Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My book list, continued

After my post of Geoff Colvin's Talent is Overrated, I received emails asking for non-ASP-specific book suggestions. I am a voracious reader. I will be giving this much more thought over the next couple of months, but these are some of the books that are on my reading list (meaning I already own them, but have not yet finished them) or books that I have finished, and jump out at me when I think of great non-ASP books:

(I am including links for a couple of them...they are not links to the book, but links on information from the books that is specifically relevant to ASPer's)

Drive:The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink: Just starting this one. For those of us who work with students who have lost their motivation, this is a synthesis of the best psych research on how to rekindle love of learning. And a great way to reinforce the importance of Larry Kreiger and Ken Sheldon's work on law students to colleagues.

What Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain: Read this a couple of years ago. A fabulous, non-discipline-specific study of what popular, and more importantly, effective teachers do so their students learn and stay excited by learning.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: Covers similar territory as Talent is Overrated, but Malcolm Gladwell is fun to read. This is the beach-book that feels more like mind candy than education.

The Lucifer Effect by Phillip Zimbardo: Read it. Loved it. An account of theStanford Prison Experiment in 1971, where ordinary students inflicted torture upon their peers in an experiment by Stanford professor Phil Zimbardo.  A great introduction to situational psychology (we are not good or evil, but deeply and profoundly influenced by the situations we are in).  Will really help you think about how the structure of law school, and ASP, can produce unexpected and sometimes toxic results. 

SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner: Includes information on fabulous work being done on what creates great achievement. General-purpose smartness is essential, but deliberate practice is key.

Sway:The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori and Rom Brafman: Haven't started this yet, but it is on my bookshelf. All of us have students every year who make us want to bang our head into a wall. They know what to do. You know they can do it. But they continue to make bad, self-destructive choices. We see the same bad, irrational choices every year, yet just can't seem to root them out of the student body, not matter how many programs you run to change behavior. I am hoping this book will provide me with a better understanding of why students make some of the frustrating choices that leave me scratching my head.


April 7, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Suggestion: Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

I am in the middle of the book Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin; I think it's an excellent book for ASPer's, students, and other law professors.  I will probably using this book as part of my class for freshman in college next fall. If I could require it for incoming law students or an ASP course, I would.

Amy and I write extensively in this blog and give presentations on the things lower-ranked and at-risk students do and don't do compared to their more academically successful peers.  Much of what we find academically successful students do is researched and discussed in the book.  Experts have better memories than novices in their field of expertise. Memory is a learned skill. The research on memory is particularly fascinating because it implies that memory is built on understanding the task and giving it context; we tell law students it's about understanding, not memorizing, and struggling students frequently disagree with us. However, the research is saying we are both correct. If law students don't understand, they can't memorize the essential, foundational concepts that in turn build deeper understanding necessary for success on exams. All struggling students are seeing is that their classmates who understand the material have foundational concepts committed to memory, and they blame their struggles on memory, not a lack of understanding. Understanding builds context, which aids in memory.  Law school is a spiral curriculum, where concepts build and interact with each other, and if students can't get their foot on the first step, they can never climb higher.

Deliberate practice, distinguished from hard work, is another key idea I think law students need to understand. We in ASP always hear from struggling students that they are working as hard as they can, and we find that their hard work is not the type that produces learning.  Helping students see that number of study hours alone does not help them understand the material is one of our first hurdles as ASPer's. The next step, learning what type of study produces understanding of the material, is known as deliberate practice. Where I find this book to be helpful is that it shows law students it's not just law school; they type of practice they need is relevant to any field where they want to succeed. I think it takes some of the vitriol out of their law school experience.  (RCF)

March 30, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brain Science for Lawyers

David A. Sousa is an educator, author and consultant who has written seven books applying brain research to different groups of learners.  I just finished reading his ABA book titled How Brain Science Can Make You a Better Lawyer.  Although the book is geared towards lawyers making presentations (especially litigators, though law professors are mentioned), it has useful information for all of us.  The first chapter focuses on information about how the brain works.  The second chapter discusses using one's brain in the workplace setting.  Chapter Three looks at brain research that can be applied in practice.  The final chapter delineates a framework to use.  (Amy Jarmon)


October 12, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Resource on Mindfulness

A new book that I cannot wait to read just landed on my desk.  Scott Rogers has written Mindfulness for Law Students: Using the Power of Mindful Awareness to Achieve Balance and Success in Law School.  The book has many exercises and resource lists within its pages.  Scott Rogers is the founder and director of the Institute for Mindfulness Studies.  (Amy Jarmon) 

October 8, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Article on Learning Disabilities: Dyslexia and Time

For those of you interested in articles dealing with learning disabilities, you will want to read the article by Suzanne Rowe in the most recent volume of the Journal for the Legal Writing Institute Volume 15, Issue 1.  The article is entitled Learning Disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act: The Conundrum of Dyslexia and Time.  Suzanne is an Associate Professor and Director of Legal Research and Writing at Unviersity of Oregon School of Law.    Thank you to the Legal Writing Prof Blog for the link.  (Amy Jarmon) 

June 2, 2009 in Books, Disability Matters | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Gathering Peasants' Revolt

Because of our concerns about minority enrollment and innovation/creativity in legal education, a new book should be an interesting read for ASP professionals.  The book is titled The Gathering Peasants' Revolt in American Legal Education and is written by two Massachusetts School of Law Andover faculty: Dean Lawrence Velvel and Assistant Professor Kurt Olson.  The publisher is Doukathsan Press. 

Sherwood Ross, the media consultant for the law school, reports in a press release that the book challenges the ABA in a number of areas (including the two mentioned above) regarding how its policies affect legal education.  According to Ross, seven deans from ABA-accredited law schools are quoted in the book on how specific ABA policies are detrimental to legal education.  The press release quotes the authors as saying that "all missions but the one approved by the ABA" are stifled.  Massachusetts School of Law Andover is currently not accredited by the ABA.   

Thanks to Terence Cook, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Recruitment, here at Tech Law for the press release.  (Amy Jarmon)   

December 3, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Break Reading Recommendations

Exams are here at many schools, and they are starting shortly at schools were they have not started already.  The very short post-exam period is sometimes marked by drive-by students running past the ASP office on the way to a plane, train, or automobile taking them home for the holidays.  This is a great opportunity to recommend books to read over the holiday break. Students now know what to expect from law school, but they may not have put all the pieces together yet. 

Before I jump into my recommendations, I stress what things students shouldn't read:
1) Random blogs by other law students. They will just make them feel anxious about their grades, and overstress the importance of grades during the first year.
2) Anything content-related. They need to rest, and I rarely hear of students who found content-based reading helpful during the semester.  Your brain can't be "on" all the time.

The most important thing students can do over break is enjoy themselves and reconnect with the reasons they chose law school. 

And then I move on to my recommendation. First and foremost, holiday break is the time to read Getting to Maybe by Fischel and Paul.  It uses too much content as examples to read before or during first semester. By second semester, students are ready for the material, and understand the technical law school terms-of-art that are used throughout the book.  This book is the roadmap to "A" exams at most schools and in most classes. 

My recommendation to students who will likely to be in the top half of the class is Charles Calleros Law School Exams: Preparing and Writing to Win. It is a bigger picture book, and it may be too abstract for students who are struggling with the basics.  But for an analysis of the thinking and logic skills necessary for exams, it is excellent.

My recommendation for students who still don't seem to get the basic organization or structure of exam writing is Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus Mastering the Law School Exam.  There are many of these students who tend to crawl out of the woodwork too late in the semester for an ASP professional to provide the intensive help they need.  Suzanne's book is an excellent guide to breaking down the essential parts of a great exam answer for students who may need explicit instruction in the nuts-and-bolts of law school exams.  These are the students you know you will see once grades come in, and this book gives them a foundation for your work with them in the spring.

