Thursday, June 13, 2013
Getting the Most Out of Conferences
I would like to start with a wonderful experience I just had, that is, attending the AASE conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. As I was coming home on the plane, I got to thinking about the importance of being ASPish when attending a conference. Here are some thoughts:
Before: The week beforehand, think about what your goals are for the conference. This could include gaining a specific area of knowledge, a skill, getting started on publishing, finding a mentor, joining leadership, acquiring course materials or relevant syllabi. Read the program and think about which sessions you will go to. If you have a buddy, agree to exchange information from the sessions you attend.
During: Make a friend. We all need someone you can call in our dark moments when we need advice or support from someone who knows what it is you are going through. Having someone you can bounce ideas off of without embarrassment is a wonderful thing. Be a friend. Offer to send someone your materials or give some advice about something.
Take good notes. For my learning style, it is essential that I take notes. Whether you use a computer or handwrite, keep a section in your notes with action items to do when you get home. Add to the action items as you go through the conference and as ideas you want to use arise. Monitor your progress on your conference goals. Sit at a table for a meal with people you do not know and get to know them. Take advantage of the social activities (board games!). It is a great way to get to know people and also to have fun.
Find and tell a presenter from last year how what they spoke about made a difference in what you did over the last year. Fill out evaluations as you are in the presentation. We all know the importance of feedback and since we are all ASPish, the feedback will be positive and concrete. Pace yourself – take a nap? Even extroverts can be overwhelmed at ASP conferences! If provided, put handouts in your folder on left side, program on right. Keep receipts in you folder on left side so that when you return you can do your reimbursement request right away.
After: When you get back, print your notes and put them in a binder. Or, if you are not a paper person, scan handouts, especially those that are lessons “in a box” and put them on a thumb drive or in a computer file for easy access. If the conference materials were provided on a thumb drive write on it with a Sharpie or tag it with the date, conference title and location. Follow up with emails or phone calls to your new friends. Send out at least one email to students (and your Dean) with a nugget you got from the conference the first week you are back. Send a thank you to the dean of one of the coordinators, presenters or send thank you to a sponsor. Fill out you reimbursement request. Scan your notes and materials for the best websites referenced and add those websites to your favorites. Order desk copies of new books you heard about. Practice using tools you learned about i.e. pollev.com (thanks Russell!)
Finally, prepare a lesson or workshop using a technique or information you gained from the conference. Conferences provide a wonderful experience, looking forward to seeing you all next year in Indianapolis. (Bonnie Stepleton)
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Director of Academic Support at Whittier
Job Title: Director of Academic Support
Whittier Law School seeks experienced candidates to direct our Academic Support Program ("ASP") and work with our ASP and Bar Preparation professionals as part of a team dedicated to student success. The ASP Director will be responsible for leading the ASP department, which includes but is not limited to teaching skills courses for first and second year students, teaching and mentoring in summer skills and orientation programs, working during the academic year and summer session with at-risk students and the general student population in one-on-one and group settings, counseling, and helping students build academic success skills. The Director will work on program and curriculum development and innovation.
We seek candidates with excellent academic backgrounds and significant teaching experience who have worked in, directed, and created curriculum for law school academic support programs. Applicants must exhibit leaderships skills, a passion for teaching and learning, have a strong work ethic, and enjoy working on and collaborating with a dynamic team of professionals. The Director will also be responsible for maintaining and analyzing statistical data on student learning outcomes so candidates should have a strong background in assessment and the use of technology in teaching and learning.
Salary and benefits depend on level of experience. Candidates must be law school graduates with a JD degree who have passed a bar exam. (California Bar Exam preferred.) Whittier Law School is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes applications from all qualified individuals.
Please submit resumes and letters of interest that describe the applicant’s qualifications for the above position directly to Sara Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Physician, Heal Thyself: Taking My Own Advice
It’s summer now. All of the exams are scored, grades assigned. It’s time for a little reflection….
It occurred to me at the recent inaugural AASE conference (which was great, by the way!) that
this last year was really busy for me. Not in a “Wow, I surely did accomplish a lot this year” way, but in a “Man,this year was so busy that I feel like I got very little accomplished” way.
If you are like me, then any given day during the semester could look something like this:
9:00 a.m.: Eat breakfast while returning yesterday’s e-mails.
9:45 a.m.: Make a to-do list of the things I want to accomplish today.
10:00 a.m.: 1-on-1 meeting with struggling 2L.
10:30 a.m.: 1-on-1 meeting with 1L.
11:00 a.m.: Prep for 1:00 class.
11:15 a.m.: Interrupt prep to meet with a walk-in student.
11:30 a.m.: Return to class prep.
11:45 a.m.: Another drop-in.
12:00 p.m.: Skip lunch to complete class prep.
1:00 p.m.: Teach class.
3:00 p.m.: Return to office for office hours.
4:00 p.m.: Grab lunch.
