Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some tips for upcoming exams

Sometimes it is the little things that are most beneficial during the exam period.  They give you more control over the situation and more confidence.  Here are some tips:

  • Scope out your seating.  If you will not be assigned a specific seat for an exam, decide ahead of time where you want to sit in the room to avoid distractions, have more space, or see the clock better.  Then decide what time you will need to arrive before the exam to snag a seat in that area.
  • Stock up on supplies.  Buy extra pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, gum, tissues, or whatever else you consider essential to your exam-taking system.  If a paper or project is your grade instead of an exam, stock up on paper and ink cartridges.
  • Watch deadlines for exam-taking software.  You may need to sign-up for permission to use a laptop ahead of time.  Or you may have to download the software by a certain date.  If you need a loaner laptop, there will most likely be deadlines for reserving one.  Know what your law school requires.
  • Know Plan B if your laptop has problems during an exam.  Be prepared in case of a crash or other mishap.  Know exactly your law school's procedures for handling such situations.   Do not waste time trying to implement your version of a procedure when a set procedure is already in place.  Make sure you have pens with you in case you need to switch to writing the exam.
  • Condense the entire course to the front and back of a sheet of paper.  Memorize this checklist for a closed-book exam and write it down on scrap paper as soon as the proctor says you may begin.  For an open-book exam, include the checklist at the top of your outline.
  • Beware the open-book exam trap.  You will not have time to look everything up so you need to study thoroughly.  Do not waste time looking up answers that you are fairly sure are correct.  Make sure you know your professor's definition of "open book" because it varies greatly among professors.
  • Take a break for at least 2 hours after an exam is finished if at all possible.  Your brain cells will need a rest.  At least get a good meal before going back to studying.  If you can go for a workout or to the movies in addition, it will relax you.
  • Do not talk about the exam with other students.   Talking about an exam only increases stress.  You will inevitably talk either to someone who saw issues that did not actually exist (and doubt yourself) or will discover that indeed you missed a major issue.  You need to focus on the next exam rather than the one you finished.  Also, there may be students who have not yet taken the exam because of rescheduling, and they may overhear information without your realizing it.

Plan ahead for exam taking.  Do not leave things to chance.  Whatever factors apply to your situation, think through your strategies and needs.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us at the Law School Academic Support Blog would like to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.  May you have a restful holiday and blessings for the remainder of the semester.  Safe travels!

November 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Did you hear what I heard?

Professors are winding down their classes.  Statements are being dropped left and right about what will or will not be on the exam.  Details about the exam format, number of questions, time limits, and other matters are being given out in class.  Tips for exam study are being voiced.  Review sessions are pulling together the course material.

I could talk to eight students in the same class and get totally different answers if I asked about the upcoming exam.  Four of the students might tell me all about the exam - though the specificity may vary.  Two students might tell me contradictory information to what the other four heard the professor say.  And two students might tell me that the professor has not said anything about the exam.  (I am not making up this scenario - it happens every week.  The numbers within the eight might vary, but the reality is the same.) 

It amazes me that as all of the professors' comments to help students succeed on exams occur, so many students miss the content entirely or at least the details.  Some students miss out because they decided now is the time to take any leftover class absences they are allotted - they are not present.  Some students miss out because they are tired of classes and do not focus most class periods - they are comatose.  Some students miss out because they are too busy surfing the net, answering e-mails, or playing Spider Solitaire during class - they are irresponsible.

Now, more than ever, is the time to become an active listener!  Zoning out is a risky choice.  So, go to every class and pay very close attention.  There is gold in them there hills.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 23, 2010 in Exams - Studying, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 22, 2010

When life has bad timing

All law students feel the pressure of upcoming exams.  Final paper or project deadlines are piled on top of that pressure.  Clinic students are trying to get in their final required office hours.  Students with court or mediation observations are getting the total time they need.  In general, there just do not seem to be enough hours in the day.

And then just when a student thinks she can handle no more, life happens.  A computer crashes with all outlines and paper drafts on it.  A spiral notebook of class notes disappears when left behind at a coffeehouse.  A student gets pneumonia.  A best friend dies in a car accident.  Parents announce they are getting a divorce.  A boyfriend decides now would be the perfect time to end a relationship.  The car's transmission gives up the ghost.  A younger sibling gets arrested for drugs.  Dad files for bankruptcy and can no longer pay the student's rent. 

You get the picture.  The list is as varied as the students and their lifestyles.  The permutations are almost endless.  And in some cases, there will be several things happen at the same time or within close proximity of one another.

In each case, the disruption often throws the student into complete disarray.  It may be hours, days, or weeks before the student is back to functioning at full capacity.  Unfortunately, too many students try to handle these crises by themselves without getting help from resources that are available to them. 

Why do they go it alone?  There may be several reasons:

  • Pride.  Most students have always handled things without having to ask for help.  They often assume they can just resolve this situation as well.  They may not want to let anyone know that they cannot handle the current situation by themselves because they see it as a sign of weakness.
  • Embarrassment.  The life incident may be highly personal or show the student's bad judgment.  Students may be too mortified to explain to a dean or faculty member what has happened to them.  They fear that asking for help under their specific circumstances will "put them in a bad light." 
  • Cultural background.  Students may come from backgrounds that require that family business stays within the family.  To share about a divorce, sibling's arrest, a parent's bankruptcy, or other personal matters would be seen as a betrayal of the family's trust.
  • Lack of knowledge.  Students may truly be unaware that there are resources available to them.  They may assume that they have no academic options or that low-cost or no-cost resources are unavailable to them.   

Here are some suggestions for handling a crisis.  Although the procedures, policies, and services will vary from law school to law school, most law schools have resources to help students deal with life's unexpected disruptions.  

  • Assess what is needed as quickly as possible.  Is it going home to be with family?  Is it $500 for car repairs?  Is it IT help to see if anything can be retrieved from a hard-drive?  Is it help from a classmate or tutor/teaching assistant?  Is it someone to talk with about the situation?
  • Let the law school know what is going on.  Talk to the Associate Dean for Academics, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, the Director of Academic Support, or whomever is the designated staff member.  These individuals can explain the options available and make referrals as appropriate.  With more knowledge, a student can regain control and choose the best path for resolution of the crisis.
  • Follow procedures carefully and meet any deadlines.  Every law school has its own procedures for academic options that are available.  Deadlines will vary within each school's procedures and policies.  Your law school may have some or all of the following available to students with documented problems: rescheduling of exams; extending paper deadlines; withdrawing from a course; dropping to an underload; taking an Incomplete grade and finishing work after the semester is over; taking an In Progress grade and repeating the course the next time the course is offered; taking a leave of absence for the next semester.
  • Ask about resources on the main campus of an affiliated university.  Law students have often paid fees that include no-cost or low-cost medical care and counseling at the main university wellness center.  Universities may also have stress management, financial counseling, biofeedback labs, student legal services, ombudsman services, or other resources that can be helpful.
  • Ask about resources in the local community.  Independent law schools will often have referral systems to local health providers or counselors or legal services.  In some cases, the law schools will have negotiated discounted fees or payment plans.  Even where there is an affiliated university, resources in the community will often be well-known by the decanal staff.
  • Ask about short-term emergency loan programs at the law school.  Although the dollar amounts are usually not large, the payment terms are usually reasonable.  Alternatively, depending on timing, financial aid may be re-packaged to provide additional funds for documented medical expenses, purchase of a new laptop, or other emergency needs.
  • Get in touch with the spiritual side of life.  Studies show that those who pray and believe a higher power is involved in their burdens feel less overwhelmed.  Whatever the spiritual orientation, it can be helpful to talk to a spiritual mentor about the problem. 
  • Realize that law school friends need to focus on exams.  The crisis does not have to become everyone else's crisis.  It is often more appropriate to turn to non-law-school friends, family, or professionals for support at the end of the semester.  Law school friends care, but should not be expected to replace doctors, counselors, or other professional advisers.     

