07 December 2015

Preparing for Law School Classes: The Campbell Advantage

What happens when the millennial generation, those of era of helicopter parents, constant immersion in social media, no-child-left-behind primary and secondary schooling, and an undergraduate education often composed of PowerPoint slides and multiple multiple-choice tests, comes to law school?

Shock is not too strong a word. Many students entering law school today have never studied complex texts on their own. Many have never written drafts of papers subject to vigorous editing and mandatory re-writing. Many have never faced an examination that requires advancing an argument instead of reproducing facts. In brief, many have not received the sort of educational preparation that equips them to handle the challenges of legal education.

Today's law students are highly motivated and intellectually facile but frequently, for reasons often outside their control, do not come to law school with the tools they need to do well. Most figure it out eventually but often at the expense of great personal stress and lost learning opportunities. And some who might have succeeded don't develop the necessary tools until it's too late.

For this fall semester Campbell University School of Law provided a one week intensive program called the Campbell Advantage. Every law school has a week of orientation but in my experience it does little to get students ready for the real world of law school classes. Most law school have a one- or two-week program for at-risk entering students. In previous years in the first several days of classes I was frequently able to pick out students who had completed the program because they were more prepared than others.

Campbell has taken this practice to another level by requiring it of all students and providing intensive, personalized feedback on students' examinations. As one of their regular teachers, I noted that we made better-than-usual progress at the beginning of the semester, and made ultimately it further through my Contract casebook than I had in previous years.

My Campbell colleagues who created the Campbell Advantage speak for themselves here. Of additional interest are student comments here.

The Campbell Advantage cannot make a law school success of someone who lacks the fundamental ability or commitment to succeed. It can--and does--give under-prepared students the tools they need to achieve to the best of their abilities.

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