4:15 p.m.: Eat lunch at desk while reviewing a past exam for the next student meeting.
4:30 p.m.: Place partially eaten lunch on credenza and meet with struggling 1L.
5:00 p.m.: Ask 5:00 appointment to be patient, because the 4:30 meeting is going long.
5:10 p.m.: Begin 5:00 appointment.
5:30 p.m.: Ask 5:30 appointment to wait about 10 minutes.
5:50 p.m.: Apologize to 5:30 appointment for the late start.
6:55 p.m.: End 5:50 appointment, which went over an hour due to my “late start guilt.”
6:56 p.m.: Look at partially eaten lunch on credenza. Decide to take a bite.
6:57 p.m.: Throw partially eaten lunch away. It has turned.
7:00 p.m.: Call my wife, and tell her that I’m working late tonight.
7:05 p.m.: Work on faculty committee work.
8:30 p.m.: Begin reviewing today’s e-mails.
8:45 p.m.: Begin reviewing student work sent in today’s e-mail.
9:30 p.m.: Look at the list of things I meant to accomplish today.
9:35 p.m.: Choose to leave work notwithstanding 90% of my to do list is not done.
9:36 p.m.: Promise to do better tomorrow.
10:15 p.m.: Grab dinner at a drive through to eat at home.
11:00 p.m.: Go to bed.
1:00 a.m.: Wake up with indigestion.
1:05 a.m.: Check e-mail before going back to sleep.
1:10 a.m.: Return e-mail from a troubled student.
1:11 a.m.: Troubled student responds.
1:13 a.m.: Respond to troubled student.
1:15 a.m.: Troubled student responds.
1:17 a.m.: Respond to troubled student with a very clear, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
1:20 a.m.: Troubled student responds with “just one last question.”
1:22 a.m.: Respond to troubled student.
1:25 a.m.: Troubled student responds.
1:30 a.m.: Turn off my phone and promise to e-mail troubled student tomorrow.
Does this seem at all familiar to you? Am I crazy? Because I have to be honest with you, I originally was trying to be funny when drafting the sample day above. But it occurred to me by the time that I finished that it was all too realistic. I absolutely have days like this. A lot of them. And please note that as I string days like these together, there’s nothing on that list that says “spend six uninterrupted hours working on scholarly writing” or “go off-campus for a weekly afternoon of community service at local high school” or “work out” or “read for fun” or “eat lunch at a reasonable hour” or “write that blog post that you promised Amy Jarmon months ago.”
As I think about this, I wonder how I get anything done. I’m so busy, and there’s always so much to do. I’m not complaining, mind you. I like to be busy. But I realize, looking at the schedule above, that my days are so full that a lot is getting missed. I realize now, in my head, that my thoughts sound a lot like a law student’s:
“I don’t have time to do everything.”
“Where am I supposed to find the time?”
“I’m working really hard, but I always feel behind.”
“I have so much to read. I can’t get anything else done.”
“I can’t think beyond tomorrow.”
“I’m not sure how I’m going to get everything finished.”
“I’m not getting enough sleep.”
“I don’t have much personal time.”
“I’m not procrastinating. I just can’t get to things until just before they are due.”
“I don’t know where I’m going to find the time to get all of my work done.”
“I guess I’ll just do the best I can.”
I hear these complaints from law students every day. And I genuinely believe that I give them really good advice. So, I wonder, how might I advise myself? Here is some simple, familiar advice that I now offer to myself, and possibly to those of you who are like me:
1. Make a schedule.
Plan out what you want to accomplish each day. Don’t just put “write” or “work” on your calendar. Plan days with detail. For example, set aside reasonable stretches of time to work on
individual tasks. Keep in mind all that you must accomplish in a given day. Set aside time in your schedule to accomplish each task and to complete the tasks overall.
In addition, engage in long-term planning. Look weeks (even months) ahead to see what deadlines exists or what longer projects must be completed. Estimate the amount of total time that you need to complete those projects and then spread the bigger tasks out, working on a little bit at a time, rather than trying to accomplish all of it at once. All nighters are often a reflection of poor planning. If you plan better, hopefully you won’t be spending the last day or two before a deadline working insanely to finish your project.2. Focus on one thing at a time.
Even though we all think we can multitask pretty well, you might find it helpful to isolate certain tasks. When writing, find an environment that is free of distractions – though you should know yourself and avoid an environment that is too quiet, if you know you won’t be productive there. An hour spent meaningfully on one task is probably more efficient than three hours spent on that one task while simultaneously trying to accomplish other goals or spending those hours in a state of distraction.3. Build in time to care for yourself.
It is important to eat and work out and spend time with family. Don’t just expect that time to appear. Plan it out. Put “Lunch” in your schedule, and put “Work Out” in your schedule at specific times. Then, respect those times. From now on, you are unavailable to do work during those times. You’re going to feel better if you eat and exercise regularly, and the remaining hours in the day will be more energized and productive.
