Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Add zest to your life by joining the Law Professor Blogs team. Presently, 3 positions are open in the Academic Support area:
• 1 co-editor position
• 2 contributing editor positions
A co-editor should expect to work up to 4 hours weekly, or less if …
(a) a research assistant from your law school is available to assist you; and, or,
(b) contributing editors are prolific.
A co-editor ought to submit 3 or more posts per week. A co-editor may be required to approve/edit, then post, work of contributing editors.
A contributing editor will spend less time, and should submit 2 or 3 posts per week.
Expertise required for all positions: senses of humor, self, and what may be important to a variety of academic supporters. Oh, you need to know how to use a computer, and be a whiz at either spelling or spellchecking.
Applicants must be willing to sign a contract of adhesion with blogmeisters, agreeing to lots of terms I can't remember.
Financial compensation is definitely not commensurate with experience; however, successful candidates will be entitled to one free coffee refill at the AALS Academic Support continental breakfast in January.
To apply send me an e-mail note including asp experience, and anything else you think is germane.
Positions will remain open until filled. (djt)
Friday, September 23, 2005
Recently, a law firm contacted me to ask if I had any insight that might help them.
"With what?" I inquired.
"Well," the firm representative explained, "the partners are at a loss to figure out what's going on with the summer associates, and the new associates we've hired. They seem, well, 'different'."
Aah. The Millennials have arrived. I began to dig through recent articles to see if I could come up with an answer.
In "Ready or Not: The Millennials Are Entering the Legal Profession," Abigail Smith, a 2004 graduate of Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and recent fellow with NALP PSLawNet, describes William Strauss's plenary (of the same title) at the 2005 NALP Annual Education Conference.
William Strauss, an authority on American generations (the man also writes plays, consults, and writes books), offered the audience "practical advice on how best to interact with this group of young adults as they enter the legal profession." Because each generation "rebels against the generation before it ... by working to correct the major mistakes of their immediate predecessors," one ought to expect some attitudinal differences, and some downright conflicts between generational groups.
Mr. Strauss defines and characterizes the GI Generation, the Silent Generation, the Boomer generation (I'm in there, thanks), Generation X, and the Millennials (the focus of the address to NALP). These are folks born after 1981 (that is, many years after the invention of Hacky Sacks, Post-Its, Pong, VCRs and liposuction); they are 24 and younger now. A few of our recent grads are Millennials, and all of our "traditional" (i.e., right out of college) law students are Millennials.
We ought to get to know their generational characteristics, don't you think?
Ms. Smith's report of the address asks, "What will the Millennial law school experience be like?" One of the comparisons Mr. Strauss made in response to this rings true for me. I still tell students that I read, then watched, To Kill a Mockingbird in ninth grade ... Atticus Finch inspired me to be a lawyer (Perry Mason contributed significantly to that decision as well). Millennials admired Ally McBeal. Okay, slight difference.
I surreptitiously passed a few handwritten notes down the aisle in high school or college. Millennials IM. And they did that while they were "chatting" with their buddies across the country, reading e-mail from Mom, and downloading music from wherever.
Of course, not everyone born in 1948 (the year both the frisbee and velcro were invented) is the same as everyone else, but some of the core values, characteristics, and methods are fairly consistent across a wide range of Americans of a particular age. I suppose if you limit your limit your view to American lawyers born in 1948, the band of consistency becomes narrower. So also, our students are quite different as individuals. But aren't you noticing some generational similarities among them?
A legal writing colleague mentioned last week that she noticed that so many of the first-year students who do poorly on the first couple of assignments manifest a remarkable degree of confidence and optimism with no evidence to support their outlook, and an abundance of evidence to the contrary. Many who receive 5 out of 20 points on a writing are buoyed by the fact that they received all 5 of those points ... they must be doing quite well! There's no where to go but up! ("Millennials," Ms. Smith reports, "are optimistic ... and self-affirmed.")
"Ready or not," she reminds us, "their energy and perspectives are about to fill the ranks of law schools and firms." Have you adapted? (djt)
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I hope that your fall semester is going well. It was great seeing many of you in June at the LSAC National Academic Assistance Training Workshop in Las Vegas.
