Sunday, July 29, 2018
Summer is my opportunity to go back to books I have quickly perused on arrival from the publisher and take a more in-depth look. I attended an excellent session at AASE that was presented by Jane Bloom Grise (my apologies, but I cannot figure out how to get TypePad to do an accent over the "e" in Grise). So, I decided to pick up Jane's book Critical Reading for Success in Law School and Beyond (West Academic Publishing, 2017) for another look.
One of the strengths of the book is that it explains not only the "what" of reading strategies, but also the "why" of reading strategies. Too often new law students will focus on what they think is wanted (a case brief) without understanding why lawyers read cases, why the sections of a case brief are there, , why cases need to be synthesized, etc. This book explains court structure, parts of a brief, the basics of civil and criminal procedure, and more to give the students greater context to the importance of their reading.
Another strength is that the book compares expert legal readers to novice legal readers, top students to struggling students, and proficient competency to developing competency. The comparisons help to illustrate for student readers where they fall on these continua.
I was pleased to see that the book looks at critical reading of statutes as well as of cases. (So often statutes are left out of skills volumes as though they are afterthoughts or not needed until upper-division courses. However, statutes have been embedded in first-year courses for years and deserve coverage in books aimed at new law students.)
The book has a number of features that make it user-friendly for law students:
- It breaks down reading into before, during and after stages rather than lumping critical reading into one overwhelming process.
- It breaks down reading strategies for each stage into smaller steps, so that the reader can build incremental understanding and application.
- It includes a number of textboxes and tables to summarize the strategies visually.
- It provides exercises throughout the chapters for the student to complete (with answers at the end of the book).
- It includes an appendix of cases often seen in 1L year for use throughout the book as examples and exercises.
Notice that the title includes success beyond law school. If a law student uses these strategies to become an expert legal reader now, future practice will only enrich the skill. (Amy Jarmon)
Sunday, July 22, 2018
Periodically the ASP Listserv hosts questions from law schools that are considering having an ASP course. Sometimes the questions focus on courses for first-year students; sometimes upper-division students are the focus. A wonderful resource as you work on your academic success course is Kris Franklin's Strategies and Techniques for Teaching Academic Success Classes (Wolters Kluwer, 2015). Kris Franklin is well-known in the ASP community and serves as Professor of Law, Director of Academic Initiatives, and Co-Director of the Initiative for Excellence in Law Teaching at New York Law School.
This short and readable volume will guide you from "soup to nuts" in the design process for your course. The book clearly recognizes that there is no "one size fits all" and looks at issues to consider and potential topics and skills to incorporate. The volume includes eight main parts: Type of Course, Materials and Texts, Beginning Your Course, Teaching Legal Reasoning, Academic Skills, Developing Teaching and Learning Exercises, Feedback and Grading, and Wrapping up Your Course.
Although the book is designed to be used in tandem with Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching by Howard E. Katz and Kevin Francis O'Neill, it is a very useful stand alone volume. A selected bibliography and an appendix of sample course sequences add to its value. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, July 21, 2018
Hat tip to Jennifer Cooper (Tulane Law School teacher in the MJ Labor & Employment Law program) for reminding ASP listserv readers about the white paper from the Working Group for Distance Learning in Legal Education. The white paper is hosted by CALI as an ebook at https://www.cali.org/books/distance-learning-legal-education-design-delivery-and-recommended-practices.