4. Prioritize tasks.
On busy days, figure out what must be done and what can wait. Reschedule a meeting if you must; ask for extra time on a task when you can. Then spend your day focusing on the most important things but avoiding the guilt about the other, less important things.
5. Do not allow one task to dominate your time.
It is all too easy to get sucked into working on one task to the exclusion of all others. Don’t let this happen. Even though you have prioritized tasks, and one seems (or is) more important than the others, do not let that one task allow you to fail on all the others. I see this all the time with my students who are working on writing assignments. The writing assignment is due this week. It will get a grade. It seemingly is the most important thing on the schedule. Students work all day and night on the writing, simultaneously falling behind in reading, outlining, class attendance, and other obligations they have. While working on the paper with extreme multi-day focus is actually an understandable decision when one is taking a snapshot view of a student’s life, less so when looking at the “movie” version. Decisions have consequences, even the well-intended decision to focus on only one thing that happens to be due this week.
Sometimes, you will find yourself in a position where you will have to grind. By that I mean that you will be busy, tired, working late, irritable (is that allowed in ASP?), hungry, and overwhelmed, among other things. But you have to press forward; keep working and check things off of that to do list. Things will settle down, especially if you plan ahead a little better, and you’ll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
7. Just start working.
If you’re feeling paralyzed about work, sometimes the best thing you can do is start working. Overwhelmed by the amount of research you need to accomplish in order to write a scholarly article? Just sit down at your computer and start writing the article, figuring out the finer points of research focus as you go. Need to grade exams, just pick one up and start reading it. Need to give Paula Manning-type feedback on a paper, just get started. Need to write a blog post, just tap into your thoughts and get started. Don’t worry about perfection, just do some work.
One of my favorite pieces of advice for students who are having trouble outlining is the advice to just get started. The task seems so overwhelming to them, so I say this: Imagine riding a bicycle on flat ground, or maybe even a little uphill. When you first get started, you have to stand up, shifting your weight on the pedals, rocking the bike side-to-side, in order to build momentum slowly. But, after you have momentum, you find that the pedaling is easier, you can sit down on the seat, and you can still keep up your pace with less intense effort. So, dig down and spend a little extra energy to just get started. You’ll find that once you do, the going forward is much easier, as is forming the belief that you are able to keep moving forward.
I am going to follow my own advice. Starting today. (Well, maybe tomorrow, because today is almost over.) Ask me at the end of the summer if I finished my article and book. If I don’t give you the right answer, point me back to this blog post. Please. Because it’s going to be busy in the fall. Really busy. So the time for productivity and accomplishment is now.
Happy and productive summer months, one and all!
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Membership in the Association of Academic Support Educators - How to Join
The following announcement is from the ASP listserv:
Dear friends and colleagues,
I'd like to extend an invitation from the Association of Academic Support Educators to join our fledgling organization. AASE is a new professional organization for law school academic support educators. This national organization is dedicated to engaging in professional development, including publishing, teaching skills development, networking with our colleagues, and discussing the latest academic support research trends as well as learning about innovative academic support and bar pass programs.
While you may have found you were unable to attend our inaugural conference, joining the organization allows you access to our TWEN page, stocked with the handouts presenters provided during their presentations. Membership will also connect you with a professional organization, allowing you valuable contacts within the Academic Support world. If you think you might want to join an AASE committee or vote on officers, please consider joining. Membership fees are low ($35) and allow you to be part of an exciting opportunity to develop and grow as a professional.
Please feel free to contact me for more information.
On behalf of AASE
Director, Academic Success Program
UNLV/Boyd School of Law
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Top Five Things To Do Before Bar Prep:
5. Clean your house/apartment/living space. Create a positive and productive work environment. Think about where you will study and how you can ensure that it suits your needs for bar review. Also, this may be the last time you have time to clean until August, so think about doing a deep clean and clear the clutter. Having a tidy work and living space will positively impact your studying.
4. Calendar! Print a blank summer calendar. (I like to see it on paper, but you can also use an online program.) Put all essential items on your calendar: bar review classes, exercise, child /elder care responsibilities, etc… Try to structure each day in order to create a realistic routine. Free time should also be on your calendar: meals, sleep, downtime, recharging activities, etc… Fill each hour of the day with either bar study/practice or a free-time activity. Doing this will help you to avoid procrastination and will help you use your time effectively during bar prep.
3. Talk to your family and friends. Show them your summer plan (and calendar). Better yet, send them copies of your calendar. Offer ways for them to provide you support (dinner, encouraging emails, childcare). Informing your significant others will keep them from hindering your success this summer and will provide you with a strong support system. You will need it!
