March 25, 2005
In the Academic Support Spotlight
A.B. U.C. Berkeley, 1991
J.D. UCLA, 1996
Professor Kristen Holmquist took over UCLA Law's Academic Support Program in the fall of 2002. As part of the program she teaches sections of Constitutional Law (which she loves) and Wills and Trusts (which she likes on good days). In addition to teaching, her academic support work involves conducting individual counseling and how-to workshops, and administering programs aimed at acclimating first-year students to law school. She also teaches a (nonacademic support) seminar on judicial process.
Prior to joining the School of Law, Kristen worked first in the litigation department of a large, scary firm and later transitioned to a smaller, kinder, gentler litigation boutique. Her practice focused largely on employment law, intellectual property, and appellate work. During law school, she served as comments editor for the UCLA Law Review and assistant articles editor for the Women's Law Journal. After graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Robert Boochever of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Kristen's first article, "Cultural Defense or False Stereotype? What Happens When Latina Defendants Collide with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines," appeared in the Berkeley Women's Law Journal (1997). She is currently working on an article that addresses issues at the intersection of civil rights and education, specifically as they relate to LGBT students.
In her free time -- never mind. Kristen has no free time. She has two (smart, talented and beautiful) young sons. (djt)
March 24, 2005
A Letter to Wunnelles
Time for Words of Encouragement?
Here's a letter I just sent to our wonderful wunnelles. Do you have a similar letter you send or post somewhere? If so, e-mail me a copy and I'll post it here. Please feel free to adapt my letter for your own students.
The Krieger pamphlet mentioned in my letter is excellent. You can order a stack of them from FSU Law Professor Krieger direct (firstname.lastname@example.org (850) 644-7262).
March 24, 2005
You ought to be entering into your Final Exam Preparation mode of studying. You ought to have your plan of action designed by this coming weekend - preferably in writing, with precise times allocated for each component of your studying, for each subject. For detailed instructions on how to prepare your final exam study action plan, read "A Plan for Your Exams," in the March 2005 issue of the ABA's "Student Lawyer" magazine (page 32). (All ABA Student Division members received a copy in the mail others can find the magazine in the library and posted on my bulletin board.
Now is the time to shift into high gear. For about 5 or 6 weeks, you need to focus focus focus on exam preparation - and that means practice, practice, practice.
Answer those practice hypotheticals in writing. Each class, each topic. Near the end of the semester, answer your professors' previous exams - in writing - if available. Be sure to reserve enough time in your detailed written study schedule to complete your Legal Methods assignment (appellate brief), and to prepare for your oral argument. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.
Does this mean "stress out?" No way. Proactive planning and follow through lead to LESS stress, and allow you to enter the final exam rooms with well-deserved confidence. This week, each of you picked up a booklet written by law professor Larry Krieger about handling law school stress. Read it. Enter your exam period stress-free. Want MORE help relieving. Check the bulletin boards around school for announcements of Professor Zlotnick's introduction of his March 31st meditation session led by a psychologist who is a stress-reduction expert. Want MORE help? Select from the 23 topics covered in the FAQ study matrix at http://dennistonsing.com/FAQ-Page-11.html.
Need assistance with any of this? We are here to help! Do you have questions about subject matter, doctrinal issues, substantive loose ends? Schedule appointments with your professors. Could you use help with your appellate brief, or with exam answering style? Schedule an appointment with Kim Baker. Do you need advice on study skills, scheduling, or exam answering techniques? Visit Tracy Sartrys and make an appointment with me.
This is not the time to procrastinate. This is the time to strategize. Achieve your personal best this semester in law school.
Dennis J. Tonsing
Dean of Students
Academic Support Program Director
March 20, 2005
Program Evaluation: Defining and Measuring “Success” In Academic Support Programs
An article by University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Professor Kevin H. Smith. (2003 L. Rev. M.S.U.-D.C.L. 177 - I have not discovered a web link to this article. djt)
Professor Smith discusses the value of an academic support program and provides guidelines to assist in the development and implementation of sound and effective evaluation methods. He focuses on three methodological issues at the core of any useful evaluation effort: "First, what is meant by 'success?' ... Second, how is 'success' ... to be measured? Third, how may that data be obtained?"
By advocating the use of a variety of empirical data rather than theoretical templates, Professor Smith describes how a successful evaluation can only be achieved in the context of student perspectives and objectives.
The article offers three types of evaluations (formative, summative, and confirmative) that can be implemented in a variety of settings, all conducted within the context of relevant student concerns and goals.
Professor Smith’s scientific and methodical guidelines are at once intuitive and instructive. (djt)
Reflections: Cultivating Ethics, Professionalism and Commitment
Entitled, Reflections on Teaching Law as Right Livelihood: Cultivating Ethics, Professionalism, and Commitment to Public Serivce from the Inside Out, this article by University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law Professor and Director of the Mason Enhancement Program for Academic Success, Laurie A. Morin, appeared in the Winter 2000 edition of the Tulsa Law Journal. (35 Tulsa L.J. 227 - no web link currently available)
"This is a story," Professor Laurie Morin begins, "of inner transformation that led me to question the very foundation of what it means to 'teach' and to 'learn.' My quest," she continues, "grew out of a period of struggle in which I doubted both" her teaching capability and the value of teaching money-oriented, grade-centered law students. In her search for answers, she visited "the vast playing grounds of philosophy, theology, and education." Not only does Professor Morin provide the reader with a snapshot travelogue of her journey, but she offers solid advice for enhancing the educational experiences of our students. Each suggestion targets "vocational integration," and relates to the profound questions lawyers (and law students) should be asking, for example: "How can I use my profession to make a meaningful contribution to my community and to the world around me?"
Professor Morin's article describes teaching techniques aimed at integrating notions of fairness, justice, public service, and dignity for others within a legal curriculum. She provides examples of techniques for creating moral dialogues, reconnecting students with their personal goals through discussion, fostering a sense of public service, and cultivating civility and respect for diversity.
Professor Morin argues that the gap between the increasing number of lawyers and the unmet legal needs of the poor and middle class can be directly addressed by encouraging a new generation of lawyers to “do well by doing good,” and to fulfill the highest ideals of the profession.
"I have come to the conclusion," Professor Morin writes, "that the opportunity for meaningful reflection on personal and professional values should not be separated from the learning of legal doctrine, analytical skills, and professional ethics."
Several appendices include exercises - described within the text of the article - for providing these opportunities within the context of legal education.
I suggest that we, as Academic Support professionals, infuse these values and ideals in our interaction with students - complementing the efforts of "enlightened" professors like Professor Morin. (djt)