Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unusual fonts may aid in learning

More new science on learning and metacognition:

Helpful tips for students:

1) We learn better from re-working the material.

This piece of gold is hidden on the second page of the article. It's saying what we have said in ASP for ages; reading a canned outline, or memorizing the outline of a 2L who booked the course, will not increase learning. Re-working your own notes into an outline will help you learn the material.

2) Try one of the unusual font types for your outline.

"Think of it this way, you can’t skim material in a hard to read font, so putting text in a hard-to-read font will force you to read more carefully"

3) We overestimate our own ability.

One of the great lessons from law school exams: if you feel like you nailed it, you probably didn't. The material you are being asked to learn and apply on a law school exam is difficult and complicated. The majority of exams you will encounter as a law student have more complications and nuanced issues than you have time to answer. You should feel as if you didn't hit everything. If you feel like you knew everything on the exam, you probably oversimplified the issues.

4) We all take shortcuts. We all forget we take shortcuts.

Students should always take practice exams before finals. Actually taking the exam is important. Many students will read the fact pattern, "answer it in their head" or take a couple of notes, and then read the model answer. This is more harmful than helpful. Students will unconsciously overestimate what they understood if they have not taken the test and written a complete answer. This gives them a false sense of confidence. Students need to take a cold, hard look at what they understood and what they missed. the best strategy is to take the practice test under timed conditions with a study group, and correct answers as a group. This gives students a chance to discuss what they did not understand. It's easy to lie to ourselves, it's harder to lie to a group.

Summary of the article:

"Concentrating harder. Making outlines from scratch. Working through problem sets without glancing at the answers. And studying with classmates who test one another." These are the keys to learning more efficiently and effectively. (RCF)

New York Times-Health
Come On, I Thought I Knew That!
Published: April 18, 2011
Most of us think bigger is better in terms of font size and memory, but new research shows we are wrong.

April 20, 2011 in Advice, Bar Exam Preparation, Exams - Studying, Miscellany, News, Science, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


If you have not completed the ASP survey sent by John Mollenkamp, please take the time to do so now. Or, as they say, the beatings (or harassing emails) will continue until morale improves (or until all ASPer's have responded to the survey).

I have made a plea over the listserv, as have a number of my illustrious colleagues, to finish the survey for yourself. I stand by that plea. But if you are more civic-minded, please complete the survey for all of us. We hear lots and lots about the growth of empirical legal studies, but ASP has no empirical data on the state of our own existence at other schools. Right now, we have no hard data on what we are, who we are, or what we do for students. If we want to prove how important we are to student success, we need to know what is going on at other schools as well as our own.

So please, respond to the survey. If you should have received a link to the survey, but did not receive one, please contact Ruth McKinney at

For those of you in the Northeast...finish the survey now because the weather is FINALLY! looking good. The sooner you get the (very quick) survey out of the way you can go and play outside. (RCF)

April 13, 2011 in Current Affairs, Miscellany, News, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Second Annual Empire State Legal Writing Conference--May 12-13

Teaching Legal Writing Effectively to Prepare Students for Practice
Friday, May 13, 2011

Hosted by St. John’s University School of Law to be held at 101 Murray Street, Manhattan (Downtown)

ALWD Scholars’ Forum

May 12, 2011

Thursday, May 12th, ALWD Scholars’ Forum:  Looking for participants to present their scholarship ideas or works-in-progress to legal writing scholars.  Lisa Eichhorn and Marilyn Walter will be providing critique during the workshop, in addition to St. John’s Robin Boyle.  Lisa Eichhorn is Professor of Law and Director of the Legal Writing Program at University of South Carolina School of Law.  She serves as a Member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute.  Marilyn Walter is Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School and Director of the Legal Writing Program.  She was the 2005 recipient of the AALS Legal Writing Award.  She also served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Association of the Legal Writing Directors.  Robin Boyle is the Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Professor of Legal Writing at St. John’s.  She currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute and on the Board of Directors for the LWI.  PLEASE SEND ALWD SCHOLARS’ SUBMISSIONS TO ROBIN BOYLE:

Friday, May 13th, Second Empire State LW Conference will focus on creative teaching ideas  attendees can implement immediately in their own classroom.  Our keynote speaker, Professor Tina Stark, will illuminate key points in teaching transactional drafting.  The conference will feature over 50 presenters from around the country. Various themes will be intertwined throughout the day, such as the following:  ethics, professionalism, and plagiarism; reaching today’s millenials;  grading efficiently; perspectives from the bench, bar, and clinical programs; experiential techniques; polishing drafts; oral presentations; lessons from international law; and current-day email memos.  

Registration:  Registration is free for both the Empire State Conference as well as the Scholars’ Forum.  Participants will be able to register on-line.  Here’s the link  :

(Please note: hotel information has been cut for space in the blog post. Please contact the conference for more info on hotel)

Times of the events:

The ALWD Scholars’ Forum will begin on Thursday, May 12th at 11:30 AM and end by 5:00.

The Empire State Conference on Friday, May 13th will open with Registration and Continental Breakfast at  8:15 AM.  The Dean’s Welcome is at 9 AM. The first session will begin at 9:30 AM.  The last session will conclude by 5:20 PM.  There will be six 50-minute sessions with four simultaneous presentations.  Lunch and coffee breaks will be provided.

The Empire State Legal Writing Conference Program Committee:

Robin Boyle, Conference Chair; Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Professor of Legal Writing, St. John’s University School of Law,

Ian Gallacher, Associate Professor of Law; Director, Legal Communication and Research, Syracuse University College of Law.

Tracy McGaugh, Associate Professor of Legal Process, Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.

John Mollenkamp, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Academic Support, Cornell University Law School.

Stephen Paskey, Lecturer in Law, Legal Research and Writing Program, University at Buffalo Law School.

Amy R. Stein, Professor of Legal Writing, Coordinator of the Legal Writing Program, Assistant Dean for Adjunct Instruction, Hofstra University School of Law.

Marilyn Walter, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School.

April 11, 2011 in Meetings, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Do students know what is good for them? Do they care?

The ABA Journal and the National Law Journal reported on an law review article that studied laptop use among law students. The students self-reported their laptop use in class, including their feelings on whether laptops aid their learning. Students overwhelmingly reported using laptops, and overwhelmingly reported that they used  thier laptops to "goof off" during class. I am going to bypass the issues that have been argued in other blogs (should laptops be banned in class, are professors failing to teach their students). Without a study that tracks laptop use in class and student grades, I am left to wonder, do students actually know what is good for them? If something feels good and it is satisfying, people will report that the activity helps them. Here, students reported laptops aided their learning, but that really means they find laptop use satisfying. What I want to see is an empirical study of the grades and attitudes of students who use laptops, comparing students who hand-write their class notes, students who use a laptop but do not goof off, and students who use a laptop and admit to goofing off in class.  I would like to see their grade trajectory throughout law school, as well as their attitudes about goofing off, if it does have an impact on their grades.  This study has yet to be performed (to my knowledge). 

There are so many things we could learn from a study that tracks laptops and grades. It would be a wonderful diagnostic tool in ASP; having this information to share with students would help when students come to our offices to discuss lackluster performance. Assuming the data demonstrated a correlation between goofing off on a laptop in class and poor grades, I would have a better idea of what is behind less-than-stellar performance. I would approach a student who does not "goof off" in class, yet struggles, quite differently from a student who uses a laptop and plays during class while telling me that the laptop helps them learn.  Right now, I don't make that assumption because I don't know if laptop use in class has a correlation with grades. I know playing on a laptop is rude and disrespectful, to me and to peers, but unless I have hard data showing a correlation between laptop use and grades, students are less likely to give up the laptop because of poor law school performance.

There is another issue hidden in laptop use that extends beyond exam performance; if students knew it had an impact on grades, would  they care? I think this brings up issues about how we teach and student engagement in class. It also implies issues with motivation and depression. I know most of the pre-law students I work with are excited about law school, and motivated to do their best. If those same students become apathetic about their own performance, choosing to use a laptop even if it hurts their grades, we need a more serious examination of student mental and emotional health during their 1L year. Thanks to the amazing work of Larry Kriegar and Ken Sheldon, we know law school has a deleterious effect on law student mental health. But does depression extend to self-defeating behaviors, or is the effect limited to personal and professional outlook?

I wish we had more people doing empirical work on the behavior, motivation, and learning occuring in law schools. Larry and Ken are prolific, but we need more people doing more of this work. I think this is a problem resulting, in part, from the lack of research time and funds that go to law school professionals that work in legal writing and academic services. The people with the most time in the trenches with students, who would be best able to perform a large-scale empirical study, are the same people who are non-tenure track, and have least access to research funding. I am hoping some intrepid souls take on this challenge and produce more scholarship that relates directly to student academic success and health.


