Saturday, August 18, 2018
An interesting post on Inside Higher Ed by Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas Law) arguing that professors who factor class attendance, participation in/preparation for class, and extra credit in their grading are not being fair to students in this age of outcomes assessment. The link to the post is below. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, August 17, 2018
The AALS Student Services Executive Committee is excited to continue a tradition spearheaded in 2017-2018 by Executive Committee member Trent Kennedy of Georgetown Law. We are seeking presenters for the 2019 Hot Topics in Law Student Services program at the AALS annual conference. The 2019 AALS conference will take place from January 2 through January 6 in New Orleans, LA, with Student Services programming occurring on Saturday, January 6. The Hot Topics session is expected to be the final session of the day-long Student Services programming.
The desired proposals would be short, dynamic talks about developing issues in law student services. As stated in last year’s call for presenters, insightful new voices emerge each year and not every would-be topic lends itself to a traditional panel discussion. The Hot Topics session is an opportunity for interested scholars and professionals to inject a new idea or practical innovation into the national conversation. Ideally, talks will address a developing issue in law student services (e.g., program assessment, marketing to millennial students, responding to significant off-campus events, the intersection of law student services and national or local politics, etc.), craft a clear take-away message for the audience, and fit a timeline between five and ten minutes. Use of an Ignite, PechaKucha, or similar presentation structure is strongly encouraged but not required.
Interested individuals or small teams should submit a proposal of no more than 800 words to Darren Nealy at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> and Melissa Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> . Strong preference will be given to proposals received by September 7, 2018. Proposals should address the content of the talk, the amount of time needed for the presentation, and the speaker's qualifications for addressing the proposed topic in such a brief period of time. The AALS President’s theme for the Annual Meeting is Building Bridges <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fam.aals.org%2Fbuilding-bridges%2F&data=02%7C01%7Camy.jarmon%40ttu.edu%7Cb92f0767a889463ed87308d5fe49b9e1%7C178a51bf8b2049ffb65556245d5c173c%7C0%7C0%7C636694515011155849&sdata=vmqZ5fWIpcywwxkMhgH76U6Qa12%2BefMo8dV%2F%2FJ3EeX4%3D&reserved=0> .
In reviewing proposals, the Committee will consider the overall quality of the program, including whether:
* The proposal is well written and thoughtfully constructed;
* The program is likely to be of interest to attendees;
* The program content lends itself to follow-up and ongoing conversation throughout the year;
* There is a diversity of presenters, including diversity of schools, viewpoints, and identity characteristics across the full Student Services program;
* The program connects to the AALS President’s theme of Building Bridges (NOTE: Not a requirement.); and
* The proposed topic is “hot” and provides insights about an otherwise under-discussed area of thought or practice.
Many thanks to Goldie Pritchard for her dedication the last two years as a Contributing Editor for the Law School Academic Support Blog! Goldie's posts have been thoughtful and insightful. She will be missed as a Contributing Editor. Hopefully she will guest blog for us at times so that we may continue to benefit from her wisdom and experience. (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
As I hope you gathered from the title, this will be my last post as a contributing editor to the Law School Academic Support Blog. In one of my earlier posts, I suggested that it was helpful to “meet students where they are” by learning a new task and carefully considering the steps and the emotions you feel throughout the process. It is always good to challenge yourself. In another post, I also suggested that adopting a “grateful posture/attitude” can reframe how one might approach challenging situations. I am taking all of my advice and thought this would be an ideal time to transition to other things and attempt new challenges. I am excited about anticipated future opportunities but equally sad to leave this blog.
This blog has been a constant in my life for almost two years and I am very grateful for the weekly reflective opportunity it has afforded me. I hope to continue to reflect and keep things in perspective even if it is in a different form. Writing was a great way to explore student concerns and challenges at various points of their law school career and to explore, in more depth, various aspects of what I do as an academic support and bar educator. As academic support professionals, we talk about reflection and capturing things in writing but what does that mean for us? I believe I wrote a post about this as well. Where, when, and how do we replenish our energy and what do we do to stay sane? How do we manage the endless to-do lists? I hope that you were able to relate to the various entries and that your students were able to beneficially step away with something tangible.