And for students who are taking the bar exam in July...they need to get Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz Pass the Bar! as soon as possible. The book is best used at the start of the 3L year, but it is perhaps most helpful, if not essential, to students who need checklists and timelines in order to get paperwork in on time. (RCF)

December 2, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New "Essentials" Series from Aspen

One of my faculty colleagues, Professor Jennifer Bard, recently told me about a new volume from Aspen Publishers titled, Essentials: Torts.  As a Torts professor, she has found this study aid helpful for some of her students because it explains the material in a narrative format that puts it in words with context rather than being a mere outline.  She has several reserve copies in the library for her students to access. 

In checking out this volume, I discovered that the same series currently has a Civil Procedure volume.  Other volumes will be available throughout 2008 and 2009 in a number of subjects.  I have added the current volumes to my purchasing list.  If you would like more information on this new series, you can find it at Essentials Series from Aspen Publishers.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 13, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bar Exam Success

Steven Friedland, a law professor at Elon School of Law, and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, an attorney and investigative journalist who now works at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, have written a recent Thomson/West publication entitled The Essential Rules for Bar Exam Success.  Although I have only had time to dip into several chapters, it is clear that the book contains a great deal of useful information for bar takers. 

Chapters 1 and 2 provide an introduction to bar study and the bar exam.  Chapter 3 covers common mistakes bar takers make, while Chapter 4 describes the qualities of successful bar takers.  Chapter 5 covers goals.  Chapter 6 focuses on several techniques.  Chapters 7 through 9 discuss critical reading, critical thinking, and critical writing.  Chapters 10 through 12 provide strategies for three weeks out, one week out, the day of the exam, and the aftermath.  Chapter 13 provides a workbook section for applying the studier's knowledge of the law.  (Amy Jarmon)


September 29, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Book on Honesty

A colleague forwarded a book review link to me today, and I thought the review might interest a number of us who work with ASP.  Although not strictly a title in our area, it is a new title that deals with honesty in the legal profession.  All of us are concerned with our students becoming ethical legal professionals, even if only as role models rather than teachers of a professional responsibility course.   

Steven Lubet has written The Importance of Being Honest: How Lying, Secrecy, and Hyposcrisy Collide with the Trust in Law.  The book contains short chapters that focus on stories of ethical dilemnas that face lawyers, clients, judges, and academics.  A final section compares doctor and lawyer ethics. Mark C. Miller reviewed the book recently at the following link: Book Review of Lubet Work on Honesty.  (Amy Jarmon)

August 13, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Washburn Law Journal of Interest

If you were a participant at the Humanizing Legal Education Symposium last fall, you should have received your copy of the symposium issue published by Washburn Law Journal (Volume 47, Number 2, Winter 2008).  In addition, you should have received a DVD of the presentations.

Michael Hunter Schwartz provided a wonderful conference.  We were all invigorated by the opportunity to hear insightful speakers, to learn new ways to humanize our own law schools' programs, and to meet others who believe in changing law schools.

If you would like to see the symposium issue of the Washburn Law Review on-line, go to Washburn Law Journal Humanizing Legal Education Symposium Issue.  If you want to request a print copy, you can contact the law review staff at (785) 670-1541.  Also, if you wish to obtain a copy of the DVD, you can contact Michael Hunter Schwartz at  (Amy Jarmon)

July 28, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Commercial Law Study Aids

Our students have a required commercial law course which includes both negotiable instruments (aka payment systems or commercial paper) and secured transactions.  This commercial law course is one of the hardest for law students, especially those without any business background.