Saturday, July 7, 2018
Tia Gibbs, the new ASP Professor at St. Thomas in Miami, placed a request on the listserv this past spring asking ASP'ers to recommend books and articles for a summer reading list. Many ASP'ers responded, and Tia kindly shared the suggested reading list with the listserv. In case you missed her posting and are considering your own summer reading, here is the list that she shared:
Suggested Reading Material for ASP Professionals
- Expert Learning for Law Students by Michael Hunter Schwartz
- How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lynthcott-Haims
- Excellent Sheep –The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Wait to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz
- Reading Like a Lawyer by Ruth Ann Mckinney
- Bridging the Gap from College to Law School by by Ruta K. Stropus, Charlotte D. Taylor
- Law School Exams: A Guide to Better Grades. By by Alex Schimel
- Bridging the Gap by Charlotte Taylor
- Reading Like a Lawyer by Ruth Ann Mckinney
- Succeeding in Law School by Herb Ramy
- First Year Law School Success: The Ultimate and Essential Guide for Every 1L by Ira L. Shafiroff
- The Companion Text to Law School: Understanding and Surviving Life with a Law Student (for families and significant others) by Andrew McClurg
- Juris Types: Learning Law through Self-Understanding (based on MBTI types) by Marty and Don Peters
- "Why Don't Students Like School" by Daniel Willingham
- Critical Reading for Success in Law School and Beyond by Jane Grise
- “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III & Mark A. McDaniel
- Small Teaching by James M. Lang
- Teaching with Your Mouth Shut by Donald Finkel
- Pass the Bar: A Practical Guide to Achieving Academic & Professional Goals by Sara Berman
- A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Law Student by Paula A. Franzese
- A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student by Alex Ruskell
- Off the Charts Law Summaries: An All-in-One Graphic Outline of the 1L Law School Courses by Julie Schechter
- Teaching Law by Design by Michael Hunter Schwartz by Sophie M. Sparrow,Gerald F. Hess
- Learning Outside the Box: A Handbook for Law Students Who Learn Differently by Leah M. Christensen
- Mastering the Law School Exam (Career Guides) by Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus (Author)
- How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching by Susan A. Ambrose
- Exam First Aid by Jennifer Kamita, Christopher Hawthorne, Sascha Bernsinger (help identifying mistakes with multiple choice/ teaching multiple choice)
- A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student by Alex Ruskell (extremely helpful for those students that let time slip away quickly during their first year)
Law Review Article
- The Art and Science of Academic Support by Kris Knaplund
- Mary Ann Becker, Understanding the Tethered Generation: Net Gens Come to Law School, available at https://lawecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1531&context=facpubs
- Louis N. Schulze, Using Science to Build Better Leaners…, available https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2960192
- Helicopter Professors by Emily Grant available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2904752
Saturday, May 12, 2018
BBC News included an article this week (The Secrets of High Potential Personality) on a book entitled High Potential by Ian MacRae, Adrian Furnham, and Martin Reed (Bloomsbury Business, Second Edition, 2018) and the High Potential Trait Inventory (HPTI) that is based on the research of the authors.
The book and the HPTI focus on six characteristics that the authors feel are important to workplace performance and especially leadership: conscientiousness, adjustment, ambiguity acceptance, curiosity, risk approach (or courage), and competitiveness. The authors state that each trait can be measured with the HPTI to show its level for the individual. At the extreme level, each trait can have downsides. In addition, the combination and levels of traits that impact work performance or leadership may vary depending on the position held within an organization. (For example, when I looked on the web for the inventory, a sample report for the Thomas HPTI uses low, moderate, optimal, and excessive as the levels for each trait and then provides a report for the individual based on that person's scores.)
As I read the article, I thought that several of these characteristics seem to relate potentially to law school performance and success. Inventories measure "only one piece of the puzzle," so to speak; but I am curious to learn more about these traits. The book is going on my list for future reading. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, April 9, 2018
Routines are critical for me to get anything done in a day. I wake up at the same time every morning. I hit snooze 1 time, read my daily devotional after the next alarm, then start my shower routine. I turn the coffee pot on at the same time, grab breakfast, and have “shoe race” with my kids before driving them to school on the same route. The days I follow a solid routine at work with to-do lists, I am more focused and accomplish more. Sound familiar?
My routine and habits help me get through law school and overcome struggles. I knew what I planned to accomplish and finished my tasks even when life was difficult. I tell students every semester that having a routine makes doing additional MBE questions in face of failure, navigating life circumstances, and accomplishing anything else much easier, especially when confronting obstacles during studying. However, I didn’t know much about the research on habit formation until recently. The research could help all of us working with students.
