Academic Skills Program

Every student admitted to Berkeley Law has the ability to succeed in law school. But for many students, adjusting to the demands of the curriculum can be difficult. Berkeley Law is committed to fostering an academic environment in which all students can achieve their full potential. Through a variety of programs and services, the Academic Skills Program (ASP) helps students build the skills critical to success in law school and in practice.

Pre-Orientation for JD Students

During the full week (Monday through Friday) preceding the week of 1L Orientation, we offer a small group of JD students an introduction to law school teaching methods and skills. Incoming first-year JD students will receive a letter in late May or early June with information about how to apply. This is a unique opportunity to better understand and practice the skills needed to succeed in law school, as well as meet other students and faculty members. You can learn more about the program and how to apply here.

ASP Fellows (JDs) and Teaching Assistants (LL.M.s)

For first-year JD students, we offer several small-group workshops (“labs”) during the fall semester of the first year. Student fellows lead the labs, which are designed to introduce core academic skills such as case briefing, rule analysis and synthesis, outlining, and exam-writing. Each first-year JD module is assigned to a specific lab and fellow. The labs are optional, but students in past years gained the most through regular attendance, as each session builds on prior material. We also offer labs during the spring semester, as students continue to practice and refine these important skills. In addition to labs, fellows hold office hours and offer opportunities for individual feedback on practice hypos. 

For LL.M. students, teaching assistants for the required Fundamentals of U.S. Law course offer office hours and opportunities for individual feedback on writing assignments. Throughout the year we also offer various workshops and presentations designed specifically for LL.M. students. 

Individual Advising

Staff and faculty are available to meet with students one-on-one to answer specific questions, review concepts and skills, discuss study strategies and exam preparation, assist with time management, etc. If you have questions about the Academic Skills Program, concerns about the demands of law school, or would like to schedule an individual meeting, please don’t hesitate to contact an adviser. JD students can schedule a meeting using this link. LL.M. students should contact Peter Landreth or Rachel Zuraw.

Courses

The ASP faculty teach a number of courses through the lens of academic skills. This means that in addition to teaching the relevant substantive law, we also focus on honing the skills essential to academic and professional success. These courses typically include Advanced Legal Writing, Constitutional Law, Lawyering As Problem-Solving, and Trusts and Estates. Some classes require a short application.

Faculty

Diana DiGennaro, Director, Academic Skills Program, and Lecturer in Residence (https://Diana.DiGennaro.as.me or ddigennaro@law.berkeley.edu)

Kristen Holmquist, Director, Experiential Education, and Lecturer in Residence (kholmquist@law.berkeley.edu)