Both course topics provide a range of study aids which are in hot demand.  A study aid that includes both topics is:

  • Secured Transactions and Payment Systems: Problems and Answers (Clarke and others, Aspen)

The study aids for negotiable instruments include:

  • Understanding Negotiable Instruments and Payment Systems (Lawrence, LexisNexis)
  • Examples and Explanations: Payment Systems (Brook, Aspen)
  • An Introduction to Payment Systems (Lawrence, Aspen)
  • Gilbert Law Summaries: Commercial Paper and Payment Law (Whaley, Thomson/BarBri)
  • Gilbert Law School Legends on Audio Cassette: Commercial Paper (Spak, Thomson/BarBri)
  • Sum and Substance Audio Casettes: Commercial Paper and Payment Law (Whaley, West Group)
  • Eamanuel Law Outlines: Payment Systems (Lawrence, Aspen)
  • Questions & Answers: Payment Systems (Maggs and Zinnecker, LexisNexis)

The study aids for secured transactions include:

  • Visualizing Secured Transactions (Bartell, LexisNexis)
  • Understanding Secured Transactions (Lawrence and others, LexisNexis)
  • Examples and Explanations: Secured Transactions (Brook, Aspen)
  • Gilbert Law Summaries: Secured Transactions (Whaley, Thomson/BarBri)
  • Black Letter Outlines: Secured Transactions (Rusch, Thomson/West)
  • Gilbert Law School Legends on Audio CD: Secured Transactions (Spak, Thomson/BarBri)
  • Questions & Answers: Secured Transactions (Markell and Zinnecker, LexisNexis)

Hopefully, students who are struggling with these topics can find study aids that assist their understanding among these selections.  (Amy Jarmon)

March 13, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Future Interest and Estates Study Aids

Our students have been going through a spate of midterm exams in Property recently.  Future interests, estates, and RAP are as perplexing for current students as they were to all of us in law school.  I thought it might be helpful to list some of the study aids that I stock in my library to help students in these areas:

  • A Student's Guide to Estates in Land and Future Intersts (Laurence and Minzner, LEXIS)
  • A Student's Guide to the Rule Against Perpetuities (Schwartz, LEXIS)
  • Estates in Land and Future Interests (Makdisi and Bogart, Aspen)
  • Workbook on Estates and Future Interests (Coletta, Thomson/West)
  • Estates in Land and Future Interests (Edwards, Aspen)
  • A Possessory Estates and Future Interests Primer (Wendel, Thomson/West)
  • Gilbert Law Summaries: Future Interests and Perpetuities (Dukeminier, Thomson/BarBri)
  • Gilbert Law School Legends on Audio CD (Carpenter, Thomson/BarBri)
  • Law in a Flash: Future Interests (Aspen/Emanuel)

When I was studying for the day-long conveyancing exam for the bar in England/Wales, I asked one of our residential conveyancing legal staff what book would be best for preparing for the future interests, estates, and RAP portion of the exam.  He blinked at me. In a surprised voice, he asked if Americans still learned all of those things.  When I told him that it was a regular part of every law school property course, he laughed and said that the U.K. abolished all of those intricacies in the 1840's!  (Amy Jarmon)

March 12, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Resource for Introducing the American Legal System

I would like to recommend highly a book that introduces students to the American legal system by following a case through all of its stages.  Aspen has recently published John Humbach's book entitled Whose Monet? An Introduction to the American Legal System.  Professor John Humbach is a faculty member at Pace University.

The DeWeerth v. Baldinger case regarding a Monet painting is used as the common thread throughout the book.  This case illustrates the strategy and analysis required by lawyers as well as the procedural steps in a civil law suit.  The book is very readable and includes commentary about the legal system, analysis of the case, and study questions in each chapter.  Examples of correspondence and court documents are included as well in some chapters.

This book could be used in a number of ways.  It would be a great summer reading requirement for entering law students; it could be used as a supplemental text in a course; or it could be a valuable addition to an academic success program library.  (Amy Jarmon)   


August 10, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Reminder about a Resource

Our four-week Summer Entry Program is in full swing.  This year, we have 15 students beginning the 1L class through the program.  We talked about stress management in the early days of the course, but I knew they would hit the first "real" stress point after taking a one-hour quiz on legal reasoning and the legal system at the end of week one. 

Although I made in-class remarks to prepare them for the differences in law-school testing and the reality that some of them would receive lower grades than they expected, I wanted to provide them with information from another source.  Therefore, I gave each student a copy of Larry Krieger's The Hidden Sources of Law School StressLarry Krieger is a professor at Florida State University School of Law and is well-known in the humanizing legal education efforts (also known as balancing legal education).

