Academic Success & Bar Preparation

Image - Academic Success Team

The Academic Success & Bar Preparation Office offers academic readiness programs and courses designed to help students achieve their academic potential in law school. Through courses, workshops, and individual counseling, students are offered instruction on the competencies and tools necessary to be successful in law school, on the bar exam, and in practice, such as critical reading skills, effective note-taking in a legal setting, organization and synthesis of the law, time management, and other  proven study habits.

 

Meet the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Team

Professor Natalie Rodriguez

Natalie Rodriguez '12
Assistant Dean of Academic Success
Associate Professor of Law

narodriguez@swlaw.edu  

Dean Rodriguez has designed and taught a number of programs and courses to support students in achieving academic success, both in law school and on the bar exam.  Dean Rodriguez is particularly passionate about helping students harness the power of cognitive learning theory to maximize the results from effective study habits.  She also believes that the most successful students are those who are able to make the connection between academic and professional competencies early on in their academic journey.  Her course design model, which uses a number of cognitive learning principles, has been used by other law schools seeking to create or enhance academic or bar support programs. 

Dean Rodriguez has served on the executive board of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS), Academic Support Section and on various committees for the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE), including AASE’s Bar Advocacy Committee. She has played an active role in many of the recent studies regarding the bar exam including the California State Bar studies as an Advisory Group Member for the “Performance Changes on the California Bar Examination” report as well as the national study “Building a Better Bar: Capturing Minimum Competence” by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). Her legal practice experience is in Estate Planning and Probate.

Mary Basick

Mary Basick
Assistant Dean of Bar Preparation
Associate Professor of Law

mbasick@swlaw.edu  

Dean Basick oversees and teaches all aspects of bar preparation and is passionate about preparing students to pass the bar exam. She has a successful history of designing comprehensive bar programming with inventive curriculum to meet the demands of an ever-evolving bar exam. In addition to authoring highly acclaimed bar preparation books and materials on essay exams, the California Performance Test, and the MBE, she is a nationally recognized expert on bar preparation and consults with law schools, legal publishers and bar review companies. Dean Basick also has extensive teaching and program design experience in all areas of Academic Support. Her previous practice experience is primarily in family law and fair housing litigation.

Image - Tina Schindler

Tina Schindler
Director of Bar Preparation
tschindler@swlaw.edu  

Professor Schindler is an Associate Professor of Academic Success and Bar Preparation and Director of Bar Preparation. For over a decade, she has designed academic and bar exam support programs, created innovative curricula, directed bar preparation programs as well as pre-admission law school programs, taught courses and workshops in all California bar tested subjects, and published books that enable students to pass both the essay and performance test portion of the California Bar Exam. 

Professor Schindler came to Southwestern after directing various bar exam programs at Whittier Law School and Western State College of Law.  Prior to teaching, she worked as a patent attorney and remains a licensed patent agent with the USPTO. 

Image - Jen Louie

Jen Louie
Associate Director of Student Programs
jlouie@swlaw.edu  

Jen Louie is the Associate Director of Student Programs in the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Office at Southwestern Law School. Prior to joining Southwestern, she held student affairs roles at San Diego State University, UC San Diego, and Western Sydney University in Australia. She is an active member of the National Association of Law Student Affairs Professionals.

Jen received her B.A. in Psychology at San Diego State University and her M.A. in Postsecondary Educational Leadership with a specialization in Student Affairs at San Diego State University. During her graduate program, she was a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and received the “Love of Learning” award.

Professor April Frisby

April E. Frisby
Associate Professor of Law
afrisby@swlaw.edu  

Professor April E. Frisby has substantial background in teaching and law practice; having served as an adjunct law professor for over decade, while she was practicing law at the partner level in securities and corporate transactions.  Professor Frisby came to Southwestern after transitioning from practice to full time teaching and administration as a Co-Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at Whittier Law School.

Professor Frisby’s success can be attributed to both her innovative thinking as an attorney and academic excellence while in law school. At Whittier Law School, she served as Research Editor on Whittier Law Review and graduated summa cum laude, ranking first in her class.

Image - Professor Janet Nalbandyan

Janet Nalbandyan '04
Associate Professor of Law
jnalbandyan@swlaw.edu  

Professor Nalbandyan teaches Foundations of Law and Practice, Big and Medium Law Firm Practice, and Remedies. In addition to classroom teaching, Professor Nalbandyan enjoys working one-one-one with students to help them succeed in law school and in their careers.

Prior to joining Southwestern full time, Professor Nalbandyan was a member of Southwestern’s adjunct faculty and had a successful career in private practice for twelve years. Professor Nalbandyan has represented national lending and financial institutions, credit unions, insurance companies and sureties, manufacturers, small and large corporations, and individuals in complex, multi-party transactions and litigation. Her practice focused on advising and assisting clients on issues they confront on a day-to-day basis including risk management, corporate governance, compliance, employment, consumer protection, intellectual property, Cybersecurity and breach notification, and litigation.

During her years in practice, Professor Nalbandyan was recognized as a “Super Lawyer - Rising Star” by the publishers of Los Angeles Magazine every year from 2012 to 2017. Professor Nalbandyan earned her law degree from Southwestern Law School. Professor Nalbandyan served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Harry Pregerson, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2004) and to the Honorable Margaret A. Nagle, United States District Court, Central District of California (2002). Professor Nalbandyan received her B.A. in English-Honors with a minor in Psychology from California State University, Northridge. 

