This week I'm pleased to highlight the college's new Professional Skills and Knowledge Program, which begins preparing JD students in their first year for bar success in their third ... and professional success far beyond that.
I also share news of impressive recent achievements -- never in short supply -- by our faculty and students.

I hope to see many of you at one of our events hosted for alumni and friends of Arizona Law over the next week -- our April 5 reception with admitted students here on the UA campus, our April 6 Arizona Law Day at the Ballpark (tomorrow is the last day to secure tickets!), or our reception in Phoenix on April 8. You'll find details above.

Until the footnotes,

JD Students Get Boost for Bar Exam and Beyond with New Program

When Bern Velasco ('17) walked across the stage during his University of Arizona Law graduation two years ago, he had a little something extra to celebrate. Velasco had received the highest score in the state on the February 2017 Arizona Bar Exam.
Now Velasco, who went on to clerk for Arizona Court of Appeals Division 2 Chief Judge Peter Eckerstrom before joining the firm of Mesch Clark Rothschild, has returned to Arizona Law to teach an essay-writing workshop and help students learn some of his strategies for bar exam success.
Velsaco's workshop is just one part of University of Arizona Law's recently launched Professional Skills and Knowledge Program, an initiative dedicated to students' long-term academic and career success, with particular emphasis on bar exam preparation and professional competencies.
Amanda Bynum ('09) was hired in in 2017 to lead the Professional Skills and Knowledge Program. She says:
"Not only are we trying to build the professional skills and knowledge it takes for students to be successful on the bar exam, we're also relating those same competencies to what it takes to be successful in the law practice." 
The program curriculum extends what students learn throughout law school and takes a holistic approach to academic and bar exam readiness. It also capitalizes on the core strength most any Arizona Law student brings with them on exam day-the backing of a deeply supportive community.

Bynum says:
"Our program maintains the cohesiveness of the class and provides a mutually supportive atmosphere among all students. We don't want our students to rely solely on commercial bar review companies for their preparation."
I believe the Professional Skills and Knowledge Program fits in with Arizona Law's commitment to being a leader in moving legal education forward to better serve students and the profession. 

We are constantly innovating with student success in mind. Our efforts to support excellent results on the bar exam are part of that tradition. We want our superb students to receive a well-rounded education that combines the best possible training in theory and policy, in practical skills and doctrine, and for bar success.
A Readiness Mindset from Day One
The Professional Skills and Knowledge Program begins even before the first day of classes for 1Ls. All incoming JD students take a non-graded pre-diagnostic test. The results show each student their performance on bar-related subjects and test-taking skills. Students then receive individualized counseling to determine strategies for improvement.
From there, all first-year students take a required year-round, single-credit "Preparing to Practice" course that covers topics such as professional identity and study skills while also teaching non-cognitive skills for lawyers like grit, identifying implicit biases, and stress management.
"Our goal really is to make sure that students feel supported and confident going into the bar exam," says Bynum, adding that the program is based on cognitive science and educational psychology and uses a variety of teaching methods including active learning, collaborative learning, self-regulated learning, skills instruction and practice opportunities throughout all three years of law school. "The program helps students identify non-academic barriers to academic success and how to overcome those obstacles."
Following a student's first year, the Professional Skills and Knowledge Program offers a large menu of resources in as many formats as possible, including on campus, online and via self-study. Programming includes yearly diagnostic reports, various specialty courses and workshops, expert panels featuring past bar takers, talks on course planning and finances, an online question bank, and a simulated half bar exam each spring that delivers personalized feedback for each student. New graduates taking the July bar exam and alumni who have not yet passed also have access to the resources.
Feeling Prepared and Supported "Every Step of the Way"
3L Drew Warner participated in a pre-February bar two-credit course and took part in practice exams, essay exam workshops and performance test workshops. Warner says: 
"I tried to take advantage of every resource the law school provided me-and along every step of the way, I felt both highly supported by the university and really pleased with the amount of resources they had invested into my (hopeful) bar success.
In particular, I really liked the essay exam workshop organized by Professor Bynum and alumnus Bern Velasco. I felt like his techniques really helped me structure my essays, synthesize my answer and maximize my efficiency."
Fellow 3L Grace Parsons also used the Professional Skills and Knowledge Program resources to boost her preparation for the February bar. She says,
"Arizona Law's bar success program helped me feel more prepared for the exam every step of the way." 

