Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Is your school interested in being a conference host for AASE?

Hello, ASP colleagues:

As we begin planning in earnest for next summer’s conference in Seattle, AASE’s Executive Committee is beginning to think about subsequent conferences, including a diversity conference in the fall of 2019, the AASE Annual Conference in 2020, and beyond.  From our first conference, we have been fortunate enough to partner with amazing host schools, and we want to make sure we have every opportunity to continue that streak.   

We are trying to identify schools to host future conferences, large or small, and we need your help.  Whether you have considered hosting a conference before or not, we would love to hear from you.

To this end, I am writing to ask you to e-mail me if you think your school might be a good site for a future conference.  It is okay if you are unsure if your school would be a good fit—we will follow up with you to get further details and/or to answer any questions you might have. 

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Best,

Russell

Russell A. McClain

President

AASE: Association of Aademic Support Educators

September 15, 2018 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

It's That Time of Year Again: Beloit's Mindset List for Freshmen

Every fall for a number of years, Beloit College has published a list for incoming freshmen as to what their life experiences have been. Many of the things that their professors remember as part of the culture and history of our everyday lives are beyond the ken of the new freshmen. It is a good reminder as to why law students may look at us blankly when we use examples containing cultural references they are unaware of from their own experiences. To read the Inside Higher Ed post on this year's list for the Class of 2022 freshmen, go to the following: 2018 Beloit List. To see lists for prior classes of entering freshmen who are now our own students, you can go to this link: Prior Lists for Entering Freshmen. (Amy Jarmon)

August 25, 2018 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The ASPer as "Parson"

When I was growing up, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary held the place of honor in our home.  Lying resplendent on a huge dictionary stand, it invited a curious child to spend hours poring over exotic new words and exclaiming over the origin of familiar words.  Even many decades later, it is a treat to cap off a pleasant evening by perusing my dictionary to contemplate words and their etymology.

Thus is was that, several years ago, I learned that "parson" -- that lovely and rather antiquated term for a Protestant minister -- derived from the Middle English persone for "person."  Intrigued, I did a little digging.  Not surprisingly, some explanations for why a minister / priest / vicar / curate / rector (choose your favorite term) would be referred to as a "person" were lengthy, theological, and dull.  But I stumbled across one article that resonated with me.  The parson's calling, this interpretation suggested, was indeed to just be -- a person.  In a society where people were defined by pedigree, social rank, and how they made a living, the parson's role was to be a person to everyone in the parish, high or low, rich or poor.  Performing rites like baptism, weddings, and funerals was really just a way of being a person in relationship with others -- welcoming the birth of a child, celebrating the ties of love and family, and mourning with the bereaved.  The hallmarks of a parson, this article concluded, were listening much, grounding advice in the individual's particular circumstances, and always treating others as individuals worthy of respect.

I long ago lost this article about the parson as a professional "person," but it influenced and still guides the way I approach the profession of academic support.  I believe our highest and best calling as ASPers is to be a "parson" -- that is, to give primary emphasis to being a person in relationship to our students.  As ASPers, we have the training, education, and experience to help our students succeed.  But as Steven Foster pointed out last week, we can share our expertise best if we establish a relationship with our students first.

Moreover, we are often most effective when, by deep listening, we give students leave to follow their own best instincts rather than trudging along doing what they have convinced themselves they "should" do.  I think, for example, of the times struggling students have confided they are having trouble concentrating because a loved one is dying several hundred miles away.  Sometimes the best response is, "Don't you want to go home to be with your family?  I can help arrange things with your professors."  Given permission to honor their responsibilities as human beings, when they return to school they are then ready to concentrate and learn.

Listening much, grounding advice in the individual's particular circumstances, and always treating others as individuals worthy of respect are the hallmarks of an academic support professional -- the "parson" of the law school.  (Nancy Luebbert)

August 22, 2018 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Start Out Fall Semester Right with Wellness and Balance

It is very easy with the excitement and busyness of a new semester to develop some bad habits or lose some good ones. First-year students especially are likely to feel pulled in a million directions by the new experiences and expectations of law school. Not only do 1Ls need to learn new study strategies, but they often need to cope with a new city, first apartment, and increased responsibilities for daily chores. 2Ls and 3Ls may have gotten out of the study-life routine over the summer while they slid into a 9 to 5 summer clerkship routine of evenings and weekends off.

