Academic Success & Bar Preparation

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 Collin Hu

Collin Hu
Associate Professor of Law

Prior to joining Southwestern, Professor Hu graded the California Bar Examination for nine years. He has read thousands of bar exam essays and engaged in numerous hours of discussion regarding grading methodology. Professor Hu uses insight from this experience to demystify the bar exam for students and help put them in a position to put forth their best possible effort. 

Professor Hu began his legal practice representing public entities and their insurance agencies in workers’ compensation matters. He later worked with large firms in the bay area, consulting on e-Discovery matters for complex litigation. Most recently, Professor Hu managed discovery databases and consulted on e-Discovery matters for the civil division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

Nydia Johnson

Nydia Johnson '10
Associate Dean, Academic Success and DEI Initiatives and Associate Professor of Law

Dean Johnson brings a wealth of experience fostering student success. She provides overall leadership and management for all aspects of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department and oversees the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives for students. She also co-chairs the Dean’s Task Force for Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Her previous experience includes serving as the Dean of Students and Diversity Affairs.

Before joining Southwestern, Dean Johnson graduated from the University of Southern California with a double major in Political Science and Communication. She is a proud alumna of Southwestern Law School. While a student at Southwestern, she was a member of the Negotiation Honors Program and externed at Sony Pictures and Universal Music Group. Immediately after graduation, she continued as a Legal Consultant at Universal Music Group in the Business and Legal Affairs department.  Dean Johnson also worked at a boutique criminal defense firm where her passion for criminal justice was born. She brought that passion to Southwestern’s Youth Offender Parole Clinic, which she co-supervised for several years.

She has taught Advanced Topics in American Law and Fresh Perspective (a bar support course for alums). She currently serves as chair of the State Bar of California’s Law School Council.

Professor Lew-Corbridge

Connie Lew-Corbridge
Associate Professor of Law

Professor Connie Lew-Corbridge is a member of Southwestern’s Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department.  

Before joining Southwestern, Professor Lew-Corbridge taught legal analysis, writing, and research in UCLA School of Law's LL.M. program.  She practiced law for 16 years, starting her legal career as a litigator with Reed Smith LLP.  During her sixth year, a client recruited her to join its in-house litigation department, where she managed a broad range of matters, including securities, commercial, and product liability litigation.  As in-house counsel, she also advised on regulatory issues, complex contracts, and other transactional matters.

Professor Lew-Corbridge's pro bono practice included representing asylum seekers before the federal courts.  She also serves as a formal mentor to high school and college students, particularly students of color aspiring to be the first in their family to attend law school.

Outside of her legal practice, Professor Lew-Corbridge worked with a non-profit organization sponsored by Burton Snowboards, partnering with social service agencies, foster care programs, and schools in local communities to make snowboarding free and accessible to the youth in Los Angeles.


Professor Natalie Rodriguez

Janet Philibosian '04
Associate Professor of Law

Professor Janet Philibosian comes to Southwestern full-time after more than 16 years in private practice, where she represented a wide variety of clients, including large corporations, medical groups, property management companies, restaurant groups, and small business owners.  Appearing in both state and federal court, as well as before the Labor Commissioner and the State Board of Equalization, Professor Philibosian managed all aspects of her clients’ needs, whether in general legal consulting, employment counseling and litigation, business litigation, or regulatory matters.  In addition to her work in civil practice law firms, the majority of it as a partner (of Counsel) at Byrne & Associates, PLC, Professor Philibosian also served as a Staff Attorney at Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles, a nonprofit public interest firm representing the thousands of children in Los Angeles County’s Dependency Court.

Professor Philibosian joined Southwestern’s adjunct faculty in 2010, and taught a variety of courses, including 1L workshops in exam writing, Defenses in the Law, Bar Advantage, Selected Topics in American Law, and Practical Lawyering Skills.  In 2014, she was awarded the Adjunct Excellence in Teaching Award.

Professor Sarah Schimmel

Sarah Schimmel
Associate Professor of Law 

While studying for the bar, Professor Schimmel discovered a passion for helping other students conquer the exam. She has since dedicated years to creating bar exam resources and curricula, organizing workshops and presentations, and mentoring law graduates preparing for the bar exam. Professor Schimmel believes the path to bar success can begin as early as before 1L, and she is committed to supporting her students to excel academically and achieve both personal and professional fulfillment.

Before pursuing her legal education, Professor Schimmel worked for a prominent political lobbying organization. As a law student, she served as a volunteer mediator and clerked for the Major Crimes Division of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, assigned to the high-profile Robert Durst murder trial. Prior to her academic career, Professor Schimmel practiced law as a civil litigator with a focus in corporate law, personal injury, premises liability, and landlord-tenant disputes.

Bryce Woolley

Bryce Woolley
Associate Professor of Law

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 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 week-long synchronous online non-credit course that provides entering students with a critical introduction to the study of law. It introduces students to core academic skills, including time management, reading and briefing cases, and organizing and outlining material. It also touches on career planning, networking, and getting involved on campus. Bison Boot Camp is offered in the summer and is free of charge for entering students.

    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.