• I am thankful for all of the students who inspired various posts. You make me awesome.
• I am thankful for all of my academic support colleagues who sent me positive notes, particularly when I addressed semi-controversial topics and diversity issues. You affirmed me!
• I am thankful for all of my students and other students who read and continue to read various posts that apply to them. I am glad you used all of your resources.
• I am thankful for “Texas Bar Today” for selecting and including a few of my posts on their Top Ten list.
• I am thankful for my colleagues who posted a few of my posts on websites and blogs they use to support students in law school and as they prepared for the bar exam.
• I am thankful for all of the critics for making me think and for providing me with additional information to reference.
• I am thankful for the editor of the Law School Academic Support Blog for the opportunity.
• I am thankful for the contributing editors for their positive words and “shout-outs”. Your posts challenged me to be creative and taught me a lot.
I look forward to becoming a reader again. In the future, I hope that you will see an occasional guest post from me. Have a wonderful academic year and bye for now. (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Most (if not all) law schools offer an orientation program to their incoming first-year class. But, only a few schools offer a specially tailored orientation program for transfer students and visiting students. Over the last few years, I've noticed that our transfer students were missing certain critical announcements and failing to take full advantage of the the school's resources. So, this year we decided to join the growing minority and offered a program for those students who were joining our law school community after their first-year of law school.
We started by inviting all of the transfer and visiting students to a catered luncheon, hosted by two 3L students who transferred into our school last year. After the newcomers had a chance to meet each other, and ask questions of the current 3L transfers, everyone headed into a conference room to discuss topics of particular interest to upper-level transfer students. The academic dean and registrar spent roughly 45 minutes reviewing all of our school's upper-level academic requirements to ensure that each student had a comprehensive plan geared toward an on-time graduation. The rest of the agenda included short (i.e. 5-10 minutes) presentations by the various assistant deans and directors, and covered:
- applying for merit scholarships and other financial aid funding as upper-level students;
- maintaining academic integrity and professional responsibility;
- navigating the already in-progress fall semester on campus interviews;
- taking advantage of academic support resources, especially bar exam preparation;
- trying out for co-curricular opportunities, such as Law Review, Moot Court, and Trial Advocacy;
- participating in student life, including wellness and student organizations;
- registering for Lexis, Westlaw, and TWEN; and
- resolving other logistical concerns, such as parking passes and the bookstore.
Each presenter introduced themselves, briefly outlined the services available at their office, and then provided the students with a handout that they could review on their own. The goal was to keep the entire event, including the luncheon, under 3 hours, while also ensuring that the transfer students became familiar with their new community's procedures and personnel. Despite the tight timetable, we consciously set aside a few minutes at the end of the discussion for students to raise additional topics that they wanted to explore, before concluding with an optional tour of the law school building. (Kirsha Trychta)
Monday, August 13, 2018
Visions of beaches and long hours interning are winding down. Some students have fun stories from study abroad or travel during the summer. Others experienced an epiphany during a summer clerkship. Unless your students took summer school, that means we didn’t interact with them on a regular basis the last 3 months. Summer is fresh on their minds, while our advice from last year is ancient history. Now is the time to reconnect.
Recent memories tend to be the strongest. The problem with our students’ most recent experiences may be advice from well-meaning attorneys that may not be the best educational strategy. Students look up to attorneys since they are practicing, so we should combat that advice as soon as possible.
I believe the best way to overcome the ill-informed advice is start early meeting with students. However, getting students into the office is always difficult. Many times, the best way to encourage those meetings will be to reestablish our relationship with students in their domain.
I have not found widespread success just emailing students to have them come in. Some definitely come in for help, but many tell me they will setup a meeting when they need it, which is always too late in the semester. I have significantly more success when I walk through the café where they study. Talk to students about the summer, classes, and anything else going on. I suggest they come in and then I follow up with the email. The relationship and connection tends to encourage more students to come in earlier.
Every school will be different for connecting with students. We have a café where students study and eat. It is easy to walk through there to talk to students. Many of our study rooms have glass fronts, so I can walk through the building talking to students in their study rooms. I attended student organization meetings in the past to reconnect with students. My normal goal isn’t to set a meeting on the spot. The goal is to continue to build a relationship that leads to more interaction.
