Friday, July 29, 2011
The last few weeks have been a perfect example of the stressors in the study and practice of law.
Our summer program students have received their grades for their first law school exam. For many, they had never been near or below a median score before in their academic lives. Currently, they are struggling with their first legal writing assignment and the uncertainties of how to write something that is in a totally new genre. They are feeling overwhelmed by the task and the approaching deadline for the first draft.
The bar exam has just finished the final day of three. For a number of bar studiers, the last month was discouraging and stressful. Rather than feeling ready, studiers confided that they had hit a wall and were struggling to get back on track. As is typical, the bar exam has held surprises - topics or nuances not expected on the exam. Bar review courses work on probabilities; no one but the Board of Law Examiners ever knows for sure what to expect. Bar takers have looked more exhausted, worried, discouraged, and stressed as each day has passed.
First-time law clerks have discussed their adjustments to their summer jobs. The reality of the seriousness of the practice of law and the responsibility that goes with every assignment has begun to hit home. Real people with real problems depend on the law clerk's work product. It is no longer the world of Blackacre, exploding packages, and hairy hands. The pace of work and lack of instruction can be frightening if a legal employer provides little initial structure. As thrilling as real legal work may be, it is also stressful.
Stress managment is a critical skill for law students and lawyers. The legal world is prone to overwhelming amounts of work, constant deadlines, and very important decisions. It is no secret that lawyers often succumb to alcohol or drug abuse to handle the stress. Relationship problems are also well-known because of the demands.
Our law students need to learn stress management early in their careers. They need to learn how to keep balance in their lives and prevent stress as well as how to cope with stress when it occurs.
- Managing time carefully rather than letting it escape can prevent stress.
- Learning to recognize and minimize procrastination can lower stress.
- Following healthy sleep, exercise, and nutrition routines can help reduce stress.
- Keeping in touch with friends and family can create a support network to counteract stress.
- Talking to someone about the stressful situation can alleviate the "aloneness" and provide possible solutions.
There are many useful resources for coping with stress. Some examples are:
- Larry Krieger's booklet: The Hidden Sources of Law School Stress
- Law School Academic Success Project: Wellness pages for law students
- Numerous law schools have information on stress management on their academic support web pages.
- Numerous university counseling or health center web pages discuss stress management techniques.
- Type "stress management techniques" into your favorite browser for a multitude of websites with information.
The most important thing to remember is that stress can lead to other health problems if not handled in a positive way. Prevention is better than cure. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Graduate Fellow in Academic Support at Whittier Law School
Whittier’s Academic Support Program provides supplemental academic services to Whittier students in their first and second years that improve academic performance and develop the skills necessary for law school success.
Whittier Law School currently seeks two Graduate Fellows in academic support. The Graduate Fellows hold a one year, full time, non-tenure track position and report to the Director of Academic Services. The Director of Academic Services, in consultation with the Dean, determines whether to continue a Fellowship beyond the one-year term as well as any extension or reformation of responsibilities.
Graduate Fellowships will begin in early to mid-August 2011.
The successful candidate must demonstrate a commitment to and understanding of academic support and have the requisite knowledge to implement the academic support program as defined by the department. Applicants must have public speaking experience or competence or demonstrate a willingness to acquire such experience and competence. Applicants must possess the ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing with students, staff and faculty.
A successful candidate must demonstrate initiative and possess the ability to work independently and collaboratively with students, staff and faculty from diverse backgrounds. Applicants also must understand the importance of student confidentiality and privacy, possess excellent organizational skills, evidence a strong attention to detail and the ability to effectively manage multiple priorities and related deadlines.
Candidates must have earned a law degree from an ABA accredited law school and be admitted to practice or awaiting bar examination results.
Duties include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Individual meetings with students to review skill and substantive material, particularly those students on academic notice or identified by professors as in need of academic assistance.
- Conduct skill based workshops for first year students throughout the academic year.
- Assist in teaching and grading the second year Legal Methods I and II courses, which includes the opportunity to guest lecture and provide individualized feedback to students on their written work.