2. Do something fun, spontaneous, and slightly wacky. Why? Since you will not have the luxury of being spontaneous this summer during your bar prep, having a madcap adventure can help satiate that desire until August. Nothing too crazy…but something memorable! (Seattle ideas: ride the wheel at sunset; go kayaking on Lake Union; stay out really late and then sleep in until noon; take a day hike with friends; ride the train to Portland to see the Rose Festival firework show; or check out a local concert, art show, or museum.) Take pictures and post them near your study space or on your fridge. These memories will help get through the long monotonous days of summer bar study.
1. Take time to reflect. Celebrate the end of your law school journey and reflect on how far you have come in the last three years. Write down your many successes and what you have learned about yourself and your learning style. Understanding what worked for you in law school and what challenged you will benefit you during your bar prep. And, reflecting on your past will help you transition to bar prep with a renewed sense of purpose and inner strength. You can pass the bar exam- believing in yourself is the first step!
Monday, May 20, 2013
Article on Texting's Potential Impact on Formal Legal WritingHat tip to Sue Liemer, one of the Editors for the Legal Writing Prof Blog, for pointing out an interesting article by Lindsey P. Gustafson at the William H. Bowen School of Law - University of Arkansas Little Rock. The article is entitled "Texting and the Friction of Writing." The article is available here at its SSRN link: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2244481.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Academic and Bar Readiness Counselor Position at LaVerne
LaVerne College of Law is seeking a new Academic and Bar Readiness Counselor. See the following link for details:
Monday, May 13, 2013
Salute to Vernellia Randall
Vernellia Randall, a professor at University of Dayton, is one of the well-known names in ASP work. She was among the leaders at the forefront of academic support work when the profession gained traction at law schools. Vernellia is retiring this year after a distinguished career as a professor and ASP advocate. Although a prolific writer in a number of doctrinal areas, her most recent publication on legal teaching that many ASP'ers have read is Planning for Effective Legal Instsruction: A Workbook (Carolina Academic Press, 2011).
Thank you, Vernellia, for your passion for helping students achieve success. Your work in ASP was instrumental for many of us in our own careers. Best wishes for your retirement. (Amy Jarmon)
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Batteries Not Included
It is the end of the semester, and I suspect a lot of ASP'ers are looking forward to a lull in the hectic pace of ASP work. Some folks will have more of a hiatus than others because of low or no summer enrollments. A few folks are on 9- or 10-month contracts with the summer off. And those ASP'ers deeply involved with bar studiers will have a short lull.
Whether you are a one-person ASP operation or have a team and whether you have 50 invited ASP students or all law students as your target population, I imagine that you are ready for a change of pace. The last part of the semester is always fraught with students overwhelmed by exams, students confronted by personal crises, graduates gearing up for the bar exam, and a myriad of important deadlines. For those of us who teach ASP or other courses, we are/will be inundated with papers/exams to grade.
I love the lull because I get to do two critical things: complete lots of projects and recharge my batteries. In the age of portable electronic devices that get recharged nightly, I sometimes wish that I came with a battery as well. Since I do not come equipped, here is a list of my favorite recharging activities both in and out of the office:
- Attend a summer conference with other ASP'ers to get new ideas, renew old friendships, meet new ASP'ers, and remind myself how much I love my work - we are so lucky to have AASE at the end of the month!
- Find a new book by an ASP'er in the publishers' catalogs and delve into new perspectives on student learning, legal reasoning, or other facets of our work.
- Chat with faculty and other colleagues at my school to find out what they are working on this summer, to brainstorm ideas as to how we might work together next year, and to reconnect after we have all been so busy all year.
- Revamp at least one aspect of my program for a fresh perspective: a training manual, workshop packets, my ASP group exercises, a selection process for upper-division students who work in ASP, a Power Point presentation.
- Read through my collection of thank you notes from students to remind myself of the impact that ASP work has.
- Spend more time with friends and family now that overtime hours and evening events will lessen.
- Sleep in on some Saturday mornings to recharge quite literally.
- Indulge in fluff novels that have nothing to do with the law - no John Grisham for me.
- Catch up on all the movies that I have missed and summer releases.
What are your favorite ways to recharge? I wish all ASP'ers good ends to the semester and blessed summer months. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, May 10, 2013
Keeping the Faith
My law students are looking a bit ragged these days. Exams have started here, and many look tired, worried, or discouraged. Smiles and laughter have seemed to die out amid the seriousness of exams and final papers. The graduating 3L students are ambivalent about any elation over graduating because they know bar review will be immediately on the heels of that ceremony. For those who desire employment that requires bar passage prior to application and those still waiting to hear about jobs, additional tension is felt.
It is easy to get discouraged when under stress. My advice to my students is that they stay focused on their goals. Rather than get mired in the enormity of a difficult exam, future bar review study, or uncertainty about jobs, they need to remember why they came to law school in the first place.