This fall, I would like to publish another issue of The Learning Curve, the newsletter of the AALS Section on Academic Support. I encourage you to submit articles on topics in the field of Academic Support. For instance, I welcome articles on current research projects in the ASP community and articles on particular ASP insights from those in the field. The newsletter is a rather informal publication and is a great vehicle for ASPers to discuss their current research interests or other noteworthy topics.
Several participants at the LSAC Workshop told me how they appreciate the
newsletter and the insights provided in the articles.
Short articles (i.e., from a few paragraphs to a few pages) are preferred, but the newsletter is published electronically, so we may be able to accommodate longer submissions. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about whether you should submit a particular piece.
Attached in the last issue (spring 2005); you can access previous editions of the newsletter at the ASP website: http://www.law.umkc.edu/aals-asp.htm. (Follow the links to The Learning Curve.)
Please e-mail me your submissions by FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18; I would like to publish an issue in December.
Again, please contact me if you have any questions. I received some excellent contributions for our last issue, and I look forward to receiving your submissions this time.
Thanks, Natt Gantt
Editor, The Learning Curve
Associate Professor and Director of Academic Success
Regent University School of Law
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Steven Keeva, an assistant managing editor of the ABA Journal, writes a column in that publication entitled "Keeva on Life and Practice."
As a non-lawyer journalist, Mr. Keeva has spent years investigating and writing about what goes on in the heads of lawyers. Years ago, I read his wonderful book, Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life, and recommended it to many lawyer friends.
Last year, Mr. Keeva addressed our faculty and students, and appeared at a special meeting of the Rhode Island Bar Association. He spoke, as he often does, of the concept of mindfulness ... of consciously moving through each minute, hour, day and life.
Mr. Keeva's most recent writing is available to you on page 76 of the September 2005 issue of the ABA Journal. In this month's column, he encourages lawyers to "Listen Well," and provides a few anecdotal instances of where/how some lawyers are doing just that.
One example he introduces is ... "[in a large firm in Minneapolis] ... lawyers along with ... support staff have learned to meditate from an experienced partner." One partner remarked, he reports, "My God, this really enhances me." Last summer, the firm held a half-day program for summer associates, to help them consider good health and balance.
Do you emphasize balance? One of our faculty members, himself a meditator, has encouraged students to join him, resulting (very quickly) in a student organization devoted to encouraging meditation on campus.
What better way to address the angst of wunnelles? (djt)
Did you know that body language accounts for over 90% of a conversation?
Body language can be used to help teach a class, conduct an interview (from either side of the desk), give a presentation or deliver an appellate argument. For lawyers (and law students, and those who teach them), information and practice in this area is critical.
Cara Hale Alter, who owns and operates Speechskills, a communication consulting firm in San Francisco, helps lawyers communicate better. This month (September 2005), her article, "Does Your Body Speak Your Language?" appears in California Lawyer Magazine. (My thanks to the magazine and the author for permission to reproduce the article on this site.)
Ms. Alter reminds us that "People make up their minds about others at lightning speed – without attempting to analyze why they find them likable, authoritative, credible or insert-adjective-here. These conclusions are based on observable cues – nonverbal signals such as the position of a chin, width of a stance, speed of gestures, or duration of eye contact."
"Take control," she implores, "of your nonverbal signs."
Law schools talk about "thinking like a lawyer" quite a bit. We teach students how to "write like lawyers." How much emphasis do we put on talking "like a lawyer?"
We teach in two (basic) ways: by providing information and by modeling. When you meet students in your office, when you present workshops, when you speak at orientation ... do you "... bolster your appearance of authority and confidence" as Ms. Alter suggests, by focusing on stronger volume, crisper articulation, use of the lower tones of your voice? Are you conscious of your body language when you need to appear approachable and receptive?
The article, appearing in a magazine targeted at the profession, is for lawyers. Encourage your students to start practicing now to be the lawyers they aspire to be.
