Family Support Services

  • Starting with the admission process and continuing through the bar exam, Capital supports its students. Equally as important, it does an amazing job of supporting the students’ families as well.

    During first year orientation, the Capital Student Services Office invites families to the Law School to learn what to expect over the next several years, so that there are no surprises in the fall.

    Friends and Family Orientation  

    Several weeks into a law student’s education, Capital hosts a Friends and Family Orientation. The event is as an opportunity for friends and families of law students to learn more about what life is like for their law student and to come to the realization that they are not in this alone. The orientation is a full day event, which consists of a mock class, a session called “Living with and Loving a Law Student,” and a panel discussion with family members of current law students. The program gives family members a forum in which to discuss their apprehension about what life will be like with a law student in the family and to have their questions answered.

    A key element of the Friends and Family Orientation is the mock class held by a law professor. The goals for the mock class are two-fold. First, professors want to help the family members develop an understanding of the time commitment involved in being fully prepared for class and ultimately doing well in law school. The second goal is to help family members appreciate the level of stress and anxiety that accompanies a Socratic education method. Attendees are asked to come to class prepared to discuss a case that was distributed prior to orientation and the professor cold calls on the family members.

    Counseling Services  

    Throughout a student’s time at Capital, there are a number of resources available to help them succeed. In addition to the Academic Success Protocol, the Student Services Office, and a number of student organizations, Capital has an outstanding and supportive faculty and staff. Drs. Shirley Lange and Jennifer Speakman are also on staff to provide professional counseling to our law students.  Dr. Lange is the Director of University Counseling and Health Services, while Dr. Speakman is the Counselor and Disability Services Coordinator.  They lead the university's health and wellness initiative.

    Bar Preparation Orientation  

    Finally, after three or four years of living with the ups and downs of law school, graduation comes and families are lulled into the false sense of security in knowing that law school is over. Then comes the bar exam. Just like law school, preparing for the bar exam is like nothing you have ever experienced. It is time intensive; it is stressful and a law student’s career hangs in the balance. Enter Professor Yvonne Twiss, L’98, director of Bar Services. In addition to bar preparation for students, Professor Twiss offers support to families between graduation and passing the bar.

    Similar to the Friends and Family Orientation that occurs at the beginning of law school, Professor Twiss holds a Bar Preparation Orientation at the end of law school. Families hear presentations on what they should expect their law student to be doing during bar preparation, how much work is involved, and how important it is for the student to prepare efficiently. Professor Twiss tries to take the heat off students by convincing families that the amount of work students are putting in is truly necessary to pass the bar. Panel discussions also provide families with tools they can use to support their student during bar studies, inform them about what resources are available to them at the law school and what the warning signs are of a student who is burning out, becoming depressed or not adequately preparing.

    According to Professor Twiss, “The goal is to bring family members into the fold and make them relevant to bar preparation. It is not enough to give the student the space they need to study; the families must be actively engaged in helping the students succeed.” She also tries to prepare the families for the isolation they will have from their law students and what they should expect as far as scheduling, stress levels and emotions.

    Summer 2007 was the first time that Professor Twiss held a bar orientation for families and it was very well received. She received positive feedback from both students and their families. She also received numerous “cries for help” from loved ones who needed assistance managing life during bar preparation. The orientation is a permanent part of the bar preparation process.

     From beginning to end, Capital goes above and beyond supporting the people who are supporting its law students.