Thursday, July 7, 2016
The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article in its July 1st issue that looked at the relationship between universities and their law schools now that many law schools are no longer the cash cows they once were. Implications for law school strategies toward applicant credentials, national rankings, class size, faculty and staff cuts, and university relations are very real. The ultimate impact on academic support's ability to serve students in this changing world is just one of many unknowns. The article is found here: here.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
I am sitting in a flat in London watching one of the Brexit wrap-up news shows. As someone who teaches EU Law and Comparative Law: The English Legal System, the referendum vote and aftermath have been fascinating.
I always encourage the students in my courses to "take off their U.S. spectacles" and try to understand the views and processes of other legal systems. Law students have certainly had an interesting year to watch in Europe with the migrant crisis, terrorist attacks, and Brexit.
For those who have not been following the happenings across the pond, let me do a quick summary of the action.
- As part of the party manifesto in the last General Election, the winning Conservative (Tory) Party promised to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership in the European Union and to then hold a referendum on membership.
- In February, the renegotiated terms with the EU were finalized; the Prime Minister had negotiated new terms in several areas with disagreement in the UK as to the success of those negotiations.
- Within days of the renegotiated terms, the Prime Minister set the date for a referendum on whether to remain in the EU.
- The official campaign for remaining was named Britain Stronger in Europe - colloquially Remain; the official campaign for leaving was named Vote Leave - colloquially Leave.
- The pre-vote campaigns and debates leaned heavily on speculative promises on what Brexit would involve, mudslinging, name calling, and lying with statistics; UK citizens voiced frustration on not knowing what to believe.
- On June 23rd, UK citizens voted in a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union.
- The vote was in favor of leaving the EU - rounded 52% leave and 48% remain.
- London, Scotland, and Northern Island voted strongly for remain; England and Wales voted strongly for leave.
- Voters over 65 voted mainly to leave; 18-24 year-olds voted mainly to remain.
- Approximately 83% of older voters turned out while 35% of younger voters turned out.
- The main issues debated were the economy, immigration, and sovereignty.
- The Conservative (Tory) Party was split between Remain and Leave campaigners.
- The Labour Party was part of the Remain campaign; Labour voters mainly voted for leave.
- The Liberal Democrats Party stood for Remain, but was fairly quiet during the campaign.
- The UKIP Party focused mainly on national identity and immigration. (Note: there are three main parties and additional parties in the UK; UKIP is a right nationalist party.)
- The Remain campaign focused mainly on the economy; the Leave campaign focused mainly on national identity and immigration.
- David Cameron, the Prime Minister, will resign as soon as the Conservative (Tory) Party chooses a new leader at its September party conference. (Note: the electorate votes for the governing party and not the P.M. in the UK; so the 150,000 party faithful will determine the new P.M.)
- Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, is being attacked for his lack of leadership for the Remain campaign. Many of his shadow cabinet members have resigned, and there is a call for his resignation after a no-confidence vote among Labour MPs.
- There are calls for a General Election in the near future. (Note: the governing party determines when an election is held within its 5-year governing period.)
- Pro-EU Scotland is talking about a new referendum to leave the UK; and its First Minister has been meeting with EU leaders.
- The pound fell to its lowest level since 1985 on Friday and has stayed depressed.
- Shares fell steeply on Friday in all world markets - especially banking shares - and have not fully recovered.
- The Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have made statements to reassure the country of the economic stability of the UK.
- The Prime Minister met with EU leaders at an emergency meeting in Brussels; the other 27 Member States' leaders then met without him to discuss the 2-year UK withdrawal process required under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty as a result of the referendum.
- Some are predicting the disintegration of the EU because the exit of the UK will trigger exits of other Member States. (Note: there are 28 Member States including the UK.)
- Remain campaigners are pointing fingers; Leave campaigners are back-peddling on "promises" they made before the vote.
The UK firmly believes in the democratic process. The democratic process can be messy. At first glance, democracy seems to be causing pain within the UK for the short-term and possibly longer. Most say that 500+ years of parliamentary democracy show that the UK will survive this blip. Rule of law is firmly in place in the UK.
The business now is for the UK government to unify, determine the desired future for the UK, and begin negotiations with the EU for the withdrawal. The EU needs to get down to the business of negotiations that will be fair to the UK and to the EU and stabilize the EU.
Hopefully, these global happenings will give our law students food for thought about democracy, rule of law, leadership, and globalization. How the UK handles Brexit will provide additional lessons on democracy in the next months and years. The importance of democratic processes is front and center for all.
