Sailing Against the Wind: How a Pre-Admission Program Can Prepare At-Risk Students for Success in the Journey Through Law School and Beyond
40 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2008 Last revised: 11 Dec 2012
Date Written: August 29, 2008
This article provides a scholarly analysis of an innovative and recently created summer special admissions program designed to provide an opportunity for at-risk students. This new program, the Summer College to Assess Legal Education Skills (SCALES), was created to provide access and opportunity to students who otherwise would not be admitted to law school because their law school indicators fall below the minimum requirements for admission. Thus, the students enrolled in the program include immigrants, minorities, and nontraditional returning students, many of whom represent the first generation in a family to earn a college degree. To the delight and amazement of the faculty and administration, all thirteen of the first group of SCALES students who graduated in May of 2007 passed the Illinois bar examination on their first attempt. Armed with such favorable bar results, the authors of this article pondered the connection between a program operating before and at the admissions end of law school and focused upon the skills necessary to successfully navigate law school, with programs operating nearer the end of law school, the latter of which are focused on the bar examination. Research was undertaken to examine the theories and practices of academic support programs in place at other law schools for J.D. students, and to assess the newly emerging bar preparation courses at many law schools. As a part of these research efforts, the thirteen SCALES alumni were interviewed to gain their feedback and to learn more about their efforts as they progressed through law school and as they prepared for the bar examination. This article presents the results of this research, and the authors' conclusions and recommendations for how such a program could be run successfully.
Keywords: education, minorities, access, LSAT, Bar, pre-admission, student, academics, support, conditional, summer, pre-law, non-traditional, evening, part-time, success, education, curriculum, LSAT
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