Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do they teach writing in college? Should they?

Okay, seems like a simple proposition. It has a significant impact on us, especially those in ASP and Legal Writing, that deal with writing everyday. I have yet to attend a conference where someone, either at lunch, or in a formal program, decries student's inability to write. Their inability to write is often conflated with an inability to be logical or formulate a coherent analysis of an issue.  To me, that is a different, albeit equally challenging, problem. Another problem that is conflated with the inability to write is the idea that this is a part of a generational war; "back in the day, when I was a student..." everyone was a great writer on and so forth.  Maybe, maybe not. Do students lack the ability to write? My completely anecdotal, unscientific polling would suggest that yes, most of us believe many of our students don't know how to write when they get to law school, and it's not a skill we should have to teach while teaching doctrinal material. (I believe Legal Writing is doctrinal and skills-based, and I am framing the argument from that perspective). 

There is an argument that writing, or composition, in it's purest form, is not taught in college. At the undergrad level, writing is taught in "writing-intensive" courses that focus on content, not style, grammar, or clarity.

Stanley Fish from the New York Times (and a fellow law professor) wrote a wonderful piece on the problem of writing instruction at the college level. The piece discusses other problems of a political nature, but it provides a thought-provoking argument about the lack of writing instruction at the undergraduate level. Should we, as part of the legal academy, make certain writing skills, or composition, classes a requirement for admission to law school? Should we be a part of this discussion? If we complain enough and feel this brings down the level of our instruction, do we have a duty to insist that students come to law school knowing basic composition? I admit, I never had a composition class in college--I tested out of them--and I feel my writing reflects my lack of instruction in the area. I don't have any answers to these questions, just lots of thoughts. (RCF)

August 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Job at CharlotteLaw

Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success (CPAS)

The Charlotte School of Law invites applicants for the position of Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success (“CPAS”). This is a non-faculty full-time administrative position starting August 1, 2009, at a salary commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The CPAS Director reports directly to the Associate Dean of Student Services and the Associate Dean of Academics.  The director will work with students seeking to improve academic performance or experiencing academic difficulty.  The Counselor performs other academic support functions essential to promoting students’ success in law school and to the success growth and of the institution. 

Duties & Responsibilities:

·         Hiring, training, and supervising CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success (CPAS) staff and managing the general operations of the CPAS program including the budget, short and long-term goals and strategies, coordination of offerings within the program and with departments within the law school

·         Designing and implementing strategies to assist all students, particularly high risk students, students in academic difficulty, and those for whom English is a second language

·         Establishing and monitoring department metrics

·         In collaboration with InfiLaw Consortium Best Practice Groups, assessing the effectiveness of the existing CPAS program and recommending improvements

·         In collaboration with other members of the administration, evaluating and creating reports on statistical data regarding students’ academic performance, utilizing entrance data and bar passage results

·         Providing individual tutoring and counseling as well as leading group study sessions and Teaching Assistant training workshops

  • ·         Collaborate with the CharlotteLaw Director of Teaching Excellence
  • ·         Assist and facilitate the bar exam preparation program and bar-exam related events
  • ·         Designing and implementing the academic component of the orientation programs


  • Required Qualifications:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Director must be a licensed attorney with one to three years of legal experience.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have at least two years prior academic support experience (either professional or as part of a graduate or law school program) or teaching experience (i.e., legal writing or comparable teaching experience in writing and analytical skills training).
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Possess the ability to think creatively and critically about the goals of academic support in legal education and to design and present programs to meet those goals.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Possess the ability to counsel, advise and instruct individual students from diverse backgrounds. 
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Possess a genuine interest in and ability to work closely with faculty, staff and students to enhance program effectiveness is required.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A solid academic record.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Director must possess a minimum of 2 years relevant experience with an existing law school’s academic support program.


Licensed by a State Bar Association.


Salary is dependent on qualifications.  Full benefits package. 

For more information about Charlotte School of Law, please visit

 Application Deadline: Monday, September 7, 2009.

To Apply:

Please send a letter of interest, a resume, and the names of three current professional references (including addresses and phone numbers) to or via mail to: 

Charlotte School of Law--Human Resources

2145 Suttle Ave

Charlotte, NC 28208

Charlotte School of Law is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Inquiries welcome from qualified candidates.

August 26, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Personal reflections on a new year, new classes

My last couple of posts have been about starting the school year from a more objective perspective.  I always add my anecdotes as examples, but I haven't said much about how I feel about the start of the school year.

Excited, and terrified. I will admit it; the start of a new semester scares me. I know it's a "good" scared. I am trying something new. In the past four years, there has been only one semester where I did not do something new, different, and out-of-my-comfort zone. I always come home from the summer conferences with a million ideas, and a precious few make it into a new syllabus, a new course, or a new approach to reaching students. 

At the start of every semester, I am sure, in my heart, that whatever I am doing differently is not going to work.  I reassure everyone around me, and then get into a blind panic during the two weeks before the semester begins. I am not sure my blind panic is much different than the panic new ASPer's feel right now. Although I prepare all summer, I am certain I did not prepare enough. It doesn't matter that the brilliant Kris Franklin has reassured me that over-preparation is not the best plan for great classroom learning. It doesn't matter that the brilliant Paula Manning has told me that the sharp learning curve when teaching a new class means I will be one class ahead of the students. I am scared, and I get snappish at the people around me.

I would love to say the first class always allays my fears and goes beautifully. Sometimes that happens, but sometimes my fear gets in the way, and the first class is a clunker. But my worst first-day experience (worse than a clunker; it just bombed) teaching a new class also happened to be the best class I ever taught.  It was brand-new material, at a new school, teaching a class that was new to the school.  Five of the fifteen students assigned to the class showed up on the first day. Someone was checking his cell-phone throughout class.  But then it started to jell. By the end of the semester, I had twenty-seven students; twelve had added the class after the second week based on the word-of-mouth of students who came the second week. It was a great mix of personalities.  I trusted my class and shared my anxieties about teaching, and I let the class become student-directed. They told me what they needed, and I responded with lessons that met their needs.  They trusted that my #1 priority was a class where they learned, where their needs were met, and where they could feel safe to make mistakes. In other words, it just had magic. 

So yes, right now I am in a blind panic of preparation and writing, re-writing, and re-working material I have been looking at all summer. It's not the same panic my students feel right now.  I do trust that we will be in this together. My classes will be a safe place to make mistakes and to take intellectual risks. I will be taking risks right along with my students, but doing my very best for them, for the next thirteen weeks. I don't have success without them. (RCF)

August 25, 2009 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)