SWLAW Blog | Dean's Fellow Digest

DFD Masthead

January 22, 2020

DEAN'S FELLOW DIGEST - Inaugural Issue

Issue: 2020-01

Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement. 


  • Legal writing and study habit tips from Dean's Fellow Brittany Butler
  • A DF curated resource directory
  • A bit about Brittany & Emily
  • How to book an appointment with a Dean's Fellow

Self-Reflection & Modification of Study Habits
By: Brittany Butler*

The first couple of weeks of the spring semester can set the tone for the next four months. You may be anxious about receiving your grades, getting a head start on the new semester, or figuring out how to conquer the next chapter of your law school experience. In my experience, after receiving first semester grades, I did not make the grades I was used to receiving in college. I was devastated. All of a sudden, I started thinking negatively about law school, such as focusing on what I did wrong more than focusing on what I did right.

All of us strive for personal improvement in the second semester. The first step is often honest self-reflection. To facilitate evaluating your exam performance, I encourage you to pick up your final exams when they become available. By doing this, you can see what worked well and what still needs tweaking. Your Professors are willing to go over the exam and provide pointers for improvement. Such meetings help with overall exam writing and test-taking. By going over your past exams, you can identify missing issues, incorrect rule statements, or weak analysis.

Female student studying


Some students struggle with multiple-choice, myself included. After realizing that I could improve my final grades if I incorporated multiple choice practice, I made this change moving into my second semester. Talk to your Professors about the multiple-choice supplements they recommend. I recommend using Themis Quiz Builder, as it exposes you to bar-style questions that test the material you are learning. I also met with my Foundations Professor privately in her office to walk through some questions. You cannot put multiple choice on the back burner because it comprises 50% of your score on the bar exam.

Part of the self-reflection process is thinking about your study strategies from one semester to the next with an eye on academic improvement. Evaluate all your study habits from the fall semester. Did you study at home where you are easily distracted? Try studying in the library. Did you take practice exams to your TA’s or your Professors for review before the final exam? Do it! Did you have questions in class or about the reading that you never got answered? Visit office hours. If you have trouble with time management, I have found that having a daily checklist on a whiteboard in my apartment really helps (and sticking to it!).

Try shifting your focus from results to actions. For example, don’t focus on getting an A in Contracts II right now; instead, focus on habits you can change now to see results later. Set small goals for yourself each week, such as completing case briefs, so you are prepared to contribute to a meaningful discussion in class. Ask yourself: What altered actions will lead to my desired result?

student studyingRight now is the most important time to think about what study strategies you want to change. You have the opportunity to allow yourself more reading time, change where you study, etc. Do not be hesitant to reach out to your Professors, your Dean’s Fellow, and TA’s.

Do not let your fall semester grades determine the type of student that you are this semester. Everyone at Southwestern wants you to succeed, and if you incorporate change now, you will see results at the end of the academic year.

How the Fall Semester of LAWS Sets Us on the Path to Legal Writing Success
By: Brittany Butler*

LAWS might be the first time you have encountered legal writing. Legal writing can be a frustrating task, but I can tell you that the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

There are always ways to become a better legal writer, and reviewing your LAWS paper from the fall semester provides insight on how to improve moving into the spring semester.

The first step is to pick up your LAWS paper from Registrar since Professors spend a lot of time providing written feedback. Use this to your advantage. I suggest meeting with your Professor to discuss any questions about your grade so that moving forward, you know the spring semester expectations. Further, many of you will be using your LAWS memorandum as your writing sample when applying for summer positions, and the earlier you get your final memorandum back, the more time you will have to implement suggested edits.

For example, I incorporated all of the edits from my Professor into my memorandum, and then I made an appointment with the Writing Center. It seemed like a daunting task at first, but I was extremely grateful for how this process helped me understand my writing weaknesses. The Writing Fellows are there to help you incorporate various general and analytical writing strategies.

student pushing a gigantic stack of books and papersAdditionally, this gave me an advantage not only when writing my spring semester LAWS brief, but also when participating in summer job interviews.

Even though you are writing a persuasive brief during the spring semester, Professor comments about grammar, organization, syntax, analytical arguments, and citations are crucial to incorporate into your writing.

And finally, have you sought assistance from the reference librarians yet? They are a fantastic resource and all too often the unsung heroes of legal research!

