Wednesday, October 10, 2012
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)
Monday, September 10, 2012
Please welcome Amy Envall as Director of Academic Success at Barry University School of Law. Amy joined the academic support community last December, so she has a spring semester and summer under her belt. We did not get a chance to introduce her earlier and wanted you to meet her.
Amy shared the following information with us so that you can get to know her:
"After serving as a Judicial Staff Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, as an Assistant County Attorney for Osceola County, Florida, and as General Counsel for the Osceola County Clerk of Court, I am very happy to be at my law school alma mater working with law students. My undergraduate degree is in education, and I taught for six years – during my last year of teaching, I started law school part time. After practicing law for almost eight years, joining the Barry University School of Law administrative team was a perfect match because I could use both my education degree and my law degree. My legal interest lies in governmental law and legislation. My personal interests include community service, where I sit on many non-profit boards and am active with the Boy Scouts of America and Special Olympics."
Please introduce yourselves to Amy when you see her at a workshop or conference. We are delighted to have her as part of ASP. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Are you a new academic support professional? Have you been an ASP'er for some time but have switched schools? Did you get promoted within ASP this summer? Please let us know your news!
We would like to do an academic support spotlight posting to introduce you if you are new. If you have switched schools or were promoted, we would like to use the same postings to update colleagues on your new position.For us to include you in a spotlight posting, just send me the following information:
- If new: One paragraph that can be posted with information on your position, law school, and you (education, past work experience, and interests).
- If job changing or promotion: Similar but with a focus on your new position and duties and where you moved from/title you held before.
- Everyone: A link to your law school's faculty profile on the website if one exists for you.
- Everyone: A link to your picture on your law school's website if one exists. (If not, you can send a small jpeg file.)
We welcome all of you who are new to the profession! Congratulations to those of you who have switched jobs or received promotions! We look forward to spotlighting you later this month. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Summer is the traditional time when new professionals in ASP start their jobs. If you are a newcomwer to the academic success profession, please get in touch with me so that we can introduce you to everyone with an Academic Support Spotlight posting. If you would like an introduction spotlight, just send me the following information:
- One paragraph that can be posted with information on your position, law school, and you (education, past work experience, and interests).
- A link to your law school's faculty profile on the website if one exists for you.
- A link to your picture on your law school's website if one exists. (If not, you can send a small jpeg file.)
Welcome to ASP! We usually do spotlight postings throughout late August, September,and early October. So, if you need some extra time for your law school to complete your faculty profile or picture posting, just get in touch when you are ready. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, June 18, 2012
Rebecca and I are delighted to announce that Dan Weddle, Director of Academic Support at University of Missouri - Kansas City, is joining us as a Co-Editor for the Law School Academic Support Blog.
Dan previously served as a Co-Editor with Dennis Tonsing and later with me before he decided to take a break for several years. He has been involved in research and writing about bullying and other educational issues during his hiatus from the blog.
We know that all of our readers will benefit from his insights. Welcome back, Dan! (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, May 4, 2012
An interesting issue was discussed on the ASP listserv recently. Carlota Toledo of Indiana-McKinney School of Law brought up the issue of declining law school enrollment and the impact this will have on ASP. I work with undergrads and in law school ASP; this issue is not an abstraction for me. I spend part of my day, everyday, working with undergraduates who are exploring legal education as a post-graduate option. As I have previously discussed, this is not something we can afford to ignore. Law school deans have already spoken out about the rising cost of running a law school, as well as the challenges of providing increasing levels of services to students. Because ASP professionals are more vulnerable to budget cuts due to less job security, this is an issue that all of us should be discussing and addressing in conferences. We cannot afford to stick out heads in the sand, or hope that it will be somebody else's problem.
