Monday, August 3, 2015

A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student

As a follow-up to my presentation at AASE this summer, I would like to announce that my new book, A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student, has been published by West Academic Publishing.  

A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student gives law students weekly checklists explaining the skills necessary to successfully navigate their first year of law school. Each chapter provides a checklist of things to do that week, such as briefing cases, going over notes, outlining classes, or doing practice questions. When a new concept is introduced, this book clearly explains the concept and its purpose and provides examples. Instead of merely providing advice, this book lays out a detailed plan for students to follow. It also includes a bank of over 100 short, medium, and long practice questions in six first year subjects.

If you would like to request a complimentary print or digital copy of this title, please contact your West Academic Publishing Account Manager at or 800-313-9378.

(Alex Ruskell)

August 3, 2015 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Part I: Are You New to ASP? Resources of Interest

If you have joined the academic support/bar preparation professional community for the first time, we welcome you to a rewarding career and wonderful group of colleagues. One thing that ASP is known for is collegiality. There are many experienced ASP'ers who will be happy to share ideas, materials, pitfalls to avoid, and much more. We hope that you will reach out to those of us in the ASP profession whenever we can assist you.

This post is the first in a series to help those who are new to ASP find resources, get settled in, and discover the professional community waiting to help them. Today's post lists some of these resources. The post is by no means exhaustive!

Professional organizations for ASP:

  • Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Academic Support: The upcoming annual meeting will be held January 6-10 , 2016 in New York City. The tentative schedule indicates that the Section's business meeting will be at 7 - 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 9th with the program (Raising the Bar) on the same date at 10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.. An informal meal get-together is also usually scheduled. Our Section is co-sponsoring a program with the Section on Balance in Legal Education (Finding Your Voice in the Legal Academy) at 10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. on Friday, January 8th. The Section on Teaching Methods also has a program on Friday. The Sections on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research and on Student Services are holding programs on Thursday, January 7th. The 2015-2016 Section on Academic Support Chair is Lisa Young at Seattle University School of Law ( The AALS Section on Academic Support website is
  • Association for Academic Support Educators (AASE): The upcoming conference will be held May 24 - 26 2016 at University of New York (CUNY) Law School on Long Island. The 2015-2016 President is at Pavel Wonsowicz at UCLA School of Law  ( The AASE website is

Websites and listservs for ASP:

  • The ASP Listserv: The listserv membership is available to legal educators who interested in ASP/bar topics. To join the listserv, send an email to Subject line can be blank or say Subscribe ASP-L. In the body of the message type subscribe ASP-L your name title law school name. The listserv is a great place to ask questions of your colleagues, mention resources of interest, post workshops and conferences, and post job openings.
  • The Law School Academic Support Blog: This blog is part of the Law Professor Blogs Network and will include postings of interest to ASP'ers, law students, and law faculty. Multiple postings are made each week on a variety of ASP/bar-related topics by the Editor and Contributing Editors. There is an archive function to search prior posts. Spotlight postings introduce new colleagues to the community and highlight colleagues' work. Job announcements are also posted. You can subscribe so that articles are directed to you inbox whenever postings occur. The Editor is Amy Jarmon at Texas Tech University School of Law ( The website is
  • The Law School Academic Success Project: This website is maintained by the AALS Section on Academic Support and receives ongoing funding from the Law School Admissions Council. The website includes sections for ASP'ers and students. Student pages are available without registration. To see the ASP pages, you need to be employed currently at a law school in ASP/bar-related work and register. After you register, please update the staff information for your law school to reflect current staff. There are a variety of resources on the site. The Committee Chairperson for the Website is O. J. Salinas at University of North Carolina School of Law ( The website is

Other resources of interest:

  • American Bar Association: The Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will be of interest. There are ABA publications, including the Student Lawyer which law students now can receive under the new free student division membership plan. The website for the Section is
  • Institute for Law Teaching and Learning: This consortium of law schools provides resources and conferences focused on best practices for legal education. The website is
  • Law School Admissions Council (LSAC): LSAC has long been a champion of the academic support profession and diversity in the legal profession. For many years, LSAC sponsored workshops and conferences for ASP'ers.  The website is
  • Law School Success: Blog written by Susan Landrum at St. John's University School of Law. Website is
  • National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE): The organization that brings us the bar exam. The website is

Hopefully this "starter list" will help new ASP'ers to become familiar with some of the available resources. (Amy Jarmon)

July 30, 2015 in Advice, Books, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Visiting Assistant Professor Position at LaVerne

Position: Visiting Assistant Professor, Center for Academic & Bar Readiness

This position is currently being filled as a one-year visiting position. The position will be reposted and filled permanently next year, for 2016-2017. The anticipated start date is no later than August 17t, 2015.