- Assist the Director in the maintenance of the ASP records and filing systems with attention to student confidentiality and privacy. Assist the Director in tracking the academic progress of individual students and in updating and maintaining requisite spreadsheets and files.
- Review student answers to practice exams, and provide students exam performance evaluation and with advice on exam strategy.
- Assist the Director in the maintenance of the Academic Support website and blog.
- Assist the Director in the plans for and implementation of ASP contributions to new student orientations.
Resumes and cover letters may be sent to Director of ASP Jenny Homer at email@example.com
Monday, July 25, 2011
I have reached the point in the summer when I feel myself sliding on the downward slope to a new academic year. Every summer I feel a twinge of regret as I realize the weeks are rapidly passing. Every summer I feel a glimmer of anticipation as I think of the new first-year class.
In mid-May the summer seems to stretch endlessly and invitingly in front of me. Project time beckons. Administrative clean-up from the academic year occurs. I steal away for a couple of weeks of research time. The law school settles into a quiet routine with few students and faculty around, but bar studier diligently at work.
Remember as children when the golden days of summer seemed to last forever. At some point, we traded in those days for summer jobs at camps, fast food restaurants, and retail shops. Later, if we were lucky, those jobs morphed into internships or quasi-useful duties related to career goals as we went through college. In law school, summer clerkships and study abroad replaced our prior summer pursuits. As we entered practice or other law-related jobs, we discovered that summer was really not very different from the rest of the year.
At least as an administrator in legal education, I get a few weeks to catch my breath. However, now that I am already in week two of our intensive summer entry program, I feel that those weeks were long ago. After another intensive two weeks of teaching, they will be only a fleeting memory. Add grading that extends into orientation week, and I will find myself squarely back at the start of classes.
The enthusiasm of first-year students and the summer tales of returning upper-division students will sweep me up into the new academic year. Before I know it, I'll forget all about those mid-May and mid-July feelings - until next year.
Enjoy the remainder of your summer! (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Hat tip to Rod Fong at Golden Gate University School of Law for the following link to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on Chinese students. (Amy Jarmon)
His e-mail to me made the following observation:
"I saw this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about students from China. Although it focuses on undergrads, I thought the discussion describing the differences in language and thought processes between English and Chinese learners could be helpful. I recall some past discussions on our ASP listserv on working with foreign students."
The link to the article is: Thinking Right: Coaching a Wave of Chinese Students ...
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The last week of bar exam preparation is upon us. While everyone studying for the bar exam will need to spend their precious last days slightly differently,all bar applicants need to focus on staying positive and prioritizing their individual study needs. One size does not fit all. Here are a few helpful tips to assist those in their final bar study stretch this summer.
- Make a plan for your last week and stick to it. Prioritize your weaker subjects and/or the sections of the exam that are most difficult for you. Try to gain a minimum level of competency in each subject area and on each section of the exam.
- Clear all non-essential tasks from your schedule. If it does not involve essay writing, MPT practice, or MBE review, do not do it.
- However, it is best to incorporate some physical activity into your day even if it is a just a short, brisk walk. Leave the library or your study area to get some fresh air at least a few times a day.
- Remember that memorization is necessary but without practice, memorization is futile. Memorize, practice, and evaluate your progress.
- Remain positive! Tell yourself daily or even hourly that you can do this. Find strategies to stop negative thoughts. Think about prior graduates who passed on their first attempt, think about all of the long hours you have put into your study, and, most importantly, believe in yourself. Repeat out-loud: "I will pass the bar!"
- Although nothing seems balanced right now, try to maintain a balanced diet. Make good food choices and stay away from the empty calories. Load up on protein and stay hydrated. This will help you stay focused, give you lasting energy, and keep you healthy for your big week.
- Spend 12-14 hours each day studying but do not forget to take care of yourself. Sleep is essential. Do not miss out on the regenerative power of a good nights sleep to learn more about the rule against perpetuities.