Summer myths abound. Now is a good time to start connecting with students to dispel the shortcuts they think they found over the summer.
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Most of our law schools are seeing more non-traditional students arriving in our first-year classes. For many law schools, non-traditional students are still in a minority within the classroom when only a full-time program is available.
Those who are in their late 20's or early 30's tell me that they "feel different" and worry whether they have forgotten how to study and whether they will be accepted by those straight out of undergraduate education. And, because they have had jobs through which they were recognized for leadership and competence, they often state they feel a bit incompetent initially as they grapple with different law school study strategies. They may also have spouses and children to consider as they balance law school and life which makes their experience different from most younger students.
But even with these differences, many of the non-traditional students in these age groups will not "stand out" to their classmates as particularly older once they don the casual law student dress. They will blend pretty seamlessly into the whole. (And even when they show up with children in tow, many law students who are missing their own younger siblings, nieces, and nephews will delight at the chance to babysit while mom/dad goes to class or attends a meeting.)
The over-40 non-traditional students are the ones who most often have conversations with me about whether they will "fit in" and whether they will be "outsiders" among their much younger classmates. Today it is not unusual for law students to start in their 40's, 50's, or 60's after first careers. Most of them look older physically - they have earned those wrinkles or gray hairs. Even donning casual garb will not hide the fact that they are older. Their concerns about remembering how to study and feelings of initial incompetence are usually double or triple compared to their non-traditional colleagues in their 20's and 30's. After all, most of these older students have been out of a classroom for 20 years or more and were the supervisors and managers who "knew how to do it all" in past careers.
The good news is that older non-traditional students do fit in and are welcomed by members of their first-year class. Older non-traditional students often remark that "it is all about attitude." Here are some tips for transitioning from older non-traditional students with whom I have worked:
- Make the first move to be friendly. Law students who are much younger may not know how to start the conversation because they see you as more accomplished and worldly.
- Be humble about your accomplishments. You have garnered lots of accolades, titles, and professional recognition in your prior non-law life. Unless you are put on the spot with a pointed question, understatement is probably best initially to put others at ease.
- Use your experience to be a role model for collegiality, not competition. Be supportive, encouraging, and helpful when you can. Ask for help when you need it. Let others know that you consider yourself one of their colleagues and value collegiality.
- Participate in class with relevant examples from your experiences when those comments can add to the discussion or move the class forward. Be careful not to gratuitously tout your expeiences, however.
- Volunteer in class when others do not, but do not become the "crutch" allowing your fellow students not to prepare because they know you will always be prepared. You may indeed know the answers most days, but they need to be challenged to participate as well.
- Join law school organizations and participate in some of the events of your 1L class. You may have less free time because of family commitments, but devote some time to law school life outside the classroom.
- Your main cadre of friends may be other older non-traditional students, but stay open to friendships with a variety of students. Law school organizations, study groups, and other opportunities will be available to expand your friendships.
- Realize that, depending on your actual age, you may become a "big brother/sister, mom/dad" figure for some of your classmates. That is actually a compliment. Your experience and advice are being recognized. You may be just the mentor that someone younger needs.
- Be yourself. If jeans and a T-shirt are not your style, dress as you are comfortable - even if it is dressier than your colleagues. If loud parties are not your thing, avoid them and join in at other times. If family outings are your relaxation, ask others to meet your family and join in the fun.
- Be sensitive to your law school's etiquette. Some professors call everyone "Mr" and "Ms" and want to be addressed as "Professor" no matter the student's age category. Other professors use first names freely with older students (or all students). Let the professor/administrator indicate the desired form of address to avoid an unintentional faux pas.
- Be patient with yourself as you master legal study. Do not compare yourself to "quick, young minds" or lament "I wish I did this years ago." You are learning a new language, a new way to think, a new way to write, and a new way to be tested. You are reviving academic skills that might be rusty and learning new study strategies.
