February 15, 2007
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,
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 05, 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
email@example.com (Electronic submissions are welcome.)
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)
November 20, 2005
Kudos to Kris!
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.
Academic Supporters from Maryland, Pace, NYLS, Touro, Hofstra (see Richard Neumann, at 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.]
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)
October 11, 2005
We are Trendy – Go Figure...
Friday's New York Times technology section (New York Times article) reported that lawyers represent an "explosion" in the blogosphere. There are numerous blogs written by lawyers and about the law. In fact, we represent a disproportionate number of bloggers and blog readers. Why do you suppose that is?
The article theorizes that we are bored by our day to day jobs (not true in the Academic Support field), or that we are all trapped writers under the surface (I thought we were all frustrated actors, but then again I was a litigator in a prior life), or even that we all have an opinion on something that we need to express and that just being lawyers lends us some credibility (this doesn't work, even with children, in my experience).
I disagree. I think it is because we are all trained never to ask that last question and that blogging lets us do just that and then answer it as well. At trial, we put all the evidence in front of a group of people, or a judge alone and hope that they connect the dots (that through careful preparation and excellent trial technique we have placed very close to one another....). In a blog, we can connect them ourselves. I don't disagree with the article writer that we are an essentially verbal crowd, but I really believe blogging cures a frustration that lawyers often feel when we can't just blurt out the answer (i.e. "my god, people he's guilty as sin and here's why....").
There is, the article points out, even a 1L blog written by a student. I checked it out to see what goes on on the other side of the desk and found it helpful.
The next thing I'd like to know is why there are so many law related TV shows and how any of this relates to Academic Support..... (ezs)
October 06, 2005
Okay, so it has been a while since I've blogged.
That's because I've been spending lots of time interviewing applicants for the positions of Co-Editor and Contributing Editor. The search was successful!
Very soon, I will be announcing the new editorial staff. Hint: the new editors are from the east coast, west coast and the heartland of America.
What does this mean to you, the Reader? More information, more perspectives, more provocative articles.
Thanks for putting up with the brief hiatus. (djt)
September 23, 2005
AALS announced this week that the 2006 Annual Conference will take place in Washington, DC. (djt)
September 04, 2005
Helping Students after Katrina
As Academic Support Professionals, how can we help?
Here's an example. Scour the internet for letters like this one, and respond. I found this (and many others) at http://www.isthatlegal.org/loyno/.
Question from 1L Rekha Tavva
I am a common law 1L and am completely frustrated and at a loss as of what to do and with time running out on my options I am seeking any and all advice. I was given permission to attend Loyola Chicago and MSU as a visiting student with tuition and books waived and provided respectively, however, now that I know that U of H will somewhat be Loyola's satellite campus I am confused as to what I should do. I know that many 1L's have decided to give it a go at other schools but I want to know if this is the wisest choice. Basically, I am asking people for the pros and cons of each decision. If any professor or classmate is reading this, I would greatly appreciate your advice on this pertinent matter. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and my phone number is 310-435-6479. Hope to hear from anybody. Thanks a million for your advice and time...and I hope all is well.
Let me know if you find other sites where students are reaching out for help we may offer.
See what these students and their families and friends are going through ... Professional photos from TIME magazine ... a photoessay, "The Day After Katrina."
From the "everything New Orleans" (NOLA) web site: Amazing photographs of Katrina's effects. (djt)
Books for Free
LexisNexis' Law School Publishing group has implemented a plan to respond to the needs of law school students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. LexisNexis will provide free coursebooks to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that requires a LexisNexis coursebook. LexisNexis will also provide free copies of relevant titles from our Understanding Series and our Q & A Series to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that corresponds to a title in our Understanding and Q & A product lines.
To receive this assistance, an appointed school administrator (e.g., the registrar) must make this contact on behalf of the displaced student(s) who have been invited to participate in their Fall 2005 program. Requests must include:
- Students' name
- Mailing address
- Email address (if any)
- Phone number
- Home law school
- Author name & title of adopted LexisNexis coursebook
- Fall 2005 course listing (to determine relevant study aid titles to send to each student).
Please send this information to: Lisa Hughes, LexisNexis Law School Sales Operations Manager, via email at Lisa.A.Hughes@lexisnexis.com, or via fax at 518-641-6090.
September 02, 2005
Emergency hurricane communications
I just received this communication from the master editors of the Law Professor Blogs:
The Law Librarian Blog is compiling communications resources for Fifth Circuit, Tulane, and Loyola-New Orleans communities as the blog's editorial staff locates them. See generally http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/
Joseph A. Hodnicki
Law Professor Blogs, LLC
Editor, Law Librarian Blog
August 05, 2005
This week I am in Milwaukee at the AHEAD (Association of Higher Education and Disability) annual summer conference.
Watch for posts in the coming days about issues we all face ... helping students with visible and invisible disabilities cope with the rigors of the law school curriculum. The conference includes presentations by attorney disability specialists from the Office of Civil Rights and private firms, as well as a plethora of presentations and workshops hosted by Disability Support Specialists (example: Dr. Jane Thierfeld Brown from University of Connecticut School of Law) bringing us up to date on the latest law, technology and trends in providing academic support for this segment of our diverse students.
In the coming posts, I will acquaint you with some of the lessons I have learned, and provide direction about where to turn when you run into a difficulty in handling situations in this area. (djt)
July 15, 2005
Unhappy Lawyers? Not so!