It does not take long for the workload to become a bit overwhelming, and for life-law-school balance to get out of whack. Students start burning the proverbial candle at both ends. Before long, late nights, junk food, and caffeine jitters seem unavoidable. A downward spiral begins: stress, fatigue, lack of motivation, sadness, and more.

By implementing some simple steps for wellness and study-life balance at the beginning of the semester, law students can avoid that overwhelmed feeling and the downward spiral. Consider these steps as "preventative medicine" for law students:

  • Set up a weekly routine with blocks of time marked off for study tasks for each course (class prep, outlines, review, practice questions, other assignments) as well as for life's tasks (laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, errands). If you are married or have children, life tasks may include family dinners, bedtime stories, and other tasks. By having repetitive blocks already scheduled to cover all of these tasks, you see where you will get things done.
  • Enter 7-8 hours of sleep per night into your schedule blocks. Proper sleep combats fatigue, stress, depression, and lack of motivation. Proper sleep increases focus, concentration, productivity, retention/recall, and mental agility.
  • Enter blocks into your schedule for meals. Proper nutrition combats fatigue, stress, depression, hypoglycemia, and more. Proper nutrition supports brain function. Planned meal times aid digestion and relaxation.
  • Enter blocks into your schedule for exercise. Exercise not only has physical benefits, but it does wonders for combating stress. You only need 30 minutes 5 times a week to get the boost.
  • Enter blocks into that weekly routine for "down time" when you have permission to relax fully because you have already completed the other tasks for the week in the scheduled blocks. Most law students want the most down time Friday and Saturday nights, but it varies with lifestyle. Knowing you will have time off provides greater motivation to get things done to enjoy guilt-free time off. Scheduled down time also allows spouses and children to plan fun activities with you.
  • Complete meal prep on the weekends as much as possible. You will save time during the week while avoiding the temptations of junk food. Cook a main entree that will last several nights in a crockpot. Cut up raw fruit and vegetables for healthy snacks during the week. Make sandwiches ahead in single-serve containers to grab and go. Portion out nuts, raisins, trail mix for energy snack packs.
  • Group errands together by location. Grocery shop when the store is less crowded. Spread laundry or cleaning over several different days or weeks (Saturday clothes laundry and Sunday sheets and towels laundry; dust one Saturday and vacuum the next Saturday).
  • Use a "to do" list to prioritize the tasks for the time blocks you have in your schedule for the day. The class prep for Contracts block translates to "read pages 28-41 and complete problems 5-7" on your daily list. You know exactly what tasks need completion and lower your stress as you cross tasks off your list.
  • Take small breaks throughout the day to practice relaxation, meditation, or mindfulness. These mini-breaks can rejuvenate your body and mind.

If you take control over these basic areas of your life, law school falls into place and allows you balance. You do not have to fall victim to the often-heard rant that "law school does not allow time for anything else." (Amy Jarmon)

 

August 19, 2018 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Contamination of Student Assessment

An interesting post on Inside Higher Ed by Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas Law) arguing that professors who factor class attendance, participation in/preparation for class, and extra credit in their grading are not being fair to students in this age of outcomes assessment. The link to the post is below. (Amy Jarmon) 

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/08/09/why-faculty-shouldnt-factor-class-attendance-and-participation-final-grades-opinion?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=a8bec80f35-WNU_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-a8bec80f35-199669309&mc_cid=a8bec80f35&mc_eid=978859a4ca

 

August 18, 2018 in Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Can Older Non-Traditional Students Fit In? Absolutely!

Most of our law schools are seeing more non-traditional students arriving in our first-year classes. For many law schools, non-traditional students are still in a minority within the classroom when only a full-time program is available.

Those who are in their late 20's or early 30's tell me that they "feel different" and worry whether they have forgotten how to study and whether they will be accepted by those straight out of undergraduate education. And, because they have had jobs through which they were recognized for leadership and competence, they often state they feel a bit incompetent initially as they grapple with different law school study strategies. They may also have spouses and children to consider as they balance law school and life which makes their experience different from most younger students.

But even with these differences, many of the non-traditional students in these age groups will not "stand out" to their classmates as particularly older once they don the casual law student dress. They will blend pretty seamlessly into the whole. (And even when they show up with children in tow, many law students who are missing their own younger siblings, nieces, and nephews will delight at the chance to babysit while mom/dad goes to class or attends a meeting.)