A number of the students commented afterwards that they appreciated the resource.  Several mentioned that they had read it several times during the week and that it would stay handy on their bookshelves for later reference.

We have ordered a copy this year for each of our 1L students.  We also have extra copies for any 2L or 3L who requests a copy (a sample is posted on the OASP bulletin board).  If you have never checked out the booklet, Larry's website is Humanizing Law School Booklets.  There are two booklets available: one on stress in law school and one on career choices.  Our Career Services staff ordered the second booklet to distribute to our law students.  (Amy Jarmon)    

July 31, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Teaching Students the Nature of Legal Argument

I would like to recommend a book on legal argument that you may have overlooked.  Wison Huhn at the University of Akron School of Law is the author of The Five Types of Legal Argument.  The book was published in 2002 by Carolina Academic Press.  Will is very interested in making law accessible to our students, is actively involved in teaching/learning discussions, and has been selected as Outstanding Professor of the Year on five occasions.    

This book is a resource that can be helpful to law students in all three years of law school.  However, it was intended to assist the first-year law student who is trying to figure out the "art" of legal argument.  The first half of the book deals with an introduction to the foundations of legal argument.  The second half of the book details intra-type arguments and cross-type arguments. This book may be a good addition to your legal reasoning courses, your suggested books for prospective law students, or your own library. (Amy Jarmon) 

July 30, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Good Book for 1L's

Herb Ramy's Succeeding in Law School (Carolina Academic Press 2006) is a great book you can recommend to new law students.  It gives the beginner a good overview of the skills she will need and challenges she will face in her first year of law school. This is one of those books every student should read before the first day of school.  (Dan Weddle)

July 21, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Resources for New ASP Professionals

If you are working in Academic Support, an essential resource is Michael Hunter Schwartz's Expert Learning for Law Students (Carolina Academic Press 2005).  Prof. Schwartz gives the reader an insightful explanation of the implications of learning theory for students facing the rigors of law study and provides abundant practical strategies for learning and living in the law school environment.  (Dan Weddle)

July 9, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Good Resource for New ASP Professionals

If you are just beginning work in academic support, a good resource is Dennis Tonsing's 1000 Days to the Bar, but the Practice of Law Starts Now, published by William S. Hein and Company. Dean Tonsing gives a concise overview of the skills first-year law students need to develop and some very practical strategies for new students to employ.  In fact, I ask all of our new law students to read it over the summer before beginning law school.  Some of it will be tough for them to understand out of context, but it gives them a good head start on how to approach the study of law.

Other great books are out there as well, so I will suggest more as the summer progresses.  (Dan Weddle)

June 11, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Check Out Herb Ramy's New Book

Hramy_1 As a longtime director of Academic Support, Herb Ramy begins receiving phone calls from our new 1Ls as early as May.  Their common question? “What do I need to do to succeed in law school.”  To help answer this question, Herb has written Succeeding in Law School – Becoming Your Own Best Teacher .  His book contains some basic information that prospective law students can use to better prepare for those first rigorous days as a 1L.  Just as importantly, he has written this book with the Academic Support Professional in mind.

Herb explains what inspired the book:

"When I first entered the ASP field, I had a general sense of the ideas I wanted to communicate to my students.  I knew that I wanted to cover topics like course outlining, note taking, and time management, but teaching these topics in a way that spoke to a large segment of the law school population was no easy task.  Through a process of trial and error, I learned how to communicate these and other important ideas to my students.

"I have written this book mindful of the rigorous learning environment law students face.  The book fully addresses each important topic, but each chapter and the accompanying exercises can be completed in a modest amount of time. The book incorporates examples, a few cases, hypotheticals, and exercises so that students can practice their new skills and measure their progress."

In addition to students receiving the feedback they crave, the exercises allow ASP professionals to assess the students' progress throughout the semester.  It promises to be an important new tool for those of us working in academic support and for our students as well. Check it out.  (dbw)


June 22, 2006 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)