Learning Law Differently: Accommodations and Support for Learning Disabilities in Law School

By: Jacqueline Friedman, PhD

Over the past decade, increasing numbers of students have sought accommodations for disabilities during undergraduate studies. The most recent estimates indicate that approximately 14% of students in undergraduate programs report having a disability.[1] A smaller percentage of these students pursue graduate degrees, with around 2% of graduate students self-identifying as having a disability. However, official records estimate 7% of graduate students have a diagnosis indicative of a disability.[2] The intersection of the increased complexity and rigor of graduate study with reduced willingness to self-identify and seek accommodations can create an environment less conducive to student success as evidenced by the finding that less than 3% of 25-64 year olds with a disability persisted with graduate studies in order to attain a graduate degree.[3]

Law professors are at the forefront of seeing students struggle who may have an invisible disability impacting learning that the student may not have chosen to disclose. Law students may have been able to compensate without accommodations or a formal diagnosis in an undergraduate environment depending on the size of the classes, underlying strengths and relatively lower intellectual demands compared to the intensity of a graduate environment surrounded by high-performing peers. A cognitive shift may be needed on the part of the student to understand academic accommodations as an interactive process that “levels the playing field” based on a careful assessment of the impact of a disability on academic performance rather than an unfair advantage over other students. Faculty encouragement can be a critical piece towards this mental shift, since direct encouragement from a faculty member to seek help may be the impetus needed for a student struggling academically despite maximal effort to persist and thrive in a rigorous law school environment. Continue reading “Learning Law Differently: Accommodations and Support for Learning Disabilities in Law School”

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School’s Out for Summer

 

In the words of Chicago, “everybody needs a little time away.” Even us. And that’s why here at TeachLawBetter.com, we’re huge supporters of summer break!  So we hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing,  you’re getting some well deserved rest and relaxation! In other words, have an amazing summer! We’ll see you when we return this fall.

Kind regards,

The TeachLawBetter Team Continue reading “School’s Out for Summer”

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Getting Them at Hello: Creative Teaching Techniques and Exercises to Engage New Law Students

By: Professor Lynn Su and Professor Anne Goldstein

The first few weeks of law school can be both thrilling and terrifying—an avalanche of reading, Latin lawyer lingo, and exacting methodology for thinking and writing about the law. This world of intellectual challenges takes place in an unfamiliar setting. Not only are students meeting new people and getting accustomed to a rigorous academic schedule, but many have also left behind the comforts of home, relocating to a new city, state, or even country to embark on the study of law. Forging into the unknown is fraught with great possibility and a bit of trepidation.

Because they are on the frontline of teaching first-year law students fundamental lawyering skills, Legal Writing professors can work to capture students’ imaginations and demystify the law school experience.  Legal Writing is likely to be the course with the lowest professor to student ratio in the first year of law school and typically continues for two semesters. Teaching small groups of first-year students for a full year, Legal Writing professors are uniquely well positioned to ease students’ transition. Continue reading “Getting Them at Hello: Creative Teaching Techniques and Exercises to Engage New Law Students”

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Maintaining Humble Confidence in Law School

By: Brandon LaRose (WFU Law ’20) with contributions by Professor Abigail Perdue

If I could give one piece of advice to the person I was on the first day of law school, it would be to remain humble and be confident. One’s mental state plays a heavy role in ensuring a positive law school experience. Confidence anchors this idea of mental wellness, the importance of which is emphasized from day one. There is a fine line, however, between confidence and cockiness. Continue reading “Maintaining Humble Confidence in Law School”

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A Letter to my 1L Self

By: Thayse M. Almeida Wall (WFU Law ’20) with contributions by Professor Abigail Perdue

If I could give one piece of advice to the person I was on the first day of law school, it would be to keep in mind how lucky you are. For me, the law school application process started with the infamous LSAT. You might think this test is no big deal, but as a native Brazilian, I only started learning English during college. So I could barely understand the questions when I first read an LSAT exam let alone answer them correctly. But after a year of studying reading comprehension, logical reasoning, logic games, and taking too many practice exams to count, I finally got a score that would allow me to apply for a “well-ranked” law school. Continue reading “A Letter to my 1L Self”

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