Your thoughts? (djt)
Saturday, September 10, 2005
On August 24, I posted a referral to lawyer/author Julie Hilden's article featuring advice to first-year law students. That post included:
Julie Hilden, a Yale Law grad, having also earned an MA in creative writing from Cornell, lives in New York city. After practicing law for several years, Ms. Hilden now writes (creatively) full time ... in 2003 she published 3 a novel which (according to one reviewer on Amazon.com) "...is both beautiful, and disturbing ... definitely not for the faint of heart ... extremely graphic [with] gut-wrenching scenes...."
Never having thought of myself as "faint of heart," I bought "3." As of this morning, I have not finished reading the book, and my gut is already wrenched. Nevertheless, I had enough energy this morning to blog.
Ms. Hilden's article (referenced above) described her wunnelle experience. This week, I visited with many wunnelles at different law schools, and was treated to their description of the experience (contemporaneous rather than recollected). This morning, when I read from pages 57 and 58 of Ms. Hilden's "3," I was struck with the similarity between those contemporaneous descriptions and the prenuptial dream of Ms. Hilden's featured character (a woman of about the same age as many of our wunnelles ... early twenties).
The night before we marry, I have a dream. I am underwater, just beneath the surface of a running river that would carry me away were it not for the crooked black tree branch I hold. The branch extends toward me through the water, like a hand reaching down.
The surge of the blue-green water is strong and unrelenting, and my hold on the branch is uncertain, slippery. I should be moving along it hand over hand, like a child twisting in the air, legs trailing, across the span of a jungle gym. I should be closing in on the shore, moving into the shallower water, so that I can break the water's surface and take a breath.
But I am not, I cannot move forward at all. My hand cannot even fully get purchase on the branch's mossy skin. So rather than getting closer to the riverbank, I only slide farther out along the branch's length, deeper into the water.
Underwater, I do not even hear the crack of the breaking branch. All at once I lose my grip, and I only hear the water rushing. I only feel it move my body wherever I am destined to go. The water engulfs me, and as I drown, I feel at peace. I do not bolt awake, the prospect of my own death does not jolt me into the waking world. The truth is that I am comfortable, drowning.
The preceding paragraphs weave very nicely into the fabric of the novel. The similarity between the night-before-the-wedding dream and a standard reaction to law school is __________ (fill in the blank … “frightening” occurred to me).
I’m drowning,” is a frequent complaint among first-semester law students. “All I want to do is keep my head above water—I feel completely overwhelmed.” These aquatic metaphors ("to whelm" is to submerge) are apt. Often, law students find themselves awash in a flood of uncategorized information—facts and theories disconnected from, alien to, often at odds with their intuition, their preconceived ideas, their personal experiences.
As the flood continues, the vortex begins to drag them down.
Just as hopeless drowning swimmers—and Ms. Hilden's fictional dreamer—succumb to the raging surf and surrender control to this powerful force of nature, too many wunnelles capitulate to the perceived inevitability of their loss of control. This is the passive reaction. This is the reaction that keeps law students from achieving their “personal bests” during their first semester. They’ve heard it’s hard, they encounter the proof of the difficulty of law school during the first three weeks—they feel "overwhelmed."
What they don’t realize is this: they are (nearly) all great swimmers ... it's just the unfamiliarity with this environment that throws them off.
The "dream" concept is also apropos. "A series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep" ... this is a "dream." Substitute the phrase "the first three weeks of law school" for the word "sleep" and you will be reminded of conversations you have had with students these past few days.
At an Academic Support conference a few years ago, when I asked someone, "What is it, exactly, that we do?" I received this response: "We help make people's dreams come true." True enough, when the "dream" is an aspiration. There are some dreams—ideas and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind—that we want to help not come true. (djt)
Friday, September 9, 2005
University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law recently announced the appointment of Joginder ("Joe") S. Dhillon as Director of Academic Support and Lecturer in Law. Professor Dhillon served as an Air Force officer for 20 years, including tours as the Legal Advisor to the U.S. Space Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado and as Deputy Chief, Military Personnel Branch, Air Force Litigation Division in Washington, D.C.
