Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I would like to do a series of posts featuring my amazing ASP colleagues. ASP'ers are so dedicated to improving not only student academics but also student lives! Whether you have worked in ASP for just 2 months or over 20 years, your thoughts will encourage and inspire others.
Please send me 50 words or less on why you work in academic success work (this description includes bar preparation and pre-law work that you might do in addition to other academic success tasks).
With your submission include:
- either a link to your faculty profile on your law school website and/or a small jpeg picture
- your job title
- how long you have been in ASP work.
I look forward to receiving your thoughts. (Amy Jarmon)
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sleep is essential. Most law students short themselves on enough sleep. Rather than allowing them to get more done, less sleep actually decreases their learning.
Here are sleep facts:
- If a person gets less than 7 hours of sleep consistently, the medical diagnosis is chronic sleep deprivation.
- The average person needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night to function optimally.
- Some people need more than 8 hours of sleep for medical reasons or other circumstances.
- The body and brain work best with a consistent sleep routine - going to bed (Sunday through Thursday nights) and getting up (Monday through Friday mornings) at the same time.
- On the weekends, you can vary the sleep schedule 2-2 1/2 hours without whacking out your body clock for the rest of the week (go to bed at 1 a.m. instead of 11 p.m. and get up at 9:30 a.m. instead of 7:00 a.m., for example).
- Having a consistent sleep schedule will cause you to get sleepy as bedtime approaches and to wake up a few minutes before the alarm goes off.
- The average person needs 3 hours to complete a full sleep cycle.
- If you wake up with less than 90 minutes before your alarm will go off, you are probably better to get up than go back to sleep because your sleep cycle was interrupted at an inopportune point and result in grogginess if you go back to sleep.
- Sleep inducers before bed: warm milk, a lavendar bubble bath, at least 1/2 hour of wind down time.
- Sleep inducers once in bed: a dark room, a quiet room, lack of electronic gadgets in the bedroom (television, computer, etc.).
- Sleep inhibitors: alcohol, caffeine, a large meal near bedtime, exercise too close to bedtime, electronic stimulation right before bed (television, computer, etc.).
- Realize that if you wake up during the night that it is not unusual to take 15 minutes to fall back to sleep - do not stare at the digital alarm clock waiting to go back to sleep.
- If you wake up during the night with worries that you will forget something, keep a pad and pen on the nightstand and capture your thoughts - it will be easier to go back to sleep.
- If you toss and turn for a long period and cannot get back to sleep, get up and go to another room and read something boring before you try to go back to bed.
- A consistent sleep routine will eliminate the need for excessive napping.
- Power napping of 5-30 minutes can refresh some people.
- Naps of more than 20-30 minutes actually make you more groggy.
- Sufficient sleep has the following benefits:
- Increased focus when studying.
- Increased retention of material.
- Greater productivity within the time spent studying.
- Decreased irritability and stress.
- Weight loss.
Getting the proper number of ZZZZ's is very important. Do not skimp here if you want to be alert, focused, and learning-ready. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, October 26, 2012
Calling all new ASP staff members and ASP job changers
Are you a new academic support professional? Have you been an ASP'er for some time but have switched schools? Did you get promoted within ASP this past summer? Please let us know your news!
We would like to do an academic support spotlight posting to introduce you if you are new. If you have switched schools or were promoted, we would like to use the same postings to update colleagues on your new position.For us to include you in a spotlight posting, just send me the following information:
- If new: One paragraph that can be posted with information on your position, law school, and you (education, past work experience, and interests).
- If job changing or promotion: Similar but with a focus on your new position and duties and where you moved from/title you held before.
- Everyone: A link to your law school's faculty profile on the website if one exists for you.
- Everyone: A link to your picture on your law school's website if one exists. (If not, you can send a small jpeg file.)
We welcome all of you who are new to the profession! Congratulations to those of you who have switched jobs or received promotions! We look forward to spotlighting you later this month. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Associate Dean of Student Services at the William S. Richardson School of Law
Duties and Responsibilities:
The Associate Dean of Student Services provides leadership and manages all major matters involving student services at the Law School including, but not limited to, student advising and counseling, professional development/career services, student records, registration, and issues of student conduct and safety. The Associate Dean is a member of the senior management team, provides a direct link between students and the faculty and administration, collaborates closely with admissions and financial aid staff, and has possible teaching opportunities.
- Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree.
- Strong counseling skills.
- Progressively responsible administrative experience in a law school or other professional school involving student services administration, or equivalent.
- Knowledge of theories, principles, and practices of higher education program administration.
- Extensive relevant experience, preferably at least six years in an academic setting or with academic programs.
- Knowledge of personal computers and job related software programs.
- Knowledge of the legal profession and professional school accreditation.
- Knowledge of law school administration.
- Indicia of potential for leadership and creativity in legal education.
- Bar passage.
Submit cover letter indicating how you satisfy the minimum and desirable qualifications, names, contact information (including e-mail address) of at least three professional references and résumé.
Electronic submissions to: James Pietsch, Professor of Law firstname.lastname@example.org preferred.
Address: William S. Richardson School of Law, 2515 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI 96822
Inquiries: James Pietsch; 808-956-6785; email@example.com
BULLYING IN HIGHER EDUCATION TO BE MAJOR FOCUS AT INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IN KANSAS CITY
This November 4-6, bullying in higher education will be a major focus of at the International Bullying Prevention Association’s annual conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Because research into bullying in higher education is in its infancy, this conference and the international experts it will bring to Kansas City will present a unique opportunity for administrators and legal and educational scholars and to step into the field early on and to become national leaders in the fight against peer-on-peer abuse in colleges and universities.
The conference will provide a full slate of sessions focusing on such topics as bullying, hazing, incivility, and harassment in classrooms, professional schools, athletic programs, residential settings, and the Greek system. The sessions will be designed to be as informative and practical as possible, with a strong emphasis on prevention and response. In addition, several sessions will focus on the legal implications of peer-on-peer abuse among college students.
Higher education professionals will take back to their schools valuable insights into the problem and the prevention of bullying in college settings, and they will have the opportunity to forge ongoing relationships with bullying prevention experts from around the globe. In keeping with this year’s conference theme, “The Courage to Act: Working Together to End Bullying,” the conference will offer higher education professionals the opportunity to partner with one another to address peer-on-peer aggression and abuse with effective, evidence-based strategies.
A Special Conference Rate of $80 per day is now available for those who work in higher education. Attendees can register for either one or two days. Each registration will include a free pass to attend a panel discussion of the Tyler Clementi tragedy at Rutgers University on Sunday afternoon, November 4. Tyler Clementi committed suicide after being surreptitiously filmed having romantic relations with another man. The panel will include Rutgers in-house counsel as well as three top level administrators who were deeply involved in responding to the tragedy.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Have you noticed your 3L students struggling a bit? They stop to chat and tell me that they are lacking motivation, have the blahs, cannot focus, or other descriptions of their malaise when it comes to law school.
For some, it is that they are focusing on their job hunt and have taken their focus off courses. For some, it is a focus on December graduation and chomping at the bit to be done. For some it is a focus on taking the bar in February before their final spring semester is over and thinking about bar review now. For many it is just being sick and tired of law school with this semester and another one left to go.
For many of our 3L students, the third year seems like more of the same. The study tasks are just like the first two years. Unless they have elective courses that really grab their attention and introduce them to or re-immerse them in an area of law that they have a passion for, the courses seem uninspiring.
Some exceptions to the 3L boredom problem are our externship and clinic students. They seem to be energized by the change of pace they have during the semester. Other exceptions are those students who are in Trial Advocacy or other practice-oriented classroom experiences. Students who have traditional classes with even some component that breaks the mold (one drafting assignment, one client interaction, etc.) also seem more engaged in those classes.
What can 3L students with the blahs do to increase their motivation and focus if they do not have any of these types of classroom experiences? Here are some thoughts:
- Employ more active study techniques. Ask questions while reading. Read aloud instead of silently. Discuss cases and concepts with others. Switch up the facts and consider how the court would have responded to that new fact situation. Answer all of the questions at the ends of cases even if not required.
- Imagine that the client in the case had walked into one's own office with the legal problem. What questions would be asked of the client? What additional arguments could have been made by each side that were not made? What would be the strengths and weaknesses of those arguments? Are there any policy considerations? What ethical problems could have surfaced in the situation?