Most of our students came because they were passionate about helping others and being of service. A few may have been motivated by future high salaries, but not that many in reality. We pride ourselves on graduating students who are ready to practice. Because of the large number of rural areas and small towns in the huge geographic expanse of Texas, we enroll many students who want to go back home to small or mid-sized firms and make a difference in their local communities.
Despite all of the current animosity generated about law school, the legal profession is still very necessary to the lives of ordinary citizens. There is still a nobility in helping others find justice and in solving legal problems for those who cannot be their own advocates. If students can focus on these purposes and the intrinsic values that brought them to law school, they can respond with greater resiliency during exams, bar review, and job hunts.
I hope that all of our students will be able to keep the faith in their goals and their chosen profession during the difficult times and when obstacles seem so great. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Lights, Camera, Action
At most law schools, final exams are rapidly approaching. The drawn-out "practices" with course material over 14 or 15 weeks are drawing to a close. A few professors are providing last-minute dress rehearsals with practice questions or reviews of material.
The tension is mounting just as it would before opening night of a theater production. Everyone knows that this is it: the law must be at one's finger tips, the exam strategies must be in place, the last-minute tweaking is all that there is time for at this point. Those who have not "learned their lines," "blocked their places," and paid attention "to the director" will be frantic soon.
Butterflies are natural just as they are before a production. Sheer panic, however, indicates a lack of preparation. Those who are trying to learn 14-15 weeks of material at the very end of the semester are struggling at this point.
If students have been diligent throughout the semester, then they need to focus on the following points:
- Review material learned already by reading outlines through at a moderate pace to keep material fresh.
- Concentrate on newer material that needs to be understood and learned.
- Complete as many practice questions as possible - some under timed, exam conditions.
- Spend extra memory drill time on the few (hopefully) areas that are still troublesome: rules, exceptions, policy arguments.
If students are faced with an overwhelming amount of material to learn at this point, then they need to consider the following:
- Prioritize studying: what areas are most likely to be tested heavily; what areas are still the most confusing or hardest and need extra time.
- Spend time on study strategies that will get the most results: it might be too late to make flashcards, but reading one's outline may work well; attack outlines or flowcharts may be more helpful than starting a full-blown outline for some topics.
- Balance individual study time with any group study time so that personal knowledge will be there for the exam.
- Remember to do practice questions to go beyond just memorizing material and become proficient at applying the material.
- Have a list of the material one is going to complete during the day for a particular course - be realistic, but diligent enough to complete the topics over the days left before an exam.
A good night's sleep before an exam will pay off more than staying up to the wee hours cramming. Brain cells need sleep to work properly during the exam. A good breakfast or lunch before an exam is also a must to fuel one's brain cells.
Good luck to all of our student readers on your exams! (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The Hardest Bar...Is the One You are TakingA brouhaha has erupted among law students over an article from the ABA Journal that references recent blog posts that rank bar exams based on difficulty. One of these blog posts asserts that the Washington state bar exam is the third most difficult bar exam in the country. Could this really be true? Can state bar exams be ranked by difficulty? How is difficultly measured? Is it an objective enough characteristic to accurately make this type of conclusion? Is the article merely sensationalism? Are there too many outside, uncontrolled factors that would destroy conclusions such as the ones asserted?
First, no matter what you hear, the urban myths, tales from judges, friends, and fellow students, or articles such as the one in the ABA Journal, every bar exam is difficult. Or, possibly better stated, the hardest bar exam is the one you are taking… If there was a bar exam that was “easy”, wouldn’t everyone flock to that particular jurisdiction? If the bar exam was “easy”, wouldn't that particular state have problems with the competency levels of the attorneys that they license? If the bar exam was “easy”, what would be the point of administering it? Is it not a tool to protect consumers of legal services?
Next, what if the Washington bar exam is actually the third hardest bar exam in the country? What does that mean? Is this a deterrent to future bar takers? Is this an ominous warning to steer clear of imagining your legal career taking flight in WA? I hope this is not the case. Instead, I believe this is simply a result of generalizing. Comparing WA State’s bar exam, which was an essay only exam, to other state bar exams is like comparing apples to oranges.
Washington State was an outlier with regard to their testing format. (Note: WA will administer the UBE for the first time this summer.) Generalizing bar exam difficulty based on limited quantitative data, even when a regression methodology is employed, could lead to less external validity. Variables such as the specific testing measures and format, state bar association grading standards, student’s qualitative characteristics, and state bar associations internal set pass rate all affect pass rates; and, thus could skew rankings. As an Academic Support Professional, I find that a student’s qualitative characteristics and/or psychological factors more strongly influence a student’s ability to pass a bar exam. Quantitative factors are more easily calculated but are not always predictive.
Bar exams are difficult. Yes, some applicants struggle more with multiple-choice questions than with essay writing. Other applicants cannot stand the time and attention to detail required to achieve a high score on the performance test. Some applicants fear arcane legal concepts or nuanced legal theories that are not practical or relevant to their interests. However, the bottom line is that the bar exam requires extreme focus, months of studying, repetitive practice, and strong internal motivation. High stakes exams do not get more intense than the bar exam.
