Friday, August 24, 2007

Our Skills 5: Integrating into Our Institutions

As the semester begins, my calendar is filled with appointments with anxious 1L students.  My probation students are beginning to sign up for their regular weekly appointments.  And, there is the flurry of meetings and beginning-of-the-year events.  It is also the time of year when I weigh my commitments for my full-time ASP duties with possible opportunities to become more integrated into my law school and my university.

Each law school has its own culture.  However, in every law school, there are opportunities for ASP professionals to become more visible at the law school.  By becoming more involved outside our own offices, we can provide our skills in service, become better known to our colleagues, and be seen as "team players."  Here are some possible ways that you can get involved:

  1. If you are not already assigned to committees, offer to be an ex officio member of appropriate groups.  For example: student affairs committee; admissions committee; orientation committee; bar preparation committee.
  2. If you have a doctrinal expertise and your curriculum process provides the opportunity, offer to teach a course one semester per year or in the summer.
  3. If there is a passion that you have, offer to take on a special project that relates to the law school.  Examples: pipeline efforts with local schools; work with the campus pre-law advisors; a summer institute for pre-law students.
  4. If there is a law student organization that interests you, offer to be the faculty co-advisor for the group.  Alternatively, help students start a new student organization.
  5. If you like to write, offer to write feature articles for the law alumni association magazine or law school newsletter.
  6. If you are interested in career services, offer to collaborate on workshops on time management, organizational skills, or other topics of interest to students working for the first time in the summer or entering their first job after graduation.  Alternatively, you might be able to assist with mock interviews or with advising students interested in the practice area that you had as a lawyer.
  7. If fund-raising interests you, offer to help the law school alumni and development office or your student organization for public service.
  8. If the teams are soliciting judges for competition practices, offer to participate.
  9. If the law school hosts pro bono clinics for which you are eligible, offer to take part.
  10. If the law school is soliciting people to attend community or local bar functions, offer to take one of the spots.

If your law school is part of a larger university, also look for ways that you can use your expertise to benefit the university as a whole.  In addition, become familiar to the resource people on the main campus.  Again, here are some ideas:

  1. Meet the professionals in the counseling center, student health services, pre-law advising center, writing center, and other offices that have overlapping concerns for and expertise with students.
  2. Offer to assist on university-wide task force groups that match your expertise; many times the law school needs a representative for such groups.  Examples: mental health task force; student assessment task force; alcohol education task force.
  3. Participate in teaching and learning workshops held on main campus and offer to present a workshop on a topic in which you have expertise.
  4. Become an advisor for an undergraduate student organization on campus.
  5. Offer to be a mentor in one of the campus programs for diverse students, pre-law students, or other groups.
  6. If there is a freshman seminar program for undergraduates, offer to teach a section of the course if it is open to faculty across campus to teach.
  7. Participate in university-wide groups that match your interests.  Examples: faculty book discussion groups; university ski club; Faculty Women's Caucus; Christian Faculty and Staff; Hispanic Faculty and Staff. 

Obviously, you need to make sure that you can cover your job duties before you become involved.  And, you need your dean or associate dean to approve any participation.  But, by broadening your experiences and contacts, you will enrich your own life, increase the visibility of ASP and the law school, and benefit your own students through your new knowledge and expertise.  (Amy Jarmon)

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