- Ask for help when you need it. There are many resources available to you. From friends and family to your law school and bar prep, everyone is invested and committed to helping you achieve success on the bar exam. Reach out, we are here to help!
Academic Success supports many different types of students, but one group we don't hear much about are transfer students. However, transfer students have many of the same struggles as incoming students: where to live, how to make friends, how to navigate a new environment. It's easy to ignore or lose track of transfer students, but their needs are important as well. They don't cross our radar because their 1L grades are superior (or they would not have been admitted) and they are upperclassmen, and many ASP's focus on the first and last year of law school.
Although we always have a full plate in ASP, it is wise to reach out to incoming transfer students. Helping them feel like they have a home and a place to go if they need academic assistance can prevent bar exam issues their 3L year. (RCF)
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Programmatic Tenure Position
STETSON UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW seeks to fill one or more tenured/tenure-track and programmatic tenure track positions for the 2012-2013 academic year. Appointments may be lateral or entry-level.
Located in Florida's Tampa Bay area, the nation's nineteenth largest metro area, Stetson was established in 1900 and is Florida's oldest law school. Our main campus is in Gulfport, just outside St. Petersburg. We also have a part-time program with classes on both the main campus and our satellite campus in downtown Tampa. Stetson has earned a national reputation for its advocacy, elder law, legal writing, and higher education programs, and has Centers for Excellence in Advocacy, Elder Law, Higher Education Law and Policy, and International Law. Stetson nurtures a vibrant intellectual community, situated on a beautiful campus. We encourage potential applicants to visit our website at http://www.law.stetson.edu to learn more about our school, our community, and our programs.
For a programmatic tenure-track position, we welcome applications from candidates interested in teaching in our Academic Success Program. This program helps students adjust to the rigors of law school and supports students who encounter academic difficulty. Responsibilities include teaching critical reading and thinking, rule synthesis, outlining, legal analysis, and exam preparation.
Stetson encourages applications from women, minorities, and others who will facilitate a stimulating and diverse cultural and intellectual environment. All applicants must have a strong academic record and be committed to outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service. The Faculty Appointments Committee will begin reviewing applications on or before August 15, 2011 and will invite some candidates to interview during the AALS 2011 Faculty Recruitment Conference in Washington, D.C., although interviews may also take place at other times and locations.
Contact: Applicants should send an email, attaching a current curriculum vitae together with a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests, and details of at least three professional references, to Professor Paul Boudreaux and Professor Candace Zierdt, Co-Chairs, Faculty Appointments Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who prefer to apply by postal mail should write to Faculty Appointments, c/o Professor Paul Boudreaux and Professor Candace Zierdt, Stetson University College of Law, 1401 61st Street South, Gulfport, FL 33707.
Monday, July 18, 2011
The authors of "The Happy Lawyer" have authored a piece for students on what to do the summer before law school. This is a great article to use as a starting point for letters to incoming students and orientation planning. http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/summer-law-school
Friday, July 15, 2011
I had the privilege of teaching at CLEO's Attitude is Essential 3-day workshop in Atlanta this past weekend. I co-taught my small group of 25 students with Joanne Harvest Koren of Miami Law. One of the issues that arose in our session was how much time to devote to student questions when we were trying to cover substantive lessons in a compressed time period. Joanne and I decided to spend a significant amount of time answering questions, at the expense of some substantive coverage. I think we made a smart choice, but I think this is something many ASP professionals struggle with when they teach a class or workshop.
The students in our section were an unusually motivated group, which they demonstrated by spending almost twelve hours a day for two and a half days in hotel conference rooms learning about how to succeed in law school. They came with more smart, important questions than we had time to answer. However, there are some questions asked by new students that need to be answered before they can move on to other work. When trying to decide how much time to allot to questions, it's important to judge the importance of the questions to the student. What might seem like something that can be answered at another time might be pressing to the student. If the question stops the student from thinking about anything else, than cutting some coverage helps students focus on what needs to be covered in class. These types of questions are the type that are shared by many incoming students; only one or two students have the courage to raise their hand and ask the question.
