1L Skills Check Overview

The 1L Skills Check is a performance test designed to provide students who have completed their first year of law school with feedback on their legal analysis and professional written communication skills — critical lawyering skills that are taught in the first year of law school. This formative assessment will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, offering crucial information that can be used to support your academic success.

The 1L Skills Check is similar in format to bar exam performance tests such as the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and California's performance test. It is not intended to be a test of substantive knowledge or memory. You will have three hours to complete the 1L Skills Check, but you may be able to complete it in far less time. The three hours allotted allow plenty of time for you to review the materials and then to draft, review, proofread, and polish your final submission. Since the 1L Skills Check is a formative assessment, your results will not affect any of your course grades. Scores are based on objective standards (as opposed to being grading on a curve).

We plan to offer the 1L Skills Check at the end of the first year, and we will report scores several weeks after the end of the spring term. The 1L Skills Check is scenario-based: it asks you to serve as an attorney for a fictional client, in a fictional jurisdiction, needing assistance in tort or contract law. You will be given a closed library of materials that consists of:

  1. A Client File that includes an assigning memorandum from a fictional supervising attorney as well as factual documents such as client intake notes, letters, emails, and newspaper articles. The assigning memorandum will describe a fictional client, that client’s situation, and what the client is seeking from the fictional law firm.
  2. A Legal Authorities File that includes statutes, judicial opinions, or both.

To give you an opportunity to practice taking the 1L Skills Check, we are providing you with a sample Client File (PDF) and a sample Legal Authorities File (PDF). These sample files are similar to the files you will receive when you take the 1L Skills Check. The actual files you will receive on the day of the 1L Skills Check will be different.

There is no practice or preparation needed for this assessment, but we encourage you to review the Instructions (PDF) and the General Rubric (PDF).

After you take the 1L Skills Check, you will receive feedback on specific skills in two areas:

  • Legal Methods and Analysis
  • Professional Written Communication 

For each skill, you will receive a rating (Proficient, Developing, or Beginning) as well as a narrative summary in each area. 

We invite you to review the Informational Video below to find out more about the 1L Skills Check: