Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, June 18, 2018

Perspective for the MBE

Father’s Day week is awesome for many reasons.  I normally get to caddy a junior golf tournament with my son, spend time with family, and watch golf’s US Open.  We spend the majority of our time outside enjoying activities together.  This week is what summer is all about.

I love the US Open because it is normally the hardest golf tournament of the year.  They play courses with near impossible putting greens and impenetrable rough.  A little part of me enjoys watching the best players in the world struggle the same way I do on weekends.  As I prepared this post, I watched Rory McIlroy, who reached #1 in the world rankings a few years ago, hit a shot from the right rough to left rough 20 yards short of the green.  He then proceeded to hit his next shot only 10 yards out of the rough into a sand bunker.  I can absolutely relate. 

The US Open winner will have similar struggles, just not as many times as the rest of the field.  Most winners will say this tournament is all about perspective.  Par is a great score this week if everyone else is above par. 

Bar prep and completing MBE questions is a similar experience.  Missing question after question is like hitting from the rough, to more rough, and then the sand.  Mental exhaustion increases mistakes and leads to more stress.  Students hear they only need a certain percentage correct to pass, but most students aren’t near that percentage right now.  The struggle is brutal.  Bar prep requires the same grind as the hardest round of golf or any other endeavor.

For my students, and many others, the timing is increasing stress.  Yesterday was the halfway mark between graduation and the bar exam.  Time is flying by, but no one feels comfortable with the material.  New subjects are still presented.  Low scores and new material breaks spirits, and everyone needs high motivation to finish the rest of preparation.

The critical action right now is to find perspective.  Just like most of the golfers are hacking it around Shinnecock Hills Golf Club right now, the vast majority of students preparing for the bar exam are struggling right now.  Almost no one feels comfortable with the material.  Nearly no one is scoring great.  Also, you don’t have to score great now or ever.  You only need to get enough questions correct at the end of July to be above the pass line.

Many of you are halfway done with bar prep.  Celebrate that success.  Everyone has come a long way to this point.  Get perspective on where you should be right now.  I am not saying blindly keep going no matter what.  Always keep in touch with your bar prep specialist, but remember, everyone is a weekend hacker on MBE questions right now.  Keep hacking away with guidance to put yourself in a position for success.

(Steven Foster)

June 18, 2018 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

I'm a new fall 1L! What should I do this summer?

Congratulations to all of our readers who are entering law school this fall! We look forward to welcoming you into our law school families.

Studying the law is fascinating, but it can also be a challenge. However, don't spend your summer stressing out about the new path in front of you. Spend this summer enjoying your summer while still taking some proactive steps for law school.

New 1Ls often ask what they should do over the summer months to prepare for law school. Here are some thoughts on worthy pursuits:

  • Spend quality time with family and friends. Many law students attend law school away from home. For some law students, it will be the first time they are far away. Take time now to make positive connections with the people who matter to you and build memories that will sustain you in the busy months ahead. You will find that going home every weekend will most likely not happen during law school because of deadlines and workload. So enjoy your favorite people this summer while you have more flexibility.
  • Organize your arrival in your law school city for several days before orientation starts. Orientation Week at law school will be very busy. Unlike other educational experiences, assignments will be heavy in all courses from the first class. If possible move in to your new apartment 5-7 days ahead. That gives you time to unpack boxes, get cable/internet hooked up, explore your city, stock groceries, etc. Your entry into law school will be more relaxed if you have some settling-in time before you report for orientation.
  • Make careful reading for comprehension an every day habit. Spend the summer reading mysteries, romance novels, the classics, news articles, biographies - don't read legal tomes about torts, civil procedure, or contracts. (You will read more pages in law school than you have probably ever read in your life, so there is no reason to start reading law yet.) Our digital lives prompt us to skim and read superficially, but legal cases and documents are dense and will require careful reading for comprehension.  So make it a habit this summer of reading carefully. Read entire articles and books instead of headings and random paragraphs. Ask questions about what you are reading to check your comprehension. Look up vocabulary you do not know. Good reading habits will pay off.
  • Brush up on your grammar and punctuation rules. Communication is the bread and butter of lawyering. Law students are often surprised at how important grammar and punctuation are to legal writing. Litigation outcomes can be determined by the correct placement of a comma in a contract! A summer review of these rules can boost your confidence in your legal writing course this fall.
  • Write down the reasons you want to go to law school and become a lawyer. Be more reflective than just what you put in that personal essay for your application. It is not uncommon for law students to wonder at times during their legal studies why they went to law school and why they wanted to become a lawyer. Your list of reasons can be a morale booster if you get bogged down in reading cases, writing papers, and taking final exams and temporarily lose perspective.
  • Practice setting a schedule. Once law school starts, your time will need to be very structured to complete all the necessary study tasks. Most successful law students study some in the evenings and during the weekend as well as daytime hours Monday through Friday. You will become more adept at time management if you can get used to setting a routine schedule for your summer tasks: work,  family responsibilities, chores, errands, sleep, meals, exercise.
  • Recognize and manage the distractions in your life. Most of us procrastinate at least some of the time. Today's world offers us a myriad of distractions to encourage avoidance. Determine what your time wasters are and get them under control this summer, so you can better manage your time once you get to law school. Here are some common time wasters that law students have to conquer: electronic interruptions (email, social media, phone calls, texting, surfing the Internet), video games, TV marathons, naps, midweek partying.
  • Read one good book about succeeding in law school. Some suggestions are: Expert Learning for Law Students by Michael Hunter Schwartz; 1L of a Ride by Andrew J. McClurg; Succeeding in Law School by Herb N. Ramy; 1000 Days to the Bar by Dennis J. Tonsing. There are other good books written by academic success professionals and law professors, but these four are classics.

Having a restful summer and recharging your batteries will go a long way to being ready for law school. Enjoy the anticipation! Realize that you were admitted because your law school expects you to succeed in legal studies. Following these tips can help you ease into law school with confidence. (Amy Jarmon)

June 17, 2018 in Miscellany, Orientation, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Instructor in Academic Success and Professionalism Position at Nova Southeastern

The listing for this full-time, full benefits position in Academic Success and Professionalism can be found here.

June 16, 2018 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Associate Director Position at IU McKinney School of Law

The attached PDF gives the full job description: Download Job Description Associate Director of Academic and Bar Success Full Time and the following link is to the job posting and online application link: Job Posting and Online Application Link.

June 16, 2018 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 15, 2018

AccessLex Legal Education Research Symposium

Text from a recent email from AccessLex:

Registration is open for the 2018 AccessLex Legal Education Research Symposium on November 11-12 at the beautiful Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia.

The AccessLex Legal Education Research Symposium offers law school deans, administrators, faculty and researchers the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions on the most critical issues facing legal education today. Network with colleagues from across the nation and meet the grant winners and scholars producing the latest research on diversity issues, bar success and so much more.

Join us for this one-of-a-kind event that examines access, affordability and the value of legal education and the promising practices and innovative strategies to address these issues.

June 15, 2018 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Studying vs. Learning: A Matter of Perspective

It's the time of the year when one group of graduates are taking their oaths of office while another group of graduates are preparing for the bar exam this summer.  That brings me to an interesting conversation with a recent bar passer and his spouse about studying versus learning.

You see, with an introduction in hand, I asked the bar passer's spouse if she noticed anything different between her spouse's law school experience preparing for final exams and her spouse's bar prep experiencing in preparing for the bar exam.

Without hesitation, the report came back: "No. It was much the same, same hours, same long days, the same through and through."  

In rapid response and without the slightest hesitation, the recent graduate - who just passed the bar exam - exclaimed that it was "totally different. No comparison between preparing for law school exams and the bar exam."  

You see, according to his spouse's perspective, preparing for law school exams and bar exams outwardly seemed identical, but, according to the recent graduate, in law school he spent most of his time reading...and reading...and reading...and then learning as much as he could just a few days before final exams.  In other words, he spent his law school years studying.  In contrast, even though outwardly he put in similar hours for bar prep as for law school studies, his focus was on practicing...and practicing...and practicing.  In other words, for law school he was studying; for the bar exam he was learning.

So, for those of you preparing for the bar exam this summer, focus on learning - not studying.  What does that mean?  Well, a great day is completing two tasks: working through lots of actual bar exam problems and then journaling about what you learned that very day.  Yep...that very day.  That's key.  Learn today.  Spend less time studying (reading commercial outlines, watching lectures, and reading lecture notes) and more time learning (doing lots and lots of practice problems).  That's because on bar exam day you aren't going to be asked about what you read but rather asked to show what you can do.  So, be a doer this summer!  (Scott Johns).







June 14, 2018 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Kristen Holmquist

About four years ago, I met Kristen.  I did not physically meet her but communicated with her by email and phone.  I was the program chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Academic Support and her proposal was selected for that year’s program.  Kristen had co-authored a paper with one of her former students.  Interacting with program presenters was a highlight of my experience as chair as I had some great side conversations with Kristen who provided me with great perspective.  I also appreciate her periodic comments on the academic support listserv.  Let’s learn about Kristen! (Goldie Pritchard)


Q: Please indicate your full name, title, and institution of employment.

Kristen Holmquist

Director of Academic Skills Program, Director of Experiential Education, Lecturer in Residence

Berkeley Law


Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.  

I fell in love with ASP as a 2L. I was incredibly lucky to work as a teaching fellow under Kris Knaplund at UCLA - and it didn't take very long at all for me to realize that ASP was my calling. I loved teaching. I loved working closely with students eager to learn new skills. I loved watching that "aha!" moment. I took over as Director at UCLA in 2003 (after Kris left for Pepperdine), and then I moved to Berkeley Law in 2008. 


Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most?  What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

The best part of my job, easily, is teaching. Over the course of a semester, my students and I learn to trust each other, to be vulnerable and to try hard, new things. Even this many years in I am astounded by how much growth can happen over the course of a semester when teacher and student are working together as a team. 

The greatest challenge for me is the program development piece - making sure we have a cohesive whole, that we're on top of communications, etc. I've overcome the challenge by hiring tremendous people. My former associate director, Suzanne Miles, and my current associate director, Diana DiGennaro are both gifted teachers and excellent strategic thinkers. 


Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

If I've helped, in some small way, to diversify the profession - made it more accessible to first generation students, students of color, students with disabilities - then that's plenty enough for me. 


Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or midcareer ASPers or law students?

To new ASPers I'd say this - if you're wondering whether this career is worth it (maybe it isn't as prestigious as you'd hoped, maybe it doesn't pay as well as you would like), the answer is absolutely YES. It's fun. It's rewarding. It's an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of real human beings - who will go out there and make a difference in the lives of even more folks. And if you're on the fence? Reach out - I'd be glad to talk to you about it!

June 13, 2018 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Are C&F Mental Health Questions Still Too Broad?

In April, Virginia Public Radio aired a news story entitled "Law Students Challenge Need for Mental Health Question" on the character and fitness application.  The law students contend that the mental health questions on Virginia's character and fitness application have perversely incentivized law students to forego mental health treatment as a means of ensuring that they do not have to affirmatively disclose any mental health treatment on their character and fitness application.  (Read the full story here.)  

The law students' challenge comes in the wake of the American Bar Association's 2015 resolution to eliminate "any questions that ask about mental health history, diagnoses, or treatment and instead use questions that focus on conduct or behavior that impairs an applicant’s ability to practice law in a competent, ethical, and professional manner." 

Despite the ABA's recommendation, the Virginia character and fitness application asks three broad mental health related questions: 

  • Within the past five (5) years, have you exhibited any conduct or behavior that could call into question your ability to practice law in a competent, ethical, and professional manner?
  • Do you currently have any condition or impairment, including, but not limited to, (1) any related to substance or alcohol abuse, or (2) a mental, emotional, or nervous disorder or condition, which in any way affects your ability to perform any of the obligations and responsibilities of a practicing lawyer in a competent, ethical and professional manner? “Currently” means recently enough so that the condition could reasonably have an impact on your ability to function as a practicing lawyer.
  • Within the past five (5) years, have you ever raised the issue of consumption of drugs or alcohol or the issue of a mental, emotional, nervous or behavioral disorder/condition as a defense, mitigation, or explanation for your actions in the course of any of the following [proceedings...]?

If the applicant answers "yes" to any of these questions, they are then prompted to supply detailed supplemental information including dates and contact information for any treating physicians.  The applicant must also obtain a verification from the treating physician indicating that in the physician's opinion the applicant possesses the requisite character and fitness to practice law.  Notably, Virginia's application questions are almost identical to the National Conference of Bar Examiner's sample application

It appears that the first question aligns squarely with the ABA's resolution, but the other two questions go well beyond the narrow sphere recommended by the ABA.  It will be interesting to see how the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners (and, perhaps other jurisdictions who have adopted the same application) respond to the law students' challenge.  Stay tuned.  (Kirsha Trychta)

June 12, 2018 in Bar Exam Issues, Disability Matters, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Opportunities to Experiment

Law schools are overflowing with discussions about how to help our students learn.  The hard part is implementing new exercises or ideas.  Not only do we have to create the exercises, we also have to find time during our classes to try new things.  However, many professors, including ourselves, need to cancel class on occasion, so we may be able to seize opportunities in cancelled classes to try new ideas. 

I am relatively habitual in my classes.  If I think an exercise works or if my goals are being met, then I don’t change much in the class.  I have clear objectives, so I focus mainly on meeting those objectives.  I make changes to my classes, but I usually focus on the areas that I don’t think are working.  I will tweak an exercise, but after teaching a similar bar prep essay class for over 9 years, the class is relatively stable right now.  The stability is good, except I don’t try enough new ideas.  This summer though, I inadvertently found opportunities to experiment I can carry over to my bar prep class.

During the summer, I teach Remedies.  I taught it for a few years, so it is also somewhat stable.  However, the course schedule this year fell during AASE and a family trip we had planned.  I needed to cancel both those classes but also design work to comply with the ABA rule for minutes per credit hour.  I remember a couple previous conference sessions about hybrid learning and flipped classrooms.  I decided for one of the classes to record a lecture covering the reading, have students complete my normal in-class questions to turn in, and record a review of the questions.  I have a mid-term, so I can evaluate the understanding of the reading on the mid-term compared to previous years.  AASE forced me to try a form of hybrid learning.

I will admit, I am not entirely comfortable with the format.  I believe students need to be in seats interacting with the professor guiding learning.  However, I also know bar prep is increasingly online.  Instead of constantly complaining about no one showing up to bar prep lectures, I can help them figure out how to learn in a more online setting with specific exercises throughout law school.  Cancelled classes is a great opportunity to explore online learning formats. 

In the other class I needed to cancel, I tried a modified negotiation based on their Remedies readings.  Students needed to understand the material to be able to negotiate for his/her client.  Students practiced lawyering skills while also applying knowledge to a hypo.  Self-reflection after the exercise indicated students liked seeing the rules in practice, which is the context many of us talk about.  I will probably continue to use this exercise each year, even when I don’t need to cancel class.

Both of these exercises arose out of necessity, but the exercises also provided me an opportunity to try things I learned from the community.  As everyone plans the fall, there will probably be similar opportunities for you.  Think about days you need to miss.  I miss class the day of the Oklahoma swearing in ceremony each fall.  I can sometimes schedule a test on that day, and someone else proctor’s the exam.  Going forward, I plan try some new ideas on hybrid or individual skill building.

The other opportunity is when 1L faculty need to cancel class.  We could all contact our 1L faculty and ask them if they plan to cancel a class during the semester.  If so, we could offer to try a skills class or a video review.  It helps them satisfy the ABA minutes requirement, helps us interact with 1Ls, and could help the students understand the material in a different way.

Opportunities to experiment are more apparent than we think.  Events that seem difficult to navigate may be the events we need to experiment with the great ideas we hear at conferences.  Try something new this fall to see if it works.

(Steven Foster)

June 11, 2018 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 8, 2018

Looking for a summer conference?

For those of you who are fortunate enough to have some extra conference funds, think about the June 18-20 Institute for Law Teaching and Learning (ILTL) technology conference in Spokane, Washington:

June 8, 2018 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A "Get-To" vs. "Got-To" Attitude as a Spring Board to Learning!

We're just about three weeks into bar prep.  The excitement of graduation seems so long ago.  We're back in the same 'ole schoolhouse setting, watching bar review lectures and working through hypothetical legal problems.  Sure seems like the same old pattern as law school.  But, it need not be.

But first, a bit of background...

In aviation, air traffic controllers will often query pilots about their altitude.  It's a bit of a hint from the controllers to the pilots that something might be amiss.  And, it almost sounds sort of polite:  "Easy-Go Airline Flight 100, Say Altitude."  

In response, the pilots make a quick check of the altimeter - the instrument that measures altitude (i.e, height of the airplane in the skies) to confirm that they are at proper altitude as assigned by air traffic control:  "Roger Denver Approach Control, Easy-Go Airline Flight 100, level at 15,000 feet."  

In between the two communications, however, you can bet that the pilots were quickly making some fast-footed adjustments to the aircraft's altitude to make sure that they would not be busted by the air traffic controllers.

That brings us back to the world of bar prep.  A quick "attitude check" might be similarly helpful for your learning.

You see, as Professor Chad Noreuil from Arizona State University puts it in his book entitled "The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam," it can be mighty helpful for your learning to have what I call an "attitude check."  In particular, as Professor Noreuil cites in his book, researchers have identified a positive relationship between an optimistic approach to learning and achievement in learning.  Consequently, Professor Noreuil counsels bar takers to take on a "get-to" attitude rather than a "have-to" attitude towards bar prep because a "get-to" attitude improves one's chances of succeeding on the bar exam.  That's what I refer to as a "get-to" versus a "got-to" attitude.

But how do you change your attitude from a "got-to" to a "get-to" attitude?  Well, here's a possible approach that might just help provide some perspective about the wonderful opportunity that you have to take the bar exam this summer.  You see, very few have that opportunity.  That's because the numbers are just stacked against most people.  They'll never get the chance that you have this summer.  

Here are the details.  According to the U.S. government, there are about 7.5 billion people worldwide, and the U.S. population is close to 330 million.   Out of that population, according to the ABA, there are about 35,000 law school JD graduates per year.  That's it.  And, because most states require a JD in order to to the bar exam, very few people get to take a bar exam, very few indeed.  

That brings me back to you.  As a JD grad preparing for the bar exam, you are one of the very few who get to take the bar exam.  So, take advantage of that opportunity this summer by approaching your bar exam studies as once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to "get-to" show your state supreme court all the wonderful things that you have learned about practicing law.  You've worked hard in law school for just such a season as this, so, to paraphrase a popular slogan, "Just do it...but do it with a get-to attitude this summer!  (Scott Johns).


June 7, 2018 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus

For two years in a row, several Academic Support colleague recommended that Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus be highlighted in the Veteran ASP Spotlight Series. I was excited to read what Suzanne had to share. Let’s all learn about Suzanne. (Goldie Pritchard)


Q: Please indicate your full name, title, and institution of employment.

Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus

Professor of Law, Director of Academic Development and Bar Programs

Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.  

The law was a second career for me so I didn’t exactly pick ASP but think that it picked me. My work in bar preparation goes back to 1998, not long after I passed the bar exam.  Having developed very close relationships with my classmates, I was devastated when I passed the bar exam and they did not.  I wanted to help so I began hosting weekly sessions on Sundays in my home to study with them. This experience helped me see the individual and highly different ways that people learned.  I was in private practice at the time, but when I shared what I was doing with Howard Glickstein, Touro Law’s dean at the time, he started referring students seeking assistance with the bar to me. By the spring of 1999, I was teaching Sunday workshops at Touro Law to guide students with essay writing and by 2000, I was offered an opportunity to teach Legal Process for a professor on sabbatical.  While I enjoyed my work at the firm, I realized how much I loved teaching and helping students so I decided to take this opportunity.  I taught Legal Process for three years and developed academic workshops focusing on developing legal reasoning and writing skills for students at all levels.  Touro did not have a formal academic support program at the time --- like many other law schools in 2000 --- so we developed one, a program at a time.  I was named Director of Academic Development in August 2003 and devoted my time exclusively to ASP functions, including teaching a first-year Contracts class that combined skills and doctrine for at-risk students. 

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most?  What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

Like most of my ASP colleagues, I enjoy working one-on-one with students.  Still, as crazy as it might seem, I most enjoy that time between graduation and the bar exam when I work with our graduates to prepare for the bar exam.  This is the one of the best things about being a law professor because once students graduate, we’re all lawyers together, just peers, and I can help them navigate that next step to becoming a practitioner.  The bar prep period can be the loneliest, most anxiety-producing part of a student’s educational process. I want to make it less so by sharing that burden with them.     

The greatest challenge is helping first year students overcome their shock and loss of confidence when they do not do as well as they expected. The key to helping students in this situation is to remember that every student is unique; while the students who “get it” are pretty much alike in how they connect with the process of legal reasoning and analysis, those who struggle do so each in their own way.  It is my job to help them figure out what they need to do to get a different result.  Everything is on the table, beginning with setting up a daily study schedule.  Having said that, it’s important to stress that every schedule has to be flexible so we monitor how that schedule works on a weekly basis and make adjustments.  I am constantly surprised to learn how many students have never used a schedule before so that means they never knew how long it would take to perform a task --- which translates into not knowing how much time to allocate for a law school assignment.

Like others in ASP, I am constantly learning from my students and use what I learn in helping them to help others.  If one student has a problem, then others have it too.

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

For students:  Touro Law gave me the opportunity to have the life I always dreamed of having. Each student comes to law school with a dream and I want to help them achieve it. I want them to realize their dream of becoming licensed and practicing attorneys. 

For colleagues: I’ve never really thought of a legacy because I am so busy in the here and now.  There is always another student and another bar exam.  I guess I would like to be remembered as one who was always available to help a colleague.  Professionally, I value most the work that I’ve done to try to change the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ scoring practices to ensure that the bar exam is a fair and reliable assessment of an individual's minimum competency to practice law. 

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or midcareer ASPers or law students?

New and mid-career ASP’ers:  Do not hesitate to reach out to your ASP colleagues.  We are an invaluable resource for advice and practical materials.  And just like we tell our students, do not lose perspective.  It is easy to get caught up in our students’ anxiety and emotionally drained by all that we give of ourselves.  We need to remember to take care of ourselves!  I know that it is difficult, but you need to set limits on your availability, especially in responding to emails.  Unless it is a bona-fide emergency, you must let students know that you will respond within a certain window --- set that line and keep to it, or you will be answering emails around the clock.  Finally, remember that everything changes --- whether it is good or bad. There will always be changes in administration, faculty, and policies.  Keep steady and steer the course.

 Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?