Focusing solely on statistics, whether you are a student or a teacher, is the wrong way to approach the bar exam. Remember, as attorney’s we read between the lines and pay attention to the fine print. Avoid the hyperbole in articles and blog posts such as the ones mentioned above. Instead, focus on what it takes to pass the bar...determination and hardwork.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Whittier Law School Academic Support and Bar Preparation Position
Whittier Law School seeks candidates to work with our Academic Support and Bar Preparation programs. Successful applicants will work with Academic Support for first and second year students and Bar Preparation for third and fourth year students. Primary responsibilities include individual and group work with students on legal analysis and study skills, time management and other academic success skills, support for classes and workshops, participation in program development and assessment of programs and student learning. We seek candidates who excelled in law school, who exhibit a passion for teaching and learning, who have a strong work ethic and who enjoy working on and collaborating with a dynamic team of professionals. Salary and benefits depend on level of experience. Candidates must be law school graduates with a JD degree who have passed the California Bar Exam. Whittier Law School is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes applications from all qualified individuals. Please submit resumes and letters of interest that describe the applicant’s qualifications for the above position directly to Sara Berman at email@example.com.
University of Louisville Director of Academic Success Position
A 30-hour a week Director of Academic Success position (eligible for full benefits) is available at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at University of Louisville. Ideally, the successful candidate will begin on July 1, 2013. Interested candidates must submit a resume, cover letter, and the names and contact information of three references via the online application. Review of applications will begin May 21, 2013.
The full job description is posted at:
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Do You Wanna Dance?
Remember the awkwardness of middle-school and high school dances if you weren't attending as half of a couple? Males stood on one side while the females hung out on the opposite side of the gym. To walk across the divide to ask for a dance was intimidating. And mortifying if you got turned down flat under the watchful eyes of everyone else.
Some students had the herd instinct and stuck with a group of other unattached attendees. At best they would get out on the dance floor en masse. At worst they would chat with friends while being among the non-selected.
I was thinking today about how so many things in law school echo back to those days of social uncertainty. (For some, college was no better; however, most felt a bit more daring and socially adept by then.)
For example, you are herded into an auditorium during Orientation with hundreds of other new 1Ls and expected to get acquainted or at least fit in somehow. There may have been a major welcome luncheon on the first day. If seats were not assigned by section, then the undergraduate friends who are now attending law school together clumped into little groups at the tables, secure in having "dance partners." Everyone else felt as though a flashing, neon sign with an arrow exclaimed "unpaired." If seating was by sections, then at least the unfamiliar 1Ls at the table knew they had something vague in common and could swap rumors about their professors and courses.
Socratic Method is a bit like a dance invitation - except you really shouldn't take the option of turning down the professor (pass is not any more exceptable than no thanks). And at times students feel they are trying to follow their professor dance partner without any idea of the dance, let alone the actual steps. Some professors are strong leaders - question by question as they show students the steps and lead them through the analysis. Others seem to whip you around the dance floor until you are dizzy. A few others even step on your toes so to speak as they point your errors out to the class. Only a few students are brave enough to venture out on the dance floor by volunteering.
Then there is the legal research and writing dance. One is supposed to learn the steps to an alien type of analysis and writing by doing it. For those with two left feet in legal analysis and legal writing style, learning by doing seems totally unhelpful. Research paths are supposed to be dance lessons for research, but some students are improvising too much to end up with the correct moves. Arguing both sides of the issue seems a lot like not being able to decide who should lead. And then second semester appellate briefs feel a lot like doing choreography before one knows all of the dance steps and appropriate rhythms.
Sections help with the herd instinct because you are all in it together. Then with 2L and 3L years, everyone scatters to different courses, certificate programs, dual degrees, and student organizations. Many law students find themselves in new courses with new professors and law students from other sectioins or upper-division students that they don't know except as vague faces in the halls. They have to decide whether to stay alone in the experience or turn to other students and ask "Do you wanna dance?" (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Job Announcement: University of Connecticut Pre-Law Advisor
This is the posting for the undergraduate portion of my job at UConn. There is tremendous overlap between my pre-law work and experience in ASP; someone with ASP experience would be a wonderful fit for this job.
I cannot speak highly enough of the students, my colleagues, and the environment here at UConn. My four years here have been magical. It is truly a job where I have been excited to come to work everyday. The right person will find an unparalleled level of professional and personal support, not just from supervisors and colleagues, but from the students and alumni you will be serving. If you have any questions about the position, please feel free to contact me personally (firstname.lastname@example.org).
University of Connecticut
Academic Advisor II, UCP VI
Under the general direction of designated supervisor, advises undergraduate students and alumni interested in attending law school from the beginning exploration of their options through the law school admission process.
