Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

University of Iowa ASP Position

Director of Academic Support

University of Iowa College of Law

The University of Iowa College of Law seeks applications for a full-time Director of Academic Support beginning with the 2008-09 academic year.

The College of Law is an intimate, collegial and dynamic professional community located in an affordable university town with vibrant range of academic and cultural endeavors.  The Director of Academic Support will administer and advance the current Academic Achievement Program which principally supports first-year-law students as they develop legal reading, study and test-taking skills.

The Director will work with law school faculty and administrative staff to create and present first-year orientation and related programming, and coordinate a year-long peer mentoring program.  As part of the Student Services team, the Director will also contribute to the design and implementation of programming to enhance the professional development of second- and third-year students as they make curricular choices, sharpen their academic skills and prepare to take a bar examination.  The Director may assume other duties related to law Student Services, such as participation in the Hubbard Law School Preparation Program and work with students for whom English is a second language.  Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Required qualifications and experience:

  1. A juris doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school; an equivalent combination of education and experience is required;
  2. Admission to a state bar;
  3. Ability to create and present programs to address challenges of law school;
  4. Considerable (3-5) years experience in program management is required;
  5. Demonstrated ability to counsel, advise and instruct people from diverse backgrounds;
  6. Ability to collaborate with faculty, staff and students to enhance effectiveness of the Academic Achievement Program; and
  7. Excellence in writing and public speaking.

Preferred qualifications and experience:

  1. Demonstrated excellence and experience in administering and evaluating an academic support program within a law school;
  2. Legal practice, clerkship or other experience related to the practice of law;
  3. Knowledge of significant scholarship in Academic Support; and
  4. Ability and excellence in teaching.

To apply, visit Jobs at University of Iowa by May 23, 2008 and refer to requisition # 55356.

The University of Iowa is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

April 30, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

AALS Education Law Section Call for Papers – "Campus Violence: Prevention, Response, and Liability"

Call for Papers/Abstracts from the Education Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools

The 2009 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) will be held January 6-10 in San Diego, California.  The Education Law Section of the AALS will hold its annual meeting on January 8 and is soliciting papers to be presented at the meeting.


Submissions must be received by September 1, 2008.


Submit an abstract of the paper to be presented to Robert Garda at or to:

Robert Garda

Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law

7214 St. Charles Ave.

Campus Box 901

New Orleans, LA 70118


Papers will be selected by members of the Education Law Section of the AALS.  Authors will be notified of the selection results by October 1, 2008.  Authors whose papers are selected will present their work at the Education Law Section meeting held in San Diego on January 8.  The selected papers will be published in the Journal of College and University Law.


Campus Violence:  Prevention, Response and Liability

Over the past several years news headlines seem dominated by incidents of violence on college and university campuses.  Shootings at the Appalachian School of Law, Virginia Tech, and Northern Illinois University raised public awareness of campus violence and elevated concerns about prevention, response and liability to the top of university and college administrators’ agendas.  While the grief and emotional toll of these tragedies on entire communities is recognized, the legal issues surrounding campus violence are not fully identified let alone understood.  Because perpetrators of campus violence are often afflicted with mental disabilities, uncertainties in mental health law, student privacy rights under federal and state law, involuntary commitment processes, and permissible interventions for students known to pose a danger inhibit proactive measures by administrators to prevent campus violence.  Further unknowns regarding gun rights on campus and legal obligations respecting bullying and peer harassment exacerbate the prevention problem.  Administrators and law enforcement agencies are also unsure what constitutes an appropriate response to violence once it begins and what measures must be instituted to reduce casualties and injuries.  The duties to warn students or take appropriate disciplinary and safety measures are opaque, leaving administrators to balance the rights of individual students against the safety of the student body with little guidance.  These issues impact colleges, universities, mental health providers, law enforcement officials, victims, victims’ families, law makers and other public officials.  Panelists will examine the complex and often conflicting legal duties with respect to prevention and response that leave college and university administrators uncertain about how to avert future violence and fearful of liability when faced with a student that may pose a risk of threat. (dbw)

April 24, 2008 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Law School Flu Season is here!

