FIU Law’s Academic Excellence Program provides students with resources to help them succeed in law school, pass the bar examination, and develop strong practice skills. Starting in each student’s first semester, the AEP acts as an extended orientation detailing academic expectations and introducing students to the methods used on law school examinations. The principles at the heart of the program include contextualization (i.e. that all skills are learned in the context of students’ doctrinal classes), self-regulated learning (i.e. that students must monitor their own learning to ensure success), and formative assessment (i.e. that quality feedback enhances learning).
Since the AEP began, students have commented repeatedly that the program helps them prepare for exams more effectively and efficiently. The AEP is FIU Law’s way of ensuring that its students have everything they need to maximize their performance. The following AEP classes are open to all students:
Fall of 1L Year: Students take the Introduction to the Study of Law class, which meets weekly and is coordinated with each section’s doctrinal professors. The class has three units: (1) fundamental law school skills (i.e. briefing cases, outlining, reading case law, etc.); (2) Legal Analysis (learning how to write law school exams, using hypotheticals similar to those on actual exams); and (3) Exam Prep (including a multiple choice question workshop and a “mock exam” simulating the real exam environment). As students have put it, this class “teaches you how to do law school.”
Spring of 1L Year: Academic Excellence Classes. Now that students know the fundamentals of studying law, we can focus on exam performance. The Academic Excellence Classes meet intermittently to present students with opportunities to experience mini-law school exams. These mini-mock exams are set in the context of students’ doctrinal classes, often include guest appearances by doctrinal faculty, and allow students to maximize their exam skill performance.
2L Year: Students may take the Legal Analysis course for two credits. Coupled with the popular and bar-tested Evidence course, the Legal Analysis course sets out to expand students’ analytical skills in ways that assist them in doctrinal classes and on the bar examination. Students receive extensive, personalized feedback on essays and multiple choice questions focused on the law of Evidence (a recommended co-requisite).
3L Year: Students may take the U.S. Law and Procedure class, formerly known as FLAP, for four credits. Taught by Prof. Raul Ruiz and available in students’ final semester of law school, this class teaches students how to succeed on the bar examination. One day of the class each week focuses on the Multistate Bar Examination (multiple choice questions), and the other day focuses on the state day (essays, performance tests, and multiple choice questions).
Post-Graduate Resources. Prof. Raul Ruiz has created BESP: the Bar Exam Success Program. Just after law school graduation, and as students study for the bar examination, students enrolled in BESP will benefit from a number of critical resources. These resources include a faculty or alumnus bar exam mentor, frequent bar preparation workshops, continual logistical support, and access to personalized feedback on bar exam preparation essays. The goal of BESP is to provide students with the tools they need to pass the bar examination.
The AEP’s extensive offerings reflect FIU Law’s commitment to its students’ success. Rather than simply sitting students in a classroom and keeping academic expectations a secret, FIU Law aims to teach its students explicitly what they need to do to maximize their performance. This is a very different approach to law school learning, but its students’ success is FIU Law’s top priority. Experience this difference with FIU Law’s Academic Excellence Program.
Louis N. Schulze, Jr., Assistant Dean and Professor of Academic Support
Raul Ruiz, Assistant Professor of Academic Support and Director of Bar Exam Preparation