Academic Success & Bar Passage Programs

LMU LAW’s Academic Success Program is designed to help students realize their potential by introducing them to the essential skills needed to succeed in law school and on law school exams. The program aims to help students acquire, internalize, and apply legal knowledge in a way that will enhance their performance in law school, on the bar exam, and in the legal profession.

Succeeding in Law School

LMU LAW’s extensive Academic Success Program begins prior to matriculation, weaves through all courses, and continues until students have passed the bar examination. Components include:

  • A Bridge Week before matriculation;
  • A required academic success course for all students during their first semester (Legal Foundations I);
  • Mandatory academic success courses for students identified as “at risk” academically at any time after the first semester (Legal Foundations II);
  • A mandatory academic success course for upper-level students who are on probation (Academic Intervention Directed Study);
  • A required bar examination skills course for students as well as bar exam-focused electives;
  • A formal faculty advising program;
  • Individual tutoring from writing specialists and academic success instructors; and
  • A post-graduation remedial bar preparation course.

Additionally, in Spring 2012, LMU LAW and BARBRI, Inc., entered an unprecedented multi-year agreement in which BARBRI, the country’s largest provider of bar review courses, provides academic support and bar exam-related workshops, programs, materials, resources and diagnostics to every current student.


LMU LAW’s policy and practice is to fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Qualified students who have disabilities will be given reasonable accommodations, including academic adjustment and auxiliary aids where appropriate, when they are determined to be necessary to ensure the student’s access to the school’s overall educational program. For more information on documentation guidelines and the proper procedure for requesting accommodations, see the Student Handbook.

Bridge Week

All entering students participate in Bridge Week, an orientation course that is required for all first-year law students. Students will learn how to use the tools available to them to acquire, internalize, and apply the law in their courses and beyond. Bridge Week begins with an overview of legal education and an introduction to how the nation’s common law system functions. Students are introduced to judicial opinions and are taught how to deconstruct them and extract relevant information. Students are also introduced to LMU Law’s classroom and library technologies. In the middle of Bridge Week, students participate in a mock Torts class based on cases they were assigned to brief. They are later introduced to course outlining and basic legal writing. Bridge Week also includes lectures from faculty on topics such as time management and avoiding plagiarism; demonstrations by the librarians on how to find and use resources; and roundtable discussions by upperclassmen about succeeding in law school.

Academic Success Courses

LMU LAW has an extensive Academic Success Program embodied in the required curriculum as a 1L course in the first semester (Legal Foundations); a required two-credit bar preparation course in the students’ final semester for those whose GPA is below 3.0 (Bar Examination Skills); and mandatory ASP courses for students on probation or identified as “at risk” academically in between (Legal Foundations II and Academic Intervention Directed Study). With the addition of Bridge Week, faculty advising, and individual tutoring, LMU Law’s Academic Success Program is designed to benefit all students, increase retention of at-risk students, and prepare students to pass the bar exam through courses that are narrowly tailored to increase skills inherent to most successful law students.

Legal Foundations I

Legal Foundations I is a mandatory, non-credit course that meets twice a week for the duration of the semester. Through the course, students refine their abilities to read and brief cases. Students also learn how to synthesize legal rules, better manage their time while in law school, and properly use commercial study products. Most importantly, they learn how to apply the law to facts through the basic IRAC method: Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.

Students learn to parse and interpret statutes, helping them extract policy from judicial opinions. They are introduced to various methods of legal reasoning. Much of the second half of the term concentrates on writing through the use of writing labs and grammar software. Students receive further instruction on the use of learning technologies such as CALI and the law school’s Libguide study guides. Students take a number of practice exams to better learn how to apply the law to facts.

Legal Foundations II

In their second semester, any student may opt to enroll in Legal Foundations II, a non-credit course that meets twice a week for the duration of the semester. The course is mandatory for students who fail to achieve a 2.33 GPA in their first semester. The course covers topics including proper class preparation, time management, outlining, flowcharting, essay writing, and answering multiple-choice questions. The course also includes classes on improving legal writing and legal citation.

Academic Intervention Directed Study

All students placed on academic probation after their first year must take Academic Intervention Directed Study, a non-credit course that meets once a week for the duration of the semester. This course is also available to all students regardless of academic standing. The course covers topics including time management, outlining, flowcharting, essay writing, and answering multiple-choice questions. Students take multiple practice exams in an effort to resolve their weaknesses and build their strengths.

Bar Preparation Program

To help students prepare for the bar examination, LMU LAW offers bar examination preparation courses in the fall, spring, and summer. These courses are not a substitute for commercial bar review courses, but rather provide students with a head start to ensure they are better prepared to pass the exam on their first attempt.

The three courses (Tennessee Bar Studies I, Tennessee Bar Studies II, and Bar Examination Skills) are taught by Professor Vonda Laughlin, a full-time member of the LMU LAW faculty.

Tennessee Bar Studies I and II

The two Tennessee Bar Studies courses are designed to improve students’ writing skills and prepare them for the bar exam by emphasizing and building on the exposure to select topics from eligible subjects on the Tennessee Bar Examination. Tennessee Bar Studies I focuses on Agency, Civil Procedure, Corporations, Partnership, Personal Property, and Professional Responsibility. Tennessee Bar Studies II focuses on Commercial Transactions, Conflict of Laws, Domestic Relations, Remedies, Secured Transactions and Wills and Estates.

Bar Examination Skills

The Bar Examination Skills course, mandatory for all third-year students with a cumulative GPA below 3.0, is designed to improve legal analysis, writing, and study skills to prepare for the bar exam. This two-credit course meets twice a week and assists with developing and practicing test-taking strategies and skills. It also familiarizes students with the methodology of the exam and multiple-choice strategies. Students complete several practice exams and essays.

Bar Examination Skills focuses on the six Multistate Bar Examination subjects exclusively tested on the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. While this course will focus on multiple-choice test-taking strategies and skills, it will also examine essay strategies, as each of these subjects may also be tested in essay format on the bar exam in Tennessee and other jurisdictions.

Other Resources

In addition to formal classroom instruction, LMU LAW provides students with other opportunities to enhance their performance in law school, on the bar exam, and in the legal profession.

Faculty Advising

LMU LAW’s commitment to academic success continues with academic advising throughout law school. At the start of each academic calendar, LMU LAW assigns each student a faculty advisor, a member of the full-time faculty who provides guidance on course selection, career opportunities, bar examination preparation, and other issues. In some instances, the advisor may point students in the right direction if they have questions that go beyond academic advising. The advisor initially meets individually with each student near the beginning of the semester and then periodically throughout the semester. In addition, many faculty members also serve as informal advisors to students who are not specifically assigned to them. Faculty advisors are encouraged to inform students to seek out other faculty members who teach or specialize in the areas that interest them.

Writing Specialists

LMU LAW also offers students the opportunity to meet with writing specialists so that they may become more effective writers throughout the academic year.

Writing specialists have office hours during the week to meet with students about any law school-related writing, unless otherwise indicated by a professor. This may include briefs, memos, papers, review notes, resumes, and cover letters. The writing specialists can also advise on issues of grammar, clarity, argument structure, and rhetorical strategies.

Individual Tutoring

Students who need more attention in a specific area may meet one-on-one with particular members of the LMU Law faculty for further instruction and assistance.

Post-Graduation Remedial Bar Preparation Course

The support for bar examination preparation continues through the time of the July bar exams. Bar preparation workshops will be scheduled throughout the summer in conjunction with the BARBRI review classes, which will take place at LMU LAW. Professor Laughlin will provide essay writing assistance and other services to supplement the commercial bar review course.