Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, February 28, 2011

Movement to help you learn

Kinesthetic learners are those who learn and focus through movement.  Movement can be actual movement or "white noise" movement.  Each kinesthetic learner will have a selection of movement strategies that will match that student's own needs.  Consequently, one kinesthetic learner may choose different techniques than another kinesthetic learner.

What are some of the movement techinques that are part of the repetoire for various kinesthetic learners?  Here are just a few:

  • Movements to help focus in class: jiggling a foot, twirling a strand of hair, playing with a pen, typing, doodling, shifting in the chair.
  • Movements to help memorization: pacing during flashcard use, studying one's outline while on the treadmill, listening to an audio CD while washing and waxing one's car, talking with one's hands and pacing while learning a presentation.
  • Movements to regain focus: taking short breaks at least every 90 minutes, getting up and walking around for those 10-minute breaks, standing up while reading, moving to a different location, interspersing marathon study group sessions with breaks, volunteering to be the flashcard quiz-master for the study group when focus is flagging.
  • Movements for comfort: spreading out everything on a big library table rather than a small carrel, picking an aisle seat rather than being cramped in the middle of a row,  

Can kinesthetic learners have too much movement?  Yes!  Here are some things to consider:

  • Kinesthetic learners often become distracted more easily, so be careful to avoid anything that increases your distraction level.
  • Also make sure that your movements do not distract other students in their learning.
  • Make sure that taking a break is necessary  and not just an excuse to waste time (for example, you are unable to regain focus by asking questions while you read).
  • Make sure that the 10-minute break to walk around does not turn into an hour in the student lounge.
  • Make sure using your laptop does not become distracting for you - do not email, IM, surf the net, or play solitaire instead of focusing on class or studies.
  • Make sure that you pick a study location that is not distracting: avoid being where everyone will walk by or will stop and talk to you, avoid classroom back rows near doors that border noisy halls, avoid sitting near windows that will tempt you to watch what is going on outside.

What about white noise to help with focus?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn on a fan, dishwasher, air conditioner, or washing machine to mask noise outside your apartment.
  • Listen to instrumental music to drown out competing noises. 
  • Study in a coffee shop or restaurant where the murmur of voices and spoons on coffee cups can provide some background noise - but avoid traffic areas or use ear plugs.

Some kinesthetic learners have damped down the movements that actually help them learn and need to regain movement.  Why?  They had parents and teachers who were not kinesthetics tell them to stop fidgeting and stop taking breaks.  Consequently, they gave up movement for someone else's idea of "proper" studying.  (Amy Jarmon)    

February 28, 2011 in Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Educational Bookends

Two teaching techniques are known as the educational bookends: previews and summaries.  The idea is that you present a preview of the material ("Let me preview adverse possession for you.  We will be studying the topic for the next 2 weeks."), teach the material, and the summarize the material ("Let's pull together what we have learned about adverse possession over the last 2 weeks.").

Global learners (who need a road map of the topic before they can understand the sub-topics within the topic) will appreciate the preview step.  It helps them to understand how to fit the parts into the whole as the material is covered.  They will feel that they know what the "road trip" will be about and can enjoy the journey.

Sequential learners (who need to first understand each sub-topic before they can think about the overview) will appreciate the summary step.  It helps them to know where they have been and how the parts fit into the whole now that they understand the material in its segments. 

In short, each type of learner gets to the same destination in a different way.  By providing both a preview and a summary, the teacher starts or ends the journey appropriately for each type of learner.

The trick as a professor is to remember to do both steps and not just the one that matches your own style of learning!  (Amy Jarmon)

February 26, 2011 in Learning Styles, Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Part-time Adjunct Positions with NYLS Academic Skills

The NYLS Academic Skills program is looking for one or more experienced adjunct faculty members to teach Principles of Legal Analysis ("PLA"), a 3-credit required course in legal reasoning for beginning law students who are underperforming academically. The course provides frequent and rigorous feedback on weekly writing projects, and uses a variety of teaching methods to help students articulate the building blocks of legal thinking. 

The most successful candidates will have demonstrated ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in students’ written work, insight to diagnose difficulties students may be experiencing, and a desire to work individually with each student to develop a plan for improvement.

Adjunct faculty may be needed for both day and evening sections of PLA.  The course meets twice each week. Consideration of applications will begin immediately, and will continue until the positions are filled. Applicants should send a statement of interest and resume by email to Kris Franklin at or by hard copy to:

Kris Franklin

Professor of Law and Director of Academic Skills

New York Law School

185 West Broadway

New York, NY 10013



February 25, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Great Website That Helps Us Keep Students Interested

A colleague of mine at UConn, Professor Mark DeAngelis, has created a great website on teaching legal studies to undergraduates. I think the website is useful to ASPer's who have a role in teaching undergraduates (a number of us do this, and our numbers are growing) as well as doctrinal professors looking to provide examples to give life to cases.

I would have LOVED to have seen a photograph of the note in Lucy v. Zehmer when I was reading the case in law school. Evidence would have been more relevant if I had the opportunity to see some ghastly examples of depositions gone wrong. The songs in here are great, and a lot of fun. (RCF) (Blog) (YouTube)

February 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bar Applications: Deadlines, Disclosures, and Determinations

Even though I teach a two credit class to 3Ls for early bar preparation, as Director of the Bar Studies Program at Seattle U, I also need to make sure that students unable (or unwilling) to take my class get the same important information regarding the bar exam before they graduate.  Therefore, I provide several workshops during spring semester introducing them to the bar exam and the bar application process.

As weknow, the bar exam application process is time consuming and can pose significant challenges for some students.  However, without our prodding, some students do not realize this until the eleventh hour.  In light of the AALS  presentation “Character and Fitness: To Disclose or Not to Disclose, That is the Question” and the ensuing discussion regarding our role as academic support professionals and the counseling we give to students, it seems necessary for all schools to adopt a similar workshop revolving exclusively around the bar application process. 

While meeting with every 3L to discuss their bar application is nearly impossible, holding a short workshop for all 3Ls is easily doable and accomplishes the same goal.  Providing accurate information regarding the application process and deadlines and conveying the importance of full disclosure, serve several objectives.  Students will be more apt to meet the application deadlines (and not line up outside your office the day they are due), feel supported by their law school during this somewhat tedious process (a good way to end their law school career), and to understand that professional ethics is not just a class they took their second or third year of law school (instead they are standards by which they will be called to live by…starting now).  Above all, students in attendance with additional questions or past indiscretions will know whether to schedule a one on one appointment to discuss their application further.

Essentially, the best advice we can give our students is to be open and honest when completing their bar application.  During the AALS presentation, Margaret Fuller Corneille, Director of the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners, stated that successful applicants are candid, show no malice when mistakes are made on their law school/bar exam applications, accept responsibility for their past conduct, and show that they have made positive social contributions.  Bar Associations act at as “Gate Keepers” to the legal profession.  In this capacity, they are determining whether an applicant has the ability to handle the responsibilities of being a lawyer.  Instilling the notion that candor on their applications reflects on their present moral character is crucial.

Our role as educators in this process is significant.  However, this role may vary depending on how you define your purpose and what your institution determines to be their responsibility.  Questions presented by Susan Saab Fortney, Interim Dean and Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law, at the AALS presentation are good starting points as you (and your institution) consider how to characterize this role.  I have paraphrased some of Professor Fortney’s thoughtful questions below.  

  • Are we partners with the bar associations when it comes to character and fitness            determinations?
  • Should law schools be “Gate Keepers” to the profession? 
  • Should we be concerned with our law school’s reputation regarding the character and fitness of our students?
  • Should law schools take the “ostrich approach” with the character and fitness issues of their students?