Joanne and I found it best to start each session with a general Q and A. We explicitly limited the time and scope of the answers to what we thought was most pressing for the students. At the end of each session, we tried our best to have a more limited Q and A about the material we just covered, so students could leave the session and move on to new material, instead of remaining confused.
What sort of questions were most pressing for incoming law students?
1) How much time should be devoted to law school each week?
2) Do I need to do law school work and nothing else for the next three years?
3) What are the benefits of typing/handwriting notes?
4) How do I explain to my significant other/parents/children that I can't be there for them the way I used to be when I am in law school?
These are all questions that are great to tackle in pre-orientation or orientation. When students are preoccupied with major questions about law school, it uses parts of their working memory that can be devoted to other, more productive things. By spending some time to answer questions, you have more focused students.
Hat tip to John Edwards at Drake University Law School for the information below.
A’s Represent 43 Percent of College Grades, Analysis Finds
July 13, 2011, 5:33 pm
Although grade inflation affects all types of colleges, its influence varies by the type of institution, the academic field, and even by region, according to a recent article on college grading. The piece comes from Stuart Rojstaczer, a frequent critic and scholar of grade inflation, and his colleague Christopher Healy, and it includes the most recent data on the pervasiveness of grade inflation—such as the fact that A’s represent 43 percent of letter grades, on average, at a wide range of colleges. According to their analysis, “Private colleges and universities give, on average, significantly more A’s and B’s combined than public institutions with equal student selectivity. Southern schools grade more harshly than those in other regions, and science and engineering-focused schools grade more stringently than those emphasizing the liberal arts.”
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Hat tip Corie Rosen and Paula Manning for the following post.
Law school professors are always afraid that if they don't mark everything that is wrong on student work, the student will think that incorrect parts of their paper are correct, and repeat mistakes. However, there is only so much one person can absorb from reading comments on one assignment, and most teachers who give feedback provide too much negative commentary on student work.
Take a few minutes to think back to your time as a student, mentally reviewing your exams after you finished them...do you recall everything that you did right? Or do you recall everything you believed you missed? People are hardwired to think about everything they did wrong. Few people think about the things they did right.
There are two ways to think about exam feedback...trying to focus students on what they did right so they can maximize their strengths, or focusing on what they did wrong. Students already focus on what they did wrong, already feel beat up by the law school process, and many feel demoralized by law school in general. By reframing feedback as a tool to maximize students strengths, with a 3-1 ratio of positive to negative comments, you can help students feel better about their work. A student who feels good about law school and positive about their ability to succeed will spend more time on their assignments than a student who feels like they have so many errors they don't know where to begin. You may find that students who receive positive and negative feedback in the 3-1 ratio actually find their own mistakes, because they are motivated to do their best, instead of focusing on avoiding a bad grade. (RCF)
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The 4th of July is over. Students have now been studying for the bar exam for at least a month and a half, and they still have weeks to go. Students are tired, and there isn't a break in sight. These are the dog days of bar prep. Many parts of the country are in a heat wave, which means beaches and pools beckon even devoted students.
It is important to keep students going through the dog days of bar prep. Encouragement and strategically timed breaks are critical.
1) Encourage students to mix up their study routines to keep things fresh. It's easy to get bored of bar prep.If they haven't been using flash cards, they should try them now. Study in a different room. Students who try novel ways to mix up their routine recall information better than students who stick with only one method.
2) Breaks are encouraged, but should not be abused. Students need to understand they don't want to peak before the actual exam. If they feel like they are at their very best right now, they need to slow it down. Many super-achievers focus too hard, too soon, and are burnt out before the bar. That is not good.
3) Expect a dip in performance for a week or so. Everyone goes through a period where their progress feels stalled, and they can't find the focus to keep going. It's important to realize that a dip in performance on practice questions is okay if they are still studying.