The over-40 non-traditional students are the ones who most often have conversations with me about whether they will "fit in" and whether they will be "outsiders" among their much younger classmates. Today it is not unusual for law students to start in their 40's, 50's, or 60's after first careers. Most of them look older physically - they have earned those wrinkles or gray hairs. Even donning casual garb will not hide the fact that they are older. Their concerns about remembering how to study and feelings of initial incompetence are usually double or triple compared to their non-traditional colleagues in their 20's and 30's. After all, most of these older students have been out of a classroom for 20 years or more and were the supervisors and managers who "knew how to do it all" in past careers.

The good news is that older non-traditional students do fit in and are welcomed by members of their first-year class. Older non-traditional students often remark that "it is all about attitude." Here are some tips for transitioning from older non-traditional students with whom I have worked:

  • Make the first move to be friendly. Law students who are much younger may not know how to start the conversation because they see you as more accomplished and worldly.
  • Be humble about your accomplishments. You have garnered lots of accolades, titles, and professional recognition in your prior non-law life. Unless you are put on the spot with a pointed question, understatement is probably best initially to put others at ease.
  • Use your experience to be a role model for collegiality, not competition. Be supportive, encouraging, and helpful when you can. Ask for help when you need it. Let others know that you consider yourself one of their colleagues and value collegiality.
  • Participate in class with relevant examples from your experiences when those comments can add to the discussion or move the class forward. Be careful not to gratuitously tout your expeiences, however.
  • Volunteer in class when others do not, but do not become the "crutch" allowing your fellow students not to prepare because they know you will always be prepared. You may indeed know the answers most days, but they need to be challenged to participate as well.
  • Join law school organizations and participate in some of the events of your 1L class. You may have less free time because of family commitments, but devote some time to law school life outside the classroom.
  • Your main cadre of friends may be other older non-traditional students, but stay open to friendships with a variety of students. Law school organizations, study groups, and other opportunities will be available to expand your friendships.
  • Realize that, depending on your actual age, you may become a "big brother/sister, mom/dad" figure for some of your classmates. That is actually a compliment. Your experience and advice are being recognized. You may be just the mentor that someone younger needs.
  • Be yourself. If jeans and a T-shirt are not your style, dress as you are comfortable - even if it is dressier than your colleagues. If loud parties are not your thing, avoid them and join in at other times. If family outings are your relaxation, ask others to meet your family and join in the fun.
  • Be sensitive to your law school's etiquette. Some professors call everyone "Mr" and "Ms" and want to be addressed as "Professor" no matter the student's age category. Other professors use first names freely with older students (or all students). Let the professor/administrator indicate the desired form of address to avoid an unintentional faux pas.
  • Be patient with yourself as you master legal study. Do not compare yourself to "quick, young minds" or lament "I wish I did this years ago." You are learning a new language, a new way to think, a new way to write, and a new way to be tested. You are reviving academic skills that might be rusty and learning new study strategies.

Law school over-40 can be a wonderful ride. Many legal concepts link to your practical life experiences: apartment leases, real estate purchases, car loans, employment contracts, income tax returns, drafting wills, and more. You challenge yourself to new ways of seeing the world around you. You discover specialty legal areas and possible legal career paths you never knew existed. You have a break of sorts between careers. You meet classmates who will be life-long friends and professional colleagues. (Amy Jarmon)

August 12, 2018 in Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Can Growth Mindset Interventions Help?

Education Week posted this week about a new analysis of 10 studies dealing with growth mindset interventions for those age 7 to adulthood. The analysis suggested that teaching students how their brains change over time may help them understand that intelligence is not static but can be developed. The Canadian research noted increases in motivation, academic achievement, and brain activity. The link to the post is Education Week, and the correct link for the new study is Trends in Neuroscience and Education. The results of this Canadian research are contrary to a previous U.S. study (mentioned in the post) that found growth mindset interventions were not effective and that some earlier studies had not followed best practices: Science Daily. (Amy Jarmon)

August 11, 2018 in Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Please help! It's Not Too Late to Complete the AASE Survey!

Law school contacts who had not completed the survey for AASE for their law schools prior to the AASE conference were emailed in June with the information on the restructuring of the survey to make it easier to complete. The new deadline was set for 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2018. All schools should still use 2017-2018 information to complete the survey.

Thank you to the 60 law schools that have completed the survey already! A list of the schools that had completed the survey by Wednesday, August 1st is below. If your school completed after that date and is not listed, thank you for your completion!

