Saturday, May 10, 2014

Who are we? A Question for ASPer's

In light of the upcoming AASE conference in Indianapolis, members of the planning committees and e-board have been circling a number of latent questions. As a member of the e-board, I thought I would put some of these questions on the blog (however, I want to stress that I am speaking solely for myself, and NOT the e-board or AASE.) I think it is valuable to think about who we are, where we are going, and what we want, as a profession.

1) Do we want to be more like "regular" (tenure-track) faculty? What are the benefits to "achieving" this status? Are there drawbacks that we have not considered? Do we want the pressure of "publish or perish" when our jobs include so many year-round responsibilities? Do non-tenure track ASPer's feel the pressure to publish?  Have ASPer's found it difficult to be placed in law reviews? Do ASPer's get support (mentoring, guidance, as well as financial support) from their institutions when they choose to write? How can ASPer's receive more support for writing and publishing?

2) Do we want to be more like legal writing or clinical, faculty? How many of us are ASP/legal writing already? How many of us switched from legal writing to ASP (or vice versa)? How are we like legal writing? Are we like legal writing?

3) As an organization, do we want to be more like LWI? Or do we want our focus to be smaller, more intimate?  LWI is a huge organization because most law school have several legal writing instructors, but only one or two ASP professionals. Are there benefits to growing our organization? Are there specific challenges if we grow too fast?

4) In light of the financial problems facing many, if not most, law schools, should we spend more time discussing the realities of job loss, pay cuts, and declining enrollment? Should we spend more time discussing the pressures facing ASP?

5) The "average" incoming law student now has a lower LSAT than the "average" student in prior incoming classes. Should ASP be in conversation about the trends in admission? How can be be more engaged in the conversation about trends in admission? Implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, we are held responsible for student outcomes, so our livelihoods are connected to these trends. How should we address these trends if we are not responsible for admissions?

6) Is bar prep a natural part of academic success? Or is bar prep a unique partner with ASP, a partnership that shares some similarities, but also differences? How many ASPer's have bar prep responsibilities? Is bar prep combined with ASP out of convenience, necessity, or is it an accident of institutional planning?

7) How do we constrain "job creep" at a time of institutional downsizing? How amny ASPer's feel like their job is on the line if they say no to additional repsonsibilities without additional compensation? Is it fair to expect additional compensation when so many law school graduates cannot find jobs in law?

(Again, I want to stress that I am speaking solely for myself, and NOT the e-board or AASE.)

(RCF)

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