Thursday, February 9, 2012
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I cannot resist mentioning a new book by one of my colleagues at Texas Tech School of Law. The book shows our students that law can be entertaining at the same time it is serious business. Vickie Sutton has written a book looking at the legal aspects of a kiss throughout history: The Legal Kiss. The book reviews have intrigued me enough that the book has been added to my "must read" list. (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Now that you have settled into your courses, you want to consider which study aids might be most useful for each of your courses. As you try to decide about your purchases or loans from other students, think about the following items:
- Study aids cannot substitute for your own learning and understanding. You need to wrestle with the material and spend time at your studies. Merely reading a study aid does not automatically transfer to your knowing the material well.
- Look at your syllabus or talk with your professor about any recommended study aids for the course. A professor will often recommend a study aid that s/he feels matches the professor's version of a course and best covers the topics for your course.
- Avoid purchasing every study aid series out there for your course. You will only have time probably for one commentary (what the law is) and one practice question book (preferably to match the type of questions that will be on your professor's exam). Look through different series to decide which is right for you before purchasing.
- Match a study aid to your learning styles whenever possible. Students learn differently from one another. Your ways of learning should assist you in choosing study aids. Some students benefit from hornbook-style aids; some benefit from audio CD's; some benefit from more visual study aids. Processing styles make for other differences. Some students benefit from study aids that preview the material with introductions or from study aids that delve into policies and synthesis. Other students benefit from study aids that sequentially discuss the parts of a topic and include later summaries for the overview and synthesis. (You can modify the way you use the study aid's internal organization to match your own processing style in some circumstances.)
- Learn your professor's version of the course for the exam. Your professor will find the points more quickly if you use the professor's buzzwords, steps of analysis, statement of the rule, and answer format. In addition, your professor may take a different slant on a course; for example, the professor may be looking for policy discussion that a study aid never touched.
- Use a study aid approriately. A study aid will be more useful to clarify a confusing topic after you have initially done all of your own work on the topic (read, briefed, attended class, etc.) and made a good faith effort to sort out what you do and do not understand. A study aid is best used throughout the semester as you need more information rather than read at the very end of the semester.
- Remember that commercial study aids can be wrong, outdated, or not match your course. Study aids are usually written for a national audience and cover topics that may not be covered by your professor. Volumes that are older editions or have not been revised recently may not include important changes in the law. Study aids that are not written by experts in the area of law may contain errors. Your professor's course may have different emphases or topics included.
- Do not forget that your professor is a study aid with legs. Go in to ask questions when your professor has office hours. Ask your professor to assist you if you are confused after making a good faith effort to learn the material. Talk with your professor about study strategies that might help you understand the course better.
Study aids are there to supplement your own work. They are not bound equivalents of magic wands. Use them wisely, and you can gain deeper understanding of topics. Practice questions can be especially useful in monitoring your understanding and application. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Dear ASP friends;
We are pleased to announce this year’s full-day NY Academic Support Workshop, to be held from 9:30 to 5:30 at New York Law School on Friday, April 13. As usual, this will be a small and rather intensive gathering of academic support professionals and colleagues actively working to learn from one another.
One thing that makes all ASP gatherings exciting has always been our unique emphasis on interaction – ASP folks DO things together so that we can learn together. To capture that spirit, for this year’s NY Workshop we are going to work with one another to develop or enhance our individual lessons, materials, presentations, or any other part of our professional endeavors.
Participants should come with a problem, a set of teaching materials, or a specific student issue that you have been thinking about and want to work on with your colleagues. You’ll show us what you’ve got so far, explain what constraints or concerns you have, and we will work as a group to resolve, refine or sharpen what you have developed. In the process we’ll all benefit from exchanging ideas, and when the workshop concludes all participants will leave with copies of the ideas, learning modules and other materials generated through our collective wisdom.
No one who comes is allowed to be a back-bencher. If you would like to attend, please let us know whether you want to share one of your own issues, ideas, etc., comment on ones brought by other participants, or both. When we confirm who will attend and what specific questions the participants plan to address, we will send out a finalized workshop agenda. RSVP to Kris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since this is not a formal conference there is no fee to attend. If you would like advice about hotels, etc., please let one of us know. And if you’d love to attend but just don’t have the budget to stay overnight, talk to one of us and we’ll see if it is possible to help you find housing with local ASP folks.
Hope to see many of you soon!
