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For information about the University of Dayton's Academic Support Program
contact Dean Lori Shaw.


For information about Professor Randall's Academic Support Services for Minority Students
go to The JD Project, Inc.




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 school

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 me.

Make a deliberate review of your writing skills, particularly grammar and sentence structure.

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 participate in 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:
bulletStudents from educational and/or economically disadvantaged background as children
bulletStudents with health issues that might affect their performance.
bulletStudents with learning disabilities (whether or not you seek other accommodations)
bulletStudents from very small liberal arts colleges
bulletStudents of color
bulletStudents with non-traditional majors (such as art, music, science, dance)
bulletStudents who have been out of the academic setting 10 or more years
bulletStudents who are single and who will be primary care giver for minor children

You should apply for the program if you fit into any of the above categories. There is no GPA or LSAT  requirement.  If you have issues that are not listed above you should apply.

This year the program will be from August 4 through August 17. If you have any questions about AEP, please contact me.

Visit our web page for additional tips.

Online Academic Assistance Program for Law Students

Last Updated:
Friday, April 30, 2004

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