April 1, 2011 in Current Affairs, Exams - Studying, News, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 17, 2011

ASP Section at AALS

There will be additional posts on AALS, but this is a brief overview of the program and the new AALS ASP section officers (Congrats to my co-editor, Dr. Amy Jarmon!)

The program, co-sponsored by Student Services and Balance in Legal Education sections, was a huge success with great turnout. It was a packed house, with every seat filled.

The program started with a brief memorial to Prof. Bruce Winick, who passed away this year. Prof. Winick was a giant in the legal academy, therapeutic justice, and the humanizing legal education movement. He will be deeply missed.

The first panel was Deborah Rhode, Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado, and Nancy Levit, discussing the current state of emotional well-being for law students. The statistics were sobering, but it was wonderful to hear so many folks so concerned about the happiness and well-being of law students and actually working to do something about the challenges to law students and recent grads.

The next panel was Paula Manning, Corie Rosen, Russell McClain, Rebecca Flanagan (me), joined after by Andrew Faltin. Paula et al got the program rocking with a song and dance (no joke) on how optimism, feedback, and programming can enhance law student well-bring. Andrew closed the section with information on how to use student self-evaluatuations to create happier law students.

The last panel, Laurie Zimet and Paula Lustbader, showed the audience how to get to know their students in"3D". Laurie and Paula provided some excellent tools to help professors get past their pre-conceived ideas about their students and help see them for who they are, not just a face in a seat. We closed out the day with Larry Krieger, the guru of law student balance and happiness, discussing his latest research on autonomy support and student success.

At the close of the program, the ASP business meeting announced the section officers for the 2011-2012 year:

Chair: Michael Hunter Schwartz

Chair Elect: Paula Manning

Immediate Past Chair: Robin Boyle

Secretary: Rebecca Flanagan

Treasurer: Herb Ramy

Executive Board:

LaRasz Moody, Emily Scivoletto, Louis Schulz, and Dr. Amy Jarmon


January 17, 2011 in Academic Support Spotlight, Current Affairs, Meetings, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do teachers grade more harshly when they use red pens?

Some interesting science to least one presenter at every ASP conference mentions that students feel that red pen makes it look as if the paper is "bleeding" negative comments. A new spin: teachers actually grade more harshly when using red pen.  Another reason why green, pink, purple might be better bets when giving student feedback. 

(I realize this link doesn't look like it fits with my does.)

And a link to the full study is here:

The pen is mightier than the word: Object priming of evaluative standards

by Rutchick, Slepian, and Ferris


April 21, 2010 in Advice, Current Affairs, Exams - Studying, News, Reading, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Students as Customers

This is an update from an earlier post I had written about the concept of students as customers. Some schools openly refer to students as customers; it seems to start with HR, move to the administration, and become a settled way of looking at law school education, especially ASP. I am vehement, and remain so: treating students like customers is a disservice to the profession, to the students, and to ourselves. A customer buys a product: they don't put any work into it's creation. A product is judged by how happy the customer is with the product. Sometimes that includes quality, sometimes it does not, because sometimes all it needs to be is flashy or fashionable. When this is applied to legal education, it changes education because the end result matters more than the process; the diploma becomes more important than learning and acquisition of skills.

The view of student=customer has other pedagogically disturbing qualities. If a student is the consumer of a process, like a haircut, we are assuming they come in as blank slates (heads of hair) and we will fill them up with knowledge (the cut),  of  which they are satisfied or unsatisfied. They come back if they are satisfied, they don't if they are unsatisfied. Pedagogically, education just doesn't work that way. We just get one shot; they can't come back to re-learn if we do a poor job the first time around. I don't believe I am overstating things when I say this view of legal education can destroy livelihoods and dreams.

It would be easier if law school was a product, students just consumers. I would tell them whatever made them happy and make my job easier. This thinking encourages the pernicious model of ASP where we make law students dependant on us; if they are just customers and we want repeat visits for our services, it is in our best interest to break students down, tell them they can not succeed without us, and foster the idea that we are instrumental to their success. We get better evals, after all, we have made them believe they would not reach their potential without us.  In this model, we can report back to HR and administration that we have many customers for our services, and the school's return-on-investment for our services makes us cost-effective. However, this is a model of ASP that is deceitful and causes real harm to students. In this model, I would not care if students were harmed or they could actually function as lawyers; only that they purchased a product (ASP services) that would keep them happy. And yes, there are ASP and bar prep programs operating with this model.

