Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Looking for work in an ASP world

As you will see from the job postings that have populated this blog over the last several weeks, it is the hiring season again.  Some of our ASP colleagues will retire - we will miss their wisdom.  Many current ASP'ers will move on to new positions at other law schools or be promoted within the ASP hierarchy in their own law schools.  New folks will consider ASP as a career change that they hope to make.

The variety of academic support programs is amazing.  There is no "one size fits all" model for this type of work.  The programs are as unique as the law schools that are served.  Here are some variables that may be helpful to think about when picking the right position to match you:

The law school:

  • Accreditation status of the school
  • Stand-alone or part of a college or university
  • Academic reputation of the school
  • Profession's view of the school
  • Financial position of the school
  • Bar passage rates for the school
  • Demographics of the student body
  • Demographics of the faculty
  • Alumni support for the school

History of ASP/bar prep:

  • Long-standing program with depth and breadth
  • Defunct or limping program to be revitalized or redirected
  • New program to build from the ground up
  • Part-time efforts by faculty/staff to be taken over and expanded
  • Support of the faculty for ASP/bar prep efforts
  • Support of the administration for ASP/bar prep efforts

Reporting structure and collegiality:

  • To whom will you report: associate dean for academics or for student affairs; faculty committee; other designation; multiple reporting lines or just one
  • Who will report to you: assistant director; counselors; tutors or teaching assistants; administrative assistant; other designation
  • Who are the colleagues on your level in the hierarchy
  • Who are the possible mentors and supporters within the organization
  • Relationships among faculty, administration, and staff


  • Tenure-track faculty: research, teaching, and service aspects; promotion and tenure process
  • Non-tenured faculty: type of contract and review; promotion opportunities; research, teaching and service aspects; voting status
  • Administration: position for 9-, 10-, or 12-months; type of contract and review; opportunities for teaching or service; promotion opportunities; speaking/voting status
  • Part-time: tacked on to other duties at the law school already; limited to just part-time duties in ASP/bar prep alone; type of contract and review   


  • Academic support: all students; all 1L students; invited students in the program; probation students
  • Bar prep: responsible personally for this area in addition to ASP; coordinate with another person responsible for bar prep program; supervise bar prep person; 3L students; 2L and 3L students; all students; repeat takers; focus on state bar; focus on multiple state bars; statistical analysis duties
  • Pre-law: work with undergraduates desiring to attend law school; work with pre-law advisors for the undergraduates; work with pipeline programs in K-12 education
  • Other: legal writing clinic; ESL expertise; work with student assistants such as teaching assistants, tutors, fellows; the sky's the limit here


  • One-on-one appointments: probation students; invited students in the program; all students; all 1L students; length of appointments; topics for appointments
  • Credit or non-credit classes: mandatory enrollment; voluntary enrollment; mixed enrollment; semester-long or year-long; ASP skills only; integrated into doctrinal subject matter; taught by ASP'ers; taught by faculty; co-taught by ASP'ers and faculty
  • Workshops: small or large groups; orientation or semester sessions; mandatory enrollment; voluntary enrollment; mixed enrollment; range of topics; taught by ASP'ers; taught by faculty; co-taught by ASP'ers and faculty
  • Supplemental study groups: study skills only; doctrinal review; all 1L students; invited students in the program; upper-division students as fellows, tutors, or teaching assistants; faculty involvement
  • Other media: podcasts; Facebook; Twitter; web pages; other technology; handouts on topics; brochures 


  • Set budget line with flexibility to justify increases in the future
  • Set budget line not likely to be increased
  • Negotiable budget each year
  • Negotiable budget for a new program
  • Budget line for professional development funds (travel, professional books, research assistants)
  • Budget line for teaching assistants, tutors, fellows, work study students
  • Budget line for library materials such as study aids
  • Budget line for food to attract students to programming
  • Internal university grant opportunities to fund new programming ideas 


  • Director's office preferably with small conference table to work with study groups
  • Office space for any assistant directors or part-time bar prep or other staff
  • Library space with shelving for study aids and academic success books for circulation
  • Reception desk for clerical assistance (could be in the library space)
  • Workroom for file cabinets, photocopier/network printer
  • Space for teaching assistants or other student staff preferably with computer stations (could be in the workroom area)
  • Small classroom with AV equipment for workshops
  • Study spaces for students within ASP 

Other items to consider:

  • Encouragement/requirement for publications, presentations, professional association duties
  • Opportunities to teach outside the ASP area
  • Involvement on law school committees
  • Involvement on university-wide committees
  • Salary and benefits

Each ASP'er will have personal requirements to consider as well such as housing, career opportunities for a spouse, cost of living, commute time, community amenities, and more.  The list provided is far from exhaustive, but gives some aspects that may be important to consider.  (Amy Jarmon)

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