My favorite quote is from Benjamin Franklin --- it got me through law school and continues to guide me in my teaching: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

June 6, 2018 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Test Driving Khan Academy's LSAT course

Last week I posted about The Future of the LSAT, including LSAC’s collaboration with Khan Academy to provide free online LSAT prep to everyone.  This week I am taking Khan Academy’s LSAT course for a test drive.

Registering for the course was simple.  I just needed to input my name, date of birth, and email address.  Then I selected LSAT prep from the list of available courses.  Once I was officially enrolled, Khan Academy provided me with an overview of their 4 step system:

“1. ... Take a mini-test or a full practice test, and [Khan Academy] will identify the skills you should focus on to improve your score the most.

2. ... Unlock your personalized practice plan. Based on your score goal, schedule, and starting skill strengths, [Khan Academy] will craft a unique practice plan with lessons and exercises at just the right level.

3. ... Step-by-step lessons and explanations will help you understand the questions and concepts on the LSAT, and official LSAT practice tests develop the test-taking and time-management skills you’ll need to reach your goal.

4. ... Your practice plan is divided into stages that start with focused skill practice and end with a LSAT practice test. As your weaknesses turn into strengths, you’ll see your test scores rise towards your goal.”

Because I was strangely curious about how I’d score with 15 years of legal analysis under my wing, I opted to take the 3 hour full-length exam instead of the 70 minute mini-diagnostic.  The diagnostic exam—comprised of four graded sections—did not have an official timer (you had to time yourself), but did let you skip between questions within each section and highlight passages in the reading comprehension section.  I get the impression that the system may allow for timed tests,  however, because under the personal settings tab I was given the option to adjust the testing timer for time-and-a-half or double-time. 

I found completing the diagnostic exam online slightly more difficult than a pencil and paper version because I could not engage in active reading techniques or quickly cross-out obviously wrong answer choices.  Unsurprisingly, I’ve heard the same complaint from law students who are studying for the multiple-choice section of the bar exam using primarily online resources.  My experience this week, combined with my students’ feedback, reinforced a growing concern that I have about LSAC’s decision to explore a digital LSAT exam. 

All that aside, at the conclusion of the diagnostic exam, I received my overall score, as well as my score on each particular section.  I was then given the option to create a personalized study schedule based on (1) my upcoming LSAT exam date and (2) my target score.

I selected a test date three months away (September) and a target score 9 points higher than my diagnostic score.  With that information, the program suggested that I complete 10 full-length practice exams and study approximately 2 hours per week to reach my goal.  I could also opt-in to receive automatic email reminders to help me stay on track.  My personal study plan included “sub-goals” and very specific target areas on which to focus my efforts (e.g. reading comprehension passages dealing with science), based on my diagnostic performance.  This project chunking and mini-goal setting system is definitely a fantastic skill to teach aspiring law students and a welcome feature in the program.  

Regardless of whether I opted to complete the diagnostic exam, I could click on the “lessons” tab at the top of the page to instantly access the full repository of available handouts, videos, and practice problems.  Click here to Download List of Khan Academy's LSAT Lessons.  The 1 to 10 minute lecture videos stream via an embedded You Tube player and include closed captioning, if desired.  The quick guides and handouts had helpful tips, but were entirely online.  I also received “energy points” for each goal achieved and activity completed, in the same vein as a video game.

Overall, the Khan Academy LSAT program appears to be quite robust—especially given its zero dollar price tag.  I would recommend this website to law school hopefuls.  (Kirsha Trychta)

June 5, 2018 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Procrastination Avoidance

A report is due next week, and I could do it today.  However, I think tomorrow is a better time to complete it.  The next day, I think tomorrow is a better time to complete it.  The 1L appellate brief is due, but facebook is much more fun than Lexis.  The Statute of Limitations runs next week, but I know I can draft a petition in no time.  Sound familiar?  I won’t assume any of you encounter these problems, but I am sure you talk to students about them.

Procrastination is a problem in law schools, and honestly, throughout society.  Some people always think tomorrow is a better day or justify putting something off because he/she works well under pressure.  Procrastination strategies have serious ramifications in law school, on the bar exam, and especially, the practice of law.  Any time is a great time to stop procrastinating.

Stopping procrastination is easier said than done, but I am recommending a short and great book to my students titled Solving the Procrastination Puzzle by Timothy Pychyl.  Pychyl researched procrastination, and he wrote the book to make it easy to apply in everyday life.

Pychyl addresses all the comments we hear from students and explains why people have certain procrastination feelings, why the feelings are wrong, and how to overcome putting off the task.  He discusses how most of our explanations are merely justifications for procrastination behavior.  People tend to always think tomorrow is a better day than today to complete a difficult task (affective forecasting).  Unfortunately, tomorrow is always a day away, and nothing is completed.  We never really feel like doing it tomorrow, so we continually delay. 