Law school over-40 can be a wonderful ride. Many legal concepts link to your practical life experiences: apartment leases, real estate purchases, car loans, employment contracts, income tax returns, drafting wills, and more. You challenge yourself to new ways of seeing the world around you. You discover specialty legal areas and possible legal career paths you never knew existed. You have a break of sorts between careers. You meet classmates who will be life-long friends and professional colleagues. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, August 11, 2018
TIPS FOR ORIENTATION WEEK
- Practice your one-minute elevator speech to introduce yourself repeatedly to new people you meet.
- Realize that your future reputation as a lawyer begins with this week. Your classmates will be your professional colleagues after law school. First impressions matter.
- Read carefully all of the Orientation materials so that you are not clueless about dress code, class assignments, computer access, and much more.
- Report to sessions promptly with the required materials and ready to learn.
- Complete all of your session assignments carefully. These sessions are preparing you for the REAL THING so take them seriously.
- Scope out the law school building: your classrooms your library carrel, the student lounge, faculty offices, and study areas.
- Spend your evenings getting your non-law-school life sorted: unpacking boxes; decorating your apartment; setting up your study area; stocking food staples and supplies; locating the pharmacy, grocery store, and dry cleaners; deciding the best commuting route to school.
- Remember that the study of law is exciting as well as challenging. Enjoy this new adventure!
Education Week posted this week about a new analysis of 10 studies dealing with growth mindset interventions for those age 7 to adulthood. The analysis suggested that teaching students how their brains change over time may help them understand that intelligence is not static but can be developed. The Canadian research noted increases in motivation, academic achievement, and brain activity. The link to the post is Education Week, and the correct link for the new study is Trends in Neuroscience and Education. The results of this Canadian research are contrary to a previous U.S. study (mentioned in the post) that found growth mindset interventions were not effective and that some earlier studies had not followed best practices: Science Daily. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, August 10, 2018
Call for Presenters for the Section on Balance in Legal Education Extended
Main Program on "Building (Self-) Compassion and Other Sources of Well-Being"
at the 2019 AALS Annual Meeting
The Section on Balance in Legal Education is pleased to announce a Call for
Presenters for the 2019 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, in which at
least one additional panelist is to be selected for the Section's Extended
Program, titled "Building (Self-)Compassion and Other Sources of
Well-Being." The program is scheduled on Thursday, January 3, 2019 1:30 p.m.
- 4:30 p.m. Our non-law school speaker is Leah Weiss, who teaches a Stanford
University Graduate School of Business course titled Leading with
Mindfulness and Compassion. Each presenter will give an independent short
presentation, followed by a moderated panelist and audience discussion.
Submission Guidelines: Please submit a 1 page proposal to Program Committee
Co-Chair, Jarrod Reich (firstname.lastname@example.org
<mailto:email@example.com> ), by Friday September 7, 2018.
Call for Presenters for the Section on Balance in Legal Education Pedagogy
Program on "Building Bridges from Undergraduate Experience to Law School"
at the 2019 AALS Annual Meeting
The Section on Balance in Legal Education is pleased to announce a Call for
Presenters for the 2019 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, in which at
least one additional panelist will be selected for the Section's Pedagogy
Program for New Law Teachers. The program, entitled "Building Bridges from
Undergraduate Experience to Law School," is scheduled for Saturday, January
5, 2019, from 3:30 - 4:45 p.m., and will be structured as a moderated
roundtable discussion highlighting the presenters' chosen areas of focus.
Each presenter will give an independent short presentation, followed by a
moderated panelist and audience discussion.
Please submit a one-page proposal to Program Committee Co-Chair, Jarrod
Reich ( <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com),
by Friday, September 7, 2018. Panelists will be selected after review by
members of the Balance in Legal Education Section's Program Committee. Any
Committee Member with a conflict of interest in reviewing submissions will
not participate. In the interests of diversity of voice and viewpoint, a
preference will be made for presenters who have never presented at an AALS
Annual Meeting before, but all submissions are welcome.
Panelists are responsible for paying their registration fee and hotel and
travel expenses. In the event it receives insufficient proposals prior to
the deadline, the Section reserves the right to solicit additional proposals
before making final selections. Feel free to contact Jarrod with any
VACANT POSITION – ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ACADEMIC SUCCESS
St. Thomas University School of Law is seeking an Assistant Professor of Academic Success.
