Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Real World Tips for Learning to APPLY the Law!

Wow.  I just negotiated a contract…with a vending machine!  

And, perhaps you made a contract today too.  

But sometimes the 1L subjects just seem so far removed from my life experiences that I often found - as a law student - that I was "lost in space in an alien outer world."  

Perhaps you feel that way too.  If so, here's some practical tips to help make sense of the cases, statutes, and hypotheticals that are the grist of the first year law school curriculum:

  •  Contracts/UCC Sales & the Vending Machines:  As a starter, try to see if you entered into any common law or UCC contracts today.  Perhaps you took the bus or train to law school.  If so, you had some sort of common law contractual arrangement.  Have you ever received a gift card?  If so, congratulations…you are a third party beneficiary.  Have you tried to make a purchase from a vending machine for a candy bar to get you through the afternoon?  Then, you negotiated a UCC contract for the sale of a good.  I wonder whether you or the vending machine made the offer?  In other words, you might already be a contracts maestro in the midst of your real life daily experiences.
  • Torts in the Bumps & Bruises of Everyday Life:  I just committed one the other day.  Blinded by my cell phone (as I walked with my head bent downward with my gaze gripped by the screen), I stumbled right into another person in the hallway.  I wonder…battery, assault, negligence?  
  • Property Law Practicalities:  Wow.  Did you perhaps come across someone that has a fee simple absolute?  Maybe the law school building that you are sitting in today?  Or, did you see any easements in gross?  Perhaps a highway bill board or, take a glance out a window, even a power line?  And then, there is one of my favorites.  I'm almost there.  For nearly 18 years, I've been crossing the grass just outside the law school building in order to get myself as quickly as possible to the corner store.  That's right.  I'm a torts trespasser (at least hypothetically).  I've been in the daily process of committing an intentional tort. But, after 18 years, I'll become something else…an adverse possessor…perhaps of a prescriptive easement?  In fact, here's an article about a former Boulder judge that made an adverse possession claim against a neighbor:  And, then, there's another of my favorites:  A newspaper article in the Denver Post that - are your ready for this - commented as follows:  "Opponents of private transfer fees say they violate a common-law principle in place for centuries called touch and concern. Under that principle, a payee placing a covenant must provide a benefit or have a present connection to a property (emphasis added)." and concern  Wow, I wish I had read that article as a law student.
  • Criminal Law Reminders…Most Everywhere:  If your law school has a parking lot, then it probably has parking lot signs.  Lots of them.  Everywhere (and mostly with fine print details).  I wonder…is that a strict liability crime or is there a mental state required to establish a parking violation?  And, what is the volitional act that one must do to commit a parking violation?  And, are there any defenses, such as when I am late to class?  My favorites…all the warning signs when I ride the bus.

As you can see, the world of the casebook might also be the world of our lives.  

So, in between all of that casebook reading, class preparation time, note taking, and outlining, take a peek…at the world around you.  

You might just catch someone in a tort or two!  

(Scott Johns).

October 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Herculean ASPer?

A herculean ASPer is an academic support professional who is perceived to have extraordinary powers which allow her/him to overcome every difficult task pertaining to a law student’s academic and bar success. These powers often exceed normal human power and capability; they are superhuman.  This is my fictional description that I believe describes the perception of many academic support professionals and sometimes even how these professionals perceive themselves if they took the time to reflect.

Academic support professionals are problem solvers who are willing to put in the time and effort to help guide students as they navigate their law school learning and bar exam preparation processes. This means that we are simultaneously juggling interactions with several different students, with several different needs, and at a variety of points in their individual progression.  We help students manage emotions and address non-academic needs.  We are creative individuals who are flexible enough to adapt to individual student progression and process. Doing this type of work is what gets us up in the morning and keeps us going.

While we might appear or perceive ourselves as superhuman and herculean in nature, I have found that at various points in the semester and the academic year responsibilities require more careful attention to time management. This can be difficult for someone who generally has difficulty saying “no”, values helping, and is solution oriented (speaking only for myself).  Whenever I find myself in such a predicament, I have to remind myself of what I advise students concerning managing their time and balancing responsibilities, particularly at demanding stages of the semester.  Here are the three things I try to keep in mind:

  1. Learn to say “no.” Only take on commitments you know you have time for and you truly care about. Although there are so many tantalizing opportunities, you still need to be effective in what you are doing and deliver a respectable product or service. This is the hardest thing to do. Be real with yourself and choose quality over quantity.
  2. Turn essential tasks into habits. Everything you want to accomplish each day results from repeated actions and developed routines. Start small with a manageable task and work from there. If you are required to produce regular written documents, then you may need to establish a set time and write regularly for that period of time. This means weekly or daily writing with time limits for completion.
  3. Personal fulfillment should be the goal. Enjoy and evaluate whatever you are doing. We can get so busy making sure we get everything done that we do not stop and smell the roses or appreciate what we do. You Only Live Once (YOLO). You do not get back the hours and minutes that have passed so do not experience regrets. Be open to opportunity and embrace your passions.

All the best as we work on ourselves to better help others work on themselves! (Goldie Pritchard)

October 26, 2016 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Federal Court Backs Harvard in Law School Plagiarism Challenge

Inside Higher Ed included a short entry with a link to the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit opinion in the case here.

