Sunday, April 23, 2017
Multiple students this past week have told me about their symptoms of stress. We are nearing the end of classes and entry into exams at our law school. Here are some tips that may help students manage stress better:
- Put all exam dates/times, paper due dates, and other assignment due dates into a monthly planner so that you will not forget anything. If you are visual, use one of the whiteboard wall calendars at home. All those deadlines may look scary; but once you have nailed them down, you are ready to plan your priorities. You are gaining control!
- Decide what environment is most stress-free and productive for your study. If the law library makes you crazy because of others' stress or interruptions, do not study there. If you fall asleep on your bed or spend hours playing video games at home, do not study there. Consider new options: other academic buildings on campus, a coffeehouse or fast-food restaurant at non-busy hours, the business center at your apartment, a friend's house while the friend is at work.
- Avoid law students who want to moan and groan, complain about the work, make you feel insecure, etc. Their negative energy will drain you fast. Wish them good luck and walk away.
- Surround yourself with law students who are focused, productive, positive, and calm. Their can-do attitude and positive energy will help you stay focused, productive, and calm.
- Keep a running list for each course of any questions you have or areas of confusion. If a study aid or classmates cannot resolve the problem areas, take time each day to visit those professors to ask questions. You will be less anxious if you ask questions a few at a time, instead of storing them up for ten days.
- Mix up study activities to help you stay engaged. If you zone out and become passive, you are more likely to stress about what you just read but do not remember. You may want to switch courses every couple hours so you do not overdose on one subject. Or you may prefer to mix up tasks for the same course: outline review, discussion with a classmate, flashcards, more review, some practice questions, etc.
- Take planned breaks of 5-15 minutes every couple of hours. Your brain will keep filing information in the background while you take a walk outside, get a drink of water, etc.
- Listen to your body for clues: hungry, thirsty, cold, backache, etc. Take the 10 minutes to get a snack, walk to the water fountain, get your sweater out of the car, or complete a few stretches. If you ignore the signals, you will not be as focused because of the niggling distraction.
- Get enough sleep. Eat nutritious meals and exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Sounds counter-intuitive because you have too much to do in too little time? Your body and brain need rest and fuel to be productive in studying. Exercise is a great stress buster. You will need to have energy and focus when you walk into each exam.
- Ask someone to be your cheerleader until exams are over. It may be a spouse, friend, or parent. Each day spend 5 minutes on the phone or in person with that cheerleader giving you a pep talk.
- At the end of each day, write down 3 things you accomplished. Give yourself credit for those accomplishments.
- Think of two or three activities that you will do for fun after exams are over. Having some things to look forward to will help you stay motivated and positive.
You can do this! Just take it one minute, one hour, one day at a time. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Friday, April 21, 2017
St. Mary’s University is excited to announce that we are continuing to grow our innovative Office of Law Success. We have performed a comprehensive review of our program and are now in the process of expanding our course offerings and programs. This approach includes new graded academic support courses, enhanced programming, and dramatically increased funding.
Most pertinently, we are significantly expanding our team of academic support professionals. For the Fall 2017 semester, St. Mary’s is looking to hire multiple Instructors of Law Success. These full-time teaching positions will provide formal instruction within a required legal skills program that is designed to stretch across the entire law school curriculum. Additionally, Law Success Instructors will provide individual student advising, design and coordinate programming, and assist in curriculum development.
The posting is available here: https://stmarytx.applicantpro.com/jobs/556574.html
St. Mary’s is located in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, and the School of Law is devoted to the success of its students and academic support team. We are lucky to have a friendly, collaborative environment and the opportunity to expand and innovate in our field with the complete support of the faculty and administration.
If you have any questions about the position, please feel free to reach out to Professor Zoe Niesel, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of Law Success, at email@example.com, or at 210-436-3987.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Over the years, I’ve seen many students struggle in preparing for final exams, particularly with uncertainty about how best to prepare.
Without exception, that leads to a question. In the past, how have you learned to solve problems? And, without exception, students say that they learn to solve problems…by practicing problems (usually with lots of ups and downs, turbulence, and bumps and bruises). That’s because we don’t learn how to solve problems by watching others solve problems.
And, that’s the rub about law school learning.