The University of La Verne College of Law is ideally situated in the Inland Empire city of Ontario, CA, ten miles east of the main university campus. Ontario is within an hour’s drive of the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, and the desert near Palm Springs. The College of Law is seeking a highly organized, energetic, dynamic person who is passionate about student success, culturally intelligent, and is excited about the opportunity to be a part of the growth and change at the COL. Reporting to the Assistant Dean for the Center for Academic and Bar Readiness, the person in this position will assist students in developing the skills necessary for success in law school and on the bar exam.

Specific Duties

Job duties include designing and assisting with the law school’s academic and bar support classes, workshops, and events; assisting the Asst. Dean and the Director of the Center for Academic and Bar Readiness in designing and implementing innovative academic and bar support programs and evaluating existing courses and programs; teaching workshops and/or classes related to law school and bar exam preparation; counseling and working with students in individual and small group sessions. Additional duties include developing learning outcomes, exercises and assessments designed to help students develop into self-regulated learners.

Minimum Qualification

  • Juris Doctorate
  • Have taken and passed a bar examination in any U.S. jurisdiction.
  • Good oral and written communication skills, strong analytical/critical thinking skills.


  • Teaching experience,
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and Power Point.
  • Licensure in California

If you are interested in working with a great team, please apply today! Click here.


July 29, 2015 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thomas Jefferson School of Law Associate Director of Bar Preparation

Job Description 


JOB TITLE:                          Associate Director of Bar Preparation

DEPARTMENT:                  Academic Success & Bar Preparation

REPORTS TO:                     Director of Bar Preparation


POSITION STATUS:          Full-time, Exempt

GENERAL SUMMARY:   Reporting to the Director of Bar Preparation the Associate Director of Bar Preparation (“Associate Director”) is responsible for helping coordinate and supervise academic success and bar support programs for students at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, with an emphasis on bar preparation.  The Associate Director will provide assistance with and will monitor learning outcomes, academic performance, academic support activities to all grade levels, and will participate in all other student retention activities.  The successful candidate will also help support law school students and graduates as they prepare for their bar examinations, including by teaching Academic Success and bar-related courses and by coordinating post-graduation bar support programming.


  • Work collaboratively with faculty, the Director of Bar Preparation, the Assistant Dean of Academic Success & Bar Preparation, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to assess and address the current needs for programming and support.
  • Participate in the presentation of academic success program activities beginning with the new student orientation program.
  • Work collaboratively to tailor current programming and curriculum to meet the needs of students participating in the Intensive Curriculum.
  • Provide administrative, research and design support to the Assistant Dean of Academic Success & Bar Preparation and the Director of Bar Preparation.
  • Provide administrative support to the Academic Success & Bar Preparation Program.
  • Work collaboratively to provide support to bar candidates.
  • Provide support and academic advice and counseling to recent graduates.
  • Collaborate to design, develop, and implement the Continuing Bar Program and the Commercial Bar Support Program.
  • Work with the Director of Bar Preparation and others in the department in the design of a comprehensive workshop series on topics related to the bar exam.
  • Help to track and report information regarding bar passage and programming assessments.
  • Enforce campus policies regarding commercial bar preparation access to Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
  • Participate in committees as assigned by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • Represent the law school at and participate in outside conferences and other events organized for and/or by bar preparation or academic support professionals.
  • Teach courses that provide academic support and skill development as well as bar preparation-focused courses as needed.


  • Required:  J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and a proven record of academic achievement during law school.
  • Required:  Admission to a state bar in the United States, preferably California.


  • Minimum of 3 years of experience practicing law or delivering writing or other instruction in an academic institution or law firm.
  • Experience with academic support and bar preparation.
  • Experience with curriculum design, including an understanding of educational learning theory, best practices in teaching pedagogy, and individual learning styles.
  • Prior academic tutoring or experience in an academic success program.
  • Familiarity with online technology.


  • Able to sit or stand, type, read or write for extended periods of time.
  • Able to handle high level of stress in a useful, constructive manner.
  • Able to lift/carry materials and publications up to 20 pounds.
  • Able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation.


  • 40 or more hours per week, Monday through Friday, as well as on weekends and in evenings, as needed.


July 21, 2015 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Call for Proposals: 2015 New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers - Maximizing Student and Faculty Potential"

Call for proposals

2015 New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers

 “Maximizing Student and Faculty Potential”

Suffolk University Law School is pleased to host the 2015 New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers Conference on Friday, September 18, 2015.  We are now accepting proposals for presentations at the conference.  The theme of the conference is “Maximizing Student and Faculty Potential.” This broad theme encompasses a wide range of interests, including topics relevant to legal writing, academic support, career and professional development, diversity, technology, and innovation. 

You may submit a proposal for a 25 or 50 minute presentation, or a 30-minute workshop.  We are offering a workshop format for discussion of teaching or scholarship ideas or other topics in small groups.  The workshop will entail a 10-minute presentation followed by 20 minutes of discussion.