Personally, I can attest to the significant drop-off in interest in law school among students with high LSAT's and UGPA's. These students have paid attention to the news, they read the blogs, and they have other options besides law school. An unprecedented number of them have told me they are changing their plans and either not going to law school at all, or they are taking a wait-and-see approach, where they explore other options (Teach for America, Peace Corp, internships abroad) until a legal education guarantees a substantial return on investment. My strong-but-not elite students are taking a different approach; they are only considering law schools that discount tuition by half or more. Many of them are willing to walk away from the idea of being a lawyer if it means more than 40 or 50k in debt from law school loans. These students are still going to law school in significant numbers, but they will not be generating much, if any, revenue for law schools.
Why is this relevant to ASP? The only group of students who are not reconsidering their plans to go to law school are the ones who have no other options. I have seen no decline in interest in law school among students with mediocre to poor UGPAs and LSATs. They cannot get a job in this economy, and many of them have substantial undergraduate loan debt that they cannot pay after graduation. A handful of these students will do very well in law school, because the reason for their lackluster academic performance thus far was due to events outside of their control (death in the family, health issues that have been resolved). The majority of these students are going to struggle in law school. Their sub-par academic performance was due to a sub-par work ethic and a lack of maturity. These students are going straight from undergrad to law school, without the time to grow into themselves and gain the maturity and insight that is necessary to compete in law school. ASP is going to be a lifeline for these students. They are the students most likely to reject help until they are in crisis, and they will be the most reluctant to accept that they need remedial support because they did not learn essential skills in college. ASP needs to plan for the arrival of these students and develop strategies for working with these students.
We are facing the unprecedented convergence of twin challenges: a decline in enrollment and accompanying decline in revenue, and an increased need for our services. (RCF)
Sunday, April 1, 2012
It seems like the news focusing on legal education is rarely positive. It's not much better at the undergrad level, where very good books (Academically Adrift, Higher Education? Crisis on Campus) from well-respected researchers are focusing on the problems at the BA/BS level. Criticism of undergraduate education and legal education share some common themes: there are not enough jobs for graduates, graduates have no marketable skills, and what is taught is disconnected from what graduates need to know. At the law school level, ASP and LW focus on skills acquisition, and should be at the center of efforts to reform legal education. While ASP and LW scholars have come up with some great ideas for reforming legal education, we have not really discussed "disruptive" ideas that change the very concept of legal education. Undergraduate researchers have done a lot more thinking about wholesale change in the academy. Most of the changes and ideas are not going to be embraced in entirety, but they they can spur innovation that can lead positive changes to help students and graduates become more successful after they leave us.
One of the most fascinating ideas coming from the undergraduate reform movement centers around using mentors and doing away with the idea of traditional courses with a sage-on-the-stage professor. This type of university would blur the lines between professional and liberal arts education, and do away with disciplinary silos that exist only in the academy. With the growth of open access education or MOOC's, sage-on-the-stage teaching can be done economically over the web, as was done at Stanford when Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig taught an artificial intelligence course to over 100,000 students. Instead of traditional courses, students would work with mentors who could help guide their course selection and college experience. With a small peer group and a mentor, students could work together to solve real-world problems, using the knowledge they gain from MOOC's. Students gain skills when working with real-world problems in a safe, contained learning environment, and mentors can help guide students socially, intellectually, and professionally.
There are certainly challenges to implementing such large-scale changes to the current model of undergraduate education. It is wonderful that researchers and academics are looking to disrupt the current model--something that is not happening at the law school level. I am not dismissing some of the ideas that have come out of the legal academy that promise to improve legal education; there are some great ideas out there (see Robert Rhee and Bradley Borden's "The Law School Firm"). But legal education has had few truly "disruptive" thinkers. Disruptive thinking is scary and promises change, and law schools are notoriously risk-averse and conservative. Instead of fearing change, ASPer's can get out in front of it; think about how our skills can be used in novel and unconventional ways to solve the problems facing law schools. It means we may need to re-boot our thinking, and consider brand-new ways of delivering services.
