Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, February 26, 2010

Do you have the spring semester blahs?

Our part of Texas has had an abnormal winter.  In my 6 years here, I do not remember so much bitter cold, sleet, and snow.  I have had to use my snow shovel more than I ever remember.  (At least I own one compliments of years in Ohio and Central Virginia.)  Every time it gets nice (like yesterday at 70 degrees), the weather switches again.  The cold front is moving in and "rain or wintry mix" is predicted.

Those of you in typical snow country have been snowed under more than usual.  Those of you who have not seen snow in at least a decade have seen snow also.  As if the weather were not bad enough, students and staff are at home with flu, colds, and other ailments.

Even during better winters, students always seem to have the blahs during January, February, and the beginning of March.  After all, there isn't any of the excitement that accompanies fall semester with its "new start" and optimism.  Spring semester is more of the same.  Add shorter daylight.  Add 1L professors moving more quickly through harder material than in the fall semester.  Add 3L students who no longer care and just count the days.  Add the stress of too many student organization responsibilities.  Add the stress of a less than stellar job market.

It is no wonder that students have a lack of motivation.  Exam period is getting closer.  But, Spring Break does not seem close enough.  Here are some hints for staying focused despite rampant blahs:

  • Take one day at a time.  Groaning that the break is too distant or that exams are coming up focuses somewhere outside today's realm of possibility.  You can control what happens today.  
  • Large tasks often encourage lethargy.  Break the task into small pieces.  Forty pages of Payment Systems reading becomes eight blocks of five pages.  A trial brief becomes a list of small research, writing, and editing tasks.
  • Add more rewards into your schedule for staying on task.  By having something to look forward to, you can convince yourself it is okay to work.  Choose rewards with meaning for you personally (a bubble bath, a 1/2-hour sitcom, a longer lunch) and match them to the difficulty of the task (bigger rewards for bigger accomplishments).
  • Find an accountability partner.  Keep each other on track by asking one another if the tasks for the day were accomplished.  If you have to "report in" to someone else, you are more likely to stop procrastinating.
  • Avoid those people who turn grouchy with winter.  Some folks are like hibernating bears awakened too early and really angry about it.  They can color your view of life.  Everyone is allowed to groan a bit, but it gets old fast if it is endless.
  • Get some exercise.  It doesn't have to be skiing or ice hockey.  If you hate the cold, bundle up and go to a warm swimming pool or indoor running circuit.  It is easy to let the weather make us all sedentary lumps.

Students usually brighten up once daylight starts to get longer and hints of spring turn into the real thing.  The trick is staying focused until that happens.  (Amy Jarmon)   


February 26, 2010 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for proposals for AALS joint program 2011



A Joint Program of the Sections on Balance in Legal Education and Academic Support

Co-Sponsored by the Section on Student Services

Theme:  “Beyond Humanizing:  Can – and Should – Law Schools Strive to Graduate Happy Students?”

Students often enter law school with goals of helping others, improving peoples’ lives, and making the world a better place.  By the time they graduate, however, other considerations have supplanted students’ pro-social inclinations.  Their aspirations succumb to more extrinsic values, such as prestige and money, and are often faced with the realities of time pressure and the dehumanizing effects of legal education.  Despite the prestige associated with being an attorney, the profession is not ranked in the top ten for job satisfaction or happiness.  In fact, one recent study revealed that a majority of practitioners would not recommend law to a young person.

Three AALS Sections, Balance in Legal Education, Academic Support, and Student Services will be hosting a program in which we explore the causes of lawyer distress, the role legal education plays in producing unhappy law students and lawyers, and the concrete steps law schools are currently taking or could take to combat those causes.  The Program Committees invite proposals that provide concrete demonstrations of ways doctrinal, clinical, legal writing, and academic support professors and student services professionals are addressing these concerns.

The Program Committees will give preference to presentations designed to actively engage the workshop audience, so proposals should contain a detailed explanation of both the substance of the presentation and the interactive methods to be employed.  In addition, we would like to highlight talent across a spectrum of law schools and will look for variety in presentations and presenters.  Based on participant numbers for the last several years, we anticipate over 150 people will be attending the program.  To assist the presenters in the interactive piece, the program committee members and other volunteers will be on hand to act as facilitators with audience members.