While all valid and though provoking, some of us may have differing opinions as to whether we should squarely align ourselves with the bar associations or whether our main goal is to be a “gate keeper” to the profession.  David Baum, Assistant Dean in the Office of Student Affairs at Michigan Law School and a member of the State Bar of Michigan’s Standing Committee on Character and Fitness, raised equally compelling issues at AALS that uniquely influence our perspective regarding these bar application disclosures.  He acknowledged that in our roles as educators, it would be difficult to engage in open conversations with our students if we were required to disclose every detail discussed within said conversations.  He further stated, that these conversations are the vehicles by which we deliver sound advice and help shape the personal and professional development of our students.  In turn, as Dean Baum points out, if we are obligated to disclose these details, a negative chilling effect could result and students in need of support, advice, and possibly further professional help may not reach out for it.

Contemplating the questions posed and viewpoints presented during the AALS presentation, as well as, considering your state bar’s requirements and your institution’s policies, should help you create a helpful and informative bar application workshop for your students.  During the workshop, I walk through the application and instructions while pointing out areas where students typically have detailed questions or concerns.  For example: how to request an accommodation; how to list past traffic infractions/citations/criminal charges or convictions, and how to disclose treatment for mental impairment or alcohol or drug dependency. 

Although carrying this out in a group setting can be challenging, I have found that the group dynamic diffuses the potential stigma that a student may feel as a result of an affirmative answer to one of these questions listed on the bar application.  Once again, this workshop opens up the opportunity for students to see me as a trustworthy resource and to understand the importance of taking this step seriously.  I believe there is a way to be a dedicated advocate and guide for our students while maintaining the integrity of the legal profession…finding that middle ground is up to you or your institution to determine.

(Lisa Young)

February 23, 2011 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 21, 2011

A metaphor for the role of ASP in student success

I have written posts in the past about students as consumers. I have very strong feelings on the topic, because I believethat viewing students as consumers dis-incentivizes students to achieve their personal best. However, it can be difficult to explain to students who see themselves as consumers what they should expect from ASP. I think this metaphor may be helpful.*

Home Depot and Lowe's hardware sell do-it-yourself kits for various small projects, such as bird feeders, picture frames, and shelves. They are designed to be parent-child projects, and the degree of complexity involved in the finished product depends on the skill and effort of the builders.

Education is much like one of these do-it-yourself projects. The boxes advertise a very basic project. The kit includes all the pieces necessary to build the project in it's most basic form. If built as designed, the product should function exactly as it is advertised. Similarly, law schools give students all the basic pieces to complete a law degree. Some students will use the pieces as a starting point, and build something magnificent, far exceeding what is advertised on the box. These students are using their own ingenuity, creativity, and talent to demonstrate their own potential. They write notes for law review, join mock trial and appellate advocacy teams, they take on big projects in clinics, and they work to know their professors and peers. Other students will not take the time to read the directions, fail to follow directions, or rush the project because they don't like it. Their project will not be as advertised on the box, because the box does not promise them a well-built project without their own hard work. They can't bring the product back to the store because they don't like the finished product; it is not the store or the manufacturer's fault they did not do what they needed to do. These are the students who fail to show up for orientation or spend orientation playing on a cell phone, the students who are smarter than ASP, and feel that outlining isn't "their style" of preparing for exams. But the trickiest consumers are those that genuinely give 100% of their effort to building the project, and just can not figure out how to get from disassembled pieces to a finished product. This is why most manufacturers have consumer help lines. Academic Success is the consumer help line of law schools. The help-line specialists are masters at building the product, but it requires the continued effort of the consumer to learn how to build the project. If the consumer gets frustrated and hangs up the phone, the help-line specialist can not be blamed for problems with the finished product. Nor can a consumer expect that a help-line specialist is in charge of magic fairies who can come out and finish the project for them because they are struggling. No where on the box does it say that the manufacturer is responsible for the finishing the project for the consumer.