Life often intervenes at inconvenient times in law school.  Now is not the ideal time to divert attention from studying.  However, in reality, it happens.  Stay calm.  Get help.  Do the best that can be done under the circumstances.  (Amy Jarmon) 


November 22, 2010 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

10 Stress Busters

Tis' the season for stress.  Consider using the following quick tips to lower stress:

  • Do your hardest or least liked task first.  That way it will not hang over you all day and increase your stress.
  • Break down any task into smaller steps.  It is less stressful to contemplate reading just one case than to approach 35 pages of reading for a course.  After the first case, contemplate just the second case, and so forth.
  • Learn just two or three rules at a time.  Memory will work better when not overloaded.  Your stress will go down as you succeed in remembering smaller amounts of material at one time.
  • Ask for help.  If you hit a wall on understanding a concept, ask a classmate, teaching assistant/tutor, or professor for assistance.  Stress increases dramatically when you stubbornly keep on struggling alone with only frustration as payoff.
  • Mark down all deadlines.  Mark down an artificial deadline two days prior to each real deadline.  Work toward finishing any task by the artificial deadline.  You then can be less stressed as you do a final paper edit, a few more practice questions, or a last review of your outline.
  • List four things you plan to do for fun during semester break.  Read the list often.  You will be less stressed knowing you have things to look forward to once exams are over. 
  • Listen to mellow music.  Find something calming and possibly do some deep-breathing exercises to while you listen. 
  • Go to the cinema.  Sitting in a dark movie theater watching an enjoyable film allows you to get completely away from the law school grind and escape into another existence.
  • Play with a child.  Take your youngest, your favorite niece, or your neighbor's child to the park.  Giggle a lot.  Be silly.  Eat a kid's meal.  Remember what it was like to be that age and have fun.
  • Pet your pooch or cuddle your cat.  Stroking animals is calming.  Animal love can make the world a more enjoyable place.

Manage your stress so that it does not manage you.  The sooner you implement stress busters into your regimen, the more likely you can prevent stress from getting out of hand.  (Amy Jarmon) 

November 20, 2010 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping a positive attitude

Over the 9 years that I have been doing academic support with law students, I have become more and more convinced that a positive attitude is a must for this period in the semester.  When law students begin to focus on the negative and lose their self-esteem, they handicap themselves in their studying.

Consequently, I give a lot of pep talks.  But, I cannot be with them 24 hours a day to keep that positive attitude going.  So, here are some of the things that I suggest they can do to stay focused on the positive:

  • Post positive messages around the apartment.  For one student, these messages might be famous quotes.  For another student, they may be scriptures.  For another, inspirational pictures rather than words may be more helpful.  (Personally, I watch Susan Boyle's first appearance on Britain's Got Talent on You-Tube whenever I want inspiration for beating the odds - talk about a positive attitude when everyone is snickering before you open your mouth to sing!)
  • Ask an encourager to phone or e-mail every day.  A family member or friend whose job is to keep you focused on the positive can be a valuable asset.  Having someone who cares enough to believe in your abilities is priceless.
  • Visualize your own success.  Athletes often visualize themselves succeeding in whatever they are trying to accomplish: a new height for a pole vaulter, a difficult jump for a figure skater, a faster flip turn for a swimmer.  Law students can use visualization to picture themselves walking into an exam, being confident in every question's answer, and completing the exam on time.
  • Remember that people learn differently.  You are the same intelligent, successful person as when you arrived at your law school.  You may learn at a different pace than others.  You may have different learning styles.  Determine how you need to learn and work for understanding rather than measure yourself against what others do.  If they have a technique that will work for you, adopt it.  But do not try to become someone that you are not.
  • Forget about grades.  Grades will not come out until January, and there is no way of knowing now what your grades will be.  Focus on today.  Finish today what needs to be done.  It is the daily accumulation of knowledge that gets the grades.  Focusing now on January grades takes one's eye off the ball.     
  • Avoid people who are toxic.  There are always a few law students who want to make others feel stupid and who play games to panic those who are less confident.  You do not have to agree to be the victim.  Walk away.  Do not listen to their ploys.
  • Study somewhere different than the law school.  Law students often tell me that they feel they have to study non-stop at the law school during the last weeks.  Then they tell me how stressed the law school makes them feel.  My response?  Go somewhere else to study: the main university library, another academic building, the student union meeting rooms, a coffeehouse.   
  • Keep your perspective about law school in the scheme of life.  As bad as your day may seem, it is really a blessing.  Lots of people would love to have the opportunity you have.  Each day millions of people in our world are without food, water, health care, shelter, and education.  Law school is not so difficult in comparison.
  • Up your number of hours of sleep.  If you are well-rested, you will be more likely to stay positive.  Things look much brighter when you have enough sleep.  And you absorb more, retain more, and are more productive.  Get a minimum of 7 hours and try for 8 hours.
  • Add exercise as a break from studying.  Exercise is a valuable stress-buster.  Whether you just walk around your apartment complex, run a mile, or do 25 sit-ups it will help you expend stress.  Instead of skipping exercise, add in at least 1/2 hour three times a week. 
  • List three nice things you did during the day.  Before you go to bed, think of three things you did that were acts of kindness.  It may be holding a door, giving change for the vending machine, or lending your notes to a classmate.  No matter how small, the acts of kindness will make you feel good about yourself.  And before you know it, you will be able to count more times than three when you were a blessing to someone else.

