As the exam writing, taking and grading season winds to a close, let's take a moment to consider the law school exam as literary genre. Matt Bodie (Hofstra Law) did so here at Prawfsblog. A good law school essay question raises legal issues covered in the course. At the same time, it tells a story that must be both succinct and compelling. Bodie notes, "In a field that blends reason and emotion, the law school exam essay needs to speak to the students' issue-spotting abilities as well as their notions of right and wrong."
Oliver Wendell Holmes said that the purpose of a law school (he was speaking of Harvard Law School in particular) is not simply to teach law. "It is to teach law in the grand manner and to make great lawyers." The craft of the law school exam is part of teaching the law "in the grand manner." It's part of the majestic law school tradition . The quality of the exam as literature is an umistakable reflection of the quality of the professor. It's too bad that law school exams are usually filed away, or worse, shredded -- deleted from the corpus except in the memory of law students.