May 6, 2005
If you're looking for ways to improve the MPT workshop that you already offer for students preparing to take the bar examination or looking to devise one this summer, consider reviewing a primer on the topic. Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus, Assistant Professor of Legal Methods and Director of Academic Support Programs at Tuoro Law School, offers her suggestions for strategies to master the practical test in her article entitled, "Incorporating Bar Pass Strategies into Routine Teaching Practices," 37 Gonz. L. Rev. 17 (2001/2002). Professor Darrow-Kleinhaus identifies the skills tested on the MPT and offers some thoughtful suggestions for how students can complete the required task of writing a coherent analysis of a legal problem under the pressures of time. By clearly identifying the importance of reading directions, organizing the materials, writing clearly and with the proper tone, and following directions students can prepare themselves effectively by working through the myriad of examinations released by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and available for no charge on their website. Professor Darrow-Kleinhaus is the author of The Bar Exam in a Nutshell. (els)
May 4, 2005
Preps or Perps?
Complaint alleges prep courses perpetrated illegal acts
According to a recent "lawschool.com" press release, a complaint filed last week against BAR/BRI bar review, West Publishing Corporation, and Kaplan, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleges that more than 300,000 lawyers and law students were each charged an estimated $1,000 extra for bar review courses.
The story was also carried by "dBusiness News," an online daily business news service.
The complaint reportedly alleges that "executives of BAR/BRI and Kaplan secretly agreed to a per se illegal market division," according to the lawschool.com story. (djt)
May 2, 2005
Interested to find out how a student with ADHD/ADD might experience a classroom when he or she is asked to follow directions or to complete a reading assignment? The folks who brought you the documentary broadcast on PBS entitled, "Misunderstood Minds," offer simulations on the companion web site that may give you this type of understanding. While the web demonstrations aim to recreate a grade-school classroom, they offer the types of insights that no book or educational report could reveal. As the student who brought the site to my attention noted, "It gives me a headache."
The documentary, "Misunderstood Minds," chronicles the lives of a handful of children and their parents as they cope with the diagnosis and management of a variety of learning differences, with varying degrees of success. It offers an intimate look into the challenges faced by students and their families. Interspersed within their stories are comments by the pioneers in the fields of learning differences, including Mel Levine, M.D., who discuss brain chemistry and the ways the brain processes information. Copies of the documentary are also available for purchase on the site. (els)
Dictionary of Legal Terms
Is this an alternative to Black's Law Dictionary for students? Law.com now offers a free Dictionary of Legal Terms. I looked up a few terms ... it seems to be a good resource for a quickie definition, and might be quite helpful for wunnelles struggling (during their first month at least) for fluency in the Language of the Law. (djt)
May 1, 2005
Law Student Blogs
Have you visited any law student blogs? They abound on the net, and provide insight into what our students' passions, frustrations, and needs are.
For example, today I visited Blawg Wisdom: Advice About Law School From Those Who Are In It, and found an interesting thread of entries about comments law professors had written in the bluebooks of their students ... followed by student and professor reactions to the comments.
The blogging student referred to his Contracts class as one in which "the professor doesn't actually profess," and a student should just "assume you're scr__ed but hope for the best." The student had heard from two and three elles that the professor graded randomly, often lost exams, and created mass hysteria among the students. This professor, the blogger explains, "went through every hand-written exam and made some of the most blunt, outrageous and snarky comments ever to grace a bluebook." (Snarky? I had to look it up: the word describes a witty mannerism, personality, or behavior that is a combination of sarcasm and cynicism. Usually accepted as a complimentary term. Snarky is sometimes mistaken for a snotty or arrogant attitude. Complimentary my foot. (djt))
The professor's marginal additions to the students' answers (allegedly) included:
● YOU COULD NOT BE MORE INCORRECT
● nonsense, nonsense
The blog comments include many law student responses, and one which appears to be penned (keyboarded?) by a law prof: "I'm a Contracts professor and it is interesting to see those comments. I think many of them could have been phrased differently, but I understand where they come from." ...and more...
As AcSup folk, we read (graded) exam answers. I have seen my share of marginalia that made me blink twice before attempting to interpret it for a perplexed student. How do you counsel your students vis-a-vis professorial annotations which are amphibolous, ambiguous, equivocal, obscure, recondite, abstruse, vague, cryptic, or even downright enigmatic? (djt)
Join in the Discussion
Interested in joining the conversation of the broader academic support community? Academic assistance faculty and administrators may join the discussion list hosted by Chicago Kent Law School for professionals who supervise, develop and teach in academic support programs at law schools. Here are the instructions for joining:
1. Send an e-mail to the following address: email@example.com
2. Leave the subject matter blank.
3. In the first line of the body of the message write:
subscribe ASP-L (your first name, last name, position and school)
For example, I would type the following into the first line of my e-mail:
subscribe ASP-L Ellen, Swain, Assistant Professor of Law Vermont Law School
4. Please note that you will only type two commas in the body of the message: one between your first name and last name and one between your last name and title.
5. Once you're enrolled you can send an e-mail to the listserv and it will be posted to all of the members by addressing your e-mail to: