Saturday, May 26, 2012

Start Right and Stay on Target in Bar Preparation

As the various bar review courses get under way, I wanted to list some of the common mistakes that I see graduates make in their bar preparation:

  • Decide to save money and not take a bar review course.
  • Coast the first few weeks and lose valuable time in their preparation.
  • Look for shortcuts rather than smart strategies: shortcuts undermine learning while smart strategies increase learning.
  • Lose their common sense: they do not evaluate what is or is not working in their studying and make adjustments as needed.
  • Completely ignore studying for some portions of the bar exam because they are worth less in the weighting (examples: MPT or state evidence/procedure section).
  • Go overboard on studying and exhaust themselves before they get to the exam itself.
  • Avoid doing lots of practice questions because their percentages are low initially.
  • Spend too much time on non-bar-preparation interests: going on a cruise, planning a wedding, remodeling a house, perfecting their abs, training for a marathon (all of these are real-life examples).
  • Waste time on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other electronic distractions.
  • Work part-time or full-time while preparing for the bar.
  • Focus on doom and gloom and convince themselves that they will fail so that they fulfill that prophesy.
  • Lack a support group while they are studying for the bar: other bar studiers can encourage one another, answer questions, and keep each other accountable.
  • Lose sleep, eat junk food, give up exercise, depend too much on sugar and caffeine: a healthy lifestyle is essential to successful bar preparation.

Best wishes to all of our graduates who are starting their bar exam preparation.  (Amy Jarmon)

May 26, 2012 in Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bar Prep Before Bar Prep

At the end of the semester, students often ask me if they should begin their bar preparation prior to the official start date of their commercial bar review course. Little did they know, my answer to this question is quite lengthy. I do not have a simple response because every student has unique needs and varying circumstances.

Some students should get started studying for the bar exam directly after graduation because the earlier they get started, the easier bar prep will be for them during the summer. These students may have struggled with essays writing, IRAC format, memorization, or simply take longer than most to grasp the law. If they do know how to get started, they should discuss their needs with their commercial bar prep provider or their Academic Support team. Since most bar prep courses have online components (lectures, workshops, MBE practice etc.), it easy to begin studying before your scheduled course begins.

Some students finish law school feeling completely exhausted and totally drained. Unlike the students who need to begin bar study early, these students really need a break after graduation. Using the week or two interim between graduation and bar review to renew, recharge, and refresh is the best way for them to ensure success during their bar prep. Not everyone will be lucky enough to spend a week in an exotic destination or on the beach, but even taking a short break from their daily academic routine is just what the doctor ordered.

For both groups of students, it is a great time to get organized. They should create a positive study environment by clearing clutter and cleaning out their living space. They should buy a large paper desk calendar and add the classes for their summer bar review schedule and any essential items or events that they are unable to delegate or eliminate over the summer. Seeing what their life will look like on paper will help ease the shock.

While calendaring, it is easy for students to fall into the trap of filling every second with bar study. Instead, prior to bar review, I encourage students to think of a few ways to find respite from their upcoming, countless hours in the library. Joining a yoga class, carving out time for a date night, or sitting in the sun with friends for a few hours a week can be hugely beneficial. If students plan and calendar these breaks and treat them like a reward for their hard work, they are more likely to stave off distractions during their study time. While I am the first one to tell them that they need to devote 10+ hours a day to studying for the bar exam, I am also a huge proponent of finding balance. (Lisa Young)

May 25, 2012 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Job Posting: Director of Academic Success at TJ Law

 Director of Academic Success

GENERAL SUMMARY:  Thomas Jefferson School of Law invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Success. The successful candidate will oversee the development of an innovative program to assist students in the transition to law school, to promote their successful completion of the J.D. program, and to work collaboratively with administration and faculty to provide them with a skill-set that will transition effectively into bar exam preparation. The school is seeking to build an innovative academic success program and we seek a Director who will be an enthusiastic addition to our academic success team.  We seek to serve and retain a highly qualified and diverse student body, and the Director should have experience effectively educating a diverse student population. Ideally, the successful candidate will begin in July of 2012.

The Director of Academic Success will report to the Assistant Dean of Academic Success and Bar Preparation, and will work closely with other staff and faculty at the law school to develop a program that is fully integrated with the J.D. curriculum.  The Director will develop, implement and manage programs to promote the academic success of students at the law school. The Director will coordinate, participate and facilitate individual and small group sessions to improve students' study, writing, time-management and test-taking skills. The Director will develop and conduct workshops on topics including class preparation, study habits, case briefing, outlining, and exam-taking. The Director will supervise the academic staff within the program, including working with the Legal Writing Specialist.  The Director will also be responsible for hiring, training, and coordinating a peer-tutoring program. The successful candidate will be expected to exercise independence and judgment, drawing on past experience and careful analysis of the law school’s particular needs, in the creation of new programming.
 Additionally, the Director will be responsible for assessing the academic success program and making periodic reports to the administration and faculty on the program’s progress and outcomes. The Director of Academic Success also will represent the law school at and participate in outside conferences and other events organized for and/or by academic support professionals at other institutions.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES

Collaborate with colleagues to identify, address and resolve student-learning issues.

Participate in program design and development activities to ensure high rates of student success, which includes curriculum design and teaching in a classroom setting.

Participate in the development and implementation of a Fall Orientation Program. 

Assess student performance processes on all levels (e.g. individually, organizationally and academically) and develop programs that support sustained improvement of the student body.

Encourage and facilitate positive learning outcomes by working with students individually and in group settings, which includes but is not limited to teaching classes, holding individual conferences, working with faculty and administration, etc.