I started listening to The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg recently while driving, and so far, I love the book. It is a great combination of explaining habit research and providing anecdotal stories of how the research worked in particular situations ranging from large corporations to individuals. I plan to purchase a desk copy to highlight and take notes.
Law students could benefit from the research. The early parts of the book discuss creating and modifying habits. People have cues and rewards for situations, and changing the routine or response to the cue while still receiving the reward helps habit formation or modification. I am already thinking about how I can teach specific responses to certain cues to help 1Ls build habits for law school and reinforce the habits right before the bar exam. Individual meetings may be the best way to inculcate routines, but I am also thinking about how I could integrate the information into my classes.
The section I am listening to right now is about willpower. Research indicates people can increase willpower, and small gains in willpower in one area of life can spillover to other areas. The willpower discussion overlaps with Angela Duckworth’s Grit research. The book indicates willpower can be built with pre-programmed responses to challenging circumstances, which creates routines. Starbucks receives high customer service reviews because they developed training programs for routine responses. Employees use a specific tactic when rude or angry customers come to the counter. Even if an employee is tired, upset, or life is going poorly, the pre-programmed response provides the willpower to help the customer in spite of the rudeness. Response routines can drastically improve willpower.
Students need pre-programmed responses to challenges. Many of us encounter students who dislike professor feedback on assignments, perform poorly on oral questions, or fail another set of MBE questions. Telling students to overcome the obstacle and not worry about the performance may be true but probably not specific enough to help. Helping students determine a clear roadmap for the response is what will help the next time. When faring poorly on the MBE, help them come up with a routine, which could include decompression, analysis, positive response, and another set of questions. We all know it is easy to continue when everything is going well. Responses planned before challenging events are more likely to help overcome those events. Just as lawyers do, plan for the worst.
I can’t wait to finish the book. I encourage everyone to listen or read it if you get a chance.
Monday, January 29, 2018
Academic Support is a great community with how we all share ideas and try to pick each other up. The outpouring of support is invaluable, but I have to admit it sometimes makes me feel like I lack enough knowledge to help students. I hear about all the great new ideas at AASE that others are trying based on research and books read about cutting edge neuroscience research. I listen amazed at great new ideas, and I wonder where everyone finds time to both read the research and formulate ideas. My typical day races through my head with teaching, student appointments, committee meetings, and class preparation followed by images of evenings and weekends filled with coaching youth sports, which is much more fun than reading learning science. Extra time didn't seem to exist in my schedule.
Professional development is critical to progress for both me and my students. I recently discovered a way to continually develop daily without missing my other obligations. Since I don’t listen to much music, I decided to listen to new literature while commuting to work. I live in a suburb of OKC, so my drive is about 20-30 minutes each way. Many of you have much longer commutes, which is an even bigger opportunity to grow. Audiobook apps are abundant, s0 I spent a few days looking through the options like audible and audiobooks.com. This was a new commitment for me, so free apps were the most appealing. I decided to try the free OverDrive app. OverDrive is connected to library systems across the country. It allows users with a library card to check out audiobooks from local libraries. They may not have every audiobook, but depending on the library, the selection is pretty good.
Downloading the app was the first step. The next step was to create a habit of listening. My library checks out books for 2 weeks before deleting them from the app. Committing to 20-30 minutes would be necessary to make it through the book. I constantly tell students getting better requires little decisions and discipline each day. Practice exam writing for 30 minutes a day or adding in small substantive reviews throughout the week make a difference. I needed to take my own advice. Turning off ESPN radio and committing to professional development would be difficult, but I decided to listen to at least 1 book.
OverDrive made a huge impact on my development. I started last October, and I am still listening to new books. While reading an entire book during a busy day may seem daunting, listening to a book for 20-30 minutes while driving home isn’t difficult. Since October, I listened to Grit, How We Learn, Make It Stick, Eureka Factor, Learned Optimism, and some of Chazown. For general business leadership tips, I listen to Craig Groeschel’s Leadership podcast. It is specific to leading a business (he leads one of the largest church organizations in the nation), but many of the tips are helpful in leading students. I am on the waitlist for Power of Habit. I hope to listen to it this semester.
