Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Rodney O. Fong

You may consider this entry and future ones “self-serving” but please stay tuned. When my ASP mentor recently left the profession, I thought it might be a splendid idea to highlight a few “veteran ASPers” while they are still active in the profession. After conversations with a few colleagues, I decided to start highlighting a few individuals I view as “veteran ASPers.” I encountered these highly experienced individuals at certain points of my ASP journey which began almost ten years ago. Each contributed to my success by helping me in small or significant ways and shared their wisdom, experience, and advice. I deemed it expedient to streamline questions rather than ask them anything and everything I could have possibly wanted to know. It is impossible to highlight everyone so I am starting with a select few, Rodney O. Fong being the first.

Rodney O. Fong is an awesome individual. I was first introduced to him by my former law school Dean who suggested that I contact him for advice, direction, and possible mentoring. He responded to my email message which was followed by a great phone conversation. I admire his commitment to diversity, student success on the bar exam, and desire to help new professionals. Please learn about him below. (Goldie Pritchard)


Q: Please indicate your full name, title and institution of employment.

Rodney O. Fong

Co-Director of Law+Plus and Bar+Plus Programs & Assistant Professor of Law 

University of San Francisco School of Law

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.

I switched from practice to teaching because I love teaching and counseling people. Also, I found that practicing law limited on the number of people I could help, namely my clients.  But by training more people to become lawyers, I could indirectly help more clients in our communities.

My law school had a formal academic support program and I was a student in the program as well as a tutor during my last two years of school. I started teaching in 1990, focusing on academic support and, in 2005, I formally added bar preparation.

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most? What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

I love the challenge of figuring out how to better prepare our students. First it was putting together workshops and lesson plans focusing on IRAC and study skills. Then I delved into education and learning theory exploring ways to teach students more effectively. Next, it was figuring out how generational differences affected our Gen X and Gen Y students and that continues today with unraveling the effects of helicopter parenting. More recently, I have been working on applying socio-psychological theories and creating reduction and intervention strategies.

My greatest challenge has been helping law schools transition from input measures, like LSAT and UGPA, to output measures, such as graduation rates, bar passage, and employment. Law schools are now being evaluated on how well we teach our students and what they are learning, hence the ABA requirements for establishing student learning outcomes and formative and summative assessments. Unfortunately, changing the law school culture has been slow and painful. But schools that have been able to fully integrated academic support into their teaching and learning culture tend to be more successful.

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

I have two things that I am equally proud of. First, I am proud of all the students that I have been able to help become lawyers, especially those from underrepresented groups and first generation students. They are now in the profession assisting clients and making an impact on our communities. I am also proud of helping the students who decided not to become lawyers. Law school and practicing law is not for everyone. But if I was able to help someone in their decision to leave law school and still maintain their dignity and confidence, then that is a success. Many of these students go on to become successful in other fields.

The other thing I am proud of is helping a law school overcome low bar performance to retain its ABA accreditation. It was not a matter of tutoring a few students to pass the exam, but changing the culture and attitude of an entire institution. When the bar results started to improve, you could feel the change in attitude and confidence within the school and that is something I will never forget. To hear students proclaim that they want to do better than the class before them was amazing, especially when a couple of year before, they doubted if they could even pass the exam.

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or mid-career ASPers or law students?

For my ASP colleagues – Changing institutional cultures, attitudes, and behaviors is a process that takes lots of time and patience. Also, timing is critical. An institution may not be ready for change. But when it is, you have to be ready and prepared to lead.

Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?

My favorite quote during this time of law school uncertainty is a Chinese proverb: “Chaos – where brilliant dreams are born.”

May 3, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Top Ten Blog Post

Congratulations to Amy Jarmon for receiving a Top Ten Blog Post badge from the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for her April 18th posting. The link to her post is here: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.

April 22, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Top Ten Blog Post

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_SmallCongratulations to Amy Jarmon for receiving a Top Ten Blog Post badge from the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for her March 7th posting. The link to her post is here: A West Texas Perspective on What Matters.

March 27, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Another Top Ten Blog Post


Congratulations to Scott Johns, our Contributing Editor, for recognition by Texas Bar Today of the Texas State Bar for his top ten blog post! In case you missed his February 23rd post, A Matter of The Heart: Moving Forward in the Midst of the Bar Exam Wait, you can read it here: here.