With ASP, this is a trap. We can tell them the things that will make them happy, but it would be un-truths. We can get great evaluations that say nothing about our ability to actually help them succeed in law school, because they are gone or flunked out before they can really assess our help. Many of us have received scathing evals from students who believed ASP would teach them short-cuts through their legal education, butwe believed in something more than job-approval and gave advice they needed, not what they wanted. We can do things that get them through law school, but don't help them learn lifetime-learning skills necessary to be a high-quality attorney. Our goal is not, to quote Edward A. Snyder of University of Chicago Booth School of Business to "orchestrate an experience from which good customer feedback is sought." Our job is at the macro-level to produce good lawyers for society. On the micro-level, our goal is to assist students struggling with the rigors of knowledge they create, thinking skills they develop-not purchase-throughout their law school career. (RCF)

For more on the debate about students as customers, check out Are They Students? Or ‘Customers’? in Room for Debate, New York Times.

January 19, 2010 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Important article for our students

Please check out Aspiring Lawyer Finds Debt Bigger Hurdle than Bar Exam. I think it is critical we counsel students on the ramifications of law school debt during orientation. Those of us who do bar support work will find this lands on our doorstep.  (RCF)

Finding Debt a Bigger Hurdle Than Bar Exam
Published: July 2, 2009
Robert Bowman, an aspiring lawyer, was refused entry to the New York bar because of $400,000 in student debt.

July 10, 2009 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moving away from large lectures

While this article is about MIT's move away from large lectures in introductory physics, the rationale behind the change is applicable to law schools. MIT has moved away from introductory classes in physics with 300+ students, and failure rates have decreased 50%.  Attendance is up. 

Most applicable to law schools is a quotation by Prof. Eric Mazur:
“Just as you can’t become a marathon runner by watching marathons on TV,” Professor Mazur said, “likewise for science, you have to go through the thought processes of doing science and not just watch your instructor do it.”

Just as you cannot learn to think like a lawyer by watching your teacher do it.  (RCF)

At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard

By Sara Rimer
January 12, 2009
New York Times

After years of debate and research, M.I.T. has replaced a large introductory physics course with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive learning.

January 13, 2009 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 6, 2008

High Anxiety

If I were to put a label  on this semester, it would be high anxiety.

As an Academic Success professional, I feel fairly insulated from the turbulence of the outside (corporate) world. After all, we have all heard (or seen) that students go to graduate school when the economy takes a downward turn. But in the past few weeks, a palpable sense of worry and anxiety over the economy has invaded the relatively safe harbor of law school.  I am not talking about the 3L's that are looking for employment. They are worried and anxious even in the best of economies. I am feeling anxiety about the economy gripping 1L's who never intended to get a paying job between their 1L and 2L year, but who are now worried they won't find any positions for the summer.  I am seeing an unusual type of anxiety among the 1L's that both encourages and dismays me: anxiety that if they don't do well in law school, they are looking into an abyss.  I am normally excited whenever I see a trend within 1L's that encourages them to do the things they need to succeed.  But this anxiety dismays me because it is not motivated by a desire to succeed, but by a fear of failure that risks overwhelming students as the prepare for exams.  There is a very real risk for most law students at most schools that they may not be able to continue their law school career if they do not complete their course work in satisfactory manner.  The anxiety I am seeing among students is the type that can paralyze students if they receive even modest constructive criticism. This is a dangerous condition that can sink well-prepared students unless it is managed before midterm exam grades come out. 

I don't have any suggestions for students struggling with the impact of the economy on their finances or their future, but I do have advice regarding how to cope with stress and anxiety when outside forces threaten to overwhelm them emotionally.  If students are doing everything they can to succeed, which includes going to class, reviewing their notes or "purble blurb-ing", outlining, seeing their professors when they have questions about the material, and doing practice questions, then they should take a deep breath.   By telling students to take a deep breath, I do not mean to minimize the gravity of  recent events.   There are things we can control in this world, like our own effort towards reaching a goal, and things we can not control in this world, like the economy.  Taking a deep breath should remind students that they are doing everything in their power to succeed.  And if students are doing everything they can to succeed and it does not show on midterms or exams, then there are bigger problems that need to be addressed, problems that would cause great stress and anxiety regardless of the economy.  (RCF)

October 6, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bullying in the Workplace

The New York Times had an overwhelming response to their last article on workplace bullying, "Meet the Work Bully", (March 11, 2008), and has continued the discussion with a new article in today's Health section, "When the Bully Sits in the Next Cubicle" by Tara Parker-Pope,

Where workplace bullying is happening is especially notable; health care settings, academia, and the legal profession.   