Simply put, much of our law school experience has been us watching others solve problems (whether observing a professor run through a hypothetical problem, listening to a student in Socratic dialogue, reading and briefing cases, or even in the midst of preparing massive outlines as study tools). Unfortunately, you are not tested on your case briefs, outlines or study tools. Rather, you are tested on your abilities to solve legal problems.
So, here’s the key. Change your focus from passive learning into active learning by grabbing hold of lots of practice problems, sweating over them, stretching yourself through them, and exercising your “brain muscles” in tackling complex legal issues. In short, take charge of your own learning by practicing lots of final exam problems.
To help you visualize what active learning for final exams might look like, here’s a short video animation of the Hudson River airplane crash, spliced with the pilot and aircraft controller communications.
First, as you watch the video, you’ll can see that all is calm. It’s a great smooth takeoff. The flight is well on its way to a far-away destination, and, then, suddenly, there’s flock of geese in the way. That’s how I always feel when I practice exams. All is relatively peaceful and then I turn to the first question and it looks like I’ve just flown into a flock of geese with my engines flaming out as a result. So, here’s lesson one – prepare for geese. You will have problems that are difficult on your final exams. But, you won’t learn how to tackle them until you start working through them first, well, right now, before you take your final exams.
Second, notice the pilot’s voice. Is it calm or ruffled? Yes, the engines have quit. Yes, the plane is not flying to a far-away place anymore. But, it is still an airplane. It still has wings and radios. It is still flying. It’s just not going to Chicago or Phoenix or Los Angeles today. So, here’s lesson two – don’t ever give up, even in the midst of your exam prep and final exams. Keep flying your airplane. Keep working on learning by doing.
Third, as you continue to watch the video, you’ll start hearing lots of air traffic controllers trying their best to help the pilot make a successful return, first to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport and then to Teterboro Airport across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The controllers are busily clearing runways and directing the pilot to turn to this heading and that course. But, the pilot stays in control. Finally, the controllers ask which runway the pilot would like to land on, and, instead, the pilot says – frankly and calmly – the Hudson River. So, here’s lesson three – fly your own airplane. Don’t let others control your destiny. You’re the one that is taking the exam (not those that are giving you lots of advice). And, only you know yourself. So, make your own decisions. Just like pilots do, practice solving legal problems through lots of "simulator flight" time.
Here's the secret about learning. You see, that wasn’t the first time that the pilot lost his engines in flight. The pilot had experienced dual engine failure lots of times…in the simulator. Yes, the pilot had read the horn books on how to land on a river, the cases of previous airplanes successfully ditching in the water, and the manuals on how to stay calm and collected in the midst of a flock of geese. But, reading is not sufficient to learn how to fly an airplane. That’s because no one learns to fly by reading about flying. You learn to fly…by flying. Similarly, you learn to solve legal problems…by solving legal problems. So, get flying today as you prepare for your final exams tomorrow. And, good luck on them all! (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
“I was just calling to let you know that I passed the bar exam…!” Immediately after hearing this news, I screamed with excitement. I am always overcome with joy whenever students tell me about their success on the bar exam but I am even more excited when it is a student who was previously unsuccessful on the bar exam. Repeat bar takers have a special place in my heart because they typically journey through lots of agony, sacrifices, and determination to achieve this goal.
The journey starts when students are notified and realize that they were unsuccessful on the bare exam. Many emotions accompany this news including embarrassment, sadness, frustration, anger, and disappointment to list a few. Those emotions are reawakened when students receive a message from me confirming the result, providing some direction, and offering support. Students respond by either ignoring the message or reaching out immediately. For those who respond, we discuss the current crisis, try to calm emotions, and strategize. We discuss how to interact with peers, professors, family, and friends who may ask about the bar exam. Some students choose to inform the world on social media while others prefer to remain secretive, managing questions as they arise. Whatever their preference, I always have an honest conversation with individual students.
Collectively, we devise specific strategies and draw up plans for studying, meeting challenges, and exploring fears associated with retaking the bar exam. Through an early start bar preparation program, students engage with substantive law, essays, and multiple choice. Students are typically unhappy at first but as we address how to efficiently use time, prioritize tasks, and address disappointment, students appear more at ease. Personally, I learn a great deal about students as individuals, how they handle success and defeat, keep perspective, and balance stress.
