Thursday, December 6, 2012
Director of Academic Success & Bar Preparation
The LSU Law Center is a top 100 ranked law school located on the main campus of LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The school draws its students from Louisiana and throughout the United States and has a strong tradition of academic excellence dating from its founding more than a century ago. LSU Law is the only law school in the United States at which all graduates receive a dual degree that reflects the mixed civil and common law tradition of Louisiana and the preparation of LSU Law students for practice or service in the global, national, and state arenas.
The Director will support the mission and vision of the law school by monitoring student learning outcomes, academic performance, and academic success activities; working with students individually and in group settings to teach and enhance the analytical, writing, and other academic and related skills necessary for law-school and professional success; managing all bar preparation and evaluation activities; and participating in other activities related to student success and retention. The Director will have the opportunity to play a major role in designing, developing, implementing, and managing an academic success and bar preparation program reflecting the best practices in the field. In so doing, he or she will be expected to rely on both innovative and established practices in academic success. The Director will be expected to both work collaboratively with the faculty and administration of the Law Center and exercise initiative and judgment in the creation of new programming, drawing on both past experience and careful analysis of the Law School’s particular needs. Specifically, the Director will be charged with:
- Designing, developing, implementing, and conducting academic-success workshops and programs, including instruction for refining students’ analytical, learning, and time management skills, as well as guidance in case briefing, note taking, outlining, exam preparation and exam taking;
- Identifying students for possible inclusion in the Law Center’s academic success programs and communicating with students who could benefit from academic success services; tracking and evaluating the academic progress of those students being served; and evaluating and prioritizing student requests and referrals for tutoring;
- Providing individual and small-group educational counseling and tutoring to students in need of academic support, including assisting students with basic writing and analytical skills through regular written diagnostic and corrective feedback;
- Working in coordination with the faculty and administration to design, coordinate, implement, evaluate, and improve the academic success program;
- Coordinating and supervising an effective, high-quality peer tutoring or student teaching fellow program, including designing appropriate student-led sessions and recruiting, training, supervising, and evaluating the participating upper class students;
- Designing and coordinating 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;
- Assisting in the collection and evaluation of data to help assess the effectiveness of the academic success program; reporting on all programs and services; and critically evaluating all available programs and initiatives to assist in determining which should be continued or expanded and which should be discontinued or modified;
- Assisting in developing and overseeing a budget for academic success and success programs;
- Participating in the greater academic success professional community in order to stay apprised of best practices through regular attendance at conferences, participation in relevant listservs and blogs, and study of relevant books and other resources;
- Assisting in implementing and teaching programs of academic success related to bar-exam preparation;
- Analyzing bar exam results and providing regular reports concerning results;
- Providing bar-related information to faculty members regarding topics tested and recent bar exam questions in the faculty member’s area of teaching; and
- Other duties related to academic support, success, retention and bar preparation as assigned by the Chancellor.
The successful candidate must demonstrate a commitment to and understanding of academic success in legal education and have the requisite knowledge to design and implement legal academic success and bar preparation programs. The successful candidate will –
- Be able to work with multiple, diverse constituencies, including students, faculty and administration;
- Have superior verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills as well as either demonstrated or potential teaching skills;
- Have the ability to encourage self-improvement by students from diverse backgrounds by counseling and critiquing in a professional, rigorous, respectful, and supportive environment;
- Think imaginatively, critically, and collaboratively about how to improve and measure law student academic development;
- Have an understanding of and strong interest in developments in legal pedagogy in order to assist in designing, implementing, and managing programs that will promote law student academic development;
- Have a strong commitment to student confidentiality and privacy;
- Possess excellent organizational skills and a strong attention to detail;
- Effectively manage multiple priorities and related deadlines; and
- Have a commitment to maintaining and enhancing the academic strength and cultural diversity of the Law Center community
- A strong academic record that demonstrates potential for leading a successful law school academic support and success program;
- A J.D. or equivalent degree from an ABA-approved law school, with admission to a state bar in the United States;
- Substantial relevant legal experience, with a focus on legal analysis and writing (including a combination of public or private law practice, judicial clerkship, teaching or academic success delivery experience in an ABA-approved law school, or providing writing instruction in a law firm or an ABA-approved law school); and
- Demonstrated understanding of legal education (which may include experience in teaching legal writing and analysis, academic success, other law school teaching or law school administration).
- Experience in an ABA-approved law school’s academic success program; and
- Additional experience or an advanced degree in psychology, counseling or secondary or post-secondary education.
Interested applicants should provide a cover letter, resume, and three references to https://lsusystemcareers.lsu.edu (position number 027846). The Law Center will begin reviewing applications on December 18, 2012, and the position will remain open until filled. Inquiries may be directed to Professor Lee Ann Lockridge at email@example.com or 225-578-8689.
The LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Employer
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Merriam Webster defines observation as:
1. to conform one's action or practice to (as a law, rite, or condition) : comply with
2. to inspect or take note of as an augury, omen, or presage
3. to celebrate or solemnize (as a ceremony or festival) in a customary or accepted way
4. a: to watch carefully especially with attention to details or behavior for the purpose of arriving at a judgment
b: to make a scientific observation on or of
5. to come to realize or know especially through consideration of noted facts
6. to utter as a remark
a: to take notice
People-watching is a fascinating pastime. My favorite people-watching venues are outdoor events like festivals, parades, or concerts. They are chockfull of interesting and diverse crowds. But, observation is not only passive entertainment or a fun diversion. Observation is a critical step in the scientific method and in the learning process.