Work with the different emotional and social backgrounds that affect a diverse, adult learner population.

Supervise and support staff within the Academic Success Program.

Work with the Associate Director – Writing Specialist in the design of workshops to strengthen the students’ ability to perform case analysis, synthesize material, outline, and learn effective test taking strategies.

Perform individual academic advising as needed.

REQUIRED SKILLS, ABILITIES AND EXPERIENCE

The successful candidate must have:

J.D. from an A.B.A.-accredited law school and a record of academic and extracurricular success in law school;

Successful completion of a bar exam;

Three years of teaching experience in an educational (or similar) environment;

Superior written, oral and interpersonal communication skills, including experience making presentations to law school students;

Experience with curriculum design, including an understanding of educational learning theory, best practices in teaching pedagogy, and individual learning styles. 

The ability to think imaginatively and critically about techniques to improve our law students’ academic development, and to design, implement and manage innovative programs to assist adult learners in reaching their academic potential;

The ability to work well with a diverse student body, including having a cultural awareness of different learning styles;

Strong teaching, interpersonal and counseling skills;

Ability to work collaboratively with faculty and staff;

Ability to manage multiple priorities under deadlines;

Managerial and supervisory experience;

The ability to handle highly sensitive matters with complete discretion; and

The ability to develop techniques to evaluate and measure the efficacy of academic support programs.

Work Schedule:  40 hours per week, Monday through Friday, weekends and evenings as needed.

Salary is commensurate with experience.

Women, members of minority groups and others whose background and experience will contribute to the diversity of our faculty and to our goal of multicultural competence in our academic program are encouraged to apply.

Interested candidates should send a resume, cover letter, and the names and contact information of three references, by June 15, 2012, to:

Professor Leah Christensen, Assistant Dean of Academic Support and Bar Preparation, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, 1155 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 or via email to lchristensen@tjsl.edu.  Please email Professor Leah Christensen with any questions about this position.

May 24, 2012 in Job Descriptions, Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Isolation and Disconnect in the Midst of Family Support

We just had our hooding ceremony this past weekend.  Many of you are in the graduation mode as well.  The celebrations are joyous - even though brief with the start of the bar review courses.

I talked with many students' parents, spouses, and children.  Some for the first time.  Others were family members that I have known for the three years.  In many cases I knew stories about the family members even if I had never actually met them.

As I walked through the reception areas after the ceremony, I was once again struck by the isolation that law students often feel during law school even when they have lots of supportive family members.  The isolation is caused by the fact that unless you have gone through law school yourself, you cannot fully understand what the law student is confronting.

Many of our students are not only the first lawyers in their families, but also the first family member to graduate from college, let alone a graduate school.  They are trailblazers for all of the family members coming behind them. 

They have achieved in their academics without their family members understanding the academic milieu.  Some of them have had cultural expectations that they had to overcome as well - especially women students whose cultures expected them to get married at an early age and have children rather than go on in their education.

The disconnect with their families will continue for several more months.  Non-attorney families expect their new graduates to act "normal" again and participate in all of the family events now that law school is over.  They do not understand why one has to study for the bar when three years of law school were just completed.  They do not understand the level of anxiety that attends sitting the exam and waiting for results.

We need to help our graduates as they maneuver their bar review to deal with any sense of isolation or disconnect from their families and support systems.  Denise Riebe and Michael Schwartz's book, Pass the Bar!, has a short chapter on preparing your significant others.  It is a useful resource for us and our students.  (Amy Jarmon) 

    

 

May 24, 2012 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fixed and Growth Mindsets - Another Resource

Thanks to Jennifer Cooper at Thomas Jefferson for the mention on the ASP Listserv of a book review recently written by Tracy Turner, who is at Southwestern, regarding Dweck's book and using the mindset ideas in legal writing: Teaching Ourselves and Our Students to Embrace Challenge.  (Amy Jarmon)

May 23, 2012 in Learning Styles, Teaching Tips, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Director of Academic Support and Bar Prep at Elon

Director of Academic Support & Bar Preparation

 

General Purpose of Position

The Director will support the overall academic mission of the law school by developing and implementing an academic support program that encourages a high level of academic performance for all students. The Director will work with the assistant dean of student affairs, in addition to the faculty and other departments, to design a comprehensive academic support program for all students. The director will have the ability to think creatively and critically to design and implement programs that are responsive to the school’s goals. In addition, the director is also responsible for maintaining statistical data and providing reports to faculty and administration regarding the academic support program, as well as bar passage.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

• The Director will design and implement an academic support curriculum, including workshops and programs. The curriculum will include an emphasis on developing analytical skills, writing skills, time management skills, and other skills that will assist law students in achieving a high level of academic performance for all first year students.

• The Director will identify students from the second and third year class for inclusion in additional academic support programs and develop strategies to effectively communicate with students about the benefits of participating in the program.

• The Director will be responsible for assessing the academic support program and making periodic reports to the administration and faculty on the program’s progress and outcomes.

• The Director will design and coordinate a program of academic advising for all students, including counseling on academic policies, upper class course selection, the intersection of academic and career planning, and related personal and academic development issues.

• The Director will be responsible for leading the design and implementation of a bar preparation program. This will include counseling students regarding bar admissions protocols, as well as identifying 3L students that are “at risk” for failing the bar and implementing a program for bar preparation.

• The Director will assist in analyzing bar exam results and developing programs to address weaknesses in student bar performance.

• Responsibilities may include teaching or assisting in the bar prep courses currently offered based on previous experience.

 

Posting available: https://elon.peopleadmin.com/postings/1106

May 22, 2012 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)