Excuse me if this post is a little loopy--law school flu season is here.  Law school flu season doesn't follow the same trajectory as the traditional flu season. In my experience, it is bimodal, and peaks in December and April/May, right around exam time.  I caught it early; my students don't start exams until next week. I expect to hear about fevers, chills, and stuffiness from my student right after they finish their last exam.  For 1L's, it feels strange to get so sick at this time of the year.  It coincides with allergy season on the East Coast, so they may mistake it for a fierce case of allergies.  However, allergies should not result in a fever.

Students (and professors) do no realize the toll stress takes on the body. The stress of preparing for exams, as well as creating or taking them, causes the immune system to go into overdrive. Students are living on adrenaline for the month prior to exams.  But overdrive has to stop, and after exams are over, our immune systems are beat, making us ripe for the first germs that come our way. 

While all the ordinary precautions should be taken; hand washing, hand sanitizer, keeping hydrated, overall cleanliness and hygiene, they are not enough to ward off law school flu.  Taking care of ourselves mentally and emotionally is difficult and time-consuming, so it feels like a luxury.  It's more efficient to take care of yourself now than to miss days of work with the flu.  Believe me, I know (as I type with a box of kleenex, a cup of hot tea, and theraflu at my side).

(Rebecca Flanagan)

April 23, 2008 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Last Week of Classes

It is the last week of classes here at Texas Tech School of Law.  3L students are counting down in minutes now. 2L students are anticipating summer jobs while still worrying about exams.  And, 1L students are surprised at how fast the semester went.

The 3L students have commented on how difficult it is to concentrate on this last set of exams.  Some have frankly told me that all they want is C grades.  3L students often state their stressors in terms beyond law school: chasing their outstanding job possibilities, planning for their move to a new job, finding housing in their new city, or worrying about the bar exam.

For these students, I often suggest that they become list makers.  By making task lists, they can see the progress that they have made on finalizing their plans as each task is crossed off the list.  For those stressed by decisions about which job to accept, which city to move to in hopes of a job, or which house is the best to buy, I talk about making tallies of the pros and cons for each option.  For those worried about their studying for the bar, I recommend Pass the Bar! by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz.  Once they have a plan of attack for these future concerns, I bring their attention back to planning for exam studying.

Despite their summer plans, the 2L students are very much still focused on this set of exams and doing well.  For many, they are struggling with "burn out" because they have worked part-time, participated in student organizations, been officers in some organizations, done pro bono work or other community activities, and taken some very hard required courses. 

I suggest that these students talk to their employers about shortening their hours or not working at all over the two weeks of exams.  Most employers understand that grades have to be a priority.  I also suggest that these students schedule adequate breaks into their studying so that they can avoid being too tired to concentrate.  Fortunately, most student organizations finished their end-of-the-year events last week.

The 1L students are often uncertain as to how they need to schedule their study time for this week and the two weeks of exams.  I have been working on study schedules with many of them.  In addition to group workshops where students build a schedule as we consider strategies, I work with students one-on-one as needed. 

I encourage them to think about each day as having 3 potential study segments: morning, afternoon, and evening.  I suggest alternative strategies for them to consider depending on their individual abilities to focus: one course per day; two courses per day; three courses per day.  I also suggest that they choose an option for studying this last week of classes: alternate days for courses in the order of the exams; begin with the course in which they feel least prepared and then add in the other courses.  Finally, we discuss the exam period itself and determine the days that need to be focused on one course and the days that need to be focused on two courses.  We also talk about breaks after each exam before they return to studying for the next exam.

The relief on students' faces once they have a plan of attack for their own stressors tells me that planning pays off in a big way.  Modifications may occur, but having an initial plan goes a long way to turning anxiety into action.  (Amy Jarmon)


April 22, 2008 in Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Ideal Law Professor

I have done a lot of thinking over my career about what makes an "ideal" law professor or dean.  I have been thinking about this more lately after Professor Michael Hunter Schwartz's call for nominations for his "What Best Law Professors Do" book.

Because the idea of "ideal" would need to consider the variety of experiences and learning styles of law students and faculty, the example would need to embody broad principles of learning, leadership, and professionalism. 

Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series is the ideal law professor. While not the most immediately lovable of characters, over time, she demonstrates commitment to student learning, student professionalism, and leads Hogwarts through some tough times without compromising her dignity or losing her strength.  She is committed to student learning even when it means she won't be liked by her students.  She is not afraid of imposing discipline or dispensing tough advice if that means she will be bettering the student, the school, or the community. A commitment to broader principles of learning and professionalism means sometimes making tough choices with uncertain results, but she makes those choices.  She is not afraid of honesty, and honestly admitting "I don't know".  She will stand up for what is right and not try to make the issue "gray" in order dodge the fight and to make her life easier.  Harry, Hermione, and Ron were frequently disciplined by Professor McGonagall for their exploits, but she was also the person they turned to when they were frightened, needed help or guidance.

And she believes in her students, in their potential, in their commitment to being great. This is perhaps the core value of a great professor.  Sometimes numbers and letters do not demonstrate the potential for greatness, and it takes a true educator to see greatness between the lines. 

I realize comparisons with Harry Potter are culturally biased and overdone.  I was watching Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets last night while I was at the gym, and thought about some of the universal messages that make the books and movies so popular. My choice of Professor McGonagall was also informed by personal experience; McGonagall was the nickname given by some of my classmates to a real law school professor who embodies all these characteristics.  Impressive comparison since the real professor is not British and looks nothing like Maggie Smith (she is much younger).   

FInding my ideal is a part of my professional growth.  When stuck in a tough dilemma, my father jokingly asks me, "What would X do?" I am far, far away from reaching my ideal, but it helps to have a reference point, a guiding star to help me find my way through personal and professional challenges. 

Hopefully Mike's book will not only help law students, but help us all find our ideal.


April 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

ASP Job Opening at Catholic University of America

The Columbus School of Law of The Catholic University of America invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Support.  The new Director will begin in August 2008.

The goal of the Academic Excellence Program is to enhance the academic success of all CUA law students while providing specialized and targeted assistance to those students experiencing the most academic difficulty.  The Director of the Academic Excellence Program will coordinate a teaching and learning support program with particular emphasis on 1) providing individualized assistance and programming for students who are underperforming in law school; 2) training and assisting tutors/teaching assistants working with students in first year and upper division courses; 3) collaborating with the staff of the Academic Affairs Office in developing programs or courses geared to assist with bar preparation; and 4) working with faculty to assist them in teaching different types of learners.  The Director will collaborate with other law school personnel concerned with student academic and bar success including doctrinal law faculty, legal writing faculty, clinical faculty, student services professionals and academic administrators.

Required qualifications:  (1) J.D. from an ABA accredited law school; (2) admission to a state bar; (3) at least two years of experience in the academic support field; (4) two years legal work experience in private practice, non-profit organizations, government, or judicial clerkships strongly preferred (5) teaching experience strongly preferred (6) familiarity with literature and methods used in academic support programs; (7) demonstrated legal writing ability.

To apply:  Interested applicants should send a letter of application, resume, and the names and phone numbers of three references to Stacy Brustin, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 20064. 

The Catholic University of America is an equal opportunity employer. 

April 12, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Welcoming New Faces to the Campus

Yesterday was "Admitted Students Day" at Vermont.  I manned the ASP table (so to speak) for several hours and had the opportunity to meet many wonderful (potential) new additions to the VLS community.  One of the wonderful and frustrating parts of manning the table was fielding fantastic questions about what admitted students should do to prepare for the fall. By their parents. 

It was wonderful to see the excitement and enthusiasm of so many future law students; I want to yell "Bottle it now! You will need all this enthusiasm this time next year!"  The world is theirs at the moment, and they should enjoy every minute of it. 

But I wanted to say something similar to the parents, "Bottle it now! Save all this support for this time next year! They will need it much more then!"  I see far too many students in my office this time of year after they have had battles with their parents over grades, learning disabilities, and time with family.   Too many parents insist nothing could be wrong with Bobby or Suzy, and this learning disability stuff is just nonsense-- they just need to study harder. So many of these bright, wonderful students have succeeded in life by masking and/or compensating for learning disabilities that come to the fore during the first year of law school.  Similarly, parents who insist Bobby or Suzy must attend cousin Betty's bridal shower in  Milwaukee become angry when Bobby or Suzy need to stay back in Vermont to prepare for exams.  These bright, wonderful students may have succeeded to this point in their life with little studying or prepping for exams, but it's not the same anymore.  All the enthusiasm and excitement about law school is needed when their children are in the trenches, before final exams, when care packages and understanding are most important.

