The College of Law has a two-pronged approach to developing core legal skills; the first prong focuses on developing core legal skills, and the second prong focuses on bar readiness.
Academic success and bar readiness begins with 1L programming, which promotes development of analytical flexibility, reading comprehension, legal analysis, legal synthesis, and legal writing skills. Students’ first three semesters emphasize the acquisition of strong analytical skills so that students studying for the bar can focus on learning new rules and immersing themselves more deeply in rules already learned; in other words, upper-level students can focus on polishing bar-related skills rather than remediating core analytical skills. Thus, the final weeks leading to the bar exam will truly be bar review.
Students preparing for the bar examination utilize a commercial bar preparation course to provide them with the materials and to focus their daily studies, and the College of Law supplements these commercial courses with additional targeted support.
Partnering with a Bar Exam Preparation Firm
Law schools across the state are establishing exclusive partnerships with bar exam preparation firms. This enables schools to introduce students to bar preparation from the outset and to secure preferred pricing for students by adding six installments to the students’ tuition over the six semesters of law school.
UNT Dallas College of Law entered an agreement with Barbri to begin that program with the class entering in August 2018. Upper-level students will also benefit because Bar Readiness faculty will have access to Barbri materials and support that will improve instruction for upper-level students.
At the College of Law, all upper-level students take a three-semester sequence of Capstone courses that focus on bar readiness. Students take the courses during their final three semesters of law school, and each is a 2-hour graded course. The Capstone courses build on students’ doctrinal, analytical, and skills foundations; the courses consolidate doctrinal understanding and strengthen skills with the aim of readying students for success in preparing for and taking the bar examination.
Bar Boot Camps
The Bar Readiness program offers a series of “Boot Camps” for students preparing to take the bar exam. These Boot Camps provide a deepened focus on doctrinal content. The College of Law also routinely partners with Barbri to provide supplementary, skills-based workshops.
First-time Takers: The College of Law recruits mentors who, in addition to faculty and Bar Readiness staff, are trained to provide one-on-one counseling to students taking the bar exam. Under the supervision of Bar Readiness faculty, mentors work closely with students to chart a course to success without unduly interfering with the students’ participation in a commercial bar course. Mentors will also provide students individualized feedback and offer pointers and tips to maximize students’ performance.
Repeat Takers: Students and alums who are repeat bar takers are partnered with mentors who are successful repeat takers. Ideally, the similarity of experience will afford mentors the opportunity to offer more direct, targeted advice, again under the supervision of Bar Readiness faculty.
Journey to Justice
Faculty at UNT Dallas College of Law designed “Journey to Justice: Playing Your Way to Success on the Texas Procedure and Evidence Bar Exam” as a targeted resource to prepare for the Procedure and Evidence (P&E) section of the Texas Bar Exam. The P&E portion is administered on the first day of the bar exam and consists of 40 short-answer questions that test civil and criminal procedure and evidence. The P&E section of the bar constitutes 10% of an examinee’s overall score on the bar exam. If an examinee feels confident about the P&E and can feel satisfied about his/her performance on the first day of the bar exam, then the examinee can walk confidently into the second and third day of the exam.
Participation in Journey to Justice is open to all students and is required for students enrolled in a Capstone Course. Journey to Justice is designed to serve as an entertaining and informative exercise. Two Journey to Justice scenarios are introduced each semester. The first scenario is a civil fact pattern that is introduced at the beginning of the semester and completes midway through the semester. The second scenario is a criminal fact pattern that is introduced midway through the semester and completes at the end of the semester. Each scenario has its own theme, which changes each semester, allowing students exposure to different questions.