Academic and Bar Support Program
First Year Law Studies Differ From Undergraduate Studies
In order to be successful as a law student, one must learn to apply a very different combination of skills than those that enabled a good student to be admitted to law school in the first place. Exams taken in law school are unique with essay questions that test the students’ ability to apply to law to facts. Aside from the difference in writing essays, there also is a difference in multiple choice questions. Bar examinations may include multiple choice questions with as many as six, seven, or eight different answers. Accordingly, law professors often develop questions with multiple answers that contain very fine distinctions among the choices. There may be several right answers but the question tests the ability of the student to pick the “best” answer.
Law school classes are also conducted in a very different manner than were undergraduate classes. Some professors prefer to use the Socratic method of asking many questions of students during class but not always providing explicit answers to their own questions. The objective is to make students think about alternative legal theories that could be applied to answer the question. Some students need time to understand that the professors are not looking for a single “right” answer but are looking for students who are willing to engage in legal discourse about the question presented.
Every Student Has Access To Academic Support Sessions
TU Law’s Academic Success Program is designed to help students make these necessary transitions. One way we do this is to offer extra, non-credit workshops on the following essential skills:
• Read law school textbooks for speed and comprehension
• Brief a case in the margins of the textbook
• Write a case brief to use in classroom discussions
• Take notes in law school classes
• Compile class notes and case briefs into course outlines
• Participate in study groups
• Take law school exams containing multiple choice questions
• Write answers to law school exam essay questions
• Handle test anxiety
• Seek accommodations before, during and after taking exams
• Review graded exams and course grades with professors
• Appeal grades that may have been miscalculated
• Manage priorities and the stress of law school
For a student who cannot attend the workshops in person, we video tape most of these sessions. Any TU Law student has access to training for study skills that are essential in law school.
Every Student Has Access To Legal Study Skills Library
Another approach that TU Law uses to ease the transition to law school is to make available to our students books that are focused on legal study skills. These books are kept in our library on reserve so that any student can check them out for a short time. We maintain a bibliography of several very good books that include discussion of some or all of the topics that I listed previously.
Every Student Has Access To Faculty
Our TU Law faculty is very committed to the success of our students. All maintain office hours in order to be available to answer questions from students on what they have been learning in class. Faculty members are very willing to counsel students on how to succeed in their own course. We encourage students to get to know their professors as persons. And professors strive to inform each student about the course requirements and each professor’s expectations. However, it can be a little daunting to a first-year student to admit to his/her professor that he/she does not understand something from class. As additional support for our students, TU Law provides another professor to serve in the role of an academic advisor and mentor, if needed, for students who may be reluctant to confer with a professor who ultimately will give them a grade.
Every Student Has Access to a Student Mentor
Our Student Bar Association offers each incoming student an opportunity to have an upper-class student mentor. TU Law student mentors help first-year students transition to law school by answering questions about class preparation, time management, outlining, and balancing law school and personal life.
Every Student Has Access to the Dean of Students
The Dean of Students at the College of Law is available to assist students with personal problems, concerns with faculty, anxiety, study problems, and any other concerns that could impede academic success. The Dean of Students Office can direct students to the proper resources for academic success, ranging from personal tutoring to assistance with special accommodations.
Practice Exams Help Prepare For Final Exams
With respect to taking exams, we are convinced that the best way for students to prepare for a law school exam is to take practice exams in each subject area. Our professors develop practice exams for first-year students, in particular. These may be put on reserve in our library or offered on a course website. For first-year courses, as part of the academic success program, we provide a designated place and time for each student to take one or more practice exams. Individual professors will also review their exams and provide feedback.
Bar Exam Preparation
The College of Law arranges for every third-year, first-semester law student to take a “mini” Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) through Kaplan PMBR. Following the “mini” MBE, Kaplan provides each student with a diagnostic report of their exam results. The report indicates areas of competency, areas needing progress, and areas needing foundational work. The report also distinguishes between competency in substantive knowledge verses skills, and breaks down areas of skill deficiencies. The subjects tested include Crimes, Torts, Property, Evidence, and Contracts.
In addition to each individualized student report, Kaplan provides the Dean with a detailed report of overall student performance – among each other and among all test-takers nation-wide. This information is particularly helpful in determining students “at-risk” who need special encouragement and support with bar preparation. This diagnostic exam presents a unique opportunity for students to assess their level of competency after the first year and also provides the College of Law a unique opportunity to assess how our curriculum is preparing our students for the bar exam. The testing and review is required and free to every second year student. Third year students are invited to participate again as well.
Bar Exam Preparation Continues In Third Year
The College of Law kicks off each spring with a non-credit Advanced Bar Skills class. The class serves as an introduction to the Multistate Bar Examination and Oklahoma Essay specific topics. Hot test topics, Multi-state Bar strategy, MBE practice exams, and hand-outs to assist with bar study, are included.
All of the class lecturers come from Kaplan PMBR and are experts in bar review. Every student has the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback during these workshops. Eight weeks of review sessions are offered on the following bar examination areas: Oklahoma specific topics, Property, Contracts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Torts and Evidence.
Graduated Students Select Commercial Bar Preparation Courses Offered Both In Summer and Winter
We encourage all students to take a commercial bar preparation course, specifically Kaplan MBE (www.kaptest.com) and BARBRI (www.barbri.com). Private Bar tutoring is also available upon referral for students (individually or in groups of three) who seek personalized attention, particularly immediately before taking the bar examination.
TU Law Offers Financial Support For Bar Preparation
Financial aid for bar preparation is available to our student. These include:
Full tuition. BARBRI and Kaplan PMBR provide full-tuition need-based scholarships to our law student-- two full-tuition scholarships for the February Bar exam and three for the July Bar exam from each company for a total of ten each year. The College of Law awards these through an application process based on need. BARBRI scholarships are only available to students taking the Oklahoma Bar exam; Kaplan scholarships are available for students taking any state bar exam.
Partial Reimbursement. The College of Law awards over $5000 each year in partial reimbursements to students for bar preparation based on need. Students must first provide proof of enrollment and payment for a bar review course before they are reimbursed. Students taking any state bar exam are eligible.
Kaplan PMBR Reimbursement. All students, regardless of need, who attend TU Law’s Free Bar Support Programs and take the Kaplan PMBR six-day and three-day combination programs, are eligible for $250 expense reimbursement upon providing proof of attendance. Students taking any state bar exam are eligible.
Loans. An interest-free loan of $1000 is available for any student who certifies that he/she does not work while preparing for the bar exam since non-working students have a substantially higher probability of passage on the first attempt This incentive allows students to pay for living expenses while studying for the bar.
Success Is Achievable Through TU Legal Academic Support
We take exceptional pride in our students’ academic achievements since the study of law requires discipline and dedication. We believe that each student has the capacity for academic success and the determination to stay the course toward graduation and bar passage. However, whenever someone needs a little extra support, we are there with him/her to offer encouragement and extra resources along the way.