When you are in the thick of law school, it is hard to realize that there are simple ways to get your perspective back.  Practicing even just one or two of these methods can make a difference in your attitude.  And the more of these steps you follow, the more positive you will feel.  (Amy Jarmon)



November 17, 2010 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Returning member to the FAMU Academic Success and Bar Prep Team

Jendayi Saada, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation, at Florida A & M University School of Law recently posted to the ASP listserv that Keith Neyland has re-joined their staff.  We would like to welcome Keith back to ASP.  Please be on the lookout for him at conferences and workshops.  (Amy Jarmon)

Below is an excerpt from Jendayi's listserv posting:

Professor Keith Neyland has a strong background as a labor attorney. He initially came to FAMU as the Coordinator of Academic Success, then crossed over to the Legal Methods Department where he taught various workshops and counseled students with writing issues. We were able to convince Keith to return to his roots as a member of the ASBP team. Given Keith’s enthusiastic desire to work with students in skills development and bar preparation, his choice was not difficult. The ASBP Department and the students at FAMU are indeed fortunate to have Keith as a valuable team member as we continue our mission of increased student performance and ultimately, higher bar passage rates.

November 16, 2010 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Academic Support Opening at UC Irvine

School of Law


Position: Academic Coordinator

The University of California, Irvine, School of Law invites applications for the position of director of academic support; this is an academic appointment. The successful candidate will oversee development of a program to assist students in the transition to law school, to promote their successful completion of the J.D. program and to prepare them to sit for the bar exam. Ideally, the successful candidate would be available to begin in January 2011.

The first new public law school in California in more than 40 years, UCI School of Law opened its doors to its first incoming class in August 2009. The Law School’s innovative curriculum emphasizes hands-on learning, interdisciplinary teaching, research and public service. With our blank canvas and faculty recruited from top-tier law schools around the country, the Law School is uniquely positioned to build an institution that is relevant to law practice and legal scholarship in the 21st century and that pushes the frontiers of the profession. For more information, visit .

The director of academic support reports to the associate dean of academic affairs and will work closely with the associate dean of lawyering skills. The director will develop, implement and manage programs to promote the academic success of students at the law school. The director will work with students individually to improve their writing, study, time management and test-taking skills. The director will also conduct periodic workshops on topics including class preparation, study habits, case briefing, outlining, exam-taking and legal writing. In the area of legal writing, the director will coordinate with the yearlong Lawyering Skills classes for first-year students.

The director will develop resources for and counsel law students who may have difficulty in their classes and/or for whom English is a second language. The director will also serve as an academic adviser to students, helping them to understand the law school’s academic policies, to choose upper-level courses, and to manage the challenging task of balancing personal, academic and professional development. While the Law School has 140 students now, that number is expected to rise to 600.

The law school is a new institution, with approximately 80 students in its first-year class and 60 in its second-year class. As a result, the director will have a rare opportunity to take the lead in design, development, implementation and management of an academic support program that is expected to expand as the student population grows. It is therefore anticipated and desired that the new director will examine, modify and add to existing programs. The successful candidate will be expected to exercise independence and judgment, drawing on past experience and careful analysis of the Law School’s particular needs, in the creation of new programming.