Here are some things ASPer's can think about:
1) Law firms major complaint is that law school graduates are not practice-ready. Can ASP work with legal employers to teach skills to graduates? Law schools can start making guarantees to law firms: hire our grads, and if they don't have the skills, we will provide them to graduates for free, at the firm. This type of deal with law firms would benefit all parties: law firms would be acquiring less risk when hiring, law schools could get work with law firms so more students are employed, and law students could feel more secure about their employment options.
2) Shift students into "pods" that work on a real-world problem. Instead of a 3-hour exam at the end of the semester, each pod would be responsible for an entire portfolio that addresses the problem. Students would need to address the problem from the perspective of their core courses; they should be able to produce memos that discuss the contract implications of the problem, the constitutional challenges, and possible conflicts with property laws (zoning implications, etc.). ASPer's could play myriad roles; they can be the overall supervisor of a pod, they could float through each pod throughout the semester to check their progress, or they would be the resource for pods that were struggling. An additional benefit would be that ASP would not need to isolate struggling students; the ASPer could work with the entire pod to reinforce skills.
ASPer's need to start thinking about ways to leverage their skills and knowledge for a different type of legal education. If we don't act as change agents, we risk being lost in the changes. No one is going to speak for us but ourselves; we cannot rely on others to find a place for ASP. The fantastic thing about ASP is that we are collaborative, creative, and flexible. Let's use those skills to help address the problems in legal education from new and novel directions. Let's provide the ideas that "disrupt" legal education for the benefit of our students and the profession. (RCF)
Saturday, January 14, 2012
I was at AALS last week. In my seven years in the academic success community, I have never experienced anything quite like last week's conference. There were two messages coming from AALS, and both messages are important for everyone in legal education: law school is too expensive, and law schools are not doing enough to increase diversity. I will discuss both messages, and the implications for ASP, in turn.
1) Law school is too expensive.
I listened to more than one speaker claim that "services"--one speaker singled out ASP--are the cause of tuition hikes. At the vast majority of schools, there is only one person in ASP (and maybe not even full-time). To isolate ASP as the cause of tuition increases is disingenuous at best, and deceitful at worst. We are paid a fraction of the salary of one tenured faculty member, but most of us work long hours to help our students succeed.
Attacking ASP and other service providers is easy; few of us have tenure, even fewer have voting rights, many of us are at-will employees, and therefore, it's difficult for us to defend our roles without threatening our employment. Staying quiet is easy, but ultimately, self-defeating. If we don't start defending what we do, and our cost-effectiveness, we will be easy to cut. Kudos to Herb Ramy who addressed this at his presentation at AALS--we keep students in school, and we earn our keep. Threatening ASP means more students will fail out of law school and fewer students will be paying tuition.
There is still the problem of escalating law school tuition at a time when our students are finding it hard to find jobs. Whether we like it or not, that is our problem, too. None of us have control over law school tuition hikes, but we do have the power to help our students. I have always considered a part of my job to help my students find jobs. Every year I meet with students who want to know how to work in education. I consider it a part of my duty as a member of a law school to brainstorm employment options with my students, write recommendations, and call in favors, when I can, to help students find employment. I don't pretend to be in career services, but if I know someone who is looking for an academic counselor, I will pass along the resume of one of my students. This is a lesson I learned at my alma mater, where it was not uncommon for professors to help students with their job search.
2) Law schools are not doing enough to increase diversity.
Attacking ASP while lamenting the lack of diversity in the law makes no sense. ASP was born out of efforts to diversify the legal profession and help all students, regardless of ethnicity, race, or socioeconomic status, succeed in law school and as lawyers. Many of us are in ASP because we are committed to the success of underrepresented populations. At our core, ASP is about helping the neediest students, students who have no "family money" to rely on once they get out of law school, students who may be the first in their family to graduate from high school--let alone professional school, students who may be supporting their family while in law school.
