University of New Mexico, Los Alamos
Law School Preparation Course
About This Course
You’ve probably heard the horror stories about that grueling first year of law school. That’s likely the main reason you signed up for this course! Rest assured that you’ve done the right thing. The best way to avoid the pitfalls of the first set of courses is to prepare yourself for the unique way you’ll need to study in law school. And this course is designed to give you the tools you need to be ready for the first year of law school and beyond.
Since 1980 The Center for Legal Studies has demystified the study of law through this unique educational program that helps students to excel in, and not merely survive, their first year of law school. We’ll lead you through what to expect from the Socratic teaching method and show you how to master the casebook method of instruction used at nearly all law schools. We share with you a particularly effective method of case briefing that you can use throughout law school and your legal career. You’ll learn how to take notes effectively and turn those notes into course outlines that you’ll use to master your final exams. We help you to integrate law school into your life from day one so that you get more done in less time and have a chance to continue your friendships, hobbies, and relationships even while you excel in your classes. Finally we show you how to start making the most of your legal career, a career that begins now.
After successfully completing the lessons and assignments for this seven-week online course, here’s what you’ll be able to do:
- Prepare for your first year in law school well in advance of your first day of classes
- Take responsibility for your legal education and learn to actively approach each class period and study group
- Create substantive law outlines that you will use for class discussion, exams, and the bar examination
- Excel in studying for and taking law school exams with the “IRAC” briefing method
- Prioritize and organize your life during law school and set yourself up for success
- Lesson One: Knowing What to Expect from Law School: This lesson describes for you the unique nature of law school and gives you techniques for adjusting to your new environment.
- Lesson Two: Mastering the Casebook Method of Instruction: Law school courses consist primarily of thoroughly dissecting and discussing important cases. This lesson provides you with an overview of what to expect during class.
- Lesson Three: Briefing a Case: To prepare for class discussions, you need to understand what a particular case is all about. This lesson explains how you go about grasping the important elements of a case by showing you how to effectively “brief” a case.
- Lesson Four: Extracting the Essence: Course Outlines and Note-taking Shortcuts. Your law school classes present you with a ton of information. To succeed you need to know how to synthesize everything you learn. This lesson supplies you with the standard shortcuts law students use to shorten their note-taking time, and it tells you how to boil down an entire course into one succinct outline.
- Lesson Five: Succeeding on Law School Exams: Your entire course grade could be based on your performance on just one final exam! This lesson lets you know what you need to do to boost your score.
- Lesson Six: Setting Yourself Up for Success: Excelling in law school requires more than knowing how to brief cases and create course outlines. You also need to know how to balance your personal life with the obligations of law school. This lesson delves into how to achieve that balance and gives you tips for succeeding in a law career after you graduate.
- Lesson Seven: Course Wrap-up: You can use this last lesson of the class to review what you’ve learned.
For every lesson you’ll post in the Bulletin Board section of the course software your responses to a set of questions that are designed to foster class discussion, review the material covered during the week, and give you the opportunity to evaluate what you’ve learned. Your responses to these questions are due weekly and are available to everyone in class.
In addition to the Bulletin Board assignments, you’ll have the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned with two practice assignments. First, you’ll brief a sample case; this assignment is due at the end of the fourth lesson of class. Then, you’ll complete a “mini” law school exam, which is due by the end of the sixth lesson of class. You’ll send these two assignments to your instructor through Assignments in the course software. Your instructor will provide you with feedback about your performance.
You won’t receive a letter grade for completing this course, but your instructor will provide you with a pass or fail on every weekly assignment and on each of the two practice assignments. This way you can chart your success as you work your way through the course.
Highly Recommended Books:
The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and its Study, 1951, Llewllyn, Karl N.
Reading Skills for Law Students, 1980, Mayfield, Craig K.
Untangling the Law, 1986, Woolever, Christine R.
Highly Recommended Legal Resources:
WESTLAW legal research access, only $89. Please call 1-888-407-5138 for more information. Order online
Paralegal Career for Dummies, with CD of Forms, by Scott and Lisa Hatch.
Oran’s Dictionary of the Law, 4th Edition.
Please call 1-800-522-7737 or email [email protected] for more information.
The Law School Preparation Course is offered in the following formats:
The Center for Legal Studies features in an online format the same Law School Preparation Course that has been offered live for over fifteen years at colleges and universities throughout the nation. Through the computer, this course is available to students at any location with internet access.
- Review the material as many times as necessary for full retention of the information
- Benefit from direct interaction with the instructor and other students by way of email and a discussion board
- Complete the online course in 7 weeks
- E-mail assignments and exams on the course web site
- Once registered, your password and access information will be sent in time for the start of class.
Highly Recommended Legal Resources:
- WESTLAW legal research access, only $89. Please call 1-800-522-7737 for more information. Order online
- Paralegal Career for Dummies, with CD of Forms, by Scott and Lisa Hatch.
- Oran’s Dictionary of the Law, 4th Edition.
- Order Books Online