About Keri Clapp

Keri Bischoff Clapp is a law school and bar exam tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox. Keri’s love for writing led her to journalism school and then directly to law school at Penn Law, which she absolutely loved. Keri was an executive editor and published author of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

After law school, she learned many life and professional lessons by clerking for a woman federal District Court judge in Philadelphia. Keri then joined a large Philadelphia law firm as a litigation associate and later worked as in-house and trial counsel for a U.S. government office.

The next act of Keri’s career brought her into the classroom to teach undergraduates and law school students. Among other courses, she has taught business law, legal research and writing, and bar exam preparation.

Navigating the Research Paper

research paper

Please welcome back Keri Clapp, professor and tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox to discuss how to handle your first big research paper in law school.

Once you survive your 1L year, you may be accustomed (or at least resigned) to having your grade decided by a single exam; you’ve internalized the organizational structure of legal writing, and you may have had a summer position that utilized and honed your developing skills.

Classes should be smooth sailing from here, right? Not always. Upper-level law courses demand new skills; you may not approach them with the same mix of awe and terror as your 1L self, but you’ll still need to meet new challenges. One of those challenges may be tackling the dreaded research paper. [Read more…]

What’s Your Brand?

Interview stand out personal brand

Please welcome back Keri Clapp, professor and tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox, to discuss establishing, developing, and promoting your personal brand in a competitive legal environment.

Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? Lexis or WestLaw? Washington Post or Wall Street Journal? You probably have a quick response to each of these questions based on not just on specific experiences, but also on how you identify the brand of each of these products.

Take coffee, for example. Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts both sell coffee, but have distinct and differentiated brand attributes. These successful businesses have spent a lot of time and money deciding on their target customer profile; their marketing efforts—from packaging to product to location—are primarily directed to what that customer base will appreciate. This type of strategy doesn’t get derailed because some people will get coffee at home or at the gas station convenience store; a well-differentiated brand does not try to be all things to all people.

In a competitive legal market, spending some time creating and marketing your personal brand is a strong move. What qualities do you want to project when you meet someone? What attributes do you want to jump out on your resume? In sum, what do you want people to associate with you when they hear your name? [Read more…]

With Punctuation, It’s the Little Things

Punctuation RulesPlease welcome back Keri Clapp, professor and tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox, to discuss the importance of proper punctuation, as well as strategies to ensure your writing is clear and leaves a good impression on your reader.

Commas, periods, and semi-colons may be the smallest marks on the page, but they can cause big problems. Punctuation is critical to clear communication because it serves as a visual cue telling the reader what you are saying and how you are saying it. Incorrect communication can confuse your message–you may have seen in the cartoon joke, “Let’s eat grandma! Let’s eat, grandma! Punctuation saves lives!”

Beyond confusing your intended meaning, incorrect punctuation is “like waving a red flag to a bull.” The phrase is an allusion to a matador waving a red flag during a bullfight to get the animal to charge; it refers to a willfully infuriating or aggravating provocation. When a legally trained reader sees a punctuation error in a piece of writing, that error is like the proverbial red flag drawing the reader’s attention to the mistake. Don’t let your readers conclude that you are careless or unskilled; learn how to catch common errors and upgrade your writing. [Read more…]

Thinking Like a Lawyer: IRAC For the Real World

Clear argumentsToday, we’re thrilled to welcome Keri Clapp, professor and tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox, to talk about a very important topic — how you can take your IRAC skills outside the classroom and into the real world, to contribute in a important way to shaping public discourse. 

Welcome, Keri!

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about fake news, “alternative facts,” and the role that the press ought to play in reporting on our government. Lately, I’ve been struck by how few people are genuinely open to discussing the pros and cons of issues. Many well-educated and generally thoughtful people have simply picked a “side” and won’t even listen to information that might contradict their “verdict.” Sure, reasonable people can differ on [many] issues, but shouldn’t there be a thorough exchange and vetting of real facts, law, and information? [Read more…]