- Consider after each class how the information could be used in practice. Create hypothetical scenarios to delve into how the basics learned in the course would relate to a variety of legal situations.
- Discuss those hypotheticals with classmates. If you are uncertain how the concepts would work in the scenario, talk with the professor about the scenario.
- Volunteer for pro bono opportunities to see the law in action instead of feeling on the sidelines.
- Find part-time legal work in the community - even if it is an unpaid internship - to increase one's interaction with lawyers and involvement in the practice of law.
- Remind oneself of one's original goals for coming to law school and how courses will help one in passing the bar and practicing after graduation.
Even when 3L students feel that they just want to be done with their degrees, they still have the ultimate goal of becoming the best possible attorneys. Each bit of knowledge, each fact-scenario analysis, each probing question can lead to that goal - even when one is tempted to consider all of it just same old-same old.
Hang in there and take one day at a time. Learn as much as you can because for most future attorneys this will be the last time that they have the luxury to focus on learning. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
We are happy to introduce our readers to Seth Aitken who has started working at U Mass - Dartmouth. Please make sure you greet him when you see him at a workshop or conference. Jeremiah Ho, Assistant Professor, has provided the information below so that you will know more about Seth. (Amy Jarmon)
Seth Aitken currently works as an instructor on staff in the Academic Resources & Writing Center at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) School of Law - Dartmouth under the supervision of Director Anne Walsh Folino. He is new to ASP after serving for nearly three years as an assistant district attorney in Bristol County (Massachusetts). Seth first felt drawn to legal education during his time as a prosecutor, presenting cases and trying to explain essential legal concepts to juries at trial. Later he began training and mentoring new assistant district attorneys working with them to develop strong trial skills and principled, thoughtful approaches to prosecuting crimes.Seth earned his J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law after serving for eight years as an Army officer in the Corps of Engineers, and four years working with students and student groups at Brown University in the Office of Alumni Relations and the Swearer Center for Public Service. He is very excited to be working with law students at UMass.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Students who are just now realizing how close exams are and how much they have to do are looking for ways to be more efficient and effective. The trick is to continue the daily work for classes but still find time for exam review. A good time management schedule can help a student see where everything can be completed. (See my Thursday, September 6th post "When will I have time for . . . " for advice on time management.)
When looking specifically at exam study tasks, a student should ask the following questions:
- What is the payoff for exams of this exam study task?
- Is this exam study task the most efficient use of time?
- Is this exam study task the most effective way of doing the task?
Question One: This question is focusing on whether the exam study task is really going to help one do well on exams. If not, then the task should be dropped (or modified) for a task that will have more payoff.
- Example 1: Re-reading cases to study for exams rarely has much payoff because the exam will not ask you questions about the specific cases and instead will want you to use what you learned from the cases to solve new legal problems.
- Example 2: Reading sections in a study aid that do not correspond to topics covered by your professor in the course will have little payoff on your exam. If your professor did not cover defamation, reading about it in a study aid "just because it is there" in the book is a waste of time.
In example 1, you would get more payoff by spending time on learning your outline and doing practice questions. In example 2, you would get more payoff by reading only those sections of the study aid that are covered by your professor's course and about which you are confused.
Question Two: This question focuses on whether the task that you have determined has payoff is a wise use of your time. If you do a task with payoff inefficiently, you can still be making a study mistake.
- Example 1: You have not bothered reviewing and learning a particular topic for the exam yet. You decide to complete a set of 15 multiple-choice questions on the topic. You get 8 of them wrong and guessed at 3 of the ones you got right.
- Example 2: After outlining, you have lots of questions about the first three topics that your professor has covered in the course. You decide to worry about them later and continue on through the course with more questions surfacing each day.
In example 1, practice questions have payoff, but you wasted time because the questions would have more accurately gauged your depth of understanding and preparedness for the exam if you had done them after review. In example 2, listing the questions you have on material has payoff, but you wasted time by not getting all questions for the first three topics answered while you had the context before moving on with new material.
Question Three: This question focuses on whether the task that you determined has payoff is getting you the maximum results. If you do a task that has payoff ineffectively, you can also be making a study mistake.
- Example 1: You are reviewing your outline which is a high-payoff task. However, you choose to review your outline in the student lounge while talking to friends and watching the news on the television.
