Academic Success Services
Directed Study Program
Prior to the second year of law school, students whose grades indicate they would benefit from more intensive skills instruction will be placed in the Directed Study Program. This Program is designed to help students reach their full potential in law school through a continuum of academic support and counseling, as well as introduce them to the skills necessary to pass the bar exam on the first attempt.
Directed Study Program students first take the Principles of Legal Analysis course in the fall semester. This one-unit, graded class reviews skills learned in the first year and introduces students to skills necessary for success in upper-level law school courses and on the bar exam.
In either the fall or spring of their final year at Pacific McGeorge, Directed Study Program students are required to take Practical & Persuasive Legal Writing (PPLW). PPLW is a two-unit, ten-week course designed to demystify the bar exam. PPLW students write several California Bar Exam essays and performance tests, and receive extensive individualized feedback on their answers. Although Directed Study Program students are required to take PPLW for graduation, this class is open to all Pacific McGeorge students.
Students in the Directed Study Program will also meet regularly with the Dean of Students to discuss their academic scheduling and progress. Additionally, the Director of Academic Success is available to meet with any Pacific McGeorge student or graduate seeking to improve his or her study skills and exam performance.
Professor Lee is available to meet with and counsel students at any time regarding study techniques, time management, supplemental materials, study groups, and other matters related to academic progress and/or the bar exam. Also available to all students throughout the year are members of the Skills Support Team, who hold regular drop-in office hours in the Academic Success Resource Center. Skills Support Team members are also available by appointment outside of their office hours.
The primary methods of measuring progress in law school are essay and multiple choice exams. Both formats require students to apply the law to new story lines by analyzing how the facts might support good arguments for each side. This process is preparation for typical state bar examinations and the practice of law, where hypothetical fact patterns become real client problems.
Because many students' undergraduate programs used different methods of assessment, the Pacific McGeorge Academic Success Program helps first-year students get used to the process with a simulated practice exam during the fall Skills Hours program. This simulation process includes lectures on how to succeed; administration of an essay exam under proctored, timed conditions; detailed feedback from professors on all papers; and faculty-led review sessions.
Additionally, most professors release past essay exams so that students may continue taking practice exams on their own. This individual writing practice is key to student success in law school. Past exams are available on the Go-Cat system in the Gordon D. Schaber Law Library, and students are encouraged to download these exams and compile their own practice exam libraries. Exams are also available in hard copy format at the Reserve Desk in the Library.
Skills Hours Program
Law school can be intellectually challenging without being unduly stressful. The key is good methodology from the beginning. Students need to know where to focus when preparing for class, how to digest what they hear in class, when and how to begin outlining and reviewing, and how to advance their skills when working alone or in groups. Some learn by trial and error; but at Pacific McGeorge, the faculty provide guidance for a good start.
First-year students are divided into sections for most of their classes. Professor Lee collaborates with fellow faculty members who teach each section to present a series of informative sessions on study skills, classroom success, and preparing for exams. These sessions, called Skills Hours, are scheduled early in the fall term.
Students participating in Skills Hours also have the opportunity to simulate a timed, proctored practice exam in the fall semester. Faculty members provide extensive feedback on exam answers, students receive a sample answer, and review sessions discuss law school exam taking strategies. Simulating practice exams is one of the most important things law students can do to improve their academic performance, so all first-year students are highly encouraged to participate.