If you do not see your school on the list of completed schools, please ask the ASP/bar person at your school to complete the survey. The data collected will be most useful if a high number of law schools complete the survey.

Remember all information from the survey will be reported in the aggregate; no individual school's information will be identified. Also, if there is a question that you are unable to answer, just leave that question blank and complete the remainder of the survey.

Problems in completing the survey? If your ASP/bar person has changed over the summer, we can re-send the survey to the new person if you notify Amy Jarmon of the change. If you have other problems or questions about the survey, we can also help you with those. Just contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon at amy.jarmon@ttu.edu for any assistance you need to complete the survey for your school.

Best regards,

Amy L. Jarmon, Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law

 

Law Schools Completed as of 8.1.18:

Albany

Benjamin N. Cardozo

Brigham Young

Brooklyn

Buffalo

California Western

Case Western Reserve

Catholic University

City University of New York

Cleveland Marshall

Elon

Florida International

Golden Gate

Gonzaga

Indiana - McKinney

Loyola - Los Angeles

New England

New York Law School

North Carolina Central

Northeastern

Northern Illinois

Oklahoma City

Pace

Quinnipiac

Rutgers - Camden and Newark

Santa Clara

Seattle

Seton Hall

Southern Illinois

Stetson

St. John's

St. Louis

St. Mary's

Stanford

Suffolk

Texas Tech

Thomas Jefferson

UC Davis

UC Irvine

UNT Dallas

U of Chicago

U Denver

U of Florida

U of Houston

U of Idaho - Boise and Moscow

U of Kansas

U of Louisville

U of Massachusetts

U of Miami

U of Minnesota

U of Nebraska

U of Nevada Las Vegas

U of New Mexico

U of North Carolina

U of Pittsburgh

U of Tennessee

Valparaiso

Washington U

West Virginia U

Whittier

 

 

 

 

August 7, 2018 in Miscellany, Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

New Study Disputes a Commonly Held Student Belief Regarding ADHD Drugs

It is a commonly held student belief among many non-ADHD undergraduate and graduate students that ADHD drugs will help them improve focus as well as their performance and neuro-cognition. Illegally obtained ADHD medications are used by non-ADHD students to get a competitive edge. Inside Higher Ed recently posted about a new study that suggests that this student myth about performance is inaccurate.

The pilot study was small and needs to be replicated. Increased focus and attention from the medications did not translate into better reading comprehension or fluency and actually negatively influenced working memory. Elevation of mood and physiological effects were what would be expected with these drugs. The hyperlink to the post (which includes a link to the study itself) is New Study. (Amy Jarmon)

August 4, 2018 in Disability Matters, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Has your school completed the AASE survey yet? Reminder: August 10th deadline

Law school contacts who have not completed the survey for AASE yet for their law schools were emailed in June with the information on the restructuring of the survey to make it easier to complete and on the new deadline. The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2018 – please use 2017-2018 information still.

If you were previously contacted during April to fill out the survey and did not have time to do so, please check your inbox (and junk mail folder) for the email about the survey that was sent during June.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon at amy.jarmon@ttu.edu.

Best regards,

Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law

Karen M. Harkins, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

July 20, 2018 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Don't Forget: Extension of the AASE Survey Deadline to August 10th

Law school contacts who have not completed the survey for AASE yet for their law schools were emailed in June with the information on the restructuring of the survey to make it easier to complete and on the new deadline. The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2018 – please use 2017-2018 information still.

If you were previously contacted during April to fill out the survey and did not have time to do so, please check your inbox (and junk mail folder) for the email about the survey that was sent during June.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon at amy.jarmon@ttu.edu.

Best regards,

Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law

Karen M. Harkins, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

July 15, 2018 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Some Miscellaneous Resources

Over the semester, I collect resource suggestions from law students, faculty members, ASP colleagues, and my browsing of the Internet. Here are some apps and websites that may be helpful to you or your students:

Procrastination Killer https://procrastination-killer.en.softonic.com/ - a free software that uses the 10 minutes of focused work - 2 minutes of break time repeated 5 times an hour to produce 1 hour's focused work; the task does not have to be completed in 10 minutes and can be spread over time to accommodate longer tasks; knowing one has to focus for only 10 minutes will (at least in theory) get the procrastinator working; the hope is that regular use of the app will change the procrastinator's habits, and the person will no longer take breaks every 10 minutes