- Example 2: You join a study group which meets every week and has an agenda of topics and practice questions that will be covered. You attend regularly but never go over the material or practice questions before the meetings.
In example 1, your outline review was ineffective because you were not focused fully on that exam study task. You may say you spent two hours reviewing, but your results will be far less than the time you pretend to have spent. In example 2, your exan study was ineffective because you got minimal results compared to what would have been possible if you had prepared before the meeting.
Spending time on exam studying must have payoff, be efficient, and be effective to deserve being called exam study. Otherwise, you only fool yourself. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, October 18, 2012
We are on the downward slope of our semester now. The midpoint in classes for our law school passed last week. The level of stress among students has increased as has the level of negativity. It takes a stout constitution to stay focused on the postive instead of getting mired down in the negative.
Here are some suggestions to help students accentuate the postive:
- Remember why you came to law school and keep those reasons in mind. Law school was the pathway for meeting a goal. If that goal is still valid, then law school is still valid.
- Realize that you can only control yourself and your time. You cannot control other law students who are super-competitive, moaning and groaning, irritable, or stressed.
- Realize that you are not going to like every other law student any more than if you chose 700 (or however many law students are at your school) random people and put them together. Some people will be unlikeable, gossipy, childish, lazy, mean or have some other negative trait. That is life. Do not paint the other nice people with a broad brush that condemns everyone.
- Remove yourself from negative situations. Avoid people who stress you out, focus on doom and gloom, and complain constantly. Refuse to become engaged in conversation with someone who wants to boost his own ego at your expense by attempting to make you feel less capable.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Seek out law students who are supportive of fellow students, who have a balanced approach to law school, and who are focused on doing well while still being nice people. Talk on the phone each day with supportive family and friends.
- Avoid "should of" statements. You cannot change the choices you made earlier in the semester about outlines, study habits, and more. You can change how you move forward with your studying. Focus on positive changes rather than past bad decisions.
- Break down assignments into smaller tasks so that the work becomes less overwhelming. You can cross off small tasks more quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Make a list of the questions that you have about the material for each course. Get the questions answered now rather than later. You will feel better if you are not as worried about things you do not understand. Get help from a classmate or your professor.
- Avoid exaggerating your concerns about a course or task. "I am clueless about Federal Income Tax" is much more negative than "I do not understand depreciation." "I'll never get my outlines done" is much more damaging to your confidence than "I will get two outlines done this weekend and two by the following weekend."
- Make sure you have some down time from studying and take care of yourself. Take a dinner break. Exercise at least three times a week. Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Take a couple of nights off on the weekend.
A full-time law student should be able to get all study tasks (reading, briefing, outlining, finishing assignments/papers, reviewing for exams) done in 50-55 hours per week. That still leaves time to have a life outside of law school. If you use your time wisely, you will feel more positive about law school because you will see that you are getting everything done and having guilt-free time for yourself. (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals
Teaching, Scholarship, and Service: Professional Development for Academic Support Professionals
Friday, November 2, 2012 ~ 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Held at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, CA
[Optional dinner out on Thursday evening for those in town!]
9:30 a.m. Coffee and Registration
10:00 a.m. Welcome to the WCCASP Conference – Courtney Lee, Pacific McGeorge
10:05 a.m. Welcome to Pacific McGeorge – Tim Naccarato, Pacific McGeorge
10:15 a.m. Advancing Your ASP Career and Communicating the Importance of ASP
Presented by Jendayi Saada, University of La Verne
11:10 a.m. Developing a Classroom Outcome & Assessment Plan
Presented by Joan Harrington, Santa Clara & Jagdish (Jay) Bijlani, Golden Gate
12:00 p.m. LUNCH and ASP Idea Laboratory
Moderated by Emily Scivoletto, University of San Diego
Lunch provided by Pacific McGeorge
1:00 p.m. KEYNOTE: Writing and Publishing ASP Scholarship
Presented by Louis Schulze, New England School of Law
2:00 p.m. Writing Topic Roundtable and Steps to Get Your Writing Moving
Moderated by Lisa Young, Seattle University
2:30 p.m. Well-deserved Break
2:45 p.m. Best Practices in Making Scholarly Presentations and Drafting Presentation Proposals
Presented by Courtney Lee, Pacific McGeorge & Lisa Young, Seattle University
3:15 p.m. A Tale of Two Performance Test Courses
Presented by Paul Bateman, Southwestern & Chris Ide-Don, UC Davis
4:00 p.m. Our Wonderful Demanding Profession: Avoiding ASP Burnout
Presented by Jennifer Carr, UNLV
4:45 p.m. Wrap-up and Next Steps for WCCASP
(Registration materials were attached to the ASP listserv announcement sent out this week.)