Proposals must be one page and include the following information:

1.  A title for your presentation.

2.  A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.

3.  A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or outcomes.

4.  The amount of time allocated for your presentation and for the interactive exercise. No single presenter should exceed 45 minutes in total time allowed.  Presentations as short as 15 minutes will be welcomed.

5.  If warranted, a detailed description of how the presentation will be interactive.

6.  Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employ other technology.

7.  Your school affiliation, title, courses taught and contact information (include email address and telephone number).

Optional and on a separate page:  A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, national or regional conferences, or other academic conferences.  (The committees are interested in this information because we wish to select and showcase seasoned, as well as fresh, talent.)  Any articles or books that you have published describing the technique(s) you will be demonstrating.


Send proposals by March 15, 2010 via email (preferably in a Word Document) to Prof. Emily Randon, University of California, Davis School of Law, at  Phone number:  530-752-3434.

Questions?:  If you have questions, feel free to contact Emily Randon, Program Chair for the Academic Support Section, Andrew Faltin, Program Chair for the Balance Section, at or Catherine Glaze, Student Services Section at

February 26, 2010 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Student Services Position at Touro Law School


Assistant Dean for Student Services

Job Description

 Touro Law Center seeks an Assistant Dean for Student Services to be responsible for virtually all matters involving student life at the law school.  The Assistant Dean reports to the Dean of the Law Center and works closely with all other administrators to ensure that Touro law students experience a supportive, inclusive, and successful legal education. 


 Student Advising & Counseling:  Be available to students seeking counsel and advice on issues including, but not limited to, disability, mental health, family/personal, stress, career and professional development, course selections and other academic issues.  In addition to scheduled appointments, the Assistant Dean is expected to maintain availability for “walk-in” appointments to answer questions, solve problems address student concerns.  Working closely with the other Associate and Assistant Deans and the Registrar, the candidate should help to identify students with academic concerns. Because Touro Law Center has day and evening sessions, the incumbent will be expected to be available to both day and evening students.  Some evening and weekend hours should be expected.

Exam Administration:  Coordinate all aspects of Touro Law Center midterm and final examination administration, including the scheduling of proctors, arranging for accommodations for students with disabilities and exam conflicts and enforcing important exam-related student deadlines.

Student Organizations & Activities:  Supervise and work with the Director of Student Services who is the administrative liaison for all law student organizations, including the Student Bar Association. 

 Minority Recruitment & Retention:  In consultation with the Dean and the Admissions Office, develop and implement a plan for increasing diversity in the law school community and fostering an inclusive, supportive atmosphere.  Facilitate the planning of multicultural events for the law school community. 

Awards & Scholarships:  Collect and disseminate certain types of scholarship and fellowship information and other monetary opportunities for students (i.e., essay contests).

Organize and supervise first year orientation.

 Supervise honors programs – special enrichment programs for outstanding students.


Assist in implementation of web-based student services delivery systems. Monitor Office of Student Services social media outlets (i.e. blog, Facebook account, Twitter account.)

Coordinate with the Academic Associate Dean about class scheduling and implementation of academic policies.

Enforce academic discipline (probation and dismissal) in coordination with the Associate Dean and the academic support faculty and other administrators.


 J.D. degree and 5 years of post J.D. experience.  A counseling background and/or experience in higher education administration would be beneficial.

 Demonstrated ability to work with widely diverse groups of people.

Ability to work collaboratively with other units; an ability to work well with, inform, and motivate staff, prospective and current students, faculty, alumni, and admissions, financial aid and other student services professionals.

 Excellent written and oral communication skills, and strong computer skills.

 Good judgment and the ability to make decisions quickly and fairly.

 Demonstrated managerial and organizational skills.

 Ability and willingness to travel.

 A review of applications will begin March 23, 2010. Starting date July 1, 2010.

 To apply:  Mail a resume and cover letter, including salary requirements, to: 


Assistant Dean Brett Gilbert

            Chair of Assistant Dean Search Committee

            Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

            225 Eastview Drive

            Central Islip, NY 11722

February 19, 2010 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Director of Academic Support and Bar--Southwestern Law

Director of Academic Support and Bar Exam Related Programming

Southwestern Law School

Southwestern Law School invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Support and Bar Exam Related Programming, with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2010.  This is a full-time administrative position.