Kris Franklin Linda Feldman Martha Peters
New York Law School Brooklyn Law School Elon School of Law
Jon Baumunk, Interim Director of Academic and Bar Support, at La Verne recently posted the following job announcement on the ASP listserv:
The University of La Verne has an opening for a full-time Academic and Bar Support Counselor at the College of Law located in Ontario, CA. Reporting directly to the Assistant Dean of Academic and Bar Support, the primary function of this position is to assist in providing academic and bar exam support services to students at the College of Law.
The duties of the position include tutoring La Verne Law students and its graduates studying for the California Bar Examination; providing feedback on student practice assignments; counseling students on academic and bar exam success skills and attorney licensing requirements; presenting workshops related to academic and bar support; collecting data regarding the success of the academic and bar support programs; and other related duties as assigned.
This position requires a Juris Doctor degree with at least one (1) year of academic experience in either law school teaching or bar exam tutoring. Experience working with diverse populations is preferred. Additionally, the successful candidate will be a member of the State Bar of California. Evening work is necessary to accommodate students enrolled in the part-time and evening division, occasional attendance at weekend events is required. Employment is contingent upon successfully passing a complete background investigation.
The hiring range for this position is dependent upon qualifications and departmental equity. Benefits of employment include a comprehensive health and welfare plan, tuition remission program for employee, spouse and dependent children and a generous 10% contribution to the University’s 403B retirement plan. To apply, please visit http://sites.laverne.edu/hr/administrativeprofessional-positions-available/.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
I have had a number of appointments lately with students who wanted to talk about the pros and cons of staying in law school. Some of them were disappointed with their grades. Some had outside family, medical, or financial issues that were weighing on their minds.
If you are asking yourself whether or not law school is right for you, here are some things to consider:
- Why did you originally want to attend law school? Are those reasons still as important to you? Reminding yourself of why you originally enrolled can help to refocus your thinking about law school.
- Were your reasons tied to internal or external motivations? You may well have a mix of motivations. However, when the going gets tough and doubts arise, internal motivations are often more deeply supportive of your chosen path. (Internal motivation examples: I want to help immigrant families with legal problems. I loved working as a paralegal before law school. External motivation examples: My parents told me I should be a lawyer. I got turned down for medical school.).
- Have you changed your mind about what you want to do with a law degree? Some students have doubts because they decide they don't like the original type of law they thought they wanted to practice. That is okay - law includes a multitude of different legal specialties. Some students decide they don't want to work in BigLaw. That is okay - there are many different practice experiences: different sized firms, government work, non-profit agencies, public service. Some students decide that they do not want to practice at all. That is okay - there are a number of alternative careers for law graduates. Explore practice areas and career options with your career services office. Talk to professors and other lawyers about their careers and areas of expertise. If you decide that another graduate degree or work experience matches your career goals better than a law degree, that is the decision you need to make
- Do you enjoy cases, legal concepts, and legal analysis? If you enjoy the daily study of law, that may be a positive indicator to remain. However, if you hate what you are doing, you may be happier in another field of study. Note that enjoying the law is not the same statement as enjoying law school.
- Do you enjoy being in law school most days? Law school is not an easy environment for many reasons. If you are miserable every day, then that is not healthy for you. However, if most of the time you deal positively with the workload and environment and keep your perspective, then you may decide that the issues you have with law school can be handled. Most law schools have academic support professionals who can help you learn ways to study smarter rather than harder and to manage your time well. They can also refer you to other professionals who can help you evaluate any remaining issues.
- Are there family or medical or other priorities that mean you need to leave law school right now? All law students have responsibilities and circumstances that are outside the law school. If those priorities need your focus right now to the exclusion of law school, then you need to do what is necessary to meet those obligations. Consider the best way to meet any personal responsibilities within the options your law school provides.
- What are the options that you have at your law school? You may be able to take a leave of absence, go to part-time status, or have other options at your school. If you decide to leave at this point, make sure you follow proper procedures. If you have financial aid, make sure you understand the ramifications of your choice. If you can keep your options open (for example, a leave of absence), do so.
- Who are the people who can help you with your decision? Talk to faculty, deans, your academic advisor, parents, mentors. Do not try to make the decision by yourself. Find objective people who can help you see the pros and cons. Get as much information as possible from your law school's administration before making a decision. Consider what you will do next if you decide to leave law school - better to have a game plan if at all possible.
Law school may be the very best match for your goals and circumstances. However, law school may be a good match later, but the timing is off now. Finally, if law school is not a good match for you, there is no shame in choosing a different path and walking away from this choice. (Amy Jarmon)