Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law has kicked off its Summer Comprehensive Academic Legal Enhancement (SCALE) Program, an initiative designed to assist entering students with their transition to law school by helping them to reach their full potential and achieve success. The voluntary two-week program – which includes housing, meals, course materials and faculty instruction – runs from Monday, July 9, 2018, to Friday, July 20, 2018, and is being provided FREE of charge to a select number of students.
What makes SCALE unique is that the post-admit program is focused primarily on enhancing participants’ problem-solving, legal reasoning and critical reading and thinking skills in a law school classroom setting, said LeRoy Pernell, interim dean, and professor of law.
“Deficiencies in these skill areas are directly related to why students who may have otherwise performed well academically prior to law school, may not perform well on the LSAT exam and in-turn not succeed in law school,” Pernell said. “SCALE is designed to bridge the gap in developing these core skills, as well as provide a strong foundation by which SCALE participants can excel in their first year of law school.”
SCALE offers students already admitted to law school several key experiences, including enrichment activities, mentoring and the opportunity to jump-start their law school careers by acquiring, through practice, the legal study skills necessary for success –i.e. case reading and briefing, legal analysis, self-regulated learning, Socratic method, etc. – in advance of the rest of the admitted class. Finally, because SCALE is limited to a small number of participants, each will receive individualized feedback and in-depth support throughout SCALE from faculty teaching in the program.
Sixteen students are participating in the 2018 SCALE program, which was previously offered to entering students in summer 2016. Of the 16 students who took part in the previous SCALE program, several have excelled in law school, including many who now hold leadership positions in student organizations. Some were invited to participate on Law Review, while others took part in high-profile internships and Study Abroad programs. Two serve as student assistants for the 2018 SCALE program.
“My experience with SCALE was very beneficial, including the classes on organization and how to brief a case,” said Brittany Bennett, a rising third-year law student who assists the 2018 participants in the daily Review and Study Lab. “My biggest takeaway was learning how I learn. That was a new concept to me and it’s something I’ve continued to be aware of throughout law school.”
Former SCALE and rising third-year student Ashanti Breeden is also serving as a student assistant for the 2018 SCALE program. She recently completed a Study Abroad program in South Africa.
“The SCALE program truly aided me in my transition to law school because it provided me a safe place to practice certain skills without the typical pressures of law school,” Breeden said.
SCALE marks the latest phase of FAMU College of Law’s Project PASS (Performance Assessment and Strategic Support) initiative, which was launched last fall to take a comprehensive approach to enhance student learning, beginning with an assessment of students’ prior academic experiences, continuing through law school and culminating during bar exam preparation.
Project PASS utilizes proven methods to target first-year and upper-level students with uniquely designed teaching tools that complement existing coursework or are integrated into the current curriculum.
Project PASS activities previously implemented included a two-week extended orientation entitled, “Foundations for Law School Success: Boot Camp 2017” for entering students; a mandatory diagnostic exam that focused on knowledge, comprehension, analysis and application of the law for upper-level students; complimentary course materials for the Multistate Bar, Law and Skills and the Florida Bar, Law and Skills courses for third-year students; and several externally-administered simulated exams for graduates studying for the Bar Exam.