As law professors, we are uniquely capable of changing the socialization process of future lawyers.

For a list of workplace bullying behaviors:

It is hard not to find bullying behaviors in law school, and we can change this phenomenon. 


March 25, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 24, 2008


My interest is in bullying and peer intimidation among law students; however, the New York Times has a truly horrific article on bullying.

If we are allowing this to happen in our high schools, it's no wonder we have bullies in law school that turn  out to be bullies in firms. 

While I wish the buck stopped in elementary school, it has to stop somewhere.

March 24, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Report from the SALT Conference: Teaching for Social Justice

Today was the first day of the SALT Conference on Teaching for Social Justice. This is a topic close to many in ASP.  Many of our students came to law school with an intense passion for justice, and it is a continual challenge to keep that fire going after grades and class rank come out. I am hoping this conference can provide some ideas on how to keep that fire going through meaningful activities and lessons.  I have some spectacular colleagues from Vermont Law School presenting here, and I am also here to cheer them on. 

Elizabeth Pendo from Saint Louis University presented on her work creating a student program with the Florida Health Care Ombudsman Committee.  She presented some great ideas on how to engage students in a program where they can really help people and see the power of a law degree, regardless of class rank.  This is an idea to pass on to externship/internship directors looking for new opportunities for students, and a great opportunity for ASP prof's to encourage students to participate in a program to help the community and renew their commitment to the legal profession. 

More updates to come...
(Rebecca Flanagan)

March 14, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Welcome a New Co-Editor: Rebecca Flanagan

After two and a half years as co-editor of the ASP Blog, I think it is time for me to step aside and bring in a fresh voice, so I want to introduce our newest addition to the blog:  Professor Rebecca Flanagan.  As I take on the role of contributing editor, Rebecca will become one of the blog's co-editors.  I think you will find her postings stimulating, timely, and insightful.

Rebecca is the Director of the Academic Success Program at Vermont Law School and an Assistant Professor of Law. She took over the ASP department at VLS from Ellen Swain in December 2007. Before joining VLS, Rebecca was the Director of Academic Support at Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, and the Assistant Director of the Institute for Student and Graduate Success at Whittier Law School.

Rebecca came to ASP directly from law school, where she had the incredible luck to work for the (amazing) Ruth McKinney at UNC Law.  While at UNC, she was a teaching assistant in the LEAP program. Before law school, she taught K-3 art, music, and theatre integration in Willington, CT, at Center Elementary School and Geopolitics to talented and gifted high school students with Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. 

Rebecca's interests are in educational psychology, focusing on the learning environment and legal education. Her first article, "Lucifer in Law School," will be published in the upcoming Washburn Law Review Symposium of Humanizing Legal Education Conference.

She received her B.A. from the University of Connecticut, her M.A. from Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, and her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Welcome to the blog, Rebecca!

Dan Weddle

January 29, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 14, 2008

AALS Academic Support Section Business Meeting Minutes

For those unable to attend this year's business meeting for the AALS Section on Academic Support, we have posted below the minutes of the meeting.

Academic Support Section

Minutes – Business Meeting – January 3, 2008

The meeting was called to order by Section Chair Nancy Soonpaa at 6:35 P.M..

1) Election of Officers

The slate of officers and board members was presented by Linda Feldman on behalf of the Nominating Committee.  The slate was as follows:


Chairperson-Elect: Pavel Wonsowicz (UNLV)

Secretary: Ellen Suni (UMKC)

Treasurer: Kristin Holmquist (UCLA)

All officers serve one (1) year terms.                  

Members of the Executive Committee:

Board C (Term Expires 2010):  Jeff Minetti (Stetson)

Board D (Term Expires 2010):  Vinita Bali (Santa Clara)

There were no nominations from the floor and the slate passed by voice vote.

2) Program Committee

Robin Boyle announced the Program for the Section and indicated that we need members for the Program Committee.  Robin was thanked for her work.

3) Proposal for Creation of Bar Pass Committee

Robert Coulthardt suggested that the Section create a Bar Pass Committee. Concerns were expressed that Academic Support should not be viewed as responsible for bar pass; that is the responsibility of the Law School as a whole.  After much discussion of that and other issues, it was proposed that the Bar Pass Committee be created to a) serve as a liaison for the Section with schools, the ABA and others interested in and knowledgeable about bar support, b) keep track of rule changes and notify Section members of relevant proposals, and c) perhaps eventually assist in the development of best practices for law schools regarding bar pass support.  By voice vote, the Committee was created with the charge stated above.

