Academic Excellence Program
The Academic Excellence Program (AEP) was built around one simple objective:
... to provide effective and immediately relevant support to foster the academic success of each student. To achieve this goal, the AEP has established permanent, integrated classes in the first, second, third, and last semesters of a student’s law school career.
The Academic Excellence class is open to all first-year students and is offered for each first-year section. The class offers important training for students on how to succeed in law school.
In the first semester, the AEP holds classes each week for new 1L students. The focus of this class is on introducing students to the fundamental learning methods necessary in law school (outlining, how to read case law, etc.), explicitly teaching students the skill of legal analysis, and preparing students for midyear exams.
At the end of the semester, in conjunction with each section’s torts professor, the AEP provides a “mock torts exam,” allowing students to experience a simulated final exam prior to taking the real one. Students have found these classes so effective that the vast majority of 1Ls attend this class, even though they are not receiving credit for it.
In the second semester, the AEP continues to hold weekly classes. Now, however, the classes are often co-taught with students’ doctrinal (core course) professors. This allows students to practice essay exam performance in the context of material recently learned in their casebook courses. Students learn exactly what to expect on exams and have ample opportunities to practice.
Also, individualized academic counseling is available for students who seek to maximize their performance. The statistics compiled on this course ratify students’ opinions that the classes actually help enhance academic success.
In students’ third semester of law school, the AEP offers its nationally renowned course, Legal Analysis. It is for credit and coupled with the mandatory course on Evidence, a subject highly tested on the bar examination. Throughout the course, students write a number of papers in the context of subjects that they recently have learned in Evidence. They then receive extensive feedback from professors on their essays, leading to an enhanced understanding of evidentiary doctrine and higher exam performance. Again, our statistics – and student comments – show that this course is particularly effective.
Finally, in students’ final semester, the law school offers the dynamic Advanced Legal Analysis course with Professor Robert Coulthard, a nationally recognized expert on teaching students how to succeed on the bar examination. Through hands-on experience and frequent formative assessment, students learn exactly how to prepare for the Bar Exam and how to master its subject matter.
The implementation of this course has coincided with New England Law’s strong performance on the Massachusetts Bar Examination. Results from the most recent (July 2011) Massachusetts bar examination make clear that New England Law | Boston offers a topnotch Juris Doctor program that prepares students well for practice. More than 92 percent of first-time takers passed the examination for the second year in a row. (New England Law placed well above the statewide average of 88.3 percent.)
Additional Skill-Development Programs
The Academic Excellence Program has proven itself an effective tool in supporting New England Law students. Other programs that focus on developing academic skills include:
- The Bar Assistance Program—Provides graduating students with a review of subjects that are heavily tested on the bar exam and with coaching in test taking.
- The Charles Hamilton Houston Enrichment Program—Seeks to reduce the isolation often felt by minority students, address racial bias in the law school community, and promote diversity in the New England Law student body.
- A writing clinic staffed by a trained writing professional who helps students improve their written works
- Small-group sessions and individual tutorials tailored to specific student interests
These services are designed to supplement the standard curriculum, especially in the critical first year of law study. All students are invited to participate. For first-year students, the law academic support programs are coordinated with required courses.