Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Sympathies to Our Colleagues at Northern Illinois

All of us at the Law School Academic Support Blog are saddened by the events at Northern Illinois University yesterday.  We offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers for our colleagues there and the students and families of the Northern Illinois University community.

February 15, 2008 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Opportunity in Atlanta

      Atlanta's John Marshall Law School is expanding its Academic Support Program and seeks to appoint a Director of Academic Support.  The successful candidate will assist in all aspects of the Academic Support Program, helping students to hone their legal skills to enhance their performance in law school, the Bar Exam, and in practice. 

      The Director will design and present a first-year program, which focuses upon developing law school skills, enriching analytical abilities, and creating a supportive learning environment.  The Director will also work individually with students who have either self-referred or been referred to Academic Support by a member of the faculty.  Finally, the Director will also counsel students on study skills, analysis, time-management, bar preparation, and balance. 

      The Academic Support Program enjoys strong support from the law school's students, faculty, and administration.  Candidates must possess a J.D., a strong academic record, solid legal writing skills, and experience demonstrating interest and potential in academic support.  Prior successful teaching experience, particularly in academic support or a related field, is particularly desirable.  Practice experience is also advantageous. 

      Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.  Application review has begun and will continue until the position is filled. Submit a letter of application, resume, and the names of three references to: Dean Richardson Lynn, Atlanta's John Marshall Law School, 1422 West Peachtree Street, N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30309 or rlynn@johnmarshall.edu.

      Atlanta's John Marshall Law School encourages applications from candidates whose background would contribute to the law school's commitment to diversity.  Atlanta's John Marshall Law School is an Equal Opportunity employer.

Dan Weddle

February 15, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Website on Lawyers and Depression

The January 2008 ABA Journal has a short piece on page ten entitled "Struggling against Sadness."  The article talks about a website that was started by Dan Lukasik, managing partner at a Buffalo law firm who struggled with this illness.  The website is updated regularly and includes a number of different resources about depression in general and its relationship to the practice of law.  Check out the website at Lawyers with Depression.  (Amy Jarmon) 

February 14, 2008 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winter in Vermont

Today was my third work-from-home Wednesday in a row, not by choice. It’s the third Wednesday since the start of the new semester I had to rearrange appointments, reschedule class visits, and spend my day bundled in blankets with my computer to keep me warm.

For those of us in the northern climes, it’s been a brutal winter. The snow is removed with construction trucks here in Vermont; plows attached to trucks just won't do it anymore.

The winter takes its toll on students, and it takes its toll on us. The toughest part of the winter has been missing contact time with students, students who need remedial lessons and emotional support. While it’s the snow that causes the delays here in Vermont, delays happen everywhere.  It’s a delicate balance—how do you make up missed time without bombarding students who already feel like they are drowning? How do you keep them interested in remedial lessons when they are falling behind on class work because of weather, illness, crisis?  How do you remember to enjoy the snow day, something that was so easy to do as a kid, instead of fretting about lost time? 

(Rebecca Flanagan)

February 13, 2008 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ASP Job UC Davis

Title:      Director of Academic Support, UC Davis School of Law

Description:  The Director of the School of Law’s Academic Support will assist in all aspects of the law school’s academic support program, which is designed to help students develop the academic skills necessary for success in law school, on the bar exam, and in practice.  The Director will design, implement, and manage an academic support program for law students.  Responsibilities will include teaching academic skills to first year and upper division students (including students on academic probation); training and supervising law student teaching assistants conducting tutorial sessions for first year courses; identifying at risk students in need of academic support; individual and group counseling; creation, management, and implementation of bar programs; and assisting with other academic support-related programs and services.  Responsibilities might include teaching an academic support course. 

Job Qualifications:  Applicants must have a J.D., a strong academic record, bar admission and experience that demonstrates a potential for excellence in academic support.  Knowledge and ability to think imaginatively about the relationship of academic support to legal education; demonstrated ability to work with law students, faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds; solid law school academic record; prior teaching and academic support experience strongly preferred but is not required.  The successful candidate must possess strong interpersonal skills, the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the law school community, and excellent writing, speaking, and organizational skills. 

Opening is for the 2008-2009 academic year.  Full-time position and non-tenure faculty status as lecturer; salary commensurate with experience.

The law school is an equal opportunity employer and has a special interest in enriching its intellectual environment through further diversifying the range of perspectives represented within the faculty.  We welcome all qualified applicants to apply, including women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

Please send resume and cover letter by March 15, 2008 to Ms. Debbie Hicks, UC Davis School of Law, 400 Mrak Hall Drive, Davis, CA 95616; position will remain open until filled.