When bar review programs officially start, it is time for cheerleading and challenging. Students check-in on a weekly basis to debrief and discuss where they are mentally. Each week is a new experience which ranges from productive to challenging. There are weeks when students are on the verge of giving up and other weeks when everything that could go wrong does go wrong. My goal is to help redirect students but also encourage them to persist.
The victory, passing the bar exam, is great because it allows students to move on with their lives or start their professional lives. Their struggle with the bar exam is a part of their story but also an experience they can use to encourage and support others. My investment in them is worthwhile because they are changing their lives, their families’ lives, and their communities. Bar exam results are still trickling in but congratulations to those who successfully passed the February 2017 bar exam on their second try. (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
What could this old nursery rhyme have to do with law school?
It reminds us to take one step at a time to accomplish a task.
Huh? Well, think about it this way . . . .
Most law students right now are madly juggling a long list of tasks for multiple projects. They are preparing for class each day. They are finishing assignments or papers. They are keeping up with outlines. They are reviewing for exams. They are completing practice questions. And, they are doing all of these things for multiple courses at the same time.
Many of them are feeling scattered and a bit frantic. They dart from task to task and feel exhausted at the end of the day. They are losing sleep, eating junk food, and feeling overwhelmed.
And, they lament that there is no time to get everything done.
So, just as in the nursery rhyme, it is time to get organized, have a plan, and take one step at a time. Here is an approach that helps many students get control of exam review:
- For each exam course, list all topics with their subtopics that will be on the final exam. (Warning: The list will be long because it is subtopics, but they can be completed more quickly than whole topics.)
- Focus on learning and understanding the subtopics. (You will want some later time for practice questions, but understanding has to come first.)
- If you already understand any subtopics well enough that you could walk into the exam on those, highlight them on the list to show completion.
- For the remaining subtopics that you have already covered in class, estimate how much time you need to understand that subtopic well enough to walk into the exam. (Estimates may be minutes or hours depending on the subtopic's difficulty.)
- Total your subtopic estimates for the material already covered in class for each course. (You will complete estimates for additional subtopics as they are covered later in class.)
- Now compare your estimate totals for each course. You might have 12 hours for one, 15 hours for another, 20 hours for a third, etc.
- Your totals help you see proportionately how much time you should devote to each course to learn what you have already covered in the course.
- Schedule blocks of time each week to complete exam review to make progress on your estimated totals.
- There will be some subtopics that need little time and can be slipped in between classes, while you wait for dinner to cook, etc.
- As you complete each subtopic, remember to highlight it as completed.
- All progress is forward progress. Whatever you can get completed before the end of classes means less to learn during exam period.
What if you have a paper to write? You can make a similar list for specific tasks within larger categories: tasks for research, writing, editing, citations, grammar and punctuation, format OR by tasks for paper sections if you prefer.
Step back from the jumble that you feel your life represents right now. Organize small steps within the larger units. Then take it step by step: one, two . . . . (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, April 17, 2017
Eleanor Roosevelt stated, "Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Now is the time in the semester when many law students compare themselves to others in their classes and become discouraged.
- Mary got the highest grade on the midterm, and I was below the median.
- Bill aced the trial brief assignment, and mine was covered in comments.
- Annie gave a brilliant answer in class, and I could not even formulate a basic answer.
- Phil was amazing at the oral argument, and I fumbled every question.
And so it goes.
Why do law students make themselves miserable by comparisons?
- They may still be stuck mentally in undergraduate grading where 100% was always the achievable grading standard.
- They may be for the first time in a group of students who are as intelligent as they are - awesome, but scary.
- They may be struggling with how much work is required in law school after years of higher grades for less effort.
- They may base their self-worth on what others think of them instead of doing the best they can do.
Here's the thing to remember. You are you. You can only control yourself. You can only do the best work possible today under today's circumstances.
If today did not produce the results you wanted after doing your best, then let it go. Get up tomorrow and start again. Tomorrow you can implement strategies to improve your academics. You may not yet be where you want to be, but you can improve each day. You can reach your personal best.
Are you unsure how to improve on what you are doing? Visit the academic support professional at your law school and ask for assistance. Talk with your faculty member for help with a confusing topic. Ask a trusted classmate to discuss a case or a practice question with you.
Let's face it: law school is a fish bowl. You spend all day swimming in the same confined space with the same school of fish. It is too easy to focus on how well others are swimming. And, if the fish bowl has a couple of fish doing high dives off the lip of the bowl, it can be intimidating.
But rather than compare yourself to the other fish, practice your own strokes. Find a swim coach. There is still time to see improvement. (Amy Jarmon)
Sunday, April 16, 2017
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently included a series of articles for faculty on how to use their summers and how to make time to research or write. Obviously, most of us in ASP/bar prep work are on 12-month contracts, so summers are not totally free, dead periods. However, many of us (with the exception of bar support) have some quieter periods that could be used productively for the tasks we long to have time for during the academic semesters. One of the articles included tips from a series of scholars and might be helpful to ASPers who want to make time to research and write or to complete other projects: Making Time for Research and Writing. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Practicing attorneys who want to switch to law school positions often contact those of us who have ASP/bar experience to get advice on making the transition. Requests for information are particularly prevalent in spring and summer when turnover is high and so many positions are advertised. Here are some tips for attorneys considering the switch:
- Read through all of the ads posted even if they are not for law schools or parts of the country where you want to be. You will see trends in position descriptions, required/preferred skills, duties, departmental structures, reporting lines, and other typical characteristics for the jobs. This broader view of ASP/bar work provides you with comparison information as you focus on specific ads.
- Write variations of your cover letter and resume that match the specific law schools and ad requirements to make yourself more marketable. A one-size-fits-all approach may overlook your major selling points for a particular position. Make sure your cover letter matches the emphases in the ad so your resume gets a review. Remember that for some positions, your first "cut" is at the university's human resources level instead of at the law school!
- Take time for a serious consideration of your strengths and weaknesses for the types of positions you want to apply for at law schools. List your specific qualifications and experiences that match the trends you see across job ads; this is your strengths/pros list. Next list specific qualifications and experiences that you lack for the trends you see across job ads; this is your weaknesses/cons list.
- On your strengths/pros list: add characteristics that you may have initially overlooked in the ads; continue to add your own qualifications/experiences initially forgotten.
- On your weaknesses/cons list: add strategies for filling these gaps as quickly as possible. Here are some strategies you might consider:
- read multiple sources in the ASP/bar field (Carolina Academic Press has a wonderful catalog of books to choose from; West Academic, Wolters-Kluwer, and Lexis are other publication sources)
- regularly read the Law School Academic Support Blog and read archived articles from the last year where relevant to your gaps
- consider informational interviewing by phone or in person with some ASP/bar folks at law schools where you are not applying for positions: your alma mater; law schools in your current location; law schools where colleagues have connections
- inform yourself through web resources about ABA standards, LSAC law school admissions data, NCBE bar data, etc.
- Salary information is not typically given in ads for ASP/bar support positions. Ads will normally say that salary is dependent on qualifications. At some universities, you can view an online position that will give a position grade/level - the corresponding HR/payroll pages may show the salary ranges by grade/level. However, in many cases, there will be no readily available information. On-line salary comparison calculators can give you a ballpark for what salary in a new geographic location would align with your current salary.
- There is a great deal of movement by ASP/bar professionals among law schools as people gain more experience and move to other law schools for promotions etc. You may need to find an entry-level position and later move up in your school's hierarchy or change schools once you have specific ASP/bar experience.
- Realize that there may be other types of law school positions that may be suited to your specific interests, qualifications, and experiences: doctrinal faculty, legal writing and research faculty, clinical faculty, career services, development, admissions, student life, special events coordinator, etc.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Feeling crunched for time to make a course outline. Well, here's a tip to give you a jump-start if you've happened to wait until now to start making your outlines in preparation for final exams.
- Make a copy of the casebook table of contents (TOC) (and super-size it on 11 x 14 paper if you like to make hand-written outlines).
- If you are a hand-writer, then grab a pen and get ready to roll.
- If you are a typist or you like to make flashcards or flowcharts, then grab your preferred tool and list out the chapter subjects and the sections, giving your work lots of "breathing room" to input the cases and materials from the chapters.
- Brainstorm a short "sound-bite" for each case, one by one, and input that "blurb" into your outline. Note: Trust yourself! Your blurb can just be a phrase or one sentence (two at the max). That's because there's a learning concept called "useful forgetfulness." The process of deciding what to put down (i.e., boiling the case or article down to its essence without re-writing verbatim your class notes or case briefs) leads to much deeper memory because, by volitionally choosing NOT to put everything down on paper, you are using your own brainpower to personally analyze what is really important about the case or article to you. In other words, this is where learning happens...because...you've taken the time to distill it in your own words!
- Keep on adding in the short blurbs and, before you know, you've built a TOC outline.
One final note. As I go back to review my class notes and cases to write my case blurbs, I try to skim for just the big concepts, i.e., as though I'm just trying to "catch up with old friends." In other words, I'm just trying to get reacquainted, so to speak.
Not sure what a case blur looks like? Well, here's a sample:
Fisher v. Carousel (lunch buffet plate snatched from NASA mathematician's hand by restaurant work): tortious battery includes contact either through direct physical touching or through touching an object intimately connected to a person because the purpose of battery is to protect human dignity from forceful violations that impact our minds and invade our wills.
In sum, as you can see from the example, I list the case name, I identify a few material facts, and then I re-write the holding of the case in my own words...with a slight twist...because I add the word "because" to explain the court's rationale. And, there you have it: a hand-dandy TOC outline! (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Our semester comes to a close in about a week and exams are looming. Many 3L students are suddenly hit with the reality that these are their final days of law school. They constantly remind me of how many weeks, days, hours, and seconds remain until they graduate. For some students, the initial excitement associated with graduating felt at the beginning of the semester or academic year has now morphed into fear of facing the actuality of graduating and “adulting.” The sheer reality of wrapping up an academic career, forever for most, is quite intimidating. Some of the conversations many of my 3Ls are having revolve around:
- Fears of not finding a job
- Fears of failing on a job
- Financially sustaining themselves
- Fears of not passing the bar exam
- Intimidation about the bar review process
- Ensuring that they actually do graduate
- Concerns about entertaining friends and family coming for graduation
Throughout the school year and specifically this last semester, I have tried to engage students in conversations about preparing for the Bar exam. Many of the questions were answered through speakers and presentations, in electronic bar related materials made available to students, or through various emails throughout their law school career. But it is only now that several students appear concerned about the Bar exam and want to discuss it. This comes as no surprise to me and although it happens each year, my principle concern is always to ensure that students are given the necessary information or are directed to where they need to go for the information. (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
We have some solutions for all of you who have not booked your hotel rooms yet. Camesha has worked tirelessly all day to get the Hilton to open up some more rooms. They were only willing to open up 5 more rooms under the AASE block on Monday. Those rooms are open now for reservations. Apparently there is another conference going on in Fort Worth the same week. This is a new group utilizing the Fort Worth area and our hosts were not able to anticipate their presence.
We also have another hotel option for you. You can stay at the Sheraton Forth Worth Downtown for the same rate. You can book at this link:
Texas A&M Law School (OR copy and paste the following link into a web browser)
https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/events/start.action?id=1704113828&key=F1BB938. I recommend pasting the link if you have any problems. I just tried it to make sure it works.
Please feel free to contact me or Camesha if you have questions or issues. We are so excited to see all of you next month in Texas!! Please make sure you are registering for the conference and nominating officers on the AASE website www.associationofacademicsupporteducators.org.
Have a wonderful evening!
Assistant Professor & Associate Director
Academic Achievement Program
The John Marshall Law School
315 S Plymouth Ct
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 427-2737 x448
Direct: (312) 987-1448
Academic Achievement Program
If you wish to apply for a need-based, travel scholarship for the AASE conference, the information is here: Download NATIONAL CONFERENCE TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP.2017.
Monday, April 10, 2017
The inaugural AASE Diversity Conference, entitled Fulfilling Promises: Providing Effective Academic and Bar Exam Support to Diverse Students, will be held October 12-13 at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD.
The deadline for proposal submissions is on April 28th. The call for proposals can be found here: Download DIVERSITY Call for Proposals 2017.
UCLA School of Law is seeking a new Lecturer in Law who will be responsible for teaching core courses required for graduate law students who have a foreign law degrees (LL.M. degree candidates) to sit for the California, New York, or other state bar exams and for creating and implementing co-curricular programs for these students. This is a full-time, nine-month, academic, non-tenure track appointment. The salary and level of appointment will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. The appointment will be effective July 1, 2017.
