Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, March 20, 2009

Motivating Students When the Weather Turns Sunny

For those of us from climates that have suffered through a long winter, spring is finally making an appearance.  With the arrival of spring, also comes the arrival of spring fever and the urge to take advantage of the warmth and the sun. This comes at an unfortunate time in the law school calendar; now is the time when students really need to buckle down and complete their outlines, take practice exams every week, and ramp up time with study groups.  So how do you motivate students ot stay focused on law school when the outdoors are beckoning? Here are a few tips from someone who suffers from spring fever the same time grades are due:

1) You can study outdoors.  Slather on the SPF, grab a blanket, and read while the sun is shining.
2) Use active time as a way to review.  Go for a walk with a Sum and Substance CD/MP3 or walk with your study partners and make up hypos as go. Exercise and studying do not need to be mutually exclusive; in fact, the science indicates they go well together.
3) Remember, in most places that suffer brutal winters, it will only get more beautiful as exams approach. If you waste time now, it means you will be holed up and anxiety-ridden during exams, when you need to rest and rejuvenation of nature to perform at your best.  You got to law school because you know the benefits of delayed gratification. Exercise some now, benefit later. 


March 20, 2009 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Suggestions for starting an ASP Resource Center

This is a cross-post that also went out to the ASP listserv. However, I think this information would also be helpful to schools without an ASP professional, but would like to set up an ASP resource center in the library, within Legal Writing, or independently.

Credit for this goes to Louis Schultz of New England Law School, who started the listserv thread, and then compiled the responses in one document.

Responses to inquiry re: academic support resource center


Resources for understanding particular subjects

*          Understanding series (Lexis)

*          Examples and Explanations (Aspen)

*          Emanuel (some responders were disinclined to recommend this source to students)

*          Gilberts (some responders were disinclined to recommend this source to students)

*          Crunchtime (“they have more visual parts - flowcharts and such for the visual learners”). 

*          The “Acing” series (Acing Civ Pro, Acing Evidence, Acing the Bar Exam, etc.) 

*          Bar/Bri books (sometimes donated by students).

Resources for understanding law school, law exams, or legal analysis

*          Fischl & Paul, Getting to Maybe

*          Michael Hunter Schwartz, Expert Learning for Law Students

*          Ruth Ann McKinney, Reading Like a Lawyer

*          Herb Ramy, Succeedinn Law School

*          Carolyn J. Nygren,  Starting Off Right In  Law School (CAP)

*          West Publishing Co. “Introduction to Law Study” and “Law Examinations in a Nutshell.”  Responder recommends 1971 edition.

*          Foundation Press: “Academic Legal Writing.”

*          Thompson/West:  “Scholarly Writing for Law Students.”

*          Leif Carter, Reason in Law

*          Ruta K. Stropus & Charlotte D. Taylor, Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School

*          Nathan L. Essex , A Teachers’ Pocket Guide to Law School


Practice Questions.

*          Siegel’s Series (essays and some multiple choice)

*          Q & A (multiple choice)

*          Exam Pro (West Group) (Civ Pro and Property apparently are popular)

*          Kaplan/ PMBR Finals Series

Bar Exam Resources

*          Bar exam questions, printed from state bar examiner websites.

*          NCBE Multistate Bar Exam practice questions. 

*          Denise Riebe & Michael Hunter Schwartz, Pass The Bar!

*          100 Days to the Bar


 *          Law in a Flash (flash cards) (Emanuel)

 Audio Sources

 *          Kaplan's PMBR 1L and 2L Complete Success Package audio MP3 set (it was free)

*          First year program by Gilberts. 

*          The Sum & Substance series (CDs – very popular)

*          Law School  Legends Series (CDs)

Virtual Resources

             *          Brooklyn law school on-line workshop materials

*          St. Louis U academic success online tips. 


March 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 16, 2009

The long and short of it on breaks

Breaks are an essential part of the learning process. One that is frequently overlooked by law students and law professors alike. We need both long breaks and short breaks to function at our best.

I just came back from a one week break; limited email, limited phone, and limited contact with my office.  I started with conflicted feelings; what if something goes wrong in my absence? What if a student is in crisis?  The what-if's could have overwhelmed me. However, I knew this break was essential.  It has been an incredibly busy and challenging semester, and I am about to embark on a major job change in just over a week.  I recognized the break was necessary to recover and prepare myself. 

Breaks are not something that comes naturally to overachievers who go to or work at a law school.  We got where we are because we fast-track our entire lives. Many of our students have been programmed since birth to work hard and rewards will come.  We feel that if we rest, we will fall behind. But the science is increasingly coming to the opposite conclusion; our brains do not work on high at all times. We have a limited supply of what is called directed attention. Directed attention is what we need to work, to study, and to focus. We recharge our directed attention with breaks, both long and short.  A recent study found that girls with ADHD did significantly better in school when they were allowed recess nature walks.  Nature has been found to be a particularly effective way to recharge our directed attention. 

We also need emotional breathing space; long breaks are essential for us to appreciate what we have and what we need to accomplish.  It is very difficult to fix a large life problem while we are in the middle of it. We need the breathing space to remove ourselves from the situation and recharge, to find a new way of looking at our life.  For students, they need a break from the grind of school work. If they are questioning their choice to be a law student, they need a break--removed from outside pressures--to evaluate whether this is really the right life choice for them.

We all need breaks.  Now is the time to find a space in your life for both short and long breaks. (RCF)

I will be joining the University of Connecticut on March 27, 2009. While I will be competing the semester with VLS, I will be spending two days a week at my new position. I believe my new email address will be (UCONN IT is still working on this).  I will be working with both undergraduates at the main campus and law students in my new job. This is an exciting, but busy, time for me. If I don't post as regularly, or respond to emails as quickly, please know that I will be doing my best to split myself until May 1.  Thank you for those who wrote me earlier in the semester to ask  where I am going; we just announced the change to VLS students last Wednesday, and I wanted them to hear the news before I announced my departure to colleagues. Rebecca

March 16, 2009 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)