Education, like a do-it-yourself project, is great because you can build something that fits your individual needs, and you decide the complexity of the finished product. Its flexibility is what makes it great, but it also makes it difficult. Students who believe that they are consumers and ASP is there to fix their problems for them are confused about their role.

This metaphor is incomplete in many ways, because ASP encompasses many more things than just helping struggling students. I still disagree with characterizing students as consumers, but I know that some students will see themselves as consumers, and it is helpful to have a metaphor to help them see what we can and cannot do for them. (RCF)

*I apologize if this is a metaphor that has been used by someone else. I have read hundreds of law review articles in the last few months, and I may have accidently picked it up from an article. However, the idea came to me when I watched my brother-in-law and 3 year old nephew put together a do-it-yourself picture frame. My nephew thought the pieces for the frame should be used to build a construction crane. It was not what the manufacturer promised on the box, but it made my nephew very happy. I saw the help-line number on the box, and thought, wow, I bet no one has called them and asked about how to use a picture frame kit to build a construction crane. Which got me thinking about the role of help lines, and ASP.

February 21, 2011 in Academic Support Spotlight, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Self-Reflection and Student Evals

This is the time of the year for student evals if you taught a course in the fall. Or maybe student eval were returned 3 weeks ago, as they were at UConn. However, today was the day I decided to open the evals from all 3 courses I taught. Why did I wait? Because I fear evals the way students fear grades and class rank. My student evals have always been very positive. But I am the sort of personality that always focuses on what needs to be fixed. If I receive 99 evals that say everything was wonderful, I will ignore those to focus on the 1 eval that said I was good, but my writing on the dry-erase board was sloppy, I spoke too fast, or didn't spend enough time on each PowerPoint.

Student evals are our chance to practice the self-reflection we preach to students. Recommendation 5 from Best Practices advises law schools to teach law students to be self-reflective life-long learners. A componant of self-reflection is feedback. Students need to know what they are doing correctly, why it is correct, as well as advice on where they can improve. We, as teachers and life-long learners, need feedback in order to know where students feel we are succeeding, and where they think we can improve. It is not possible to improve if you don't know what is wrong.

Part of my fear of reading evals is similar to students fear of grades. Unfortunately, student evals are a summative assessment, just like grades in many law school courses. It's not possible to go back and change my techniques if a student or students are not learning from my methods. Evals are summative in that you can't help the unique group of students you are working with by the time you receive the evals. I know I can ask for mid-semester evals, but I hated those when I was a student, so I do not force them on my students. (I always felt that the teachers used the evals to punish the class for not liking them enough. Maybe that is my skewed perception, but it fostered a deep dislike of mid-semester evals.)  I do use the evals to change how I teach year-to-year, therefore my evals are a formative as well as summative assessment. I always stress to the class before I leave the room (and I always leave the room when students fill out evals) that I read each eval closely, and what they tell me will change my course plan and teaching methods for the next class. I stress that I want honesty and  straightforward criticism of what can be improved, because I can't fix it if I don't know it's broken. I am luckier than many students in that respect; I can fix my teaching because I will teach the course again, while they don't get to re-take courses after a final exam.

Self-reflection is essential if you want to be an expert at anything. Effective teachers use student evals as one tool in their tool kit for examining how to be better teachers. Even if students don't see us reading the evals, when they see we have modified our classes based on their feedback, it sends a message that they matter. Gossip is rampant in law schools, and students from last year's class certainly know students in next year's class. Helping students see that they are not just cogs in the law school machine but burgeoning professionals with valuable feedback helps them see themselves as responsible professionals.

I want to stress that I realize that student evals should not be used as the sole method of assessing teaching methods. Student evals can reflect many things outside of teaching skill. I have been exceeding lucky that my students have always written evals that I feel reflect the class and not personal feelings about issues outside the scope of the course. Self-reflection is sometimes the hardest when it's difficult to distinguish between legitimate constructive criticism and personal feelings outside the scope of the class.  It is both personally and professionally difficult to read that we are disliked, even if the reasons are not appropriate.

