Am I happy, or in misery? Whatever it is that exam, put a spell on me.

If this were any other school, if this were any other professor, I’d probably be screaming about this in my sleep. But I can’t get mad at Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School. He’s old. He’s kooky. He’s got a personality and tenure. What’s not to like?

A tipster forwarded a copy of the 2011 Evidence exam Professor Nesson just issued. I think it’s great. Some people are going to go all nuts about how their school is “just as good as HLS if this is the kind of crap exam they give to students.” Some Harvard students, especially the ones who spent all semester reading and making their own case briefs, are going to scream about how they’re paying nearly $50K a year “for this.”

But whatever. You’ve got all these people running around, mainly deans at lower-ranked law schools, screaming about how legal education confers some kind of intangible, experiential benefit that cannot be codified in simple job placement statistics. Well, Professor Nesson is all about the existential experience of thinking deeply (or casually) about law — and he’s doing it at a school that confers the very tangible benefit of high-paying, prestigious jobs to all who want them.

So, strap yourselves in: two questions, 500-word limit per answer. Have fun, kids….

An amused tipster sets up the exam in a funny way:

Fall 2011 evidence final exam – like the Duncan Law School couldn’t possibly match this legal “training.”

Here’s the glorious exam:

I should say that I’m not positive that this is the “full” exam. It could just be the first two questions. There could be a traditional issue spotter on the next page that the tipster omitted.

But this looks and feels like a full Nesson test. Look, the man doesn’t need to read more than 1,000 words from these kids to figure out who gets an “A,” and who did all that striving only to get into “B” range.

In case you are wondering, the right answer for Question I is somewhere around: “Evidence laws let us stop talking falsely. They allow us to level on the line, once somebody offers his word.” For Question II, you want to start with: “Evidence isn’t a collection of things or data points, it’s a matrix of rules. Rules that have nothing to do with the truth of the matter, but everything to do with our shared mores of justice and fair play.” If you use more than 300 of your 500-word allotment, you’ve gone too far.

God, I miss school.


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