He also addresses the common justification of working better under stress.  Many of our students, and many attorneys unfortunately, think waiting to the last minute produces better work product.  His research indicates what we all know.  Last minute writing leads to more errors and less accuracy.  Our students could overcome the errors in undergrad by being near the top of the class.  We all know that doesn’t work in LRW or in front of judges in practice.

The good news is he provides practical actions to overcome those issues and others, including digital distractions.  Each chapter has a mantra to help get past the delay.  He does emphasize just getting started, but he moves beyond just telling readers to start.  He provides good mental models and advice to overcome procrastination.  His advice could make a huge difference for many of our students putting off briefs and outlines.  I will definitely recommend to my students.

(Steven Foster)

June 4, 2018 in Advice, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Voting in Run-Off Election for AASE Members - Watch Your Inbox

Dear ASP Colleagues:

As explained at today’s business meeting at AASE’s Sixth Annual National Conference, there was a tie in the votes cast for the position of President-Elect.  The following two candidates (listed in alphabetical order by last name) received an equal number of votes cast by active AASE members:

                DeShun Harris (Texas A&M School of Law)

                Antonia Miceli (Saint Louis University School of Law)

In accordance with AASE’s Bylaws, I am using this e-mail to give notice to AASE members that AASE will hold a run-off election.  We will conduct the run-off election online, beginning Thursday, May 31, 2018 and ending on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.  Please watch your e-mail for a link to the voting page.  Only individuals with an active AASE membership may vote.

Thank you for your participation in selecting our leaders.  AASE’s success depends on your engagement.

Best regards,

Russell McClain

AASE President

June 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Extension of the AASE Survey Deadline to August 10th

Law school contacts who have not completed the survey for AASE yet for their law schools have been emailed this week with information on the restructuring of the survey to make it easier to complete and on the new deadline. The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2018 – please use 2017-2018 information still.

If you were previously contacted during April to fill out the survey and did not have time to do so, please check your inbox (and junk mail folder) for the email about the survey that was sent this past week.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon at

Best regards,

Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law

Karen M. Harkins, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

June 2, 2018 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Assistant Director of Academic Support Position at California Western

California Western has posted a job opening for the Assistant Director position. Here are two sources for the job posting:

CWSL website posting - 

Chronicle of Higher Ed posting -


June 1, 2018 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Reichi Lee

Reichi Lee was a recipient of the 2017 Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) Excellence Awards.  An Academic Support colleague recommended she be highlighted in the Veteran ASP Spotlight Series.  Let’s learn about Reichi! (Goldie Pritchard)

Golden Gate University - Niall David Photography-0326_preview

Q: Please indicate your full name, title, and institution of employment.

Reichi Lee

Associate Professor & Director, Academic Development

Golden Gate University School of Law

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.

I’ve been in ASP for over 11 years, first as an adjunct teaching skills courses, then Assistant Director of Academic Development, and now as Associate Professor and Director, teaching skills and doctrinal courses, and overseeing a comprehensive academic support curriculum.

ASP work has become increasingly relevant and has transformed dramatically in the last decade. I love being a part of an ASP community that is proactively tackling the challenges of educating contemporary law students through constant adaption and innovation.

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most? What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

My favorite part of the job is seeing a student who had struggled but worked hard to turn things around, alongside his or her family on graduation day.

My greatest challenge has been reconciling my own career ambitions and expectations from my youth, with being a mother, and finding the right mix of intellectual fulfillment, career advancement, and work-life balance – all in the context of an acceptable salary for survival in the Bay Area!

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

Making an impact in someone’s life so that they can have a better life.

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or midcareer ASPers or law students?

A law degree is not just a degree. For some students, obtaining a law degree means transforming an entire family and community, for generations to come.

To new students: when things get tough, pull out your admissions personal statement and re-read it. Remember, your struggle today is ultimately about so much more than just grades.

To new/midcareer ASPers: although the day-to-day may feel less than glamourous and you might have to work hard to be seen and valued - your work has much greater impact than you may think. I thank you!

May 30, 2018 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Future of the LSAT

The LSAT is changing.   

The Law School Admission Council announced four big changes to the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in 2017.  

First, LSAC is increasing the number of test administrations.  Beginning in 2019, LSAC will offer six tests each year instead of the standard four.  Presumably to soften the transition from four tests in 2017 to six tests in 2019, LSAC quietly added a 5th exam to the calendar for 2018.  Registration is currently open for the newly added fifth test, which will take place on July 23, 2018.  

Second, LSAC has begun to conduct Digital LSAT field tests.  LSAC is exploring the possibility of transitioning to a computer-based exam, instead of the traditional paper-and-pencil version.  The results of the first field test, which was conducted in October 2017, have not been made available to the public yet. 

