September 17, 2005
Message from Natt: Learning Curve
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
September 14, 2005
The Inner Voice
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)