Thursday, August 31, 2006

Things I learned in Wisconsin

Well, I just got back from the NCBE Academic Support Conference in Madison, Wisconsin and I have a lot to report.  I've learned quite a few things from both the NCBE and my fabulous ASP colleagues:

1.  Bar examiners are human beings.  They are not, as we all previously thought, evil robots intent on extinguishing the spirit and self-esteem of our aspiring lawyers.  Not only that, but they appear to be intelligent, nice and hospitable:  so hospitable, in fact, they they insisted on feeding us every 1.5 hours. 

2.  Many ASP programs across the country are offering bar prep and bar related classes and workshops to their students, some for credit, some not.  Some schools have been lucky enough to get the big outside vendors to come in and conduct classes for their students.   (Now, I am definitely looking into that!)  Some ASP programs invite in or give discounts for hypnosis and/or yoga classes to fight stress and depression. 

3.  The MBE, MEE and MPT go through a very rigorous internal creative process before ever hitting the big exam day.  It was fascinating to see how the process works.  And, despite statistical information that woman and "minority" groups are consistently under performing on the MBE in particular, we are assured that the test is fair and unbiased.  Hmmm.

4.  The Bar Examiners at the conference told us that practicing hundreds or thousands of MBE questions is not effective.  Sure, in lieu of studying the material this is true, however, I will still tell students that the way to Carnegie Hall and success on multiple choice questions is the same:  practice, practice, practice.  (Do NOT take the B,C or D trains to garner success on multiple choice tests.)

5.   The University of Wisconsin at Madison is huge.  We walked at least a mile loop each day (to counteract the feedings) and didn't even see the whole campus.  Not only was the campus beautiful (right on the water), but the walks themselves proved educational.  For example, my lovely walking buddies (you know who you are, ladies) taught me, among many other things:  that female cows can have horns, the difference between a steer and a bull, and why forget-me-nots are called that.  It turns out the exercise came in handy because (see next item).....

6.  The airport in Chicago (O'Hare) is also huge and just because your plane lands in the same terminal that your connection leaves from, doesn't mean that the gates are close together.  Oddly, I think I passed about four Starbucks on my way from one flight to the next.  I heartily apologize to the nice guy sitting next to me on the Boston bound part of my journey who had the pleasure of cranky, sweaty me for two hours. 

7.  I am now ashamed of my "Northeast Superiority Complex".  As it turns out, you can find excellent ethnic food and outstanding medical care in places other than New York and Boston.   I had a great Nepalese meal during the conference at a lovely restaurant in Madison.  Also, the gentleman sitting next to me on the Madison-Chicago leg of my journey told me that he had just finished his last infusion of an experimental medication in Madison.  Evidently, one of only three doctors in the world who wold operate on and treat his brain tumor were in Madison.  He told me this well over a year past the time his doctors in another state said he would survive.  He assured me that our plane would land safely because any other outcome would be far too ironic.  He was right, we were safe but a little late.

8.  Finally, and this isn't something I learned, but rather something that was reinforced, ASP folks (with very, very few exceptions) are the nicest people in legal education, bar none (get it? BAR?).  We really love our students and want them to succeed more than anything else.  To put it in elementary school terms, we play nice and we share.  We offered each other wisdom, materials and, best of all, friendship. 

Thank you all, it was a great adventure. (ezs)

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