Third, LSAC eliminated the maximum-of-three-tests-in-two-years restriction.  Applicants may now take the LSAT exam as many times as they would like, limited only by the frequency of test administrations and cost.    

Lastly, LSAC partnered with Khan Academy to offer "free personalized LSAT prep for all."  The Khan Academy LSAT program launches this week (June 1, to be exact).  I plan to enroll and test-drive the program.  Look for a follow-up report soon. 

Meanwhile, in April 2018, the American Bar Association's Standards Review Committee of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recommended eliminating the LSAT requirement altogether, allowing law schools to focus on other admissions credentials.  The committee's proposal was then considered by the section's council at their May 11th meeting, and after some small changes, the council adopted the committee's recommendation.  The changes to Standards 501 and 503 would eliminate the requirement of a “valid and reliable test” as part of a law school’s admissions process.  "Significantly, the Council also adopted a new interpretation ... that would establish a “rebuttable presumption” that recognizes the centrality of a valid and reliable admissions test in law schools’ admissions policies and practices. It provides that a school whose admissions policy and process were called into question by the Council would presumptively be out of compliance with the revised Standard 501 if it did not include a valid and reliable admissions test as part of its policy.”  The Council's recommendation will now be forwarded to the ABA's House of Delegates , who could consider the issue as early as this August. 

LSAC's President responded to the May 11th ABA vote with a short press release, stating that LSAC "anticipates that most law schools will continue to use the LSAT in the admission process because of its proven validity and reliability for predicting success in law school."

(Kirsha Trychta)


May 29, 2018 in Exams - Studying, News, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 28, 2018

My AASE Takeaway Sheet

AASE was awesome again this year.  I want to first say Thank You to Toni and everyone at Saint Louis University School of Law.  They did an excellent job putting on the conference.  AASE’s programming committee put together an exceptional slate of presenters.  Just as previous years, I learned from all of the sessions I attended.  It was a great experience.

I will provide a handful of my small takeaways I want to easily implement next year.  I will need more time to think about the more ambitious projects I learned about.

  1. Shane Dizon provided good illustrations and charts for outlining and legal analysis. I teach all 1Ls and use different exercises to illustrate IRAC.  He presented an inverted pyramid with the broad rule at the top getting more narrow with exceptions at the bottom to help students better organize a linear outline.  His essay boxes for rule and application in his handout makes following IRAC easy.  I always try to introduce different exercises to reach more students, and I think his handout will help.
  1. Goals in Google Calendar. I am always late to new tech features, so forgive me if you already use google goals.  Someone referenced google goals where google will find time in someone’s google calendar to schedule activities to meet the goal you set, ie – exercise, read, etc.  This feature will be great if I switch to google’s calendar.  I can have it fit in research/writing, exercise, and anything other goal I want to set.  I plan to teach more about habits to 1Ls next year, so I will show it to them as well.  Click here for more information.
  1. I believe Alison Nissen and Stephanie Thompson’s presentation about deepening analysis in essay writing is where I picked up the good cooking analogies. Analogies are great tools to help students better understand information.  My problem is the vast majority of my analogies are from sports.  Sports fanatics love how I explain some concepts, but non-sports fans don’t get as much from the discussion.  The PB&J and Cookie explanation from this presentation was great.  The activity forces students to go step-by-step with how to make cookies or a PB&J sandwich.  Students inevitably want to skip numerous steps (ie – go to the pantry, retrieve bread, etc.).  I love the idea of making them give every detail of a task that seems so obvious.  This activity also explains how professors award points very well.
  1. I am a member of my school’s assessment committee, so I enjoyed hearing about SLU’s service based learning outcomes. The way the faculty empowered students to take ownership and serve the community during very difficult situations is outstanding.  I want to look more at their language and figure out how we can empower our students better.
  1. I plan to find the ABC hidden camera show where a bike theft is staged by people of different ethnicities and genders. Bystanders reacted much differently depending on the person stealing the bike.  I think the show can help introduce bias to our students.

I could keep going with all the different ideas I heard about, but I want to focus on only a handful of ideas.  None of those ideas will transform legal education, but every idea I plan to implement has the potential to change an individual student’s legal education.  Every small change to reach one more student is important to that student and all his/her future clients.  Thank you to the presenters for having that impact on my students.

Of course, AASE is outstanding because of all the attendees.  Seeing colleagues from across the country, and interacting with new faces is always fun.  From Russell McClain’s walking shoes and Paula Manning’s precise timing to seeing former Aggie ASP directors now living coast to coast, the people are what make AASE great.  I can’t wait to see everyone again next year.

(Steven Foster)

May 28, 2018 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)