Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, July 31, 2009

Welcome Valerie Nation to ASP

Valerie accepted the position of Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.   

Her education includes a Juris Doctor with honors received from the Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law in May 2008, and two undergraduate degrees (magna cum laude) in Criminal Justice and Professional and Technical Writing received from the Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock in December 2003.

Valerie's professional experience includes 16 years in the legal field, including 15 years as a paralegal and 1 year as an attorney primarily in the area of commercial litigation, bankruptcy, collection, and employment discrimination. I have been heavily involved in alumni activities and recruitment at Bowen. 

Let's welcome Valerie to our ASP community! (RCF)

July 31, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Job: Assistant Director for Academic Assistance and Student Counseling

Assistant Director for Academic Assistance and Student Counseling  

Job Title: Assistant Director
Department:  Academic Assistance and Student Counseling
Reports To: Assistant Dean of Academic Assistance and Student Counseling 
FLSA Status: Exempt

SUMMARY
Responsibility for academic counseling and directing academic, wellness, and service programs of the law school.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following. Other duties may be assigned.

Assists the Assistant Dean with formulating, developing, and implementing student policies.

Provides academic counseling to students and lay counseling to students on personal issues impacting their academic performance.

Plans and conducts academic, wellness, and community outreach programs for students and the law school.

Coordinates all aspects of the Academic Assistance Program including: Langdell Scholar Program, Academic Success Program, Study Skills Program, and Individual Counseling Program.

Implements the Langdell Scholar Program including: the hiring, training, and supervising of qualified scholars; designing and overseeing the registration process for student participants, addressing issues presented by student participants, and overseeing the retention and reporting of program data.

Responsible for annual analysis and summary of major programming areas.

Monitoring of student workers and contract employees.

Advises student organizations within the department's purview.

Assists the Assistant Dean with accommodating students with disabilities and monitoring misconduct cases to insure the disciplinary process is completed in conformity to college policies.

Other duties as assigned.

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITIES
One(1) staff employee

QUALIFICATIONS To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The person must have a poised and professional image; strong interpersonal skills with the ability to interact effectively and efficiently with all visitors and students while projecting a positive image for the department and college. Strong accordance with the mission of higher education; Must be computer literate with proficiency in MS Word and Excel; HTML experience preferred; ability to learn new software programs as necessary. Must be highly organized. Must be and able to work in a fast paced environment with ability to multi-task while maintaining a high level of accuracy. Must be professional and confidential with all departmental data and correspondence. Must be able to interact effectively with students, faculty,and all other constituencies. Must have ability to meet deadlines. Ability to communicate and work with diverse individuals and interests. Good self starter with ability to work with little supervision and with a team. Flexible to the needs of the department and it's constituents. Professional demeanor.

EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE
Master's degree in higher education, counseling, education, or a law degree is required. One to three years of experience performing the essential duties is required.

MATHEMATICAL SKILLS
Ability to perform basic math essentials

LANGUAGE SKILLS
Must possess outstanding customer service attitude and have excellent communication skills, both oral and written. Ability to read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals, and technical procedures.

REASONING ABILITY
Ability to define routine problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions to solve routine problems and/or deal with a variety of variables in situations, especially when department head may be out of office or unavailable. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form.

CERTIFICATES, LICENSES, REGISTRATIONS

N\A

PHYSICAL DEMANDS The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit and talk or hear. The employee is regularly required to stand and walk. Occasional light to moderate lifting from floor level, at waist, and above shoulders required. Infrequent bending and stooping necessary. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision in order to accurately input data and proofread; distance vision in order to recognize and assist visitors to the department.

WORK ENVIRONMENT The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Fast paced, multi-tasking, non-smoking work environment. Must be able to work the general business schedule of the College (9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) plus occasional evenings and weekends to attend functions as necessary. (Per semester: up to approximately 6 Saturdays for 3 hours each)

July 22, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Job: Director of Academic Success at U Cincinnati College of Law

DIRECTOR OF ACADEMIC SUCCESS

 

The University of Cincinnati College of Law invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Success.  The successful candidate will have primary responsibility for assisting students in developing skills to reach their full academic potential for performance in law school and on the bar exam.  The Director will:

 

manage the academic success program including the design and implementation of strategies to assist all students, particularly high risk students in academic difficulty.

  provide individual tutoring and counseling as well as lead group study sessions and teach workshops.

 administer and teach first-year and upper-level classes and workshops for students in need of academic support. 

 design and implement strategies to assist students with preparation for the bar examination such as bar preparation workshops, a bar preparation course for students in the final year of law school, among other programs.