October 25, 2016 in Miscellany, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Four Posts on Using Cognitive Psychology by Louis Schulze


If you have not seen the four posts on The Faculty Lounge by Louis N. Schulze, Jr.,  Assistant Dean and Professor of Academic Support at Florida International University College of Law, regarding using cognitive psychology with our students, here are the links: Part 1: Retrieval Practice, Part 2: Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning, Part 3: Spaced Repetition, and Part 4: Cognitive Schema Theory.

October 25, 2016 in Learning Styles, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Director of Academic Success Position at Concordia

Concordia University School of Law: Director of Academic Success

Background: Concordia University School of Law, located in Boise, Idaho, invites applications for a Director of Academic Success and law professor position beginning in the 2017-18 academic year.  This is a full-time faculty position that may lead to long-term successive contracts.  Our goal is to recruit a dynamic, bright, and highly motivated individual who is interested in making significant contributions to our law school and its students.  Experience in academic support and bar exam support is preferred, and teaching experience is desirable.  As a Lutheran institution of higher education, we seek candidates who will support our mission and promote Lutheran values.

Special Instructions to Applicants: Questions about the position can be directed to the Chair of the Committee.  Applicants should submit a current Curriculum Vitae, a statement of faith, and a letter of interest to Please also provide the names and email addresses of three individuals prepared to speak to your professional qualifications for this position. Please note: these references will not be contacted immediately, but may be contacted at an appropriate later point in the review process. Additional materials related to teaching excellence and samples of scholarly publications may be emailed to the Victoria Haneman, Chair of the Committee, at  Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Concordia University reserves the right to give preference in employment based upon religion in order to further the Lutheran objectives of the University and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

October 24, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Grade Predictors

Hat tip to Courtney Lee at McGeorge School of Law for alerting us to a TaxProf blog posting about an article on a longitudinal study on law school grade predictors: here.

October 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Crunch time is fast approaching for law students. Exams are getting closer now that we are nearly two-thirds of the way through the semester. It is a time in the semester when students begin to make study choices that superficially seem good but are really very counter-productive. Here are some tips on making wise decisions:

  • Cramming promotes forgetting material as soon as it is dumped on the exam. By reviewing and applying material multiple times, it is more likely to end up in long-term memory - the filing cabinet of your brain. Long-term memory helps you use the material in later courses and retain more material for your ultimate goal of bar review.
  • Merely re-reading an outline several hundred times will not result in deep understanding. Remember to really grapple with the material and ask yourself questions. What does this element's definition really mean? How do these rules work together? What fact scenarios would change the outcome when this rule is applied? How would the analysis change under the common law/majority jurisdiction rule and under the restatement/uniform code/state-specific law/etc.?
  • Students often take a compartmentalized approach of some variation to studying: two weeks on course 1; the next two weeks on course 2; then two weeks on course 3. However, we forget 80% of what we learn in two weeks if we do not review regularly. By focusing on only one course at a time, you have brain leakage on the other courses - especially the last one in the list. 
  • It is human nature to spend time on what we already know well and avoid what we do not understand. We go for the safe and cozy. You need to allot sufficient time to address the really difficult material and not leave it until the end for cramming.
  • Students often fall for the open-book trap. They study less diligently because of a false sense of security. In reality, students rarely have time in an exam to look up much material. It is better to study the material well with the goal of limited use of any open-book options during the exam.
  • It is inefficient to complete intermediate- or expert-level practice questions when one has not studied the material yet. If you do not know the material, you are unlikely to learn it in an organized fashion and synthesize it properly with random exam questions. Learn the material well first so that you can truly monitor your understanding and practice your exam-taking skills to the most advantage.
  • Have at least a few days lag time between learning the material and doing those harder practice questions, however. If you do the practice questions right after your review, you will get them right because of the timing. A time lag allows you to monitor your retention and true ability to apply the material.
  • Beware of avoiding practice questions because you do not know yet the type of exam (objective, short-answer, essay) you will have. Do a variety of questions for now. You will be ahead of the game if you do as many practice questions as possible to monitor your understanding and application of the law. When your professor announces the exam format(s), switch your efforts to those specific types of practice questions.
  • Memorization of the law cannot be done in major stretches of time. Your brain chunks information and has limited capacity to memorize lots of rules at once. Limit your memory drills to bursts of 30 minutes or less. The number of drills for a course will depend on the amount of material and its difficulty. 
  • Students can be tempted to spend too much time preparing to study or over-elaborating tasks, so that more effective study tasks with lots of results get lost in the process. It is easy to distract oneself with neatly retyping notes, designing artistic visuals worthy of an art gallery, searching for the perfect binder and tabs, cleaning one's study area, lining up highlighters and pens, and stacking up one's study aids.  Go for oomph instead of frills.
  • Sleep is one of the first things to go (if it has not already). However, lack of sleep is one of the main reasons for low productivity, fuzzy thinking, poor retention/recall of material, and brain freeze. Get 7 - 8 hours every night (preferably with the same bedtime and waking hours) in order to get much more done in less time with the added benefits of real learning and focus.