For more information, please see: https://recruit.apo.ucla.edu/apply/JPF02877
The 2017 conference will be at Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth, TX. Links to the conference information are:
Note that hotel reservations must be made by April 22nd to get the conference rate of $179.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Thank you to Kandace J. Kukas, Assistant Dean & Director of Bar Admission Programs at Western New England University School of Law, for providing us with a write-up regarding this recent New York event:
Fifteenth Successful Conference in the Books!
The New York Academic Support Workshop celebrated its fifteenth year at New York Law School on Friday, March 31, 2017. With more than 25 attendees from New York, New England and the East Coast, the one-day conference re-energized ASP professionals for the end of year and bar exam stress, as well as creating thoughtful discussion of how to more effectively and efficiently reach our students.
Hosts Kris Franklin of New York Law School and Linda Feldman of Brooklyn Law School set up a robust agenda consisting of insightful conversations, activities and sharing. One of the day’s highlights was the “Improvising Your Way to Good Legal Analysis” session led by Victoria Eastus of New York Law School. All participants formed a circle and learned how improv can help break the ice with our students as well as show the students they already know how to implement legal analysis. Our everyday living requires analysis, when shifted to the legal arena the connections proved to be quite powerful and generated quite a buzz in the room!
Additional “take-aways” from the day included a recognition that a flipped class may have some draw backs for students who learn differently, project management is a crucial part of legal work and we can guide our students through creative means to understanding task management, and none of us likes homework; especially ASP Professionals! In addition, we discussed and shared experiences creating an Academic Support Program, helping the students with doctrine comprehension using creative methods, and the components necessary to writing well; rules, doctrine, issues and facts. Finally, we shared our time management techniques, with students and ourselves; we are pulled in many directions as are our students, we can use ourselves as guides and examples of superior time management.
Most importantly we shared support and comradery! It is crucial that every now and then we reach out beyond our school’s walls and remember there are a number of brilliant people across the country working very hard to ensure student success in law school and beyond. These friendships and the support felt in the room are some of the reasons I am honored to be in academic support!
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Hat tip to Steve Black, my colleague here at Texas Tech School of Law, for telling me about Ankiweb to make flashcards. You can build flashcards on your computer and share them with your other devices. The link to the website is Ankiweb. (The phone app is also available through the Google Play Store for Android phones.) (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, April 6, 2017
It's gone "viral." Apparently it's the most watched graduation speech...ever. That's great news for our world because the subject was about changing the world for the better. So, here's the kicker, according to graduation speaker Admiral William McRaven (now chancellor at the University of Texas), it starts in the morning.
That' right. Start in the morning...with making your bed. You see, according to McRaven, it's the little things that matter because the little things add up to bigger things, and the bigger things add up to big things, and the big things, well, add up to great things (at least that's my paraphrase of his speech). So, when you make your bed in the morning, you've already taken one mighty little step to taking charge over the issues that you are about to confront that day. In short, even before you've reached school, you've demonstrated a success. And, success begets success.
That's particularly important in the study (and in the practice) of law. I heard a speaker today say that the issue with lawyers is that lawyers overthink. That made me think, of course, because I am a lawyer. I overthink everything. And, in my overthinking, I tend not to get moving because I don't know where to start. So, instead of concrete positive action in trying to change the world, I'm often stalled in my thoughts, which leads to worry. In short, I'm stymied, perplexed, and overstressed. But, it doesn't have to be that way, according to Adm. McRaven. If I just start each day with tackling a simple problem, I'll see progress. And, as I start to make progress, I start to feel more confident, to believe in myself, in tackling even more problems on the way to changing the world.
Let's bring this back to the classroom. In the study of law, we are so often afraid to "make our bed." What do I mean by that? Well, we spend way too much time overthinking the cases in our reading for classes that we never start using the cases to practice solving legal problems. We stay in bed. We hide under the covers. We don't move into the morning by working through hypotheticals, testing ourselves, seeing if we can figure out how to solve legal problems.
So, here's my suggestion:
Just start working on the little problems, the short hypotheticals. It doesn't have to be big gnarly essay questions. In fact, start small. But, start. Grab pen and paper along with your notes and take a stab at solving a practice problem. That will lead to solving bigger practice problems, which will increase your confidence to solve even more difficult problems. And then, before you know it, you'll be witnessing your own graduation...as a brand new problem-solving lawyer...and well-prepared to change the world for the better too! (Scott Johns)
P.S. Here's a video clip from part of the University of Texas speech: Step 1: If You Want to Change the World...