Sunday, July 31, 2005

An Online Legal Writing Resource

Introduction to Basic Legal Citation by Professor Peter W. Martin.

This work first appeared in 1993, and was most recently revised on July 11, 2003.

This downloadable student resource includes the whys (pronounced "wh-eyes") and hows of citation, is loaded with explanations and examples, and is "accessible" to beginning students.

For example, one of the first questions many new students ask ("What degree of mastery of this language should one strive for – as a student, legal assistant, or lawyer?") is answered directly and clearly.

Martin_peter3 Consider the source: Peter W. Martin is the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law at Cornell Law School where he has been a member of the faculty since 1971 and was dean from 1980 to 1988. Professor Martin is a past president of the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction and past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section of Law and Computers.

Would your first-year students benefit from this resource?  (djt)

July 31, 2005 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Job Opening - Pace U. Law

Pace University School of Law seeks applicants for the position of Assistant Director of Academic Support Program to begin August 2005.  This part-time position presents a wonderful opportunity for someone who wants to become a member of a vibrant law school community with a commitment to Opportunitas.  Compensation is competitive.

Minimum requirements are a J.D.; law firm or similar experience; excellent writing and speaking skills; membership in at least one bar and a genuine desire to work closely with students and faculty.  Prior academic support experience, teaching experience (i.e., legal writing), law school membership on law review and/or moot court and counseling skills are preferred.

The successful candidate will report to the Director of Academic Support and will run all aspects of Pace's well-developed Bar Pass Program including working with students on an individual and group basis; implementing Bar related efforts, reporting to faculty on assessment of our Bar Pass Program and developing and implementing new program services relevant to enhancing our bar pass rate.

To apply for this position, please provide a resume, writing sample and three references to:

Prof. Leslie Garfield, Chair, Academic Support Selection Committee; Pace Law School; 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603, lgarfield@law.pace.edu

July 29, 2005 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

More About Study Groups

On July 6, I provided some links for Academic Support professionals looking for study group information (see Blog "archives").

Now, let's find out if study groups help law students.

In their paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Education Research Association in San Diego, California last year (April, 2004), Penn State educational researchers Dorothy H. Evensen, Sarah Rzasa, and Stephen Zappe delved into every nook and cranny of wunnelle study groups. 

The researchers had noticed that: "Despite ... limited yet clear evidence that study groups might not provide the competitive edge to students set on achieving grades that can assure them coveted spots both within and outside of the law school, study groups continue to be recommended by professors, law school graduates, upper-classmen, and numerous how-to-do law school publications ... ."  Oops.  I guess we ought to find out if they work before we recommend them too strongly.

The three-year survey was conducted with support from an LSAC research and development grant.  The researchers focused on six questions, including:

  • How pervasive are study groups?
  • What are the patterns and practices that surround the formation and initial operations of study groups?
  • What is the relation between group orientation and academic performance?

I don't want to give away the ending to this page-turner, but here's a hint: "From this study, all that can be said is that students who belong to formal study groups for both semesters have significantly higher LGPAs than all other students."  (djt)

July 28, 2005 in Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Opening - Thomas Jefferson School of Law

     Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California, is seeking applicants for the newly established position of Director of Academic Support.  The Director will be responsible for designing, carrying out, and monitoring a comprehensive academic support program that extends from admission to law school through admission to the bar.

     Qualifications for this position include a record of solid academic success in law school, strong interest in working closely with law students, and the ability to envision and oversee a comprehensive program that enables students to succeed in law school, on the bar exam, and in law practice.  Experience directing and working in a law school academic support program or experience counseling and teaching learning and study skills is desirable, but not required.

     The specific programs to be developed and carried out will be determined by the new Director in collaboration with the faculty.  These programs may include learning and study skills workshops for all students; individual counseling and referral for at-risk students; a substantive course incorporating learning and study skills; and involvement in summer pre-law programs, new student orientation, bar preparation efforts, community outreach programs, and faculty teaching workshops. 

     Thomas Jefferson School of Law is a non-profit, independent, ABA law school located in San Diego, an attractive and diverse urban community along the Pacific Coast.  The faculty comprises more than 30 legal educators with significant records of excellent scholarship and teaching as well as extensive law practice.  The law school community is committed to fostering a learning environment that enhances students' opportunities to develop the legal knowledge and skills in law school that will be essential to them in passing the bar and entering the profession.

     Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.  Thomas Jefferson is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from women and people of color.  Electronic submissions are welcome; please send resume and cover letter to: 
ASP/Bar Pass Task Force
c/o Linda L. Berger, Professor
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
2121 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, CA 92110
lberger@tjsl.edu
619-374-6933

July 28, 2005 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Study Groups - Useful Handouts

Amy Jarmon, Assistant Dean for Academic Success Programs at Texas Tech University School of Law, wrote today:

I thought the attached materials may be useful to ASP professionals since study groups were a recent topic on the listserv.  The inventory is an informal way for study group members to evaluate how they are doing on the purposes and etiquette of study groups and whether they need to seek help.

I have combined the three documents Dean Jarmon sent me into one seven-page MS Word document: study groups ... originally, the three were: Inventory of Study Group Success; Study Group Buddy Purposes; and, Study Group Buddy Etiquette.

You can reach Dean Jarmon at ajarmon@law.ttu.edu.  (djt)

July 26, 2005 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guess what ... We're happy again!

We're all aware that unhappy law students morph into unhappy lawyers; so just where did this latest group of California lawyers come from?

Contrary to everything I've read in the past decade, the July issue of California Lawyer, reports that California lawyers are choc-fulla' glee as they head for the office each day.

Based on a 2004 poll taken by the magazine's editors, "Fully 57 percent of responding lawyers said they're extremely or very satisfied with their jobs.  Another 29 percent said they are somewhhat satisfied, which makes a whopping 86 percent who are content with what they do for a living."

Not only that, the pollsters conclude, "What's more, 30 percent are more content at work today than they were a year ago. California lawyers do indeed seem to be a happy group."

The conclusions in the article seem remarkable to me.  Why?

The questionnaire was sent to "a representative sample of 700 California lawyers," and the poll achieved "a 17 percent response rate."  Do the math.  119 lawyers responded.  That means, that of California's 201,626 lawyers (as of July 16, 2005), 102 reported being content. 

Does the number of respondents seem small?

A 1994 issue of the California State Bar Journal (the official publication of the California State Bar) included an article entitled, "Pessimism for the future: Given a second chance, half of the state's attorneys would not become lawyers." The conclusions in that article are based on 2,700 responses (from a significantly smaller base number of attorneys at the time).

According to former litigator (now career consultant) Holly Huart: "More than half of the lawyers who responded to a 1992 California Lawyer fax poll rated themselves 'unhappy but inert' or so unhappy they would change careers; 70% said they would start a new career if they could.  Similarly, a poll taken by California Lawyer magazine in 1993 found that over 70% of the respondents said they would not go into law again if they could begin their careers anew, and this was reinforced by a study published in the California Bar Journal in 1995." (See: Huart article, with sources)

(Disclaimer: I am a member of the California Bar.  I am neither "unhappy" nor "inert" (does that mean I'm happy and "ert"?)... but then I live in Rhode Island and work at a law school.  Also, I was not one of the 119 lawyers responding to the survey questions.)  (djt)

July 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Living Without the Bar Exam

And on the topic of the bar exam, there's one jurisdiction that is looking at discarding it altogether.

New Hampshire, the state with the "Live Free of Die" motto on its license plate, and the state where I hold a license (which I obtained through sitting for the bar examination) is starting a pilot program with this year's incoming class at the State's only law school.

A select group of 25 students at Franklin Pierce Law Center will have the opportunity to earn their law licenses in New Hampshire without taking the traditional two-day rite of passage after graduation.

Students will, however, undergo rigorous evaluation of their work.

The students will demonstrate their mastery of the fundamental skills of lawyering through the Webster's Scholars Program, run by a veteran lawyer and long-standing Franklin Pierce adjunct faculty member, John Garvey, who recently left private practice after a more than two-decade-long career.

I look forward to watching this story unfold.  As the updates come to my attention, I'll pass them along to you, the blog readers. 

Thank you to my Lexis-Nexis rep., Attorney John Harding, for bringing the link to this article to my attention. (els)

July 26, 2005 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 25, 2005

In Defense of the Bar Examination

With only a few days until the July bar examination, it's not a bad idea to have a few ideas from a recent article about the value of the bar examination to pull out of your hat when you talk with a student facing the test who is grumbling and griping about the challenge ahead.