Now we, and our law students, get to watch our own example of democracy as the election process plays out. No matter what our political views, we need to understand our important roles in democracy as citizens and as lawyers who protect those democratic processes and the rule of law. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Does that voice in your head ever cause you to feel anxious or defeated? Negative self-talk is something that many people have to combat.
What do I mean by negative self-talk? It is when you think: "I have never been any good at math, so Income Tax is going to be impossible." OR "The bar exam is so hard to pass, there is no way I can pass on the first attempt." OR "Law school is so hard. I just can't do this." OR "What if I get the format wrong on this memo - I'll fail for sure."
Negative self-talk is destructive. It causes us anxiety, lack of motivation to try harder, and defeats us before we have a chance to prove what we can do. It underestimates our abilities and considers us unable to improve.
It is important to learn how to rebut negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk. When that negative voice in your head starts carping at you, you want to stop it in its tracks. After all, lawyers practice rebuttal on a regular basis in their jobs. It is time to learn to do it in your private realm.
So, when the voice tells you that you will be hopeless at Income Tax, think positively to rebut: "Income Tax may use numbers, but I mainly am learning steps to analyze the scenarios. I can follow the steps to succeed." OR "I may not like math, but that is what a calculator is for." OR "If I study hard, I can learn how to succeed in Income Tax as a subject."
What about the bar exam negative talk? Rebut it with the following types of thinking: "The bar exam is hard, but I can pass it on the first attempt if I don't psych myself out." OR "I know lots of people who pass on the first attempt because they worked hard each day and completed lots of practice questions; I can do this." OR "I have a study plan and am doing all the things I need to do, so I will pass on the first attempt."
The law school challenge: "I was accepted to law school because I am able to do this; I need to believe in myself." OR "I need to learn new strategies; the Office of Academic Support can help me." OR "I can do this; I just need to go talk to my professor about the questions I have rather than stay confused."
The memo format: "I need to stop worrying about the format, and go to the professor for guidance." OR "I need to refer back to my assignment instructions and re-read about the format required." OR "I need to view the Power Point slides from class again, so I get the right format."
You see the difference? You don't want to let discouragement become your mantra. Often you can take a more positive stance and even think of actions to resolve a situation.
Can you think of the negative things that you commonly tell yourself when you get discouraged, find something overly hard, are tired, or are feeling low? Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left column put the heading "Negative Self-Talk" and on the right column put the heading "Positive Self-Talk." Now list the negative things your voice in your head tells you in the left column. In the right column, write the rebuttal to that negative statement. In fact, write several rebuttals if they come to mind.
Next time you hear that negative self-talk, rebut it immediately. You may find a new negative self-talk phrase pops up or one that you forgot about. Write it on your list and add the rebuttal. As you practice rebuttal, your negative self-talk should become less frequent. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, May 20, 2016
Boing Boing is one of my favorite websites. When I was looking at it the other day, I stumbled across a mention of my last academic success book, A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student, which was pretty cool (Amy Jarmon was kind enough to review the book on this site last November, and she said nice things about the illustrations in it, which, if you've ever looked at my cartoons, you know was an incredibly kind and generous thing to do). Boing Boing mentioned A Weekly Guide to talk about my favorite case of all time, Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, which I use to start off the book.
Then, I followed the link and saw that Weird Universe, another pop culture website, quoted the entire "academic-success-point-I-was-trying-to-make."
So, I am now keeping my fingers crossed for an inexplicable law school academic support shout-out in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or in a posthumous Prince song. In my dreams, I have hope that Prince left a song in his vault called "Law School Academic Support Professionals are 2Funky."
On the serious side, we're going to be using A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student as the required text for our new 1L Orientation at South Carolina, and if you'd like to ask me any questions about it, I'll be at AASE next week.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Hat tip to Scott Johns, University of Denver School of Law, for informing us about a Wall Street Journal article on grit which can be found here: The Virtue of Hard Things. The article talks about Angela Duckworth's research and her book, Grit. Duckworth developed the Grit Scale and found that grit often predicted success better than innate ability. Grit combines passion and perseverance. Duckworth has implemented the Hard Thing Rule in her own family: choosing and committing to one difficult activity that requires daily practice.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The AALS Balance Section’s next topic call features Prof. Paula Manning, speaking about her excellent article "Understanding the Impact of Inadequate Feedback: A Means to Reduce Law Student Psychological Distress, Increase Motivation, and Improve Learning Outcomes."