The Director’s primary responsibility will be to work with students (both J.D. and LL.M. students) to help them adjust to the academic demands of law school and to develop skills to reach their full academic potential for performance in law school, on the bar exam, and after graduation.  Responsibilities include: designing and implementing innovative academic support programs; teaching workshops and/or classes for students who need academic support; working with students in individual and small group sessions; designing and assisting with the law school’s bar exam preparation classes, workshops, and events.  The ideal candidate will be an energetic and knowledgeable professional exhibiting a high degree of organizational skills, sensitivity and integrity.  Candidates must be willing to work some evenings, so as to be able to design programs and provide support for students in the school’s part-time evening program. 

Applicants should have a J.D., a solid academic record, strong organizational and interpersonal skills, the ability to work collaboratively with faculty and senior administration, and excellent writing and speaking skills. Experience in a law school academic support program or other relevant teaching experience is preferred. Salary will be commensurate with experience. 

Founded in 1911, Southwestern is located in the heart of Los Angeles with a campus of award-winning facilities, including a world-renowned Art Deco landmark.  Southwestern is fully approved by the ABA and is a member of the AALS.  It is the only law school to offer four J.D. courses of study that differ in scheduling and instructional approach, including traditional full- and part-time programs, as well as a unique two-year alternative curriculum. The school is proud of its long-standing emphasis on diversity, public service, and innovative programs.  More information about Southwestern may be found at

Applications should be sent by email to Austen Parrish, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at   Please attach a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, and a list references.  Southwestern is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. Southwestern is an EEO/Affirmative Action Employer. Applications from women and minorities are encouraged.

February 17, 2010 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 15, 2010

How should they spend Spring Break?

This is a question that comes up every year. It is not raised by every student. It tends to be an issue for the outliers, the super-high achievers afraid of losing their edge by taking any time away from studying and the bottom quintile, afraid that they will flunk out of law school.  There is no one answer that fits all students. But it is a great way to open up a conversation with students on what they should be doing during the entire semester, and how to accomplish their goals without making themselves crazy. Issues I raise with students:

1) What does your studying look like right now? What have you been doing up to now? Where are your outlines? If you have not started them, why not? Do you tend to put off studying or outlining until you "have the time"? When that "time" comes, do you really start studying, or do you procrastinate? Were your outlines done before reading week in the fall? Are you planning on cramming all your outlines into spring break? Do you think you will be exhausted if you try to complete everything in such a short period of time? (Explain how they should be ready to take exams when they come back from spring break, and this means mental readiness as well as academic readiness).

2) How do you feel right now? About yourself? About law school? About family?

3) How are you handling the pressure/stress? Do you feel exhilarated, or are you drained? If you feel drained, do you think more studying will help you feel better by exam time? Do you feel drained because studying/outlining has been hanging over your head? Or do you feel drained because you have given so much of yourself to law school that you don't feel like you have anything left? If you feel exhilarated, are you thriving by devoting yourself to law school?

4) What is your study style? Do you like to get things done in the nick of time, or do you like a steady pace? If you like a steady pace but are behind right now, did events cause you to fall behind? Or are you too exhausted to get everything done? If you are a nick-of-time person, did this serve you well in the fall? (Explain the differences between studying/cramming for undergrad exams and studying for law school exams.)

5) If you have a significant other, what are their plans for spring break? Your friends? Do you feel pressure to go somewhere when you would prefer to do something else (like study)? How did you handle peer pressure in the past? Why does this peer pressure feel different from peer pressure in the past?

Again, this is a student-by-student conversation and the advice differs every time I have the conversation. I don't necessarily tell all procrastinators to get studying, or tell all turtles (steady studiers) to take a break.  What matters more is they why; why do they feel this way? Asking questions often leads students to their own answer, and puts them back in control of their life. (RCF)

February 15, 2010 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Please Fill Out The Survey!

A request from Emily Randon at UC-Davis. If you haven't taken the survey, please do!

We are in the process of collecting data to determine the use of and need for a Law of Agency Casebook to be used in law school academic support courses. Generally, and for the purposes of the course, the Law of Agency focuses and expands on concepts of agency in Torts, Contracts and Property. Many law schools offer courses to assist struggling students with reading, analyzing and study skills. Current studies indicate that combining a substantive law course with skill building is one of the most effective ways to assist these students. Many law schools are looking for a substantive law course “vehicle” in which to teach skills.

