Academic Success course curriculum is integrated with the 1L doctrinal courses to ensure that skills taught align with the skills taught in the doctrinal courses: the Fundamentals of Being a Lawyer course curriculum is aligned with Torts; and the Legal Methods course curriculum is aligned with Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure and Legal Writing.
Fundamentals of Being a Lawyer
Entering first-year students (both full-time and part-time) are required to complete Fundamentals of Being a Lawyer, an introductory course that concludes before the start of 1L classes. The class is a one-hour rigorous academic course with a credit/no credit grading requirement. The goal of the course is to demystify the law school classroom by previewing what students will experience in law school; the curriculum is designed to minimize the mystery, to empower and acclimate students, and to maximize students’ academic success.
Supporting skills. The Fundamentals curriculum will not only introduce students to critical law school skills, but will also expressly focus on supporting skills, including but not limited to reading comprehension, critical thinking, multifaceted reasoning, rudimentary logic, metacognition, and self-regulated learning.
Assessments. Fundamentals includes multiple evaluative assessments, including a final exam. This will provide students individualized feedback and assist them in identifying areas for improvement. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own academic success as they identify resources and chart their courses.
1L students (both full-time and part-time) are required to complete Legal Methods, a one-hour pass/fail course. The goal of the course is to transition from Fundamentals and improve critical legal skills such as reading comprehension, outlining, case briefing, legal synthesis, systematic problem solving, and structured writing. The curriculum references content presented by doctrinal faculty and teaches skills in parallel with doctrinal content.
Legal Methods fosters a commitment to regular assessment. Students have multiple opportunities to track and evaluate their own progress and hone in on their specific weaknesses to correct them.
8 Week Course. Legal Methods is presented as an 8 week course that concludes at midterms. This ensures that academic skills are presented as quickly as possible. This also reduces students’ obligations as they prepare for their first semester final exams.
Integration with 1L Curriculum. Legal Methods faculty deliberately include flexibility in the curriculum so that they can incorporate exercises or target issues that are identified by doctrinal professors. Legal Methods faculty also work closely with Civil Procedure, Contracts, Legal Writing, and Torts professors to ensure that skills taught in Legal Methods align with those taught in doctrinal courses.
Focus on MPT Skills. Legal Methods curriculum models the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and prior MPT exams are utilized as Legal Methods “textbooks.” Legal Methods faculty also utilize prior MPT exams to introduce exercises that promote analytical flexibility, reading comprehension, legal analysis, legal synthesis, and legal writing.
Support from Upper-Level Students. Legal Methods faculty utilize upper-level students as Academic Success Assistants to conduct supplementary, small-group workshops. These workshops provide additional opportunities for students to complete exercises that target legal skills. Teaching assistants provide individualized feedback on students’ written work and serve as informal mentors for students who may be more comfortable discussing learning issues with a peer.
Regular Assessments. Legal Methods faculty regularly provide assessments of legal skills and utilize the assessments to measure performance and remediate critical success skills.
Legal Skills and Analysis
This one-credit-hour course is required for all students who, after the first semester, are on academic probation. The course concentrates on core skills and analysis necessary for success in the curriculum. The small-group format affords opportunities for more individualized and targeted instruction that focuses on the particular needs of each student in the course. Students receive individualize and focused feedback on their work product and their acquisition of critical legal skills.