Professor Dhillon also served as an Assistant Professor of Law at the U.S. Air Force Academy for three years. More recently, he has acted as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton on homeland security issues and as an Associate/Shareholder with Schuering Zimmerman Scully, LLP in Sacramento, California.
Professor Dhillon was a member of the Harvard Environmental Law Review in 1987 and received his LL.M. in Intellectual Property in 1999.
Welcome, Joe, to the wonderful world of Academic Support! (djt)
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
When you were in law school, did you use abbreviations when taking notes?
I sure did.
Where did they come from? Well, Gilbert Law Summaries has provided a somewhat comprehensive listing of "Law School Shorthand" abbreviations (after arriving at the web page, scroll down about halfway).
You may want to direct your wunnelles to the page. (djt)
Do your students spend too long typing? Every time they use multiple key strokes to type, for example ...
- Constitutional Law
- Section 25
- Rule against perpetuities
- Condition subsequent
... they are wasting time. (You, too!)
Visit this website (then send your students) to learn how to use MS Word's "autocorrect" function to maximize your keyboard efficiency. (djt)
Sunday, September 4, 2005
As Academic Support Professionals, how can we help?
Here's an example. Scour the internet for letters like this one, and respond. I found this (and many others) at http://www.isthatlegal.org/loyno/.
Question from 1L Rekha Tavva
I am a common law 1L and am completely frustrated and at a loss as of what to do and with time running out on my options I am seeking any and all advice. I was given permission to attend Loyola Chicago and MSU as a visiting student with tuition and books waived and provided respectively, however, now that I know that U of H will somewhat be Loyola's satellite campus I am confused as to what I should do. I know that many 1L's have decided to give it a go at other schools but I want to know if this is the wisest choice. Basically, I am asking people for the pros and cons of each decision. If any professor or classmate is reading this, I would greatly appreciate your advice on this pertinent matter. My email address is email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 310-435-6479. Hope to hear from anybody. Thanks a million for your advice and time...and I hope all is well.
Let me know if you find other sites where students are reaching out for help we may offer.
See what these students and their families and friends are going through ... Professional photos from TIME magazine ... a photoessay, "The Day After Katrina."
From the "everything New Orleans" (NOLA) web site: Amazing photographs of Katrina's effects. (djt)
LexisNexis' Law School Publishing group has implemented a plan to respond to the needs of law school students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. LexisNexis will provide free coursebooks to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that requires a LexisNexis coursebook. LexisNexis will also provide free copies of relevant titles from our Understanding Series and our Q & A Series to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that corresponds to a title in our Understanding and Q & A product lines.
To receive this assistance, an appointed school administrator (e.g., the registrar) must make this contact on behalf of the displaced student(s) who have been invited to participate in their Fall 2005 program. Requests must include:
- Students' name
- Mailing address
- Email address (if any)
- Phone number
- Home law school
- Author name & title of adopted LexisNexis coursebook
- Fall 2005 course listing (to determine relevant study aid titles to send to each student).
Please send this information to: Lisa Hughes, LexisNexis Law School Sales Operations Manager, via email at Lisa.A.Hughes@lexisnexis.com, or via fax at 518-641-6090.
Friday, September 2, 2005
I just received this communication from the master editors of the Law Professor Blogs:
The Law Librarian Blog is compiling communications resources for Fifth Circuit, Tulane, and Loyola-New Orleans communities as the blog's editorial staff locates them. See generally http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/
Joseph A. Hodnicki
Law Professor Blogs, LLC
Editor, Law Librarian Blog
Thursday, September 1, 2005
Hofstra University School of Law invites applicants for the position of director of academic support. This is a newly-created position, and duties will include designing and teaching in a comprehensive law school academic support program. Prior law school teaching experience is required, and prior academic support experience is preferred.
This is a long-term contract position with faculty governance rights.
Hofstra values diversity and encourages applicants of diverse backgrounds. The Law School plans to review applications immediately and continue until the position is filled.
To apply, send a curriculum vitae with three references and a cover letter to:
Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Hofstra University School of Law
121 Hofstra University
Hempstead NY 11549