Advanced Critical Thinking

The Advanced Critical Thinking (ACT) Department at the Ave Maria School of Law is committed to pioneering the most effective empirically based approaches available to help all students achieve their full potential as scholars, legal professionals, and conscientious leaders of society. The ACT Department, comprised of attorneys and professors with expertise and experience in helping students develop the higher-order cognitive skills and dispositions that typify highly successful law students and practicing attorneys, offers a full array of coursework, instruction, workshops, presentations, tutoring, and individual counseling to assist students in reaching their full academic and intellectual potential. ACT offerings include:

Fall presentation series for first-year students:
The fall 1L presentation series leads incoming student through the skills, strategies, and learning approaches foundational to success in law school, including critical reading/case briefing, outlining, legal analysis, exam taking, and other fundamental proficiencies.

First-semester mock exam:
The 1L mock exam, offered to students prior to the start of their actual first-semester exams, provides students with the unique opportunity to acclimate themselves to the law school testing environment and to receive feedback and guidance prior taking their first actual exam.

Applied Critical Thinking and Legal Analysis course:
This unique course, offered to students in their second year of study, focuses on developing both the cognitive skills and the dispositions necessary to optimize performance in the study and practice of law. Students in this course will develop their higher-order critical thinking and legal analysis skills in a team-based learning environment as they systematically work through a series of case files simulating actual legal problems encountered by practicing attorneys. Students in this course will learn and apply specialized empirically based methods to master key legal skills and develop the habits and approaches necessary for top performance.

Specialized bar preparation courses for third-year students:
In their third year of study, students are exposed to expert instruction in the multiple choice and essay question testing formats utilized on bar exams throughout the country, and students are given the opportunity to begin preparing for the bar exam through a series of courses where they strengthen and apply their skills through repetitive practice and feedback using the same types of questions and testing formats students will encounter on the bar exam.

Individual academic counseling:
Our experienced ACT professors and attorneys are available to work with students one-on-one to help identify their unique strengths and talents so that they can capitalize on their strengths in their legal studies and throughout career, and to help students overcome any difficulties they may encounter along the way.

Student tutoring program:
Our upper-level student tutors, overseen by ACT Department attorneys, are selected for their academic performance and demonstrated aptitude for helping others learn and succeed. Our tutors are available to work with students on an individual or group basis to provide additional guidance and support in particular subjects, skills, and learning approaches

The dedicated professionals in the ACT Department are available for consultation from the day you are accepted to the Ave Maria School of Law through passage of the bar exam. The Department is strongly committed to the success and personal development of each individual, and encourages all students to approach their legal studies with the principles embodied in the acronym ACT – individual initiative, personal responsibility, and the unyielding pursuit of excellence.

The study of law is one of the greatest challenges one can undertake. At Ave Maria, you are never alone in this endeavor. We partner with you from the first day, serving as teachers, coaches, and mentors to help you optimize your performance, focus your efforts, and develop your unique strengths and talents for success in law school and beyond.


Brett A. Brosseit
Assistant Professor and Director of Advanced Critical Thinking