Monday, October 15, 2012
The University of Texas School of Law invites applicants for the position of Assistant Dean For Student Affairs. The Assistant Dean is responsible for supervising the administrative office that oversees the academic experience of students at UT Law School. Specific functions of the Student Affairs Office include administering University and Law School rules and regulations, maintaining student records, implementing a course registration process, and advising students on course selection and other academic matters. The Assistant Dean is responsible for supervising the student discipline process of the University, implementing accommodations for disabilities, managing all law student organizations, facilitating students applications to state bar authorities, and producing the UT Law Graduation, also known as the Sunflower Ceremony. The position requires a highly motivated individual, with excellent interpersonal skills for working with students, faculty, and administrators. The Assistant Dean for Student Affairs must be involved in maintaining high standards in student life and academic counseling. There is a strong preference for candidates with a J.D. and five years of experience working in higher education with student programs.
More information is available at https://utdirect.utexas.edu/apps/hr/jobs/nlogon/121005010351
UT Law School has long been recognized as one of the top institutions for legal education in the United States. Approximately, seventy-five tenured and tenure track faculty and thirty clinical faculty teach over 1200 students in the Juris Doctor and Master of Laws programs each year. In terms of both scholarly distinction and success in the classroom, UT Law School has long had one of the most outstanding faculties in the nation. Over 23,000 living graduates are involved in industry, business, government service, elective office, judicial office, and the practice of law throughout the United States and the world. For more information about UT Law School, please visit www.utexas.edu/law
Austin, Texas is a vibrant community within Central Texas. Home to the State Capital, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Museum, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and four Fortune 500 Corporations, it is the fourteenth largest city in the United States with over 800,000 residents. Austin often is mentioned in discussions of this country’s most livable cities because of its diverse culture and its rolling hills that are surrounded by lakes.
Please join us in welcoming Rebecca Nickell as the new Student Success Coordinator at Concordia University School of Law. I have included below part of the press release from her law school as a way for you to get to know her. Next time you are at a conference or workshop, please introduce yourselves to Rebecca. (Amy Jarmon)
"Concordia University School of Law Associate Dean of Academics Greg Sergienko is pleased to announce the selection of Rebecca Nickell as Student Success Coordinator. “We're very pleased to have Rebecca joining the team,” Associate Dean Sergienko said. “She had a stellar record in law school herself, and her wealth of experience in the area of student success will help our students and faculty succeed in our learning and teaching.”
Prior to her appointment at Concordia Law, Nickell was in a similar role at Phoenix School of Law in Phoenix, Ariz., where she was instrumental in the success of students. Nickell was responsible for developing curriculum and teaching a 3‐credit hour course focused on the essential skills required for the Uniform Bar Exam. In addition, she mentored and counseled graduates navigating the bar preparation period. She also fulfilled the role of academic counselor and taught a non‐credit class on developing study skills and mastering the law school exam.
Nickell received her B.S. in chemical engineering and petroleum refining, from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. In 2010, she earned her J.D. from Phoenix School of Law. During her legal studies, Nickell ranked second in her class and aided the Phoenix Law Review as a board member and technical editor.
Preceding law school, Nickell worked as an engineer at both Speedfam‐IPEC and ST Microelectronics, where she was received patents as a co‐inventor on processes related to semi‐conductor manufacturing methods."
Saturday, October 13, 2012
THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOL OF LAW-DARTMOUTH
Director of Academic Success Position
The law school seeks a tenured or tenure track faculty member who will be the Director of Academic Success and teach one required non-academic support course each year. Doctrinal needs include Contracts, Property, and Civil Procedure. In addition, the Director of Academic Success will supervise academic support professionals, teach in the academic support program, and direct the provision of a full range of academic support services, from a pre-law preparation program, through a robust law school support program, culminating in a bar prep support program for graduates. It will be expected that this faculty member will regularly work during the summer months.