February 13, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Lessons from Ballroom Dancing

A few months ago, I shared my insights on how learning ballroom dancing is similar to learning law.  After writing that post, I decided to work towards the my long-term dream of competing in ballroom dancing.

I had seven weeks to prepare for my first competition.  In that time, I had to learn three new dances (rhumba, foxtrot, and swing) and perfect those and two other dances (waltz and cha cha).  Here are some of the lessons that I learned and how they relate to our law students.

  • Learning something new can be scary.  There were days when I wondered what I had gotten myself into with my dream.  I was frequently reminded of how I felt as a 1L trying to sort out mysterious courses about which I knew nothing and questioning whether law school had been a good idea. 
  • Learning something new can be frustrating.  I wanted to learn steps more quickly than was humanly possible.  When I got frustrated at my "slow" learning, I had to remind myself that I tell my law students to be patient and take one day at a time.  I tell them that any new skill takes time. 
  • Learning something new can be embarrassing.  I stepped on my instructor's feet.  I looked like a klutz in front of a World Champion dance coach.  I had regular mental blocks in mid-dance.  Through it all, I had to know how to laugh at myself and realize that it was not the end of the world.  I sympathized with our students who are sure that the professor and everyone in class will remember their abysmal class performance for years to come.
  • Learning something new is easier if the instructor understands how I learn.  My dance instructor tries very hard to explain things to me in ways that I can understand.  He combines approaches to match how I learn: talking through steps, listening to my questions, verbal analogies, diagrams, and application as needed.  ASP professionals earnestly try to be cognizant of learning styles.  When our faculty colleagues do the same, more students can have the lightbulbs turn on in their brains.    
  • Learning by tying new information to old information really works.  New steps came more quickly when I could relate the rhumba to similar steps in cha cha, foxtrot to similar moves in waltz, and swing to English jive.  Our students also need to make associations of new learning to old learning or experiences for greater comprehension.  When they try to learn in isolation, they fail to see connections that help them build on learning. 
  • Learning the basics of something is not the same as perfecting that learning.  I realized that I can pick up the patterns and steps fairly quickly.  However, the styling and technique (that make the dances beautiful to watch) take much longer for me.  Our students often pick up the gist of a course pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, some of them do not realize how necessary precise rule statements, deeper understanding for perceptive analysis, and the fine points of fact patterns affect them.
  • Learning can be both exciting and drudgery.  The feelings of accomplishment and improvement over the weeks were inspiring.  I could see how far I had come.  However, doing the same three steps in a pattern hundreds of times to get my foot position or arm position correct was drudgery.  Necessary, but not fun.  Many of our students love the law.  Many of our students do not love law school because of the drudgery that can accompany learning.
  • Learning requires practice for many hours.  I could not just read about the dances, watch videos of ballroom dancing, or have my instructor tell me about the steps.  I had to practice diligently.  I went to hours of lessons.  I practiced steps at home while I balanced a book on my head so that my posture and frame were correct.  I did various exercises to train my muscle memory.  I condensed pages of notes on things to correct for each dance into the essentials to continue to work on right before the competition.  Too many of our law students spend hours reading, listening in class, and memorizing but never practice before they walk into the final exams.  No wonder their hard work has insufficient payoff.
  • No matter how well we do, there is still more hard work ahead of us to get better.  I was delighted to win the third place trophy for the overall competition first time out.  However, I now know what to work on before the next competition.  I have not perfected any of the dances.  And, for years to come, I can improve.  Our students need to realize that they need to perfect their study habits over time.  No matter the initial success there is room for improvement.  Newcomer level versus gold level is something that requires on-going dedication.
  • After all of the hours of hard work, life happens.  I was petrified for the first five heats in the smooth competition in the morning and again for the rhythm competition in the afternoon.  During the other 50 heats, I was fine.  I made mistakes that I had not made for weeks.  I suddenly did a cha cha step during the rhumba.  Hearing my students talk about their test anxiety during finals seems all too familiar now.  When they tell me they blanked or that they could only remember contracts in their torts exam, I have greater empathy.   
  • Ideally, learning never ends.  No matter how competent we may be in some areas of our lives, we shall meet challenges during which we are incompetent at the beginning.  However, competence grows as we open ourselves to learning new things.  We need to make sure that our law students remain open to learning new things and having the courage to be novices.  We need to cheer them on for their successes even when they are focusing on their failures.

Ballroom dancing has been good for me as a learner.  Now I can use my recent experiences to help my law students learn.  (Amy Jarmon)      

February 11, 2008 in Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)