February 16, 2007
Suzanne Schmitz, at Southern Illinois University School of Law, sent a description of a great program for 1Ls; and I thought our readers should hear about it:
At Southern Illinois University School of Law, in early February, we experimented with a program for all one Ls, designed to inspire them to improve their performance. On a late Thursday afternoon (with Friday being a light day), we gathered all 1Ls in the auditorium and began by showing the DVD trailer for All About Law School. It runs about 2 minutes and ends with the law students in the video starting to share their secrets and then being silenced with the suggestion that the watcher buy the DVD. At this point, we had four 2Ls come to the mike and say “ I am a 2L and I improved my grade point average and I will share my secret.”
The secrets they shared were ones we would share. “I treated law school like a job and worked hard every day from 8 to 6.” “I started making use of the times between classes and cut down on my socializing during the day.” “I started outlining earlier and used only my own outline.” “I started reviewing every weekend instead of waiting until the end.”
The 2ls I chose included men and women, those married and those not, one non-traditional student. Coming from these 2Ls, the message was more convincing than anything a professor would say.
After this, we had two professors lead an exam review session. Then the 1ls broke into small groups and learned about how to do weekly reviews, how to run a student organized study group, how to read more effectively, how to use computer organizers. All but the reading session were led by 2 and 3Ls. We provided popcorn, string cheese, apples, and candy in each break out room.
Although we had the usual gripes about any requirement, we have had 1ls tells us they benefited from the sessions. We consider this experiment a success and have plans to improve it for next year. (dbw)
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