Parents and loved ones are such a critical part of the success of any law student.  I am thrilled to see parents celebrating their children's success by getting into law school, but we need more of that throughout the law school experience--not just at the beginning and the end.

April 8, 2008 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Annotated Bibliography of Bar Articles

Arturo Torres, Associate Dean of Law Library and Computing, at Texas Tech School of Law and Bryan J. Guymon, a second-year student at Texas Tech School of Law, have compiled a twenty-page annotated bibliography of articles from 1998 to 2007 that deal with the bar exam and admission to the bar.  The article appears in the February 2008 issue of The Bar Examiner (Volume 77, Number 1).

Any ASP professionals who deal with bar exam issues will find this article valuable to their work.  (Amy Jarmon)

April 7, 2008 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Elephant in the Room

It is three weeks away from the end of classes at my law school.  Most students are feeling the pressure right now.  Many students are telling me that they are having the blahs, the blues, bouts of depression, or burdens of inferiority. 

In short, it is time for me to help them regain perspective and become motivated for the final haul.  (Obviously, the ones who need counseling are referred to our Student Wellness Center for additional assistance.)

Here are some ideas that I discuss with each student to help increase motivation and get perspective back. 

  • Remember the Chinese proverb that "You can eat an elephant one bite at a time."  It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of material to learn in each course.  Focusing on an entire course means you are looking at the elephant.  Focusing on pieces of the course means taking the individual bites.  A student gains control by listing the subtopics in a course, estimating the time needed to know each subtopic well, and laying out a study schedule for which subtopics will be done each day.  As each subtopic is crossed off the list, the elephant is gobbled down.
  • Think of exam study as covering two time periods.  The first period includes the weeks remaining in classes when one keeps up with the usual tasks (reading, briefing, outlining each week) and carves out time to study for exams.  The second period includes the actual reading and exam periods.  By front-loading as much exam study as possible into each class week, you feel as though progress is being made toward the ultimate exams.  Then, by planning the reading and exam period for the remaining tasks, you can focus on the final crunch.
  • Have a three-track study system each week for both time periods.  Read each course outline through cover to cover to keep all the material fresh.  Focus on specific subtopics to learn them in depth for the exam.  Finally, do practice questions on subtopics that have already been studied.
  • Remember that you are the same unique, talented, bright, and special person that you were when you came to law school.  If you have lost sight of this fact, it is time to ask a relative, friend, spouse, or other mentor to agree to become your "encourager" for the remaining weeks in the semester.  Either telephone that person when you need a boost or have the person telephone you every day with words of encouragement.
  • Use inspirational quotes, scriptures, or other sayings to motivate yourself.  Whether you keep them in a binder that you read each morning and evening or post them around your apartment, these sources can inspire and encourage you to keep working hard.
  • Visualize yourself making progress on your review for exams and taking the exam with confidence.  An athlete visualizes success regularly before the actual swim meet or the actual pole vault at a new height.
  • Do your best rather than trying to be perfect or an expert in a course.  Law school is about learning to analyze areas of  law that are new every semester.  You cannot become an expert in every course in law school.  You can only ask yourself to do your best each semester.
  • Focus on the positive each day rather than the negative.  By giving yourself credit for what you have accomplished rather than bemoaning what you should have done, you are more likely to move forward in your studying rather than stalling.
  • Set up a reward system to motivate yourself for tasks.  Set small rewards for small tasks (10-minute phone call, walk to the vending machine for a snack, playing 4 games of solitaire).  Set medium rewards for medium tasks (half hour break; playing frisbee with the dog; reading a bedtime story to your child).  Set large rewards for large tasks (dinner with friends; a movie; a long bubble bath).