Darrowkleinhaus_1

In a thoughtful article excerpted in the recent issue of The Bar Examiner, published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Professor Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus writes an articulate and provocative piece about the value of the test to measure the basic skills required to practice law -a response to criticism of the bar examination.

Professor Darrow-Kleinhaus, author of the Nutshell on the Bar Exam, writes regularly about the bar examination and helping students to prepare.

She concludes that the bar exam, "appropriately serves its purpose.  I have come to this conclusion after five years of working with candidates who had failed the bar exam multiple times and who passed after we worked together.  They passed because they learned to read carefully and actively.  They passed because they learned the rules with precision and specificity.  They passed because they learned to write a well-reasoned argument based on an analysis of the relevant issue and an application of the law to the facts.  They passed because they learned that there were no tricks to be applied, only the law."

Bar_exam_1 So next time you're tempted to collude with your student about the bearish (no offense to bears) nature of the bar examination, it might be an opportunity to point out the value of improving their skills to become better practitioners.  I recommend downloading the article and reading it. (els)

July 25, 2005 in Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Lawyers Returning for Leadership Lessons

An interesting story in the New York Law Journal highlights the need in the profession for lawyers to be trained as leaders, or, as the article points out, retrained as leaders.

The new training programs are an apparent response from a gap in the skills of lawyers to adapt their management styles amid the changing landscape of law firms and the trend toward mergers.

"The advent of these new leadership training programs apparently comes from a void in the education market. Law firms decry a lack of training in law schools as a big reason for starting their own leadership training programs," the article notes.

"Most schools do not have law firm management courses, and those that do so usually offer them as electives. Moreover, the courses generally are geared toward solo or small-firm management and focus on setting up practices."

Are we seeing a beginning of a new trend of training in law schools?  (els)

July 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Learning Styles Assessment Info

Dr. Amy L. Jarmon, Assistant Dean for Academic Success Programs at Texas Tech University School of Law, alerted me to this choc-fulla-assessment-tools site.

The Policy Center on the First Year of College is located on the campus of Brevard College in North Carolina.  That "policy center" welcomes you (us) to the Learning Styles Assessment Instruments Resource Page.

The page contains information on selected assessment instruments which are often used to assess student learning styles.

Caveat: "The information is provided as a service to higher educators. We do not specially endorse any particular instrument, but rather provide information so that readers can make informed choices on their own."  (I second that.)

What kinds of learning style assessment instruments are featured?  Oh, how about Field Dependence/Field Independence Instruments, Jungian Instruments, Sensory Instruments, Social Interaction Instruments, Multiple Intelligences Instruments, Approaches to Learning Instruments, and Multiple Model Instruments.  What's left?

Thank you, Amy!  (djt)



July 20, 2005 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I Just Play One on TV

File this one under, "I'm not making this up." 

Q:  Are you a lawyer?

A:  No, I just applied to play one on tv.

A new reality show will air next week, ironically, at the same time as the bar examinations around the country.  The premise? 

Lawyers, with two to twelve years of experience, will compete for who is the best attorney at the end of a trial. 

Listen to the pre-show trash talk, as reported by Thomas Adcock on July 18 in The New York Law Journal

"Q: Why do you think you are a better lawyer than the other associates?

A: "Most lawyers end up in law school still with a silver spoon in their mouths. I didn't. I had to fight for it," said Mike. "I dropped out of high school when I was 16, and only made it back on the academic track when I was 23."

A: "Sass and ass," said Anika. "I am feisty, quick-thinking, articulate, and have that in-your-face savvy ... The 'ass' -- well, it's not what you think!"

And the MacCrate values fit in where?  (els)

July 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York Bar Controversy

    While the rise in the minimum bar examination score in New York has gained widespread attention, an interesting exploration is underway within the jurisdiction that could impact the certification process of new attorneys around the country.

   A special committee will examine New York's system of bar admission, including the value of the test and possible alternatives to the bar examination as a measure of competence to practice law. 

  I, for one, am interested in keeping my eye on this issue.  Like many directors of ASP Offices, my job also includes a charge of helping the 3Ls to improve their likelihood of passing the bar examination.  (Yes, a small job). 

