July 29, 2011
Managing stress and anxiety
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)
July 28, 2011
Positions Open at Whittier for Graduate Fellows in Academic Support
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
July 25, 2011
Fall semester is in sight
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)