John Manning. (Courtesy photo) John Manning. (Courtesy photo) How do you read and brief a case? What’s the purpose of the Socratic Method? What should a new law student expect once they arrive on campus?

For the past two years, Harvard Law School has covered those topics and more via Zero-L —a 14 hour-online program for its incoming students that is designed to give them a smoother transition into law school life. (The name is a reference to 1L, the widely used shorthand for the first year of law school.) On Wednesday, the elite law school announced that it is making Zero-L free and available to all law schools this summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This has been an incredibly challenging period for so many,” said Harvard Law dean John Manning in an announcement of the program’s expansion. “If Zero-L can help ease the transition and strengthen student success at other law schools as is has done at [Harvard], then we want to offer that support to all law schools by waiving the fee and making the course available for free this year.”

Harvard already was planning to make Zero-L available to other law schools this summer for a fee, but opted to drop the cost amid the coronavirus pandemic. The program could prove especially useful this summer if law schools must shorten, delay or move their orientations online due to the virus, according to the school.

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While it was designed for Harvard law students, and the modules are taught by its faculty, the content covered in Zero-L is broad and universal enough that it’s applicable to any law school, said Jessica Soban, Harvard’s associate dean for strategic initiatives. In fact, the school made Zero-L available to four other law schools last summer with positive results.

“We are thrilled with the results,” said University of Baltimore School of Law associate dean Dionne Koller. “Zero-L enables us to connect […]

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