Professional development is hard to fit into our schedule, especially since many times, immediate benefits don’t flow from reading new research. However, students are engaging new technology at a rapid pace. We have to stay ahead on new information to help our students succeed, which is worth the 20-30 minutes driving home. Not only that, you may be the presenter with great ideas at future conferences from the small amount of time spent each day.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
We have several times posted links on this blog to articles about trigger warnings. Trigger warnings have been controversial: championed by some, derided by others, and supported with qualifications by another group. Inside Higher Ed discusses a new book about trigger warnings: Trigger Warnings: History, Theory and Context. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, December 12, 2016
Inside Higher Ed posted a recent item about a new book by Sister Kathleen Ross on different classroom strategies for teaching first-generation-underrepresented students. Although the book focuses on reaching undergraduate students, it may be of interest. The link to the post is here.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Hat tip to Scott Johns, University of Denver School of Law, for informing us about a Wall Street Journal article on grit which can be found here: The Virtue of Hard Things. The article talks about Angela Duckworth's research and her book, Grit. Duckworth developed the Grit Scale and found that grit often predicted success better than innate ability. Grit combines passion and perseverance. Duckworth has implemented the Hard Thing Rule in her own family: choosing and committing to one difficult activity that requires daily practice.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Have you read Alex Ruskell's new book, A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student? If not, you will want to get a copy of this valuable resource for law students. The book was published this year by West Academic Publishing.
Alex is the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He has held similar positions at Roger Williams University School of Law, Southern New England School of Law, and the University of Iowa College 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. In addition, Alex is a Contributing Editor for the Law School Academic Support Blog and serves as a member of the Executive Committee for the AALS Section on Academic Support.
First-year students are especially anxious about exactly what they should be doing. The book is laid out with suggestions for what the student should accomplish each week. For the first semester, the initial weeks include extensive information on the study skills for the week. Later weeks combine task checklists with highlights on a new study skill or more advanced discussion of a previously introduced skill. In these later weeks, exam skills are delineated in detail. For the second semester, the first week discussion focuses on evaluation of first semester and review of exams. The later weeks are checklists with some extra tips.
Alex has included a large number of practice questions with answers as an appendix to the volume. He has helpfully divided them into courses and topics with separate sections dependent on complexity: short, medium, and long questions.
For those of you familiar with Alex's law school comics that appear in this Blog, you will be pleased to know that each week starts with one of his drawings. I particularly liked the somewhat sad and perplexed Thanksgiving turkey given the time of the semester right now. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, September 28, 2015
Hat tip to James B. Levy of the Legal Skills Prof Blog for his September 25th post referencing his own SSRN article on teaching with classroom technology in law school and a forthcoming Australian book with a chapter on the myth of digital natives. His post can be found here: Legal Skills Prof Blog Post by James B. Levy. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, September 25, 2015
Saturday, August 15, 2015
I have listed several newer books that have come out in the last couple of years. Again, there are many more, but these books will be good ones for your bookshelf. (Amy Jarmon)
Law School Success:
- Paula A. Franzese, A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Law Student
- Alex Ruskell, A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student
Specific Skills in Law School:
- Julie Schechter, Off the Charts Law Summaries: An All-in-One Graphic Outline of the 1L Law School Courses
- Alex Schimel, Law School Exams: A Guide to Better Grades
- Sara J. Berman, Pass the Bar Exam
Thursday, August 6, 2015
All of us in ASP are fortunate to have so many well-written and practical books available to us on law school success. Today's post focuses on the "Classics" written by ASP professionals and faculty. Again, there are many more titles that could be included among the Classics - this list is to get the new ASP'er started.
