Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, October 13, 2012

U Mass Assistant/Associate/Professor - Director of Academic Success Position



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, (, 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

October 13, 2012 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Heads Up New Orleans AALS Dates

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) 

October 12, 2012 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Importance of Legal Writing Courses

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)



October 11, 2012 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Director at University of South Carolina

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)

October 10, 2012 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

University of Arkansas Little Rock Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Position




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 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 or


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.

October 9, 2012 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do you make the connection between ASP and professionalism explicit?

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

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"

October 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)