Dennis J. Tonsing: Author of 1000 Days to the Bar: But the Practice of Law Begins Now, Former Trial Attorney, Dean of Students, Academic Support Director, and law columnist ~ now devoted exclusively to helping law students achieve their goals.
So I did.
In 2001, after delivering some brief remarks as a panelist at a gathering of law school academic support professionals from around the country, I was approached by Mario Mainero, now a professor of law at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California. Professor Mainero said, “I’ve been going to these academic support conferences for years, and this is the first time I’ve heard someone say what you said today. You ought to write a book.” So I did.
What he was referring to was the perspective I adopted when explaining to students how to excel in law school. It’s simple, but, unfortunately (I believe) unique. It is just this:
“To learn to play the flute,” Aristotle claimed, “you must play the flute.” To learn to practice law, you must practice law during law school—and “practicing” law means actively engaging in the activities lawyers engage in daily, throughout law school. Yes, one must learn the rules of law, the maxims, the definitions, and the minutiae of law – and how to best employ those to earn high grades on law exams. But going about that learning in the same way a lawyer goes about her tasks of digging, researching, investigating, writing, and persuading, all but assures success in law school, and provides a solid platform for leaping into the professional practice. That’s precisely what 1000 Days to the Bar – But the Practice Begins Now! explains how (and why) to do.
As a kid, I was a fan of Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Perry Mason—the best defense lawyer in the (television) world. I wanted to do what they did—practice law in the courtroom. So I did, for about twenty years. I also wanted to teach. So I taught a wide range of subjects in high schools, universities, and law schools. At Vermont Law School and Rhode Island’s Roger Williams University School of Law, I designed and directed the schools’ Academic Support Programs. After leaving my position as Dean of Students and Director of the Academic Support Program at Roger Williams a few years ago, I advised thousands of students how to improve their exam writing skills as a consultant for Concord Law School.
Now, living in South America, I am looking for my next adventure.
Photo from 2003 – early outline of part of the first edition of “1000 Days to the Bar” on the wall in my home office. This material is covered in pages 51 to 88 of the second edition.
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Published: Buffalo; William S. Hein & Co., Inc.; 2010
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