Rescue Time https://www.rescuetime.com - the free lite version tracks time in websites and apps, allows you to set goals, issues weekly email reports on your website/app time; keeps a 3-month report history; for the premium paid version with a free 14-day trial you gain: tracking of time away from the computer; blocking of distracting websites; alerts on achieving daily goals; more reports and filters, and unlimited report history

Freedom https://freedom.to - blocks apps and websites; can sync across devices; one-month, yearly, and forever pricing levels

Planner Pad Organizers https://plannerpads.com/organizers - suggested to me by Kathy Thompson at Roger Williams; this weekly planner has pages divided into a top categorize section to list everything that needs to be done during the week in categories of your choosing, a prioritize section to distribute those tasks across daily lists, and a schedule section that looks like a regular daily planner calendar where you enter task time each day interspersed with your appointment/meeting slots; the planner also has monthly and yearly sections and other features for notes, expenses, and contacts.

Sleep Cycle https://sleepcycle.com - suggested by a student; this app monitors your sleep cycles during the night and then uses an alarm that "snoozes" over a 30-minute period to wake you before your set alarm time; the "how it works" page on the website explains the reasoning behind the app and how to use it correctly

If you have apps and websites that you recommend for resources, please send me suggestions. (Amy Jarmon)

 

 

July 14, 2018 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Maximizing the Financial Aid SAP Contract

Did you know that every student who is (a) receiving federal financial aid and (b) placed on academic probation must have a Satisfactory Academic Progress plan (or SAP) if they wish to continue receiving federal financial aid? 

Students must “meet the basic eligibility criteria, make satisfactory academic progress, and fill out the FAFSA form every year” to qualify for federal financial aid.  In order to make satisfactory academic progress, the student must “make good enough grades, and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.), to keep moving toward successfully completing [their] degree or certificate in a time period that’s acceptable to [the] school.”  To see one school’s policy click here.  If a student fails to meet certain academic benchmarks, then the student will likely have to enter into an academic success contract with their institution in order to maintain federal financial aid.

A typical SAP plan will detail the circumstances that caused the student to experience academic difficulty and the steps the students has taken (or will take) to ensure that they have the best chance for academic success moving forward.  Here’s a straightforward example: a student who qualified for testing accommodations all through their undergraduate education does not apply for testing accommodations as a first-year law student, and then the student performs poorly on their first-year exams, and is placed on academic probation.  That student's academic success plan would likely require the student to apply for testing accommodations before midterm examinations in the upcoming term. 

A few weeks ago—following a change in personnel and university policy—our law school had the occasion to revisit our policies and procedures associated with our SAP plans.  We quickly realized that we were not maximizing the opportunity presented before us.  The financial aid contract could be used as a vehicle to, um…, strong-arm the very bottom of the class into participating in several academic success programs.  Let me explain. 

I frequently recommend that probationers enroll in my 2L multistate performance test workshop course to not only get a jumpstart on bar preparation, but also to revisit some fundamental legal analysis and writing skills in a small enrollment class setting.  Under our Course Catalog, however, I cannot require it; students on academic probation are not required to, or prohibited from, enrolling in any particular courses.  But, students on probation are required to get my signature on their SAP contract in order to reinstate their federal financial aid.  With the administration’s blessing, I turned what was previously a “please sign this” interaction into a meaningful academic intervention.  (Incidentally, the literature suggests that the U.S. Department of Education actually intended to create meaningful academic interventions.)  Most recently, I met with several rising 2L students and each one voluntarily agreed, in writing, to my recommendations.  If the student did not like a particular recommendation (e,.g. enrolling in the performance test course), then I worked with the student to find a suitable alternative to build those same legal writing skills, (e.g. attending a set number of Writing Center workshops during the semester).     

Admittedly, a better long-term solution would be to adopt large-scale curriculum change and create permanent academic policies with regard to students who are placed on academic probation.  But, that type of change takes time, resources, and political campaigning.  In the meantime, I can use the financial aid forms as a mechanism to achieve many of my ASP-programmatic goals. 

(Kirsha Trychta)

June 27, 2018 in Advice, Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

I'm a new fall 1L! What should I do this summer?

Congratulations to all of our readers who are entering law school this fall! We look forward to welcoming you into our law school families.

Studying the law is fascinating, but it can also be a challenge. However, don't spend your summer stressing out about the new path in front of you. Spend this summer enjoying your summer while still taking some proactive steps for law school.