Campus Resource Directory
By: Emily Hart*

Bullocks Wilshire Elevator Dial

5th Floor:
TEA ROOM - Grab a bite and check "Today at Southwestern" for specials

4th Floor:
FACULTY OFFICES - Have you visited all of your profs?

3rd Floor:
BEMLI - Biederman Entertainment & Media Law Institute (BW333) - Review entertainment course offerings and externship opportunities.
FACULTY OFFICES - Profs get lonely if you don't visit during office hours.

2nd Floor:
Communications & Marketing Offices (right side) - meet the team responsible for our social media, blog, and website.
Alumni Relations/Fund Raising - (left side).

1st Floor:
SECURITY - Sign up for SW Alerts and get realtime information about street closures and emergencies. For a walk to your car or across campus, call 213.738.5793.
LIBRARY - Schedule an appointment with research librarians for LAWS memos assistance.  

Lower Level:
PRINT SHOP - Pick up assigned course materials.
FITNESS CENTER - Get in a quick workout before class or take a study break and play some PING PONG.

Westmoreland Elevator Dial

6th Floor:
ACADEMIC SUCCESS/BAR PREP (W624) - Get started on bar prep readiness;  benefit from individual meetings to discuss time-management and study habits.

5th Floor:
FACULTY OFFICES - Be sure to drop in during office hours!

4th Floor:
LEGAL CLINIC OFFICES (W408)- Interested in joining a legal clinic after your first year? Visit our legal clinic to learn about the application process.
FACULTY OFFICES: Don’t forget to attend office hours!

3rd Floor:
CAREER SERVICES (W323) - Meet your career advisor and receive resume or cover letter feedback. Discuss job opportunities and partake in mock interviews.
WRITING CENTER (W338) - Get your LAWS paper reviewed by a writing fellow or work on a writing sample.

2nd Floor:
EXTERNSHIP OFFICE (W231) - Learn about externship opportunities and the application process.
STUDENT BAR ASSOCIATION (W232) -  Stop by for some candy, SWAG, or to learn about upcoming events like the Barrister’s Ball.
STUDENT AFFAIRS (W233) - Learn about Southwestern’s honors programs and student orgs.

1st Floor:
ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES  (W100) - Register for a Westmoreland locker,  add fitness center to your StudentID, check the lost and found for those RayBans, or get information about parking, transportation, replacement ID cards, etc.
DEAN OF STUDENTS (W102) - Review your schedule with an advisor, discuss learning routes to graduation, course registration, concentrations, and classroom accommodations.
FINANCIAL AID OFFICE (W102) - Discuss loans, grants, scholarship, and work-study opportunities.
ON-CAMPUS PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELOR (W102) - Receive up to three free 50-minute sessions per semester with Southwestern's psychotherapist.  

BOOKSTORE-  Rent/buy textbooks or stock up on school supplies and SW apparel.

*This is only a partial listing, click here for a more comprehensive list of Southwestern's services and departments.

*About the Authors:


Dean's Fellow Brittany ButlerBrittany Butler is a 2L Traditional Day student. Along with mentoring students as a Dean's Fellow, Brittany is a member of PILC and the Criminal Law Society. Brittany is committed to public interest and is a future criminal defense attorney.

Last year, Brittany worked at the innocence project and will be a law clerk at the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office in Summer 2020.

Brittany loves sports and, in her spare time, travels around the world. She also enjoys helping other students succeed.


Image - Emily Hart

Emily is a 2L Traditional Day student from the San Fernando Valley. Emily received her bachelor's degree from UC Riverside, where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in Law and Society. Emily is pursuing a career in Criminal Law, and she hopes to incorporate her interests in Children's Rights and Mental Health, as well.​

​In addition to being a Dean's Fellow, Emily is the Co-Special Events Coordinator for Southwestern's Teen Court. She is also a TA for Criminal Law with Professor VanLandingham.


Southwestern Law School Dean's Fellows | Scheduling and Booking Website

Dean’s Fellows are upper-division students with strong academic skills who go through a rigorous application and training process. They are an integral part of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. They are carefully selected based on their academic excellence and ability to teach other students best-practice study methods that will help them become acclimated to the study of law. Dean’s Fellows meet with students as academic mentors.

Please click HERE to make an appointment with a Dean's Fellow.