Our philosophy is skill-based: the best service we can provide is to help students develop the academic and study skills necessary to do excellent work.
We build on the enormous strengths that each student brings to the law school, identifying individual learning styles so that you can get the most out of the academic program.
These academic support programs begin in the summer before law school with the Summer Law Institute and continue with a variety of services in the First Year and the Second Year.
The Orientation program is required for all incoming students. The academic component of the program focuses on an introduction to the legal system, case reading and briefing, and legal analysis, in order to give students grounding in the skills that they will need for success during the year. The Orientation program also uses material from upcoming fall semester classes.
Through the entire first year, there are optional weekly Skills Sessions, for each section, designed to support you in developing the skills necessary for excellent work. The sessions track the required first-year doctrinal classes. Topics include preparing for class, case reading and briefing, note taking, outlining, and studying for and taking exams. In addition, the Skills Sessions address time and stress management, study groups, use of study aids, and some doctrinal review.
During the first semester, there is a weekly Skills Session in each section (noted on the block schedule), focusing on both the skills and doctrine from Criminal Law, Constitutional Law (LEDP), and Contracts (LME) classes. Specific topics, such as class preparation (case reading and briefing), in-class note taking, outlining, study strategies and exam preparation, are covered in the context of material drawn from the required classes. The Skills Sessions are entirely voluntary.
The Professional Skills Center runs optional review sessions for exams in all required courses, which include doctrinal review and practice exams.
Individual & Small Group Assistance
During the first semester (and to a limited extent the second semester as well), individual appointments are available to you to discuss any issue related to your legal education. These appointments are useful for addressing specific problems with doctrine, skills, and generally how law school is going. There will be a sign-up sheet outside the Skills Center (room 305) with the times available for appointments.
You are invited to bring any questions or concerns regarding law school, such as doctrine, writing, skills, organization, study strategies, etc. We also conduct two additional series of workshops: one focusing specifically on practicing the art and science of writing essay exams; and the other on close-case reading. Information on both those series is distributed early in the first semester. Skills sessions and individual conferences are offered regularly on weekends for evening students.
In the spring semester of first year, we teach Legal Methods, an intensive focused, semester-long, three-hour-a-week, non-credit academic support workshop . Participation in Legal Methods is either by referral or permission of the instructor and requires a commitment to attend throughout the semester. Again, the work of Legal Methods is drawn from the required classes, but it is more focused in terms of individual written feedback. The class tracks the required second-semester courses, usually Torts, Law and Family Relations, and Contracts. Students work on building and refining academic skills such as course mapping and outlining, class note taking, and extensive exam practice. Enrollment in Legal Methods is limited; students on probation are required to attend; those with first-semester grade point averages of 2.3 – 2.7 are strongly encouraged to attend, and other students are admitted as space permits.
In the fall semester of students’ second year, we teach Individual Skills Development, a course similar to Legal Methods, with a strong focus on developing successful strategies for previewing material and preparing for class. In addition, there will be exam reviews for selected required courses for the second-year class, as a whole. We will also offer office hours for individual or study group meetings.
Additionally, we provide academic support for students who take Property in their third semester.
By the second semester of the second year, most students are well acquainted with the rigors of the Law School curriculum, and are successful in meeting its challenges. Consequently, the need for support services is designed on an individual basis to assist those who are most in need.
Evening students receive skills support for Constructs and Evidence as well, in the form of weekly review sessions, and one-on-one and small group meetings. In their second year, Evening students receive predominantly the same services that they received in the first year of the program, again in direct correlation with amount of doctrinal skills experience gained thus far.