What did I take away from this set of evals? I talk too fast. Speaking slower was also one of my resolution's this year. Self-reflection is hard. There is nothing like 25 sheets of paper with the same constructive criticism to make a resolution stick! (RCF)

February 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

ASP (and legal writing!) reaching out to pre-law advisors/faculty

I will probably write a much longer law review/journal piece on this topic, but I think it's something that ASPer's can start thinking about now.

I live in two worlds. I teach an ASP course at UConn Law School, and I am the undergrad pre-law specialist. My experience in the pre-law world has been informed by my time as a full-time ASPer. The first time I attended a large conference of pre-law advisers and faculty, I was surprised by how few had JD's. Many advisers don't just advise pre-law students, but advise all pre-professional programs, or are a part of career services. While far more pre-law faculty have JD's, many of them are PhD's in Political Science or History. This is not a criticism of pre-law advisers or faculty; I have learned tremendous amounts from them, and many of them are excellent at what they do.

As ASPer's, we spend our days working with and thinking about what makes a successful law student. We see the characteristics of students who do not succeed, and we can usually recognize issues before the student knows it will be a problem. However, few of us reach out to undergraduate pre-law advisers to share what we know about what makes a successful law student. There are some ASPer's who are actively involved in undergraduate pre-law studies; my co-editor, Amy Jarmon, works with Tech's program, Corie Rosen works with ASU's undergraduate population, and I know a few ASPer's spoke to a pre-law gathering a year ago.

For many, it seems to be an issue of knowing who to reach out to, and at what school. Pre-law advisers as a rule don't know who to reach out to at the law school level, but it's easier for an ASPer to locate a pre-law adviser or faculty. Any school is a good school to reach out to, although many law schools are connected to or on the campus of a larger undergraduate university.

The message many pre-law advisers hear is that a broad-based liberal arts or business education is the best preparation for law school, and that any major can go to law school. That is correct, but incomplete, information. Students need to know how to write analytically and read critically to succeed in law school. Just because a student majors in English doesn't mean they know how to do read critically, and being an Engineering major doesn't mean that they don't have excellent critical reading skills. It's not the major, it's the skills. Pre-law advisers could provide much more guidance to their students if they understood the skills necessary for success. Students can acquire these skills in any major, in any college, but they have to carefully choose their classes. Many pre-law students avoid the classes that will give them these skills because they are hard classes, and they would prefer to maximize their GPA. I explain to my students that maximizing their GPA won't be as helpful as having the skills to succeed in law school, when the stakes are much higher, and the job you get will depend on how well you do in school.

I deal with this everyday at UConn. Law students need problem-solving skills, with a heavy emphasis on analytical reasoning. One of the best classes for this is in the Math department, in a class called "Problem Solving". My students avoid this class like the plague. They choose the pre-law track because they hate math. However, the problem solving class involves a lot of critical reading, and doesn't involve a lot of numbers or symbols. It is the best class to prepare students for the LSAT, along with the Logic classes in the Philosophy department. All students at UConn need to take a minimum of three math classes (called Q classes), and at least one Philosophy class, regardless of major. Pre-law students try to take what they perceive to be easier Q and philosophy classes, ones that have more of a focus on introductory math skills and philosophy in history. But these classes do not prepare students as well as classes that focus on analytical skills.

It is the same in almost all majors. I strongly advise students to take grammar, poetry, and rhetoric classes in the English department. They are three of the tougher courses in the English department, because they grade writing skill as well as content. They avoid all classes using the case method in the History or Political Science departments, because cases are difficult to understand. They run from econ classes because they fear econ will be too much like math.

I am not criticizing my students. They receive an overwhelming message that grades and LSAT are all that matter, thanks to for-profit websites and commercial LSAT prep programs. They worry about getting into law school, not succeeding once they are in law school. When I sit down and explain why skills are important, how to get them, and the importance of doing well in law school, they listen. For some, it takes more coaxing then others, but the majority will take some if not all of the tougher skills classes I recommend. Like many non-JD pre-law advisers, many students don't have the information to make an informed decision. Armed with the right information, they make smart choices. Which leads to better law students.

