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Academic Success Program

Success in law school requires students to develop the analytical skills necessary to solve specific legal problems through the application of general legal principles.

The Academic Success Program (ASP) offers students an opportunity to practice these skills in a collaborative an environment with guidance and feedback from Teaching Assistants selected from the second-year class. The ASP Teaching Assistants conduct a series of problem-based Academic Success Workshops, which are available to all incoming students during the first semester of law school.

Additionally, the ASP presents a series of first-semester seminars regarding study and exam-taking skills, and conducts a practice midterm and final exam session during the fall semester. The seminars and practice exams are available to all 1Ls regardless of participation in the ASP Workshops. The ASP also offers individual support for students seeking assistance with specific challenges and provides information and resources regarding bar preparation.

For more information please contact:

David Hill, Faculty Director, Academic Success Program

Academic Success Workshops

The central component of the ASP is a series of workshops which are available to all incoming students during the first semester of law school. All 1L students are assigned to an ASP TA for fall semester and each workshop is conducted by your assigned ASP TA. The workshops are conducted at various times over the course of fall semester. The ASP TAs work with the ASP Faculty Director to prepare lesson plans and exercises for the workshops. Participation in the ASP is voluntary, there is no fee to participate and the practice exams and other exercises are ungraded.

Because success in law school is dependent on the development of active learning habits, where students take responsibility for much their own learning and skill development, the ASP is designed to foster active learning through cooperative, collaborative group sessions. Collaborative learning requires that all participating students attend workshop meetings regularly, and actively contribute in the group discussions and exercises. Although the ASP TAs are responsible for the planning and leadership of the workshops, much of the learning that occurs is the result of the work and contribution of the participants.

The workshops are conducted with the following goals in mind:

The workshop sessions provide basic instruction about reading, interpreting and briefing cases, outlining for courses, preparing for class, participating in class, structuring exam answers and time/stress management.

Beyond studying and learning skills development, the workshop sessions also assist students to develop the basic analytical and reasoning skills needed to succeed in law school and the practice of law. These skills are developed through group discussions, the study of examples, and through the opportunity to practice these skills by solving hypothetical problems in a collaborative environment. The skills that are focused on include identifying and formulating rules and holdings, organizing case law by issue, analogizing and distinguishing cases, spotting and articulating issues, framing exam answers around issues, crafting arguments and counter-arguments, and the use of policy.

The workshop sessions also provide an opportunity for participants to get some feedback on case briefs, outlines and exam answers. TAs and fellow participants provide feedback through the course of discussing and creating sample case briefs and outlines. Additionally, the ASP TAs review some of the case briefs and outline sections created by participants for their specific doctrinal courses. TAs also provide feedback on answers to hypothetical problems and practice exams.

The ASP TAs also assist students to develop the exam taking skills necessary to succeed in law school. The TAs create and administer hypothetical exam questions to highlight the skills necessary to prepare for and take an exam, including the use of outlines on an exam, issue spotting and structuring an exam answer. The TAs evaluate the exam answers and provide feedback to each study group participant individually. The participants are also encouraged to rewrite their answers, incorporating the feedback from TAs.

Although the Academic Workshops are not associated with specific doctrinal courses, the workshops incorporate many of the substantive doctrines typically taught in the fall semester doctrinal courses. These substantive topics include issues from torts, contracts and civil procedure. In the process of using these doctrines to practice basic study and reasoning skills, the TAs and participants collaborate to review some substantive doctrines and address questions from workshop participants.

Additional Academic Support

The ASP administrators and faculty are always available to meet with students to address individual academic concerns, or concerns about law school in general. The ASP administrators and faculty provide individual advice regarding time and stress management, study habits, preparing for class, participating in class, exam preparation, etc. When appropriate, students may be referred to other counseling services provided by the law school or University of Utah.

Based on their performance fall semester, some students may also be required to participate in additional individualized ASP tutoring in the spring of their first year. Participation in the spring tutoring sessions is arranged through meetings with the Dean of Students and with the ASP Faculty Director.

The spring tutoring sessions are supervised by the ASP Faculty Director; with the help of ASP administrators, additional ASP TAs and/or participating faculty. Participation in the spring tutoring is confidential and the goals of the tutoring sessions are tailored to each individual participant.

Study Aids and Resources

Law School and Study Strategies

  • Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams, (Carolina Academic Press 1999).
  • Rita K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor, Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School : Strategies for Success, 3rd Edition, (Carolina Academic Press 2014).
  • Dennis J. Tonsing, 1000 Days to the Bar–But the Practice of Law Begins Now, 2nd Edition, (William S. Hein & Co. 2010).
  • Helene S. Shapo and Marshall Shapo, Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success, 2nd Edition, (Foundation Press 2002).
  • Michael Hunter Schwartz, Expert Learning for Law Students, 2nd Edition, (Carolina Academic Press 2008).
  • Herbert N. Ramy, Succeeding in Law School, 2nd Edition, (Carolina Academic Press 2012).
  • Ruth Ann McKinney, Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies For Reading Law Like an Expert, (Carolina Academic Press 2005).

Legal Analysis and Legal Writing

  • Richard K. Neumann Jr. and Kristin Konrad Tiscione, Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing: Structure, Strategy, and Style, 7th Edition, (Aspen Publishers 2013)
  • Linda H. Edwards, Legal Writing: Process, Analysis and Organization, 5th Edition, (Aspen Publishers 2010).
  • David S. Romantz and Kathleen Elliott Vinson, Legal Analysis: The Fundamental Skill, 2nd Edition, (Carolina Academic Press 2009).

The U.S. Legal System

Writing Instruction and Style Manuals

  • Richard C. Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers, 5th Edition (Carolina Academic Press 2005).
  • William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, (Macmillan 1962).
  • Joseph M. Williams, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 9th Edition, (Longman 2006).
  • University of Utah Writing Center
  • Writing and Language Resources at the International Center

Student Health and Well-Being