UMass School of Law - Dartmouth’s mission centers on public service and the school is committed to the principles of Best Practices. The School seeks to prepare students to practice law in a competent and ethical manner while serving the community. The School offers a robust legal education program which includes traditional courses as well as clinical programs, both in-house and off campus, and a field placement program utilizing experienced practitioners. Students are required to take 6 practice-oriented courses and to provide 30 hours of pro bono legal assistance to graduate.
The successful candidate must have teaching experience and have practiced law in either the private or public arena, will have taught in a student success program, will be experienced in developing or teaching bar exam support programs, will have experience working with non-traditional students and students from communities underrepresented in the profession, and should demonstrate abilities in institutional research, assessment and outcomes reporting. Candidates must possess a J.D., must be a member in good standing of a state’s bar, must demonstrate a record of outstanding achievement in a law practice and/or law teaching , and must demonstrate a potential for excellence as a teacher and scholar. Applicants with a background in education, public interest/government practice experience or community-based small firm practice are encouraged to apply.
UMass School of Law - Dartmouth is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty, administration and student body and encourages applications from members of underrepresented groups who will add diversity to the Law School Community.
The Faculty Appointments Committee will be attending the AALS Recruitment Conference in Washington, DC, October 11-13, 2012. Interested candidates should submit a letter of application and a current resume to Professor Frances Howell Rudko, Faculty Appointments Committee, (firstname.lastname@example.org), University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth, 333 Faunce Corner Road, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747. Local candidates who cannot attend the AALS Conference can be scheduled for on campus screening interviews following the Conference. Please indicate your preference in your letter of application.
The University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth is an EEO-AA Employer.
The University of Massachusetts reserves the right to conduct background checks on all potential employees.
See full job description at http://www.umassd.edu/hr/.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Herb Ramy, Chair of the Academic Support Section for AALS, has recently sent out a listserv announcement regarding the dates for our section events in New Orleans this coming January. In case you missed his e-mail, here are the dates that you need to note on your calendars:
Saturday, January 5, 7:00 – 8:30 AM – Separate Fee Required ($35)
Section on Academic Support Breakfast
Sunday, January 6, 4:00–5:45 p.m.
Section on Academic Support
Topic: Assessing Our Students, Our Success and Ourselves - Three presentations will highlight different aspects of assessment to inform participants about sources of existing data, methods of gathering additional information, and uses of that information to assess existing programs and to develop new ones.
Sunday, January 6, 7:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Section Business Meeting – If others are interested, we can try to gather for dinner after the business meeting. In this way, folks who cannot make the breakfast can have another opportunity to meet with old friends and make new ones.
We look forward to seeing all of you in New Orleans. The Section events are always worthwhile as is the networking before and after. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, October 11, 2012
The first-year students are currently deeply engaged in their research paths and legal memoranda. As is typical, many of them are fraught because they are trying to juggle the large time commitment for these assignments with their daily reading and briefing and their weekly outlining. It is not unusual for a few of them to lament that they have to do our legal practice course when their doctrinal courses are so important.
As someone who teaches our legal skills component of our Summer Entry Program, I realize the stress that students feel when they are juggling a doctrinal component at the same time as a writing component. However, I also know why both aspects are important even though students sometimes miss the point. So, I smile and then explain why legal practice is not a second-class component of law school.
I believe that some students miss the point because they do not really understand the practice of law and how law differs from other academic disciplines in their undergraduate studies. The following are some of the points that I try to get them to understand:
- Undergraduate studies in some disciplines (for example, hard sciences, accounting, some areas of mathematics) were often looking for right answers. In the law, the scenarios often are of the "it depends" nature that require more than just knowing rules of law.
- Undergraduate studies in other disciplines (for example, sociology, phiolosophy, political science) were often looking for the discussion of ideas. In the law, ideas are important, but the critical thinking about facts, the precedents, and seeing both sides of the argument combine for a more structured thinking.
- Undergraduate studies often encouraged mere memorization of material and regurgitation of that material rather than critical thinking about the material.
- Undergraduate studies often encouraged writing that was less precise and concise without the same critical importance on where the comma went or the specific word chosen.
- Doctrinal courses help you to learn how to read cases, understand the rules and concepts for a particular legal specialty, and fit the black letter law into the bigger picture of the course.