New 1Ls often ask what they should do over the summer months to prepare for law school. Here are some thoughts on worthy pursuits:

  • Spend quality time with family and friends. Many law students attend law school away from home. For some law students, it will be the first time they are far away. Take time now to make positive connections with the people who matter to you and build memories that will sustain you in the busy months ahead. You will find that going home every weekend will most likely not happen during law school because of deadlines and workload. So enjoy your favorite people this summer while you have more flexibility.
  • Organize your arrival in your law school city for several days before orientation starts. Orientation Week at law school will be very busy. Unlike other educational experiences, assignments will be heavy in all courses from the first class. If possible move in to your new apartment 5-7 days ahead. That gives you time to unpack boxes, get cable/internet hooked up, explore your city, stock groceries, etc. Your entry into law school will be more relaxed if you have some settling-in time before you report for orientation.
  • Make careful reading for comprehension an every day habit. Spend the summer reading mysteries, romance novels, the classics, news articles, biographies - don't read legal tomes about torts, civil procedure, or contracts. (You will read more pages in law school than you have probably ever read in your life, so there is no reason to start reading law yet.) Our digital lives prompt us to skim and read superficially, but legal cases and documents are dense and will require careful reading for comprehension.  So make it a habit this summer of reading carefully. Read entire articles and books instead of headings and random paragraphs. Ask questions about what you are reading to check your comprehension. Look up vocabulary you do not know. Good reading habits will pay off.
  • Brush up on your grammar and punctuation rules. Communication is the bread and butter of lawyering. Law students are often surprised at how important grammar and punctuation are to legal writing. Litigation outcomes can be determined by the correct placement of a comma in a contract! A summer review of these rules can boost your confidence in your legal writing course this fall.
  • Write down the reasons you want to go to law school and become a lawyer. Be more reflective than just what you put in that personal essay for your application. It is not uncommon for law students to wonder at times during their legal studies why they went to law school and why they wanted to become a lawyer. Your list of reasons can be a morale booster if you get bogged down in reading cases, writing papers, and taking final exams and temporarily lose perspective.
  • Practice setting a schedule. Once law school starts, your time will need to be very structured to complete all the necessary study tasks. Most successful law students study some in the evenings and during the weekend as well as daytime hours Monday through Friday. You will become more adept at time management if you can get used to setting a routine schedule for your summer tasks: work,  family responsibilities, chores, errands, sleep, meals, exercise.
  • Recognize and manage the distractions in your life. Most of us procrastinate at least some of the time. Today's world offers us a myriad of distractions to encourage avoidance. Determine what your time wasters are and get them under control this summer, so you can better manage your time once you get to law school. Here are some common time wasters that law students have to conquer: electronic interruptions (email, social media, phone calls, texting, surfing the Internet), video games, TV marathons, naps, midweek partying.
  • Read one good book about succeeding in law school. Some suggestions are: Expert Learning for Law Students by Michael Hunter Schwartz; 1L of a Ride by Andrew J. McClurg; Succeeding in Law School by Herb N. Ramy; 1000 Days to the Bar by Dennis J. Tonsing. There are other good books written by academic success professionals and law professors, but these four are classics.

Having a restful summer and recharging your batteries will go a long way to being ready for law school. Enjoy the anticipation! Realize that you were admitted because your law school expects you to succeed in legal studies. Following these tips can help you ease into law school with confidence. (Amy Jarmon)

June 17, 2018 in Miscellany, Orientation, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Extension of the AASE Survey Deadline to August 10th

Law school contacts who have not completed the survey for AASE yet for their law schools have been emailed this week with information on the restructuring of the survey to make it easier to complete and on the new deadline. The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2018 – please use 2017-2018 information still.

If you were previously contacted during April to fill out the survey and did not have time to do so, please check your inbox (and junk mail folder) for the email about the survey that was sent this past week.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon at amy.jarmon@ttu.edu.

Best regards,

Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law

Karen M. Harkins, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

June 2, 2018 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Extension of the AASE Survey Deadline

From the Co-Chairs of the AASE Assessment Committee:

If you are the ASP/Bar Preparation person(s) who is completing the AASE survey for your law school, the new deadline for completion of the survey is 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2018. The contact person(s) at each law school that has not already completed the survey will be receiving notification of the new deadline. 

We realize that the survey is lengthy, but we are gathering more comprehensive data than can be collected in the frequent, ad hoc ASP listserv surveys. After the completion of data analysis, a summary report will provide academic and bar support professionals with the aggregate results. For the first time, you will be able to support your efforts on behalf of students with comprehensive data on trends and best practices.