 The deadline for proposals is Friday, August 21, 2015 at 5 pm EST.  Please submit the following information by completing the form attached and emailing it to: 

1).        Name and contact information of presenter(s)

2).        Title of presentation

3).        Preference for 25 minutes, 50 minutes, or workshop

4).        Brief (one paragraph) description of the presentation or workshop topic

5).        Technology needs (if any) for the presentation

 Writing Lockdown on Thursday, September 17, 2015, 2:00-5:00 p.m.  We are offering a “writing lockdown” for anyone attending the conference who will be in town on Thursday afternoon and would like to enjoy a block of uninterrupted time for writing, while enjoying a view of the Boston Common and refreshments.  Come with a writing goal in mind.  Bring your writing project (an article, book, etc.) to work on as well as any materials you need (laptop, paper, writing utensil, etc.).  We provide the space and location – you provide the words.  No submissions are necessary as your writing can be at any stage (notes, an outline, a draft, etc.) and will not be reviewed; just let us know if you would like to attend all or part of the lockdown.  


Registration is free for all presenters and attendees.  Suffolk University Law School is located in the heart of beautiful historic Boston.  We will provide details on accommodations and travel arrangements in the coming weeks.  Please contact Professor Rosa Kim ( or Professor Kathleen Elliott Vinson ( with any questions.



July 16, 2015 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Gearing up for the 2L (or 3L) year

You’ve had some time to rest and, perhaps, are wondering how to make the most of the remainder of your summer break.  Here are a few suggestions – if you are not entirely satisfied with your 1L final exam grades or if you were placed on your law school’s equivalent to academic warning or academic probation.

First, if you can – arrange to get copies of your exam answers.  Review them carefully and do a critical self-assessment.  If you are wondering how to approach this task, consult one of the many texts on surviving and thriving in law school.  For example, Mastering the Law School Exam, by Suzanne Darrow Kleinhaus, might be a good text for this purpose.

Second, compare and contrast the essays on which you succeeded to the essays that were less successful.  Make a list of the components of the successful essays.  Did you clearly identify the issues that you spotted; did you clearly state an applicable rule; and did you fully apply the rule to the facts in the exam hypothetical?

Third, take out the review materials that you got from the various bar vendors that tabled at your law school and use the materials to review each of the required 1L subjects.  Do the practice multiple-choice and essay questions that the materials may contain.  It is not too early to start brushing up on these subjects; first, they may form the basis of some of your upper-level classes and, second, these subjects will be tested on the bar exam.

Fourth, review your 1L strategies for class prep, e.g.., case reading and case briefing; note-taking; daily and weekly review;  and exam preparation, e.g. outlining and drafting practice exam answers. 

Fifth, and last but not least, relax; spend time with family and friends.   Arrive at school for the fall term rested and ready to succeed.



July 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Jr. Faculty Scholarship Exchange--ASPers are welcome!

UMass Law School will be hosting our 3rd Jr. Faculty Scholarship Exchange this fall. I strongly recommend ASPer's who have a work-in-progress to attend. I participated last year, and the experience was invaluable. Feedback from colleagues sparked an "AHA! That's it!" moment for me. It's a fantastic event, during a gorgeous time of year in Boston. I hope to see you there. (RCF)


As the weather finally begins to look like summer here along the coast, the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth School of Law wishes to invite you to our Third Annual Junior Faculty Scholarship Exchange. This is an opportunity for junior law school faculty to gather together to discuss works in progress, finished papers, research interests, and to network and collaborate with peers from other institutions. Our hope is to provide a forum for legal scholars to develop their ideas and scholarship with input and constructive criticism from fellow law teachers. This past year we hosted 23 attendees from a dozen different law schools, from as far as Texas. This event is especially aimed at faculty with seven, or fewer, years of law teaching experience.

We are hosting this conference at the UMass Club, located in the heart of Boston’s financial district, on the 33rd floor of 225 Franklin Street. The venue is close to South Station, and the red and orange lines of the MBTA, several parking garages and local hotels. A hot buffet lunch, with morning and afternoon snack services will be provided. For directions, see:

Please consider joining us for this event by marking your calendar for Friday, October 16th, 2015, from 10 to 4. Seating will be limited. Registration for this event will open August 24th.  Attendees will need to assume responsibility for their personal travel or lodging expenses.

Feel free to forward this invitation to a junior faculty member that you believe may be interested.  If this is information that you would prefer not to receive, please let us know and we will take you off of our list. If you have any immediate questions or concerns please call us at (508)985-1121, and ask to speak with Emma, Jessica, or me. Thank you.