4) Website

Pavel Wonsowicz reported that he had had discussions with Barbara Glesner Fines regarding her website, which she does individually and not as a formal part of the Section.  Pavel indicated that Barb is willing to allow the Section to take over ownership and upkeep of the site.  He proposed creation of a website committee.  After much discussion of the website and related issues (both during this portion and later in the meeting), it was agreed that we needed a broader committee to address information and communication issues that might also include the blog, wiki and listserv.  By consensus, it was agreed to create an Information and Communications Committee to address these issues.

5) Achievement Award

A draft of the proposed award was distributed.  There was much discussion regarding the effect the award might have on collegiality within the Section, which is one of its most important assets.  Discussion ensued regarding whether this is really a “lifetime achievement award” or could be an award for a significant accomplishment by an individual or group.  After a full airing of the issues, it was decided by consensus that an Award Committee will be created to revise the proposed award to meet the particular academic support community concerns and make sure a new proposal also is acceptable to the AALS.  The revised award can then be considered for adoption at next year’s meeting.

6) Nominating Committee

There was discussion regarding whether the nominating committee needed to have different membership, since it had not changed in some time.  It was agreed that we should add new members but also retain continuity.  A call to the membership for nominations to the Nominating Committee will go out from the Chair.  I was also suggested and agreed that opportunities for service on other committees will also be included in the notice to the membership.  Anyone interested in serving on a committee who has not already indicated a desire to do so should let in-coming Chair Kris Franklin know.

7) Announcements

Linda Feldman announced that reservations had been made for dinner on Thursday and lunch on Friday for anyone who wanted to attend.  Sign-up sheets were circulated.

8) Sourcebook and Directory

Questions were raised regarding the status of these projects.  Members feel a need both for an updated sourcebook that will include best practices and models for different type programs as well as for detailed and current information on who is working in academic support, including their position titles, roles and responsibilities, status and salary.  It was reported that LSAC was working on these projects.  The status of the sourcebook is unknown, but Pavel reported that a new committee for data collection (directory) had just been created.

Discussion of these issues led to discussion of LSAC’s role in academic support.  Members of the Section were extremely thankful to Kent Lollis and LSAC for their support of academic support, including the surveys, materials and conferences.  That being the case, however, it was noted that getting this material together is really the responsibility of the community.  But it was then noted that there is really no one body that is able to do the heavy lifting, since the Section has a greater role in outreach to the faculty generally and has limited resources.  We have no body similar to the LWI or ALWD, and this may be a problem.  Although no consensus was reached on this issue, it is clear that it needs further discussion in the future.

It was suggested that Pavel work with LSAC to see if the information Section members feel they need can be incorporated into the survey, and it was suggested that a lot of input is needed to make sure the survey will accurately collect usable data.

9) Regionals

A question was raised regarding the Regionals, when they might be and how one gets involved.  It was reported that the Chairs have not yet been designated.  It was also noted that the process for getting involved is a fairly open one.  The first step is to let Kent Lollis know of your interest.  In the past, there have been open calls for proposals to host the regionals, and the chairs are usually people who have hosted or been involved in running the workshops in the past.

As the conclusion of the meeting neared, there was strong sentiment expressed that the meeting had been very productive, and Nancy was thanked for her good work in setting up and running the business meeting.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Y. Suni


January 14, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Heading South

With mixed feelings all happy, but mixed nevertheless I tell you, dear blog readers, that approximately 100 days from today I will leave my post as Dean of Students and Academic Support Program Director at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island. 

In June, Kristy (my wonderful wife) and I will fly to Montevideo, Uruguay, to begin the next exciting chapter of life.  After twenty years of practice in California, a few years in secondary and university education, and these most fulfilling eight years in law school academic support and student services, I am ready to make the move.  We are both excited about life in South America.

Kristy will continue to work part-time from home as a legal secretary for LawDocsXpress, performing outsourced legal secretarial services.  Because the work is all digital and via the internet, she  can work wherever the internet reaches! 

