Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

August 21, 2008
New Resource Center to Provide Enhanced Writing and Academic Support Services

As you first become immersed in this strange foreign culture called "law school," you will start to get acclimated to your course schedule, begin to find the best way to structure your day, and soon realize that it will require a lot more than just reading cases and sitting in class to be a successful law student.

Fortunately, at Southwestern there are a myriad of programs and resources to help you successfully navigate the maze of law school. And to make it even easier to find the right form of assistance, a Student Resource Center has been established on campus.

According to Dean Bryant Garth, "This comprehensive new Center is a natural extension of our student-centered approach at Southwestern. The resources are responsive to students' desire for reinforcement of practical skills as expressed in the Law School Survey of Student Engagement and discussions with students, faculty and administrators."

Within the new Student Resource Center suite on the 6th floor of the Westmoreland Building, students can obtain help through the Academic Support Program and the Writing Center on anything from exam preparation strategies to effective cover letters. The Academic Support Program includes individual and small group academic assistance. The Writing Center is available to all Southwestern law students who want to strengthen their legal writing skills. The new Student Resource Center is a collaborative effort of the faculty and the offices of the Dean, Student Affairs, Diversity Affairs and Academic Support.

Vice Dean Austen Parrish explained, "This is yet another way for Southwestern students to hone those practical skills that are essential for effective lawyering. The new Student Resource Center complements our cutting-edge curriculum that integrates lawyering skills throughout, and helps prepare students to hit the ground running."

Academic Support - W624

Through the Academic Support Program, students are able to receive assistance in a number of ways from the Director of Academic Support, the Director of Diversity Affairs, members of the faculty, and upper-division students serving as Teaching Assistants and Dean's Fellows, as well as through programs sponsored by the Student Affairs Office and the Student Bar Association.

"We want to encourage all students to take advantage of these free programs and services from the outset to keep on track and learn important tips for organizing and studying, etc.," said Professor Nyree Gray, Director of Diversity Affairs. "Students who do will be more likely to maintain their self-confidence and be successful in law school and beyond."

Southwestern offers academic support workshops in the summer specifically for entering students that provide an introduction to legal writing, course review techniques, briefing cases, and other concerns prior to the start of fall classes. First-year and continuing students can also take advantage of a number of additional academic support opportunities:

  • The Student Success Program meets for one week in the summer and is designed for students who could benefit from a review of effective study, note-taking, outlining and exam writing skills. The summer program is taught by full-time and adjunct faculty who work with students in one-on-one, small and large group settings.
  • Academic Support Workshops introduce students to effective study strategies that may be new to them as law students and include techniques for creating review materials, and how to prepare for law school essay exams and multiple choice exams, etc. SCALE workshops are scheduled during Period 1; workshops for Day and Evening students are scheduled in August September, and early November.
  • Exam Review Workshops are co-sponsored throughout the year by the Academic Support Program, the Student Bar Association and various student organizations. The workshops feature invited faculty speakers and are open to all students.
  • Exam Writing Workshops are conducted by faculty in the fall for first-year students. Typically two exam writing workshops are offered for each course section in late October and early November. In February, the Academic Support Program presents a three-week exam workshop taught in small group settings. Meeting weekly for two hours, the workshop offers students opportunities to practice writing essay exams and receive detailed feedback. SCALE students are offered a similar workshop series coordinated with the SCALE schedule.
  • The Dean's Fellows Program features individualized tutoring provided by upper-division students in the top of their class who are invited to serve as Fellows. Selected for their expertise and experience with particular courses and professors, Fellows work with students with respect to overall preparation and comprehension of coursework. The Fellows help students develop an effective study strategy to maximize the opportunity for academic success.
  • Individual Academic Assistance appointments may be made with the Academic Support Program Director. Students can seek individual help with study techniques, time-management strategies, and general academic preparation for law school.
  • Defenses in the Law is a semester-long academic course offered for credit that covers substantive legal doctrine and focuses on outlining, multiple choice, and essay exam writing strategies. Students also engage in interactive activities to promote a better understanding of their learning styles and lawyering skills.
  • Selected Topics in American Law is a semester-long academic course offered for credit that is designed to introduce students to the expectations of the California Bar Exam. It features a substantive review of legal doctrine through various assignments including essays, multiple choice exams and performance tests. Enrollment in the course is limited due to the extensive amount of feedback from the professor.

Professor Paul Bateman, Director of Academic Support, also wants to encourage all students to learn about what is available through the Academic Support Program. "For the majority of students, selecting the most efficient study approach to law school material is not intuitive," he said. "The Academic Support Program's resources can help students develop study techniques best suited to their learning style preferences."

The Writing Center - W626

Southwestern's new Writing Center was created to produce better legal writers. The Center assists any law student seeking help with such writing assignments as legal memos, briefs, seminar papers, clinical work, externship assignments, law review or journal notes, cover letters, and writing samples. Students are welcome to visit at any stage of their writing - from brainstorming to polishing. The feedback will conform to any restrictions given by individual professors.

According to Professor Christine Chorba, Director of the Writing Center, "This new resource is designed to benefit all of our students by providing individualized feedback and advice on writing composition, citation and grammar issues, and related school wide workshops."

Students can utilize the services of the Writing Center for help with such areas as developing effective outlines in advance of writing; grammar, punctuation, usage, organization, and style; or answering citation questions. The Center will also present periodic legal writing workshops and have exercises and an on-line grammar diagnostic test available.

The Writing Center operates by appointment only during the summer, Winter Intersession, and exams. When classes are in session during the fall and spring semesters, the Writing Center is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Although students can drop in during these hours, appointments are recommended and can be made via the law school's TWEN site, and telephonic sessions can also be arranged.

Robert Mena, the Director of Student Affairs, sees the new Student Resource Center as a more user-friendly academic support and writing resource for students. "This valuable collaborative effort will make it much easier for students to find the help they need. It is a place where they can feel comfortable, have questions answered and hone their study and lawyering skills. We look forward to receiving input from students as we continue to expand and enhance the services and programs offered through the new Center."