She calls the resources and guidance "invaluable" in helping her plan her 3L year. She took advantage of online resources and took a pre-bar professional skills course, which she credits with helping her better manage her time on essays. Parsons says,
"I would highly recommend that future students take advantage of these resources and similar ones offered by the law school. The variety of resources make it easy to pick and choose which ones are most beneficial to you personally.
Even though I am still waiting for my bar exam results, I know that I felt more prepared and performed better on the February bar exam because of the practical and community support that Arizona Law offered over the past several months."
With each new semester, the Professional Skills and Knowledge Program will continue to refine its offerings and add new elements to respond to the changing needs of students, Bynum says. To learn more, contact Amanda Bynum at abynum@email.arizona.edu.

Around the College
Negar Katirai Honored for a Career Dedicated to Empowering Women and Girls 
Congratulations go to Professor Negar Katirai, who will be honored by the Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona at their annual luncheon on April 24.

She will receive the foundation's 2019 Laura Penny Community Impact Award, which recognizes a woman leader from Southern Arizona who is making a difference in the lives of women and girls. 
As director of the Domestic Violence Law Clinic, Professor Katirai supervises law students in providing legal representation to survivors of intimate partner violence. She also teaches family law and a seminar on legal approaches to children who have experienced domestic violence.
Professor Katirai has dedicated her career to providing holistic legal services to survivors of domestic violence, including stints at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Break the Cycle.

Andrew Coan's "Prosecuting the President" a Finalist for ABA Best Book of the Year
Professor Andrew Coan's book, "Prosecuting the President: How Special Prosecutors Hold Presidents Accountable and Protect the Rule of Law," has been named a finalist for the American Bar Association's 2019 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts.
Silver Gavel Awards recognize outstanding work that fosters the public's understanding of law and the legal system, in the categories of books, documentaries, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio and television.
Professor Coan's book explains the history of special prosecutors in American politics and places modern-day special prosecutors in historical perspective. The book is the first on the subject aimed at a general audience and he is a leading expert on the role and authority of special prosecutors.

He says,
"I wrote the book because everyone I knew -- and lots of people I didn't know -- were desperate to understand how special prosecutors work. It turned out no one had written a book about them for a general audience. So I decided to do it myself."
The Gavel Awards winners will be announced on Friday, May 15.

Grand Closing Argument Competition Results

Competition finalists (l-r): Hanees Haniffa, Will Vitkus, Bryce Anderson, Michael Victor, and Maura Hilser.

The final round of the 2019 Richard Grand Closing Argument Competition was held on Tuesday, March 26. The results are as follows:
1st place ($2,500 prize) ~ Will Vitkus (3L)
2nd place ($1,500 prize) ~ Hanees Haniffa (3L)
3rd place ($750 prize) ~ Bryce Anderson (2L)
4th place ($250 prize each) ~ Maura Hilser (2L) and 
Michael Victor (2L)

Please join me in congratulating Will, Hanees, Bryce, Maura, and Michael!

Upcoming Community Lecture 

Judicial Forbearance Advocacy: Conflict and Mediation in Iranian Criminal Courts by Arzoo Osanloo JD, PhD. 

Iran's criminal justice system affords victims of crime the right of retributive sanctioning. At the same time, the law encourages victims to forgo that right. The penal code also compels judicial officials to attempt to achieve reconciliation. However, the law provides little guidance, either to victims or judicial officials, on how to bring about reconciliation. This talk explores Iran's victim-centered criminal justice system through an examination of judges' roles in mediation and further reflects on the relationship between forbearance and rights in criminal justice.

April 11, 2019 - 5:00 p.m.
Charles E. Ares Auditorium 164 (outdoor classroom)
College of Law

Arzoo Osanloo is a legal anthropologist who is an associate professor in the Department of Law, Societies, and Justice and the Director of the Middle East Center at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Presented by the James E. Rogers College of Law, in collaboration with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
In the News

Bar success is central to our JD program. We have long prepared students well for the bar and for practice. But as with everything we do, we have asked: Are times changing? Can we do more? Can we aim higher?
With the Professional Skills and Knowledge Program we are aiming for nothing less than 100% first-time bar passage.
We expect the program to have other collateral benefits, including reducing stress as students get more feedback at all stages about their knowledge and skills.
Over time we will report, and bar results will confirm, the wisdom and impact of this effort.





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