- Doctrinal courses typically ask students to use the law in the analysis of new legal scenarios under timed conditions.
- Doctrinal areas of the law change as new precedents are decided or new statutes are enacted. Some areas of law change slowly while others change rapidly. New societal or technological issues can open up entirely new specialties in practice. Thus, the doctrinal law learned today may change and is not the be all and end all of learning doctrine.
- Memorization of doctrinal law is just the start of the process of legal analysis. You must know the black letter law, but it is the application of that law to legal scenarios that is most important.
- Legal writing is very different for most students from any past writing and cannot be learned overnight. Legal writing skills need to be learned through practice.
- Law firms can have summer clerks and new attorneys learn the law - whether it is a new topic or an entire new specialty area. Learning the law is a given for any position, and doctrinal classes will have given law students a great deal of practice in doing so.
- Law firms cannot teach summer clerks or new attorneys how to research and write. They expect competence in those skills. A strong foundation is needed for the work that is completed every day in practice.
- Law firms take legal research and writing grades seriously. They will look at those grades to determine whether the person can be competent in the typical work that will be assigned.
- High grades in doctrinal courses are important, but indicate different skills than the legal writing grades.
- Legal research and writing skills will be used every day of their lives as attorneys. With stronger skills when they leave law school, they will struggle less as attorneys.
Once students understand the practical implications of their research and writing skills, they make better choices about when to begin their assignments and making time for multiple drafts. After their first summer positions, law students tend to realize that the hard work on these skills was truly worth it and that what they were told about the importance of the skills was confirmed. (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Alex Ruskell has recently moved to the University of South Carolina to become the law school's Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation. Since USC has not previously had a program, Alex is building a program from the ground up.
He writes that the law students are great and he has had over 100 students at all of his workshops and an equal number of appointments already this semester. What a great start, Alex! Enjoy your new position at USC! (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT LITTLE ROCK
WILLIAM H. BOWEN SCHOOL OF LAW
ASSISTANT DEAN FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS
The UALR Bowen School of Law is seeking an Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. The Assistant Dean is in charge of all aspects of the law school academic counseling, academic success, and bar passage programs. The Assistant Dean for Student Affairs reports to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. This is a twelve-month renewable position and the start date is negotiable.
Candidates should have a J.D. from an accredited law school. Administrative experience, teaching experience, academic counseling, and an educational background are helpful. The successful candidate will be outgoing, will be able to work with diverse groups of people, and will have excellent teaching, writing and verbal skills.
The UALR Bowen School of Law, established in 1975, has approximately 440 full and part-time students and boasts innovative academic partnerships with UAMS, the Clinton School for Public Service, and the Boozman College of Public Health. The school’s alumni include federal and state judges, elected officials, business leaders, corporate counsel, partners of major law firms, and dedicated public servants. The school, located next to MacArthur Park, enjoys strong support from its students, alumni, and the legal community.
To apply, submit a letter of application (reference R97577), resume and references to: Patti Bell, Administrative Projects Coordinator, Bowen School of Law, 1201 McMath Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas 72202. Electronic submissions are preferred; e-mail email@example.com with R97577 in the subject line or fax to 501.324.9433. Screening of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For more information visit http://ualr.edu or http://www.law.ualr.edu.
This position is subject to a pre-employment criminal background check. A criminal conviction or arrest pending adjudication alone shall not disqualify an applicant in the absence of a relationship to the requirements of the position. Background check information will be used in a confidential, non-discriminatory manner consistent with state and federal law.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is an equal opportunity affirmative action employer and actively seeks the candidacy of minorities, women and person with disabilities. Under Arkansas law, all applications are subject to disclosure. Persons hired must have proof of legal authority to work in the United States.
Monday, October 8, 2012
I am curious about the integration of professional skills into ASP courses. I started focusing on professional skills for my undergraduates when I realized that few students understood what it meant to work in a professional environment, and that they would struggle in internships and volunteer activities. I have been intergrating professional skills into my undergraduate classes for three years now, and overall, I am impressed by the change in my students. I no longer worry about students who come into class late, play with their cell phones, or blow off appointments--these things are rare occurrences.
