About the Academic Resource Center
The Academic Resource Center is nationally renowned for its commitment to providing access to the legal profession. The primary purpose is to support the diverse and non-traditional students and those admitted through the Access Admission Program so they adjust, succeed, and excel in law school and beyond. Much of our work involves acculturating and empowering those who may or do feel disenfranchised by the law school experience. The Academic Resource Center was established to assist specially admitted students and regularly admitted students who are at academic risk and has been been operating in its present form since 1987.
Students admitted under the Access Admission Program take part in a mandatory seven-week summer course that integrates a traditional Criminal Law course with legal writing and study skills, all taught by faculty, for credit. In addition, the formal program includes voluntary study sessions through the entire first year and selected upper-level courses that are taught by student teaching assistants. There is also a general program for all students that includes workshops and coping strategies. Students who have participated in either program say it helped them achieve their academic goals. More importantly, it provided them with a safe haven, which enabled them to retain a sense of themselves and feel there was a place for them in the legal community.
More than 700 graduates of the program have gone on to great success in the legal profession and as leaders in their communities.
The summer program consists of seven-weeks of combined classes in criminal law, legal writing, and skills development. These components are integrated, and faculty continually meet and plan the sessions so they can refer students to how each component lesson relates to what they are doing in the other components. Each week the program builds upon the learning skills, developmental stages, and substantive law covered in the previous week in the following major areas:
Criminal Law (4 hours credit)
Students meet two hours per day, Monday through Friday, to learn substantive criminal law. This course also focuses on and explains various techniques of law school classroom pedagogy and their intended educational effects for students. It thus “de-mystifies” the classroom. Upon completing the criminal law exam, students receive four academic credits and a grade reflecting a student’s criminal law exam performance as well as participation and performance in the legal writing class. Because they have satisfied the criminal law requirement for the coming fall semester, students have a lighter course load for fall semester.
The Legal Writing portion of the access program is taught by a member of the Legal Writing faculty who is an Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills. The class begins with a short writing assignment, which the professor uses to identify both potential problems that arise for students writing in the new context of the law and tools to aid students in remedying those problems. The students then spend the majority of the session developing legal reading, analysis, and writing skills using Washington criminal statutes and cases in the context of writing the discussion section of an objective memo, addressing an issue given to them by the professor acting as the assigning attorney.
The students write the discussion one component at a time, with revising classes and individual written feedback for students to incorporate in editing and revising the final draft, which is worth 10% of their criminal law grade.
For the majority of the session, the legal writing class meets twice a week for 90 minutes. However, after reading and analyzing the law, and before turning in a first draft of the discussion section, the students meet in small groups to present their understanding and analysis of the law to the professor, again acting as the attorney. The session culminates with the students making an oral argument to the professor, who acts as trial court judge hearing a motion.
Students meet in a large class, smaller break-out sessions and individually with the director, professor and TAs. This component meets for seven hours a week and includes instruction on case briefing, outlining, exam analysis and exam writing, as well as individual critiques of student work. Students take a practice exam each week. They begin working with basic models of analysis that get progressively more sophisticated and complex throughout the summer.
Preparing for the Profession
Students meet for one hour a week to develop and enhance their skills to enter the career. They write parts of cover letters and resumes, practice interviewing, and network with program alums, and members from the state bar association. A highlight of this program is the ARC Reception sponsored by the minority sections of the state bar, where bar leaders give inspirational speeches and members of the bar welcome the ARC students to the profession.
Academic Year Program
Since the beginning of the ARC program, the director has taught a series of study-strategy workshops for first year students. The program has expanded and been formalized into a weekly one-hour session for each section. This program includes a series of study-strategy workshops, reflection circles, and other programs. This is specifically designed to assist first-year students in making the transition into law school and the legal profession.
In addition, there are new class offerings for 2Ls and 3Ls - Enhanced Analytical Courses. In an "enhanced" course students have the added benefit of skill development and practice in reading statutes and cases, legal synthesis, building and supporting legal arguments, and enhancing performance on exams. Students who take an enhanced course strengthen their reading, writing, and analytical skills through weekly writing assignments and focused synthesis of the subject. Students that have taken an Enhanced Trusts and Estates course find that they gain a deeper understanding of the subject through active engagement and practice with the material, as well as regular feedback on their performance throughout the semester. Consistent practice and focus on analytical synthesis and writing is necessary to be successful in law school, on the bar exam, and in your future legal career.
For the Fall of 2016, there will be a day and evening section offered for Enhanced Trusts and Estates with enrollment limited to 45 students per section. In addition, in the Spring of 2017, Remedies and Enhanced Analytical Skills will also be available. Enhanced courses are required for some students, but all are encouraged to take advantage of these courses.