 

Applicants must have a J.D. and a state bar admission, a strong academic record, and a background demonstrating a potential for excellence in academic support.  Prior program management, teaching, and/or academic support experience is desirable, but not required.

 

The position offers a competitive salary and an excellent benefits package.  To apply, go to www.jobsatuc.com and apply to position number 29UC4508.  Minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply.

July 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Passion alone instead of plus legal reasoning and precedent

I have just finished the first week of our Summer Entry Program.  During the week, we discussed legal reasoning, legal authorities, analogies, adroit use of policy, judicial conservatism, and much more.  At one point, we discussed that a lawyer may be passionate about a client's case but that well-reasoned argument would be essential for a court to decide in favor of that client.

The next day, I read a pertinent posting elsewhere (but in a senior moment, I cannot now find it to give a "hat tip" since the place that I was sure was the source was not, and the original e-mail is gone).  The posting gave the following You Tube clip of a passionate attorney's unsuccessful argument: How not to argue your case.

My students had mixed reactions.  Some looked pained as they listened to the attorney's voice filled with fervor while he made an inadequate argument.  Some thought it was funny because the attorney was so obviously out of his depth and the court was so obviously exasperated.  Others took in the lesson without comments.  (Amy Jarmon)   

July 17, 2009 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Careers in Academic Support/Success

I want to take this time during the summer when I have relatively few ASP student-related updates to tackle another subject: getting a job in academic support/success. I have received a number of emails over the last 2 years asking for advice and support looking for ASP jobs. Here is some general advice:

1) Every job and every school is different. the title Director of Academic Support/Success is very broad, and each school has their own idea about what they want when they post an Academic Success/Support position. 

2) Make sure you tailor your job search to the skills you bring to the table. Not all ASP jobs require the same skills or experience. If you have experience working with clients in a one-on-one setting, you are a better fit with an ASP position that requires one-on-one tutorials with students than a job that requires extensive classroom teaching.  If you have experience teaching classes, don't assume you are going to be a fit with an ASP position that focuses solely on one-on-one counseling. 

3) The salary is...variable. In my limited experience and knowledge, the starting salary for a non-tenure track, administrative appointment with either limited or no ASP experience ranges from 40-80k (I am including assistant directors, who start at a lower range, along with directors, who start at a higher point. I am not including people with "dean" in their title, or those who get faculty status). Locale makes a huge difference in salary.  The type of experience (undergraduate teaching? paralegal/community college teaching? private practice?) makes a difference in salary. The expectations for the position make a difference in the salary (year-round? 9-month appt? teaching responsibilities? first-year, first-year and bar prep, or just bar prep? outcome measures?).  An experienced ASP Director can command a much higher salary, but you need 5-10 years experience in ASP to be over six figures (exceptions are in very large, very expensive urban locations where the cost of living is several times higher than the average).  Don't assume schools have a lot of room to negotiate salary; one problem I have come across in both hiring an assistant director and negotiating my own salary is the lack of wiggle room in law school budgets.  If you are coming from private practice, don't assume that a law school operates like a private business; they can't just find the money even if they think you are ideal for the job.  If they tell you they want to start you at 45k, don't assume they can move to 60k--most of the time, they just can't.

4) Moving from practice to academia is hard. Moving from practice to ASP is even harder without a background in education or counseling. If you want to be in academia, do not assume that ASP will be the way to get your foot in the door. Academic Support requires its own skill set that differs from the skill set necessary to succeed in the traditional legal academy position.  Most ASP jobs are not about producing voluminous numbers of journal articles, but you are spending long hours with emotional distraught students, students in crisis, and students suffering from a range of physical and mental ailments.

5) Your grades in law school are unlikely to help you land a job, and high grades may make it difficult to understand your students. There are many brilliant, exceptionally talented and successful ASP professionals who did outstanding in law school, graduated with honors and earned Order of the Coif.  However, if law school came easy to you, you need to ask yourself how you are going to relate to students who find law school academics impenetrable.  You need to be able to break down law school skills into elemental components; if legal reasoning "just makes sense" to you, you may struggle breaking down "how you get there" to students. Law school grades are not irrelevant, but unlike other jobs in the legal academy, they are not a major factor in hiring.  I have found this to be true even when position postings state that grades are important. 

