Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What Mowing My Lawn Taught Me About Law School - Lesson 1

[Before I begin, I must give you some background.  I made a vow.  I was about nine years old.  I swore that when I grew up, I would never do yard work again.  Long story short, my mother used to get us up early on Saturday morning to go outside and pull weeds from the garden.  I hated it, and I promised to myself that I would live in a home surrounded entirely by concrete, Astroturf, or some other substance that neither grew nor required tending of any kind.

Flash forward 30 years.  My wife and I bought a home a few years ago.  Since I left my childhood home, it is the first place I have lived with a lawn.  (To be clear, I had enough therapy since childhood that I did not argue with my wife about buying a home that had an actual yard.)  A few days after we moved in, we were awoken at 7:30 on a Wednesday morning by the sound of several lawn mowers.  After first thinking that I had moved into a Stepford situation where our neighbors all did the same thing at the same time, I realized that a lawn service was cutting the lawns of several of my immediate neighbors.  I immediately ran outside to find out how much I could pay to have someone cut my lawn once a week.  The answer was $30.  And I paid them. 

One additional piece of background information.  I am cheap.  I hate paying other people for something I can do (or can learn to do) myself.  So, after paying for the lawn service for a couple of months, I couldn't shake the idea growing within me that I could save a lot if I mowed the lawn myself.  So, I started mowing my own lawn.  And here are some lessons I learned . . . .]


I like sleep.  I like sports.  I like food.  That means it is possible for me to spend an entire Saturday watching TV from the couch, with brief forays into the kitchen for snacks.  And, I don’t feel guilty about it – at least not if everyone else will just leave me alone. 

Of course, that never happens.  The first weekend after I got my new lawn mower, my wife gently asked, “So . . . are you going to mow the lawn today?”  “Yes,” I said.  “I’ll do it later.”  So, I’m sitting on my couch, watching a golf tournament and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich . . . time is passing . . . and the next thing I know, it’s starting to get dark.  “So,” my wife asks (slightly less gently than before), “what’s going on with the lawn?”  My response: “Well, it’s getting kind of dark, so I’ll just have to get to it tomorrow.”  The pressure, obviously, is building.  I have to cut it on Sunday, obviously, or there’s going to be trouble.

At some point on Sunday, I decide to start mowing.  In my mind, this is going to be an ordeal.  I have to make sure the mower is set up correctly.  I have to go purchase gasoline.  I’m not sure if the lawn mower takes straight gasoline or a gas oil mixture.  It could take hours for me to read through the owner’s manual to find out the answer.  God knows what other problems might arise during the setup alone.  Do I even have shoes to wear?  I’m not wearing my nice sneakers – they’ll be ruined for sure.  I’m hungry.  If I start now, I might miss something really important on the golf tournament.  I really need to just sit down and collect myself for a few minutes.  I deserve to rest.  I’m a really busy person.  There is nothing immoral about a man sitting on a sofa and watching golf for a couple of hours. 

I grab the remote, but my wife gives me that look that only wives can give husbands or librarians give to the lady who decided to take a call at full voice in the quiet reading room.  I immediately accept that I am not going to be watching golf.  So, I suck it up.  I find some old sneakers that I used once when painting.  I go outside, after grabbing a bottle of water out of the fridge (it is important to stay hydrated).  I buy some gas (I had the foresight to get a gas can, so this involved just a short drive down the street).

Once I finally started, a day and half late, it only took me an hour – maybe a few minutes more – to finish.  I finished with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  My lawn looked great.  And I actually got to watch the end of the golf tournament.  

What this taught me about law school: 

My own experience reminded me of so many things that come up when I meet with students.  A legal writing paper is due in a couple of weeks, or there are 50 pages of text to read for class on Tuesday.  It is so easy to procrastinate, and the excuses mount.

I’m tired.  I have too many other things to do.  Everyone is going out tonight, and I might miss the best night out ever if I don’t go.  I'll do it tomorrow.  I don’t study well at home, and I don’t want to walk to the library in the rain.  I’m hungry.  The baseball game is on.  My back hurts.  I really should vacuum the carpet.  Did I feed the cat?  This is going to take me at least ten hours, and I only have eight hours to work right now.  It’s overwhelming.  I just need to rest for awhile.  I deserve some rest.  I'm a really hard working law student. 