Law School Success:
- Michael Hunter Schwartz, Expert Learning for Law Students (with workbook)
- Ann L. Iijima, The Law Student's Pocket Mentor
- Andrew McClurg, 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School
- Carolyn J. Nygren, Starting Off Right in Law School
- Herbert N. Ramy, Succeeding in Law School
- Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor, Bridging the Gap between College and Law School: Strategies for Success
- Dennis J. Tonsing, 1000 Days to the Bar: But the Practice of Law Begins Now
Legal Reasoning and Analysis:
- Wilson Huhn, The Five Types of Legal Argument
- David S. Romantz and Kathleen Elliott Vinson, Legal Analysis: The Fundamental Skill
Specific Skills in Law School:
- Charles R. Calleros, Law School Exams: Preparing and Writing to Win
- Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus, Mastering the Law School Exam
- John C. Dernbach, Writing Essay Exams to Succeed in Law School
- Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams
- Barry Friedman and John C. P. Goldberg, Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School
- Ruth Ann McKinney, Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert
- Charles H. Whitebread, The Eight Secrets of Top Exam Performance in Law School: An Easy-To-Use, Step-By-Step Program for Achieving Great Grades!
These ASP Classics can fill the starter shelf for your professional library. Another post will focus on some of the newer publications. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, August 3, 2015
As a follow-up to my presentation at AASE this summer, I would like to announce that my new book, A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student, has been published by West Academic Publishing.
A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student gives law students weekly checklists explaining the skills necessary to successfully navigate their first year of law school. Each chapter provides a checklist of things to do that week, such as briefing cases, going over notes, outlining classes, or doing practice questions. When a new concept is introduced, this book clearly explains the concept and its purpose and provides examples. Instead of merely providing advice, this book lays out a detailed plan for students to follow. It also includes a bank of over 100 short, medium, and long practice questions in six first year subjects.
If you would like to request a complimentary print or digital copy of this title, please contact your West Academic Publishing Account Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-313-9378.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
If you have joined the academic support/bar preparation professional community for the first time, we welcome you to a rewarding career and wonderful group of colleagues. One thing that ASP is known for is collegiality. There are many experienced ASP'ers who will be happy to share ideas, materials, pitfalls to avoid, and much more. We hope that you will reach out to those of us in the ASP profession whenever we can assist you.
This post is the first in a series to help those who are new to ASP find resources, get settled in, and discover the professional community waiting to help them. Today's post lists some of these resources. The post is by no means exhaustive!
Professional organizations for ASP:
- Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Academic Support: The upcoming annual meeting will be held January 6-10 , 2016 in New York City. The tentative schedule indicates that the Section's business meeting will be at 7 - 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 9th with the program (Raising the Bar) on the same date at 10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.. An informal meal get-together is also usually scheduled. Our Section is co-sponsoring a program with the Section on Balance in Legal Education (Finding Your Voice in the Legal Academy) at 10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. on Friday, January 8th. The Section on Teaching Methods also has a program on Friday. The Sections on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research and on Student Services are holding programs on Thursday, January 7th. The 2015-2016 Section on Academic Support Chair is Lisa Young at Seattle University School of Law (email@example.com). The AALS Section on Academic Support website is https://connect.aals.org/academicsupport.
- Association for Academic Support Educators (AASE): The upcoming conference will be held May 24 - 26 2016 at University of New York (CUNY) Law School on Long Island. The 2015-2016 President is at Pavel Wonsowicz at UCLA School of Law (firstname.lastname@example.org). The AASE website is http://www.associationofacademicsupporteducators.org/.
Websites and listservs for ASP:
- The ASP Listserv: The listserv membership is available to legal educators who interested in ASP/bar topics. To join the listserv, send an email to email@example.com. Subject line can be blank or say Subscribe ASP-L. In the body of the message type subscribe ASP-L your name title law school name. The listserv is a great place to ask questions of your colleagues, mention resources of interest, post workshops and conferences, and post job openings.
- The Law School Academic Support Blog: This blog is part of the Law Professor Blogs Network and will include postings of interest to ASP'ers, law students, and law faculty. Multiple postings are made each week on a variety of ASP/bar-related topics by the Editor and Contributing Editors. There is an archive function to search prior posts. Spotlight postings introduce new colleagues to the community and highlight colleagues' work. Job announcements are also posted. You can subscribe so that articles are directed to you inbox whenever postings occur. The Editor is Amy Jarmon at Texas Tech University School of Law (firstname.lastname@example.org). The website is http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/.
- The Law School Academic Success Project: This website is maintained by the AALS Section on Academic Support and receives ongoing funding from the Law School Admissions Council. The website includes sections for ASP'ers and students. Student pages are available without registration. To see the ASP pages, you need to be employed currently at a law school in ASP/bar-related work and register. After you register, please update the staff information for your law school to reflect current staff. There are a variety of resources on the site. The Committee Chairperson for the Website is O. J. Salinas at University of North Carolina School of Law (email@example.com). The website is lawschoolasp.org.
Other resources of interest:
- American Bar Association: The Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will be of interest. There are ABA publications, including the Student Lawyer which law students now can receive under the new free student division membership plan. The website for the Section is http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education.html.
- Institute for Law Teaching and Learning: This consortium of law schools provides resources and conferences focused on best practices for legal education. The website is www.lawteaching.org.
- Law School Admissions Council (LSAC): LSAC has long been a champion of the academic support profession and diversity in the legal profession. For many years, LSAC sponsored workshops and conferences for ASP'ers. The website is www.lsac.org.
- Law School Success: Blog written by Susan Landrum at St. John's University School of Law. Website is http://lawschoolacademicsuccess.com/.
- National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE): The organization that brings us the bar exam. The website is www.ncbex.org.
Hopefully this "starter list" will help new ASP'ers to become familiar with some of the available resources. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Every year someone on the listserv asks for advice because they have been charged with creating a new ASP course. I remember the anxiety I felt when I had to design my first course. Kris Franklin's new book, Strategies and Techniques for Teaching Academic Success Courses, should fill this need. The book will be given away free during AALS.
I have read the book, and highly recommend it. Although I have been teaching in ASP for many years, it was an excellent refresher on what I should do doing and thinking about when I design (or redesign) a course.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
There are several new books on the market for Academic Support Professionals and for law students. In a series of posts, I will review a few of those books and some of the tried and true ones that I often turn to when I am in need of some words of wisdom or professional guidance.
First, I am reviewing a book published last year by the American Bar Association, PASS THE BAR EXAM written by Professor Sara J. Berman. This book provides a step by step guide for individuals embarking on their journey to pass the bar examination. Not only does this book provide crucial details about the bar exam, it guides readers to understand who they are learners and thinkers. It offers interactive questions, quizzes, and exercises to increase thoughtful reflection and a deeper awareness of the motivational factors required for successful bar passage. One highlight for Professors and Academic Support Educators is that the Teacher’s Edition provides many useful tools that can be integrated into Bar Support Classes and Programs.
Professor Berman’s two decades of experience is illuminated in this text and the teacher’s manual. This resource can help make studying for the bar exam more manageable and less stressful. If you are thinking about starting a Bar Support Program at your law school, if you are a student seeking a framework for bar strategy and success, or a Professor who wants to integrate more bar support into your curriculum, this book is a great place to begin.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Recent graduates, who have just taken the bar exam; students about to return to law school; and students about to enter law school have more in common than you think. Sure they are all heading toward legal careers. But in addition to the obvious, all of them may find themselves with time on their hands. All can benefit by reading good books. Recent bar takers can get to books that they had little or no time for in the recent past. Returning and new students can read for pleasure in the time remaining before the start of the fall semester. To quote one of my legal writing colleagues, "a good way to improve one's writing is to read good writing."
Taking my own advice and, once again, relying on my blogging son, I've turned to a book that he suggested: The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande. Gawande, a surgeon, begins with the premise that failures can stem from either lack of knowledge or ineptitude. Gawande then addresses the use of checklists – in multiple disciplines – to manage extraordinary amounts of knowledge and expertise.
Checklists help to ensure that any task is done completely. For example, law students preparing to submit a writing assignment can use checklists as they edit the assignment. Additionally, as law students prepare for exams, they can use their course outlines, to prepare checklist for addressing the legal issues that may be tested in each course.
Similarly, both newly admitted and experienced attorneys can develop and use checklists in a variety of contexts. For example, transactional attorney can use checklists – tailored to any transaction – to ensure that they fully perform all necessary tasks.