Your law school’s participation in the survey is vital! Thank you ahead for your time in answering the survey questions. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, at amy.jarmon@ttu.edu or (806) 834-6385. 

Best regards,

Karen M. Harkins, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law

The AASE Assessment Committee members for 2017-2018 are: Christine Church (WMU-Cooley), Katherine Silver Kelly (Ohio State), Angela Lechleiter (Louisville), Amy Newcombe (Seton Hall), Zoe Niesel (St Mary’s), Heidi Ramos-Zimmerman (Southern Illinois), Preyal Shah (UNT-Dallas), Dena Sobol (Mitchell Hamline), Kathryn Thompson (Roger Williams), Natasha Varyani (Boston University), and Judith Wegner (UNC). The AASE Assessment Committee members for 2016-2017 were: Joe Brennan (Vermont Law School), Katherine Brokaw (Emory), Matthew Carluzzo (Villanova), Michele Cooley (IUPUI), Dorie Evensen (Penn State), Zoe Niesel (St Mary’s), John Tsiforas (Hofstra), and Jane Winn (Washington).

April 19, 2018 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Thank You And I Had No Idea You Did All This!

This week marks our last full week of classes. I have my last scheduled meetings with students and say goodbye to many of the 3Ls, as this will be the very last time I will interact with them in this capacity. These final meetings typically signify moments of nostalgia for 3Ls, many of whom did not believe they would make it to this point, completion (almost) of their law degree. I also use this time to wrap-up a number of programs and to thank and bid farewell to the teaching assistants hired through my program. Obviously, this is a week filled with goodbyes even though I will see most of these students throughout the exam period and/or at graduation. It is important to reflect on experiences and the law school journey, to keep things in perspective, and to take stock of accomplishments. Otherwise, students tend to focus on the work rather than the successes achieved over the past few weeks, months, and years. It is also timely for me to reflect on my own experiences of the year.

I remind each 3L that this is our final formal meeting. Some were anticipating this meeting while others were intensely focused on the task at hand and did not even remember. We collectively reminisce our first meeting which typically occurred sometime during their 1L year. We highlight some of the challenges they encountered and overcame, including a few seemingly impossible goals now achieved. I congratulate them on their hard work, determination, and achievements. I wish them further success as they move ahead and remind them that the same hard work and determination can be applied to their preparation to sit for the bar exam. The students thank me for the help throughout the years that enabled them to tackle various tasks. Usually, the students do not appear emotional at this time but some do at commencement.

I recently sat down with one of my TA’s during our weekly session and realized again that despite sharing information, through multiple mediums, about all of the services and programs my office offers, students only focus on what they need at the moment and forget or overlook everything else. This TA is well aware of the teaching assistant program because she used it as a 1L and became a TA but she was unaware of many other programs despite the fact that we went over this information during TA orientation. This semester, this TA helped me critique student essays so we interact weekly to discuss student progress, upcoming assignments, and general concerns. I was behind responding to a few of her email messages so we discussed the content in person. Whenever we discuss the program or event that captured my attention this or that week, she always says: “I had no idea you did X.” or “That is an amazing resource for students.” or “Your office does so much.” She then asks additional questions and I always smile. If anything, this reinforces a fundamental reason why I need student support, students get to know me and they provide free advertising for my office to other students.

All the very best to the 3Ls on the last lap of their law school experience and thank you to all of the teaching assistants who help academic support professionals maximize their reach. (Goldie Pritchard)

 

image from media.giphy.com

April 18, 2018 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

SXSWedu Talk on Digital Distractions

This video highlight from The Chronicle of Higher Education focuses on a SXSWedu talk by Manoush Zomorodi and JP Connolly discussing the many students who are distracted by their smartphones, tablets, etc. Unfortunately it is just a clip; I have not yet found a link for the entire talk. It touches on the power of boredom, the endlessness of scrolling, streaks, and disruption of focus. The statistics (from research by Gloria Mark) regarding the impact of interruptions and self-interruptions on brain focus are useful for students to know (begins at 11:29 for those of you who want to scroll there without watching the entire clip). The link is: Digital Distractions. (Amy Jarmon)

March 31, 2018 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Path to Law Student Well-Being

Hat tip to David Jaffe, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at American University Washington College of Law, for his listserv post regarding The Path to Law Student Well-Being. Part of the information from his post is included here:

". . . a new podcast series, The Path to Law Student Well-Being, sponsored by the Law School Assistance Committee to the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP). 