Spencer E. Clough

Associate Dean/Director of the Law Library

July 3, 2015 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

In order to pass the bar exam you must believe in yourself

The bar exam is the last test you will ever take. You’ve been preparing for it since the first day of law school. The foundation is built and these weeks of focused study help solidify what you’ve learned over the past 3-4 years. You will pass if you put in the time to learn the material and master the skills. Friends and family believe you will pass. Professors believe you will pass. Your employer believes you will pass. So, why do you doubt your ability to pass? One reason is that you don’t really know what to expect: Will you get an essay on intentional torts or premises liability? How many future interest questions will be on the MBE? Will you remember all the rules for all the subjects? Did you write enough? Too much?

Human beings seek stability. We like rules, routines, and goals. However, the bar exam does not fit nicely into what we’ve always done. You cover a semester a day and even though you spend 8, 10, 12 hours learning material, it doesn’t quite stick. If you could just hold things still, you’d be able to remember the material. Since everything is always changing, this doesn’t work. This is why you worry you won’t be able to learn everything in time and why you doubt your ability to pass. You are trying so hard to control things that you actually lose control.

It is July and the bar exam is at the end of the month. It’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Accept that you cannot learn everything and that you don’t need to in order to pass. At the end of each day, reflect on what you did and know that it is enough. It is not about whether you checked off every task assigned by the commercial bar prep company. It is about working solidly and steadily and moving forward. Focus on yourself and stop worrying about everyone else. Stop discussing what you’ve done (or didn’t do) with your friends and family. If they are studying for the bar exam, it will just be a stressor for both of you. If they aren’t studying for the bar exam, they don’t care.

Instead of looking at all those unchecked boxes, make a list of everything you have done over the past 7 weeks. Look at all you’ve accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back. Add to the list every day and look through it a few days before the bar exam. This is proof that you have done enough. This is why your friends, family, professors, and co-workers know you will pass. It is why you should believe it, too.

Need a little motivation? Check out my all-time favorite inspirational speech (it will be the best 60 seconds of your day): 


July 2, 2015 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Director of Bar Preparation

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
Director of Bar Preparation
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law seeks applicants to direct and expand its bar preparation program.  The Director of Bar Preparation will administer and assess the existing bar preparation program and make additions and modifications to the program, focusing on initiatives to increase bar passage rates.
Among other things, the Director will be responsible for the following:
·      Administering all aspects of bar examination preparation services for the law school’s students and graduates, including teaching in and/or administering the law school’s bar preparation courses;
·      Compiling and analyzing bar examination data relating to graduates’ performance;
·      Monitoring the law school’s contractual arrangements with and services provided by an outside bar preparation vendor;
·      Providing individualized tutoring, mentoring, and counseling of students and graduates to ensure their success on a bar examination;
·      Identifying “at-risk” students, and encouraging their full participation in the law school’s bar preparation program;
·      Monitoring bar-takers’ compliance with bar preparation attendance and participation requirements;
·      Developing and maintaining an expertise in all aspects of the Michigan bar examination;
·      Regularly assessing the quality and effectiveness of the law school’s bar preparation program;
·      Regularly interacting with the faculty to facilitate improvement in student performance in law school and on a bar examination; and
·      Performing other tasks as assigned from time to time by the Dean, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and the Assistant Dean of Academic Success and Bar Preparation.
Minimum Qualifications:
Juris Doctor from an ABA-accredited law school and admission to the practice of law, preferably by taking and passing the Michigan bar examination.  Strong interpersonal skills with ability to relate to diverse communities. Strong written and oral communication skills.  Detail-oriented with excellent organization and time management skills.  Ability to work collaboratively as a member of a team and in a professional manner. Demonstrated experience in program planning, implementation, and assessment. Experience working in legal education in the areas of teaching, academic assistance, or academic advising, or similar administrative, teaching, or practice experience.  High degree of integrity, ethics, and a dedication to the mission of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
This position will remain open until filled.  To view the listing for this position and to apply, visit
Michigan's largest, most comprehensive private university, the University of Detroit Mercy is an independent Catholic institution of higher education sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and Society of Jesus. The university seeks qualified candidates who will contribute to the University's urban mission, commitment to diversity, and tradition of scholarly excellence. The University of Detroit Mercy is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer with a culturally diverse faculty and student body and welcomes persons of all races and backgrounds.

July 1, 2015 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Remembering Who You Are and What You Want to Become

Many of our students have always been the top of the heap in public education and later college and graduate education. In law school, they find themselves with a group of colleagues who are equally bright and equally successful. Add to that the differences in the law classroom, new forms of analysis and writing, and the most common one-grade-per-course testing method. The result is that some first-semester students can get overwhelmed pretty quickly if they have not spent some reflection time before arriving at law school..

Preparing for your first semester (and reminding yourself if you are an upper-division law student) is essential to your well-being. The preparation you need to do is to spend some time thinking about you and your choices.

Take out a sheet of paper and divide it into columns: values, abilities, areas for improvement,  resources.