With that in mind, I am hoping you will please fill out this quick (really quick!) survey, by clicking here: and respond to questions related to Academic Support courses at your law school.  PLEASE FILL THIS OUT EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO SUCH COURSE OR ARE NOT CONTEMPLATING ONE.


Thank you in advance for your help!  If possible, please respond by Monday, February 15th.


February 9, 2010 in Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Different Schools, Different ASP

We accept that different schools have different characteristics, different personalities, different cultures and histories. This is an important thing to consider when designing or re-designing your ASP program. One-size-does-NOT-fit-all in ASP; ASP, to be successful, must meet the needs of a unique student body, but also reflect the culture of the school. That is not to say that there are not best practices in ASP (subject of a different post), but it does mean that a program that might be stellar at one school can be lackluster (or harmful) at another.

1) What is the culture of the school? Competitive? Community-oriented?

My experience is that the more competitive the school, the more invisible ASP should be to the general student body. This sounds counter-intuitive to many, but there is significant experience behind this opinion. At highly competitive schools, the students who most need academic help will avoid anything that makes them look weak. Because these students feel weak, they will walk to the other side of the building to avoid being seen near the place where people get help with problems. However, students in the top of the class looking for any extra edge will seek out ASP and monopolize resources.  This upside-down appeal exacerbates problems rather than helping students in need. The best ASP at highly competitive schools is still ASP, but it looks like something else. These schools do best with a class-based program, where students meet on a regular basis, but the class looks like any other class at the school, not a class for people who are struggling.  The ASP Director should NOT be called an ASP Director; they should have a position and a title that is similar to other academics at the school. ASP classes at these schools should be intensive skills courses, preferably hybrid doctrinal-ASP; students want to know their time is being well-spent doing something about their grades.  Students are identified for ASP by a professors, administrators, using student-disclosed information; the more concrete the referrel, the better.

Community-oriented schools will miss significant numbers of students if they adopt this model. At schools that appeal to students with a less-competitive, community-minded approach to legal education, students are more likely to reliably self-identify. ASP looks less academic, more administrative, and has a hybrid student-services approach. ASP is not shameful, because it is a resource for all students, and going to ASP is less stigmatizing for students in distress. ASP can be a drop-in center with regular hours for students to ask questions, check out extra resources, and come in for help. 

There are in-between models for schools that mix and match elements of either model. I don't believe that any one model is ideal; all models should reflect student needs and practices. The problem is when a school adopts a program because it has been shown to be effective at a school completely unlike their own. This can happen for any number of reasons.Before you plan an ASP program, it's best to know the population you will be working with.

I realize that I am going to get flak about the vagueness of the terms "highly competitive" and "community oriented."  To quote Justice Potter Stewart..."I shall not today attempt further to define [what] I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . "

2) What are the student needs? Do you have an evening program? A large number of non-traditional students?

Non-traditional students will have non-traditional ASP needs. A class-based system for non-traditional, part-time, or evening students is not feasible during their first year. Every hour outside of work and classes is occupied with another high-priority committment, like family. Resources and help need to be available to these students. A robust website with PowerPoints, self-help guides, and referrel information is important, so they students can get information on their own schedule. Working with professors of doctrinal classes is also helpful; even if ASP is integrated a few hours a semester through doctrinal courses, it will help students in need. No one is stigmatized, and no one feels left out, because everyone is getting the same material.  Caveat: For the ASPer's own health and well-being, they can not be available to both day and evening students for all their needs.

3) What is history of the school with ASP? Have they ever had a program? Why didn't it work?

Some faculty and schools with reticence towards ASP have just had the wrong model ASP at their school. ASP can look ineffective and costly if it does not reflect the culture, history, and needs of the students and the school.  But when ASP fits a school, it hits a sweet spot; students in need receive help to achieve their potential, no one is labeled or stigmatized, it builds goodwill with students which can aid in alumni development, and faculty get better exams because students have a better idea of what is expected of them.  (RCF)

February 8, 2010 in Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Call for proposals for AALS Teaching Methods Section for 2011



On behalf of the 2011 Program Committee for the AALS Section on Teaching Methods, we invite you to submit proposals for the 2011 Section Program.  The 2011 AALS Annual Meeting will be held January 4-8, 2011, in San Francisco, CA.  

