SWLAW Blog | Dean's Fellow Digest

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November 5, 2021

Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #36: Getting Involved at Southwestern in a Way That Best Comports with Your Goals

Issue: 2021-11-05

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. 


  • Getting Involved at Southwestern in a Way That Best Comports with Your Goals

Image - Getting Involved at Southwestern in a Way That Best Comports with Your Goals - Thomas Chen

It is great that you are interested in involving yourself outside of the classroom during your short time at Southwestern. There are so many opportunities! First, it can be helpful to think about those opportunities that best comport with your long-term goals and legal interests and prioritize accordingly.

The following includes guidelines and tips on some extracurricular activities that you may be considering.

Honors Programs

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Southwestern has various honor programs to help sharpen your legal writing and advocacy skills. If you are interested in scholarly publications, you may consider the Law Review or Law Journal programs. On the other hand, if you like competition, you may consider our advocacy programs in Moot Court, Negotiations, or Trial Advocacy. To receive an interview invitation, students must participate in the competition for each respective honors program. 

With Law Review or Law Journal, write-on competitions occur the week after final exams in the Spring semester. Typically, you will have one week to write an article based on a closed-universe problem. Fortunately, one submission will qualify you for consideration in either program. While each program has different invitation criteria, both programs look at your class rank and first year cumulative GPA. The competition packet will contain all the invitation criteria for each respective program. Watch “Today @ SW” for Informational sessions held in the Spring.

Similarly, if you are interested in one of our advocacy programs, competitions typically occur in April—right after LAWS II mandatory rounds. Each program will hold workshops to assist students who plan to switch from their LAWS advocacy track. While you are not locked into your assigned LAWS advocacy track, you can only compete in one advocacy program. If you are a traditional day student, you must compete in an advocacy honors program during your first year of law school. Otherwise, you become ineligible during your second year. For students in a different J.D. program (e.g., SCALE, PLEAS, Evening, or Part-Time Day), ineligibility occurs after a different semester based on your respective program. Please check directly with each advocacy program on this matter.

Dean’s Fellow Program

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Have you discovered an interest in academic mentorship, giving back to the incoming 1L class, and an understanding of the critical implications the academic skills learned in Foundations of Law and Practice have on your law school success? If you wish to follow in the steps of the Dean’s Fellows that you’ve worked with, the Dean’s Fellow Program is an excellent fit.

The Dean’s Fellow Program invites students to apply in the Spring semester of each year based on their work in Foundations of Law and Practice, Fall semester (or cumulative for upper division students) grades, and references from faculty. Interviews are held in April and selections are made in May, after final exams. For questions or to express interest in the Dean’s Fellow Program, please reach out to Professor Rogers, who directs the Program: jrogers@swlaw.edu.  

Teaching Assistant

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Have you ever wondered why your TAs have a wealth of knowledge in the courses you are studying? No, it is not just because they are upper-division law students. Besides starting law school a bit earlier than you, your TAs excelled in the course you find them assisting in. As such, if your goal is to become a TA, then see your Dean’s Fellow regularly to plan your strategies for success in your courses. Further, each professor selects and invites students to TA for their course. Getting to know professors during office hours and displaying your curiosity and interest for the course goes a long way to receiving a TA opportunity.

Board Member of Student Organizations

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Even if you were not a student representative for a club or organization on campus during your first year, your chances of becoming a board member are not significantly affected. While holding a student representative position may help, it is not necessarily a qualifier for receiving an offer to be a board member. You have other opportunities to make yourself known to board members. To name a few, you can attend study halls, club meetings, or fundraisers. Naturally, as you become an active member, you increase your chances of the board members recognizing your name during elections. As such, you increase the likelihood of receiving a vote and ultimately being offered a position on the board.

Peer Mentor

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By now, you have learned that every first-year law student is assigned a Peer Mentor. Being a peer mentor can be very rewarding. Not only do you help the next cohort of students adjust to law school, but you can help at Southwestern student events. Applications for the Peer Mentor program open between January and February, with interviews occurring in March and April. In addition, the Peer Mentor program also has a student board that works closely with the Student Affairs Office. While applications for board positions occur in early January, interested students must have been a Peer Mentor themselves. 

Student Representatives/Ambassadors

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If you have not already, you will come across companies with legal research engines (e.g., Lexis+ or Westlaw) or Bar preparation courses (e.g., Barbri or Themis). If you find a company that you like using, you may consider becoming involved with them. Not only do these companies train you to excel with their systems to build your resume, but they offer great perks for you to become a student representative or ambassador. The simplest way to become involved would be to ask your existing representatives for that company. Like you, the current representatives are also law students who are always willing to connect you with their supervisors.

 *About the Author:


Image - Thomas Chen

Thomas is a Traditional Day 2L student who graduated from California State University, Long Beach, with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. At Southwestern, in addition to being a Dean’s Fellow, Thomas also serves as the Networking Chair for the Criminal Law Society, Treasurer to Delta Theta Phi, Student Representative for LexisNexis, and a Peer Mentor. Throughout his time at Southwestern, Thomas served as a law clerk at the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Thomas is working towards a concentration in Technology Law & Entrepreneurship and Criminal Law & Advocacy.

Thomas looks forward to helping you achieve all your goals and making your experience at Southwestern a memorable one!

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.