The inaugural two-part episode is available here, just below the live Twitter Town Hall taking place this [past] Wednesday [March 28th].

This episode features two short conversations with Dean & Professor of Law Michael Hunter Schwartz of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and Professor Larry Krieger of the Florida State University College of Law and is moderated by Professor Susan Wawrose of the University of Dayton School of Law.

  • In the first part of this episode, Dean Schwartz and Professor Krieger suggest ways individual faculty members can notice, engage with, and support students they suspect are in distress.
  • The second part identifies steps faculty can take to promote student well-being through their teaching in the classroom and includes simple actions for law school administrators.

The podcast series is a response to the call for action in the 2017 National Task Force Report The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, which was sent to all law schools last fall and sets out specific action items for the legal community, including some specific steps for judges, regulators, employers, bar associations, lawyer assistance programs, and law schools."

 

March 30, 2018 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Academic Advising Worksheets

Many of us are intimately familiar with ABA Standard 309(b), which requires a law school to "provide academic support designed to afford students a reasonable opportunity to complete the program of legal education, graduate, and become members of the legal profession."  But, today, I'd like to focus on subsection "(a)."  Standard 309(a) states that a "law school shall provide academic advising for students that communicates effectively the school’s academic standards and graduation requirements, and that provides guidance on course selection."

Typically, first-year students have little (or no) say in what courses they will take.  Upper-level students, on the other hand, have many different--and sometimes competing--options available to them.  The vast number of different course combinations can be overwhelming to even the most organized law students.  Here are a few tips to help rising 2Ls and 3Ls register for upper-level courses.

Step one: check the law school's website or academic handbook for advising information.  Virtually every law school's website boasts an academic advising section.  For example, the University of California at Irvine's academic advising website offers some good suggestions for course selection:

  • Take the classes that interest you the most.
  • Take classes from professors you would like to study with, even if the subject matter is not one you think will appeal to you. There are practice fields you have not considered that will actually capture your interest.
  • Take classes from professors you enjoyed and whose teaching style matches your learning style.
  • Take classes that will give you a strong foundation in the practice field you intend to enter.
  • Take a class in an area of law that interests you, even if you never intend to practice in that field.
  • Takes classes with a mix of different methods of evaluation (e.g., exams, papers, in-class exercises).
  • Take a mix of skills and doctrinal courses.
  • Take a broad range of classes. Life is unpredictable. You may discover you do not enjoy the work you do, or business in your practice area may dry up. Choose courses that will expose you to various methodological approaches to the law and that prepare you to be a well-rounded lawyer able to take advantage of opportunities as they appear.

NYU Law's website echoes these same recommendations.  You may also want to consult Professor Jarmon's 2013 "Academic Advising and Registration" blogpost for some additional helpful tips.

Step two: make a list of all the academic requirements needed for graduation.  Check for specific course requirements, minimum/maximum credit limitations both at the semester level and cumulatively, writing or seminar requirements, and concentration requirements.  Put all of that information on a single sheet of paper.   You are welcome to Download Graduation Requirements Checklist that I use at my school and then make adjustments to the document to reflect your school's requirements. 

Step three: create a two-year plan.  Frequently, elective courses are offered during either the fall semester or the spring semester, but not both.  And, some specialty elective courses are only taught once every two years, meaning students will only have one opportunity during their upper-level to enroll in the course. Therefore, it is critical to know when, and how often a course will be offered.  Once you know which courses are offered when, chart them out.  It may feel like a complicated LSAT logic game (e.g. you can't take Wealth Transfers the same semester you that take Family Law), but it's worth the effort.  Again, you are invited to Download 3-Year Course Sequence Planning Worksheet to get the process started.

Step four: take draft versions of your worksheets to your academic advisor and academic support professor for approval.  Once you get the thumbs-up from your academic advisor about the mechanics, turn your attention to the bigger picture - goal setting.  For more information on what that conversation should look like, read Professor Jarmon's 2015 blogpost entitled "The Missing Piece: Academic Advising."  Finally, stop by your Academic Support Professor's Office for some deeper insights.  They are always full of helpful information, especially as it relates to your current academic achievement and future academic goals.  After all, there is a reason that ABA Standard 309 includes academic advising in part (a) and academic support in part (b) of the same rule!  (Kirsha Trychta)

March 20, 2018 in Advice, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)