6) If you found your way here, you know this is where to look for jobs. ASP jobs are plentiful for those with experience, and very hard to come by if you are new to the field. It is worthwhile to check out The Chronicle of Higher Education and the AALS job bank. Check the Legal Writing Blog.  I know of people who had to look for more than 4 years to get a position in ASP.  Geographic flexibility is critically important; you should expect to find it very difficult to find a position if you have a narrow geographic range.

7) The burn-out rate in ASP is high, so there does tend to be a significant degree of turnover in the field. If you are coming from private practice, it would be dangerous to assume ASP is a job on Easy Street.  Many find the demands of the job overwhelming and emotionally draining.  It is not unusual for people who came to ASP from private practice to leave within 5 years.  In an interview, ask about the turnover rate in for the position, and be careful if the only person/people to stay in the job for more than a couple of years is an alum.  Some schools expect their ASP department to perform miracles, to be remedial tutors to students who can't handle the law school curriculum, change the mind of students who don't want to be in law school, fix inadequate doctrinal teaching to raise their bar pass rate, bring angry faculty members on board to your program, and help change the teaching methods of professors who are not beloved by students.  Administrators have been known to toss responsibilities onto the ASP department, while giving the director little or no support.  In sum, don't assume it will be easy, and make sure you are asking questions.

I love academic support. But I love it because I came into the field with my eyes open.  I have been blessed by working at some amazing schools where I was treated exceptionally well by the people I have worked with.  I know some schools do not treat everyone as well, and there are horror stories. 

Once you find an ASP job, go to the conferences, befriend those who are new as well, and find mentors!

(RCF)

July 16, 2009 in Job Descriptions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Using Lyrics to Remember the Law, Part 2

After Amy's post, I received a link to a wonderful website created by my colleague at UConn, Prof. Mark deAngelis. He and his daughter have been re-writing and recording classics songs, replacing the original lyrics with lyrics about the law. I think you will find it creative and entertaining, as well as educational.

http://blawprof.googlepages.com/lawlessongs(lawlessonsinsong)

Have fun! (RCF)

July 14, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Using lyrics to remember the law

In case you missed a recent post on Stephanie West Allen's blog "idealawg" about a law student who used song lyrics to remember 1L topics, I have included the link here: Song Lyrics by a 1L for Memory.  (Amy Jarmon)  

July 12, 2009 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Important article for our students

Please check out Aspiring Lawyer Finds Debt Bigger Hurdle than Bar Exam. I think it is critical we counsel students on the ramifications of law school debt during orientation. Those of us who do bar support work will find this lands on our doorstep.  (RCF)

Finding Debt a Bigger Hurdle Than Bar Exam
Published: July 2, 2009
Robert Bowman, an aspiring lawyer, was refused entry to the New York bar because of $400,000 in student debt.

July 10, 2009 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Welcome to new ASP professionals

Rebecca and I loved meeting many of you who are new to ASP at the LSAC workshop in St. Louis.  My enthusiasm level always skyrockets after being around you! 

During the summer and early fall, we try to introduce folks who are new to ASP through Blog postings.  That way colleagues who were not at LSAC or did not have a chance to meet you will know that you have joined us.

If you have started working in ASP recently (roughly April or later), please send us the following information for us to welcome you with a blog posting:

  • Your name, title, law school, and start date.
  • A paragraph about your background (J.D. or other degrees, work experience, etc.).
  • A picture or link to a picture that we may use with our posting.

We hope that you will become regular readers of this Blog.  Let us know if we can be of assistance as you settle in to your new positions.  (Amy Jarmon)

July 9, 2009 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reminder: Public Service Loan Forgiveness start(ed) July 1

For all of us in ASP (at a state university or 501c(3) non-profit) still paying off our student loans, consolidation to be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness program started July 1, 2009.  Check out Equal Justice Works for more details, but the gist of it is that many people in lower-paying public interest or public service jobs can reduce their loan payments and be eligible to have their (public) loan debt forgiven after 10 years/120 qualifying payments.  The devil is in the fine print of the program; read carefully!

As of July 1, Federal Direct Loans did not have the Income-Based Repayment option available if you consolidated online, but you could change plans once the option was up and running. It is critical to consolidate your loans with the Federal Direct program, or your payments will NOT count towards the Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Pass on this information to your students. Many of our students suffer from disillusionment and depression because they wanted to be attorneys working in public service positions, but realize they can not pay off their law school loans making public service wages. These students can benefit greatly from this program.  This will give them the opportunity to pursue their dream, make payments towards their loans, and eat more than Raman noodles and mac-and-cheese. (RCF)

Other helpful links:

http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DirectLoan/index.html

https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/SaFaq.do

http://www.pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp

July 7, 2009 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Top 10 tips for success in law school

Whether someone is just starting out as a 1L student or getting ready to enter 2L or 3L year, the following tips can help with both academic and personal success.  These are my top 10 tips out of several hundred that could be given.

