Academic Success & Bar Preparation


The Academic Success & Bar Preparation Office offers academic readiness programs and courses designed to help students achieve their academic potential in law school. Through courses, workshops, and individual counseling, students are offered instruction on the competencies and tools necessary to be successful in law school, on the bar exam, and in practice, such as critical reading skills, effective note-taking in a legal setting, organization and synthesis of the law, time management, and other  proven study habits.

The following is a list of some of these programs and courses.  Current students can view a complete list of all resources available on the MySWLAW portal (log-in required). 

Programs for Entering Students

Southwestern offers academic success courses in the summer which are specifically geared toward entering students. These workshops provide an introduction to legal writing, course review techniques, briefing cases, and other academic skills prior to the start of Fall classes.

Bison Boot Camp is a non-credit course that provides a comprehensive introduction to the study of law to entering students. The program provides an early start on learning and practicing the core academic skills necessary to succeed in law school, including time management, reading and briefing cases, and organizing and outlining material. All entering students are encouraged to participate in this program to assist with a successful start to their law school career. Bison Boot Camp runs for one week during the summer, just before orientation and the start of the fall semester. For further information, contact the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Office.

Introduction to Legal Writing Course is a non-credit course that gives pre-law students a head start in their legal education. Serving as a bridge between undergraduate education and law school, the program provides students with the opportunity to practice writing in an intellectually demanding, but pressure-free law school environment. The course provides an extensive introduction to legal writing and other skills necessary to succeed in law school.  The course typically runs for two weeks, and it has an enrollment fee. For further information, contact the Writing Center.

Programs for First-Year Students

Foundations of Law and Practice is a 1-credit course that starts in the fall and continues into the spring semester. The primary goal of Foundations of Law and Practice is to help students adopt learning strategies and study habits in their first year of law school that will lead to academic success, both in law school and on the bar examination. These skills include:

    • The ability to manage time and stress
    • The ability to take proper notes during class
    • The ability to read critically and understand information
    • The ability to synthesize, process and organize large volumes of information
    • The ability to demonstrate knowledge by applying this information in an organized and analytical fashion

In addition, Foundations of Law and Practice introduces students to those professional characteristics and competencies that entry-level attorneys need to succeed.

Programs for Continuing Students

Southwestern offers many courses specifically designed to further develop an upper-division student's critical thinking, analysis, and exam-writing skills, as well as improve their overall academic performance. These courses also provide students with an early start on bar preparation.

Remedies is a two-unit course that covers the nature and dynamics of judicial remedies by focusing on injunctions, damages, and restitution. The course also provides instruction and opportunity to further refine legal analysis and exam writing through the application of the legal principles covered in this course.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE): Skills and Strategies is a three-unit graded course designed to both serve as a refresher on some of the most heavily tested topics within each of the seven subjects of the MBE, as well lay the foundation for strong multiple-choice test-taking skills for the bar exam.

Cal Bar Writing: Skills and Strategies is a three-unit graded course that provides students with instruction and hands-on practice opportunities focusing on the skills, strategies, and select substantive law tested on the written portion of the California Bar Exam. Essay writing skills are taught using select subjects and topics that are frequently bar tested. Students will develop and refine their essay exam writing, organization, analytical, time management, and writing skills through weekly essay and Performance Test writing practice with many opportunities to receive substantial individualized feedback on their written work. This course is designed to provide students with all the tools necessary to succeed on the written portion of the bar exam, and to make students more effective and successful as law students and practitioners.

Bison Bar Pass is an on‐campus bar preparation program that is tailored to our students’ needs and available exclusively to Southwestern students taking the exam for the first time. Students enroll in the commercial bar review company of their choice and through the SW Bison Bar Pass Program they receive individualized guidance, additional grading/feedback, on-campus simulated exam sessions, stress management resources, and customized schedules.

For more information on any of these topics, contact the Academic Success & Bar Preparation Office.

NOTE: For information about academic success programs for SCALE® students, please contact the SCALE Office.