4) Have an ice cream social for bar studiers, or a movie night that reminds them of why they want to be licensed. Sponsor a night of Legally Blonde or To Kill a Mockingbird. Remind them of why they are putting themselves through this. If money is an issue at your school, ask the development office to sponsor the event. This may be one of the law students last contacts with the school.
5) Shopping should not be a bar prep relaxation technique. This is something I have heard more about recently, in light of the economic challenges facing many law students. Students cannot afford to use shopping as a release, even if they have a job lined up after the bar.
Good luck to all my colleagues who are helping students prepare for bar exams! (RCF)
Friday, July 8, 2011
THE UNIVERSITY OF LA VERNE, COLLEGE OF LAW invites applications for the position of Director of Bar Support Services beginning immediately. This is a full time, non-tenured contract position reporting to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The successful candidate will be responsible for designing and implementing a program to assist students with bar examination preparations. The duties include teaching a bar preparation course for students in their final year of law school, supervising one or more full-time or part-time Bar Exam Counselors, conducting various bar preparation workshops, tutoring graduates preparing for the bar examination, and assessing the success of the program. Candidates must be graduates of an ABA approved law school and admitted to practice in at least one jurisdiction by examination. Experience in bar preparation instruction and/or academic support is preferred. The hiring range for this position is dependent upon qualifications and departmental equity. Benefits of employment include a comprehensive health and welfare plan, tuition program and a generous 10% contribution to the university’s 403B retirement plan. To apply, please send a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae, and a statement of teaching philosophy and goals, to Associate Dean John Linarelli,. Alternatively, you may submit your application materials via email to email@example.com.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Although the following announcement is outside our usual postings, I am including it because of the emphasis on international students - an area of interest and expertise for a number of ASP folks. (Amy Jarmon)
Northeastern University School of Law seeks a highly entrepreneurial, innovative individual to lead its new LLM program and to work on the development of international programming for the law school.
The duties of the Director will include the following:
· Design and development of the new LLM Program (launching August 2012). The person in this position will lead the development of the new program. This will include program design, international and domestic student recruitment, development of program materials, management of budget, reviewing and maintaining program quality, and other relevant activities. The person in this position will teach in the courses specifically aimed at LLM students and will work with the Faculty Director to develop the curriculum and recruit adjunct faculty as appropriate
· Development of international programming. The School of Law is undertaking a variety of international initiatives including development of international co-op (field placement) opportunities for our students, building international employment opportunities for our graduates, and forging connections with universities and law schools outside the U.S. The Director will work with the Dean and other members of the faculty to develop these initiatives.
The successful candidate must have a JD degree and at least five years of administrative experience, preferably in an academic setting, or five years of law practice or equivalent experience. The successful candidate should be entrepreneurial, innovative, and have an ability to work with people from varied backgrounds. Teaching experience and experience working in international situations are strongly preferred. The successful candidate must have a strong interest in international travel, international education and international students.
To apply, go to: http://www.northeastern.edu/hrm/careers/index.html. Questions may be addressed to: Mary Squiers, Associate Dean for Administration and Planning, firstname.lastname@example.org, (617) 373-3307.
Assistant Director of Academic Development
Santa Clara University School of Law
2011-12 Academic Year
The Assistant Director of Academic Development works in and out of the classroom to improve the academic success of Santa Clara University Law School’s students from orientation through bar passage as part of Santa Clara Law’s Academic & Professional Development (“APD”) Department. APD works in coordination with the doctrinal and skills faculty to design, coordinate, implement, evaluate, and improve the supplemental academic skills curriculum. Every APD faculty member teaches courses, provides direct student counseling, and administers various programs on a year-round basis.
Depending on need, the Assistant Director will teach two multiple credit-bearing skills courses, some of which target students in academic difficulty. These courses, ordinarily capped at 20 students, require individualized counseling and regular written feedback aimed at diagnosis and correction, as well as management of enrollment when registration is restricted.
In addition to course work, the Assistant Director will contribute to APD’s substantial academic and course counseling of law students and future bar takers at all levels.