AALS President H. Reese Hansen has chosen to focus the 2011 Annual Meeting on the Core Values of the Association as reflected in Section 6-1 of the AALS Bylaws.  The Value most directly relating to Teaching Methods is:

iii. a rigorous academic program built upon strong teaching in the context of a dynamic curriculum that is both broad and deep.

The Program Committee encourages proposals that stem from and build upon this value. We encourage and prefer topics that appeal to a wide audience at the AALS conference.  The Committee welcomes both individual proposals and proposals for panel presentations. 

The Program Committee will give preference to presentations designed to engage the program audience, so proposals should contain a detailed explanation of both the substance of the presentation and the interactive methods to be employed. In addition, we would like to highlight talent across a spectrum of law schools and will look for variety in presentations and presenters.

Proposals must include the following information:

1. A title for your presentation.

2. A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.

3. A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or outcomes.

4. The amount of time allocated for your presentation and for the interactive exercise. No single presenter should exceed 45 minutes in total time allowed. Presentations as short as 15 minutes are acceptable.

5. A detailed description of the presentation style (e.g. single speaker, panelists, teaching simulation, etc.).

6. Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employ other technology.

7. A brief biography of the individuals involved in the presentation including school affiliation, title, courses taught, and contact information (include email address and telephone number), and past conference presentations.

8. A brief bibliography of materials relevant to your program topic.

9. Optional: a video of the presenter(s) making the type of presentation envisioned.[1]  This can be done through an electronic file or by posting on an online site (e.g. your website or YouTube).

If your program is accepted, the Program Committee will work with you to maximize the potential of your program.

The deadline for proposals is February 22, 2010.  We anticipate finalizing the selection process by mid March 2010.  Please submit your proposal by email to Kristin Gerdy (

[1] While a video is not required, some preference may be given to presenters who provide evidence of their ability to connect with an audience etc.  In lieu of a video, evaluations from previous conference presentations could be submitted.

February 3, 2010 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Call for proposals for Institute for Law Teaching and Learning conference

Summer Conference of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning
“Teaching Law Practice Across the Curriculum”
June 16-18, 2010; Topeka, Kansas
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops on techniques for teaching law practice across the law school curriculum.    The Institute’s summer conference provides a forum for dedicated teachers to share with colleagues innovative ideas and effective methods for modern legal education. 
The Institute invites proposals for 75-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme, “Teaching Law Practice Across the Curriculum.”  The workshops can address teaching and learning in first-year courses, upper-level courses, clinical courses, writing courses, and academic support.  The workshops can deal with innovative materials, alternative teaching methods, ways to enhance student learning, formative feedback to students, evaluation of student performance, etc.  Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses.  Presenters should not read papers, but should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the participants.  The co-directors would be glad to work with anyone who would like advice in designing their presentations to be interactive.
To be considered for the conference, proposals must be limited to one page, single-spaced, and include the following:
•        The title of the workshop;
•        The name, address, phone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
•        A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods.
The Institute must receive proposals by February 19, 2010.
Submit proposals via email to Professor Michael Hunter Schwartz, Co-Director, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning at
The conference is self-supporting.  The conference fee for participants is $450, which includes materials and meals during the conference (two breakfasts, two lunches, and one dinner).  The conference fee for presenters is $200.  Pleasant and reasonable accommodations are available near Washburn University School of Law, the site of the conference.  Presenters and participants must cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.
The conference workshops will take place on June 17 and 18.
Interested participants can take part in an optional Teaching Lab on June 16, in which they work on an aspect of their teaching working in small teams with a teacher-coach.  Depending on participant interest, possible teaching topics for the lab may include reviewing and discussing videotapes of participants’ teaching, designing one or more class session(s) to achieve particular goals, creating simulations, planning a course, creating opportunities for practice and feedback without killing yourself, or finding ways to bring real life into law teaching.
For more information, please contact:
Gerry Hess                                                               Michael Hunter Schwartz
ILTL Co-Director                                                     ILTL Co-Director                                 
(509) 313-3779                                                      (785) 670-1666

February 1, 2010 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)