Academic Achievement Program: Dean’s Fellows Study Groups

Beginning first-year law students (1Ls) are given the opportunity to study under other exemplary upper-level students, known as “Dean's Fellows,” in each of the areas of study required during 1L year – Torts, Property, Elements, Criminal Procedure, Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Constitutional Law. These additional study sessions provide 1Ls with a comfortable, informal, yet invaluable opportunity to ask questions and further delve into foundational subject matter.

These study groups break down a lot of the barriers implicit in 1L year, it makes teachers more approachable and the language of the law more easily understood because it is interpreted by fellow students.

Not only does the AAP assist 1Ls, but the Dean's Fellows participating in the program learn interpersonal skills, teaching skills, and book and practical knowledge for real-world trials and negotiations. Also, Dean's Fellows create a bond among each other. 

FAQs: How To Become a Dean's Fellow

Dean's Fellows (DFs) are assigned to specific classes and help facilitate the 1L's independent learning, by focusing on learning strategies, organization skills, time management and exam preparation for that class. DFs are not selected solely because they have earned "good grades." The AAP chooses 2L and 3L students who also have good interpersonal skills, patience, maturity and a genuine willingness to work with students who may be confused and overwhelmed. Dean's Fellows do not "teach" substantive law. Rather, their job is to help facilitate the 1L's independent learning, by focusing on learning strategies, organization skills, time management and exam preparation.

 1. When and where does one apply?

The application period will be announced via email and posted on fliers around campus. Applications will then be available at the Law Registrar’s Office, Suite A210. All applications should be submitted to Kelsey Pazul, Assistant Registrar and AAP Program Coordinator, in the Law Registrar’s Office.

 2. How are Dean's Fellows selected?

Students who wish to apply for a Dean’s Fellow position must complete an application and submit it along with a current law school transcript and resume. Professors will be provided copies of all application materials for students who designated the professor as one of their “top three choices.” Professors and their assistants will coordinate a time to interview candidates they are interested in working with. Professors will then coordinate with Alex Schimel and Kelsey Pazul about the following steps in the hiring process and all work together to select a student Dean’s Fellow to work with the 1L students in that Professor’s class.

 3. Must a prospective Dean’s Fellow have received an "A" in the class?

No, the goal is to select Dean’s Fellows who have solid academic records, but an A in the class is not required.

A Dean’s Fellow applicant must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher and must have earned a B or better in the course for which the applicant is applying (for example, a student who is applying for a position as a Torts Dean’s Fellow must have earned a B or better in Torts and must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher). Dean’s Fellows are not selected solely because they have earned “good grades.” 2L and 3L students who also have good interpersonal skills, patience, maturity and a genuine willingness to work with students who may be confused and overwhelmed.

Dean’s Fellows do not “teach” substance. Rather, their job is to help facilitate the 1L’s independent learning by focusing on learning strategies, organization skills, time management and exam preparation.

 4. Is it required that a Dean’s Fellow have had a specific professor to assist in her or her class?

No. Although that is generally preferable, it is not a requirement. Some Professors may be teaching this class for the first time, or may wish to see a broader pool of candidates. Applicants should note, however, that many Professors do prefer to select a Dean’s Fellow who was a student in that Professor’s class.

 5. How many hours per week do Dean's Fellows work?

Generally 10-15 hours per week:

  • 3-4 hours attending the First Year class
  • 1 hour in weekly DF workshop/meeting (Mondays at 12:30 PM)
  • 2-3 hours prep for 1L class
  • 2-3 hours prep for DF Study Groups
  • 2 hours conducting AAP/DF Study Groups
  • 1 hour meeting individually (office hours) with students (some weeks more, some less)
  • 1 hour meeting individually with Professor (varies from one Professor to another)

Time commitments may vary slightly from one week to another. DFs must turn in weekly Time Logs, lesson plans and attendance records to the AAP Coordinator, Kelsey Pazul.

 6. When will study groups meet?

A Dean’s Fellow must schedule 2 one-hour groups each week. Scheduling will take place during the Dean’s Fellow Training Day prior to the start of the semester.

 7. When will one be notified of selection as a Dean's Fellow?

Every effort will be made to notify applicants by the end of Exam period, although some Dean's Fellows may not be selected until later. 

 8. Is it possible to apply for a future semester, if not selected this semester?

Yes, and please do! In past semesters, there have been more than 90-100 applicants for the 15-20 substantive Dean's Fellow positions and the 10-15 Writing Dean's Fellow positions. Obviously every applicant cannot be placed. Do not be discouraged. The AAP is as good as its DFs, and if one is committed to this Program, the AAP wants him or her to be a part of it.

 9. If selected, how is one trained?

Each DF works closely with the AAP so Study Groups remain focused on the goals of the Program. All DFs must attend weekly collaborative DF Training Workshops. These are traditionally scheduled on Mondays from 12:30-1:30 pm. Initial intensive training workshops are held at the beginning of the semester.

Dean’s Fellows are also encouraged to work closely with other DFs, with the understanding that each can learn from the other. In addition, each DF is encouraged to schedule and keep regular appointments with the Professor who teaches the class to which the DF is assigned.

 10. May a student be selected as a Dean's Fellow for more than one semester?

Yes. Having experienced DFs work in the Program lends valuable insight. All Dean’s Fellows must re-apply every semester. 

 11. Are Dean's Fellows paid? Can this affect one’s scholarship?

  • DFs are paid a fixed semester stipend, based on the hourly rate of research assistants.
  • Paychecks are issued through the University of Miami on a monthly basis.
  • This does not affect any financial aid or scholarship.

Note: ABA rules limit hourly work for full-time law students to 20 hours per week. DFs may not work in excess of those limits (This applies to Research Assistants as well as outside employment).

 12. If thinking about submitting an application to transfer or visit at another law school next semester, can one still apply for a Dean's Fellow position while making a decision?

NO! A student should not apply for a Dean’s Fellow position unless certain she or here will be here next semester. Submitting an application indicates a willingness to accept a position if one is offered. If unsure about making the commitment, please wait and apply in a subsequent semester when plans are certain.

For more information:

Alex Schimel, Associate Director
Phone: 305-284-6368
aschimel@law.miami.edu

Kelsey Pazul, AAP Program Coordinator
Phone: 305-284-4825
kpazul@law.miami.edu