New bar exam prep program earns honorable mention for providing immersive experience to students
Seattle University School of Law received an honorable mention in “Immersive Experience” from Bloomberg Law’s Law School Innovation Program for developing a new program to help law students, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, succeed on the bar exam.
The innovation behind the “Preparing Students for Success on the NextGen Bar Exam” program is found in its unique approach to fusing instruction on the skills tested by the bar exam with instruction and assessment on substantive law.
It includes a summer criminal law course for 1L students from disadvantaged and marginalized communities, where they learn the academic skills needed to excel as law students. All 2L students can participate in an Enhanced Skills Lab, where students learn practical skills like issue spotting and evaluation, client counseling and advising, negotiation, and legal writing.
“That a national media organization like Bloomberg has recognized our law school in this way is a testament to the emphasis our faculty and staff place on developing innovative approaches to legal education to ensure our students can reach their full potential,” said Dean Anthony E. Varona.
Scheduled to debut in 2026, the NextGen Bar Exam “will test a broad range of foundational lawyering skills, utilizing a focused set of clearly identified fundamental legal concepts and principles needed in today’s practice of law,” according to its website. Newly assessed will be practice-oriented skills such as fact-development, client counseling, and advising, legal research, and legal writing.
Because students who entered law school in fall of 2023 will likely be the first to sit for this new exam, Associate Professor Jeffrey Minneti, assistant dean for Academic Excellence and Bar Success, recognized the need for a new program to help students acquire lawyering skills in an immersive environment.
“The program is our effort to immerse law students in the knowledge and skills assessed on the NextGen exam at multiple points over time, not just in a single experience or standalone course,” Minneti said.
Bloomberg Law’s second annual Law School Innovation Program recognizes the top overall innovations in legal education and those in four categories: Changing Pedagogy, Beyond the Law, Career Pathing, and Immersive Experience.
“Receiving this honor for our innovative approach to creating an immersive experience speaks to the great strength of Seattle U Law’s Bar Success Program,” Minneti said, “and reflects the law school’s ongoing commitment to provide high quality academic and bar preparation support to our students.”