Tuesday, December 2, 2008
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)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
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)
Monday, September 29, 2008
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)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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)
Monday, July 28, 2008
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, March 13, 2008
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)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
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)
Friday, August 10, 2007
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)
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
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 Stress. Larry 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)
Monday, July 30, 2007
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)
Saturday, July 21, 2007
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)
Monday, July 9, 2007
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)
Monday, June 11, 2007
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)
Thursday, June 22, 2006
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)
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Do you think we could pressure the publishers for an earlier release date?
Right about now, four weeks before the TEST at the end of the month, I would like to pull the book Pass the Bar! off of my bookshelf and refer to the study strategies, "checklists, exercises, and reflection questions" for some fresh ideas to present to students who are amid (or mired in) bar preparation.
Too bad it won't be released until November.
Two experienced folks in the world of teaching law students wrote the book: Denise Riebe, who teaches at Duke University School of Law and at the University of North Carolina, and Michael Hunter Schwartz, who teaches at Charleston School of Law and wrote Expert Learning for Law Students (Carolina Academic Press).
Order your examination copy in advance by visiting the Carolina Academic Press on the web. I've already pre-ordered mine. (els)
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
The book makes some sweeping promises on the cover about how its contents will, "simplify your life, double your productivity, and achieve all your goals." Whether you'll find that to be true is another matter, but it's a worthwhile and quick read.
Personal productivity guru Brian Tracy explores the importance of setting a clear goal, or focal point, in all aspects of one's life as a means to achieve greater effectiveness at work and greater rewards in one's personal life and relationships. With the tendency for law school to consume both teachers' and students' time, it's always good to have a reminder of the importance of clear thinking as the work piles up.
Interested? You can read excerpts of Focal Point now.
Tracy's website contains a list of all of his titles and some free resources, including a test of your management style at work. (els).
Thursday, June 2, 2005
Carolina Academic Press recently released Professor Michael Hunter Schwartz's book entitled, Expert Learning for Law Students.
The book, initially published in 2003 by Western State University College of Law, contains strategies to help students to become self-aware about their learning styles and the strategies to succeed as a law student.
A workbook accompanies the text and a teacher's manual is forthcoming. Teachers may request complimentary copies from the publisher. (els)
Monday, May 2, 2005
Is this an alternative to Black's Law Dictionary for students? Law.com now offers a free Dictionary of Legal Terms. I looked up a few terms ... it seems to be a good resource for a quickie definition, and might be quite helpful for wunnelles struggling (during their first month at least) for fluency in the Language of the Law. (djt)
Sunday, February 13, 2005
When was the last time you read a book addressing matters of professional interest to Academic Support folks? Okay, how about this: when was the last time you read a book you think should be recommended to students? But wait, there's more ... Even Academic Support professionals vacation from time to time. How about sharing some of those novels none of us would ever admit to reading except while at 30,000 feet?
Books books books ... recommend books, review books, and let others know which books we shouldn't bother with.