Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, December 21, 2009

Opening one's academic gifts

I saw a quote recently that reminded me of 1L law students learning the law.  The quote said: "We are all gifted; some just haven't opened their gifts yet." 

In this holiday season, it summoned up a mental picture of a stack of academic presents for each 1L student.  Each present in the stack carefully labeled: reading cases, briefing cases, etc.

Within the first month, many law students adapt well to their new learning environment.  They become fairly efficient and effective at a number of new tasks: reading, briefing, outlining, analyzing hypotheticals, writing legal documents.  For most students, their "academic gifts" have been opened and employed for success. 

However, some law students lag behind their classmates in becoming proficient in law school.  ASP professionals are often able to assist those students - if they become known to them.  For a number of the students, it all comes together later in that first semester.  

For some, grades will show that it never came together.  Second-semester 1L's who are still struggling - whether or not they are actually on probation - will likely need ASP help to get their gifts opened.  One-on-one assessment of their problem areas and educational plans to assist them will benefit. 

I often find that students who have had trouble missed some basic "how to" information that others caught on to: rules, issue spotting, relevant facts, policy, terms of art, analysis with IRAC.  Many also had deficits in basic skills such as time management, stress management, and organization.  

It may be that they had other outside exigencies that delayed opening their academic gifts: medical, personal, financial.  If those aspects have not been resolved during the semester break, then referrals may be required in addition to any academic skills work.

The hardest students to work with in my estimation are those who do not want to do the hard work that it takes to "open their academic gifts."  If students are not willing to engage in the process and implement strategies that will allow them to succeed, my hands are tied.  It will not matter what I, or others, do to assist them.  Ultimately, they will possibly fail or at least not live up to their academic potential.  (Amy Jarmon)

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