Here are the details for the call. Please forward to your colleagues.
What: AALS Balance Section Topic Call
Presented by Prof. Paula Manning, Western State
College of Law
When: May 4, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time
Call-in #: (712) 432-0850, access code 422626#
Readings: "Understanding the Impact of Inadequate Feedback: A Means to Reduce Law Student Psychological Distress, Increase Motivation, and Improve Learning Outcomes."
Format: Presentation by our speaker, followed by discussion
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
It seems that the closer students get to crunch time and deadlines, the more problems, errors, and mishaps that occur. Here are some end-of-the semester laments students have told me over recent years:
- My laptop crashed, so I lost all of my briefs, class notes, and outlines.
- My laptop crashed during the exam, and IT could only retrieve part of the exam answers.
- My backpack was stolen with my completed assignment in it.
- I lost the thumb drive with my paper on it.
- We are puppy-sitting for my roommate's friend, and the puppy ate my outline.
- My three-year-old spilled my morning coffee over my final paper.
- The printer jammed and ate my paper.
- I was packing up my backpack to leave work and temporarily rested my research binder on top of the trash can. Then I left without it. The custodian threw the binder away.
- My neighborhood lost electricity during a storm, so I couldn't email my paper by the deadline.
- The copier store closed early, and I couldn't get my appellate brief bound.
- My professor didn't talk about those reading assignments in class, so I didn't study that material for the exam.
- I entered the appointment in my phone, but forgot to look at the calendar.
- The professor never reminded us about the required on-line workshop.
- I set my cell phone alarm for p.m. instead of a.m. by mistake and overslept.
- I didn't read the syllabus so I used the wrong format/missed the deadline/didn't know the assignment was graded.
Organization, planning, and time management are critical skills for lawyers. Setting earlier, artificial deadlines for tasks allows extra time in case of a mishap. Reading documents carefully and calendaring deadlines are essential steps. Computer back-up needs to be an automatic reflex. Care with details can save the day. We may not be able to avoid every mishap, but we can certainly narrow the odds with some thought. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Many readers no doubt noted the recent news that George Mason University would rename its law school in honor of Justice Antonin Scalia. Social media quickly led the way in comments about the acronym that would result from the Antonin Scalia School of Law. The Chronicle of Higher Education has put out the word that the law school's name will have a new twist and now become the Antonin Scalia Law School. Having once upon a time been saddled with the official title of Director of Academic Support Services by university bureaucrats, I can empathize. My university determined that the official title would never be used, and I became unofficially Director of Academic Support. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
On behalf of AASE, I would like to announce the nomination and election procedures for the Executive Board for the upcoming year. Our bylaws mandate an electronic election completed by the first day of our national conference that is overseen by an election committee. For those of you who are fans of reading bylaws, they are attached below.
So, in accordance with the bylaws, we have set up the following process. Please go to the Membership page of the AASE website and follow the Nomination link which can be found here: http://www.associationofacademicsupporteducators.org/membership.html. To nominate someone, you must be an AASE Member. If you are unsure whether you are an AASE member, please contact us at email@example.com. You many nominate only one person for each position, but you can nominate the same person for more than one position. Self-nominations are allowed.
Nominations are due by April 22, 2016. All nominees confirmed by the election committee (Jamie Kleppetsch, Paula Manning, and myself – the members of the Executive Board who are not eligible to run for an office) will be forwarded to the Executive Board by May 1, 2016. We will then circulate an online ballot. Voting will be open for one week leading up to the national conference and will close on May 24, 2016, the end of the first day of the national conference.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, Jamie, or Paula.
- Elections. Any member of the Association in good standing, except an Emeritus Member, is eligible for elected office.
(A) Pursuant to Article VIII, the President of the Association shall each year appoint an Elections Committee. By April 1 of each year, the chair of the Elections Committee shall invite AASE members to nominate candidates for officer election.
(B) A nomination may be transmitted to the Elections Committee in any form, but, to be effective, it must be received by April 22. The Elections Committee shall determine whether each nominated person is eligible. The Elections Committee shall also contact each nominated person to determine whether each nominated person is willing to serve.
(C) By May 1 of each year, the Elections Committee shall forward to the Executive Committee a list of eligible persons who have been nominated and have confirmed their willingness to serve (the “nominees”) together with statements of interest submitted by the nominees.
(D) In accordance with Article IV(8), the Elections Committee shall schedule an electronic mail election to be completed no later than the first day of the annual meeting for that year.