The ideal candidate will have experience teaching in a law school, managing people and schedules, and working in a team to help guide students in their pursuits of academic and professional achievement.
JOB SUMMARY AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
Job duties may include and are not limited to:
- Help the academic success team coordinate and implement supplemental first-year courses, including legal skills workshops and other academic related workshops
- Help students acclimate to and succeed in law school through one-on-one meetings; special focus on students deemed at risk
- Develop and monitor academic plans and recovery plans for individual students
- Act as a liaison between the students, faculty, and staff for academic issues
- Manage peer-to-peer (Academic Success Fellows) program and Skills Center
- Teach established Academic and Legal Skills curriculum (
- Provide programming and assistance for Bar Exam test takers before and after graduation
- May require weekend and after-hours work based on program and student needs
REQUIREMENTS AND SKILLS:
- J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school
- Minimum of 5 years practice or judicial clerkship experience
- Good standing with the Florida bar or another state bar
- Excellent writing, speaking, and organizational skills
- Strong teaching, interpersonal and counseling skills
- The ability to think imaginatively and critically about techniques to improve our law students’ academic
development and bar passage, and to design, implement and manage innovative programs to assist
adult learners in reaching their potential
- Ability to work collaboratively in a team-based approach to course design and implementation.
- The ability to work well with a diverse student body, including cultural awareness and understanding of
Different learning styles
- Ability to manage multiple priorities under deadlines
- Highest ethical and professional standards and proven ability to exercise exemplary judgment
- Willing/able to work some evenings and weekends
HOW TO APPLY:
Send your resume, letter of interest detailing your qualifications, a writing sample, and contact information for three professional references to Associate Dean Tamara Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salary based on experience. Excellent benefits.
Thursday, August 9, 2018
It's the start of a brand new academic year, and that means that first-year law students all across the nation are hearing for the first time about "IRAC" (the deductive formula for reminding us as law students to analyze legal problems by stating the issue, defining the rule, applying the facts at hand to the rule of law, and reaching a logical conclusion).
But, is IRAC really new to us as entering law students?
Well, the answer is plainly and firmly no.
You see, as Professor José Roberto (Beto) Juárez Jr. explained during orientation at the University of Denver this past week, all of us have been doing IRAC since our toddler years. I mean all of us! That includes you and me!
As Professor Juárez elaborated, children know all about rules, how to interpret rules (usually narrowly), and how to apply them (also usually narrowly).
That's because kids are faced - early on - with lots of rules imposed by adults, whether the adult is a teacher, a parent, or a youth leader. Adulthood is filled with rules (and with adults trying to get children to obey their adulthood rules). But, let's face facts. As a child, rules have only one purpose in life; rules are meant to curb fun, to rob us of joy, to bar us from truly living.
Consequently, as a kid, we all learned - staring as early as toddlers - how to analyze rules for lots of factual and legal loopholes. In short, we have been analyzing like "lawyers" from our earliest years using IRAC.
So, as you being to play, learn, and work with IRAC as a first-year law student, please don't forget this truth, namely, that you have been an IRAC-genuis for most of your life! (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
I asked a few rising 2L and 3L students what they wish they knew as first year, first semester, law students and I received a slew of answers. Not every answer is listed here and certainly, there is a lot more one could consider outside of the categories listed here. The responses I received fall into some of the categories listed below and I limited categories to the six below.
