The 1L Skills Check is a performance test designed to provide students who have completed their first year of law school with feedback on their legal analysis and professional written communication skills — critical lawyering skills that are taught in the first year of law school. This formative assessment will help identify strengths and weaknesses, offering faculty and students crucial information that can be used to support student success.
The 1L Skills Check is similar in format to bar exam performance tests such as the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and California's performance test. It is not intended to be a test of substantive knowledge or memory. Students will have three hours to complete the performance task, but it can often be completed in far less time. The three hours allotted allow plenty of time for students to review the materials and then to draft, review, proofread, and polish a final submission. As the 1L Skills Check is a formative assessment, results will not be used for any course grades. Scores are based on objective standards (as opposed to grading on a curve).
We plan to offer the performance task during a three- to four-week window at the end of the first year, and we will report scores approximately four weeks from the end of that window. The performance task is scenario-based: it asks the student to serve as an attorney for a fictional client, in a fictional jurisdiction, needing assistance in tort or contract law. The student will be given a closed library of materials that consists of:
- A Client File that includes an assigning memorandum from a fictional supervising attorney as well as factual documents such as client intake notes, letters, emails, and newspaper articles. The assigning memorandum will describe a fictional client, that client’s situation, and what the client is seeking from the fictional law firm.
- A Legal Authorities File that includes statutes, judicial opinions, or both.
There is no practice or preparation needed, but students will be given the rubric and instructions in advance to familiarize themselves with the task.
Students will receive feedback on specific skills in two areas:
- Legal Methods and Analysis (e.g., issues, facts, describing law, applying law)
- Professional Written Communication (e.g., editing, small-scale organization, legal citations)
For each skill, students will receive a rating (Proficient, Developing, or Beginning) against an absolute standard as well as a narrative summary in each area.
1L Skills Check — Practice Test Excerpts
Excerpts from Client File
Attorneys at Law
Grove City, Newcombe
|Date:||April 15, 2020|
|Re:||Inquiry from Tom Tallion|
A new client of ours, Tom Tallion, has asked us to look into whether he can recover in a dispute with one of his neighbors, Bradley Carpenter.
According to Tallion, he and Carpenter orally agreed that Tallion would take care of Carpenter’s asparagus plants for a period of two years. Carpenter planned to work overseas for those two years. At the end of the two-year term, Carpenter was to pay $400 to Tallion.
Carpenter returned home early after only eighteen months abroad. While Carpenter was away, Tallion had dutifully cared for the asparagus plants. The plants were in great condition. Tallion was willing to finish out the two-year term of their agreement, but Carpenter told him that the deal was off and he would resume caring for the plants himself. Carpenter then refused to pay Tallion any money.
Please draft a memorandum to me analyzing whether Tallion has any legal recourse against Carpenter to recover the value of his services in caring for the asparagus plants and, if he does, what the dollar amount is of any monetary award to which Tallion is entitled. Your memorandum should include the issue or issues, the factual background, your legal analysis, and a brief conclusion. Your memorandum should follow the Memorandum Guidelines.
Excerpt from Transcript of Client Interview with Tom Tallion
|Att’y Ricci:||Good afternoon and welcome, Tom.
|Tom Tallion:||Thank you.
|Ricci:||What brought you to see us today?
|Tallion:||I’m having trouble with one of my neighbors, Bradley Carpenter.
|Ricci:||What sort of trouble?
|Tallion:||He owes me money but won’t pay.
|Ricci:||Tell me more.
|Tallion:||Brad has got this garden in his yard where he grows asparagus. Let me back up. About two years ago, Brad took a volunteer position overseas. The position was supposed to be for a two-year term. Before he left, we came to an agreement that I would tend his asparagus plants for two years in exchange for $400.
|Ricci:||So this was in spring of 2018?
|Tallion:||Yes. We spoke in March 2018.
|Ricci:||And how did you and Mr. Carpenter make this agreement? Did you write it down?
|Tallion:||No. We just talked about it, and then he showed me how to take care of the plants.
|Ricci:||Did you discuss when the $400 payment would be made?
|Tallion:||We agreed that he would pay me the full $400 at the end of the two years if the asparagus was alive.
|Ricci:||How did you arrive at the $400 figure? Did he suggest it or did you?
|Tallion:||He suggested $400 and I said we should make it an even $500. Brad said no to this suggestion. Apparently there was a college kid who lives down the block who was willing to do it for $400. Brad said he trusted me more than the college kid, but that he wouldn't pay me more than the $400 that the college kid would charge him. I said okay.
|Ricci:||Did you discuss the dates of when the two-year term began and ended?|
Excerpts from Legal Authorities File
LEGAL AUTHORITIES FILE
Newcombe Revised Code § 1293.56 Certain oral contracts unenforceable
The following classes of contracts are forbidden from enforcement unless there is a written memorandum:
(a) a contract made upon consideration of marriage;
(b) a contract for the sale of an interest in land;
(c) a contract that is not to be performed within one year from the making thereof.
LEGAL AUTHORITIES FILE
NEWCOMBE COURT OF APPEALS
KANETSKY PEST CONTROL, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
HORATIO ANTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
June 12, 2012
Defendant Horatio Anton appeals from the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Kanetsky Pest Control. The trial court’s judgment included an award of $150 in Kanetsky’s favor.
The facts are largely not in dispute. Rolando Kanetsky owns and operates a pest control business. On the morning of Saturday, May 10, 2008, Kanetsky was preparing to depart from a service call on Belle Hollow Lane in Grove City. As Kanetsky sat in his van writing up his notes, he was approached by a man. Kanetsky’s van was prominently marked with his company name, logo, and contact information. Furthermore, Kanetsky was wearing a shirt with “Kanetsky Pest Control” embroidered on it.
The man, Horatio Anton, asked whether Kanetsky was in the pest control business. Kanetsky pointed to his shirt and responded in the affirmative. Anton then said something to the effect of “Please come with me, there’s an animal trapped in my crawlspace. I just live across the street.” Kanetsky followed Anton across the street to Anton’s house. Anton introduced himself and told Kanetsky that he had heard scratching sounds coming from his crawlspace. At no time did Anton or Kanetsky discuss payment for Kanetsky’s pest control services.