As ASP professionals, we know so much, and we have so much to give back. Far fewer students would be struggling academically if they had a pre-law adviser or faculty member who could steer them to the right classes that focus on the type of skills they need to succeed in law school. (RCF)

February 10, 2011 in Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Writing and Running

This is a call to everyone in ASP who has something to say, but is afraid to write. Most of us don't need to write for our job. However, if you don't write, it's almost impossible to move past "staff" status. There aren't as many writing mentors in ASP as there are doctrinal folks who can help junior faculty while they are writing. So I am writing about my writing process to let new ASPer's know that it is not them; writing is tough. But it's worth it.

I have been working on a major writing project for the last couple of months. I finally finished this weekend; I had to do the bulk of the writing on days off and weekends because my workload was too heavy to allow much writing 9-5. Finishing a writing project is both a relief and filled with anxiety. It is incredibly satisfying to be done, but then comes the intense worry that it's not good enough, a citation is missing,  or that I forgot a topic essential to the discussion. One of the reasons I don't write as much as I should (outside of this blog) is due to the anxiety it provokes when I finish. Unless I have a deadline, I will never stop second-guessing my work.

Writing is a lot like running. I am a long-time distance runner (almost 20 years!). Even for the best writers, it's sometimes a grind. In both writing and running, it's hardest when you are out-of-shape. We generally don't think of needing to be "in shape" to write, but writing makes writing easier and more fluid. This does feel a little unfair, because when you most need to feel good about writing (or running) is when you are getting back after a long break. But that is when it is hardest and most painful.

For nearly two months I resorted to exhaustive, probably unnecessary, research because writing was too painful. I could not get more than a paragraph or two on a page, and I knew I needed 10,000-15,000 words. It seemed insurmountable because I had not written that much in years.  I knew I could do it, but I could not remember how I did it, what my process was, what I did in terms of a timeline. But after two months, I found that my one-two paragraphs while researching out came to about 3000 words, and suddenly I had about 20% of the project done. And it didn't seem like I could never do it. When I would come back to running after taking time off due to illness or injury, it would seem like I could never get over the 1-3 mile range. And then, after a couple of months, I could hit 5 miles without stopping. And at five miles, a half marathon doesn't seem so unreasonable after all.

The second hardest time is when you get writer's block, or in running, when you plateau. This usually happens when you have been at it for a while. You become acclimated to the process and you stop responding. Nothing you do seems to make it better. This tends to happen at the worst possible time; when you need to get a project finished, but your mind is empty, or when you are training for a major race, and your legs don't want to cooperate. The experts say beware of overtraining, but work through it. It will break. This was were I was at about two weeks ago. I desperately needed to get past the 5000 word mark, but everything I wrote was terrible. None of it fit with the theme. I couldn't transition between topics. Every word was painful. But I knew I had two weeks, so I worked through it, and it did come together. But during that period, I probably erased more than I wrote. Through erasing and rethinking, I came out with a much stronger theme.

The last painful period for me is finishing up. As I said at the start, I never want to finish because I am afraid it's not good enough or dreadfully flawed. The easiest way for me to get over this is to send it out to be proofread. As soon as I hit "send" I think of five topics I needed to cover but forgot while I was writing. I would never remember what I needed to add if I didn't hit send. The anxiety of someone else reading my work, and finding it lacking, produces the adrenaline to put it all together. Quite honestly, what I send out to be proofread usually is lacking. It's not my best work, and it's not even very good work. In running, this is usually the period when I need training partners to keep going. I am in a pretty bad state about two-three weeks before a race, and I need companions to keep me going. I will not walk unless injured, so even when I hate running, I keep going because I am too proud to be the person who  slows down the group.

