As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the State Bar of Arizona is sponsoring three interactive programs for students that will bring to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law two leading experts on law-school exams and the Bar exam.
The State Bar's Diamond Jubilee Workshops were created to demonstrate its appreciation to Arizona's law schools for the outstanding job they do in preparing tomorrow's attorneys, said Patricia Giallanza, the State Bar's Director of Communications. The State Bar was founded on March 17, 1933.
"Graduates of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law rank among the finest members of our state's legal profession," Giallanza said. "We hope that most of these graduates will choose to remain in Arizona after graduation, and we look forward to welcoming them into our organization."
Corie Rosen, the College of Law's Director of the Academic Support Program, said the free sessions will provide students strategies for approaching, reading and writing exams.
"We are incredibly lucky to have this exciting sponsorship from the Arizona State Bar," Rosen said. "This program will not only integrate the interests and goals of the law school and the bar association, it also will offer students the unique opportunity to acquire valuable information."
The first workshop, "Deconstructing Legal Analysis: An Academic Success Workshop," will be given on Thursday, April 3, by Peter Wendel, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, Calif. Wendel will talk with first-year law students at 9 a.m. in the Great Hall in Armstrong Hall and with all students at 12:15 p.m. in Room 105 in Armstrong Hall.
"The key to clear and effective legal writing is clear and effective legal analysis," he said. "The first half of the workshop will teach students how to `think like a lawyer,' and the second half will help them take that abstract understanding and use it to write better outlines and law school exams."
Wendel will use Pierson v. Post, a New York State Supreme Court case about a disagreement over a dead fox, to start a discussion about how and why students should read cases, the different parts of a case and which parts to focus on. His workshop is a mini-course on the new skills that law students are expected to develop, but often don't have.
"Most law students begin law school with little idea of what they have gotten themselves into academically," Wendel said. "All have been successful academically before entering law school and assume that the learning techniques that worked for them in grade school, high school and college will work for them in law school."
Law school, however, is different from any other academic endeavor, he said.
"Before students go to class, they are asked to read cases, not traditional academic texts. Reading cases is different, and it requires students to develop different analytical skills," Wendel said. "Also, most law professors use the Socratic approach, a teaching style that emphasizes questions more than answers, and which requires the students to develop new listening skills to discern the relevant material."
Law school exams also are different from other types of tests students have taken before, he said.
"The typical law school exam is a fact pattern," he said. "Students cannot simply regurgitate the material they learned in class. They are expected to 'spot the issues,' 'analyze' each issue, and then properly express their analysis."
Rosen said Wendel's workshops have helped hundreds of law students around the country improve their work.
"His presentations address the challenges implicit in the law school environment and give students a unique, practical system by which those challenges can be met," Rosen said. "His ideas have clarified and deepened even the most successful students' understanding of the process of legal analysis."
The second workshop, "Breaking Down the Bar: Strategies for Success on the Arizona Bar Exam," will be given by Paula Manning, Associate Dean of the Institute for Student and Graduate Academic Support at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif. The session is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, in Room 144 in Armstrong Hall.
Manning will discuss ways students should prepare for the Bar and provide information about the Multistate Bar Examination and the essay portion of the exam. Her presentation also will include an interactive exercise in which students can try out and go over actual exam questions.
"Manning has spent the last several years studying and breaking down the Bar exam and has developed one of the first and most successful Bar preparation curricula in the country," Rosen said.
For more information, contact Rosen at Corie.Rosen@asu.edu or call (480) 727-8727.