Academic & Personal Support

Academic Support at the University of St. Thomas School of LawSt. Thomas is committed to helping you succeed academically and personally during your law school experience. ‌Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success Debbie Shapiro leads our support services that begin at orientation and continue beyond graduation.

 These services include: 

  • Conducting a four-day academic success program during your first week;
  • Providing one-on-one meetings, tutoring, skills training, practice exams, individual support and other services;
  • Offering feedback on your academic performance during your first semester; and
  • Helping prepare you for the bar exam.

Our award-winning Mentor Externship ProgramCareer Center team, and Alumni Relations division also provide support during various stages of your law school experience. The university also offers Counseling and Psychological Services and a designated psychologist to help you succeed.

During first-week orientation, incoming students will take part in St. Thomas Law's four-day Academic Success Program. Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success Debbie Shapiro will lead the class through different types of material that will be helpful in setting students up for law school success. The program will include instruction on briefing, class preparation and test preparation.

Midterm Exam Preparation

All first year, first semester doctrinal classes have mid-term examinations. A number of students like assistance as they prepare for first year, first semester midterm exams. We help those students learn additional organizational skills, review practice exams, and prepare effective outlines for their upcoming midterm exams.

Midterm Exam Review

Additionally, many students like additional concrete feedback on the outcome of their mid-term exams—feedback beyond simply the grade. We review exams with those students, help them understand what they have done well, and suggest areas for improvement.

Finals Preparation

The Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success is available to meet with individuals and groups who would like assistance as they prepare for final exams. The assistance involves a wide range of options, including practicing specific skills and assisting with outline strategies.

The Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success is available to help students with more effective study habits, classroom preparation, and support understanding the substantive materials in their doctrinal courses.

Qualified law students with documented disabilities who may need classroom and testing accommodations should make an appointment with the University of St. Thomas Disability Resources office on the St. Paul campus. Appointments can be made by calling (651) 962-6315. If you have questions about how to set up an appointment, you may also contact Jill Akervik, registrar for the School of Law, who also assists the University in executing specific accommodations.

For further information, visit the Disability Resources Office.

There are students who, for a variety of reasons, have a difficult time performing up to their own expectations in law school. We provide support for all students, and work to ensure law school is a productive experience.

St. Thomas employs a psychologist dedicated to the university's Minneapolis campus who is available to meet with law students in support of their mental health, interpersonal relationships and academic performance. 

The Counseling and Psychological Services office in Minneapolis is located in Terrence Murphy Hall 251J on the second floor in the Financial Aid suite. Call (651) 962-6780 to learn about services, appointments and availability.

St. Thomas Law supports the continued quality of life and well-being of the St. Thomas Law community by raising awareness of mental and chemical health conditions; by reducing the stigma and providing resources and support to those who suffer from these illnesses; and by promoting wellness, balance, collegiality, and perspective throughout the St. Thomas community.

St. Thomas Law currently provides a class that works with third-year students who identify themselves as students who have concerns about their academic performance, particularly as it relates to taking and passing a bar exam.

Additionally, for those who do not take this class, the school provides an informal summer program for graduates that emphasizes the skills necessary to pass the bar exam. That program is available to all students.

In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifi cations for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to contact the specific jurisdiction to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Prior to orientation, the Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success will send a cautionary statement regarding character and fitness to all incoming J.D. students. This statement is included in the orientation mailing sent to incoming students in July. Upon matriculation, the law school will stress to students the importance of character, fitness and other requirements for admission to the bar. 

Uniform Bar Examination

Beginning in February 2014, Minnesota became a Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) jurisdiction.

The UBE was designed to provide consistent content and registration across jurisdictions. The primary advantage is an examinee’s score is “portable”—the score can be reported to all other UBE jurisdictions (receiving jurisdictions) when determining whether the person has met the requirements for admission to the receiving jurisdiction’s bar.

Individual state requirements still exist. All jurisdictions have the ability to require an applicant to meet other requirements for admission which include a separate character and fitness determination, and, in a few jurisdictions, a separate test on state-specific topics.

States differ on passing score. A score that passes in one state may not be sufficient to pass in another state. Specific state information can be found in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements produced by the ABA and NCBE.

Time limits on transferability. A receiving state may place limitations on the length of time an applicant may transfer a score to that jurisdiction. For example, Minnesota requires that the score be transferred as part of an application submitted within three years of the original test date.

Format of the UBE. The Uniform Bar Examination consists of three components, all of which are drafted and distributed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE):

  • The Multistate Performance Test (MPT). This test is three hours on the morning of the first day of the exam. It is comprised of two 90-minute MPTs. An MPT is a closed-universe legal task consisting of an assignment, some factual information, and some legal authority (usually consisting of a statute or some rules and a couple of cases from a fictional jurisdiction). The two MPT questions count for 20% of the overall exam score.
  • The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). This test is three hours in the afternoon of first day of the exam. It is comprised of six 30-minute essay questions. The MEE involves traditional bar examination essay questions. These six questions count for 30% of the overall exam score.
  • The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). This test is two, three-hour blocks during the morning and afternoon of the second day of the exam. The MBE consists of 100 multiple choice question per three-hour segment (200 multiple choice questions total). The MBE counts for 50% of the overall score on the exam.

For additional information, contact Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success Debbie Shapiro.