In the values column, list things that you value about yourself, life, and others. Include values also that caused you to choose law as a profession. Your values will keep you centered as you study the law. There will be people's opinions, case outcomes, methods of legal analysis, etc. that may not mesh with your values. When confronted with those different views, you have a better chance of evaluating those other perspective while staying grounded in your own values if you already know what you value and why those values are important to you.

In the abilities column, list the things that you know you are talented at in all areas of your life - academic, relationships, spiritual, hobbies, etc. Do not expect perfection in yourself or pretend to be perfect. Make an honest appraisal of what you do well. You will want to build on those abilities while you adapt to the study of law and interact with colleagues who may seem to "get it" faster than you do. Education is about developing our abilities further and meeting any challenges with adaptability.  Recognize you talent base that will be your starting point and foundation.

In the room for improvement column, list the things that you know you can do better if you allow yourself to increase your knowledge and skills and take constructive criticism. Your abilities may overlap on this list, but it may also indicate improvement for other aspects. For example, you may write well for traditional writing but need to learn how to write legally; you may need to improve your listening skills rather than automatically debating everything; you may work quickly but need to slow down to catch details; you may be a procrastinator and need to use your time more effectively. Law school will challenge you to improve on what you can already do, learn new ways of doing things, and stretch yourself academically and personally.

In the fourth column, list the resources in your life that help you when you become unsure of yourself or discouraged. These resources are family and friends who are your cheerleaders, mentors you go to for advice, the religious mentors for your spiritual beliefs, positive lifestyle choices (sleep, nutrition, exercise), and other positive resources that help you tackle problems and relieve stress and anxiety. Then add to your list the resources that your law school has available for you when you have questions and concerns: professors with office hours, perhaps 1L teaching assistants, the office of academic support programs, librarians, student affairs staff, available counselors, and more. By adding your resources to the list, you are reminded that you are not in law school without support. You are not going it alone.

Keep your list handy throughout your three years. Add, modify, and delete items as appropriate over time. You will grow as a person, a student, a citizen, and a professional lawyer during the three years. Be ready to embrace experiences and become the very best new lawyer you can be for your clients when you graduate.  (Amy Jarmon)



June 30, 2015 in Advice, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

ASP Position at UNLV Boyd School of Law

The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas invites applications for Assistant Director, Academic Success Program, William S. Boyd School of Law, Search # 15476. 

UNLV is a comprehensive research university of approximately 28,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff dedicated to teaching, research, and service. The university has internationally recognized programs in hotel administration and creative writing; professional degrees in law, architecture, and dental medicine; and leading programs in fine arts, sciences and education. UNLV is located on a 332-acre main campus and two satellite campuses in dynamic Southern Nevada. For more information, visit us on-line at:

Reporting to the Director of the Academic Success Program and the Dean for Student Affairs, responsibilities include counseling students in order to assist students with their legal studies, monitoring and training student mentors, assisting in curriculum development for the first year and bar passage programs, and counseling current students and alumni on bar passage issues. 

A competitive applicant for the Assistant Director of the Academic Success Program position must have excellent writing and editing skills, a strong ability to counsel and mentor students, superior public speaking skills, very strong grades and a Juris Doctor from an ABA-approved law school, and membership in a state's bar. Prior academic support experience (either professional or as part of a graduate or law school program) or teaching experience (i.e., legal writing or comparable teaching experience in writing and analytical skills training) is preferred. 

Salary competitive with those at similarly situated institutions. Position is contingent upon funding. 

Submit a letter of interest, a detailed resume listing qualifications and experience, and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least three professional references who may be contacted. Applicants should fully describe their qualifications and experience, with specific reference to each of the minimum and preferred qualifications because this is the information on which the initial review of materials will be based. 

Although this position will remain open until filled, review of candidates' materials will begin on July 13 and best consideration will be gained for materials submitted prior to that date. Materials should be addressed to Professor Jennifer Carr, Search Committee Chair, and are to be submitted via on-line application at For assistance with UNLV's on-line applicant portal, contact UNLV Employment Services at (702) 895-3504 or

Application Information

Contact: Employment Services
Human Resources
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Online App. Form:

More Information on University of Nevada Las Vegas

June 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friends and Family: Common Bar Exam Issues and How to Deal With Them:

Some suggestions for friends and family supporting someone through the bar exam.

Bar Taker:  I’m going to fail.

Wrong:  Keep up that negative attitude and you certainly will fail.

Right:  You are a brilliant, wonderful, hard-working person who is going to win the bar exam!


Bar Taker:  I’m getting fat/so out of shape.

Wrong:  You do look a little fluffy. And your clothes are a little tight. You need to work out.

Right:  No you’re not.  You look fantastic. In fact, your arms are so buff from lugging around all those commercial outline books it looks like you’ve been doing Crossfit.


Bar Taker:  sniffing the air around him/her Do I smell?