CHARACTERISTIC DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Advise students in developing academic plans to prepare for law schools and the legal profession.
2. Advise students in application process and assist students in gaining admission to appropriate law schools.
3. Provide outreach to prospective undergraduate students during Orientation, regional campus visits, and recruitment events.
4. Disseminate information to students, advisors, and others, including: creation of a pre-law resource area with print and electronic information about the legal profession, law school application timetables, information about the LSAT exam, schedules for on- and off- campus events, etc.; development and maintenance of a pre-law advising website.
5. Oversee and coordinate Special Program in Law for undergraduates admitted provisionally to UConn School of Law at time of admission to University.
6. Teach a first-year seminar on law-related topics.
7. Maintain assessment data on student applications and admissions in appropriate formats, including electronic. Maintain databases on pre-law students during their undergraduate and post-graduate stages.
8. Develop a peer advising program for upper-class students to work with first- and second-year students interested in law and, when needed, speak at orientations and recruitment activities.
9. Working with other University offices, develop and organize workshops and information sessions on relevant topics, including general admission, applications, letters of recommendation, and strategies for writing personal statements. Develop and supervise an annual law school fair.
10. Act as spokesperson and liaison for the program both within the University and with pre-law departments at other universities, with law schools, and other relevant audiences.
11. Engage UConn faculty in support of pre-law students and activities and encourage course development on topics related to the legal profession. Work with interested faculty to develop the Pre-Law Advisory Council.
12. Contribute to the professional community of law school advisors at the regional and national level.
13. May supervise support staff and/or work-study students.
14. May work closely with the UConn Law School on special projects.
15. Perform related duties as required.
MINIMUM ACCEPTABLE QUALIFICATIONS
1. Master’s degree in relevant field.
2. 3 – 5 years’ experience in advising undergraduate students or in the legal profession.
3. Ability to travel in a professional capacity.
4. Ability to host and participate in programming and events on evenings and weekends.
5. Experience working with diverse constituencies.
1. JD strongly preferred.
2. Experience in legal education or practice.
3. Demonstrated understanding of law school admissions landscape.
4. Excellent written and oral communication, interpersonal, and counseling skills.
5. Knowledge of pre-law student population.
6. Excellent organizational skills, including the ability to prioritize responsibilities and meet deadlines.
7. Demonstrated experience with databases, web applications and electronic communications.
For full consideration upload a letter of application, a resume, and a list of 3 professional references with contact information via Husky Hire (http://www.jobs.uconn.edu/). Include search number on all correspondence. Screening of applications will begin immediately and continue until position is filled.
The University of Connecticut is an EEO/AA employer.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Update from the NY ASP Workshop (Myra Orlen)
A huge thank you to Myra Orlen, who wrote this summary of events for the blog.
The 2013 NY Academic Support Workshop was held on Thursday, April 2013, at Brooklyn Law School. Thanks – once again -- to Linda Feldman and Kris Franklin for organizing and convening a totally successful event. This workshop consistently convenes a dynamic group of presenters in a supportive setting in which everyone participates and comes away inspired. This year’s event was no exception.
David Nadvorney, of CUNY School of Law, began the day with a presentation entitled “Teaching Students Legal Reading.” David demonstrated methods of working with students on law school reading that I will use with my students. He stressed that the best method of delivering ASP is across the curriculum, i.e. in a doctrinal context. David shared materials from his close case reading workshops. In these workshops, he teaches students to recognize rhetorical devises that will enhance their comprehension.
Next Shane Dizon, of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hosfstra University, gave a presentation entitled “Professional Advisory: Explicit Content! Make Labeling Mandatory.” Shane’s presentation focused on the importance of students’ ability to spot issues on exam questions. Shane led us in an exercise; with scissors and preprinted labels in hand– we marked up a constitutional law essay question. The labels corresponded to the issues that the professor wanted students to identify on the exam question and will ideally come from the students’ course outlines. This exercise teaches close reading and can serve as an intermediate step between the professor’s memo on the exam and the students’ understanding of the exam question.
Robin Boyle, of St. Johns University School of Law, addressed critical reading skills and placed those skills in the exam context. She noted that our legal writing colleagues are noticing that students are evincing increased difficulty in critical reading this year. Robin shared her experience in working with students on exam taking skills – with a focus on critical reading.
Zelma Rios, of Cardozo School of Law, shared her idea of having students annotate portions of briefs: the question presented and the statement of the case. In doing so, students focus on language structure, word choice, and tone. Students then meet in groups to discuss their annotations. This exercise affords students the opportunity to see cases in context. The cases are the continuation of the story presented in the brief. When asked how to use this exercise in the ASP context, Zelma had a ready answer; she distributed the briefs copies of the Palsgraf briefs. As one person noted, this exercise allows students to see themselves as lawyers from day one.