I will be working part-time.  Among other endeavors, I will be teaching lawyers to prepare for the Cambridge University International Legal English Certificate (ILEC) examination.  The ILEC is a new addition (2006) to the Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) suite of certifications.  Typical ILEC examinees are lawyers interested in employment in an international law context or intending to obtain a further degree from an English-only law school. 

Upon arrival in Montevideo we will begin our intensive Spanish lessons, to augment our existing basic language capabilities.  We have spent a few weeks in Montevideo and have through personal contact and the amazing internet developed supportive relationships with a number of folks there, including those I will be working with.

About those mixed feelings . . .

Job satisfaction is a product of several components, not the least of which are whom we work for and whom we work with. 

As a group (a large group) the students I have worked for at Vermont Law School, at Roger Williams Law School, at the many schools I’ve visited, and as a CLEO presenter have been extraordinary.  Because of the nature of the work of academic support and student services through the Dean of Students office, many of the students I have come in contact with have been students suffering from disabilities or difficult circumstances of many sorts.  So many of these dedicated students, in my view, are heroic persevering despite (sometimes enormous) odds.  Who could ask for a better group to serve?

For more than five years I have worked with a terrific group of people the administration, staff and faculty here at Roger Williams.  Each year it seems to get better.  I couldn’t ask for a more dynamic, spirited, generous and understanding dean than David Logan … and he has a knack of attracting others of substance and verve to this school. The colleagues, the co-workers, and friends I have made in my years working in Vermont and Rhode Island have made my work a pleasure.

Those of you who have been active in this amazing field of law school academic support know what I mean when I say that this nationwide close-knit community of academic support professionals is remarkable.  The combination of who you are and what you do and what is important to you works a powerful magic. I was so lucky find this corner of the law school academic world.

The other side of the mixed feelings is Kristy and I are headed to a new continent, new climate (goodbye snow), new endeavors, new language, etc., etc. … everything new and different.  Whoa. I think no more need be said.

In addition to leaving my law school position, I will be resigning as contributing editor of this blog and as contributing editor and columnist (“The Adviser”) for the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine.  Dan and Liz, Senior Editors of this blog, will be looking for a replacement, as will Ira Pilchen, Editor of Student Lawyer.  I’m sure Dan and Liz would welcome new talent to the blog. I’ll check with Ira to find out how he wants to go about finding a new columnist (my final column will appear in the May 2007 issue).

The administration at Roger Williams is considering restructuring the combination position I have been holding ... I’ll notify you blog watchers when a determination is made and a job description is posted (applications, I’m told, would be premature at this point).

With warm feelings and gratitude,

Dennis (djt)

February 15, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lawyers with Disabilites

The most recent (March 2006) issue of the ABA publication Student Lawyer includes (see page 34) a conference notice of interest.  Quoting from the magazine ...

"The ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law ... in conjunction with ABA president Michael Greco and the EEOC, is sponsoring a National Conference on Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities.  Participants will discuss ways to further the employment opportunities for and promote the hiring of recent law graduates and young lawyers with disabilities."

The conference is on May 22 and May 23.  "The conference," the notice continues, "encourages law students to attend the conference.  To support student participation, the commission will offer a reduced registration fee as well as scholarships to students demonstrating need."

Encouraging news: "With proper accommodations and open lines of communication, lawyers with disabilities have proven themselves to be as successful as their peers without disabilities."

In the academic support field, most of us work with students manifesting a variety of disabilities (visible and invisible); and many of us contend with comments by students, faculty and lawyers along these lines, "Why is she even going to law school?  Who is going to hire a lawyer with (fill in the blank)?"  Oh, that gets to me.  Between your school's Career Services office and its Academic Support office ... somewhere ... we need to be able to provide accurate, up-to-date answers to these inquiries ... not only for those who ask the questions above, but, more importantly, for those who ask this question: "Will I ever get a job if they find out about my _________?"

For detailed conference information, visit the commission's web page. (djt)

February 26, 2006 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Disability Matters, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Too Cold Where You Are?

This past week, Prof. Linda L. Berger of Thomas Jefferson School of Law announced this position opening: Director of Academic Success.

The successful candidate will further develop, coordinate, and evaluate a comprehensive program that provides academic support to students from orientation to law school through admission to the bar.  Depending on the successful candidate’s background, experience, and interests, the position carries with it the opportunity to play a broader institutional role.

The future development of the program will be determined by the new Director in collaboration with the faculty and senior administrators.  Components may include learning and study skills workshops for all students; individual counseling and referral for at-risk students; substantive courses incorporating learning and study skills; and involvement in summer pre-law programs, new student orientation, bar preparation coordination, community outreach programs, and faculty teaching workshops.   