  While the issue of plummeting bar passage rates can be rife with finger pointing - pointing fingers at students for being unprepared, bar examiners for being unfair, and teachers for abrogating their responsibilities - an evaluation of the testing tool itself sounds like an important inquiry. (els) 

July 19, 2005 in Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Learning Style Survey

Recently, someone asked about learning style surveys (on the ASP list serve).  Several years ago, I found this online survey ... not only did it work for me (determining my learning styles very accurately), but my students report that they find it very helpful.

This Learning Style Survey for College was developed by Catherine Jester, Learning DisabilityMiller_suzanne_1  Specialist at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California.  It was adapted for the internet by Suzanne Miller (pictured here), a DVC Instructor of Math and Multimedia.

The introductory material explains that the survey displays results immediately, then provides specific learning strategies matching the students' unique learning style mix . 

If you try it and like it, think about sending an email to Catherine Jester or Suzanne Miller to see if they have updates (this is a 2000 version) and let me know what you come up with.  (djt)

July 19, 2005 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Reward Offered!

I hereby offer a $5.00 gift certificate, redeemable at the Roger Williams University School of Law Bookstore, to the Academic Support professional who is able to convince the Princeton Review folks to change their web presentation.

Do you design all or part of your school's Orientation program?  Are you a participant in that program?  Are the following quotes from the Princeton Review page offensive to you?

Schools will invariably announce that attending orientation is mandatory even though - just between us - it isn't.

Law school orientation is basically a day camp ...   

You will sit through speeches, panel discussions, and more speeches. ... You'll almost certainly receive instruction on how to read and brief cases and survive law school generally.

In the evenings during orientation, you'll be encouraged to attend social activities like "Jazz in the Park" and "Dinner with the Faculty." Student bar associations often organize less formal alternative events that you can attend as well such as the always popular "Booze Cruise" and "Pub Crawl."

I don't know about you, but I find this offensive. 

At our school, Orientation is mandatory.  We cover essential material, especially in the Legal Methods (writing) classes.  (Attendance is taken.)

Comparing the first days at law school to a children's "day camp" rather misses the point of the transition from college to the professional environment, doesn't it?

Years ago, Orientations featured endlesss speeches.  Now, aren't most Orientations mainly interactive?  The two "speeches" we feature during the week are anything but "endless."  Brevity is the watchword. Our "panels" are designed to be discussions, not mini-lectures.

Do you instruct students about how to "survive law school?"  Don't we all instruct them on how to excel in law school?  (That's why so many of our programs are entitled Academic Success, Academic Excellence, etc., right?)  Survival?  Ick. 

Our Student Bar Association not only avoids the "pub crawl" type of activity, but refuses to fund any organization's event during Orientation week if it includes alcohol.Noalcohol

Let me know where to send the gift certificate!  (djt)

July 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Exam Bank

Looking for used bar exam questions?  Here are a few ... including sample answers! Some of these may be useful for displaying to current students who are still trying to figure out what a good answer reads like.

Arkansas: The Arkansas Board has provided "top" answers. The disclaimer suggests that you ought to tinker with the answers before presenting them to students as models: "… many papers may have significant deficiencies in style, draftsmanship and organization. Indeed, some may fail to recognize issues and may have reached erroneous legal conclusions. ... These papers are not perfect papers but are examples of the better papers. They should be used merely as one of many guidelines in preparing for the examination."

Maryland: The Maryland Board presents similar advice.  The "Representative Good Answers" included after each question are neither average passing answers nor are they necessarily answers which received a perfect score; they are responses which, in the Board’s view, illustrate successful answers. Maryland includes the State Board's "analysis."  This consists of a discussion of the principal legal and factual issues raised by a question.  The Board explains that its analysis is neither a model answer, nor does it include an exhaustive listing of all possible legal issues suggested by the facts of the question.

Minnesota: Interestingly, Minnesota's site does not include a similar disclaimer.  The Board has posted questions and "representative good answers." 

About disclaimers: I intend to adopt all the disclaimers I can find when presenting students with a list of issues or a sample answer.  For a sample of an all-inclusive disclaimer, with tongue firmly pressing against the inside of the cheek, visit here. (djt)

July 16, 2005 in Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Numbers Are In!

