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July 19, 2021

SIU law school adds holistic bar exam prep program to assist students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Starting this fall, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Law students will have an affordable advantage of working with a holistic bar exam preparatory program while in law school and after graduation as they prepare to become licensed attorneys.

The agreement with BARBRI Inc., is aimed toward providing additional assistance for students throughout their law school careers, said Steve Macias, associate dean. A primary goal is to increase graduates’ first-time bar passage rate. Students will receive support from the summer before their first year of law school to after graduation.

The agreement is one of many steps SIU Law is taking to ensure students succeed after graduation. The school has revised how it calculates grades and its mandatory courses. Its curriculum will include a full year study-skills first year course and a remediation course for second-year law students. The school has also offered career services, helping students and alumni review cover letters and mailing resumes to employers last spring.

Students entering law school in August will get full benefits of the program with costs rolled into their student fees, toward which they can apply financial aid, Macias said.

“The typical law student pays for a bar-review course after they graduate from law school at an average cost of $3,500,” Macias said. “Because they are no longer enrolled students, graduates are ineligible for financial aid to cover that cost. So they are left to their own devices in securing a bar-review course. In many instances, students might forego any course, or select a subpar course, in order to save money. This will no longer be a problem for our entering students. Students in their second or third year of law school will receive a discounted bar-review course.”

Students entering law school this fall will be participating in “Lawyering Fundamentals,” an intensive preparatory course, Macias said. That will include a final exam and in-depth review workshop that will provide performance feedback.

“This will ensure that our students will hit the ground running on their first day of classes,” he said. “The course will also provide feedback to the faculty so that students’ strengths and weaknesses can be addressed early in their first semester.”