Professor Jacquelyn Rogers

Jacquelyn Rogers '15
Associate Professor of Law
jrogers@swlaw.edu  

Professor Jacquelyn K. Rogers is instrumental in the administration and continuing growth of the academic success and bar-related courses curriculum. Rogers teaches both first year and upper division skills-based and bar prepatory classes. Additionally, she collaborates with the LL.M. Program and directs the Dean’s Fellow Program.


Rogers has focused her research on the crossover issues that arise from children simultaneously involved in dependency and delinquency courts. Rogers previously worked in the dependency court system, as well as clerked with Hon. Judge Pellman at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court. Rogers holds a B.S. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and a J.D. from Southwestern Law School, magna cum laude. While in law school, she served as Associate Editor of Law Review and was actively involved with the Street Law and Children’s Rights clinics on campus. Rogers is admitted to practice law in California.

Bryce Woolley

Bryce Woolley
Associate Professor of Law
bwoolley@swlaw.edu  

Professor Woolley is passionate about helping his students pass the bar exam. His teaching focuses on heavily-tested bar topics and skills for the written portion of the bar exam, ranging from criminal law and procedure to legal ethics. His nonprofit work focuses on connecting people impacted by incarceration with healthcare education and services. Prior to joining Southwestern, he worked as an associate for large, medium, and small law firms practicing complex commercial, healthcare, and professional liability litigation.

Woolley received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Dukeminier Awards Journal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and a Moot Court Honors Program Distinguished Advocate. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, from UC San Diego, in Sociology and Law & Society.


The following is a list of some of these programs and courses.  Current students can view a complete list of all resources available on the MySWLAW portal (log-in required).

  1. Programs for Entering Students

    Southwestern offers academic success courses in the summer which are specifically geared toward entering students. These workshops provide an introduction to legal writing, course review techniques, briefing cases, and other academic skills prior to the start of Fall classes.

    Bison Boot Camp is a non-credit course that provides a comprehensive introduction to the study of law to entering students. The program provides an early start on learning and practicing the core academic skills necessary to succeed in law school, including time management, reading and briefing cases, and organizing and outlining material. All entering students are encouraged to participate in this program to assist with a successful start to their law school career. Bison Boot Camp runs for one week during the summer, just before orientation and the start of the fall semester. For further information, contact the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Office.

    Introduction to Legal Writing Course is a non-credit course that gives pre-law students a head start in their legal education. Serving as a bridge between undergraduate education and law school, the program provides students with the opportunity to practice writing in an intellectually demanding, but pressure-free law school environment. The course provides an extensive introduction to legal writing and other skills necessary to succeed in law school.  The course typically runs for two weeks, and it has an enrollment fee. For further information, contact the Writing Center.

  2. Programs for First-Year Students

    Foundations of Law and Practice is a 1-credit course that starts in the fall and continues into the spring semester. The primary goal of Foundations of Law and Practice is to help students adopt learning strategies and study habits in their first year of law school that will lead to academic success, both in law school and on the bar examination. These skills include:

    • The ability to manage time and stress
    • The ability to take proper notes during class
    • The ability to read critically and understand information
    • The ability to synthesize, process and organize large volumes of information
    • The ability to demonstrate knowledge by applying this information in an organized and analytical fashion

    In addition, Foundations of Law and Practice introduces students to those professional characteristics and competencies that entry-level attorneys need to succeed.

  3. Programs for Continuing Students

    Southwestern offers many courses specifically designed to further develop an upper-division student's critical thinking, analysis, and exam-writing skills, as well as improve their overall academic performance. These courses also provide students with an early start on bar preparation.

    Remedies is a two-unit course that covers the nature and dynamics of judicial remedies by focusing on injunctions, damages, and restitution. The course also provides instruction and opportunity to further refine legal analysis and exam writing through the application of the legal principles covered in this course.

    Multistate Bar Exam (MBE): Skills and Strategies is a three-unit graded course designed to both serve as a refresher on some of the most heavily tested topics within each of the seven subjects of the MBE, as well lay the foundation for strong multiple-choice test-taking skills for the bar exam.

    Cal Bar Writing: Skills and Strategies is a three-unit graded course that provides students with instruction and hands-on practice opportunities focusing on the skills, strategies, and select substantive law tested on the written portion of the California Bar Exam. Essay writing skills are taught using select subjects and topics that are frequently bar tested. Students will develop and refine their essay exam writing, organization, analytical, time management, and writing skills through weekly essay and Performance Test writing practice with many opportunities to receive substantial individualized feedback on their written work. This course is designed to provide students with all the tools necessary to succeed on the written portion of the bar exam, and to make students more effective and successful as law students and practitioners.

    Bison Bar Pass is an on‐campus bar preparation program that is tailored to our students’ needs and available exclusively to Southwestern students taking the exam for the first time. Students enroll in the commercial bar review company of their choice and through the SW Bison Bar Pass Program they receive individualized guidance, additional grading/feedback, on-campus simulated exam sessions, stress management resources, and customized schedules.

For more information on any of these topics, contact the Academic Success & Bar Preparation Office.