(E) The Elections Committee, under the supervision of the President and the President Elect, shall oversee the counting of ballots and shall certify the results to the Secretary. Nominees receiving the largest number of votes shall be deemed elected whether or not they receive a majority of the votes cast. In the event of a tie vote, the Elections Committee shall schedule a runoff election between the nominees who received an equal number of votes on the first ballot. The Elections Committee shall provide seven days’ notice of any such runoff election.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Hat tip to James B. Levy (Nova Southeastern) of the Legal Skills Prof Blog for a post that mentioned a Harvard Business Review article on a study looking at grades and narcissism. The link to the Harvard Business Review article is here: Narcissistic Students Get Better Grades from Narcissistic Professors.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The above title is from a February 5th posting Dean Richard Bales (Ohio Northern) on the Law Deans on Legal Education Blog. The post considers the Mount Saint Mary College's President's controversial remarks on struggling students and the pressure that law schools are under to increase bar pass rates. The link is here: Glocking Bunnies.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Are you a procrastinator? Do you know someone who is?
Most people procrastinate sometimes. And, some people procrastinate all of the time.
Some people only procrastinate in certain areas of their lives: just school, just chores, just financial decisions. Some people procrastinate in all areas of their lives: personal, academic, work-related, and more.
Most of my law students have at least occasional problems with procrastination. Some of them admit that procrastination has taken over every aspect of their lives. Often, students know they procrastinate and feel helpless to change their ways.
Procrastinating in law school can mean lower grades and increased stress. Procrastinating during bar exam study can mean a failure on the first attempt at the exam. Procrastinating in practice can mean tremendous stress, loss of reputation, or even disciplinary actions if it includes missed filing deadlines or lack of preparation for a trial.
Here are some things to keep in mind if procrastination is a problem for you:
Procrastination is learned behavior that can be unlearned with conscious effort and strategies.
A good habit, according to research, takes 21 days of consistent implementation to become natural.
Procrastination is really part of a "habit pair" - ending a bad habit and replacing it with a good habit. Thus, change may take longer.
By making changes in small increments over time, it is easier to curb procrastination than trying to "change everything at once."
Procrastinators may "fall off the wagon" and should not give up. Instead immediately start again on your strategies.
A time management routine that gets repeated at least in part every week can often help procrastinators to finish regular tasks at their regular times.
Curbing procrastination becomes more realistic if you become aware of your procrastination patterns:
- What aspects of your life do you procrastinate in? Examples: academics, employment, finances.
- How often do you procrastinate in these aspects of your life? Examples: daily, weekly, monthly, rarely, sometimes, frequently.
- What types of tasks trigger your procrastination? Examples: writing papers, studying for exams, project deadlines, balancing the checkbook, housecleaning.
- How do you '"act out" your procrastination? Examples: delay starting tasks, delay finishing tasks, refuse to follow instructions, stew about making a mistake, daydream, play video games.
- How do you justify to yourself that it is okay to procrastinate? Examples: too much to do, stupid assignment, work better under pressure, task is too hard.
- How do you justify your procrastination to others? Examples: brag about your finishing right before the deadline, tell team members they worry too much, pretend you got a better grade than you did.
- What emotional toll does procrastination take on you - or others? Examples: your increased stress, your guilt over bad habits, others get stressed out by your procrastination, others have to nag you on tasks.
- What other consequences does your procrastination have on you - or others? Examples: all-nighters before deadlines, lower grades than could have been achieved, run out of time to do everything, frustration of others during a group project, reputation for being unreliable, lost friends.
- Who do you trust to tell about your plan to stop procrastinating and ask to be an accountability partner to help you curb your procrastination? Examples: roommate, study group member, spouse.
Consider one aspect or task that you procrastinate on and choose one or two small strategies that you could implement to prevent procrastination. Here are some examples:
- Aspect: Lose track of deadlines for classes. Strategy: Use a hard copy daily planner to track all assignments and deadlines. (You can also use a phone calendar - but you have to actually look at it for it to be useful.)
- Aspect: Not good at prioritizing tasks so leave important ones until last. Strategy: Make a to-do-list that has tasks prioritized by most important, important, and least important.
- Aspect: Finish tasks right before the deadline. Strategy: Set a deadline two days earlier than the real deadline. Work to meet that new deadline. Use the extra time to edit or rewrite as needed.
