The Academic Support and Bar Preparation Services program at ASL is designed to teach and reinforce skills, strategies, and substance necessary for law school success, bar passage, and legal practice. Academic Success is offered through various small-group workshops, writing labs, and individual meetings. Strategies and principles necessary to successful bar preparation and passage (as well as continued academic achievement in law school) are introduced at appropriate times during the first and second years, while an in-depth pre-bar course is offered in the final semester of the third year. ASL is committed to fully preparing students before, during, and after their graduation from law school for whatever bar exam they choose to take.
Before Law School
First-year students arrive one week before the academic year starts for “Introduction to Law”, during which students receive instruction in essential skills and techniques to confidently begin their first semester doctrinal courses. These skills include case reading and briefing, understanding case rationales and the types of legal argument, knowing the basic stages of a civil lawsuit, law school note-taking, and time management. The week culminates in a first doctrinal class followed by a debriefing and writing assignment. These sessions are part of the mandatory first semester course Strategies for Success.
During Law School
Once the regular semester begins, all students continue the one-credit Strategies for Success course, during which other critical skills such as case synthesis and course outlining are addressed. As the semester progresses, attention is turned to final exam preparation, with classes targeting issue spotting, essay writing, matching facts to law, and multiple choice strategies. Students also participate in individual conferences as requested.
In the second semester of the first year and throughout the second year, students will have access to the Academic Success Director to provide continued assistance both in skills and substantive instruction. Students who demonstrate evident difficulties in the first semester, as well as those who request it, will be given individual and group instruction to address any trouble areas before final exams.
Students take Bar Preparation Studies during the Spring semester of the third year. This for-credit class builds on the analytical, writing, and organizational skills taught across the ASL curriculum with the goal of enhancing the student’s ability to prepare for the bar exam. While the class is taught primarily by the Academic Success Director, other faculty and volunteers (including alumni, judges, and others who have written and graded for state bars in the area) participate in lectures and workshops dealing with particularities of the various state bar exams.
In addition to these classes, ASL offers a variety of optional workshops and lectures scheduled regularly throughout the Fall and Spring.
After Law School
After graduation, the Academic Success/Bar Preparation program staff, adjunct instructors, and volunteers will continue to work with students who are preparing to sit for the bar exam. This post-graduate program works in conjunction with the commercial bar preparation courses, and participants are assigned to a mentor who will regularly meet with his or her mentees to gauge how they are progressing in their bar prep courses. Mentors are available to their mentees outside of meeting times (by phone, email, or online platforms) to provide guidance and support. This is a voluntary program available at no cost to all current graduates. Faculty mentors travel to some of the larger states where graduates sit for the bar exam (including Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee) and provide lunch during exam days to eliminate one additional source of stress.