The Library Can Distract You. The library is typically thought of as a place where one goes to focus and study. In law school, the library can be a very distracting and social place. Some classmates want to talk to each other or you and you might want to have conversations to avoid reading or completing your tasks. Students who previously frequented the library and considered their visits productive might now find it to be the most distracting location to study. Give the library a try and see what happens, closely monitor your time and productivity. Simply clocking hours in the library does not equate with quality and fruitful study time. “I spent several hours, all semester long, in the library but when I consider the time I spent studying, it was minimal. I accomplished a lot more at home.” Student A
Attend Office Hours. Meeting with professors one-on-one can humanize the professors and cultivate the student-professor dynamics. Professors are human beings, really. This is a good time to ask pertinent questions and sort through difficult concepts early. Also, this interaction allows professors to get to know you which might become helpful in the future when they seek a teaching assistant or research assistant. This interaction can also be helpful if you need a letter of recommendation in the future but you must engage with professors to cultivate that relationship. “When I needed a reference, my professor was willing to write me one and remembered me because I was in office hours with at least one course related question every week.” Student B
You Can Sleep Before Midnight. Law students spend hours preparing for class and completing legal writing assignments, particularly in the beginning. Students often pull all-nighters to balance class preparation and completion of assignments. However, if you plan out your time and maximize the time you spend on various assignments and tasks, you can accomplish a lot. “I worked (which I was advised against), commuted to school from about an hour away, am married, and have three children but still managed to complete all of the requirements of my 1L curriculum. It is doable. It is all about time management, prioritizing, and temporary sacrifice.” Student C
Be Humble. Some students can be more confident than they should be particularly if they were high achieving students in a previous academic environment. It can also be difficult when your path in life was to make it to law school so you took the necessary classes, participated in pre-law programs, worked with lawyers and other members of the legal profession, and have family members with experience in the legal profession. All of the above and more are confidence building and present knowledge that other students might not have. You must keep in mind that everyone will have their own journey, path, and experience which might be different from yours. Just because another person’s experience does not fit the cookie cutter law school experience does not mean it is of any less value. “I had a lot of exposure to the legal profession, legal terminology, law school environment, etc. and I understood things quicker than it seemed others did but that was not enough when I saw my law school first semester grades. I should have approached things the way some of my classmates did and I could have learned from them but refused to. I wish that I was more open to the Academic Support Program and what other individuals in the law school environment had to say about preparing for exams. My attitude also isolated me from some of my classmates.” Student D
There Are Endless Opportunities. Some students often feel limited by their academic performance or perceived ability compared to other students. Students have the impression that there is only one trajectory to achieving a goal or developing a skill or to be a part of particular programs, co-curricular activities, and/or extracurricular activities. Everyone is not going to have the same opportunity to do the same things. There might be an alternative route to whatever you would like to do and/or accomplish but you may need to chat with someone, reach out to others, and be okay with alternatives. It is never the end of the world; therefore, you might just have to take a different path.
Invest In Your Well-being. Always ensure that you keep the friends you made outside of law school as they can keep you grounded and remind you of who you are and your values. They also provide a means of escaping law school. Schedule some fun on a weekly basis whether it is a movie, dinner, a walk, a run, or anything that makes you happy. This will keep you motivated and centered. Consider investing in a locker or a roller bag which will help with carrying your books around and save your back. Overall, simply pay attention to your body and your mental, physical, and emotional health. This will serve you well in the future.
This is a very exciting time for new students! Welcome to your new journey but remember to stay as true as you can to your authentic self. (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Law school contacts who had not completed the survey for AASE for their law schools prior to the AASE conference were emailed in June with the information on the restructuring of the survey to make it easier to complete. The new deadline was set for 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2018. All schools should still use 2017-2018 information to complete the survey.
Thank you to the 60 law schools that have completed the survey already! A list of the schools that had completed the survey by Wednesday, August 1st is below. If your school completed after that date and is not listed, thank you for your completion!
If you do not see your school on the list of completed schools, please ask the ASP/bar person at your school to complete the survey. The data collected will be most useful if a high number of law schools complete the survey.
Remember all information from the survey will be reported in the aggregate; no individual school's information will be identified. Also, if there is a question that you are unable to answer, just leave that question blank and complete the remainder of the survey.
Problems in completing the survey? If your ASP/bar person has changed over the summer, we can re-send the survey to the new person if you notify Amy Jarmon of the change. If you have other problems or questions about the survey, we can also help you with those. Just contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon at email@example.com for any assistance you need to complete the survey for your school.
Amy L. Jarmon, Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law
Law Schools Completed as of 8.1.18:
Benjamin N. Cardozo
Case Western Reserve
City University of New York
Indiana - McKinney
Loyola - Los Angeles
New York Law School
North Carolina Central
Rutgers - Camden and Newark
U of Chicago
U of Florida
U of Houston
U of Idaho - Boise and Moscow
U of Kansas
U of Louisville
U of Massachusetts
U of Miami
U of Minnesota
U of Nebraska
U of Nevada Las Vegas
U of New Mexico
U of North Carolina
U of Pittsburgh
U of Tennessee
West Virginia U
I attended the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference earlier this week. On Monday, August 6, 2018, the conference schedule included two bar preparation strategy sessions. Here are my takeaways from those two sessions.