- Aspect: Waste time with my electronic devices. Strategy: Install one of the apps that blocks Facebook, games, or other electronic distractions for set time periods.
- Aspect: Worry constantly about all sorts of things. Strategy: Schedule a worry time slot at the end of the day. Tell yourself when you start to worry that you have to wait until that time and must get back on task. (This sounds strange, but it works for many people.)
- Aspect: Spend hours on chores or cleaning to avoid other tasks. Strategy: Once a month schedule a serious chore/cleaning half-day. The rest of the month spot clean, pick up, and do only urgent chores.
There are many good books on procrastination and how to avoid it. Take control of your procrastination now - don't wait until tomorrow. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The Section on Student Services had microagressions as the topic for its second panel at the January 2016 AALS Annual Meeting. In addition, one of the Hot Topic programs was on trigger warnings. (If you missed these sessions, AALS members can go to the AALS website and log in to view podcasts. On the members page, click events and conferences; go down to 2016 Annual Meeting which should take you to the program; click on podcasts at the top to get that viewing list.)
Both of these issues are much discussed currently in law schools. Here is an article discussing the issues from a broader higher education perspective in today's The Chronicle of Higher Education: Speaker-Beware. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, February 29, 2016
Below is a press release from Aaron Taylor, Director of LSSE, regarding the upcoming report release:
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Now is a good time to contact your professors to review any fall semester exams about which you had concerns. If you received a C+ grade or below in a course, you should definitely consider reviewing the exam.
- Many of the exam-taking skills for law school translate from one course to later courses even though the course material is very different.
- An exam review can highlight study strategies that were successful prior to the exam as well as indicate study strategies that need modification or abandonment.
- An exam review will allow you to track what you did well during the actual exam and want to continue doing on future exams.
- An exam review will allow you to track what you had problems with during the actual exam and want to improve on for future exams.
- Exam reviews for several courses may indicate patterns of success or error that you have repeated across exams.
- Here are two handouts that can assist you in what to look for when you do your exam reviews.The first handout is for fact-pattern essay (also relevant for the most part to short-answer): Download Patterns to Look for and Questions to Ask When Evaluating Fact The second handout is for multiple-choice questions (also relevant for the most part to true-false): Download Patterns to Look for and Questions to Ask When Evaluating Multiple These handouts suggest questions that can help you analyze your exam performance more thoroughly.
- Professors vary in how they complete exam reviews. Here are some variations that you may encounter: a) The professor may conduct exam reviews for students who email with a request, may have a sign-up sheet on the professor’s office door, or may announce some other mechanism. b)The professor may first schedule appointments with students with the lowest grades, then move to the next level of grades for appointments, and so forth. c)The professor may have the student review the exam individually (and possibly the grading rubric or sample exam answers) before meeting with the professor. d)The professor may instead have the student come for the meeting and review the exam together.
- Make sure that you take careful notes during your exam review so that you will know what areas you want to continue doing well and what areas you want to improve on for future exams.
- After your exam reviews, evaluate what you have found out. Look for any patterns across exams and courses. Make a plan for your future exam study and exam-taking.
- If you are unsure what strategies may help you for your specific problem areas, make an appointment to talk with the academic support professional at your law school.
All students can improve their grades by implementing new study strategies and new test-taking strategies. Take advantage of professor feedback to make informed decisions instead of just randomly trying new strategies. (Amy Jarmon)
Sunday, January 17, 2016
For those of you who are new professionals in ASP/bar prep at your law schools, signing up for the ASP Listserv is done in the following manner. These instructions were sent to me by Stephen Sowle at Chicago Kent (he runs the listserv) in August 2015. If you run into problems after you have tried to subscribe, I would suggest that you contact him for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Amy Jarmon)
To sign up for the ASP listserv, follow these steps:
Address email to email@example.com
In the body of the message enter: subscribe ASP-L your_first_name your_last_name title school_name
your_first_name is your first name,
your_last_name is your last name
title and school_name are optional
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Hat tip to Paul Caron, our Law Professors Blog leader, for the ideal holiday gift suggestion. Read his blog post on Tax Prof Blog here: Last Minute Christmas Gift Idea for Faculty and Students.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Mark Beese, President of Leadership for Lawyers, has an interesting article in the December 2015 online issue of Law Practice Today. He discusses briefly Carol Dweck's mindset theory as well as Learn or Die by Edward Hess. His article lists some ways that law firms can encourage learning. The link to the article is here: The Law Firm as a Learning Organization. (Amy Jarmon)