Writing a policy argument for your law exam is an essential skill that all law students must possess to perform well in their 1L, 2L, or 3L classes, if their professors happen to place a policy-based question on an essay exam. The sooner a law student develops this skill in law school, the sooner they will be able to issue-spot and dive into the meat of their arguments.

There are typically two types of policy-based exams for students to answer. The first one is (1) cases where you are arguing how your case fits within well-established legal rules and principles; and the second one is (2) cases where you are arguing for or against the adoption of a new cause of action or a significant alteration or expansion of existing law.

Students may be surprised that they can practice a policy answer at home by thinking of a hypothetical and then forcing themselves to answer it in a few paragraphs. Often times, the layout of those policy-based answers, if well-versed at home, can be easily dumped into an actual law exam, nearly word-for-word. Policy is well-written if the student weighs everything on both sides; for example, on “both sides of the v” in a lawsuit – considerations for both the plaintiff and the defendant. Then the student should weigh those ever popular factors of what seems fair, and reasonable, and what the costs and consequences are if a certain outcome occurs.

Finally, students may find it helpful to learn policy-based arguments for the mere sake of letting a rule sink into their heads. Understanding why a court will hold a certain way almost always triggers elements to a rule and guides a student in their analysis, with the correct conclusion. This helps even if there is absolutely no writing of policy done by the student on the law exam.


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