March 13, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Compilation of Reader Comments and Emails

We periodically gather some comments from our readers to share on the Blog. Here are some responses and conversations that we have had over the last several months:

Marsha Griggs (Texas Southern ) shares her idea in response to Goldie Pritchard's A Wall of Inspiration post on February 22nd: "I do something similar via Facebook. I have a private FB group set up for our bar takers. Each day of bar study, I send motivational pictures, quotes and positive affirmations. The response is overwhelmingly positive." 

Don Macaulay (Pipeline to Practice Foundation) sent a link to their website in response to our announcement of the Inaugural AASE Conference on Diversity:

Rod Fong (U of San Francisco) and I had a nice email exchange after my February 19th post on Rediscovering a Sense of Purpose. Rod shared two links that may interest readers who have not seen them: Angela Lee Duckworth's Ted Talk on Grit (Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance) and Eduardo Briceno's Tex Talk on Growth Mindset and Success ( Rod also observed: "I combine the grit and growth mindset with two other social-psychological theories, belonging and stereotype threat.  I find these four work together well. The other thing I'm noticing in students is that grit and growth mindset don't work well if the students are not good self-regulated learners.  Without this skill, they seem to think that just doing the work, like going through the motions, is enough to learn and study. . . . They don't realize that it takes energy to assess their work and properly correct their mistakes." 

Otto Stockmeyer (Emeritus Western Michigan) gave some historical insight on IRAC following Goldie Prichard's January 13 post on Dr. Martin Luther King: "The Letter from the Birmingham Jail," and IRAC?: "Michael Josephson, who founded a bar review course in Michigan in 1991 which became one of the country's largest within 10 years, emphasized IRAC in the essay-writing portion of his course. He attributed IRAC's origin to the U.S. Army. According to him, the Army developed IRAC at the outbreak of World War II as a method of teaching problem-solving to a flood of new recruits. Whether or not IRAC helped us win WWII, it made Josephson a millionaire." 

Otto Stockmeyer (Emeritus Western Michigan) also commented on Alex Ruskell's Weapon of Choice post on January 13th: "My experience counseling poorly performing students has been that 60% of the time they change right answers to wrong ones. Of course, they are presented with more wrong choices, so that may explain part of it. Also, it may be a characteristic of poor performers and not universal." 

Thank you to our many readers who post comments for the editors after reading our posts. We have a policy of not posting comments publicly because of the amount of spam comments that are received by the Blog. Please know that we appreciate hearing from you. (Amy Jarmon)

March 5, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Two Top Ten Badges Earned


Two of our Contributing Editors received recognition from the State Bar of Texas Texas Bar Today for their posts near the end of last semester. Congratulations to Scott Johns and Goldie Pritchard for recognition of their posts! Scott's post can be found here: Chewing the Cud: Should You Be the Tortoise or the Hare in Exam Prep. Goldie's post can be found here: Exams Are Coming.

February 28, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meet Goldie Pritchard, Contributing Editor

GPritchard Picture 2 (1)

I am Goldie Pritchard and I love what I do!  I recognize that it is quite rare for one’s passion and proficiency to intersect but please do not think that I am not challenged on a regular basis. I serve as one of two Co-Directors of the Academic Success Program at Michigan State University College of Law (MSU-COL) and as Adjunct Professor.  I have worked at MSU-COL for seven and a half years now and had the unique opportunity to create and establish the academic support program we currently have which is now an integral part of the law college.  I started as Interim Director and later became Co-Director providing general academic support and bar exam preparation support.  As an adjunct professor, I teach Effective Legal Analysis and Process, a 1L course and Problem-Solving in Contracts, a bar preparation course.  For approximately two and half years, I served as Director of the Legal Education Opportunity, a conditional admission program MSU-COL no longer offers.  When I was a law student, my mentor encouraged me to enter the academic support workforce but I resisted for a period of time.  Who knew that years later, this would be the best professional move for me.

I also serve as advisor to the Black Law Student Association and participate in various support programs lead by the Diversity Services Office and targeting students of color.  For my own professional development, I strive to stay engaged with the Academic Support Section of Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) by serving on committees.  I had the opportunity to chair the ASP section program at AALS one year and to present at AASE another year. 