In that last rush of adrenaline, I can usually knock out a substantial portion of the paper. The fear won't go away until it's published. In this way writing is still like cross the finish line, and you immediately start planning your next race. In my case, I wrote three pages of a law review article while finishing my last work. Writing and researching made me realize how much more there is to say on the topic. So I started with just a heading. Then I jotted some notes about where I wanted to go with the topic. The I took a break from the major project and put in several more topic headings. There was no fear, no anxiety, as there is when I start writing after a long break. It was smooth. (RCF)

February 7, 2011 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Academic Success Position at Capital University

Capital University Law School, Columbus, Ohio

Professor and Director of Academic Success

Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio is accepting applications for the Professor and Director of Academic Success, a teaching and administrative position designed to help students develop the skills necessary for law school success.  The Director works closely with students, faculty, and administrators to improve students’ learning skills and their academic outcomes.

Capital’s academic success program is premised on the idea that instruction in basic law school skills, coupled with individualized feedback and support, can significantly enhance students’ academic success.  The current program consists of three components designed to help first-year students:  a two-week, pre-matriculation session that aims to refine study skills and prepare students for law school; a fall session that utilizes group and individual instruction to enhance analytical skills, study techniques, time management methods, and exam-taking skills; and a spring term program that offers students one-on-one academic success instruction.

The Director, in collaboration with the faculty, is responsible for developing, administering and teaching in all three parts of the program.  Moreover, the Director will develop an assessment tool to evaluate annually each aspect of the academic support program, including those participating and/or teaching in the program. The Director will also review and evaluate the effectiveness of the academic success program’s course content, methodology, and instructional materials. The Director will meet with students to review work on graded exercises, provide one-on-one assistance for students with academic deficiencies, and assist in academic counseling. The Director will also compile information and statistics related to student performance and prepare reports for management review. 

The Director will step into an on-going program complete with detailed lesson plans, skill-set exercises, and research on ASP methodologies.  At the same time, the Director will be expected to develop his or her own academic philosophy, and to seek out the current best practices in the field and integrate them into Capital’s ASP model.   The position thus offers both a solid base on which to build, and an opportunity to be innovative in order to improve the program.  The Director will work under the supervision of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and in collaboration with all Capital faculty and administrators. 

Applicants for this position should possess a J.D. degree, at least three years of legal experience, a record of academic success, excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, and a passion for working with students.  Previous law school or other teaching experience, and advanced degrees in education or counseling are a plus.  The salary is commensurate with experience, with a range of between $80,000 and $90,000 for a twelve-month contract, along with medical, dental, educational, pension, and life insurance benefits.  The Director holds the title of Professor of Academic Success and is eligible for a long-term (five-year) contract after three years of satisfactory service.

Please send a letter of interest and resume, including the names of three references, by March 1, 2011, to the address set out below (electronic submissions are encouraged).

Professor Dan Kobil

Chair, Faculty Appointments

Capital University Law School

303 E. Broad St.

Columbus, Ohio  43215

SUBJECT:  Director of Academic Success


February 5, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 4, 2011

International Journal of Wellbeing

Stephanie West Allen's Idealawg has noted the new International Journal for Wellbeing in a recent posting.  The posting includes an article table of contents and a link to the journal.  Check out the link to Idealawg and to find out more about this new free, on-line resource.  You can register at the journal's website to receive new issues or to submit content for review.  (Amy Jarmon) 

February 4, 2011 in Books, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Director of Academic Success Position at Charlotte Law

Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success

Charlotte School of Law (CharlotteLaw) seeks applications for an experienced Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success.

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 as soon as possible.

The Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success reports directly to the Assistant Dean for Academics. He or she will work with students seeking to improve academic performance or experiencing academic difficulty. The Director 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:

• hiring, training, and supervising 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 faculty through attendance at faculty meetings;

• Assist and facilitate the bar exam preparation program and bar-exam related events;

• designing and implementing the academic success component of the orientation programs;


The Director must be a licensed attorney with one to three years of legal experience and possess at least two years of full-time professional academic support experience (either 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).

