Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Working down the pipeline: P-20 educational efforts

One of the fun tasks that I have at Texas Tech is being the team leader for our partnership with the Law and Justice Magnet Program at Estacado High School, a predominately minority high school here in Lubbock.  The high school students are 9th through 12th graders who are interested in law enforcement or law careers.  Their LJMP instructor is ex-law enforcement and a wonderful teacher named Lucio Trevino.

We began the partnership because of our commitment to increasing diversity in the legal profession.  In addition, we hope to keep students in school, encourage a college-going culture, and teach good citizenship. 

Typically, we have included the following activities and resources in the partnership mix: 

  • The Seniors attend mini-classes at the law school on criminal law in the fall and civil law in the spring.  Several Legal Practice professors have generously allowed us to modify their 1L memo packets for the high school students.  Law librarians teach library and research skills during each series while Mr. Trevino and I focus on the fact pattern and cases with the students.
  • The sophomores and juniors are invited to a short non-residential summer camp that focuses on criminal law.  We again use a modified 1L memo packet as the class materials.  Students participate in presentation of arguments at the end of the camp.
  • Law students help coach the LJMP mock trial team.  The team begins practice in October and competes in February in a regional competition.   
  • Library materials are donated to the high school after they are withdrawn from the collections.  The main law library provides advance copies of the reporters.  My OASP library provides study aid materials.
  • Invitations are extended to LJMP for various events at the law school.  For example, the students are VIP guests for the Sandra Day O'Connor Distinguished Lecture Series.  They get a group photograph with the visiting U.S. Supreme Court Justice and a certificate.

This year we began an exciting program in which 7 of our upper-division law students are Dean's Community Teaching Fellows (DCTFs) helping Mr. Trevino in the classroom.  The program has been a wonderful success. 

The students love having law students in the classroom.  The law students get to share their legal knowledge and present lessons.  The mock trial team is basking in the extra attention.  Mr. Trevino is delighted to have the extra help in the classroom.  Some of the DCTFs are ex-public school teachers who missed the classroom and are excited to be back. 

The DCTFs have the option of signing up for Independent Study Credit.  As part of that course credit, I have been reading their required journals.  Their enthusiasm is obvious in their entries.  As the first DCTFs, their comments are vital to the growth of the program. 

Although pipeline efforts add to an ASPer's already at-capacity load, the rewards for working with P-12 students are worth the extra time.  I encourage any ASP professionals who have a heart for diversity and  public education to get involved.  There is a national law school group called "Wingspread" that deals with P-20 issues.  If you want more information, just contact me.  (Amy Jarmon)  


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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Beware perfectionism in law school

I know lots of law students who are perfectionists.  In all prior learning experiences, they have been able to cope with this characteristic because the workload was not mammoth and the competition for grades was usually moderate. 

If you think about it, American society pushes bright students to be perfect.  We get into college by getting A grades.  We get into law school by getting A grades.  And, we are expected to get those grades while juggling lots of leadership positions and organization/team memberships.  In fact, we are encouraged also to get jobs on top.

Having to be perfect, however, is very stressful.  Why?  Because it is impossible.  No matter the prior accolades, there is always the lurking worry that one might not be perfect the next time.  One can never relax as a perfectionist.  Perfectionists tend to be unforgiving of their non-perfection: 95 is a failure; a missed response in class is an embarrassment of mammoth proportions; wrinkled jeans are shameful.

Some perfectionists have trouble beginning projects because of possible failure.  If one will not be able to write the perfect paper within the time period or with the instructions given, then why even begin?  And, if one delays, then an explanation for "failure" could be that one could have written the perfect paper if there had been more time.

Some perfectionists have trouble finishing projects.  It is hard for them to read and brief efficiently (because every detail must be understood before moving to the next case), finish their research and move on to writing (because there may be one more case out there somewhere), or finalize a paper (because it needs one more rewrite to be perfect).  If a perfectionist is also a very high-scoring sensing (detail) learner, the perfectionism may be exacerbated by that learning preference.   

The stress of being perfect is often accompanied by physical or emotional difficulties.  Stomach problems, headaches, insomnia, irritability, and depression are just a few examples.  The toll on self can be devastating. 

Perfectionists may also create tension in their work or family environments because of their expectations.  In a sense, the focus is on what is wrong rather than what is right.  A perfectionist may make an irritated remark to a group member who turned in the project with one typo.  A minor error by a professor becomes a major crisis resulting in unforgiving criticism of that person.  The apartment must be spotless at all times, and roommates beware of any transgressions.

Perfectionists can moderate the characteristic.  Here are some suggestions:

  • reorient expectations from being perfect to doing the best one can do each day
  • become aware of what situations trigger perfectionism and decide on strategies to moderate one's behaviors in those situations 
  • set realistic time limits for projects and work within those time limits
  • make realistic daily "to do" lists and keep long-term "to do" items on a monthly list to be transferred when appropriate to the daily list 
  • avoid being consumed by one task (perhaps a memo) to the exclusion of other necessary tasks
  • spread work out over the semester to lower stress and allow longer periods for studying for exams or completing an assignment
  • focus on feedback to improve a grade rather than focusing on the "failure" of meeting one's expectation for a better grade
  • do not place unrealistic expectations or criticism on others because of your own perfectionism
  • practice forgiveness for yourself and others when "perfect" is not achieved. 

For those whose perfectionism is deeply entrenched and cannot be conquered with vigilance, consider working with a counselor at your campus counseling center.  You will not be the only one who has sought help for the problem!  Conquering perfectionism in law school will not only make you a happier law student; it will make you a happier practitioner as well.  (Amy Jarmon)      

November 6, 2009 in Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Assistant Director Position at Touro

Assistant Director Position at Touro Law Center

Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center seeks applicants for a position as an Assistant Director of Academic Development.  This position assists the Director of Academic Development in all aspects of Touro’s Academic Development programs including: recruiting, training, and supervising teaching assistants; working with students on an individual basis; coordinating and providing skills training workshops; developing appropriate student learning materials; coordinating and teaching in Touro’s bar-preparation programs; and implementing new services relevant to enhancing our law students’ academic experience.  This position is a 10-month position and reports to the Director of Academic Development.  Specific duties and responsibilities include:


Primary responsibility for the administrative duties associated with the 1L Teaching Assistant ("TA") Program with shared monitoring and training responsibilities; the administrative tasks include: identifying and selecting TAs, scheduling TA sessions, monitoring TA and student attendance, reviewing weekly TA status reports, and maintaining and disseminating TA materials.


Providing individual counseling and tutoring for students with regard to study habits, skills, time management, outlining, exam preparation, etc.;


Teaching a section of Touro’s bar preparation seminar course;

             In conjunction with the Director of Academic Development, share in the creation, maintenance, and distribution of teaching materials which includes the further development and maintenance of the ASP website; and

             One-on-one tutoring in Touro’s summer bar prep program (separate summer stipend for summer tutoring).


Applicants must possess a J.D. degree with a record of high academic achievement from an ABA-accredited law school for this full-time position.  The ideal candidate should possess excellent writing, speaking, and organizational skills as well as a commitment to academic support.  A teaching background is preferred but not required.  Experience in academic support, whether at the college or law school level, is preferred.  Evening and some weekend work is required.  Salary is $60,00 and includes benefits.  Research stipends will also be available for articles to be written that are relevant to academic development.  Please submit a letter of interest, resume, and writing sample by December 1, 2009 to:

Professor Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus

Director of Academic Development

Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

225 Eastview Drive

Central Islip, NY 11722

No phone calls please. 


November 6, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)