During a scientific inquiry, one must gather information by first observing. Then, they must prove or disprove their hypothesis with observational evidence. Although closely tied to science, observation is an integral part of any discipline.
When we observe, we not only watch but we engage. We make judgments based on our observations and we realize or discover something new. In essence, we learn. We transfer prior thoughts, experiences, and preconceptions to new contexts. Most of this is done involuntarily. However, intentional observation can be extremely enlightening.
I have had the opportunity to become a deliberate observer this week. I say deliberate because as humans we are constantly observing our surroundings. However, we are not always taking notice of the things we see. Thus, merely seeing is immensely different than observing.
I was able to observe several 2Ls deliver their first appellate oral argument when I volunteered as a judge for the Legal Writing appellate arguments. While focusing on the substance of their case, I also paid close attention to how they presented their arguments. Specifically, I took notice of their demeanor in answering the panel’s questions, their professionalism in dealing with the court and arguments presented by opposing counsel, and their ability to move fluidly from questions from the bench back to their prepared outline.
As most of us know, adhering to courtroom etiquette and having a strong delivery can make the difference between winning or losing a case. We also know that subjective judgment occurs when assessing communication and can contribute to our impression of the objective content. While I did not let my personal preferences skew my ultimate ruling on the case, they did have a significant impact on how I evaluated each student's performance.
Much different from a courtroom, last week I also observed my daughter’s ballet class as it was “parent watch week”. Interestingly, much like my observation of oral arguments, during the ballet class I focused on how the dancers interacted, instead of concentrating on whether they were performing a tour jeté, pirouette, or grand plié. The dancer's form and positioning, their presence as a dancer, and their engagement with their instructor were significant elements in how I assessed their attitude, energy, and technique.
Noticing the world around us is such a gift but we rarely acknowledge it as such. We so easily fall into our daily routines and the monotony of our lives. We should take advantage of being coerced, cajoled, or granted a chance to observe. From these focused observations, I learned that I often overlook seemingly meaningless details. Instead, I now realize that we should embrace these details.
The details can teach us about ourselves, our interactions with others, and our preconceptions. They can teach us how to be empathetic, how to gain a particular skill, how to distinguish what is relevant from what is irrelevant and so much more. Ultimately, being mindfully observant allows us to be better decision makers, better students, and better teachers.
As teachers, we teach our students to pay close attention to the nuances of the law or the key facts in a hypo or a case. We too should walk the walk and take the time to observe. Try to observe students outside of class, prior to the start of class, and when they are working in groups during class. Are they interacting with each other, are they loners, do they appear engaged? We can use these observations to get to know our students and to understand how to best teach them. By paying attention, we are setting a good example and we may learn a thing or two.
I know this title sounds like a new Hollywood apocalyptic action film; but, it is not. Instead, this is the next step that I suggest repeat bar examinees take in their journey to passing the bar exam. Once these grads have processed their emotions regarding their bar results, they are ready to look toward the future.
Diagnosing weaknesses from their past exam is helpful so that they know how to effectively structure their study schedule for the upcoming exam. I read through their essays and look for accurate and complete issue identification, errors or law, and their use of key facts in their analysis. (The WA bar exam is currently essay-only.) I also pay close attention to their organizational framework and approach to each essay. I find that students with weak organization likely did not write enough practice essays. Or, they wrote practice essays during bar review; but, they either did not write the essays under testing conditions (closed-book and timed) or they did not evaluate their essays after writing them. I ask them to assess how they studied for the bar the first time and to think about ways they could improve their routine.
Delivering tough love is also a necessary part of this process. Sometimes delivering tough love along with pointing out their imperfections is too much for them to take in one sitting. One must tread lightly and gauge emotional stability when dealing with repeat bar exam takers. While you may hear Aaron Neville crooning the song “Tell it Like It Is” in the back of your mind, these repeat exam takers may not be prepared mentally to hear what you have to say. If you recognize that they have not already reached a level of acceptance with their results, they may not be ready to move forward with the rest of the meeting.
However, it is counterproductive to merely tell these grads what they want to hear. They are in my office for my honest opinion about what they did wrong and how they can remedy those defects. Thus, I offer constructive criticism and try to deliver it with a spoonful of sugar (…it helps the medicine go down). As mentioned in my earlier post, I always have a basket full of chocolate nearby and that seems to help.
Likely, there are high points in their exam file. I focus first on a good example or concentrate on a higher scored essay. Then, I move to an essay that may need more work. By evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, they have a better understanding of which features to maintain and which to change. In recognizing their strengths; they build confidence. In understanding their weaknesses, they build up their determination and resilience, which they will need in order to move forward.
Together, once we have diagnosed the flaws in their past exam and identified their strengths, I instruct them to put that exam away and stop thinking about it. They can no longer change what happened during that 2 day exam. It was a snapshot in their life, which will be filled with a million more. In order to move forward, one must let go of the past. It is time for them to destroy their self-doubt. It is time for them to destroy the negativity around their past experience. They cannot make a new plan without first destroying any uncertainty that they have in their ability to pass.