July 2, 2005
A Twenty-Dollar Investment
How many of your students take commercial bar review courses?
Becoming a member of the American Bar Association Law Student Division costs students $20 annually. ABA LSD members receive tuition discounts of $70 to $100 on PMBR tuition, BarBri scholarship opportunities, and a sizeable list of other attractive benefits including:
- Annual subscription to Student Lawyer Magazine
- Subscription to the ABA Journal
- Health Insurance offered through MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company
- Hertz Car Rental advantages
- Discounts on books sold through the ABA bookstore
- Computer discounts
But from my point of view, early ABA membership helps students develop this essential mindset: as law students, they have entered the domain of professionals. They are no longer mere "students." They have begun the process of becoming lawyers.
The ABA emphasizes this aspect much more than the few financial incentives, by adopting the slogan, "American Bar Association Law Student Division: Where the Path to a Successful Legal Career Begins." The ABA encourages students to "Stay ahead in law school and build a network to launch your career..."
How may students "launch" with the assistance of the ABA? Visit the web site and check out the "leadership opportunities," the volunteer programs, career counseling resources, specialty section membership opportunities, access to professional level ABA list serves, intern and clerkship information and opportunities, mentoring programs for disabled students, and professional support for distressed students.
I encourage students to consider themselves as neophytes in the community of lawyers. This helps them adapt their frame of reference from collegiate to professional - helps them recognize that thinking (and writing) (and learning) like a college student differs remarkably from thinking, writing and learning as a lawyer - helps them commit to the profundity of the enterprise and develop the passion necessary to achieve their personal best.
Consider this: contact the ABA and ask for enough membership packets to distribute to wunnelles during your Orientation program. At our school for example, students find these packets (along with Rhode Island Bar Association Student Membership invitations) on their chairs as they enter the school's appellate court for a welcome address by the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. The Chief Justice encourages them to join the ABA; the President of the Rhode Island Bar Association welcomes the students and encourages them to join the State Bar.
The ABA Law Student Division phone number is 1-312-988-5624. (djt)
June 30, 2005
Pass the Bar!
Do you think we could pressure the publishers for an earlier release date?
Right about now, four weeks before the TEST at the end of the month, I would like to pull the book Pass the Bar! off of my bookshelf and refer to the study strategies, "checklists, exercises, and reflection questions" for some fresh ideas to present to students who are amid (or mired in) bar preparation.
Too bad it won't be released until November.
Two experienced folks in the world of teaching law students wrote the book: Denise Riebe, who teaches at Duke University School of Law and at the University of North Carolina, and Michael Hunter Schwartz, who teaches at Charleston School of Law and wrote Expert Learning for Law Students (Carolina Academic Press).
Order your examination copy in advance by visiting the Carolina Academic Press on the web. I've already pre-ordered mine. (els)
Bankruptcy and the Bar
Investigating Bar Applicants Who File Bankruptcy
Students sometimes ask me about how their credit/debt status may impact the character and fitness determination when they apply to the bar. Specifically, "What about the fact that I declared bankruptcy a few years ago?"
In a 2003 article appearing in The Bar Examiner, Bruce Long, the Florida Bar Examiners Director of Investigations, explored the subject of the impact of a bankruptcy filing on an applicant's character and fitness determination.
Since 1992, the Florida Board has denied admission of those applicants who have filed for bankruptcy protection only when fraud or misrepresentation is discovered.
Why 1992? That's when the Florida Supreme Court overturned the Board's adverse recommendation regarding the application of "S.M.D.," who had declared bankruptcy, discharging both credit card debts and family loans. This, the Board had ruled, "demonstrated financial irresponsibility" in that she had "purchased goods and services on credit beyond her ability to repay in a timely manner." The Board also determined the applicant had disregarded her moral obligation (to repay) and included a false statement on her petition.
The court, finding "little or no dispute over the relevant facts," nevertheless did not "believe that her decision to declare bankruptcy was morally reprehensible." Florida Board of Bar Examiners re S.M.D., 609 So. 2d 1309, 1312 (Fla. 1992).
More on bankruptcy when I post next. Stay tuned. (djt)
June 29, 2005
Virtual Citation World
I don't do The Bluebook.
I don't. It's my own personal line in the sand.