In addition to discussions of study strategies, I find that I often give "pep talks" during this time of year.  I praise students for what they are doing right in their study efforts.  I encourage students who need to change some strategies to become more efficient and effective.  And, I focus on managing the elephant's parts rather than being overwhelmed by the very large elephant in the room.  (Amy Jarmon) 

April 4, 2008 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Little Earthquakes

I am having a nostalgic week, mainly because I keep getting phone calls from various educational organizations reminding me that I have reunions this year (and the numbers they attach to these phrases are just too large to fathom!). However, reunion season does force you to look at yourself and see just how far you have come from when you graduated. I look back at high school and look at some of the people who attended and graduated with me and realize that they will have longer obituaries than I do (I am a little maudlin that way). One guy I graduated with (who probably has no memory of me whatsoever) is now a fairly famous actor/director and another guy is on television every Monday night-and let me assure you that this was not a performing arts school. One person I knew is now a prominent professor of political science who has written many books.

The likelihood of me achieving these kinds of things is remote. My acting skills are minimal, and so is my time for researching and writing books since I have about fourteen years before my youngest child even applies to college. And, if you knew me, you know that the idea I would be a professional athlete is so far out of the question you would have to laugh out loud, in my face, and I would laugh with you. So, all in all, I think my family will be one of those that ends up paying for my death notice, rather than have some Boston Globe, or even better, a New York Times, reporter write it (that maudlin streak again). There will be no seriously outdated pictures either, and that is fine. 

Don't get me wrong: I am not at all disappointed in the way my life or my career has turned out.  Have I achieved the promised work/life balance that all women of my generation seek?  No, but I have found a comfort zone where I can do most of the things I want to get done reasonably well.  I see my ultimate success in smaller increments.

I see my success when I talk to a student and my advice is helpful, or when a student has done so well they no longer have to see me. I don’t mean to suggest that Academic Support folks are the elves that come out at night and make the shoes; we are certainly not that far behind the scenes. An improved paper, better exam grades, more confidence on multiple choice exams: all of these things are small victories for us and our students. It is even an achievement when I tell a student that law school may not be the place for them, now or ever, because if that is true, it needed to have been said.

Perhaps people underestimate the importance of Academic Support because they fail to understand the theory of gestalt, that is: the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. So while I have not made any headlines, bylines or said many lines in my career, I know that my little earthquakes have shaken more than a few people, and that is just fine. Now, if I could put all that on a t-shirt suitable for evening wear, I would wear it to all those reunions. (ezs)

April 3, 2008 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Excellent Piece on Willpower (Related to Studying for Exams)

From the New York Times, Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Op-Ed Contributors: SANDRA AAMODT  and SAM WANG, 
Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind

"On the other hand, if you need to study for a big exam, it might be smart to let the housecleaning slide to conserve your willpower for the more important job. Similarly, it can be counterproductive to work toward multiple goals at the same time if your willpower cannot cover all the efforts that are required. Concentrating your effort on one or at most a few goals at a time increases the odds of success.
Focusing on success is important because willpower can grow in the long term. Like a muscle, willpower seems to become stronger with use."

(Rebecca Flanagan--I apologize--I keep forgetting to add my name!)

April 2, 2008 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Developing rubrics for students to self-correct practice exams

As the semester winds down and exam prep speeds up, I am working on a rubric for students to self-correct practice exams.  I am developing the rubric for several reasons, the most pressing is time management. I
can't give feedback on practice exams for all the students that schedule time with me, so I need a tool to help them help themselves.  A generic rubric that provides students with a guide to self-correcting exams needs to be broad but specific to law school exams, be easy to use and explicit where students needs help. 

This is my work-in-progress template. I welcome any feedback, comments, or suggestions, as I know many of my fellow ASPer's have developed rubrics in the past. (RCF)


Is there a broad issue statement?










Does it mirror the call of the question?
















Is the rule clearly and explicitly stated?










Is the rule broken into elements?










Are the elements correctly stated?










Is each element discussed sequentially?










Are all the elements discussed?
















Is the element matched to relevant facts?








**Are cases used to compare and contrast facts and   rules/elements?


**if relevant and appropriate for the question






Are all problematic facts discussed? 


 If   no, list
















































Are any arguments dismissed without discussing both sides (pro/con, yes/no,   applies/doesn’t apply)










Are relevant policy concerns discussed?
















Does the analysis conclude?








Is the conclusion consistent with the analysis?












Each idea is in a new paragraph.










Sentences are clear and concise


(no run-on sentences)








Sentences are complete.
































April 1, 2008 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)