He or she must have 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.

He or she must also have the ability to counsel, advise and instruct individual students from diverse backgrounds. A genuine interest in and ability to work closely with faculty, staff and students to enhance program effectiveness is required in addition to an excellent academic record including a minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0 in law school and excellent written and verbal communication skills. The Director must possess experience with an existing law school’s academic support program with demonstrated ability to do the following:

• designing an academic success curriculum that ties into and builds upon the program of legal education
• designing and teaching workshops and/or classes that explicitly teach law school exam and study skills in the context of substantive law
• recruiting, training, supervising and managing academic success counselors and teaching assistants
• administering a budget
• advising students generally on matters such as course load, course selection and ultimate career goals
• counseling students on academic probation.

The CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success is working to build its online resources. Candidates with experience with learning management software or online instruction 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.

February 3, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Should law schools drop the LSAT as a requirement for admission?

The ABA recently reported that they are considering droppingthe LSAT as a requirement for admission to law school. Some test will be required for law school admission, as yet to be determined (and only if this goes through.)  I don't know how I feel about this, because there are compelling arguments on both sides. It is something ASPer's should be thinking about, because the decision will impact them.

For the LSAT:

It is an imperfect measure of a student's chance of success during their first year of law school. College grades are wildly subjective, and cannot be used as an accurate measure of a student's potential for success in the law school curriculum. While there are arguments that the test only measures socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or ability to focus, there are also valid arguments that the test is reliable at measuring a student's chance of first-year success, as well as success on the bar exam. Without the LSAT, admissions would have to move to other, less-reliable methods of assessing a student's potential, such as their grades in conjuntion with the rigor of their undergraduate curriculum. This would disadvantage students of lower socioeconomic status more than the LSAT currently does, because first-generation college students often attend the college they can afford, not the best college they can attend.

ASP offices will be inundated with students who are unprepared for the rigor law school. As law schools and the ABA discuss other reliable tests of student potential for success, ASP offices will have to handle the increased student demand for services from students who would have been advised against going to law school if they had a measure of their real chances of success.

Against the LSAT:

The LSAT is more flawed that reliable. The fact that commercial prep courses can report anywhere from 5-10 point jump in test scores means that the test is teachable, if the student has the money for a very expensive prep course. Students with great potential are left out because they cannot afford to study for the test because they need to work in addition to studying for school, need to work to feed and cloth their children, or assist their family. The test measures a very limited number of skills required for success in law school, one of which is ability to focus for 3-4 hours. This disadvantages students with disabilities, even if they receive accommodations. In sum, the test is a weak measure of student success, and weeds out a large number of students because they cannot afford the preparation necessary to do well on the test.

ASP offices would be able to serve the needs of students who would otherwise be left out of legal education. These students are often the most driven students, students who have succeed in life despite great challenges, and the most likely to listen to the advice of ASP professionals. Getting rid of the LSAT, and using some other test with less weight and inherent bias, would mean ASP could go back to its roots, working for better access to law school.

(My summaries are adapted from the 3-5 articles I have read in the last few days, both for and against dropping the test.)

I believe both arguments have merit. Unfortunately, this is black and white; the test is dropped or it is required for admission. Personally, I have seen it both ways; I have had students with great grades, yet woefully unprepared for law school, change their minds because of their score on the test. In these cases, I think the test was necessary for students to get an accurate picture of their potential. I have also had students with enormous potential, but terrible LSAT scores, get weeded out because they could not afford a prep course or time off of a job to study for the test. I think we have all had students in our office who had the means for intensive test prep, such as one-on-one tutoring, which resulted in a high score that masked their lack of preparation for the rigors of the law school curriculum. I wish we knew what the alternative admissions test might look like, because we would could be better prepared for changes to the composition of the student body. I think this is an important thing to think about, because it has the ability to really impact our community and our jobs. (RCF)

February 2, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)