Within the Law School, the director of academic support will work directly with:

members of the faculty teaching the yearlong Lawyering Skills class for first-year students;

the assistant dean of student services;

other members of the faculty teaching doctrinal law classes as needed to develop academic programming for students and/or to modify existing academic offerings to make them more accessible for students who may have difficulty with traditional presentation formats; and

campus resources devoted to issues related to academic support, as needed, including but not limited to the University’s Disability Services Center and the University’s Counseling Center.

The director of academic support will represent the interests of students participating in academic support programs to other members of the faculty and administration of the law school. The director also will represent the Law School at and participates in outside conferences and other events organized for and/or by academic support professionals at other institutions.

The successful candidate must have:

J.D. from an A.B.A.-accredited law school and a record of academic and extracurricular success in law school (and additional degrees in either law or education are a plus);

At least three years of experience in law practice and/or law teaching with a focus on legal writing and analysis, preferably with experience in law school academic support;

Superior written, oral and interpersonal communication skills, ideally including experience preparing and making presentations to law school students;

The ability to think imaginatively and critically about techniques to improve law students’ academic development, and to design, implement and manage innovative programs to promote that development;

The ability to develop techniques to evaluate and measure the efficacy of academic support programs as they are developed, in order to determine those initiatives that are successful and so should be continued and expanded, as well as those initiatives that are unsuccessful and so should be discontinued;

The ability to work collaboratively with a diverse and growing population of students, faculty and administrators;

The ability to juggle multiple competing priorities and meet firm deadlines; and

The ability and initiative to forge partnerships with faculty, staff, and students within and potentially outside the law school, as well as with the Orange County legal community.


Significant teaching and counseling experience at the law school or undergraduate level.

Application Procedure -

To be considered for this position, please send a cover letter, resume and the names and contact information of three references to:

Director of Personnel
Reference: Director of Academic Support Position
University of California, Irvine School of Law
401 E. Peltason, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92697-8000

The University of California, Irvine is an equal opportunity employer committed to excellence through diversity.

November 2, 2010 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Academic Counselor Position at Charlotte Law

Our TypePad editing is having trouble reproducing the following job description/announcement in a consistent format.  However, you will hopefully be able to follow the information.  (Amy Jarmon)


Charlotte School of Law (CharlotteLaw) seeks applications for an experienced Academic Success Counselor.


This is a non-faculty full time administrative position starting in January 2011, at a salary commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The Academic Success Counselor reports directly to the Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success.  The Counselor 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 and growth of the institution.

The school is a member of

 The InfiLaw System

a consortium of independent law schools committed to making legal education more responsive to the realities of new career dynamics. Its mission is to establish student-centered, American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools in underserved markets that graduate students with practice-ready skills, and achieve true diversity programs aimed at student academic and career success.

Primary Duties & Responsibilities:

• Assists in counseling and advising students on academic probation, students "at risk," and any other student, seeking to improve academic performance;
• Assists in preparing and presenting the Academic Success workshops;
• Advises students on various academic issues, including academic probation matters, and the petitioning process to obtain additional probationary semesters;
• Tracks the academic progress of "at risk" students and students on academic probation.  Updates and maintains spreadsheets used for tracking;
• Assists in planning and executing New Student Orientation;
• Assists students in reviewing answers to practice exams;
• Assists in maintaining Academic Success website and TWEN site devoted specifically to Academic Success;
• Participates in Best Practice Meetings for Academic Outcomes;
• Attends meetings as necessary within the law school; and
• Attends seminars and conferences to improve ability to provide appropriate services at the law school.


• Applicant must be a licensed attorney with one to three years of legal experience. 
• 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) is preferred.


Licensed by a State Bar Association

Salary is commensurate with experience. CharlotteLaw offers a


full benefits package. For more information about Charlotte School of Law, please visit


If helping others and working in a dynamic workplace is what you feel passionate about and you are looking for a new challenge and a chance to put your experience to work in an innovative environment – Charlotte School of Law may be the place for you.

Please send a resume, the names of three references (including addresses and phone numbers) to

or via mail to:

Charlotte School of Law

Human Resources
2145 Suttle Avenue
Charlotte, NC, 28208

Charlotte School of Law is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


November 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)