Thomas Jefferson School of Law is a non-profit, independent, ABA law school located in San Diego, an attractive and diverse urban community along the Pacific Coast. 

Review of applications will begin immediately.  Thomas Jefferson is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from women and people of color. 

Professor Berger asks that applicants send a résumé and cover letter to: 
ASP/Bar Pass Task Forcec/o Prof. Linda L. Berger
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
2121 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, CA 92110 (Electronic submissions are welcome.)
(619) 374-6933


February 5, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

AALS ASP Section to Focus on Reading in Law School

The Academic Support Section of AALS is hosting a session on reading in law school at the January conference in D.C., and it promises to be an exceptional session. The topic is hot not only in the academic support field but in others as well, so the ASP folks decided that reading should be the focus of the section’s presentation at AALS this year.

Ruth Ann McKinney, whose book Reading Like a Lawyer is a must-read for just about anyone teaching or studying law, will be active in the session.  Joining her will be two other impressive experts in the field: David Nadvorney, an academic support professional from CUNY with a masters in reading, and Dorie Evensen, a Ph.D. from
Penn State who has a substantial LSAC grant to study reading in law schools. 

The session is designed to be relevant to all teachers, not just those in the academic support field, and will provide lots of hands-on opportunities so attendees can practice some things they can do in their own classrooms to help students become better (more powerful) readers. The concepts and techniques explored in the session will be relevant to anyone working with students whose classroom engagement is rooted in what they've read – in other words, all law professors.

So you may want to invite colleagues teaching other courses as well because they will find very helpful, practical advice.  Of course, the session will be particularly relevant to those who teach legal writing.  In fact, at the last Legal Writing Institute conference in Seattle, reading was a very hot topic.  That conference included presentations by Ian Gallacher; Cathaleen Roach and Carol Parker; Debra Moss Curtis and Judith Karp; Laurel Oates; and education experts, Drs. Dorie Evensen and Jim Stratman.

The ASP session will run from 4:00 to 5:45 on Thursday, January 5th (Session #5400).  It lets out just in time for cocktails, so there will be a great opportunity to strike up some conversations and collaborations across disciplines.  Okay, conversations . . . about football or ballet or whatever.  Collaborations later. (dbw)

December 13, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kudos to Kris!

Franklin_1 Of course, I should have brought along the digital camera to take a group photo.  Kris Franklin (pictured, right) organized another wonderful NY-centered worskshop on Friday, November 18. 

Stern Academic Supporters from Maryland, Pace, NYLS, Touro, Hofstra (see Richard Neumann, atNeumann_1 right) , Quinnipiac (see Gail Stern, at left), Roger Williams, Fordham and Cuny gathered to discuss, learn and work together. 

You shoulda' been there!  Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus  and Myra Berman taught us how to use "IRAC Diagraming" to help students "...see IRAC in action."  Fabulous.

Mark Padin sparked a discussion about  LSAT/diversity-minority/bar-pass issues, concerns and controversies ... not the least of which was the mandatory vs. voluntary participation controversy, which led ... as you would expect ... to the stigma/backlash controversy.  Mark not only offered his own comments and experiences, but distributed material documenting the disturbing fact that "minority representation among law students has dropped for the past two years, from 20.6 percent in 2001-2002 to 20.3 percent in 2003-2004" (based on ABA statistics).

[By the way, one of the articles Mark handed out was from a publication you may be unaware of: Minority Law Journal Student Edition.  This particular article featured the FIU and FAMU attempts to "increase the legal profession's diversity in Florida." ed.]

Dkoller_1 Dionne Koller (left) explained how she trains and employs "Teaching Fellows" to assist with the Academic Support Mission at the U. of Maryland.

Kris Franklin ran us through a drill which required us to analyze two (actual) students' exam answers, then discuss how to best help each student.  For this part, I passed out four-color pens, and explained the Dan Wilson (see tribute to Dan by his Denver students) method of helping students analyze their own answers.  Kris provided a typed transcript of her detailed voice recording commentary that she delivered to the student (a method which provides the opportunity to offer detailed, lengthy and – one would hope – more helpful advice to struggling students).

Note to workshop participants: consider writing a short version of your impressions of what went on during the workshop, and I'll post them here.  Send them as an attachment.  (djt)

November 20, 2005 in Academic Support Spotlight, Meetings, Miscellany, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)