Writing for the Law School Academic Support Blog has been a rewarding experience for me thus far.  It gives me an opportunity to reflect on what I do, how I do it, how to maximize impact with limited resources, and how to best engage students in their learning.  I am very grateful for this opportunity.

January 31, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Meet Alex Ruskell, Contributing Editor

Alex Ruskell

Alex Ruskell is the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  He received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and has degrees from Washington and Lee University, Harvard University, and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.  He is the author of A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student and editor of Strategies and Tactics for the Finz Multistate Method, Strategies and Tactics for the First Year Law Student, Steve Emanuel’s First Year Questions and Answers, Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE, and several other educational and legal publications.   In a review of his wife’s first book, FumblingThe National Catholic Reporter noted "Alex is a saint.  Seriously.”  He is also the lead guitarist of Columbia, SC’s most sartorially challenged punk band, The Merry Chevaliers.


December 6, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard on a Top Ten Honor

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard for being chosen for a Top Ten Blog Posts by Texas Bar Today for her post Hidden Duties of Aspers.


November 22, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Meet Scott Johns, Contributing Editor


Scott Johns serves of Law as a Professor of the Practice of Law and Director of the Bar Passage Program at the University of Denver Sturm College.  Twice per year during the bar exam seasons, Scott runs a post-graduate Bar Success Program helping graduates develop the confidence and the competence to pass the bar exam.  The program’s focus is on active learning through substantive problem-solving workshops and mock bar exams to include individual feedback for numerous writing projects.  During the academic terms, Scott teaches primarily in the field of Legal Analysis Strategies with additional periodic courses on Constitutional Law Individual Rights, the First Amendment Religion Clauses, and Immigration and Asylum Law. Previous to the University of Denver, Scott got his start in academic support in Southern California teaching first at Whittier Law School as an Associate Professor and Interim Director of Academic Support and Bar Passage and then at Chapman School of Law as Director of Academic Achievement. 

Prior to academics, Scott served as a law clerk in federal court and then worked as an immigration litigator and national security attorney within the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.  Prior to law school, Scott served as a pilot and flight safety officer in both the U.S. Air Force and the airline industry.  Surprisingly, Scott’s formal pedagogical training about active learning occurred in preparation for his assignment as a military instructor pilot teaching undergraduate pilot training for aspiring Air Force aviators with coursework in educational psychology, curriculum and design. 

Outside teaching, Scott has dabbled in empirical scholarship with a recent article evaluating whether bar passage interventions were statistically beneficial and a second article examining whether the bar examiner’s claim, namely, that bar exam rates are historically down, was in fact empirically due to declines in LSAT scores.  Empirical Reflections: A Statistical Evaluation of Bar Exam Program Interventions, available at; Testing the Testers: The National Conference of Bar Examiner’s Claim and a Roller Coaster Bar Exam Ride, available at 

Outside law school activities, Scott enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and participating in church activities with his family.

November 15, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sad News: Death of Dan Bernstine, LSAC President

Many ASPers have been involved with LSAC committees, workshops, and other aspects over the years. Below is an announcement regarding the sad news that LSAC's President, Dan Bernstine, has passed away.

Dear Colleagues,

I apologize if you have received this sad announcement more than once. It is with overwhelming sadness that I have the unfortunate task of telling you that Dan Bernstine, President of LSAC, has passed away at his home. As soon as we have more information about arrangements, we will communicate that information to you.  

While our concern right now is with helping all of Dan's friends and colleagues to deal with his loss, I want to assure you that the Board and I have complete confidence in the senior management team that Dan built.

Please do not hesitate to contact me.



Chair, LSAC Board of Trustees

September 27, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Paula Lustbader: 30 years of Academic Support

Last week was the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Seattle University School of Law’s Access Admission Program, the Academic Resource Center, and Professor Emerita Paula Lustbader. I am an alumna of Seattle University and the few times I return to Seattle typically have something to do with Professor Lustbader. My cultural background dictates that I remember and honor those individuals who have paved the way for me. I look to them for guidance, wisdom, support, and history. For me, Professor Lustbader is one of these special individuals.

I started writing this entry prior to the celebration and surprisingly, the themes I identified aligned with the remarks and conversations at the celebration. The themes I had identified and those that emerged at the celebration included legacy, family/community, and paying it forward. I was excited to realize that I had it right but recognized that I could not include all of my observations.

In my opinion, Professor Lustbader is a pioneer of the Academic Support Movement. I imagine that very few formal academic support programs existed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a student at the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law), Paula Lustbader had a desire to promote diversity at the law school and in the legal profession. She was recruited by Professor Emeritus David Boerner and together, Professor Boerner and student Lustbader designed and began to implement the various components of their program. Today, Seattle University School of Law boasts of one of the few true “Access Admissions Programs” in the country which is not only a testament of the institution’s commitment to social justice and diversity but also a reflection of the commitment of Professors Boerner and Lustbader to this program. I can assure you that the story is more amazing and exciting than this but you had to have been at the celebration to capture the full story. Please follow this link for Professor Lustbader’s 2010 article about this program: here

Professors can have a profound impact on the lives of their students particularly if they take the time to listen and pay attention to their students. Professors can sometimes perceive a student’s potential before the student can even conceive of her/his ability. This particularly happens when the learning environment lends itself for students to be their authentic selves which would indicate that trust has been established.

The presence of numerous former students and individuals who gathered to celebrate Professor Lustbader and the program is a testament to the positive impact the Access Admission Program and the Academic Resource Center have had on these students. In attendance were both students from the early years of the program and current students who just started their 1L year. Individuals flew in from as far as Hawaii, Texas, Michigan, and Florida just to list a few. Former teaching assistants, faculty, and staff who contributed in some way to the program were present. It was a joyous occasion that brought together individuals unified by the impact of two key individuals (Professors Boerner and Lustbader) and a shared experience with this program.   

I feel very privileged to have gotten to know Professor Paula Lustbader as a professor, supervisor, mentor, and friend. She discovered my potential early on and challenged and supported me even when I resisted.  I credit her for seeing the “Academic Support Educator” within me long before I thought of this as a career option. I look forward to the many amazing things she accomplishes in this next phase of her life.

The Anniversary Celebration has reenergized me, helped redefine my purpose, and led me to reassess my passion for the professional work I do. I am contemplating a number of things: What is our legacy as academic support professionals and educators?  Do we constantly reinvent the wheel simply because we want to put our imprint on something or do we recognize when something works?  Do we learn from those who came before us who fought and won the battles we now find ourselves trying to fight?  Are some of us young and so too proud to ask for help and too "all knowing"?  Are we truly an inclusive community that practices what we preach and embodies the ideals at the foundation of Academic Support Programs?  Is it at the very least helpful to assess our own hang-ups and challenges? These are all pertinent questions I am asking myself and hope to connect with like-minded individuals to explore them. (Goldie Pritchard)

September 14, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Diversity Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Congratulations to Scott Johns

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Congratulations to Scott Johns! He was a awarded a Top Ten Badge by the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for his August 25th posting Alone . . . or Perhaps . . . Not Quite So Alone as 1L Students?

September 4, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Director of the Critical Skills Program at Nova Southeastern

Sara Berman


Congratulations to Sara Berman on her new position at Nova Southeastern!

Sara Berman has been named the new Director of the Critical Skills Program at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida.  Many of us know Sara as a long time member of the ASP and bar prep community in California, most recently as the Assistant Dean of Academic Support and Bar Support at Whittier Law School in Orange County.  Previously she was at Concord Law School and UWLA, both in Los Angeles.  As a brand new graduate of UCLA she began lecturing on the California bar exam on her own and was an early adopter in online legal education.  In addition to law teaching, Berman has lectured for bar reviews for decades and the author of numerous articles as well as the ABA’s Pass the Bar Exam: A Practical Guide to Achieving Academic and Professional Goals and its companion teacher’s manual.  She is very excited to be moving to the Southeast where she will be closer to where her twins are attending college.  

September 3, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Are you a new ASP or bar prep professional at your law school? Did you change law schools/positions?

At the beginning of each academic semester, we like to introduce ASP or bar professionals who are new to their law schools or who have changed locations?  We want to post an academic spotlight about you so that you are introduced to the community of readers if you are new and so readers know your news if you have moved to a different law school.

If you would like for us to post an academic spotlight about you (or a colleague at your school who is too shy to send us something), please send the following information to Amy Jarmon at  I will be doing posts throughout September and early October.

Here is what I need from you for a spotlight post:

  1. A small jpeg photo.
  2. Your full name, title, and law school information.
  3. 100 - 200 words telling us about yourself: when you started your job, what you were doing before your position, your JD school, your legal practice experience/specialties, your interests professionally and personally.
  4. A link to your faculty/staff profile on your law school web pages if one exists.

