Academic Success and Peer Tutoring

**Check out our Exam Tips (Online Edition) session Tuesday, March 31, 2020**

Academic Success Program & Peer Tutoring

The Peter A. Allard School of Law offers an Academic Success Program that provides a variety of resources to law students. This program includes Academic Success Presentations and handouts, the Peer Tutor Program, and links to other valuable academic resources. The Assistant Dean of Students, is also available to meet with students to discuss their academic questions and concerns. Jenn Lau is the Acting Assistant Dean, Students, and she can be contacted at Students in the Indigenous Legal Studies Program may also contact Lee Schmidt, Associate Director of Indigenous Legal Studies, for additional support. She can be contacted at

The Law Library is also a great resource for students. Check out the Library's Academic Success Guide with available resources.

The following resources are also available on this page:

Academic Success Program Presentations & Handouts:

Academic Success Presentations are presented throughout the year by the Assistant Dean of Students and peer tutors. The presentations are aimed at providing first-year students with practical information and tools for their academic endeavors. In addition, the presentations allow a forum for students to ask questions and have their concerns addressed. Below are brief summaries of each presentation, as well as the relevant power points and handouts from each.  

The 2019-2020 Academic Success Lectures Schedule:

  • Law School Basics: Tuesday, September 10
  • Canning for Success: Tuesday, October 1 and Wednesday, October 23 (both lectures are identical)
  • December Exam Tips: Tuesday, November 5 and Wednesday, November 20 (both lectures are identical).
  • Revamping Your Law School Strategy: Monday, January 13
  • April Exam Tips (ONLINE EDITION): Monday, March 30  **NEW** This session will be a Q&A with upper-year peer tutors, hosted via Zoom!  See below for more information and slides.

These sessions are open to Allard Law JD students. Room information is available in the Allard School of Law online events calendar.

Law School Basics: An Academic Success Lecture (September)

This lecture provides information regarding effective academic strategies that can be used throughout the year including reading a case and preparing for and participating in class. Students may raise questions and concerns regarding their law school experience thus far, and what they can expect going forward. Professor Nikos Harris also delivers a lecture on the value of handwriting notes in class.

CAN-ning for Success: An Academic Success Lecture (October)

This lecture provides information regarding effective methods for creating and utilizing Condensed Annotated Notes (CANs). This lecture helps students plan out how and when to CAN for their December Exams in order to ensure timely and effective studying.

Exam Writing Strategies: Tips for December Exams (November)

This lecture provides information regarding exam-writing techniques. Upper year students will also be present to share their own exam-writing experiences. This session can be very helpful for alleviating concerns about the first set of exams. Students are free to ask questions about the examination process and the best ways in which to succeed.

Re-vamping your Law School Strategy: An Academic Success Lecture (January)

This lecture provides direction to students who wish to adjust and refocus their academic strategies. January is an excellent time for first year students to review their December exams and their first semester to determine where improvements can be made. This lecture helps students refine their approach to studying and make positive changes for second semester.



Exam-Writing Strategies: Tips for April Exams (ONLINE EDITION!)

In advance of April 2020 exams, we will be hosting an Exam Tips session of a different kind – join us on Tuesday, March 31 at 12:30pm via ZOOM to have your questions answered directly and in real-time by upper-year peer tutors.  If you don’t have any of your own questions to ask, feel free to join anyway and learn from others!

Peer tutors will also provide exam-writing strategies that pertain to the increased duration and additional content of the April Exams. This is an important session for refining exam-writing strategies regardless of a student's performance in December.  Everyone welcome, although we particularly invite 1Ls and exchange students who will be writing exams at Allard for the first time.