However, I do not integrate the same professional skills training into my ASP course. I have been very lax about students who blow off appointments or come to class late. In law students, I assume their must be a good reason for the behavior, or that the behavior is somehow justified by external problems. But I am beginning to question my assumptions. If these students where never taught how to be professionals when they were undergrads, and we don't explicitly teach these skills in law school, how would they know that these are things they should be thinking about?
Another assumption I am beginning to question is whether students "absorb" professional skills by being in law school. I think the predominate wisdom in many places is that students will pick up on professional skills by watching their professors, listening to some lectures by Career Services, and by just being smart kids. I don't think that this is enough, especially for students who need academic support. If a student is suffering from an anxiety disorder that prevents them from demonstrating their knowledge on an exam, chances are that the same anxiety will come up in professional situations. If a student can make it to class or appointments on time because they are disorganized and overwhelmed, chances are they will have the same issues with clients.
I am curious if any ASP's explicitly integrate professional skills into their curriculum. Does anyone know of schools that embed professional skills in all doctrinal and skills courses?
Thank you, Mary Ann Robinson. Here is a link to videos on professionalism for law students.
"The videos and related teaching materials are available at http://www.readyforpractice.com/Videos/ProfessionalismVideos.aspx.
These two have a specific tie-in to ASP:
Self-Direction (& Law School Study Skills)
Go for burritos with friends or go to study group? Poor choices in law school and on the job illustrate how critical it is to become self-directed learners, who take responsibility for mastering law school material and, later, the client’s file. Teaching materials include discussion questions and handouts from academic success professionals on effective law school study skills.
Learn from Kate, who struggles with being adequately prepared for a conference with her law school professor – and again years later at an important workplace meeting"
Friday, October 5, 2012
The University of Memphis’ Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law invites applications for the Assistant Dean for Law School Student Affairs. The Assistant Dean for Law School Student Affairs is the primary person responsible for assisting students and student organizations with law school needs while in law school. The law school is looking for a professional who can assist in redesigning and directing our Academic Success program. The school is particularly interested in applicants with teaching or advising experience.
The Law School celebrates its 50th anniversary as a public law school and second anniversary in its new building, the newly restored U.S. Customs House in downtown Memphis. A $48 million project, the structure offers a magnificent work setting and striking views of the Mississippi River. We look forward to bolstering our current outstanding staff with a staff member committed to excellence in the law school setting.
Memphis is a beautiful and diverse city with low real estate prices and an excellent quality of life. The city is known for its friendly atmosphere, revitalized downtown, and attractions such as Graceland, Beale Street, Opera Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Zoo, NBA Grizzlies, Memphis Tigers basketball team, National Civil Rights Museum, and nationally recognized theatre companies.
Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications, and the University offers an attractive benefits package.
Please apply at https://workforum.memphis.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/frameset/Frameset.jsp?time=1349101675295 prior to October 15, 2012. Email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications to fill the tenure-track position of Director of Academic Support. We will consider exceptionally talented applicants at either the assistant or associate professor level. Candidates must demonstrate a record of strong academic performance and excellent potential for scholarly achievement. The position will begin in July, 2013.
We are looking for an experienced academic success professional who is familiar with the best practices in the field and interested in designing a state-of-the-art academic success program suitable for our mission. The mission of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is to recruit and enroll students from groups under-represented at the bar, provide a well-rounded theoretical and practical legal education that will enable students to be effective and ethical advocates and represent the legal needs of low-income District of Columbia residents through the school’s legal clinics. UDC-DCSL is one of only six American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). UDC is the nation’s only urban, public land grant university. UDC-DCSL is highly ranked: Top 10 in the nation in Law School Clinical Programs ((US News and World Report, 2012); 3rd most diverse faculty (Princeton Review, 2012); 5th most chosen by older students (Princeton Review, 2012); 4th best environment for minority students (Princeton Review, 2012); and Top 20 most innovative law school (PreLaw Magazine, 2012). UDC-DCSL has a strong commitment to diversity among its faculty and encourages applications from minorities and women.
The salary range for Associate Professor is $92,000 to $138,000. The salary range for Assistant Professor is $73,533 to $110,300.
Although we will accept applications until the position is filled, we strongly encourage interested applicants to submit applications by October 31, 2012 for complete consideration. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume. Contact: Professor Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Building 52, Room 315A, Washington, D.C. 20008. email@example.com