The first session was a panel discussion entitled "Bar Preparation Strategies for Law Professors and Academic Support Program."
Professor James McGrath of Texas A&M University School of Law used an IF-AT quiz to frame his discussion about how spaced repetition and self-efficacy are essential components to bar exam success. Next, Professor Kirsha Trychta of West Virginia University College of Law introduced ways to mobilize students, faculty, and staff to become soldiers in both academic support and bar preparation efforts. The session concluded with Professor Patrick Gould of Appalachian School of Law demonstrating how to methodically work through a MBE practice problem and how to spot legal issues. Professor Melissa Essary of Campbell University's Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law expertly moderated the program.
After the panel presentation, attendees engaged in a lively round-table discussion focused on "Strategies for Bar Preparation and Success."
Each participant had 10-12 minutes to discuss a bar preparation related issue or topic that was of interest to them. More than 30 discussants attended the session, including academic support and bar preparation professors, commercial course providers, and deans. (The session was standing room only!) Of those in attendance, roughly half of the group raised discussion topics. While the full agenda—including the presenters’ school affiliation, contact information, and formal presentation title—is available here (Download BAR PASSAGE SPEAKER SCHEDULE Revised 3), I’ve set forth a brief summary below. If a discussion item sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to reach out to the presenter. Every presenter warmly invited questions and comments.
Bob Keuhn is authoring a research paper on the results of a recent large-scale empirical study, where he found little evidence that clinical or experiential coursework helps students pass the bar exam, contrary to popular belief.
James McGrath offered five quick tips for improving classroom teaching, including adding formative assessment activities directly on the course syllabus so that quizzes and reflection exercises become an essential and routine component of the course.
Michael Barry & Zoe Niesel outlined how they “went big” and dared to “be bold” overhauling and expanding their ASP program. They proactively asked for input from faculty, the advancement (i.e. fundraising) department, career services, and others before moving forward.
Benjamin Madison focused on self-directed learning, and emphasized the importance of incorporation skills building, especially in the first-year, to help students become better self-directed learners. He recommended Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz’s book as a jumpstart.
Ron Rychlak shared his experience with bar passage efforts at two (very) different law schools: Ole’ Miss and Ava Maria. He tinkered with requiring more bar-tested electives, increasing the probation cut-off GPA, and adding more academic support style-courses in the first two years.
Antonia Miceli redesigned her third-year bar course from an “opt in” (i.e. invitation to enroll) to an “opt out” model. All students in the bottom third of the class are now automatically enrolled, and the student must proactively petition to opt out of the course—which has positively increased her overall enrollment.
Debra Moss Vollweiler has spent the last few years as a member of a Florida bar passage focus group, and is now advancing the 3-Ms model: master in 1L, manipulate in 2L, and memorize in 3L. The 3M model aligns with her law school’s newly revised learning outcomes.
Cassie Christopher debuted her online 3-credit, graded, MBE course, which is open to all graduating students. Students watch an online video created by in-house doctrinal faculty, read the required textbook, complete practice MBEs, and engage in a discussion board each week.
Kirsha Trychta asked for attendees’ input on ways to mobilize the entire faculty in bar preparation. Discussants suggested incorporating the MPT into a clinical course, asking faculty to guest lecture, making a practice essay and MBE database on TWEN, inviting outside third-party speakers, and involving the assessment committee in programmatic decision making.
Rob McFarland highlighted a recent (and controversial) conversation online, directed at law school hopefuls, about whether an LSAT score accurately predicts bar passage success.
Laurie Zimet proposed that law schools should (1) educate the entire law school community about the bar exam and invite each person to contribute where they could, and (2) provide an opportunity for students to diagnosis weaknesses, with sufficient time for remediation.
Melissa Essary designed a new course—in just a few months—which offered academic credit for a graded, in-house faculty taught, one semester, flipped classroom MBE bar preparation course, supplemented by Barbri videos and materials.
Patrick Gould, the session’s moderator, concluded by thanking Russel Weaver for hosting us, and encouraging everyone to brainstorm about what we can do next year to make the event even better.
Well done, team!
Monday, August 6, 2018
Excitement is mounting. A magical experience begins in the coming days. Joy and the nerves of the unknown rise. I could be describing a 6 year old’s feelings the day before seeing Magic Kingdom or the emotions of someone starting law school. Law school has the potential to be just as magical as Mickey pancakes.
The adrenaline will be high the first few days, but try to soak it all in. You only get to start law school once. If you embrace the new journey, it can be eye opening. Disney World is hot, muggy, expensive, and crowded the vast majority of the time, but it is still the happiest place on earth. Law school can be hard, time consuming, and draining, or it can be a thought provoking and transformative experience. Enjoying law school is about the perspective during the mundane of daily activities.
Law school magic is all around. Learning how to "think like a lawyer" is similar to seeing all your childhood movies come to life. Hearing numerous different people try to explain IRAC, CIRAC, CRAC, or any other legal analysis method is just like A Small World. The song is the same just using different languages. Some professors are larger than life like Mickey. Some classes will be exhilarating like Space Mountain, while others will be the Jungle Cruise, predictable and full of bad jokes. Every class will provide pieces to the larger puzzle that lays the foundation for the practice of law.
As you embrace the magic, understand you are joining a new profession. My biggest suggestion for law school is to treat this unique opportunity as your new career. You will make an impression on both colleagues and professors starting now. References and referrals many years down the road are impacted by what you do starting day 1.
Treating law school as a career includes preparation. Start your day early. Attend every class unless an emergency or sickness arises. Adequately prepare for each class. Everyone is different, but my adequate preparation required slowly reading each major case while briefing it. Some students will skim the case and then read it again to make the brief. The key is to prepare as if this is your job. You wouldn’t, or at least you shouldn’t, show up to work unprepared or ignore your bosses instructions, so don’t show up to class without doing the assignments from professors. Finals are much easier to prepare for when you do the work throughout the semester.
Joining the profession also requires passing the bar exam in a few years. No one wants to think about the bar now, but your actions on the first day will impact bar preparation. I can virtually guarantee the material from the first week of law school will be on the bar. The more effort you put in right now, the less stress during bar prep.
This is an exciting journey and will be as magical as you make it. Treat this as your new profession and have fun.
Sunday, August 5, 2018
Congratulations to Kirsha Trychta for receiving another Top Ten Blog Posts badge from Texas Bar Today for her Big Brother, Bar Exam Edition post on July 17th! In case you missed her post, you can read it here: Big Brother, Bar Exam Edition.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
It is a commonly held student belief among many non-ADHD undergraduate and graduate students that ADHD drugs will help them improve focus as well as their performance and neuro-cognition. Illegally obtained ADHD medications are used by non-ADHD students to get a competitive edge. Inside Higher Ed recently posted about a new study that suggests that this student myth about performance is inaccurate.
The pilot study was small and needs to be replicated. Increased focus and attention from the medications did not translate into better reading comprehension or fluency and actually negatively influenced working memory. Elevation of mood and physiological effects were what would be expected with these drugs. The hyperlink to the post (which includes a link to the study itself) is New Study. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, August 3, 2018
Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law is seeking a qualified candidate to serve in the position of Director of Bar Success. The successful candidate will be responsible for designing, implementing, and overseeing initiatives to assist the School of Law’s current students and recent graduates in preparing to succeed on the bar examination. The Director of Bar Success will work closely with the Director of Academic Success and the faculty to develop students’ examination skills during law school and may be responsible for teaching one or more bar-related courses. The Director of Bar Success will also counsel current students and recent graduates regarding bar examination preparation and will serve as the primary contact between the School of Law and bar review vendors. The position is a full-time, non-tenure track position. For more information visit: https://www.prospera.com/CareerHubViewer/Post.aspx?ID=FaulknerUniversity_external_Cb3c9S5Hxs6P_Checksum=PRS358.