Additional tips from Peer Tutors for preparing remotely:

1.  Scheduling:  

While you’re preparing from home, it will be particularly helpful to make yourself a schedule and do your best to stick to it. Make your schedule detailed – rather than scheduling a few hours to "Work on Torts" or "CAN for Contracts", break down exactly which cases or sections of the syllabus you will cover that day.  Try to build more time into your schedule for all your tasks. Without the forced check in of physical class time and with modified studying practices, it can be easier to fall behind schedule. This is okay!  It happens to everyone at some point.  The more detailed you are in your schedule, the easier it will be to identify when you have fallen behind and make sure to catch up.  Checking multiple things off the list is also a nice feeling every day!

2.  Find a good space to work:

This can be hard when many of us live in small spaces with other people and are used to studying outside the home. Just do your best –  if you don't have a desk, can your kitchen table can be converted to a study space?  Can you drag a table into a corner of your room?  Trust us on this one – your bed is likely not the most productive place!?

3.  Create a routine:

It’s unlike you’re going to just roll out of bed  be ready to work. Set aside the same amount of time you normally would to shower, get dressed, have breakfast, etc. A quick walk around the block can be a good way to jump start your brain with some fresh air and transition between "home" mode and "work" mode. 

4.  Plan breaks:

The Allard Law class and exam schedules are designed with a number of breaks for students throughout the day. These are important to help you reset and process what you're learning. It's easy when you're at home to try to get through your to-do list as quickly as possible, but this won't be advantageous to you in the long term. If you are working hours similar to a normal workday, I suggest taking a shorter mid-morning and mid-afternoon break and a longer lunch break (which can also be a great time to get some fresh air).

There are many apps available to remind you to take breaks and help you stay focused.  Give them a try and see how they work for you!

5.  Stay engaged in group study:

Online education can be isolating, but this doesn't need to be the case! Remember that you have about 50 peers in each of your classes in the exact same boat as you. Help and support each other (both academically and non-academically). Technology can facilitate very successful group study – think videochat discussions and shared GoogleDocs!  Remember though, to keep your CANs your own for exam writing purposes.  Academic integrity will be carefully monitored and substantially similar exam answers will face serious consequences. 

6.  Check-in with your supports and prioritize your wellbeing:

Reach out to your academic and personal support people if you are struggling. The end of 1L can be stressful at the best of times, and this recent transition is undoubtedly creating increased uncertainty. UBC continues to have academic and wellbeing resources available to you, and many people who are there to support your success. Check out the other academic resources on this page, stay tuned in to wellbeing-related Facebook posts on the Allard Law Student Services page, practice your own self-care and, importantly, please look out for and support each other through this.  People are more important than grades.  We will all get through this together! 


Peer Tutor Program

The Peer Tutor Program at the Allard School of Law matches first-year students with upper-year student volunteers who provide guidance on study skills, learning strategies, and exam-writing strategies. Students will be matched with tutors according to their professors, their learning and study style, and their personality. This ensures both academic and personal compatibility for a positive learning experience.

In addition to one-on-one guidance, peer tutors also provide valuable input for the academic success lectures presented by the law school. (Please see above). Please note that Peer Tutors cannot provide assistance with legal research & writing, public law or transnational assignments, nor can they provide tutoring during the December or April exam periods.

Sign Up for Peer Tutoring

The Peer Tutoring program operates from late September each academic year. An email will be sent to the first-year class when the program is open for matching. Students that are interested in being matched with a peer tutor should contact Kaila Mikkelsen. Students should indicate the name of their small group, their learning style and any academic concerns they may have. 

Other Resources

Academic Resources

CAN-ning Resources

Exam Resources

Books (Available to be borrowed from Assistant Dean, Students)

Calleros, Charles R. Law School Exams: Preparing and Writing to Win. New York: Aspen Publishers, 2007.
Fischl, Richard M. and Jeremy Paul. Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams. North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 1999.
Hutchinson, Allan C. The Law School Book: Succeeding at Law School. Toronto: Irwin Law Inc., 2009.
McClurg, Andrew J. 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School. Minnesota: Thomson/Reuters, 2009.
McKinney, Ruth A. Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert. North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 2005.
Ramy, Herbert N. Succeeding in Law School. North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 2006.

Check out the books available in the Law Library too.