You want to be efficient (using time wisely) and effective (getting real oomph from that time) during the remaining weeks. By carefully choosing your strategies, you can maximize your exam review. (Amy Jarmon)

October 23, 2016 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Two Assistant Professors of Academic Success Positions at U of Dayton

Assistant Professor of Academic Success– POSITION SUMMARY

The University of Dayton School of Law is accepting applications for
two Assistant Professors of Academic Success. The Academic Success Program at the School of
Law is designed to help students develop the skills necessary for law school success and firsttime
bar passage. The Academic Success Program impacts every stage of the academic program,
providing support to students from orientation until graduation. The Assistant Professor of
Academic Success position is non-tenure track with an initial one-year appointment. There is a
possibility for renewal long-term (three or five-year) appointments after three years of
satisfactory service. The Assistant Professor of Academic Success will be charged with teaching
academic success courses, advising students on issues related to their coursework and
professional development, supervising and evaluating the Learning Communities program and
upper-class Dean’s Fellows, and participating in the greater academic success professional

Applicants must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and excellent written
communication skills. They must also have passed a bar examination and been admitted to
practice law in a U.S. state

We prefer candidates with:
• An outstanding academic record;
• Successful and recent experience in legal education or law teaching, particularly in
designing and teaching academic success courses or those related to legal reasoning,
critical reading, exam-writing and bar examination preparation;
• Experience providing effective academic advising and professional development
counseling for students;
• Recent successful experience developing and administering structured intervention and
counseling programs for at-risk students;
• Successful experience developing course materials and supervising and evaluating
others’ teaching, especially that of graduate or law students;
• Recent successful program administration, including delivering and assessing all aspects
of a program, especially if the experience relates to academic support or bar examination
• Excellent oral communication skills, including effective presentation skills;
• Previous participation in the larger community for academic success professionals,
including attending or presenting at conferences or other endeavors to support
professional development;
• Effective interpersonal skills with various constituencies, including the ability to work
collaboratively with colleagues;
• Experience mentoring and working with students from diverse backgrounds;
• Demonstrated commitment to socially and culturally diverse communities; and,
• Expressed willingness to engage with Catholic and Marianist educational values.

Applications will be accepted until November 18, 2016. To be considered as a candidate for this
position, you must apply online at: Cover letter and CV
should be submitted electronically on the website at the time of application. The cover letter
should address the applicant’s ability to meet the minimum and preferred qualifications. For more
information about the School of Law or the Academic Support Program, please visit our website
at or contact the chair of the hiring committee, Professor Susan
Wawrose, University of Dayton School of Law, 300 College Park, Dayton, Ohio 45469-2772.

The University of Dayton, founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary, is a top ten Catholic research
university. The University seeks outstanding, diverse faculty and staff who value its mission and
share its commitment to academic excellence in teaching, research and artistic creativity, the
development of the whole person, and leadership and service in the local and global community.
To attain its Catholic and Marianist mission, the University is committed to the principles of
diversity, inclusion and affirmative action and to equal opportunity policies and practices. As an
Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer, we will not discriminate against
minorities, females, protected veterans, individuals with disabilities, or on the basis of
sexual orientation or gender identity.

Posting - ASP Job Opportunity
Where appropriate, more than one option may be checked when responding to the below listed
questions. Checking all options, for example in regard to salary, in an effort to avoid specifying
a legitimate range is discouraged. You may provide additional textual explanations after each
item. The completed form must appear within the body of an E-mail posting about a posting,
and the completed form must be included within the text of any file attachment.
1. The position advertised:
___ a. is a tenure-track appointment.
X b. may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.
___ c. may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years. (Full Time
___ d. has an upper-limit on the number of years a teacher may be appointed.
___ e. is part of a fellowship program for one or two years.
___ f. is a part-time appointment, or a year-to-year adjunct appointment. (One-Year
Visitorship only)
___ g. is for at will employment.
2. The professor hired:
___ a. will be permitted to vote on all matters at faculty meetings.
X b. will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings on matters except those pertaining to hiring,
tenure, and promotion.
___ c. will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range checked
below. (A base salary does not include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other
courses, or teaching in summer school; a base salary does not include conference travel or other
professional development funds.)
___ over $120,000
___ $110,000 - $119,999
___ $100,000 - $109,999
___ $90,000 - $99,999
X $80,000 - $89,999
X $70,000 - $79,999
X $60,000 - $69,999
___ $50,000 - $59,999
___ $40, 000-49,999
___ this is a part-time appointment paying less than $30,000
___ this is an adjunct appointment paying less than $10,000
4. The person hired will have the title of:
___ a. Associate Dean (including Dean of Students).
___ b. Director.
___ c. Professor (tenure track).
___ d. Professor (clinical tenure track or its equivalent).
X e. Professor (neither tenure track nor clinical tenure track).
___ f. no title.
5. Job responsibilities include:
X a. working with students whose predicators (LSAT and University GPA) suggest they will
struggle to excel in law school.
X b. working with students who performed relatively poorly on their law school examinations
or other assessments.
X c. working with diverse students.
___ d. managing orientation.
X e. teaching ASP-related classes (case briefing, synthesis, analysis, etc.).
___ f. teaching bar-exam related classes.
X g. working with students on an individual basis.
X h. teaching other law school courses.
6. The person hired will be present in the office and work regularly during the summer months
(June – August).
X a. Yes.
X b. No.
We are hiring two ASP faculty members. Both will not be required to work full-time during
the summer.
7. The person hired is required to publish, in some form, in order to maintain employment.
___ a. Yes.
X b. No.

Note: The Association of Academic Support Educators strongly recommends that this disclosure
form accompany all E-mail postings for academic support positions sent to subscribers of the
ASP listserv (

October 22, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 21, 2016

If I Wanted a Clone Army, I Would Have Hitched a Spaceship to Kamino

At the University of South Carolina, we have a robust tutoring program.  It's extremely well-attended and student evaluations are almost uniformly excellent (usually, the biggest complaint is that the tutoring sessions are late in the afternoon, which is somewhat unavoidable because of the First Year Schedule).  I believe a large part of the program's success is that my most important hiring criteria is whether I believe a potential tutor can handle tutoring without my constant supervision.

Years ago, I attended a conference where a professor was talking about her tutoring program.  In that school's set-up, all tutoring decisions, handouts, presentations, etc. were made by her.  She said that she spent the majority of her time managing the tutors and warned us that if we wanted to start tutoring programs, we'd probably find ourselves in the same boat.

When I inherited the tutoring program at South Carolina, I thought about that presentation and worried I wouldn't be able to focus on my own workshops, individual meetings, bar prep, etc. if I had to spend all my time watching the tutors.  Then I had an epiphany.  I realized that if I hovered over them and made them do exactly what I told them to do, I'd have 18 "mini-mes" running around, which seemed fairly pointless.

I read somewhere that advertising doesn't work until you hear about something three different ways -- for example, a product advertised on television, in a newspaper, and then recommended by a friend.  I think about the tutors the same way.  A student may not truly understand something until they study it in several different ways and in several different formats (for example, professor, book, me, commercial outline, tutor).

I do have fairly regular group meetings with the tutors, sit in on their tutoring sessions now and then, give them materials and ideas they may choose to use, and speak with them over email or in my office, but I don't hover.  I've trusted them, and so far, none of them have let me down. 

The basic rules for tutoring are that the tutors are not to shadow teach or replicate what is done in the classroom.  They must follow any and all directions given by the professors of the class they tutor for, send me weekly updates of what they are covering, keep roll, alert me to any students who seem really lost, and base the majority of their tutoring sessions on going over practice problems.

Giving the tutors freedom has led to some great work.  The other day, I watched a tutor session with over 60 students (attendance is voluntary) where the tutor had them all break into groups to make-up hypos and then try to answer them for each other.  The discussion was lively (for 4:30 on a Wednesday) and lightbulbs seemed to be going off everywhere.  I didn't tell the tutor to do a session like this -- he came up with it on his own, and it was great.

That's not to say there haven't been minor points problems I've had to address.  For example, one tutor had the unfortunate habit of cussing during his presentations without realizing he was doing it.  Another had the habit of trying to ingratiate himself with the students by using  jokes that started out with "I don't mean to offend anybody, but ..."  He believed being an "equal opportunity offender" made it O.K., so I had to nip that in the bud. Another tutor made the offhand comment that a professor was "spunky," which the professor was pretty annoyed with once she heard about it.  However, all in all, there haven't been any major issues where I have had to fire or reprimand a tutor.

I've also had a few minor problems from the students being tutored.  Over the years, a few students, especially weaker ones, have wanted tutors to basically reteach them concepts outside of class or make outlines for them.  Sometimes these students complain to me that the tutor isn't doing his or her job because they won't do these things.  I simply point out the rules I've put in place for the tutors, and the complaint dies away.

I've been really proud of the tutoring program in this format, and I believe it's done a lot to help struggling students. (Alex Ruskell)


October 21, 2016 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

LSU Director Position

LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, PAUL M. HEBERT LAW CENTER seeks to hire a Director of Academic Success to modify our existing program and to assist in developing and implementing a comprehensive Academic Success Program to help students in the transition to law school and to promote their successful completion of the J.D. program.  The program will emphasize success in first-year courses and the development of strong legal writing skills.  Applicants should have earned a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and be admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction. Also required are a record of excellent academic success in law school and a minimum of two years’ experience in law practice and/or law teaching with a focus on legal writing and analysis.  Experience in an academic support program at the law school level is preferred.

Faculty rank and status will depend upon the applicant’s qualifications and experience.  The Faculty Appointments Committee will review applications on a rolling basis.  Applicants should send a cover letter indicating their experience with and vision for Academic Support and a current curriculum vita to Melissa T. Lonegrass or William R. Corbett, Co-Chairs of the Faculty Appointments Committee, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University, 110 LSU Union Building, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-0106. 

The Paul M. Hebert Law Center of LSU is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Employer and is committed to building a culturally diverse faculty and encourages applications from female and minority candidates.       

October 21, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Surprising Benefits of Chit Chat, Eye Contact, and a Hello for Law Students & ASP (and the 10/5 Rule)!

In follow-up to yesterday's excellent post on tackling fear by Prof. Pritchard, I…unfortunately...spent most of my three years in law school in fear.  In fact, I felt like I was the only one that was without roots, without a sense of presence, without wholeness in law school.  But, since then, I now know the truth…many of us as law students feel alone and in fear.

Apparently, there is something called the 10/5 rule that might have helped me.  The 10/5 rule is used throughout the hotel and hospitality industries to help strangers feel welcome.  And, because many law students feel as though they are strangers throughout law school, I wonder whether the 10/5 rule might help law students overcome fear and loneliness to become instead empowered as partners with others in a community of learners.

So, here's the nut and bolts of the 10/5 rule:

It starts when you are ten feet away from another person.  Just make eye contact with a friendly smile. That's it.

Then, when you are five feet away, just add a friendly "hello" with perhaps a quick expression like "Wow; that's a big casebook you're carrying."

You see, according to freelance writer Jennifer Wallace: "Chitchat is an important social lubricant, helping to build empathy and a sense of community."  Often, though, we underestimate the importance of small talk.  

According to a 2014 study, Professor Nicholas Epley and Ph.D. student Juliana Schroeder conducted experiments on commuter trains in Chicago in which participants were grouped into three cohorts: some were told to engage in polite conversations with strangers, some were told to avoid conversations with strangers, and some (as a control group) were asked to engage in conversations as they normally do.  Interestingly, the rule-breakers - those in the group that actually broke the "social rules of the commuter" by engaging in small talk with strangers - reported significantly more positive experiences and no less productive time as they commuted.

In another study conducted on a campus setting of 40,000 students, researchers evaluated whether an eye gaze and a friendly smile might make any difference with respect to students' sense of belonging.  In the experiment, the authors had a research experimenter randomly walk past college students in which she either avoided eye contact, engaged in eye contact, or engaged in eye contact accompanied by a friendly smile. Trailing the experimenter was a research associate who then surveyed each passerby.  Without tipping the students about the experiment, the research associate asked each student to evaluate their sense of belonging.  Surprisingly, even when students were not aware of the research experimenter's contact with them, students who were greeted with an eye gaze reported a greater sense of belonging (with the highest reported benefit by those greeted with both an eye gaze and a smile).  As the authors indicate, "simple eye contact is sufficient to convey inclusion. In contrast, withholding eye contact can signal exclusion."

These results seem to validate the 10/5 rule.  So, why not put to practice the 10/5 rule in law school.  Looking back, I wonder whether, if I had practiced the 10/5 rule as a law student, I would have developed connections with others in law school (and put fear and loneliness aside).  Perhaps I just need to start greeting others with an eye gaze and a brief "howdy."  In light of this research, our small interactions with our students might be the bridge to help our students not just survive in law school but thrive.  So, here's to "breaking the rules" and smiling with you!  (Scott Johns).


October 20, 2016 in Advice, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Failure is a Pathway to Success

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has several definitions for the word “fear” but here I have only selected a few.

: to be afraid of (something or someone)

: to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)

: to be afraid and worried

: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger

Fear is the theme of the week and maybe even the month because it has crept into various aspects of life for students and other individuals I engage with. The fear of midterm exams, fear of failing out of law school, fear of the MPRE, fear of  the bar exam results, fear about getting practice questions wrong, fear of not getting the interview, fear of not getting the job, and fear of being embarrassed in class, you  get the picture. I try to calm the fears of those around me or at least help them develop coping mechanisms to face fears head on. 

The field of positive psychology suggests that while some of our happiness is influenced by our genes and our external circumstances, a large part of our happiness comes from how we choose to approach our lives. Furthermore, people who actively try to become more grateful in their everyday lives are happier and likely healthier than those who do not. Challenges and fears are inevitable in life if we are truly experiencing life, but how we approach these challenges and fears is more important than the challenges and fears themselves. This is true for students and ASPers.

I saw the clip below, an excerpt from Charlie Day’s Commencement Address at Merrimack College, a while ago and it recently resurfaced on a number of outlets. I found the entire address particularly encouraging and empowering and have shared this clip with others. I hope that you find the words encouraging regardless of what challenges you currently face. (Goldie Pritchard)



October 19, 2016 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Two Upcoming Conferences for the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning

March 25, 2017

Formative Assessment in Large Classes
Emory University School of Law

ILTL Conference at Emory
Things to Do in Atlanta - Discover Atlanta Events

July 7-8, 2017

Teaching Cultural Competency and Other Professional Skills
University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

Plan to join us for an opening reception on the evening of July 6.
More details to come.

October 18, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Submission to the Learning Curve Deadline Extended to November 4th

Dear Friends & Colleagues:

On behalf of the editorial staff of The Learning Curve (Chelsea Baldwin, DeShun Harris, and Christina Chong), I'm pleased to announce this reminder call for submissions for our upcoming Winter issue. 

To accommodate many of us who are working with students during midterms or giving/grading midterms, the deadline has been extended to Friday,  November 4, 2016.   As with the summer 2016 edition, we are expecting to publish another general topic/theme issue.  If you have an idea, a lesson, or a perspective on ASP or bar teaching that you would like to showcase, please consider submitting to The Learning Curve.  As examples of the types of articles we publish, I have attached this past summer's edition.   

Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate, and attached as a Word file.  Please send your submission to  

The Learning Curve is a newsletter reporting on issues and ideas for the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Academic Support and the general law school academic & bar support community.



Jeremiah A. Ho | 何嘉霖 | 助理教授

Assistant Professor of Law

University of Massachusetts School of Law

333 Faunce Corner Road

North Dartmouth, MA 02747

508.985.1156 •

October 17, 2016 in Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard who was given a top ten badge award by Texas Bar Today for her October 5th post: Bar Results and Motivating Current 3Ls.

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_Small (002)

October 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Call for Proposals for AASE 2017 National Conference

2017 Annual Conference
May 23 – 25: Fort Worth, Texas
Texas A&M School of Law
Call for Proposals

The 2017 Conference of the Association of Academic Support Educators will bring together colleagues interested in legal education and academic support. In this collegial and collaborative environment, colleagues will have a chance to meet, reconnect, and share ideas about pedagogy, scholarship, and professional growth.

The program committee welcomes proposals on any subject relating to legal education and academic support. Please read and conform to the Proposal Requirements (below).

The program committee prioritizes proposals on diversity and inclusion related topics that are related to legal education and academic support.

Please craft your proposal carefully. The program committee will look for proposals that describe the presentation and its goals in detail. Our assumption is that a clear and detailed proposal today will lead to a stronger presentation at the conference. An example of a proposal is available below.

Presentation Topics
The committee seeks various presentations and topics, including but not limited to presentations that address:
• diversity and inclusion (particularly programs that focus on sustaining women and minorities in legal careers);
• teaching ideas for new and veteran teachers;
• scholarship;
• research;
• professional growth;
• assessment;
• hot topics in legal education;
• creativity in law teaching and learning;
• teaching methods;
• analytical and academic competencies necessary for success in law school, on the bar, and in practice;
• counseling;
• educational psychology;
• assisting students with learning disabilities;
• the role and status of Academic Support Professionals in the legal academy; and
• intersections between academic support, legal writing and doctrinal teaching.

Presentation Format
Presentations may be in any form the presenter finds effective. Although the committee does seek to accommodate all presenters with their selection for presentation format and timing, the committee may occasionally ask presenters to change the format or timing of a presentation to fit the needs of a comprehensive and diverse program.
Please indicate your target audience in your proposal. For example: newbies, bar prep, large schools, etc.

The following is a description of the different types of presentations:

Interactive Workshop
An interactive workshop is a presentation with audience participation throughout. A proposal for an interactive workshop should discuss what you plan to do to make the presentation interactive.

Examples include: pair and share, break-out group discussions, use of demonstrative aids that involve the audience, or other audience participation. Note that providing handouts, although very beneficial for attendees, does not on its own make the presentation interactive.

If you submit a proposal with more than one presenter for your session, your proposal should include the name, e-mail address, and school for each presenter. In determining how many presenters to include in your proposal, please make sure that each person will have sufficient time to fully discuss his or her topic. Because most presentations will last only 45 minutes, we recommend no more than 2 to 3 presenters.

Lesson in a Box
A lesson in a box presentation is a session devoted to the presentation of a lesson on a single topic. Such sessions should include all of the information and materials necessary for attendees to leave the session prepared to deliver the lesson on their own.

Moderated Group Discussion
Moderated Group Discussions are more informal presentations that feature group conversations and interaction. The committee encourages presentations that will foster dialogue among conference attendees. These sessions are particularly well suited for hot topics.

Speed Round
Speed Rounds are 10 minute, fast-paced, high-impact sessions. These are opportunities for new ideas, or for emerging professionals to present ideas that might not have been presented on before. There will be several Speed Rounds running concurrently throughout the period.

Brochure Summary
Please provide a short summary of your presentation for the conference brochure. The summary should not exceed 250 words and should accurately reflect the subject of the presentation.

As part of your proposal we ask that you explain whether your presentation requires projection, internet access, audio, or other technology and the degree to which each is necessary to your presentation. We ask that proposals identify any technology needs at this early point so that we can be prepared well in advance of the conference to provide accessibility.

Time Slots
The committee expects that nearly all presentations will be assigned a 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 1 hour time slot. Proposals should indicate the time needed for the presentation. Please also address how the presentation can be adapted if you are allotted a shorter amount of time. However, we recognize that a few presentations are better served with more time. If you are interested in a 75-minute time slot, your proposal should clearly explain why 75 minutes is necessary.

Submission Deadline
Proposals must be submitted no later than January 13, 2017. Late submissions will not be accepted.

All individuals submitting a proposal will be notified about the status of their proposal on or before February 17, 2017.

Multiple Proposals and the “One-Presentation Rule”
You may submit a maximum of two proposals, and you need not rank your proposals in order of preference. If you are selected for more than one presentation or panel, you will be given the opportunity to select the one presentation or panel in which you would like to participate, as each person is limited to one presentation or panel.

No Marketing
Although the committee welcomes proposals on any topic of interest to academic support faculty, a proposal will not be accepted if it appears to be a means to market a textbook or other for-pay product. AASE does not accept proposals from any commercial vendors. Any commercial vendor interested in promoting their materials may do so as a sponsor of the conference. Please email to request information on becoming a sponsor.

If you have any questions, please contact the Program Committee at:


Proposal for AASE 2014 Annual Summer Conference

Title: Building Positive Classroom Environments

Presenter Contact Information: Cai Leonard, Law School, 2 Main Street, Springfield, ST 98765. T: 112- 356-7890

Type of Session: Interactive Workshop

Audience: Newbies & moderate experience level; all school sizes

Goals of the session. By the end of this workshop participants will:
• Be able to explain the value of positive interpersonal environments in helping students learn;
• Be able to identify methods for building positive interpersonal classroom environments; and
• Be able to engage their own students in exercises that help build positive classroom environments.

Background. Creating a positive learning environment is one of the components critical to successful learning (e.g. Bransford et. al, How People Learn 25; Goleman, Social Intelligence 268-76; Hess & Friedland, Techniques for Teaching Law 326-27). Emotional intelligence and neuroscience studies show that we learn better when we are challenged, supported, respected, and engaged. Too much stress impedes learning; lack of challenge does the same. This workshop focuses on how to create a positive learning environment for law students.

Workshop methodology. Participants will be actively involved in different techniques that affect classroom dynamics. Participants will engage in:
 Writing
 Discussing ideas in pairs
 Looking at visuals
 Listening & reflecting
 Discussing ideas with the whole group
 Practicing with a small group

Participants will first examine the environments that have been conducive to their own learning, and exchange their ideas with a partner. This will be followed by a short, whole group discussion about the value of creating positive affect — and the value of engaging others in talking about it. Participants will then be given scenarios about classroom behaviors and asked to consider the following kinds of questions:
 What could the professor have done at the beginning of the course to increase the positive interpersonal engagement?
 What are the likely consequences of negative classroom interactions?
 What small steps can professors take to improve the classroom environment?

Participants will be given an overview of how positive and negative interpersonal dynamics and environments affect student learning. They will then discuss things they have noticed within their classes and ways to improve classroom dynamics. Depending on participants’ teaching areas, participants may engage in small group discussions about questions relating to doctrinal areas, upper level vs. first year courses, skills courses, or clinical courses.

Throughout the workshop, I will share my own experiences and give examples of what I have found effective in my classes, others’ classes, and I will answer participants’ questions.

Materials. Outline of the workshop, scenarios regarding different kinds of classroom environments, questions for participants to respond to, specific techniques professors can use to create positive environments, and short list of resources.

Technology Required: Access to PowerPoint would be very helpful, although the session could be modified to be done without it.

Brochure Summary: We have all witnessed our students struggle in their classes due to too much stress. This workshop focuses on how to create a positive learning environment for law students. Through group discussion and partner work, participants will learn how to build positive interpersonal classroom environments.

October 15, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Proposals for Formative Assessment Symposium at Detroit Mercy


The Impact of Formative Assessment:

Emphasizing Outcome Measures in Legal Education

The University of Detroit Mercy Law Review is pleased to announce its annual academic Symposium to be held on March 3, 2017, at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Symposium will contemplate how the American Bar Association’s emphasis on outcome measures in its revised Standards for Approval will affect law students’ educational experience.

Specific topics may address, but are not limited to, the following issues:

  1. The Need for and Benefits of Incorporating Formative Assessments into the


• The importance of self-regulated learning and qualitative feedback; the benefits of formative assessment versus using only summative assessment; the effect of

formative assessments on professors’ teaching experience.

  1. Methods for Incorporating Formative Assessments into the Classroom

• The types of formative assessments that satisfy the ABA’s requirements; when qualitative feedback is most effective for student success; ways in which to

implement formative assessments to improve student learning.

  1. Measuring the Success of Formative Assessments

• The methods by which law schools can conduct ongoing evaluation of the assessment methods to adequately “measure the degree to which students have

attained competency in the school’s learning outcomes” as required by the new ABA Standards.

The Law Review invites interested individuals to submit an abstract of 250-300 words that detail their proposed topic and presentation. Since the above list of topics is non-exhaustive, the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review encourages all interested parties to develop their own topic to present at the Symposium. Included with the abstract should be the author’s name, contact information, and a copy of their resume/curriculum vitae.

Abstracts should indicate whether the proposal is for presentation and publication or for presentation only. Although publication is not required to present at the Symposium, preference will be given to proposals that include a commitment to produce a publishable article for the Symposium edition of the Law Review (to be published Fall 2017).

The deadline for abstract submissions is October 31, 2016. Individuals selected to present at the Symposium will be contacted by November 14, 2016. Submissions, and any questions regarding the Symposium or the abstract process, should be directed to Law Review Symposium Director Erin Cobane at

October 15, 2016 in Meetings, Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Stress Mindset: Friend or Foe?

Have you ever locked yourself out of an office, a car, an apartment or home?  I sure have, and plenty of times.  The worst was a Friday night at a carwash - after having just finished washing a car - with a bunch of cars lined up behind me to get into the carwash.  Very stressful!  But, that's not the point.

Rather, there are two ways to view the situation.  

First, I might feel like I'm just plain out-of-luck, unless I get an expert - like one who has the master key to cars  - to let me in.  


Second, I'm not going to let this stop me, at least not without a good-hearted try.  

Our responses are different in the two cases based on our approaches or mindsets to the stressful situation.  

In the first case, I just give up and wait for help.  And, while I wait, I start to simmer over negative thoughts, such as: "I can't believe I did this again" or "How could I be so careless?"  Despite my stewing over my situation, my situation doesn't change.  I'm still waiting for others to bring the master key.  I'm not growing and I'm not learning.

In contrast, in the second case (or at least while waiting for help), I decide to take a try at getting into my car.  So, perhaps I grab hold of a paperclip, stretch it out, flex it a bit, poke it around the lock, and hope (or imagine) that I will trip the locking mechanism to open the car door, even without my key.  It might not work…or…it might work!  But, regardless of the outcome, I still try, and, in the process, I feel bits of excitement, some positive vibes, that at least for the moment take my mind away from blaming myself for the situation or telling myself that I'm plum out of luck, and, instead, I re-direct my energies to finding a solution, a pro-active way out of my predicament.

Interestingly, research scientists are starting to discover some very exciting things about stress and mindset.  

First, stress is common to all of us.  It's part and parcel with the human experience. Indeed, according to the scientists, to try to avoid stress is not just impossible but downright harmful to us.  So, we shouldn't run from it…at all.

That brings us to the second point.  Stress is critically important in helping us grow as a person and even as a learner.  In fact, it's not really true that stress kills; rather, it's our mindset to stress that determines whether it harms the body or rather it builds up the body and mind.  Indeed, biologically speaking, the right mindset to stress produces the chemical and biological reactions necessary for learning.

Third, our current mindset about stress is not fixed in stone at all. Rather, our approach to stress can be changed - through even very short video clip interventions - where we learn to reframe our approaches to stress so that we see "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" about the impact of our mindset approach in determining whether stress is beneficial or not.

You see, according to the scientists, it is our mindset to stress (and not the stress itself) that determines whether stress produces good outcomes or harmful outcomes.  According to the experts, our bodies are hardwired not to avoid stress but rather to grow through stress.  For example, let's take exam stress.  The student that learns the research about mindset and stress prior to an exam (i.e., that stress can actually be a good experience because stress can be mind-enhancing, mind-activating, and mind-growing, thus leading to positive growth in learning) performs much better than the person who believes that stress harms one's abilities to tackle an exam.  

Let's make this concrete.  If you are like me, when I take exams, my heart starts pounding and my lungs start breathing in gulps.  I could view that as a bad sign.  If I do, I'm in trouble.  Or, I could recognize that my body is reacting to a stressful situation in precisely that way that it was made to react.  In fact, my increased heart and respiration rates are actually working together for good - my good - to bring me to a more alert state, with much more oxygen than normal, to help my brain perform better than ever, and just in the knick-of-time for me to tackle that exam that is before me.

Want to know more?  Try these resources.  For a quick overview, take a look at psychologist Kelly McGonigal's article "How to be Good at Stress." Ted Ideas: Good At Stress   

For a short 3-step approach to turning stress into a positive, see the article by psychologist Alia Crum and performance coach Thomas Crum entitled "Stress Can Be a Good Thing if You Know How to Use it" in the Harvard Business Review.   Stress as a Good Thing   

Finally, for the scientific details, please see psychologists Alia Crum and Peter Salovey's research article "Rethinking Stress: The Role of Mindsets in Determining the Stress Response."   Rethinking Stress 

It's something to think about…stress and our mindset.  (Scott Johns)


October 13, 2016 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Law School Success

Success or thriving in law school can be characterized in two different ways. There is “Traditional Success” which includes the things we generally think about such as (1) receiving academic honors throughout one’s law school career and at graduation and/or (2) involvement or leadership in revered and coveted activities or organizations.  For some, participation in law review or moot court, becoming a teaching assistant or a research assistant, obtaining a summer clerkship, externship, or judicial clerkship are all signs of success.  These are, for the most part, tangible things that one can see and comprehend. Involvement in the ways listed above seems to equate, for most, with a certain guarantee that one will land the dream job with the dream starting salary.  For some students, these aspirations are so interwoven with their expected law school experience that without them they feel less than successful.  The reality is that not everyone is going to have such an experience.  So what does one do if they only achieve one or none of these goals? 

For others, to succeed and thrive as a law student might mean “Achieving Your Realistic and Attainable Goals” and maybe even surpassing those goals. Succeeding and thriving in law school might include some awards and achieving your goals but more importantly, it means developing your persona as a legal professional. It means developing good relationships with classmates, professors, and staff who will become future colleagues.  It means developing a good reputation and striving for personal excellence and improvement.  It means focusing on your self-development rather than constantly comparing yourself to others. While it is important to have individuals that you admire and strive to be like, your journey is uniquely yours.  A checklist of to-dos and to accomplish only limits the full extent of the law school journey.  At the end of your law school journey, you want to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you did the best that you could, that you used all of your resources, and that you maintained your integrity, self-respect, and authenticity.  It is easy to adopt another’s path but you can forge your own unique path. 

My motto for law students is: NOT A THING is imPOSSIBLE. At times the journey might appear impossible but hope and faith can propel us beyond our wildest dreams.  It is imperative to learn from failures and shortcomings, most will have many. 

The most successful law students are those who can stare a challenge in the face, work through the difficulties and frustrations, and endure the emotions but pick themselves up shortly thereafter. Weakness is not in sharing your challenges with a peer because you never know what challenges they are facing.  Many students struggle with similar insecurities though they might show unwavering strength.  Be honest with yourself and don’t lie to yourself about your commitment to what you have to accomplish.  Sort through your challenges and deficiencies and don’t be overly confident about your abilities.  I know too many students who may not meet all of the qualifications for a particular opportunity yet opportunities that seem impossible have been made possible for them, so trust yourself.

This is dedicated to a student I have seen grow and find her place within the law school world. (Goldie Pritchard)

October 12, 2016 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Save the Date for the Fifth Annual AASE National Conference


5th Annual AASE National Conference

May 23-25, 2017

Texas A&M School of Law

Fort Worth, TX

Hotel Information and more details regarding registration are coming soon!

 Camesha Little ∙ Assistant Director of Academic Support Program

Texas A&M School of Law ∙ 817.212.4193

October 11, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)