But you have to understand -- the paper is not going away.  You'll have to do the reading eventually.  You may not be lucky enough to have someone looking over your shoulder, telling you to start.  At some point, you will just have to listen to the voice in your head urging you to get motivated.  Sit down at the computer and start typing your memo or brief.  Open up your casebook, grab a highlighter, and start reading.  You almost certainly will surprise yourself.  It probably won’t take as long as you fear.  If you don't start, the task, like grass, will continue to grow.  As you put off your work, other tasks will be added to your to do list.  So, just get started. 

If you never start, you’ll never finish. 

June 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Update from PLANC

While many of you were off to the LSAC ASP conference in Denver, a handful of us were in Washington, DC for PLANC (Pre-Law Advisors National Conference). As much as I would have loved to attend both conferences, I could not. I was invited to speak on professionalism at PLANC, and I had accepted the invitation in January.

Here is an update on things of relevance to ASPer's that happened at PLANC:

The unintentional, unavoidable focus for the conference centered on jobs, placement stats, and employablity of graduates. While this might not seem to be of immediate interest to ASPer's, there was an acknowledgement of the immense pressure to pass the bar on the first try. In the past, the bar pass issues have revolved around ABA accreditation. This year, bar pass was stressed because failure to pass the bar on the first try can kill any chances of a legal career. This should make more students amenable to early bar prep, and more focused during post-graduate bar prep.

One thing always stand out during PLANC and APLA meetings: how many pre-law professionals are not JD's. This has implications for ASP because the type of pre-law professional a student works with before matriculation can result in different first-year studying habits. Pre-law professionals who handle multiple types of students (pre-law, pre-health professions, grad school prep), who focus only on the application process, or focus on career prep have a different focus than pre-law professionals whose sole purpose is to prepare pre-law students for law school. If you are an ASPer at a school that has feeder undergraduate institutions (a feeder institution is any one school that supplies your class with more than 10% of your incoming 1L's) should reach out to the pre-law professionals at those schools to talk about what information those students have about the rigors of law school academics.


June 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Welcome Dan Weddle as Co-Editor

Rebecca and I are delighted to announce that Dan Weddle, Director of Academic Support at University of Missouri - Kansas City, is joining us as a Co-Editor for the Law School Academic Support Blog. 

Dan previously served as a Co-Editor with Dennis Tonsing and later with me before he decided to take a break for several years.  He has been involved in research and writing about bullying and other educational issues during his hiatus from the blog. 

We know that all of our readers will benefit from his insights.  Welcome back, Dan!  (Amy Jarmon)  

June 18, 2012 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Assistant Director Position at Stetson

POSITION:                 Assistant Director for Academic Success & Bar Preparation Services

DEPARTMENT:        Academic Success & Bar Preparation Services

DATE POSTED:        06/12/2012 

Primary Purpose:

Participates in the development and implementation of a comprehensive Academic Success Program that partners with students from admission through bar passage.  Responsibilities will include academic counseling and administrative tasks. 

Duties and Responsibilities:

Academic Counseling

  • Advises upper-level students on course selection, study techniques and exam preparation. 
  • Reviews upper-level student work product to provide analysis and feedback to help students improve their writing skills.

Bar Preparation Counseling

  • Meets with individuals who are preparing for the bar exam and review sample bar exam essays and provide analysis and feedback to help them improve their writing skills.
  • Helps individuals develop and execute customized study plans and strategies for passing the bar exam. 
  • Develops and implement the Bar Preparation Service’s Repeat Taker Program.
  • Addresses general student questions about completing the bar application. 

Administrative Tasks

  • Assists with Academic Success and Bar Preparation Workshops.
  • Assists in the development and maintenance of the Bar Preparation website and blog.
  • Assists with New Student Orientation. 
  • Collaborates with other campus offices to provide a comprehensive and meaningful academic experience for students. 
  • Performs all other duties as assigned.


J.D. degree required.  Must be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar.  One to three years’ experience in academic support preferred. Ability to build rapport with students in individual counseling setting. Ability to maintain the confidentiality of student records and information. Ability to conduct basic statistical analysis, preferred.  A high level of organization, flexibility, judgment and interpersonal skills are required.  Strong written and verbal communication skills, and presentation ability, required.  Experience with Stetson’s bar preparation program, a plus.Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook). 

Stetson University, an Equal Opportunity Employer, affirms the values and goals of diversity and strongly encourages the applications of all candidates, including women and candidates from historically under-represented groups. 