Jeremiah Ho, of the U. Mass. School of Law - Dartmouth and Rebecca Flanagan, currently of the U. Conn. Law school and soon to be at the U. Mass. School of Law- Dartmouth, explained how to use Jerome Bruner’s Spiral Curriculum in 1L Contracts. Using the process that Rebecca described in her April 12, 2031 entry to this blog, she and Jeremiah demonstrated how the Spiral Curriculum can be used in Contracts to teach the mirror image rule.
Angela Baker, of Rutgers Law School, presented on the development of summer pre-law programs for law students. She told us about the development and implementation of Rutgers’ program which brought diverse, rising sophomores to Rutgers for a four-week program. The program was an intense mixture of classes, speakers, and field trips aimed at encouraging participants to consider law school.
Kris Franklin, of the New York Law School, led us in an exciting game of TabooTM Law. The objective of the TabooTM is to get your teammates to guess a word, without using a set of words that are listed on the card as “taboo.” After providing a demonstration, Kris distributed Civil Procedure cards that her students made. In making the cards, students knew which words to put on the cards to “screw” their classmates. The game illustrated that law school can be fun and that one need not be afraid of the law. To give good clues, students use legally descriptive terms. Thus, the students learn to explain and, thereby understand the terms.
Ann Forlino, of the U. Mass. School of Law – Dartmouth, spoke about the necessary relationship between ASP and Disability Services. Through the discussion that Ann led, we learned of some of the different ways that these two areas are treated in law schools.
Last – but certainly not least – Elizabeth Corwin of Pace Law School spoke on her experiences working with at-risk 2Ls. In her presentation Elizabeth described the course that she teaches to at-risk students: Overview of Legal Analysis. The course is designed to enhance students’ exam taking skills. Elizabeth noticed that her students had problems with logical thinking and introduced us to a series of videos that explain concepts in logic:
(Myra Orlen, WNE Law via RCF)
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Should I take a course just because it is bar tested?
As Amy stated in her post regarding Academic Advising, thinking about whether a course is bar tested is an important aspect of registration planning. Often, I am asked, “Should I take all of the courses that are bar tested?” My answer (as it is in many situations) is: “It depends…”
Therefore, when confronted with this question from students, I ask them a series of questions in return. This self-assessment helps students to become experts in their own learning and helps them to set appropriate learning goals for their future. Here are a few sample questions for your students to consider:
- How have you performed in your first year?
- Was legal writing difficult?
- Do you prefer multiple choice exams or essay exams?
- Can you identify characteristics you valued in your first year professors?
- Can you identify characteristics you disliked or did not work for your learning style?
- Did you have closed book, timed exams in your first year? If yes, how did you perform?
- Do you prefer large classes or small seminars?
- If your first year was (extremely) challenging, have you been able to assess why?
- What areas of law interest you most?
- Do you have a clear career plan? Practice area/job prospects/jurisdiction?
- What would be your ideal law school schedule?
Once these questions have been answered, I can more specifically address whether students may need to take certain bar tested courses or whether they need to work on other skills to help them succeed in law school and beyond. Taking bar tested courses merely for the bar exam is unwise. However, there are situations where taking more bar tested courses may be helpful.
If you do not have time to meet with students individually, you can give them a list of questions like these to review on their own. Once they have taken some time to reflect, you can post general advice regarding the skills necessary to pass the bar exam, how specific courses may help build those skills, and the specific subjects tested on the bar exam in your jurisdiction. This will help guide their course selection and will give them a better idea of what to expect on the bar exam.
Congratulations to Rebecca Flanagan
Thank you to Jeremiah Ho for alerting us through the listserv about Rebecca Flanagan's receiving the Honors Teacher of the Year award at the University of Conncecticut. The award selection is on the recommendation of students and faculty.
We have all benefited from Rebecca's insights on teaching throughout the years. It is well-deserved that she is being recognized by her university for her excellence. Congratulations!
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Interim Director Position at U of Dayton
The following information was on the listserv from Staci Rucker about this position in 2013-2014 and the job search for a full-time Director for future years:
The University of Dayton School of Law is looking to hire an Interim Director of Academic Success for the 2013-14 school year. You may access the job posting here: http://jobs.udayton.edu/postings/6293.
I have served as the Director of Academic Success at UDSL since 2007. Effective May 16th, I will become the Assistant Dean of Students, hence the need to hire an Interim Director. The Law School will conduct a search to permanently fill the Director of Academic Success position during the 2013-14 school year. The person in the Interim Director position will be eligible to apply, if interested.
UDSL is a wonderful place to work, led by a Dean and many faculty who are extremely supportive of the academic support program. I will gladly speak with anyone who may be interested in the position.
Staci P. Rucker
Lecturer in Law and Director of Academic Success Programs
University of Dayton School of Law
007 Keller Hall
Dayton, OH 45469-2772
Phone: (937) 229-4072
Fax: (937) 229-4769