Legal Education Blog

This blog addresses pre-law, law school and post-law school particularly bar passage. It addresses diversity and social justice issues in legal education and the law

You Can outperform your LSAT score and Pass the Bar the first time!

This editorial "Law school up to Bar?" asserts that " Student success on the bar exam is a major indication of the quality of a legal education".
It perpetuate the myth that passing the bar is about the quality of school attended. Wrong. All legal education is essentially the same quality - one or two exams a semester; No instruction on how to pass the exam; professors who essentially all graduated from a first or second tier school; the same casebooks, etc. The quality of education does not explain the difference.
What does?
Existing test taking ability. Students in top tier schools have demonstrated test- taking skills and the failure of legal education does not affect their performance. Most students who are third or fourth tier schools, have lower LSAT performance - that is demonstrate problems with standardized test-taking. Unfortunately, law schools do very little to change the students test taking ability.
Test-taking ability can be changed. I know this because I trained students for 20 years who had lower than average LSAT (poor test-taking skills) who out perform their LSAT both in their performance in law school and their performance on the bar exam.
Make no mistake test-taking ability is a learned skilled that can be changed. But the path to changing is NOT through taking a traditional LSAT course or Bar passage course (although that is helpful). We will write about this in another posting
Continue reading
915 Hits

More than 25% of law students have had psychiatric and substance-use disorders; are they hiding it?

This is nothing new.

25 years ago, when I first started teaching there was a significant study that showed that law students had more diagnosable mental health issues than either medical students or graduate students. Further, the study determined that unlike their graduate counterpart most law students mental health issues were directly related to law school. For many, the stresses that occur in law school can seem unmanageable if one is not adequately prepared for the demands of law school. This is not an intellectual issue. Law school is not hard because the material is inherently difficult. Law school is hard because there is so much at stake and, only 1 or two exams a semester, and no specific instructions on how to do well. How to study effectively, how to write law school exams are not taught. Furthermore, few schools have pre-matriculation summer bridge activities. I f you are admitted to a school that has one - attend. Otherwise, participate in quality summer bridge activities. You would not go to school in a foreign country and expect to do well without learning the language and the culture. Don't risk your mental health or your academic performance because you failed to fully understand the law school language and culture.

For the recent Study in the ABAJournal see:

Continue reading
764 Hits

Seek and Ye Shall Find

If you are in law school, you already know; research is the name of the game. And, in legal research, time is literally money. Dan Russell is a search guru at Google, he runs the SearchReSearch blog; a fantastic resource for refining your online research skills. He is offering a free MOOC starting February 8. Info about the course can be found here. Even though the blog and the course focus on using Google, the skills are definitely transfereable and improving them now will save you time in your classes, and money for your clients.

Continue reading
886 Hits

5 Easy Steps to Getting the most out of Exam Review

You're just back from winter break, and no matter what grades you got you should be thinking about what you can do to get better. There is an old adage a lot of competitors know “if you are not getting better, then you are getting worse.” This is as true in law school as it is in any other competition. Most students miss one of the best opportunities to get a leg up on improving their GPA. For those students who do take advantage of the opportunity: their approach ensures that they will either get no return, or limited return on their investment in time. This post will discuss the 5 steps to taking advantage of one of the most underutilized and misused tools for improving law school GPA.

After each semester most law professors will offer students the opportunity to review and discuss their exams. This opportunity goes underutilized because most students never take advantage of it, and it is misused because the students who do take advantage of it are looking for the wrong things. Most students who look at their old exams are either the students who did poorly, the students who thought they should have earned a better grade or the students who think they just need a little push to get a higher grade/gpa. Consequently, the students who are reviewing their exams are all looking in the wrong direction, the past. In the same way that an athlete will watch film of their last competition to look at strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the next, every student should be reviewing every exam, and they should be doing it with an eye towards the future.

In almost every law school exam there are three ways to get points:

  1. Correctly identifying the issues raised by the facts presented in the exam/problem/question;
  2. Correctly expressing the rule that will be used to resolve each issue; and,
  3. Correctly analyzing/applying the facts given the rule expressed.

Different professors may emphasize different area (some might give “issue-spotting” exams while others might state the issues placing greater weight on expressing the rule; while still others might make the exams open-book, deemphasizing rote memorization of the rules). No matter which approach a professor takes though, almost every law school exam is going to require these three fundamental skills at some level and this is especially true of the first-year.By reviewing your exam you have the opportunity to explore your “game day” performance in these three fundamental areas. The opportunity to discuss your exam with a professor means you’ll get coaching from someone who thinks just like the people who are going to be evaluating you in the future (it may even be someone who is going to be evaluating you if you take another class from that professor).

So now that you know why you should review your exams, let’s talk about how.

  1. Be prepared to take notes – many professors won’t let you keep a copy of the exams, and even if they do, there are some things you are going to want to write down;
  2. Be ready to compare your exam with the key/example/text – you don’t want to just be staring at your exam you need something concrete to judge the quality of your work against;
  3. Take notes – not about the points you missed, remember this is about the future, you should be focused on why you missed points – did you:
    1. fail to see the issues that were raised
    2. misidentify issues that you did see
    3. fail to provide a rule statement for each issue
    4. state the wrong rule
    5. inaccurately state the rule
    6. fail to apply the rule to the facts
    7. Provide insufficient support for your arguments
    8. Fail to provide all the reasonable arguments
  4. Do this for every exam in every class then look for patterns in each class and across all of your classes;
  5. Make appointments to see each of your professors to ask about how you can improve on each of the weaknesses you have identified, whether it cropped up in a particular class or not.

Every semester presents a new opportunity for you to improve your performance, and increase your chances of passing the bar exam. Don’t miss out on one of the best tools for doing both. This post talked about why you should review every single law school exam you take and discuss them with the professor who gave the exam. Later posts are going to talk about what you should do with the data you gathered during your reviews and discussions.

Continue reading
818 Hits

What Every Harvard Law School Student Should Know About Deciding What Kind of Law to Practice

​Good Advice for all law students on deciding what kind of law to practice:(1) You are not alone(2) Take a variety of courses(3) Assess Your Skill Set(4) Consider what drew you to law school(5) Think about What Fascinates(6) Imagine Your Dream Job(7) Cast a wide net for opportunities(8) Do Not Let Classroom Performance dictate your options(9) Breat...
Continue reading
702 Hits