This is about fighting for our students. It's about helping the neediest students make it through law school, after they have acquired debt to finance their first semester or year of law school. It's about making law school a safe, healthy place for all students, of all backgrounds. It's about making diversity a priority. We need to fight for ASP because it is about helping students, not ourselves. We have a duty to our students, to help them achieve their personal best and to help them find their place in the profession. Helping our students means we need to start speaking up for ourselves. The time to wish for an economic miracle has passed; we need to get fired up for our students and for ourselves. (RCF)
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Oscar "O.J." Salinas is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He teaches Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy and assists with the law school's academic success programs. O.J. is an honors graduate from the University of Dayton School of Law and has a Master's in Counseling from the University of Texas at San Antonio ("UTSA"). Prior to joining UNC, O.J. taught undergraduate Learning Communities academic support courses at UTSA. He also taught criminal justice courses and a graduate level seminar that focused on legal reasoning and oral advocacy at UTSA.
Please welcome O.J. to the academic support community when you meet him at a workshop! His faculty page with additional informatioin on the UNC Law web site can be found here: O.J. Salinas Faculty Profile.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Antonia Miceli has joined Saint Louis University School of Law as the Director of Bar Exam Preparation. She is a member of the California, Missouri, Illinois, and District of Columbia bars. A McGeorge Law School graduate, Antonia practiced and held two federal clerkships before beginning ASP work. To learn more about Antonia go to her faculty profile on the SLU web pages: Antonia Miceli Profile.
Welcome to the ASP community!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Susan Smith Bakhshian is the Director of Bar Programs & Academic Success and Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where she has taught since 1997. She currently teaches Bar Exam Writing, Law & Process: Privacy Torts (an academic success class), Remedies, and California Civil Procedure, but she also has 17 years of experience teaching Legal Writing, Legal Drafting, and Professional Responsibility. As a 1991 alum of Loyola’s evening program, she is particularly interested helping working students succeed in law school and on the bar exam. Susan's facultly profile on the Loyola web pages can be found here: Susan Bakhshian Faculty Profile.
Anne E. Wells is the Assistant Director of Academic Success and Associate Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. A graduate of Loyola, she currently teaches Professional Responsibility, Law & Process: Privacy Torts, Legal Drafting, and Bankruptcy, and has taught Legal Writing. She began teaching at Loyola as an adjunct in 2007 and joined the faculty full time in 2009. She brings a wealth of law firm practice experience to the position, having practiced extensively in the areas of bankruptcy, reorganization, and commercial law following her graduation from Loyola in 1991. Anne's faculty profile on the law school web pages can be found at: Anne Wells Faculty Profile.
Jessica Levinson is a Visiting Associate Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. She teaches Law & Process: Privacy Torts, and Money, Politics, and the Supreme Court. She was previously the Director of Political Reform at the Center for Governmental Studies, where her work focused on election laws and political reform issues, and an adjunct professor at Loyola. After graduating from Loyola in 2005, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable James V. Selna, and an associate at the law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett. More information about Jessica can be found in her faculty profile here: Jessica Levinson Faculty Profile.
Please welcome our new colleagues at Loyola in LA!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Macey Edmondson is the Acting Dean for Student Affairs at The University of Mississippi School of Law. She received her J.D. in 2001 from The University of Mississippi School of Law and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Leadership and Higher Education program. Edmondson oversees orientation, graduation, students with disabilities, and student organizations.
We are delighted to have Macey join the ASP community!
Monday, October 3, 2011
Kathleen Dombrow is a new Graduate Fellow in Academic Support at Whittier. She received her J.D. degree cum laude from Chapman University School of Law. While at Chapman Law, she served as a Dean’s Fellow for Legal Research and Writing. She then entered private practice focusing on Family Law. More information on Kathleen can be found on the Whittier web pages here: Kathleen Dombrow Profile.
Please welcome Kathleen to ASP work when you see her at an ASP event!
