Kick Start Program 2014 – August 11-15

KickStartBannerWhat is the Kick Start Summer Program?

Law school is famously difficult. Unlike college, studying the law is not merely learning a collection of facts and figures that a student needs to repeat on an exam–it is learning a new way to “think.” To do this, law school uses methods very different from anything you may have experienced before. For example, most First Year courses are taught using the Socratic Method, where students come to class having “learned” the law themselves. They are then expected to apply what they have learned to novel situations, argue and defend their positions, and critique the goals of the laws they are studying. Instead of textbooks, course materials are “casebooks,” filled with raw case law and few explanations. Finally, everything comes down to one final exam at the end of the semester. Consequently, law school is sometimes like being tossed into an ocean to learn how to swim. The Kick Start Summer Program is designed to tell you what you need to know to help you excel in this new environment.

Who can benefit from this program?

While all first-year students are eligible to apply, we are particularly interested in enrolling those students who are from groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession, those who have been out of school for a significant number of years, those who are unfamiliar with the American legal system, those who are eligible for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and those who have faced or overcome challenges or obstacles on the path to law school.

What will students do in Kick Start?

Kick Start is designed to be “law school with subtitles.” Kick Start students will attend a one-week mini-course taught by Professor Susan Kuo and several workshops on topics such as Effective Reading and Note-Taking, Case Briefing, Course Outlining, Time Management, and Law School Exam Writing presented by Alex Ruskell, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation. The course will end with a mock exam. In addition, Kick Start students will get the chance to attend several social events with faculty, administration, family, and alumni.

Is there a cost to attend Kick Start?

The fee for the Kick Start Program is $125.

How do I apply to Kick Start?

Only students who have already been admitted to the University of South Carolina School of Law may apply for the Kick Start Program.

To apply to Kick Start:

  1. Please write a brief personal statement (no more than 500 words) about why you want to attend Kick Start and why you might benefit from the program (for example, if you have been out of school for many years). Submit your personal statement here!
  2. Personal statements can also be emailed to, or mailed to Alex Ruskell, University of South Carolina School of Law, 701 South Main Street, Room 314, Columbia, SC 29208. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, although we recommend that all applications be submitted before July 1, 2014.


Contact Alex Ruskell, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation, at or (803) 777-8115.


Artistic Interpretation of the Planes of a Case

Based on the very insightful book, Peter T. Wendel’s Deconstructing Legal Analysis.  This is an illustration of the three planes of a case — the Fact Plane, where the facts of the situation occur; the Rule Plane, where legal rules are proposed; and the Policy Plane, where courts determine what rule would best aid society. When you are reading cases, preparing for class, and preparing outlines, keep these three planes in mind. The Rule Plane is most important for your exam answer. The Fact Plane should be turned into examples in your outline. The Policy Plane may be where you spend the most amount of time in class.hplanes

Feeling Down? Stay off of Facebook

Facebook is fun and all, but it can lead to some really unhealthy life comparisons. At any moment, it looks like everyone you know has just gotten back from Greece, published their new novel, put in a new pool, and met Bono at a party.  The last thing any of us should do is waste brain cells and emotional strength on comparing ourselves to our friends and neighbors, but it is totally natural (basically, the classic “keeping up with the Jones” has gone 24/7 and global).

If you’re feeling stressed about law school, and down about yourself in general, ask yourself if you feel better or worse after looking at Facebook.  I’m going to guess worse.

Fall Tutor Schedule

FALL 2013

Tutoring Schedule (Starting Week of August 26)

Get extra help, pointers, and support from 2Ls and 3Ls who have done extremely well in these First Year subjects.  Take advantage of this great resource!

Section 1

Professor Nelson – Tutor Alysja Garansi – Monday – Room 135 – 4:30 -5:30

Professor Said  – Tutor Caitlin Bazan – Wednesday – Room 135 – 4:30-5:30

Professor Fox– Tutor Jeffrey Gurney – Thursday – Room 230 – 4:30-5:30

Section 2

Professor Hubbard– Tutor Stuart Johnson – Monday – Room 344 — 4:30-5:30

Professor Miller – Tutor Lauren Nichols – Wednesday – Room 230 – 4:30-5:30

Professor Adams – Tutor John Langford – Thursday – Room 138 – 4:30-5:30

Section 3

Professor McWilliams– Tutor Surge Moghaddassi – Monday – Room 231 – 4:30-5:30

Professor Boyd – Tutor Emily Bridges – Wednesday – Room 138 — 4:45-5:45

Professor Kuo – Tutor Ryan Nichols – Thursday – Room 231 – 4:30-5:30

Get Ready for Bar Prep

There’s a few things you probably should work out before your Bar Prep classes start, if you haven’t done so already.  I know you might just want to relax before graduation, but a little planning can go a long way in making sure your bar prep experience is as stress-free and productive as possible:
1.  Warn Your Loved Ones — give them a heads up that you are going to be mainly out of commission for the next two months, and ask them to help out by cooking, doing laundry, making sure the dog doesn’t die, etc. — and promise to make it up to them with a nice vacation in August.  If they haven’t taken a bar exam themselves, they may not realize how much time this is going to take.
2.  Adjust Suggested Commercial Bar Prep Schedule if Necessary — the best way to treat bar prep is to treat it as a job, with a set start and end time, but if you have to work or have other responsibilities, figure out the best way for you to get the time in.
3.  Think About Where You Will Study — I can’t do anything at home (two kids, two dogs, one wife, several entertaining musical instruments), so when I am working on a book, I do it at a coffee shop or bar.  The school library might not be the best place, because your friends will be there.  Some really good places are big book stores with coffee shops (Columbiana and Richland malls) and Whole Foods.  Also, you’ll probably want to change things up as study places get “stale.”
4.  Consider a Study Buddy — it’s not a terrible idea to study with someone, who can make you feel guilty for not showing up at 9 am (basically, the same theory as working out with someone at the gym).  However, make sure you actually study, and I think a study GROUP would probably devolve into chitchat.
5.  Plan on Actually Going to Bar Lecture — even if it’s a video, you’ll get more out of it if you are not watching it at home in your pjs.

In the face of law school stress, consider not reading the news

An interesting article on how reading or watching the news is bad for you.

As the main content generator of the best designed time-suck in human history (the Internet), perhaps the author is on to something.  Not that I think many law students spend a lot of time reading the paper, but I would guess almost every single one checks some news site every day.

And I recognize the irony of having gotten this from a newspaper.

The News is Bad For You