FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING
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students do not comprehend written text, seem unable to participate in
discussions, and do not know how to critically analyze issues.
Below, I summarize the law student learning deficiencies I have encoun-
tered in working with students, first as a legal writing professor and then as
director of academic success. They include deficits in knowledge, writing
skills, work ethic, and study skills.
A. Entering Law Students do not Know What They Need
to Know
There is no prescribed undergraduate curriculum for law school. Instead,
legal education begins with the premise that by studying for an undergrad-
uate degree in any field, a student has obtained sufficient knowledge and
skills to enable the student to understand, assimilate, and effectively uti-
lize the law. Completion of an undergraduate degree is not even required.
The American Bar Association (ABA) permits law schools to admit stu-
dents that have not completed an undergraduate degree program, as long
as the student’s “experience, ability, and other characteristics clearly show
an aptitude for the study of law.
4
The ABA requires law schools to administer a “valid and reliable” admis-
sions test, but beyond stating that the test must “assist the school and the
applicant in assessing the applicant’s capability of satisfactorily complet-
ing the school’s educational program,” it provides no requirement regard-
ing the applicant’s knowledge base
.
5
Most schools utilize the Law School
4 American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Stan-
dards Review Committee:
.
5
Id.
, Standard 503
.
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