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September 29, 2015

So, you matriculated into law school. What’s next? How do you prepare for your new reality of reading cases and making outlines? What is an outline anyway? What will classes be like? Will you get along with your classmates? These are questions that pass through the minds of all first year law students in some form or fashion. And University of Kentucky College of Law has developed a program to help our incoming students answer these questions and more, prior to their first day of law school.

Introduction to Legal Reasoning is a three and a half day law school preparation program that exposes first year students to mock law school classes, critical reading skills, as well as advice on briefing cases, note taking, and other essential skills. Mindfulness and exercise are also included in the program to help students understand that exercise helps maintain focus and good brain health.

“While law school is an exciting opportunity, it can be challenging to learn new study techniques. This program equips our students with key information so they are prepared and ready for law school on day one,” said Jane Grise Director of UK Law’s Academic Success program, which administers the Intro to Legal Reasoning program.

This program is offered to all incoming UK Law students, at no cost to the students, to help them better prepare for their law school career. “The University of Kentucky College of Law knows the importance of investing in our students to give them the necessary tools to thrive in law school,” said UK Law Dean David A. Brennen. “We are proud to offer this beneficial program to our students without an out-of-pocket expense obligation on their end. The Intro to Legal Reasoning program allows our students to be submerged in law school culture before the first day of class, giving them a head start in their law school career.”

The program focuses on an introduction to legal studies, legal writing, critical reading, and substantive law classes. The students participating in the program are immersed into law school reality. They sit through lectures and are given assignments to help reinforce the information they have learned in the program. They are given the opportunity to speak with second year mentors to ask any burning questions they may have about law school. And they also get a chance to meet and talk with fellow classmates who will be by their sides throughout the next three years.

The students who attended the program had great things to say about how well prepared the program made them for law school. “Intro to legal reasoning was a great way to get into the law school mindset prior to the start of classes,” said first year law student Page Minton. “In addition to allowing me to meet fellow classmates, it provided effective strategies for reading cases and helped me feel more prepared for the rigor of the first year of law school.” 

First year student Christopher Lewis agreed, “It was a great program that gave me insight on how law school would be. I feel like I had an advantage on my first day of law school due to the subject matter covered in the course, and I think that it was super beneficial because I was able to develop a foundation of skills that I use in every class."

Director Grise introduced a new element to this year’s legal reasoning program:  book discussions with faculty. Participating students were asked to choose one book from a list of prospective books with legal subject matter. During the legal reasoning program, students met in small groups with a member of the UK Law faculty for a book discussion. This new element not only got students reading material referencing legal situations, but actually gave them an opportunity to get to know a member of the faculty in an intimate setting prior to beginning law school. The students were appreciative of the opportunity to connect with fellow students and a member of the faculty before being thrown into the rigorous law school environment. “The social aspect of this program is incredibly important,” Grise said. Research has proven that a feeling of community and ties to a group, help increase retention and happiness amongst individuals.

Introduction to Legal Reasoning is offered as part of UK Law’s Academic Success Program. Academic Success exists to allow students to excel throughout their legal education and reach their personal best. The Academic Success Office holds workshops throughout the academic year for all 1L’s on topics such as time management, reading and briefing cases, outlining, and exam preparation.