Resumes and/or applications and salary requirements should be sent to Human Resources Office at 1401 61st Street S, Gulfport, FL 33707 or email to  

June 18, 2012 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Assessment Institute Coming in the Fall

Thanks to Carlota Toledo for posting the link recently on the ASP listserv for The 2012 Assessment Institute at Indiana University - Indianapolis in October.  If you want more information on the institute's workshops you can find the web pages at: 2012 Assessment Institute .  (Amy Jarmon)

June 18, 2012 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

See you in Denver!

We look forward to seeing you at the LSAC AATW in Denver this week!  The line-up of speakers and presentations looks great.  And it is always a blessing to see colleagues we have known for years and to meet new colleagues in ASP.  Thank you to Kent Lollis, the Planning Committee, the staff at LSAC, and our colleagues at U of Denver for all of their hard work in putting together this conference.  Safe travels for everyone.

June 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

University of San Diego Director Position


The Director, Academic Success Programs, reports directly to the Assistant Dean for J.D. Student Affairs and is responsible for contributing to a positive student experience by providing oversight of the many academic support programs at USD.  The Director works in a collaborative relationship with all law school students, faculty, administrative offices, and university offices and actively participates in coordinating all aspects of the academic support programs.  The Director is expected to market the ASP programs and actively engage in outreach to all students.  The Director will also be assigned an instructor position in the area of academic support and/or bar preparation programming.  The ability to provide timely and accurate communication to students is an essential component of this position.  This position requires occasional attendance at on and off campus events during and outside normal business hours.   Some travel may be required.  

Works under the general supervision of the Assistant Dean for J.D. Student Affairs.   For instructional assignments, also works under the general supervision of the Vice Dean.  Minimal direct supervision of regular, full-time employees, but directly hires, trains and supervises law student learning assistants (approx. 12-15 per semester).  Administrative support provided by a part-time Executive Assistant with occasional additional support from the Coordinator, JD Student Affairs. 

Duties and Responsibilities include:

  • Develop and manage a comprehensive program in academic success
  • Provide one-on-one academic counseling to JD Students
  • Teach course(s) designed to Increase Bar Exam and/or Legal Analysis Skills
  • Assist with Bar Exam Advisement and Preparation
  • Perform administrative duties 

Job Requirements  

  • JD degree required.  Admission to state bar required.
  • Experience teaching, providing workshops, or trainings is required. Teaching experience in a university setting preferred.
  • Minimum of two to three years professional experience required. Prior experience working within a law school academic support program strongly preferred.
  • Academic counseling or advising experience preferred.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail is critical.
  • Proven skills in written and oral communication.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in an academic or professional setting.
  • Ability to handle confidential information, exhibit good judgment, and exemplify appropriate customer service in working with students, faculty, and all levels of university staff and officials. 
  • Ability to prioritize workload effectively and meet deadlines with minimal supervision.
  • Ability to take initiative in managing projects and ability to develop and keep to time lines.
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively in fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to be proactive with respect to suggestions for improving all aspects of the programs
  • Strong computer skills for spreadsheet reporting, word-processing, database maintenance, web-design and maintenance.  Minimum of intermediate experience with Word, Excel and MS Outlook required.  Experience with web content development preferred. 

Additional Details    

Salary: Commensurate with experience; Excellent Benefits.  

The University of San Diego offers a very competitive benefits package, to include medical, dental, vision, a 12% retirement contribution given to you by the University, and access to on-campus Fitness Centers.  Please visit the benefits section of our website to view all of the perks and benefits that USD has to offer. USD: Finance & Administration: Human Resources: Benefits 

Hours: 37.5 hours per week.  Monday - Friday; 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 

Closing date: June 21, 2012 

Background check:  Successful completion of a pre-employment background check.

Degree Verification Requirement: Persons offered employment in this position will be required to provide official education transcripts for degree verification purposes.  Serious candidates are encouraged to request official transcripts to help expedite the hiring process.   



June 12, 2012 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Embedded support vs. remediation

In Connecticut, there is a fierce battle brewing over education reform. There is also a lesser-known, but associated, movement to change course requirements in college. The Connecticut legislature is proposing to do away with remedial courses in colleges, and replace the remedial courses with embedded support for students who score below a preset threshold on placement tests. This proposal has potential implications for academic support, which includes both componants of remedial instruction and embedded support. The obvious caveat when comparing the proposed legislation and law school ASP is that there are many, many differences between college-level preparedness and law school preparedness, and significant differences between law school ASP and remedial courses at the undergraduate level. However, I think there are things we can learn from the movement to end remedial courses. 

