Three Column Method Revisited

Had a student asking about the three column method. So here’s a quick redux.

You start by picking a past FLYSX or CBX question on Calbar’s website that has answers. You then write the essay, or, if really pressed for time, outline the essay. Afterwards, you make three columns: “Answer A”, “Answer B”, and “My Answer”. You can handwrite or type it. I’ve even seen people do it in a spreadsheet.

Then, in each of the columns you start writing the headings you see in each essay. You can make notes about anything significant you see in their analysis as well. Try to line up matching issues and leave blank space for different or missing issues. This allows you to see if you’re catching all the issues that the passing answers did. Additionally, you can check to see if your analysis is as robust as theirs.

Here’s a quick example using the February 2020 CBX Question 3

Passing Answers:


3 Column Document:


For the most part, my answer has the same headings. There are some differences, but they’re minor. This is to be expected given my familiarity with the subject matter. Your three column attempts should be more detailed than this, since it’s a learning tool for you. For many students, they often find that this exercise shows them what issues they’re missing, or analysis that might be a little thin.

Answer A and I fully IRACed Consideration. Let’s look at the way we both did it.

(2) Consideration

Consideration is necessary for there to be a valid contract. Typically, a showing of consideration is done by facts evidencing the parties have obtained a legal benefit or detriment through the contract. Some states, however, only look to legal detriment. In either regime, the consideration requirement is satisfied here: Barn’s legal detriment is having to pay $75,000 when the work is completed; meanwhile, S’s detriment is having to do the work.


The bargained for exchanged that imposes a legal detriment on the promisee. Typically in a bilateral contract, both parties.

Here Barn is to receive a painted lobby, a benefit, and is to pay $75,000, a detriment. Likewise Sam is to receive $75,000, a benefit, and has to paint the lobby, a detriment. Both parties have been induced to incur a detriment as a result of the bargained for exchange.

There is valid consideration.

Remember: follow the barbri outline’s “Approach to Exams” format for the overall structure of your essay and to IRAC each individual issue.

Some interesting content on the LawSchoolSecretstoSuccess website

I was looking something up about the person the Rutter Group was named after (we use those practice guides a lot at the office) and it mentioned they also founded the Gilbert study guides.

I looked that up and came across a strange website that had a review of the Gilbert outlines. They also had other information.

While I don’t agree with everything the website says, and I haven’t looked at anything other than the two pages I’m going to discuss here, there’s some important things you might find helpful. On this page:

Secrets #2; #3; and #4 are must reads. They’re things I’ve been telling you, but maybe if you read them there you’ll internalize them and take action. The other stuff on the page is somewhat true, but I don’t agree with all of it.

They also talk about the FYLSX here:

They’re saying 150 practice essays and 3,000 practice MBE. I did probably 80 practice essays and 1,800 practice MBE. That allowed me to earn a 639 scaled (79%) on my first attempt. I would say what I did is the low end and what they’re suggesting is the high end for the FYLSX. The overarching point is that the only way to succeed on the exam is to do a massive amount of practice over a sustained period of time. You cannot cram for this exam. There’s a skill set that must be developed in order to pass. You must memorize the law, and then practice exam taking.

That website is clearly trying to market their products. They ostensively review other products and then explain why theirs are supposedly better. I have no opinion on any of that, especially since I relied on several of the products they criticize.

At any rate, I hope that some of the information is useful. I found it interesting and thought it worth sharing.

Offer Termination by Operation of Law

I had a student ask about something in their barbri regarding a note under “Termination by Death of Insanity of Parties”. It was in regards to irrevocable offers.
I read that section several times myself when I was preparing the lesson plan. I thought I understood it, but when I saw the student’s question, it made me revisit it. First off, I want you to know that I’ve never seen this tested, and doubt it ever would be tested. So that’s good news. I’ll answer your question in several parts.
The restatement is very straight forward on this issue, but doesn’t discuss options.
§ 48 Death or Incapacity of Offeror or Offeree 
An offeree’s power of acceptance is terminated when the offeree or offeror dies or is deprived of legal capacity to enter into the proposed contract.

However, both barbi and CALI discuss how irrevocable offers (e.g. options) don’t terminate in this situation. I decided to look up the caselaw. It’s likely that most jurisdictions track to California on this issue.

“An option is an offer and if it is without consideration, it is revoked by the death of the offeror prior to acceptance. *452 If consideration is given, it is a contract binding upon the offeror and upon his successors in interest after his death. See case cited in 6 Cal.Jur., pp. 48–53, §§ 27, 28, 29; Williston, Contracts (Revised Ed.), §§ 61, 62; Cal.Civ.Code, § 1587(4).” (Bard v. Kent (1942) 19 Cal.2d 449, 451–452 [122 P.2d 8, 10])


So an irrevocable offer does not terminate by operation of law in the case of death or incapacity. A successor in interest can be the decedent’s estate, etc.

Some quick notes on procedural history

One of the things we to when briefing cases is the procedural history of the case. While every state has its own court hierarchy, most follow a structure similar to the federal government (i.e. trial -> appellate -> supreme). On the other hand, some are quite different.

While you’ll be exposed to federal cases and cases from every state, a majority of cases you’ll encounter will be from California and New York. Given the populations of those two states, it makes sense that there’s a great deal of litigation coming from them.

:book: California courts follow a structure very similar to that of the federal government.


:book: New York (NY) Courts have a very different structure.

New York

You can follow the link below to see how NY criminal courts are structured. It’s not relevant here because we’re concerned with contract law. At any rate, this should help if you’re confused by the NY court structure.