  • Have a restful summer.  Law school is hard work.  To get consistently high grades, law students need to work 50-55 hours a week outside of class.  It pays off to have a blissful and restful summer.  In addition to any work hours or class hours, have some fun.  Get lots of sleep.  Enjoy life.  Do at least some things that have nothing to do with law.  (And, if you are an entering 1L, do all things that have nothing to do with law.)
  • Learn how to manage your time well.  Many law students become stressed and overwhelmed because they do not take control over their time from day one of classes.  Flying by the seat of one's pants worked well for most students prior to law school.  It is the road to self-destruction and mediocre grades in law school.  Set up time blocks on a weekly schedule for completing all tasks regularly: reading for each course, reviewing the material again before class, reviewing class notes within 24 hours to fill in gaps and condense, outlining weekly, reviewing outlines, doing practice problems, working on papers or other assignments.  
  • Stop wasting time; that is, stop procrastinating.  Law students tend to waste enormous amounts of time if they do not have structured time management schedules.  Some of the big time wasters are interruptions from e-mails, instant messages, text messages, and phone calls.  Other time wasters are naps, errands, video games, TV shows, surfing the Web, and visiting in the student lounge.  Use these distractions as rewards after getting your work done rather than as time wasters to avoid work.
  • Use memory to advantage.  Unlike undergraduate school, the courses that one takes in law school need to be remembered because of the bar exam and legal practice.  Cramming does not reinforce memory because the information never gets into your long-term memory "filing cabinet" and disappears once you regurgitate the information on a final exam.  Law school courses have an overwhelming amount of material that needs to be applied on exams and not just memorized.  Because we forget 80% of what we learn in 2 weeks if we do not review it constantly, review every week of the semester is the key to good grades on exams and retaining information for later use.  It is easier to regain use of information for the bar exam (and practice) if one learned it well to begin with and merely has to "brush up" rather than re-learn.
  • Become efficient.  Efficiency is about making the best use of one's time.  Law students who constantly monitor how they are learning and hone their skills to be more efficient will excel.  Active learning techniques help one to become more efficient because one is using study time to learn rather than merely "do time" over cases or outlines.
  • Become effective.  Effectiveness is about getting the best results out of one's studying.  Law students who constantly monitor what they are learning and hone their skills to be more effective will excel.  Using learning styles to advantage will help one to become more effective.   
  • Take responsibility for your own learning.  In law school, you will not be spoonfed by your professors.  They will expect you to read in-depth, to review material, to ask questions if you have them, and to practice application of material on your own. 
  • Monitor your own learning.  Always as yourself questions to determine how well you understand the material.  Always evaluate your study habits to see what is working and what is not.  Then determine the changes you have to make.  Professors, tutors, and the academic support staff can all assist you in becoming a better student.
  • Undertake some pro bono or volunteer activities.  Whether you help with local legal clinics, build a house with Habitat for Humanity, or walk dogs at the local animal shelter, you want to get active helping others.  Why?  First of all, it helps you to remember how fortunate you are instead of becoming depressed by all the work in law school.  Second, it helps you become a better lawyer because you gain empathy for others and a routine of service to others.  Third, it helps you feel more connected to your law school's community which is most likely not your own home town.
  • Take good care of yourself.  Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.  Eat balanced meals rather than junk food.  Exercise several times a week.  Laugh every day.  Give yourself rewards for a job well done.  Law students often defeat themselves by getting liittle sleep, eating poorly, never exercising, and constantly focusing on the negative.

It is possible to do well in law school AND have time for oneself.  However, law students often fall into extremes - playing too much, sleeping too little, waiting until too late to do the work.  And, when they get in trouble, they often refuse to ask for help.  Do yourself a big favor and get help when you need it.  (Amy Jarmon) 

July 6, 2009 in Advice, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Goals and Happiness

And another study backs up what Larry Krieger and Ken Sheldon have been telling us in the ASP community for years...extrinsic goals make people more anxious, and intrinsic goals make people more happy. Of course, the study is far more complex than my simplification here, but it's interesting that more research is coming out showing that money, fame, and good looks are not the keys to happiness...they are keys to the hedonic treadmill.  Unfortunately, these are the reasons many people come to law school. And then we see unhappiness and anxiety.

For more on the study, click here  The Keys to Happiness

(RCF)

July 1, 2009 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)