Incoming Students often want to know what they can do
to prepare for law school. Certainly, there are a number of interesting
books that can be read, however the best use of your time might be to:
Improve your reading speed and comprehension.
You will have between 15-30 pages per credit hour of very complex reading. That means that
you will be reading between 225 to 450 pages per week. Students who read too slowly or whose
comprehension is low can get bogged down in just keeping up with the reading. Prepare for law
school by working on your reading speed and comprehension.
Find out how fast you read complex material and with what comprehension
Then spend the
summer working to bring your reading speed of complex material up to between 200-300 words
per minute and your comprehension 85-100 percent on one-time reading.
The best book on the subject unfortunately is out of print: Mayfield, Craig. Reading Skills for
Law Students Michie Co., (1980). Another option is to take a course designed to improve your
reading speed and comprehension. Please note, I am NOT talking about speed
reading but merely a decent reading speed with high comprehension.
Also, I would recommend just reading a lot this summer. Review the
following tips: Reading Rates and
Comprehension, Reading University
Level Materials, and Seven
Strategies for Reading Difficult Material. Then read several
books applying those tips.
Finally, be sure to seek help if you are having difficulty.
Address Any Issue of Special Need
Law school requires an extraordinary amount of time. You should
spend the summer preparing for any issues or need that will take time
away from law school. Two areas where that consistently is an issues are
(1) persons with disabilities and (2) persons with children.
Persons with Disabilities. If you have a physical, learning or psychological disability
part of the time that other students available for student is consumed
in negotiating the environment with your disability. This may
place you at a competitive disadvantage. Early in the summer (before law
school) you should sit down and talk with Professor
Randall or Dean Shaw
about the demands of law school so that you can figure out what accommodations
you will have to make or will need in order to maximize your potential
for success. If you decide you need accommodations you
will need to gather the appropriate documentation
and you should talk with Dean Shaw
as soon as possible.
Persons with Children. As a person who went to law school I
can not stress enough the importance of preparing your children for law
school. Young children need to have a early bed time, since even if you
treat law school like a job, you will probably still need to study 3-4
hours at night. If they have done so older children need to take
responsibility for their own needs, such washing their own clothes;
preparing their own lunch. You need to assess how you want to spend your
free time - such as do you really want to spend time cleaning the stove
or taking your children on outing. I found it helpful to develop a
high tolerance for disorder. At any rate, your family is going to be
significantly impacted by law school - start the changes well before law
Persons with Other Special Needs. If you have other special
needs or issues, the key point is to use the time before law school to
prepare. Please feel free to contact
Make a deliberate review of your writing
skills, particularly grammar and sentence
Doing well in law school is dependent on how much you know, how well you are able to "spot
issues" and how well you analyze. Doing well is also very much dependent on your ability to
organize and write. Your examination answers must be concise, organized, effective responses to
exam questions. Now is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. Do you have any problems
with basic English? Don't trust your own assessment - get advice.
Several software programs that can be invaluable during the school year in helping you to
improve your writing are: Grammtik V, Correct Grammar, and RightWrite. Learning to use them
during the summer will be an invaluable use of time.
Address the issue of poor handwriting
and or typing skills.
Professors won't grade what they can't read. Take time to work on
your handwriting, learn to type or better yet to use a word processor.
Make sure that your study habits are not seriously flawed.
In law school you will be simultaneously preparing for class, exams and law practice. Remember.
You cannot prepare for exams by merely preparing for class and then studying hard the week or
two before exams. You must realize that you have to prepare sufficiently for exams by preparing
daily and weekly. Your exam preparation starts the first day of class.
You should read Why Studying in Law School is Different from Undergraduate, Graduate and Medical School.
If you don't plan to participate in AEP, I highly recommend that
you read a book on how to study for law school and prepare for law school exams. For instance,
two books that you might find useful are: Jeff Deaver's. "The Complete Law School Companion";
Helene and Marshall Shapo, Law School Without Fear, Strategies for Success.
Arrange your schedule so that you can
Academic Excellence Program
AEP is an introduction to the method of instruction and testing employed in law school. AEP
begins with a 13 day summer seminar program. Following this, there are weekly meetings scheduled
throughout the semester. In the weekly meetings, attention is focused on study skills, the
teaching methodology used in the substantive law courses (i.e., legal reasoning, the case method
approach and the Socratic method), and the development and improvement of legal skills.
Furthermore, students in the program take weekly practice exams.
Since the program is especially designed for students from non-traditional backgrounds who may
be "at-risk" and we are unfamiliar with the backgrounds of all of our entering students, the initial
process for selecting AEP participants is one of self-nomination. Applications are sent to all
incoming students in May and I encourage students with the following backgrounds to apply: