Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Academic and Bar Readiness Counselor Position at LaVerne
LaVerne College of Law is seeking a new Academic and Bar Readiness Counselor. See the following link for details:
Monday, May 13, 2013
Salute to Vernellia Randall
Vernellia Randall, a professor at University of Dayton, is one of the well-known names in ASP work. She was among the leaders at the forefront of academic support work when the profession gained traction at law schools. Vernellia is retiring this year after a distinguished career as a professor and ASP advocate. Although a prolific writer in a number of doctrinal areas, her most recent publication on legal teaching that many ASP'ers have read is Planning for Effective Legal Instsruction: A Workbook (Carolina Academic Press, 2011).
Thank you, Vernellia, for your passion for helping students achieve success. Your work in ASP was instrumental for many of us in our own careers. Best wishes for your retirement. (Amy Jarmon)
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Batteries Not Included
It is the end of the semester, and I suspect a lot of ASP'ers are looking forward to a lull in the hectic pace of ASP work. Some folks will have more of a hiatus than others because of low or no summer enrollments. A few folks are on 9- or 10-month contracts with the summer off. And those ASP'ers deeply involved with bar studiers will have a short lull.
Whether you are a one-person ASP operation or have a team and whether you have 50 invited ASP students or all law students as your target population, I imagine that you are ready for a change of pace. The last part of the semester is always fraught with students overwhelmed by exams, students confronted by personal crises, graduates gearing up for the bar exam, and a myriad of important deadlines. For those of us who teach ASP or other courses, we are/will be inundated with papers/exams to grade.
I love the lull because I get to do two critical things: complete lots of projects and recharge my batteries. In the age of portable electronic devices that get recharged nightly, I sometimes wish that I came with a battery as well. Since I do not come equipped, here is a list of my favorite recharging activities both in and out of the office:
- Attend a summer conference with other ASP'ers to get new ideas, renew old friendships, meet new ASP'ers, and remind myself how much I love my work - we are so lucky to have AASE at the end of the month!
- Find a new book by an ASP'er in the publishers' catalogs and delve into new perspectives on student learning, legal reasoning, or other facets of our work.
- Chat with faculty and other colleagues at my school to find out what they are working on this summer, to brainstorm ideas as to how we might work together next year, and to reconnect after we have all been so busy all year.
- Revamp at least one aspect of my program for a fresh perspective: a training manual, workshop packets, my ASP group exercises, a selection process for upper-division students who work in ASP, a Power Point presentation.
- Read through my collection of thank you notes from students to remind myself of the impact that ASP work has.
- Spend more time with friends and family now that overtime hours and evening events will lessen.
- Sleep in on some Saturday mornings to recharge quite literally.
- Indulge in fluff novels that have nothing to do with the law - no John Grisham for me.
- Catch up on all the movies that I have missed and summer releases.
What are your favorite ways to recharge? I wish all ASP'ers good ends to the semester and blessed summer months. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, May 10, 2013
Keeping the Faith
My law students are looking a bit ragged these days. Exams have started here, and many look tired, worried, or discouraged. Smiles and laughter have seemed to die out amid the seriousness of exams and final papers. The graduating 3L students are ambivalent about any elation over graduating because they know bar review will be immediately on the heels of that ceremony. For those who desire employment that requires bar passage prior to application and those still waiting to hear about jobs, additional tension is felt.
It is easy to get discouraged when under stress. My advice to my students is that they stay focused on their goals. Rather than get mired in the enormity of a difficult exam, future bar review study, or uncertainty about jobs, they need to remember why they came to law school in the first place.
Most of our students came because they were passionate about helping others and being of service. A few may have been motivated by future high salaries, but not that many in reality. We pride ourselves on graduating students who are ready to practice. Because of the large number of rural areas and small towns in the huge geographic expanse of Texas, we enroll many students who want to go back home to small or mid-sized firms and make a difference in their local communities.
Despite all of the current animosity generated about law school, the legal profession is still very necessary to the lives of ordinary citizens. There is still a nobility in helping others find justice and in solving legal problems for those who cannot be their own advocates. If students can focus on these purposes and the intrinsic values that brought them to law school, they can respond with greater resiliency during exams, bar review, and job hunts.
I hope that all of our students will be able to keep the faith in their goals and their chosen profession during the difficult times and when obstacles seem so great. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Lights, Camera, Action
At most law schools, final exams are rapidly approaching. The drawn-out "practices" with course material over 14 or 15 weeks are drawing to a close. A few professors are providing last-minute dress rehearsals with practice questions or reviews of material.
The tension is mounting just as it would before opening night of a theater production. Everyone knows that this is it: the law must be at one's finger tips, the exam strategies must be in place, the last-minute tweaking is all that there is time for at this point. Those who have not "learned their lines," "blocked their places," and paid attention "to the director" will be frantic soon.
Butterflies are natural just as they are before a production. Sheer panic, however, indicates a lack of preparation. Those who are trying to learn 14-15 weeks of material at the very end of the semester are struggling at this point.
If students have been diligent throughout the semester, then they need to focus on the following points:
- Review material learned already by reading outlines through at a moderate pace to keep material fresh.
- Concentrate on newer material that needs to be understood and learned.
- Complete as many practice questions as possible - some under timed, exam conditions.
- Spend extra memory drill time on the few (hopefully) areas that are still troublesome: rules, exceptions, policy arguments.
If students are faced with an overwhelming amount of material to learn at this point, then they need to consider the following:
- Prioritize studying: what areas are most likely to be tested heavily; what areas are still the most confusing or hardest and need extra time.
- Spend time on study strategies that will get the most results: it might be too late to make flashcards, but reading one's outline may work well; attack outlines or flowcharts may be more helpful than starting a full-blown outline for some topics.
- Balance individual study time with any group study time so that personal knowledge will be there for the exam.
- Remember to do practice questions to go beyond just memorizing material and become proficient at applying the material.
- Have a list of the material one is going to complete during the day for a particular course - be realistic, but diligent enough to complete the topics over the days left before an exam.
A good night's sleep before an exam will pay off more than staying up to the wee hours cramming. Brain cells need sleep to work properly during the exam. A good breakfast or lunch before an exam is also a must to fuel one's brain cells.
Good luck to all of our student readers on your exams! (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The Hardest Bar...Is the One You are TakingA brouhaha has erupted among law students over an article from the ABA Journal that references recent blog posts that rank bar exams based on difficulty. One of these blog posts asserts that the Washington state bar exam is the third most difficult bar exam in the country. Could this really be true? Can state bar exams be ranked by difficulty? How is difficultly measured? Is it an objective enough characteristic to accurately make this type of conclusion? Is the article merely sensationalism? Are there too many outside, uncontrolled factors that would destroy conclusions such as the ones asserted?
First, no matter what you hear, the urban myths, tales from judges, friends, and fellow students, or articles such as the one in the ABA Journal, every bar exam is difficult. Or, possibly better stated, the hardest bar exam is the one you are taking… If there was a bar exam that was “easy”, wouldn’t everyone flock to that particular jurisdiction? If the bar exam was “easy”, wouldn't that particular state have problems with the competency levels of the attorneys that they license? If the bar exam was “easy”, what would be the point of administering it? Is it not a tool to protect consumers of legal services?
Next, what if the Washington bar exam is actually the third hardest bar exam in the country? What does that mean? Is this a deterrent to future bar takers? Is this an ominous warning to steer clear of imagining your legal career taking flight in WA? I hope this is not the case. Instead, I believe this is simply a result of generalizing. Comparing WA State’s bar exam, which was an essay only exam, to other state bar exams is like comparing apples to oranges.
Washington State was an outlier with regard to their testing format. (Note: WA will administer the UBE for the first time this summer.) Generalizing bar exam difficulty based on limited quantitative data, even when a regression methodology is employed, could lead to less external validity. Variables such as the specific testing measures and format, state bar association grading standards, student’s qualitative characteristics, and state bar associations internal set pass rate all affect pass rates; and, thus could skew rankings. As an Academic Support Professional, I find that a student’s qualitative characteristics and/or psychological factors more strongly influence a student’s ability to pass a bar exam. Quantitative factors are more easily calculated but are not always predictive.
Bar exams are difficult. Yes, some applicants struggle more with multiple-choice questions than with essay writing. Other applicants cannot stand the time and attention to detail required to achieve a high score on the performance test. Some applicants fear arcane legal concepts or nuanced legal theories that are not practical or relevant to their interests. However, the bottom line is that the bar exam requires extreme focus, months of studying, repetitive practice, and strong internal motivation. High stakes exams do not get more intense than the bar exam.
Focusing solely on statistics, whether you are a student or a teacher, is the wrong way to approach the bar exam. Remember, as attorney’s we read between the lines and pay attention to the fine print. Avoid the hyperbole in articles and blog posts such as the ones mentioned above. Instead, focus on what it takes to pass the bar...determination and hardwork.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Whittier Law School Academic Support and Bar Preparation Position
Whittier Law School seeks candidates to work with our Academic Support and Bar Preparation programs. Successful applicants will work with Academic Support for first and second year students and Bar Preparation for third and fourth year students. Primary responsibilities include individual and group work with students on legal analysis and study skills, time management and other academic success skills, support for classes and workshops, participation in program development and assessment of programs and student learning. We seek candidates who excelled in law school, who exhibit a passion for teaching and learning, who have a strong work ethic and who enjoy working on and collaborating with a dynamic team of professionals. Salary and benefits depend on level of experience. Candidates must be law school graduates with a JD degree who have passed the California Bar Exam. Whittier Law School is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes applications from all qualified individuals. Please submit resumes and letters of interest that describe the applicant’s qualifications for the above position directly to Sara Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Louisville Director of Academic Success Position
A 30-hour a week Director of Academic Success position (eligible for full benefits) is available at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at University of Louisville. Ideally, the successful candidate will begin on July 1, 2013. Interested candidates must submit a resume, cover letter, and the names and contact information of three references via the online application. Review of applications will begin May 21, 2013.
The full job description is posted at:
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Do You Wanna Dance?
Remember the awkwardness of middle-school and high school dances if you weren't attending as half of a couple? Males stood on one side while the females hung out on the opposite side of the gym. To walk across the divide to ask for a dance was intimidating. And mortifying if you got turned down flat under the watchful eyes of everyone else.
Some students had the herd instinct and stuck with a group of other unattached attendees. At best they would get out on the dance floor en masse. At worst they would chat with friends while being among the non-selected.
I was thinking today about how so many things in law school echo back to those days of social uncertainty. (For some, college was no better; however, most felt a bit more daring and socially adept by then.)
For example, you are herded into an auditorium during Orientation with hundreds of other new 1Ls and expected to get acquainted or at least fit in somehow. There may have been a major welcome luncheon on the first day. If seats were not assigned by section, then the undergraduate friends who are now attending law school together clumped into little groups at the tables, secure in having "dance partners." Everyone else felt as though a flashing, neon sign with an arrow exclaimed "unpaired." If seating was by sections, then at least the unfamiliar 1Ls at the table knew they had something vague in common and could swap rumors about their professors and courses.
Socratic Method is a bit like a dance invitation - except you really shouldn't take the option of turning down the professor (pass is not any more exceptable than no thanks). And at times students feel they are trying to follow their professor dance partner without any idea of the dance, let alone the actual steps. Some professors are strong leaders - question by question as they show students the steps and lead them through the analysis. Others seem to whip you around the dance floor until you are dizzy. A few others even step on your toes so to speak as they point your errors out to the class. Only a few students are brave enough to venture out on the dance floor by volunteering.
Then there is the legal research and writing dance. One is supposed to learn the steps to an alien type of analysis and writing by doing it. For those with two left feet in legal analysis and legal writing style, learning by doing seems totally unhelpful. Research paths are supposed to be dance lessons for research, but some students are improvising too much to end up with the correct moves. Arguing both sides of the issue seems a lot like not being able to decide who should lead. And then second semester appellate briefs feel a lot like doing choreography before one knows all of the dance steps and appropriate rhythms.
Sections help with the herd instinct because you are all in it together. Then with 2L and 3L years, everyone scatters to different courses, certificate programs, dual degrees, and student organizations. Many law students find themselves in new courses with new professors and law students from other sectioins or upper-division students that they don't know except as vague faces in the halls. They have to decide whether to stay alone in the experience or turn to other students and ask "Do you wanna dance?" (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Job Announcement: University of Connecticut Pre-Law Advisor
This is the posting for the undergraduate portion of my job at UConn. There is tremendous overlap between my pre-law work and experience in ASP; someone with ASP experience would be a wonderful fit for this job.
I cannot speak highly enough of the students, my colleagues, and the environment here at UConn. My four years here have been magical. It is truly a job where I have been excited to come to work everyday. The right person will find an unparalleled level of professional and personal support, not just from supervisors and colleagues, but from the students and alumni you will be serving. If you have any questions about the position, please feel free to contact me personally (email@example.com).
University of Connecticut
Academic Advisor II, UCP VI
Under the general direction of designated supervisor, advises undergraduate students and alumni interested in attending law school from the beginning exploration of their options through the law school admission process.
CHARACTERISTIC DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Advise students in developing academic plans to prepare for law schools and the legal profession.
2. Advise students in application process and assist students in gaining admission to appropriate law schools.
3. Provide outreach to prospective undergraduate students during Orientation, regional campus visits, and recruitment events.
4. Disseminate information to students, advisors, and others, including: creation of a pre-law resource area with print and electronic information about the legal profession, law school application timetables, information about the LSAT exam, schedules for on- and off- campus events, etc.; development and maintenance of a pre-law advising website.
5. Oversee and coordinate Special Program in Law for undergraduates admitted provisionally to UConn School of Law at time of admission to University.
6. Teach a first-year seminar on law-related topics.
7. Maintain assessment data on student applications and admissions in appropriate formats, including electronic. Maintain databases on pre-law students during their undergraduate and post-graduate stages.
8. Develop a peer advising program for upper-class students to work with first- and second-year students interested in law and, when needed, speak at orientations and recruitment activities.
9. Working with other University offices, develop and organize workshops and information sessions on relevant topics, including general admission, applications, letters of recommendation, and strategies for writing personal statements. Develop and supervise an annual law school fair.
10. Act as spokesperson and liaison for the program both within the University and with pre-law departments at other universities, with law schools, and other relevant audiences.
11. Engage UConn faculty in support of pre-law students and activities and encourage course development on topics related to the legal profession. Work with interested faculty to develop the Pre-Law Advisory Council.
12. Contribute to the professional community of law school advisors at the regional and national level.
13. May supervise support staff and/or work-study students.
14. May work closely with the UConn Law School on special projects.
15. Perform related duties as required.
MINIMUM ACCEPTABLE QUALIFICATIONS
1. Master’s degree in relevant field.
2. 3 – 5 years’ experience in advising undergraduate students or in the legal profession.
3. Ability to travel in a professional capacity.
4. Ability to host and participate in programming and events on evenings and weekends.
5. Experience working with diverse constituencies.
1. JD strongly preferred.
2. Experience in legal education or practice.
3. Demonstrated understanding of law school admissions landscape.
4. Excellent written and oral communication, interpersonal, and counseling skills.
5. Knowledge of pre-law student population.
6. Excellent organizational skills, including the ability to prioritize responsibilities and meet deadlines.
7. Demonstrated experience with databases, web applications and electronic communications.
For full consideration upload a letter of application, a resume, and a list of 3 professional references with contact information via Husky Hire (http://www.jobs.uconn.edu/). Include search number on all correspondence. Screening of applications will begin immediately and continue until position is filled.
The University of Connecticut is an EEO/AA employer.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Update from the NY ASP Workshop (Myra Orlen)
A huge thank you to Myra Orlen, who wrote this summary of events for the blog.
The 2013 NY Academic Support Workshop was held on Thursday, April 2013, at Brooklyn Law School. Thanks – once again -- to Linda Feldman and Kris Franklin for organizing and convening a totally successful event. This workshop consistently convenes a dynamic group of presenters in a supportive setting in which everyone participates and comes away inspired. This year’s event was no exception.
David Nadvorney, of CUNY School of Law, began the day with a presentation entitled “Teaching Students Legal Reading.” David demonstrated methods of working with students on law school reading that I will use with my students. He stressed that the best method of delivering ASP is across the curriculum, i.e. in a doctrinal context. David shared materials from his close case reading workshops. In these workshops, he teaches students to recognize rhetorical devises that will enhance their comprehension.
Next Shane Dizon, of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hosfstra University, gave a presentation entitled “Professional Advisory: Explicit Content! Make Labeling Mandatory.” Shane’s presentation focused on the importance of students’ ability to spot issues on exam questions. Shane led us in an exercise; with scissors and preprinted labels in hand– we marked up a constitutional law essay question. The labels corresponded to the issues that the professor wanted students to identify on the exam question and will ideally come from the students’ course outlines. This exercise teaches close reading and can serve as an intermediate step between the professor’s memo on the exam and the students’ understanding of the exam question.
Robin Boyle, of St. Johns University School of Law, addressed critical reading skills and placed those skills in the exam context. She noted that our legal writing colleagues are noticing that students are evincing increased difficulty in critical reading this year. Robin shared her experience in working with students on exam taking skills – with a focus on critical reading.
Zelma Rios, of Cardozo School of Law, shared her idea of having students annotate portions of briefs: the question presented and the statement of the case. In doing so, students focus on language structure, word choice, and tone. Students then meet in groups to discuss their annotations. This exercise affords students the opportunity to see cases in context. The cases are the continuation of the story presented in the brief. When asked how to use this exercise in the ASP context, Zelma had a ready answer; she distributed the briefs copies of the Palsgraf briefs. As one person noted, this exercise allows students to see themselves as lawyers from day one.
Jeremiah Ho, of the U. Mass. School of Law - Dartmouth and Rebecca Flanagan, currently of the U. Conn. Law school and soon to be at the U. Mass. School of Law- Dartmouth, explained how to use Jerome Bruner’s Spiral Curriculum in 1L Contracts. Using the process that Rebecca described in her April 12, 2031 entry to this blog, she and Jeremiah demonstrated how the Spiral Curriculum can be used in Contracts to teach the mirror image rule.
Angela Baker, of Rutgers Law School, presented on the development of summer pre-law programs for law students. She told us about the development and implementation of Rutgers’ program which brought diverse, rising sophomores to Rutgers for a four-week program. The program was an intense mixture of classes, speakers, and field trips aimed at encouraging participants to consider law school.
Kris Franklin, of the New York Law School, led us in an exciting game of TabooTM Law. The objective of the TabooTM is to get your teammates to guess a word, without using a set of words that are listed on the card as “taboo.” After providing a demonstration, Kris distributed Civil Procedure cards that her students made. In making the cards, students knew which words to put on the cards to “screw” their classmates. The game illustrated that law school can be fun and that one need not be afraid of the law. To give good clues, students use legally descriptive terms. Thus, the students learn to explain and, thereby understand the terms.
Ann Forlino, of the U. Mass. School of Law – Dartmouth, spoke about the necessary relationship between ASP and Disability Services. Through the discussion that Ann led, we learned of some of the different ways that these two areas are treated in law schools.
Last – but certainly not least – Elizabeth Corwin of Pace Law School spoke on her experiences working with at-risk 2Ls. In her presentation Elizabeth described the course that she teaches to at-risk students: Overview of Legal Analysis. The course is designed to enhance students’ exam taking skills. Elizabeth noticed that her students had problems with logical thinking and introduced us to a series of videos that explain concepts in logic:
(Myra Orlen, WNE Law via RCF)
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Should I take a course just because it is bar tested?
As Amy stated in her post regarding Academic Advising, thinking about whether a course is bar tested is an important aspect of registration planning. Often, I am asked, “Should I take all of the courses that are bar tested?” My answer (as it is in many situations) is: “It depends…”
Therefore, when confronted with this question from students, I ask them a series of questions in return. This self-assessment helps students to become experts in their own learning and helps them to set appropriate learning goals for their future. Here are a few sample questions for your students to consider:
- How have you performed in your first year?
- Was legal writing difficult?
- Do you prefer multiple choice exams or essay exams?
- Can you identify characteristics you valued in your first year professors?
- Can you identify characteristics you disliked or did not work for your learning style?
- Did you have closed book, timed exams in your first year? If yes, how did you perform?
- Do you prefer large classes or small seminars?
- If your first year was (extremely) challenging, have you been able to assess why?
- What areas of law interest you most?
- Do you have a clear career plan? Practice area/job prospects/jurisdiction?
- What would be your ideal law school schedule?
Once these questions have been answered, I can more specifically address whether students may need to take certain bar tested courses or whether they need to work on other skills to help them succeed in law school and beyond. Taking bar tested courses merely for the bar exam is unwise. However, there are situations where taking more bar tested courses may be helpful.
If you do not have time to meet with students individually, you can give them a list of questions like these to review on their own. Once they have taken some time to reflect, you can post general advice regarding the skills necessary to pass the bar exam, how specific courses may help build those skills, and the specific subjects tested on the bar exam in your jurisdiction. This will help guide their course selection and will give them a better idea of what to expect on the bar exam.
Congratulations to Rebecca Flanagan
Thank you to Jeremiah Ho for alerting us through the listserv about Rebecca Flanagan's receiving the Honors Teacher of the Year award at the University of Conncecticut. The award selection is on the recommendation of students and faculty.
We have all benefited from Rebecca's insights on teaching throughout the years. It is well-deserved that she is being recognized by her university for her excellence. Congratulations!
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Interim Director Position at U of Dayton
The following information was on the listserv from Staci Rucker about this position in 2013-2014 and the job search for a full-time Director for future years:
The University of Dayton School of Law is looking to hire an Interim Director of Academic Success for the 2013-14 school year. You may access the job posting here: http://jobs.udayton.edu/postings/6293.
I have served as the Director of Academic Success at UDSL since 2007. Effective May 16th, I will become the Assistant Dean of Students, hence the need to hire an Interim Director. The Law School will conduct a search to permanently fill the Director of Academic Success position during the 2013-14 school year. The person in the Interim Director position will be eligible to apply, if interested.
UDSL is a wonderful place to work, led by a Dean and many faculty who are extremely supportive of the academic support program. I will gladly speak with anyone who may be interested in the position.
Staci P. Rucker
Lecturer in Law and Director of Academic Success Programs
University of Dayton School of Law
007 Keller Hall
Dayton, OH 45469-2772
Phone: (937) 229-4072
Fax: (937) 229-4769
Friday, April 12, 2013
Law school instruction and the "spiral curriculum"
If you have been trained in educational theory or the philosophy of education, you made have heard the phrase "spiral curriculum" during your studies. The idea of a spiral curriculum comes from the work of Jerome Bruner, a highly influential professor of education, who went on to mentor Howard Gardner, the father of Multiple Intelligences. The spiral curriculum posits that students learn best when exposed to material repeatedly. As students gain understanding of the material, it is revisited with added depth and complexity. Another element of the spiral curriculum is that teaching should begin by building upon current knowledge.
Law school curriculum would be improved if it borrowed from the idea of a spiral curriculum. The first step, discovery, posits that students learn best when they "discover" knowledge on their own. Bruner wrote quite a bit about using discovery methods when teaching math. He even wrote about using the Socratic method when teaching math. When learning is based on a speaker and a listener (as is often the case in the law school classroom) the listener has to create their own knowledge. But most of the time, the listener gets bored and distracted. The listener is not engaged with the process of learning, they are not thinking of how to explain, expand, question, or criticize. The speaker is learning. If you change the dynamic, you change the learning process. Instead of telling students about a concept, create an environment where they can discover the concept on their own. This is the first step in a spiral because the discovery must be elementary. Students can revisit the concept in more depth, later.
How can we use discovery in the law school curriculum? Think about an introductory contracts class. Instead of lecturing on the elements of contracts, ask students to bring in a contract they have recently signed. Ask them to find the consideration in the contract. Then ask them to read cases on consideration. Make sure you return to the contracts they brought to class; now ask them to define the benefit of the bargain for each party. Students are building knowledge of contracts by using what they know; a contract they have already signed. This also adds relevance to the material. It allows them to engage with what they are learning, and keeps them engaged in the class. No one likes to be bored in class, and no teacher (that I know) likes to lecture to blank faces tuned into computer screens. The spiral curriculum can help all of us stay engaged. (RCF)
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Podcasts from 2013 AALS Annual Meeting Available to AALS Member and Fee-Paid Law Schools
Jane La Barbera, Managing Director of AALS, recently e-mailed the following announcement. If you are faculty or professional staff from AALS memer and fee-paid law schools, you would be able to access the podcasts. Please notice the restrictions on access and use. (Amy Jarmon)
"Over 70 sessions from the 2013 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans were digitally audio recorded. These recordings are available at no charge to faculty and professional staff from AALS member and fee-paid law schools.
Visit www.aals.org/am2013podcasts to download and listen to these podcasts from the 2013 Annual Meeting.
A user name and password is required to access the podcasts. Your user name is your primary e-mail address. If you do not have or do not remember your password, click the 'forgot password' link on the bottom of the login screen.
The podcasts are listed chronologically. You can browse by scrolling down, or search for a specific session by typing "Ctrl F" and then typing a keyword.
Click "listen" underneath the session you are interested in and your media player should open and begin playing the recording. Or you can right click and save the link to download the file.
AALS makes its podcasts available for exclusive use by members of AALS for teaching and related purposes. Commercial and unauthorized use or distribution is prohibited. The podcasts may not be altered in any way without written permission from AALS and the speakers."
Do Not Jettison Your Common Sense
With the stress at the end of the semester, I am seeing more students make poor decisions because they have misplaced their common sense. Here are some things that students all know but tend to overlook when overwhelmed:
- Attend classes and prepare for them. Skipping class to gain more study time may mean that you miss important information about the exam or the wrap-up of major topics for the course. Not reading and briefing in order to save time only mean that you have the gist of the course without real understanding.
- Avoid spending lots of time organizing to study rather than actually studying. If a clean desk, organized bookshelves, and a code book with a thousand colored tabs do not increase your actual learning, you have been inefficient (used time unwisely) and ineffective (gotten minimal or no results).
- If you are sick, go to the doctor and follow the doctor's advice. Multiple negative repercussions follow from coming to school sick and refusing to get medical attention: you infect others with your illness; your illness becomes more debilitating than it should; you ultimately lose more class and study time than you would have with prompt treatment.
- Get enough sleep; do not get less sleep during the remaining weeks of the semester. Without sleep, your body and brain do not work well. You absorb less material, retain less material, zone out in class or while studying, and are generally less alert.
- Eat regular and nutritious meals; do not skip meals to save time. Your body and brain need fuel to do the studying you have to do. Dr. Pepper and Snickers bars are not a balanced diet. Neither are pizza and soda.
- If you have an emergency during the exam period, tell the academic dean or registrar. You may be eligible for delayed exams because of the circumstances (medical illness, family illness, death in the family). Most law schools have procedures/policies dealing with emergencies and will work with students who have exceptional circumstances.
Take time to use your common sense to help you make wise study and personal decisions during these last few weeks of the semester. Do not put yourself at a disadvantage by blindly taking action fueled by panic - think about the consequences of your choices. (Amy Jarmon)
Sunday, April 7, 2013
So Many Tasks, So Little Time
The end of the semester is approaching at break-neck speed right now for most students. A common lament is that there is not enough time to get everything done before exams. Students are frantically working on papers and assignments while trying to find time for extra final exam studying.
Here are some ways to carve out time when you feel that you have none:
- Look for time that you waste during each day and corral that time for exam studying or writing papers: Facebook or YouTube or Twitter time; e-mail reading and writing; cell phone time; chatting with friends in the student lounge. Most people fritter away hours on these tasks.
- Become more efficient at your daily life tasks: prepare dinners in a slow cooker on the weekend to heat up single servings during the week; wear easy maintenance clothes to save ironing/dry cleaning tasks; pack your lunch/dinner to take to school instead of commuting time to eat at home; clean the house thoroughly once and then merely spot clean and pick up. You can garner ample study time if you cut down on these types of daily tasks.
- Curb excessive exercise time, but do not give up exercise time entirely. Your normal gym workout of two hours five times a week is most likely a luxuary at this point in the semester. Cut it back to two times a week or make it one hour three times a week. The guideline for exercise is 150 minutes per week. You need to focus on strengthing your brain cells rather than your abs right now.
- Consider getting up earlier each day, but do not get less than 7 hours of sleep per night. If you tend to sleep in on weekends and days when you do not have early classes, you are losing productive study time. Go to bed at the same time Sunday through Thursday nights and get up at the same time Monday through Friday mornings; do not vary the schedule more than 2 hours on the weekends. You will be more alert and better rested if you have a routine.
- Decide whether you could study an hour or two longer on a Friday or Saturday night if you currently end at 5 or 6 p.m. You want some down time, but may be able to go a bit longer than previously in order to gain more study time.
- Set up a schedule so that you delineate for each day when you will read/brief or outline for each of your courses. Then repeat the tasks at the same days/times each week. You will waste less time asking yourself what to do next.
- Break tasks down into small pieces. Small pockets of time (under an hour) can then be used effectively to complete tasks. You may be able to study a subtopic for a course in 20 minutes but would take 3 hours for the whole topic. Any forward movement is progress!
- Use windfall time when you gain unexpected time: a class is cancelled, your friend is late picking you up, a meeting ends early.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything you have to do, take control of your time. Conquer each course one task at a time. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, April 5, 2013
Moves and Changes
This summer, I will be moving from UConn and UConn Law School to UMass-Dartmouth School of Law, where I will become tenure-track faculty. The move also means I will be shifting back to ASP full-time. As much as I love UConn (and more on that below), I could not turn down the opportunity to work with Dean Mary Lu Bilek, who was a pioneer in ASP at CUNY before becoming dean at UMass. I found the faculty at UMass to be incredibly supportive and genuinely excited to be at the law school, and I was encouraged by the mission of the law school, to provide an affordable option for students seeking to work in public service.
It was an incredibly difficult decision to leave UConn. Not only do I love my job and my students, but I am alum of the school (both my BA and MA are from UConn). I have had amazing opportunities here that I would not have had anywhere else. My experience working with undergraduates has been invaluable. My experience has changed how I view ASP and the types of supports needed by students. I now see the essentiality of ASP-undergrad partnerships, and the growing need for ASP to move outside of the legal academy. To truly understand the challenges facing our incoming students, we need a better understanding of where they are coming from. It's no longer adequate to recall personal memories of our pre-law days, and superimpose our challenges on our students.These students are "digital natives" who are not afraid of the rapid pace of technological change--it's all they have ever known. These are students scarred by the Great Recession, which has shaped their worldview. Their undergraduate experience has shown them that education is not the ticket to security and stability. Incoming students are savvy and informed in ways that were unthinkable just four or five years ago; "buy-in" to the law school pedagogy will require us to prove ourselves and our value to students. ASP should not be afraid to embrace this new generation of law students and their challenge to our curriculum. These students will force us to up our game, to become better, more effective teachers and scholars. Personally, that is a challenge I embrace and encourage. While we work with students to become the best version of themselves, they will force us to better versions of ourselves.
It is bittersweet for me to be moving on from UConn. I love my job, I love my students, and the colleagues I have here will become lifelong friends. But in this time of uncertainty and change in the legal academy, I am very excited to become to a part of a law school that is embracing the "new normal" and challenges ahead of us. (Rebecca Flanagan)
EDIT: 3:44 pm
This is a fantastic post by William Henderson from over at Legal Whiteboard. It dovetails on my message about students and growth.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Academic Advising and Registration
The mandatory meeting for first-year students (optional for upper-division students) to discuss our registration process for next year's classes was held last week. Registration will start next week. For first-year students, the process can create a great deal of stress because it is another "unknown" to them.
The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs explained the ins and outs of the curriculum requirements beyond the first-year required classes. The Registrar explained the actual procedures for registration.
And then the rumor mill started to make the process even more stressful. The sources were sometimes upper-division students' comments but often just from imagination:
- Horror tales about registration for rising 2L students (computer freezes, no places in popular courses because rising 3Ls will take all the spots, long wait lists, etc.) while ignoring changes in the system and statistical realities.
- Rumors that students will fail if they get Professor X while swearing they will get an A with Professor Y - even though course statistics do not reflect these guarantees.
- Rumors playing up the fear factor of different professors' exams or teaching styles or course topics and ignore that different students learn and test better in different ways and have different backgrounds and interests.
- Moanings about the audacity of the law school's hiring of unknown visitors/new hires/adjuncts who cannot be easily pigeon-holed.
So what is the 1L student to do to survive registration and choosing the best class schedule? Here are some tips that I give students when they consult with me:
- Know the requirements for graduation: credit hours, normal course loads, required doctrinal courses, skills development courses, writing courses, certificate programs, dual degree programs.
- Think ahead beyond the next semester to the full academic year and the next academic year - how will fall 2L courses impact spring 2L courses and how will 2L courses influence the 3L courses.
- Consider summer school credits (including study abroad) if the student plans to attend and know the policies that are involved.
- Have alternate course choices in mind in case a class is closed out entirely or only waiting list spots are open at the time the student registers.
- Take a balanced course schedule by considering paper versus exam courses, required versus elective courses, large versus seminar courses, difficult topics for the student versus topics that come more easily, hands-on skills courses versus traditional courses, courses that interest the student versus ones that have less appeal, law versus dual degree courses (if applicable), and other factors.
- Watch out for prerequisites that are needed for later courses or clinics that the student wants to take.
- Talk to professors about elective courses that sound interesting but are only briefly covered in the course descriptions to find out more about the courses.
- Talk to professors in specialty areas in which the student may want to practice to get advice on courses that would be beneficial for background.
- Consider courses that will give background for the bar exam but which may not be required courses for one's law degree.
- Talk to multiple students who have taken a course/professor in the past because variety of input will likely highlight pros and cons rather than one-sided feedback.
- Look at the exam schedule to see what the grouping of exams will be like for particular combinations of courses (available at our school prior to registration).
With careful thought and planning, registration can be a less stressful experience for students. Faculty, administrators, and others can provide guidance as students weigh the pros and cons of different course choices. (Amy Jarmon)