I am most interested in the difference in student perception; do students prefer classes or embedded support? Why do student succeed with one method, but not the other?

Embedded support: how do they plan on implementing this without making the class too slow for those who have mastered basic skills? Do you lose students who are more skilled if they are bored in classes that spend too much time on support for student who do not have basic skills?

Cost structure: embedded support across the curriculum costs money; how do they plan on funding this legislation in a time of budget cuts? Will embedded support pay for itself when fewer students drop out?\

These are things that I am mulling as this debate continues in the state.  (RCF)




June 8, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Willliam S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, invites applications for the Assistant Director of the Academic Success Program.


The Assistant Director of the Academic Success Program will be responsible for providing support for Program and counseling 20-30 students per week in order to assist them with their legal studies.  The Assistant Director will monitor and train student mentors, assist in curriculum development for the bar passage program, counsel current students and alumni on bar passage issues, and conduct seminars for the first year class.

 The position reports to the Director of the Academic Success Program and works closely with and actively collaborates with the Law School faculty and senior administrators.


The School of Law is now building on its record of success during its first decade as the public law school of Nevada.  We are a new school with a diverse alumni base of just under 1500.  The School of Law has 477 students enrolled (347 full-time, 130 part-time) and 44 full-time faculty, and enjoys state-of-the-art facilities at the center of the UNLV campus.  For more information about the Boyd School of Law, please refer to our website at


UNLV is a premier metropolitan research university with 27,000 students and more than 1000 full-time faculty.  With more than 120 graduate programs, including 38 doctoral and professional programs, UNLV is Nevada’s largest comprehensive doctoral degree granting institution.  It provides traditional and professional academic programs for a diverse student body and encourages innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, learning, and scholarship.  For more information about the University, please refer to the UNLV website at  Las Vegas is a diverse and entrepreneurial city that boasts unparalleled access to world-class restaurants and entertainment, all within a short drive to some of the nation’s premier outdoor attractions.


Requirements:  J.D. degree and related professional experience.  Candidates should possess superior interpersonal, written, and oral communication skills; effectiveness in working with students and alumni, administrators, and  faculty.


To apply, submit a letter which includes work experience, resume, and list of references via on-line application at  For assistance with UNLV’s on-line applicant portal, contact UNLV Employment Services at (702) 895-2894 or  Application review will begin immediately, and we will continue to consider applications until the position is filled. For more information, contact Jennifer Carr, Director of the Academic Success Program at 


UNLV is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity educator and employer committed to excellence through diversity.

June 6, 2012 in Job Descriptions, Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Congratulations on finishing your first year! Now what?

Amy and guests have recently written some fabulous posts for graduating law students. I am going to address students who can celebrate a different accomplishment: finishing their first year of law school. In many ways, the first year of law school is the toughest year. Students are learning new material, presented in a new format, from an unfamiliar type of book (since most colleges use textbooks, not casebooks). Here is a list of thought questions for students who have finished their first year of law school.

1) Did I meet my own goals?

It's easy to go on autopilot during the 1L year. Getting through the day, the week, and the semester are important short-term goals. However, everyone comes to law school with certain long-term goals. The time after 1L exams, but before 2L classes begin, is the ideal time to evaluate your long-term goals. Law school is an expensive, life-altering commitment. Are you meeting your own goals? If not, are these goals still in reach? What can you do to reach those goals next year? Are those goals reasonable? If your goals were reasonable and you did not reach them, should you be reworking your long-term plans?

2) What did I enjoy this year?

It's so easy to kvetch about what didn't go right. Almost no one does as well as they think they will or should do on exams. This is the time to consider what was enjoyable during the 1L year. Did you really enjoy a specific class? What did you enjoy about the class (was it the teacher, was it the material, or both?) Are there upper-division classes in this area of law or with this teacher? What are the employment prospects in this area of law? What type of clinical, externship, or volunteer experiences will I need if I want to work in this area of law? If you really liked the teacher, does the teacher employ RA's during the school year? If what you really enjoyed was something outside the classroom, how are you going to nurture that part of your life next year?

3) What should I think about changing for next year?

This is the time to really evaluate your successes and your failures. Evaluating your actions is not the same as judging yourself. don't beat up on yourself if you did not reach all your goals; figure out how to change so you can reach those goals next year. Evaluate how close you came to your goals if you did not reach them, and think about what it will take to reach them next year. If you succeeded, break down what you can replicate for the future. (RCF)

June 5, 2012 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)