Finally, the Assistant Director must contribute to the management and execution of one or more programs for student academic success and/or bar preparation. These duties may include the hiring, training, and supervision of upper division law students and/or adjunct lecturers. APD faculty also regularly teach at events including Orientation programs and Skills Workshops.
* J.D. and a state bar admission.
* Prior teaching, student counseling, academic support, and/or bar tutoring or grading experience desirable.
* Ability to excel in teaching and counseling students from diverse backgrounds.
* Experience in program management and assessment desirable.
* Familiarity with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint helpful.
* Ability to think imaginatively, critically, and collaboratively about how to improve and measure student academic development.
This position is a full-time, non-tenure track, one-year lecturer position with benefits. The position is year-round; summer service in residence is required. The law school supports professional development through conferences and training; service and scholarship are welcome but not required.
Santa Clara University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, committed to excellence through diversity, and, in this spirit, particularly welcomes applications from women, persons of color, and members of historically underrepresented groups. The University will provide reasonable accommodations to all qualified individuals with a disability.
Submit applications to:
Academic & Professional Development
Santa Clara University School of Law
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053-0448
Florida Coastal School of Law (Coastal Law) is seeking an Academic Success Counselor.
Coastal Law offers a professional and pleasant work environment for its employees in addition to offering a competitive and comprehensive compensation and benefits package. Please submit any questions or cover letters and resumes to HR@fcsl.edu.
The Academic Success Counselor is responsible for working with students seeking to improve academic performance or experiencing academic difficulty. The Counselor performs additional academic support functions essential to promoting students’ success in law school and to the success and growth of the institution. The position is a full-time non tenure-track academic staff position and carries no voting privileges. This position reports to the Director, Academic Success.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Assists in counseling and advising students at various academic stages seeking to improve academic performance and/or with other academic issues including course scheduling, social influences, etc.
- Facilitates Law School Foundations Seminar with team to include developing lesson plans, presenting weekly classes, and evaluating the progress of assigned first-semester students. Evaluates the success of the program through student evaluations and other means.
- Assists students in reviewing answers to practice exams (including bar exam essays) and provides advice regarding exam strategy
- Researches and explores an individual “specialty area” relating to academic success.
- Assists in preparing and presenting the second-semester and upper level Academic Success power workshops.
- Tracks the academic progress of students. Updates and maintains spreadsheets used for tracking.
- In conjunction with other members of the Academic Success Team, recruits, trains, and supervises student Law School Foundations Assistants. Evaluates the success of the program through student evaluations and other means.
- Assists in planning and executing New Student Orientation
- Assists Academic Success Team in maintaining Academic Success website
- Attends meetings as necessary within the law school.
- Perform other related duties as assigned.
Education & Experience Requirements:
- 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.
Job Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
- Self-starter with service orientation, ability to work independently and maintain confidential information.
- Must relate well to students and have strong interpersonal skills – ability to communicate professionally through both verbal and written means.
- Create effective and persuasive workshops on various Academic Success topics.
- Work as a team player - collaboratively and collegially with faculty, staff, students, and administrators from diverse backgrounds.
- Strong working knowledge of MS Office Suite, especially Excel and Power Point. The ability to adapt to new systems.
- Excellent organizational skills, with strong attention to detail, to manage multiple priorities under tight deadlines
- Possess a professional, rigorous, respectful, supportive, energetic and reliable commitment to students.
- Ability and desire to comprehend and work for the Florida Coastal School of Law’s unique philosophy, strategic plan, goals, and doctrine.
Coastal Law is an equal employment opportunity employer.
A position is open for a Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success at Charlotte School of Law. The institution, now fully ABA accredited, is one that benefits from a dedicated, collegial and supportive faculty as well as academic success counselors who are devoted both to helping students and to continually developing their expertise in teaching and learning. Applications may be submitted online at the school’s job announcement website at: http://www.charlottelaw.edu/about/jobdetail.aspx?ID=117.