Wrong:  You don’t smell but that t-shirt you’ve worn for 3 days in a row sure does, and I could fry okra with all the grease from your hair.

Right:  You sure do! You smell like someone who is going to pass the bar exam.


Bar Taker:  My house/apartment/room is such a mess.

Wrong:  Funny you should say that.  I just submitted an audition tape to Hoarders.

Right:  You poor dear!  Please let me help you. You go to the library and study while I clean up.


Bar Taker: Ugh.  I am absolutely exhausted from studying all day.

Wrong:  Studying all day?  You’ve got to be kidding. Tweeting and posting on Facebook about studying is not the same as actually studying.

Right:  Studying like that is just so draining. You just relax right here on the couch and let me wait on you for the rest of the evening.


Bar Taker:  I’m just so stressed.  I can’t do this anymore.

Wrong:  Stressed?  You think this is stressful?  Insert one of the following:

Mother- Try being in labor for 36 hours like I was with you. Now that is stress.

Sibling- You are such a big baby.  No wonder Mom loves me best.

Significant other- Stress is trying to deal with you and your incessant whining.  By the way, I’m breaking up with you.

Right:  I cannot even begin to fathom the amount of stress you are dealing with.  This is the most difficult experience anyone has had to go through.  Ever.  Let me make an appointment for you to get a massage.  My treat.


June 29, 2015 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Welcome to ASP!

Please welcome Cyrah Khan as Associate Director of Academic Support at Seattle University School of Law where she assumed ASP duties this winter. She grew up in New York and became interested in education during high school when she started tutoring at-risk kids in NYC public schools. After moving to Seattle to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at Seattle University, she attended Seattle University School of Law and started doing work in education equity and access to education.  She has worked for the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and the ACLU Education Equity Program.  Most recently, she clerked at Division Two of the Washington Court of Appeals.  While clerking she earned her Master's Degree in Education with a focus on differentiated instruction and program assessment.

Please welcome Cyrah to ASP!

June 24, 2015 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Get Your Head in the Game!

I love sports. I love to play sports, coach sports, and watch sports. Studying for the bar exam is like playing a sport, coaching a sport, and watching a sport. There are highs and lows, agonies and defeats, and setbacks and triumphs. Bar review for many law school grads has been in full force for a couple of weeks. The foggy haze of transition from law student to bar student has lifted. Now, it is time for bar students to get their heads in the game.

Like preparing for a sport, you must look at your bar preparation as you would a training schedule. You cannot swim the 500 meters, score the winning goal, or finish the race without focused, incremental, and structured training. Bar review is just that. Everyone says, "Bar prep is a marathon, not a sprint."

During your bar prep, you want to get high scores on MBEs, ace the essays, and finish the performance test with time to spare. However, this is usually far from the realities of your initial phase of bar prep. You have not fully memorized the law or mastered your test taking skills at the beginning of bar prep. However, you are laying the foundation. And, it is this foundation that will get to you game day.

Here are a few ideas to consider as you prepare for game day:

  • Map out the remaining subjects that you need to review and the tasks that you need to complete. Writing this out can help you manage your stress and your work load.
  • Set realistic goals for each day (or each hour). Meeting goals helps propel you over the next hurdle, builds your confidence, and shows you that you can win this!
  • Give yourself time to process the information that is being thrown at you. Do not expect that you will know everything after listening to a lecture and completing 30 multiple choice questions. Bar review is a process, trust in the process.
  • Make time for breaks. If you schedule a break, it is not considered procrastination. Everyone needs down time and it is important that you balance your intense study schedule with sufficient time to refresh.
  • Evaluate your work. It is important to understand what you are doing right and what you still need to work on. This will help you refocus your time and prioritize improving your weaker areas.
  • Play a sport or watch a sporting event (Women's World Cup perhaps). This may give you the inspiration to help you keep your head in the bar review game.


June 17, 2015 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Becoming more detailed-oriented, or not, because it's all circumstantial

Yesterday evening I received a two sentence email from a student asking for advice on how to become an more detailed-oriented person because she is struggling in an internship, and she cites her big-picture orientation as a significant contributor to her struggle. As a member of the constantly connected gadget-net generation I read this email on my phone, and immediately began composing a list of free association ideas to help the student "fix" the problem while resisting the urge to comment further on the missing detail of a signature so that I would know who was asking the question. But I stopped myself from hitting send on that response, rationalizing the decision as "well, that's not what a detail-oriented person would do" and "do you really know what you're talking about because you're about to try to answer a really complicated question via smartphone email."

Today my time in the office has included internet searching for collective advice about becoming more detail-oriented. I also searched for inventories out there to assess comparative detail-orientation because maybe this student is generally sufficient at detail-orientation but is just working for a hyper-perfectionist. There have also been a few minutes where I'm wondering if maybe I am spending too much time attending to omitted details. And thinking that maybe I should be writing a post about productive-procrastination instead. But really, all of this has led me back to the free association list I drafted last night. While it lacked a certain amount of detail, it was probably a good starting place for this student if she is serious about changing her habits of thought and becoming a more detail-oriented person. The student is having a crisis moment and probably wants a list of concrete actions and just needs an immediate starting place to feel some relief as soon as possible. But, I personally would much rather provide the map of cognitive restructuring this student can follow to experience long term relief several months or years down the road. 

Habit change requires sustained effort, particularly when we are seeking to change dominant preferences that have become entrenched through repeated practice. For the next few sentences, I'm going to assume that there is a documented and empirically validated scale of detail and big-picture orientation that exist on a continuum like extroversion and introversion on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. People who live at the extreme ends of the spectrum between detail and big-picture orientation are going to struggle during the first phases of new habit development because these new thought habits will start out as exercises of the imagination since there is limited personal experience with the non-preferred thought habits. Indeed, it may require finding someone who has the desired habits and is willing to demonstrate them to begin developing context of where change in the thought process needs to start. The closer to the middle of the spectrum someone is indicates fluency which allows them to adopt the set of habits that is most suited to the task at hand. 

The concrete behaviors someone with strong big-picture preference can adopt to initiate change generally fall into a broad category of systems of accountability such as to-do lists, reminder programs on phone and computer, accountability partners, workflow checklists, create automatic detail inclusion when available (e.g. email signature blocks), etc. The concrete behaviors that someone who is strongly detail-oriented can implement is scheduled times for reflection on the big picture, a list of big picture assessment questions to use during those scheduled times, and assessment of the priority level of the project because perfectionism and detail-orientation are at least cousins, if not siblings or the same thing.

I will now reply to the student and provide the list I drafted last night, links to a couple of worthwhile online resources, and an invitation to meet and discuss in greater detail. In these circumstances that's probably the best approach for this student. But if I'm wrong, she'll know she can come back and help me find a better way to help her. (CMB)

June 16, 2015 in Advice, Professionalism, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Delaying the Bar Exam?

Should we encourage grads to delay taking the bar exam if we think that they will not pass on their first attempt? This is a very sensitive topic and aspects of which are currently being litigated in Arizona. Those of us who are overseeing bar preparation can easily understand the thinking behind what is happening in Arizona. We work with very diverse groups of students and we know their likelihood of success on the bar exam hinges upon several factors.

Some students are working full time as they study for the bar; some are caring for an elder or young child; and some struggled throughout law school and barely graduated. Others are less motivated to put in the necessary time to pass the bar with a traditional 8-10 week preparation window. We also understand that some students will greatly benefit from taking some time off between law school graduation and studying for the bar exam.

Because we know most of our students so well, we are keenly aware of particular students who are unlikely to pass on their first attempt (due to any number of reasons). Thus, does this mean that we should discourage them from sitting for the bar this summer? Personally, I have grappled with this notion. However, I have heard of other Professors, Law Schools, and ASPers who often dissuade (and possibly entice with incentives) grads into delaying their bar examinations.

Unless I have been directly asked by a grad for my professional opinion, I wrestle with whether it is my place to influence their decision to sit for or delay sitting for the bar exam. However, when you work so closely with grads during their bar preparation, we do not just think that they may not pass; instead, we often know that they will not pass. Bar exam performance can be predicted when you look at several factors and data points. When I have access to their scores throughout bar review, especially their simulated exams, I can predict with a high level of accuracy their performance on the actual bar exam.

Does this mean that I should encourage delaying the exam? This is the very issue I grapple with. On the one hand, when I know that they will likely fail the exam, encouraging them to wait means they do not have to experience the shame and defeat associated with failing the bar. We also know that once a student has failed the bar exam, passing it becomes a bigger psychological and emotional challenge. (As if it could be more psychologically challenging.) Dissuading them from sitting, also means that bar passage statistics will likely be more favorable for my law school; thus, the dilemma. Because of the current state of affairs in legal education, law employment, and law school admissions, bar passage matters. It matters more now than ever. Therefore, there is no easy answer. 


June 12, 2015 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals - Conference -12/7/2015

“Changing Students, Evolving Roles for ASP”
2015 Conference
New England Consortium of
Academic Support Professionals
 December 7, 2015
New England Law| Boston
Boston, Massachusetts
 Please join us as we tackle issues surrounding our new challenges as academic support professionals in light of the changing student body. 
We will address topics such as increased promotion of formative assessment, our positions on academic standing issues and grading, and what we are doing to support the influx of students who are scoring lower on LSAT and GPA scales.
Opportunities to Present Scholarly Works in Progress
(Call for proposals coming in August)
Registration Fee complimentary
For those traveling to Boston, we are happy to provide details on accommodations and assistance with travel arrangements. 
Please contact Professor Lisa Freudenheim,, NECASP Chairperson, by email or at (617)422-7366 with any questions.
(Myra Orlen)

June 11, 2015 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Law School Action Comics #14


(Alex Ruskell)

May 25, 2015 in Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Academic Success and Bar Prep Position at Appalachian School of Law


The Appalachian School of Law (ASL) is looking for a full-time, tenure-earning faculty member interested in teaching in its Academic Success and Bar Preparation programs starting August 2015. ASL is committed to student achievement, and this position will be primarily responsible for developing, leading, coordinating, and implementing programs that support ASL’s goals of assisting law students as they develop and improve legal study and test-taking skills, adjust to the challenges of law school, pass the bar exam, and prepare to enter law practice.