We look forward to welcoming you to our terrific community of colleagues and updating folks on your career.  (Amy Jarmon)

August 27, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

ASP-ers as Coaches? Perhaps!

"A great sports instructor or coach builds us up, but also teaches us important lessons of emotional management, such as confidence, perseverance, resilience and how to conquer fear and anxiety. Many times, these lessons have a permanent impact on our mind-set and attitude well beyond the playing field."  So says columnist Elizabeth Bernstein in her article: "A Coach's Influence Off the Field."

That got me thinking about life…my life as an Academic Support Professional.  With the start of a new academic year upon us, perhaps this is an opportunity - as Goldie Pritchard puts it - to try something new.  So, I've been thinking and reflecting about my life as an ASP-er, and, in particular, that I might focus on something new--serving as a coach to our law students.

You see, and this is where the rub is, the most significant teachers in my life have, well, not just been teachers.  Rather, they've been more than teachers; they've been coaches.  And, not just sport coaches.  More like life coaches.  Whether they were teaching political science or trying to help me throw a ball, they all left indelible imprints, imprints that made me a better person and that went well beyond the classroom (or the baseball field)...because they taught me lessons that were much bigger than just about political science or baseball.  

Let me give you an example from political science.  I once had a professor by the name of Sandel.  No offense, but I can't recall the principles of Kant's categorical imperative or Hannah Arndt's political theories. But, I can vividly remember something much more important that I learned, in particular, to call people by their name…to invite students to comment and participate…to let people speak…by truly listening to them.  Those were lessons well given.

Or, in another context regarding life's many daily struggles, as Bernstein sums up in her column, coaches teach us lessons that help us when the going gets tough, for example, in Bernstein's words, "...when I’m on deadline or giving a speech to an intimidating crowd:  You need to arrest a negative thought immediately, in midair. Remind yourself that you are competent and know what you’re doing. Slow your breath."  Let me be frank. Those are the lessons that got me through law school.  And, I learned them through teachers that were, really, coaches. 

Thus, as we begin to embark on a new academic season, perhaps I should focus more on coaching.  After all, our work brings us in contact with people that are really struggling over learning to be learners in a new learning environment…an environment that we call law school...with people that need us to coach.  So, what does a coach do?  According to Bernstein, a coach says things that change our lives for the better…and for ever, such as:

“You rock!”

“Great job in difficult circumstances.”

“You should be really proud of yourself.”

But, in my own words, a coach, first and foremost, listens and observes others.  That I can do, if only, I'd stop talking so much!  (Scott Johns)

August 4, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Orientation, Professionalism, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard

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Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard! She was a awarded a Top Ten Badge by the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for her July 27th posting The Bar Exam Is Over, Now What.

July 31, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Congratulations to Alex Ruskell

Congratulations to Alex Ruskell who was a awarded a Top Ten Badge by the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for his June 3rd posting Goldilocks and the Bar Exam.

June 20, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Congratulations to Katherine Silver Kelly

Hat tip to Mary Beth Beazley for telling us the news from Ohio State. Congratulations to Katherine Silver Kelly, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Academic Support Program at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, on her selection as Professor of the Year by the graduating class. Katherine works in legal writing and ASP and is in her fourth year at Ohio State. Her faculty profile is here: Professor Katherine Silver Kelly. Below is a picture of Katherine giving her speech at this year's graduation.

Katherine Kelly



May 16, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Welcome Louisa Heiny to the ASP/Bar Prep Profession


Please join me welcoming Louisa Heiny to our community. Louisa began at University of Utah Law School in January 2016. Please take the time to chat with her when you see her at regional or AASE events!

Her faculty profile can be found here: Louisa Heiny. Below is a short introduction that she shared so all of you can get to know her:

I am an Associate Professor/ Lecturer at the University of Utah Law School. I teach Evidence, Judicial Process, and Legal Writing for Judicial Clerks. I've been teaching at Utah as an adjunct for since 2010, and before that was a Professor of Legal Writing at the University of Colorado Law School. I was hired full time in January to teach, develop ASP programs for upper-division and transfer students, and integrate those new programs into our existing 1L ASP and Bar prep programs.

February 4, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)