality of the final product.  The editors are former clerks from either the Supreme Court of Michigan or Michigan Court of Appeals.  Their knowledge of the law and the decisions, upon which many model bar examination answers are based, is important to the high standards of research which this office employs.

The final step in the process brings the candidate into the picture.  Prior to receiving the final draft by the candidate, the appeal has been read through at least three times.  The candidate is asked to look at the working draft as a fourth or fifth revision of the original draft.  The reason the input of the candidate is needed is simple.  This is a reflection of the candidate, a reflection of you.  If you are not happy with the final product, then we are not doing our job.  The candidate’s reading of the working draft is also important to insure that we has accurately transcribed the handwritten answers in the references to it throughout the appeal.  It is an important quality control measure.  The more eyes which look at an appeal, the less likely any mistakes will be published to the bar examiners.

The final review by the candidate can be done either at this office or forwarded to the candidate by e-mail for greater efficiency.  Once the final draft has been approved by the candidate, the bar appeal is then forwarded promptly to the Board of Law Examiners for their review.

What Comes Next:

Your bar appeal will be considered by the Board of Bar Examiners.  Their process is not published in the court rules.  However, anecdotally, the appeals are read by the examiners themselves, not the graders.  This means that a second source will review the bar exam results in order to carefully consider the reasoning behind the appeal. You can expect to hear from the Board of Law Examiners as late as one month prior to the next bar exam or as soon as one month after the appeal has been submitted.  This is dependent upon the number of appeals submitted and the overall scores among other factors.

Should the Candidate do Their Own Bar Appeal:

Doing your own bar appeal is encouraged by this office.  The candidate should think of it as their first trial.  It is one of the few times that a candidate can submit official documents without needing a law license to publish them.  Like any other endeavor, the candidate would want to make their very best impression at the first time.  This means careful preparation, research and knowledge of your final product and how it is going to be perceived.  Admittedly, there is little published material about writing bar appeals.  However, a number of candidates do so every year and are successful.  We prepare bar appeals for those candidates who do not feel comfortable preparing their own bar appeal, do not feel they are objective enough about their own test results to present an effective bar appeal or do not have the time due to work and family commitments.  This office encourages candidates to consider their options carefully and remember there is no sweeter victory than the first one they win for themselves.

Do not hesitate to call our office with your questions about the Michigan Bar Examination, bar appeals or bar preparation.