Academic Success

The Academic Success Program

The Academic Success Program (ASP) at SMU Dedman School of Law is dedicated to cultivating a supportive academic environment and to helping all law students reach their full academic potential. The ASP program provides skills training and support for all students at all stages of their law school education with a focus on helping students maximize their potential for learning the law while acquiring effective study skills as well as aiding student in developing their ability to perform legal analysis. In 2015, with the adoption of our new Inns of Court Program, ASP was established as a cornerstone program of the 1L Inns of Court.

August 2016
Academic Success Program Mentors


Core Skills Building Sessions With Academic Success Mentors 

Academic Success Student GroupTo help ease the transition into the rigors of law school, all first year students are encouraged to participate in Core Skills Building Sessions (6 in the Fall and 3 in the Spring) with their small group Inns of Court. The sessions are conducted by ASP Mentors, high-achieving second and third year law students, who have been selected and trained by the Director of Academic Success to provide skills assistance and peer support for students during their first year of law school. The Core Skills Sessions curriculum is intended to move linearly with each meeting, building on the previous meeting. The sessions cover such topics as: Briefing, Note-Taking, Learning Styles, Grading & Exams, Supplements, Outlining, Answering Exam Questions (IRAC), and Practice Questions.

Office Hours

ASP holds Office Hours each semester (3 in the Fall and 2 in the Spring) that are intended to connect 1Ls with top-performing 2Ls and 3Ls who had the same 1L professors. Office Hours provide1Ls an opportunity to ask top-performing students how they conquered their 1L classes as well as an opportunity to ask substantive questions about the material they have been learning.

Weekly Wrap Up

Practice Exam

The Fall semester ASP curriculum culminates in a 3 hour practice exam that is administered in late November. With the assistance of the 1L faculty, the ASP program administers a practice exam under exam conditions and then distributes a sample answer. This early introduction into the experience of taking law school exams is intended to give students a better understanding of what is expected of them during exams, including depth and answer-writing, time management, and level of memorization required. The design of the program is to encourage 1Ls to engage in practice exams generally and to give them the best possible preparation for their final examinations.

Individual Tutoring

ASP mentors are available to provide individual tutoring for students requiring additional assistance on an as needed basis as recommended by the Director of Academic Success. These individual sessions are focused on skills-building, but may involve review of outline drafting and working through practice problems to aid in the development of the student’s competencies.



Academic Advising

Academic advising is available for all students to discuss such issues as academic performance and appropriate curricular choices, any possible need for testing or other accommodations, the availability of the Academic Success Program, and the services of the University Counseling and Testing Center.  

Legal Analysis Course

A for-credit 3L bar prep course that gives students a head start in learning the substantive material that is tested on the bar exam, focusing on improving legal analysis as well as practice with Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) subjects.  

Bar Passage

Legal Analysis Course

A for-credit 3L bar prep course that gives students a head start in learning the substantive material that is tested on the bar exam, focusing on improving legal analysis as well as practice with Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) subjects.  

Bar Study Assistance
The Director of Academic Success provides assistance to all SMU Law students and graduates as they prepare to take a state Bar Exam. Available assistance ranges from counseling about study strategies to providing social and emotional support throughout exam prep for the students. 

Commercial Bar Prep Course
Over the summer, SMU hosts space on campus for the large commercial Bar Prep companies to conduct their bar review courses for the Texas Bar Exam, which is the predominant state bar exam that our students take.

Other Services Offered

Students should meet with the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs if they have any questions about their law school academic performance or if there are any personal matters impacting their ability to perform and succeed in the law school. Students may also consult with members of the faculty regarding questions about courses and academic pursuits.

The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities coordinates with the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs in working with students with learning differences requiring appropriate accommodations.

The SMU Health Center provides Counseling and Testing services for students and is also available for students in crisis. The stress of law school is sometimes compounded by death of a loved one or personal or family illness or other crises. Students should be aware of changes in behavior in themselves or in other students that may point the need to seek assistance. Students should consult with the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs if they become aware of such circumstances so that an appropriate course of action can be discussed.


If you have any questions about our services or need to talk to someone about your plan for academic success, please contact the Director of the Academic Success Program, Professor Birdsong at

Apply to be an Academic Success Program Mentor

ASP mentors are high-performing 2Ls and 3Ls chosen on the basis of academic merit, leadership ability, and passion for giving back to the SMU Dedman Law community.  ASP mentors receive training in lesson planning and public speaking and have frequent opportunities for group presentations and one-on-one tutoring.  They serve as academic leaders and tutors for the entire 1L class.  Mentors are selected through a competitive application process during the end of each school year.

The application for the 2021-2022 academic year will be available in the Spring of 2021.  Rising 2Ls and 3Ls are welcome to apply.  Once the application is posted, please complete as instructed by April 5, 2021 and e-mail with a copy of your resume (GPA required) to Professor Birdsong at  Selected applicants will be invited to join the program shortly after Spring 2021 grades are released.