Bison Boot Camp is a live online non-credit course that provides entering students with a comprehensive introduction to the study of law. Day one begins with an overview of what law in action looks like and we then work backward to contextualize the law school experience. Beginning with the end in mind, including law school exams, students gain an early start with 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. But, law school success is about more than just academic success. We will also discuss and feature guests on topics such as career planning, networking, and getting involved on campus.
All entering students are encouraged to participate in this program to assist with a successful start to their law school career. The program is taught by Professor Natalie Rodriguez, Assistant Dean for Academic Success.
Bison Boot Camp is available to admitted students only. Admitted students are welcome to register for Bison Boot Camp via their Welcome to Southwestern CANVAS course page.
During Summer 2021, we will offer several sessions of Bison Boot Camp, allowing incoming students the flexibility to choose the session that fits best with their schedules and existing obligations.
Due to the unique schedule and earlier law school start date for SCALE, the SCALE session in early June is intended for admitted SCALE students only. Students admitted to the Traditional Day, Part-Time Day/PLEAS, and Part-Time Evening programs can choose between a session taking place in late June and two sessions taking place in early August.
We will offer evening and day options, with specific dates and meeting times available to admitted students listed on their Welcome to Southwestern CANVAS course page.
What is Bison Boot Camp?
Bison Boot Camp helps students transition into the study of law with confidence. Through the skills learned in this program students gain a head start on core academic skills including:
- time management
- critical reading skills
- briefing cases
- analytical legal reasoning and writing
The program consists of live online classes as well as pre-recorded video modules. Students will engage with class material via group exercises, individual work, and homework assignments, all designed to give students an opportunity to apply the skills covered in the program.
How does the Bison Boot Camp help me prepare for law school?
Bison Boot Camp is a non-credit program that provides entering students a comprehensive introduction to the study of law. Students will learn the academic skills required for success in all their doctrinal law school courses. Additionally, Bison Boot Camp gives students a taste of what a law school class feels like. Lastly, Bison Boot Camp provides students an opportunity to ask questions or express concerns to both faculty and current top-performing students about embarking on their law school journey.
Foundations of Law and Practice (a required one-unit course for all first-year students) will continue to build upon the skills introduced in Bison Boot Camp in more depth throughout the first year and delve in great detail into multiple-choice testing and exam writing.
Is Bison Boot Camp open to any incoming student?
Yes. All incoming first-year students are strongly encouraged to participate in Bison Boot Camp, including both full time and part-time incoming students. Deadlines to enroll in Bison Boot Camp will be announced via email.
Are faculty available for office hours during Bison Boot Camp?
Yes. Your professor will be available via appointment, both in person and by telephone and/or video conference, to allow students the opportunity to ask specific, individualized questions, ensuring students leave Bison Boot Camp with a firm handle on all material covered.
Further details about scheduling appointments with faculty will be announced during the first Bison Boot Camp class.
Is there a cost associated with Bison Boot Camp?
No. Bison Boot Camp is offered to all students free of charge, including all program materials. On-campus parking is also complimentary.
How does Bison Boot Camp differ from the Introduction to Legal Writing summer course?
Bison Boot Camp focuses on academic skill mastery to help students feel confident and prepared entering their doctrinal courses. On the other hand, Introduction to Legal Writing provides an extensive introduction to legal writing in preparation for the first-year Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills (“LAWS”) course. Both programs strive to provide instruction in an intellectually demanding, but pressure-free, law school environment.
If I am unavailable to participate in Bison Boot Camp, what is available to assist me as I prepare for my first law school semester?
There are many books available for 1L students, of which, we recommend two:
- Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School: Strategies for Success by Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor
- Expert Learning for Law Students by Michael Hunter Schwartz and Paula Manning
The first book offers a good overview of what law school is like and the differences between undergraduate studies and law school studying. This book also presents the concepts similar to how we will cover them in Foundations of Law and Practice in the fall. Likewise, the second book provides a good overview of the necessary 1L academic skills but also explains the science behind the recommendations and why they lead to better learning.
Will Bison Boot Camp be offered online?
Yes. Bison Boot Camp will be offered as a live online program.
The numbers speak for themselves. Students who participate in Bison Boot Camp on average perform better than students who do not.
What do other students have to say about Bison Boot Camp?
"Bison Boot Camp provided me with the tools I needed to ensure a smooth transition from undergraduate to legal studies. I learned how to read and brief cases through demonstration and practice, which I continue to use every day in my classes.
I am more confident because Bison Boot Camp provided me with the tools I needed to succeed and learn effectively."
- Chelsea Zaragoza ‘22
"Bison Boot Camp taught me the importance of smart studying. Most students do not know the difference between reading information and understanding and retaining information. Dean Natalie Rodriguez tied in the importance of doing hypotheticals and practice exams because they are the best way to learn legal analysis and think critically.
I started a step ahead of the game, and I felt more comfortable and less stressed during the first week of classes."
- Andy De La Cruz '22
“Bison Boot Camp was exactly what I needed to start law school off on the right foot. Before law school I had very minimal legal experience and as such was very nervous about my first day. We learned how to brief cases, we experienced a mock lecture, and were able to get a feeling for what a typical class session would look like.
Bison Boot Camp laid a foundation that I have been able to build off of each day of school which has allowed me to feel confident going into class each day.”
- Alex J. Welfringer ‘22
“Bison Boot Camp provided me with tips and tools for a smooth transition into law school. The mock lecture by Dean Rodriguez was especially helpful to understand what a law school lecture was going to be like. It was also a great opportunity to meet some of the cohorts!”
- David Kim ‘22
For further information, contact the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Office. AcademicSuccess@swlaw.edu; (213) 738-6813.