Friday, September 30, 2011
Heather Gutterud has joined the Whittier Law School Academic Support Program as an Academic Support Program Fellow after graduating from Whittier Law School magna cum laude in the spring. While a student at Whittier, Ms. Gutterud served as a teaching assistant for several classes and was Associate Editor of Law Review. More information about Heather can be found on Whittier web pages here: Heather Gutterud Profile.
When you see Heather at a workshop, please give her a heart-felt ASP welcome!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Halle Hara has joined Capital University School of Law as Professor and Director of Academic Success Protocol. She comes to ASP work after more than 13 years of practice experience and extensive legal writing and publication experience. You can find more information about Halle on the Capital University web site: Halle Hara Faculty Profile. Please welcome Halle to ASP work!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
It is the time of year for us to include spotlight postings on the blog to introduce all of the new folks who have joined ASP in recent months. To do a spotlight, we need a small picture, a brief bio, and a link to your faculty profile if you have one on your law school's web pages. If your faculty profile includes a photograph, we may be able to use that one instead of your sending an additional photo file. We are also happy to post information if you have switched law schools but stayed in ASP work. Send your information to Amy Jarmon at email@example.com. Welcome to ASP!
Monday, June 13, 2011
Corie Rosen of ASU-Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law recently published in article in the McGeorge Law Review on positive psychology and law students. Corie's work is a good reminder for all of us that self-efficacy is important for law students as learners and as future professionals.
1) Feedback should be temporary and specific.
Avoid making comments on students papers (and to students directly) that are permenent or pervasive. This is a hard thing to do, especially when you are frustrated. Setbacks are temporary. One bad grade or semester does not mean the student cannot succeed in law school.
2) Students need to know they have some control in their lives.
Law school can infantilize students. During their first year, they cannot choose their classes, their section, or their schedule. If you cannot let them make a decision, then explain to them why they can't make the decision. If them control where you can.
3) Encourage connection and roots in the community and in the law school.
Law school can disconnect students from their traditional support systems. Try to reorient them by letting them know where they can seek help if they need it. Help foster close relationships with peers by encouraging study groups and teaching them how to work in a study group. Show them the community outside the law school walls and help them remember the relevance of what they are learning to the outside world.
Monday, February 21, 2011
I have written posts in the past about students as consumers. I have very strong feelings on the topic, because I believethat viewing students as consumers dis-incentivizes students to achieve their personal best. However, it can be difficult to explain to students who see themselves as consumers what they should expect from ASP. I think this metaphor may be helpful.*
Home Depot and Lowe's hardware sell do-it-yourself kits for various small projects, such as bird feeders, picture frames, and shelves. They are designed to be parent-child projects, and the degree of complexity involved in the finished product depends on the skill and effort of the builders.
Education is much like one of these do-it-yourself projects. The boxes advertise a very basic project. The kit includes all the pieces necessary to build the project in it's most basic form. If built as designed, the product should function exactly as it is advertised. Similarly, law schools give students all the basic pieces to complete a law degree. Some students will use the pieces as a starting point, and build something magnificent, far exceeding what is advertised on the box. These students are using their own ingenuity, creativity, and talent to demonstrate their own potential. They write notes for law review, join mock trial and appellate advocacy teams, they take on big projects in clinics, and they work to know their professors and peers. Other students will not take the time to read the directions, fail to follow directions, or rush the project because they don't like it. Their project will not be as advertised on the box, because the box does not promise them a well-built project without their own hard work. They can't bring the product back to the store because they don't like the finished product; it is not the store or the manufacturer's fault they did not do what they needed to do. These are the students who fail to show up for orientation or spend orientation playing on a cell phone, the students who are smarter than ASP, and feel that outlining isn't "their style" of preparing for exams. But the trickiest consumers are those that genuinely give 100% of their effort to building the project, and just can not figure out how to get from disassembled pieces to a finished product. This is why most manufacturers have consumer help lines. Academic Success is the consumer help line of law schools. The help-line specialists are masters at building the product, but it requires the continued effort of the consumer to learn how to build the project. If the consumer gets frustrated and hangs up the phone, the help-line specialist can not be blamed for problems with the finished product. Nor can a consumer expect that a help-line specialist is in charge of magic fairies who can come out and finish the project for them because they are struggling. No where on the box does it say that the manufacturer is responsible for the finishing the project for the consumer.
Education, like a do-it-yourself project, is great because you can build something that fits your individual needs, and you decide the complexity of the finished product. Its flexibility is what makes it great, but it also makes it difficult. Students who believe that they are consumers and ASP is there to fix their problems for them are confused about their role.
This metaphor is incomplete in many ways, because ASP encompasses many more things than just helping struggling students. I still disagree with characterizing students as consumers, but I know that some students will see themselves as consumers, and it is helpful to have a metaphor to help them see what we can and cannot do for them. (RCF)
*I apologize if this is a metaphor that has been used by someone else. I have read hundreds of law review articles in the last few months, and I may have accidently picked it up from an article. However, the idea came to me when I watched my brother-in-law and 3 year old nephew put together a do-it-yourself picture frame. My nephew thought the pieces for the frame should be used to build a construction crane. It was not what the manufacturer promised on the box, but it made my nephew very happy. I saw the help-line number on the box, and thought, wow, I bet no one has called them and asked about how to use a picture frame kit to build a construction crane. Which got me thinking about the role of help lines, and ASP.
Monday, January 17, 2011
There will be additional posts on AALS, but this is a brief overview of the program and the new AALS ASP section officers (Congrats to my co-editor, Dr. Amy Jarmon!)
The program, co-sponsored by Student Services and Balance in Legal Education sections, was a huge success with great turnout. It was a packed house, with every seat filled.
The program started with a brief memorial to Prof. Bruce Winick, who passed away this year. Prof. Winick was a giant in the legal academy, therapeutic justice, and the humanizing legal education movement. He will be deeply missed.
The first panel was Deborah Rhode, Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado, and Nancy Levit, discussing the current state of emotional well-being for law students. The statistics were sobering, but it was wonderful to hear so many folks so concerned about the happiness and well-being of law students and actually working to do something about the challenges to law students and recent grads.
The next panel was Paula Manning, Corie Rosen, Russell McClain, Rebecca Flanagan (me), joined after by Andrew Faltin. Paula et al got the program rocking with a song and dance (no joke) on how optimism, feedback, and programming can enhance law student well-bring. Andrew closed the section with information on how to use student self-evaluatuations to create happier law students.
The last panel, Laurie Zimet and Paula Lustbader, showed the audience how to get to know their students in"3D". Laurie and Paula provided some excellent tools to help professors get past their pre-conceived ideas about their students and help see them for who they are, not just a face in a seat. We closed out the day with Larry Krieger, the guru of law student balance and happiness, discussing his latest research on autonomy support and student success.
At the close of the program, the ASP business meeting announced the section officers for the 2011-2012 year:
Chair: Michael Hunter Schwartz
Chair Elect: Paula Manning
Immediate Past Chair: Robin Boyle
Secretary: Rebecca Flanagan
Treasurer: Herb Ramy
LaRasz Moody, Emily Scivoletto, Louis Schulz, and Dr. Amy Jarmon
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Each semester we try to do "Academic Support Spotlight" postings to welcome folks who have joined the ASP community since our last round of postings. Although I know we have already posted about a few new folks who joined law schools in November or December, I suspect that other new faces that have been arriving the last few weeks and will continue to do so into February.
If you have joined us in ASP work at a law school (or know someone who has) and have not yet been featured here on the blog, please send a picture (or link to your picture on your law school web site) and a short biography to Amy Jarmon at the e-mail given in the left-hand co-editor information.
Welcome to ASP work! I look forward to hearing from you. (Amy Jarmon)