Friday, September 1, 2006
ACADEMIC SUCCESS COUNSELOR
Florida Coastal School of Law (FCSL) seeks two applicants for the position of Academic Success Counselor. FCSL is a student-centered, humility-based organization that works to create an innovative educational partnership with its students that produces high quality lawyers with subdued egos and sharp legal problem solving skills. FCSL’s mission is to distinguish itself as a visionary, forward looking, and culturally diverse institution dedicated to having a positive impact on its students, the community, education, the legal profession.
FCSL currently enrolls over 1,200 students and employs 50 full time faculty members. The law school is located in sunny Jacksonville, Florida, and recently moved to its new lakeside location. The distinctive new campus embraces state-of-the-art learning technologies, “collaborative learning spaces,” and “un-classrooms.” The high-tech trial and appellate courtrooms rank as two of the most cutting-edge facilities in the state.
The Academic Success Counselor assists the Academic Success Team in all aspects of the school’s ASP activities, including: working with students on an individual basis to strengthening study habits and analytical skills; training and supervising study group leaders; conducting skills workshops; new student orientation; developing student work materials; monitoring student progress; and enhancing our law students' experience.
Minimum requirements are a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, membership in good standing in a state bar association, and at least one year of professional experience following law school. The candidate must also possess the following skills, abilities, and attributes:
• demonstrated ability to relate well to, and work effectively with, students
• excellent communication skills
• demonstrated ability to work effectively as a team player
• strong organizational skills and attention to detail
• ability to work collaboratively and collegially with faculty, staff, and administrators
• ability to manage multiple priorities under deadlines
• a commitment to evaluate own leadership and professional skills and develop accordingly
• experience Excel and Power Point
The ideal candidate will have prior academic support experience (either professional or as part of a graduate or law school program) or teaching experience, and law school membership on law review or moot court.
Salary is competitive, includes benefits, and an allowance for professional development; relocation expenses are not covered. Occasional evening and weekend work is required. This position reports to the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Academic Success. This is a full-time, non-tenure track, administrative staff position.
To apply, please send a cover letter, current resume, salary requirements, and three references to HR@fcsl.edu. Please, no telephone inquiries. Position is open immediately. FCSL invites applications from all qualified parties. (dbw)
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Suffolk University Law School in Boston invites applications for the position of the Director of the Academic Support Program beginning in the spring semester of the 2006-2007 academic year or the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year. The responsibilities of the Director of the Academic Support Program include administering the program to enhance students’ study skills, analytical skills, and overall learning, in addition to meeting individually with students and teaching academic skills workshops in the classroom. We welcome applications from all persons of high academic achievement with a strong commitment to academic support, and particularly encourage applications from women, minorities, and others whose backgrounds will contribute to the diversity of the faculty. Academic support or law school teaching experience is preferred. Interested candidates must have a J.D. degree and be admitted to a bar. Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume, a list of three references, and a law school transcript to: Professor Tom Finn, Chair, Legal Practice Skills Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org (or alternatively, send their materials to the Chair at 120 Tremont St., Boston, Massachusetts 02108-4977). The Committee will begin reviewing resumes on September 15, 2006 and will continue until the position is filled. Suffolk University is an equal opportunity employer.
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)
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I am pleased to welcome our newest contributing editor, Herb Ramy, to the blog. Herb has just assumed the role of Director of the Academic Excellence Program at New England School of Law after having designed and, for several years, served as Director of the Academic Support Program at Suffolk University Law School. He is the author of Succeeding in Law School (2006) and Navigating the Internet: Legal Research on the World Wide Web (2000); he has also published several scholarly articles. Below is his first posting for the blog, and I think you will find it thought provoking and insightful. (dbw)
Is Orientation Worth It?
I have just taken part in my first orientation at New England School of Law (NESL), although I have been a part of a law school orientation for the past nine years at Suffolk University Law School. I thought the orientation went quite well, and it has been interesting to see what another law school does during those first fretful days of the semester.
On one level, I was happy to learn that NESL’s orientation was not all that different from Suffolk’s. Both programs are 3-4 days long, utilize faculty/students panels to convey certain law school truisms, and address the topic of case briefing. Initially, the similarities suggested that I must have been doing something right for the past nine years. Then, a not so pleasant thought occurred to me . . . maybe both schools have been handling orientation incorrectly! I don’t think that is really the case, but it got me wondering as to what we are trying to accomplish during an orientation program. I say “we” because ASP offices often play an important role in these programs.
What are we trying to accomplish during orientation? If the answer is “we want to teach students the skills necessary for success in law school,” then I’m afraid our efforts may be doomed to failure. In many (possibly most) law schools, orientation is a 3-5 day affair during which we program 3-5 hours per day. If we subtract from that time hours devoted to panel discussions, assigning lockers, welcoming speeches, and social functions, we are left with only a handful of hours for skills instruction. I’m not sure that I can teach case synthesis in an hour, particularly where my students have read the grand total of two cases prior to coming to class!
You may think that I’m advocating for much longer orientation periods, but I’m not. At one time, I strongly believed in the need for longer and more in depth orientation programs that lasted 3-4 weeks. Then, reality started to creep into the conversation. Sure, we can accomplish a great deal if orientation lasts 3 or 4 weeks, but most administrations won’t be willing to do this, and with good reason. Having students arrive 3-4 weeks before the traditional start of classes can be a logistical nightmare. Where will they live, eat, and sleep? What about students who have summer plans that overlap with orientation? Will other faculty and administrators be willing to participate in an orientation program that begins at the end of July or beginning of August? Before you say yes, keep in mind that most of these folks don’t take vacations from September through May because of the academic calendar. (By the way, I am purposely excluding CLEO programs or targeted orientation programs from this discussion due to the much smaller number of student participants.) And, if your school has an evening division, then the above concerns are twice as big a problem.
So, where does that leave us? Maybe back at the beginning. Maybe relatively short orientation programs aren’t such a bad thing if we modify our expectations. Instead of using orientation to teach all the skills necessary to succeed in law school, maybe we should focus on 1 or 2 ideas and hammer them home. If we do a good job, then orientation can serve a public relations purpose. Students pleased with our work during orientation are more likely to attend our ASP classes or meet with us one on one. Then, the real work can begin.
Just my two cents . . . (hnr)