Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, April 28, 2005

In the Academic Support Spotlight

SwainEllen Swain signs on as co-editor!
I am very happy to announce that the Law School Academic Support Blog will now have TWO (2) (II) editors.  Vermont Law School's ASP Director has joined the staff as co-editor - readers can now expect more posts, greater variety, and a necessary infusion of better ideas for the blog.  (Two head are better than one, especially when the second one is Ellen's.)  (djt)

Ellen Swain currently directs the Academic Success Program at Vermont Law School, where she holds an appointment of Assistant Professor of Law.  Swain brings a varied background of writing, advocacy and public service to her position.

A cum laude graduate of Vermont Law School, Ellen held a two-year judicial clerkship in the New Hampshire Superior Court upon graduation from VLS.  She then worked as a staff attorney with the New Hampshire Public Defender Program, where she represented juveniles and adults charged with a range of offenses, including identity theft and homicide.  NHPD values high-quality litigation and ethical lawyering.  Ellen brings those values to her work with students through the Academic Success Program at VLS and encourages students to focus on improving the quality of their work, which will help their development as a lawyer, rather than to focus on the narrow goal of a higher grade.  Ellen is licensed to practice law in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Ellen believes that her training in the high-stress and fast-paced world of criminal litigation prepared her to keep her perspective while working with law students.  As final exams approach and the student stress levels skyrocket, Ellen’s colleagues will ask, “How do you handle all of the anxiety of the students?”  Ellen replies, “It’s not so bad; nobody is going to jail.” 

She’s grateful to have the opportunity to work with bright students who are motivated to improve their skills and enjoys watching students improve their performance.  Working as a public defender brought Ellen close to individuals who were vulnerable and marginalized by society and gave her a renewed appreciation for the power that education has to transform one’s life.

Helping to make the law school curriculum as accessible as possible to students with diverse learning backgrounds is one of Ellen’s goal at VLS.  She is grateful that VLS agreed to support her work with an expert from Landmark College, to help her to gain specialized skills for working with students with learning differences and ADHD.  She continues to seek out trainings and read voraciously on the subject.

Starting in the Spring of 2006, Ellen will teach two sections of the Evidence Labs at VLS, a weekly class for Evidence students where they complete simulated courtroom exercises.

Before attending law school, Ellen worked as a journalist and freelance writer.  Learning to write quickly under pressure is a skill she developed in the newsroom as a cub reporter working on deadline for a daily newspaper.  She urges the students to write as accurately and clearly as possible and to strike a 25-cent word if a 10-cent word will do the same job.

Her background in community service includes working at a home for teenaged mothers and assisting handicapped individuals to ride horses in a therapeutic riding program.

In her copious spare time (ha!) Ellen enjoys spending as much time as possible in the outdoors with her husband: skiing, hiking, biking, swimming, boating and sitting still.  She continues to work on a novel and practice yoga.

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