Curious about the numbers for the 2004 bar passage rates nationally?  The May issue of The Bar Examiner contains a detailed report of the results in each jurisdiction in the country.

Results are broken down between February and July takers and first-time and second-time takers, among other details.  You might want to check it out, if you're not already a subscriber to this National Conference of Bar Examiner publication.  (els)

Bar_examiner_04_1

July 15, 2005 in Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Unhappy Lawyers? Not so!

Guess what ... We're happy again!

We're all aware that unhappy law students morph into unhappy lawyers; so just where did this latest group of California lawyers come from?

Contrary to everything I've read in the past decade, the July issue of California Lawyer, reports that California lawyers are choc-fulla' glee as they head for the office each day.

Based on a 2004 poll taken by the magazine's editors, "Fully 57 percent of responding lawyers said they're extremely or very satisfied with their jobs.  Another 29 percent said they are somewhhat satisfied, which makes a whopping 86 percent who are content with what they do for a living."

Not only that, the pollsters conclude, "What's more, 30 percent are more content at work today than they were a year ago. California lawyers do indeed seem to be a happy group."

The conclusions in the article seem remarkable to me.  Why?

The questionnaire was sent to "a representative sample of 700 California lawyers," and the poll achieved "a 17 percent response rate."  Do the math.  119 lawyers responded.  That means, that of California's 201,626 lawyers (as of July 16, 2005), 102 reported being content. 

Does the number of respondents seem small?

A 1994 issue of the California State Bar Journal (the official publication of the California State Bar) included an article entitled, "Pessimism for the future: Given a second chance, half of the state's attorneys would not become lawyers." The conclusions in that article are based on 2,700 responses (from a significantly smaller base number of attorneys at the time).

According to former litigator (now career consultant) Holly Huart: "More than half of the lawyers who responded to a 1992 California Lawyer fax poll rated themselves 'unhappy but inert' or so unhappy they would change careers; 70% said they would start a new career if they could.  Similarly, a poll taken by California Lawyer magazine in 1993 found that over 70% of the respondents said they would not go into law again if they could begin their careers anew, and this was reinforced by a study published in the California Bar Journal in 1995." (See: Huart article, with sources)

(Disclaimer: I am a member of the California Bar.  I am neither "unhappy" nor "inert" (does that mean I'm happy and "ert"?)... but then I live in Rhode Island and work at a law school.  Also, I was not one of the 119 lawyers responding to the survey questions.)  (djt)

July 15, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Damage from the Fall Out?

Here's a quirky little item I ran across that was recently published by The New York Law Journal in a column entitled, "Advice to the Lawlorn," by Ann Isreal.

Scenario:  Law grad accepts offer at Boston law firm, fails bar twice and is let go pursuant to firm policy, despite the fact that grad was extremely well liked.  She moves to New York and the subject of why she left Boston arises, not, unfortunately, at the outset of the interview, but rather, in a way that leaves the question of what else she might be concealing.....

Employment consultant Ann Isreal gives some key advice worth reading, or, for me, worth filing away for the next time a student asks for some insight on how to tell an employer he or she previously failed a bar. (els)

July 14, 2005 in Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Exam Skills

Are you looking for a model for initiating students to exam-taking skills?

Check out this PowerPoint slide show created by Ruta Stropus when she was Assistand Dean of Zimmerman_1Educational Service and Director of the Academic Support Program at DePaul University College of Law, adapted by Northwestern University School of Law's Associate Dean and Dean of Students Clifford Zimmerman.  (djt)

July 14, 2005 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Postpone a Profession?

Delayauthor Today's New York Times reports about the author of a new book who asserts that students should take time to do what they love, to see the world and to experiment before they head off into a professional career path.  In Psst, New Grad. Put the Career Off the NYT summarizes a recent book by Colleen Kinder.  The 20-something's premise:  find adventure in your 20s.  Her book and website offer tips to make that happen.

Delay I wonder if I'll have a student read the book during the first week of law school and then decide to postpone the graduate program, which may, in the long term, be a very good decision.  The article is an interesting and quick read.  We'll be highlighting, from time to time, information that tries to reveal what the "kids today," are thinking.  (els)

July 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)