Guess what ... We're happy again!
We're all aware that unhappy law students morph into unhappy lawyers; so just where did this latest group of California lawyers come from?
Contrary to everything I've read in the past decade, the July issue of California Lawyer, reports that California lawyers are choc-fulla' glee as they head for the office each day.
Based on a 2004 poll taken by the magazine's editors, "Fully 57 percent of responding lawyers said they're extremely or very satisfied with their jobs. Another 29 percent said they are somewhhat satisfied, which makes a whopping 86 percent who are content with what they do for a living."
Not only that, the pollsters conclude, "What's more, 30 percent are more content at work today than they were a year ago. California lawyers do indeed seem to be a happy group."
The conclusions in the article seem remarkable to me. Why?
The questionnaire was sent to "a representative sample of 700 California lawyers," and the poll achieved "a 17 percent response rate." Do the math. 119 lawyers responded. That means, that of California's 201,626 lawyers (as of July 16, 2005), 102 reported being content.
Does the number of respondents seem small?
A 1994 issue of the California State Bar Journal (the official publication of the California State Bar) included an article entitled, "Pessimism for the future: Given a second chance, half of the state's attorneys would not become lawyers." The conclusions in that article are based on 2,700 responses (from a significantly smaller base number of attorneys at the time).
According to former litigator (now career consultant) Holly Huart: "More than half of the lawyers who responded to a 1992 California Lawyer fax poll rated themselves 'unhappy but inert' or so unhappy they would change careers; 70% said they would start a new career if they could. Similarly, a poll taken by California Lawyer magazine in 1993 found that over 70% of the respondents said they would not go into law again if they could begin their careers anew, and this was reinforced by a study published in the California Bar Journal in 1995." (See: Huart article, with sources)
(Disclaimer: I am a member of the California Bar. I am neither "unhappy" nor "inert" (does that mean I'm happy and "ert"?)... but then I live in Rhode Island and work at a law school. Also, I was not one of the 119 lawyers responding to the survey questions.) (djt)
May 31, 2005
2 New Blogs Join Law Professor Blogs Network
We are pleased to announce the launch of two new blogs as part of our Law Professor Blogs Network:
These blogs join our existing blogs:
- AntitrustProf Blog (Shubha Ghosh (SUNY Buffalo))
- ContractsProf Blog (Carol Chomsky (Minnesota) & Frank Snyder (Texas-Wesleyan))
- CrimProf Blog (Jack Chin (Arizona) & Mark Godsey (Cincinnati))
- Health Law Prof Blog (Betsy Malloy (Cincinnati) & Tom Mayo (SMU))
- LaborProf Blog (Rafael Gely (Cincinnati))
- Law Librarian Blog (Joe Hodnicki (Cincinnati))
- Law School Academic Support Blog (Dennis Tonsing (Roger WIlliams) & Ellen Swain (Vermont))
- Media Law Prof Blog (Cristina Corcos (LSU))
- Sentencing Law & Policy Blog (Douglas Berman (Ohio State))
- TaxProf Blog (Paul Caron (Cincinnati))
- Tech Law Prof Blog (Jonathan Ezor (Touro) & Michelle Zakarin (Touro))
- White Collar Crime Prof Blog (Peter Henning (Wayne State) & Ellen Podgor (Georgia State))
- Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Gerry Beyer (Texas Tech))
LexisNexis is supporting our effort to expand the network into other areas of law. Please email us if you would be interested in finding out more about starting a blog as part of our network.
April 14, 2005
The Learning Curve
Once again, Professor Gantt is reaching out to the Academic Support Professional community, searching anew for announcements, news items, and articles for the spring issue of The Learning Curve, the newsletter of the AALS Section on Academic Support.
He would like to receive submissions by Friday, April 22 (with some flexibility).
If you intend to submit something, timely or a little late, please send Professor Gantt an e-mail.
April 06, 2005
Don't expect any new posts until next week. (djt)
March 05, 2005
Solving the Bar Pass Problem
Clicking on the article title (above) will bring you to the National Conference of Bar Examiners' pages that include a long excerpt from Professor Day's thought-provoking article. Professor Day notes that many of the ideas and information included in his essay were the result of a two-day conference at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio, in June of 2001. Rich Litvin and I were also in attendance - what a remarkable gathering of Academic Support professionals and Bar Examiners. We ought to do that more often. The essay from which these excerpts were taken was originally published in the California Western Law Review, Spring 2004 issue (40 Cal.W.L.Rev. 321).
"The most important obligation of law schools," Professor Day maintains, "is to prepare their students to become capable, practicing lawyers ... and law students must pass the bar or they cannot practice law." Professor Day describes the alarming decline in bar passage rates. "This article," he suggests, "calls law schools and their faculty to action to recognize and address the problem." He then offers a variety of techniques and strategies (twenty-two to be specific) to help increase overall scores and prevent the devastating consequences of failure.
Through techniques such as identifying innate learning differences in students, emphasizing better legal writing, offering special non-credit bar prep courses, and giving students more detailed feedback and assistance, Professor Day provides straightforward advice about the bar and how to increase pass rates.
February 13, 2005
Who has moved to another position, another school?
Have you found some news (local, regional, national) that affects Law School Academic Support Programs? This is the place to post it!