Minimum requirements include a J.D. degree and admission to the practice of law. Ideal candidates will have experience working in a higher-education setting in the areas of teaching, academic assistance, academic counseling or similar administrative, teaching, or practice experience. The successful candidate also must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to work effectively with a wide range of constituents within the diverse law school community, including students served by the Academic Success Program, faculty, and administrators.

ASL is located in the scenic-mountainous region of southwest Virginia. All aspects of ASL’s academic program—from the structured curriculum and the required summer externship to the weekly community service commitment—are designed to respond to the unique needs and opportunities of a law school in this region.

Women, people of color, and others with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. To apply, please send a cover letter and a resume to Priscilla Harris, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee. For email, send to, including in the subject line, “ASP Position.” For mail, send to Priscilla Harris, Appalachian School of Law, 1169 Edgewater Drive, Grundy, VA 24614.   We will start reviewing applications immediately and continue until the position is filled.

May 24, 2015 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Missing Piece: Academic Advising

When I worked with undergraduates in my first career in higher education, I was heavily involved with academic advising for ten years. In fact, my doctoral dissertation was on an academic advising topic. As a result, I have always been interested in academic advising for law students. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, the lack of academic advising for law students.

Many of the students with whom I have worked on other ASP'ish topics approach me for academic advising as well.  This past year, my editor for the ABA's magazine,  Student Lawyer, had me focus many of my articles on topics within the purview of academic advising.

By academic advising, I do not mean the mechanics of registration or the specific academic regulations. Instead I am referring to advice to law students on aspects that help them apply the mechanics and regulations to meet their academic and career goals and optimize their success. Academic advising goes beyond the procedures, policies, and printed words to consider the individual student as a learner.

For example, a graduation audit to see how an upper-division student is progressing on the requirements for graduation is very important. (I know because I once had co-duties with the Registrar for the graduation audit at a law school.) But the audit is about regulations and mechanics rather than which courses would be the best selections in the ensuing semesters for academic and career goals and learning.

Law schools tend to provide lots of assistance with and information on the mechanics of registration and the academic regulations. There are law schools that undertake true academic advising for special groups: dual-degree students; students in specialized certificate programs, clinic students, or others.  But for the majority of law students, academic advising is a hit-or-miss or non-existent experience.

At many law schools academic advising is fragmented. Academic decanal staff, registrar staff, academic support staff, and others may all be involved in some tasks. But a coordinated academic advising program is often non-existent or not effectively implemented among the varied efforts. 

Consequently, many students depend on the upper-division student grapevine for their main academic advising. They may get a bit of advice here or there from an approachable faculty member. However, they are more likely to ask faculty members for advice if they know specific career plans that mesh with that faculty member's field of expertise: I want to go JAG; I want to practice oil & gas; I want to be an in-house lawyer. Career services may assist with hot job opportunities and suggested courses that mesh with those specialties in the marketplace.

But putting together a curriculum with all of the relevant nuances for anindividual is very different from this hodgepodge of sources. Academic advising needs the human interaction element of thoughtful communications about academic goals, career goals, short-term and long-term goals, course combinations, academic strengths and weaknesses, learning and cognitive processing styles, individual circumstances outside law school, and much more.

Law schools try to put together options that might help, but often miss the mark. Expensive software is available that will do the graduation audit function and allow students to play with course scenarios, but it is not academic advising. Academic advising handbooks (whether for faculty or students or both) are helpful if they have value added beyond regulations and mechanics, but these tools still miss the interaction if stand alone documents. Making every faculty member advise a certain number of assigned law students is often unhelpful because of individual faculty being overloaded with other duties, untrained, or disinterested. Mandatory advising once or twice a year with an assigned, willing, and trained academic adviser is a start on interaction; but even this option can become merely an "inoculation" process rather than an ongoing dialogue.

With the increasing number of law students who have lower admission credentials, the need for individual academic advising is more critical now than ever.  Increasing numbers of non-traditional and first-generation law students also increase the pressure for academic advising.  One positive of smaller entering class numbers is that with fewer law students there is greater opportunity to implement individual discussions for true academic advising. (Amy Jarmon)

May 23, 2015 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)