Students, who are accustomed to me rolling up my sleeves and digging into the work of helping them to improve all aspects of their 1L skills, are understandably taken aback at my definitiveness, which is often coupled with a referral to their legal writing professors.
Now I have a teaching tool to do the work for me. Enter "CITESTATION."
The folks at West have created an interactive citation course that can be added onto an existing TWEN Course.
As I sponsor a TWEN Course through the ASP Office at Vermont Law School to publicize events for students, to post the PowerPoint slides from my presentations, to give out handouts and to offer useful links for students, I just contacted the West technical assistance by phone (1-800-486-5876) and they promised to link it to my ASP TWEN Page.
The two CiteStation courses were created by: Pamela Lysaght, U. of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Danielle C. Istl, U. of Windsor, Ontario,
Bradley G. Clary, U. of Minnesota Law School, and
Sharon Reich Paulson, U. of Minnesota Law School.
West will provide a printed manual for teachers, including the answers and the questions. They plan to update the program in time for the fall semester start to reflect the editorial changes in the 18th Edition. Once the updates are available, teachers will be prompted to update CiteStation when they log onto the exercise.
Hmn, so I don't do the Bluebook, but my TWEN site does; there's a new twist on delegation. (els)
Grades Are Out - Now What?
Are all the grades recorded?
Now that your students have their cumulative GPA's, and now that many of them are gone for the summer, how many students will review their exams? Why should they? What advice will you give them? Ahh ... the answers to these questions may be within reach!
University of San Diego School of Law's Academic Support Program Director Janet Madden has created a short, incisive set of suggestions for students. Consider sending your students this helpful link, along with your own commentary ... (djt)
June 28, 2005
Studying with Music?
Mozart vs. Vivaldi
While in Las Vegas for the LSAC Academic Support conference, Daniel Dropko (Academic Excellence Program Manager at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law) and I briefly discussed the idea of recommending that students listen to classical (or other) music while studying. Daniel mentioned the "Lozanov" approach and "suggestopedia" - neither of which were at all familiar to me ... so I asked him to send me information.
With his permission, I have reproduced Daniel's email for y'all below.
----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel Dropko
Sent: Wed Jun 15 12:15:38 EDT 2005
To: Dennis Tonsing
Subject: Studying while listening to Mozart
The listening/study experience I referred to in our hallway conversation is from a language learning technique called suggestopedia. It was developed in Bulgaria by Georgi Lozanov, and although I have never actually tried or taught the system, it has a devoted following.
The actual listening part is a component of a more complete lesson plan ... in which students sit in comfortable recliner chairs with headphones and listen to a dialogue that they have previously encountered which is read against a background of baroque music. The underlying theory is that it is not the music itself, but the rhythmic pulse of approximately 60 beats per minute that produces alpha waves in the brain, which lead to a state of relaxation and reflection that aids in the retention of information. Indeed, the singular achievement of suggestopedia is the ability of students to memorize and accurately reproduce very long dialogues. Lozanov calls this component of the lessons "the concert".
For whatever reason, the slow movements of early 18th century baroque concertos all seem to proceed at the 60 beat-per-minute pace. (The concertos typically have three movements, the slow one being the one in the middle.) Vivaldi is the composer of choice, since he wrote so many concertos and recordings are easy to find. Others, however, should work (Corelli, for example).
Other approaches similar to Lozanov's are usually grouped under the term "Superlearning", or its American derivative, SALT. I am less familiar with these theories, but even more than Lozanov's work they tiptoe perilously close to New Age BS, and I am suspicious. Lozanov's work, however, supposedly has a solid research base, though I have not studied it extensively and would probably never have even thought of it until you mentioned studying to Mozart. (By the way, there is also apparently a "study to Mozart" school out there who claims that he, not the baroque composers, is the key.) ... Daniel
June 26, 2005
Welcome to Law School
Recently, Professor Madison posted advice to students about to begin law school, offering specific tips to the initiates. Example: " If you are physically able to do so, get fit. Now. Walk, run, bike, swim, hike, climb – whatever works for you, get in the habit of getting out and getting sweaty."
Find his suggestions for the class of '08 here. (This link takes you to part III of his "Welcome to Law School" posts ... links to parts I and II are at the bottom of the text of part III.) (djt)