Monday, March 17, 2014

Do you have photos from the January 2014 Academic Support sessions at AALS?

If you have photos that you took in January 2014 at AALS in New York City during the Section on Academic Support business meeting, program, or lunch, please send them to Louis Schulze at Florida International University School of Law for inclusion in our next AALS newsletter.  His e-mail address is  Thank you!

March 17, 2014 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Preparing for the Multistate Professional Responsiblity Exam

For many 2 and 3Ls the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is right around the corner.  The MPRE is a multiple choice exam consisting of 60 questions offered three times each year.  The MPRE is a required licensing test for all states except Maryland and Wisconsin.  The American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and control­ling constitutional decisions and generally accepted principles established in leading federal and state cases and in procedural and evidentiary rules are tested on the MPRE.  Commercial bar companies have condensed these rules in their review lectures.  And, fortunately, most of these companies offer free MPRE courses and materials for students.

Although these free resources are available, many students do not take advantage of them.  Instead, they underestimate the difficulty of the MPRE and sometimes take the exam without even studying.  While the MPRE is not as challenging as the Multistate Bar Exam, it is still a high stakes standardized test that requires concerted effort in order to reach a passing score.  A careful study of the rules sets a firm foundation for test day.  Additionally, as with any test, completing practice questions will hone an examinees test taking ability and will help assess their performance.  The commercial bar courses offer ample practice questions for this purpose.  The National Conference of Bar Examiners also offers for purchase one Online Practice Exam (OPE) for the MPRE.  

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you prepare for the MPRE:

  • Arrive on time, but not too early.  Once you have been checked in by the proctors in the testing room, you are not allowed to leave prior to start time.  If you arrive too early, you are stuck waiting in a room full of overly anxious applicants and an assortment of #2 pencils.
  • You cannot chew gum during the exam (or have other food or drinks).  I really wanted my gum, but they made me throw it away.
  • You cannot wear earplugs!  Why?  I do not know the answer.  This is cruel and unusual.
  • You are able to leave the room during the test, but depending on your testing site that may not be a great idea.  At my testing site, the bathroom was two flights of stairs from the testing room.  (Even though I wanted to take a restroom break, I did not want to sacrifice the time.)  Extra time is not given for restroom breaks.
  • You cannot bring anything into the testing room- no cellphones, no bags, no books... Bring your pencils, your ID, your admission ticket, (photo- see below) and your knowledge of PR.
  • Don't forget to bring a current passport-type photo on exam day.  Think about getting this out of the way early.
  • Leave your watch at home.  Watches are not allowed at the test center.  Electronic devices of any kind are not allowed either.
  • As with the bar exam, wear comfortable layers.  The temperature of the room may be too hot or too cold and may fluctuate during the course of your test. 

Above all, do not minimize the effort needed to prepare for the MPRE.  Last minute cramming may lead to regret.  Scores are posted approximately five weeks after the test.  Good luck to everyone taking the MPRE!

(Lisa Young)


March 12, 2014 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Call for Paper Proposals for the AALS Academic Support Section

Call for Proposals

AALS Section on Academic Support

January 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. 

ASP a Roadmap at the Crossroad: How Academic Support Will Meet Today’s Varied Challenges 

From isolated academic support efforts to more formalized multifaceted programs, academic support has fundamentally changed itself and legal education over the years.  In light of shrinking budgets, disappearing positions, smaller applicant pools, and media attacks on legal education, academic support programs face newer and varied challenges.  The Program Committee seeks proposals highlighting innovative methods, programs, or ideas related to these challenges. 

Topics might include, but are not limited to, efficient and effective ways to:  collaborate with faculty; manage limited human and financial resources; attract and retain students; provide resources for students with learning and other disabilities; and create programming for diverse populations to address any social isolation and/or bridge any skills deficiencies. 

Preference will be given to presentations designed to engage the workshop audience, so proposals should contain a detailed explanation of both the substance of the presentation and the methods to be employed.  Individuals as well as groups are invited to propose topics.  The Committee would prefer to highlight talent across a spectrum of law schools and disciplines and is especially interested in new and innovative ideas. Please share this call with colleagues—both within the legal academy and the academic support community. 

Proposals must include the following information:

1.  A title for your presentation.

2.  A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.

3.  A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or outcomes.

4.  The amount of time requested for your presentation. No single presenter should exceed 30 minutes in total.  Presentations as short as 15 minutes are welcomed.

5.  A detailed description of both the substantive content and the techniques to be employed, if any, to engage the audience.

6.  Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employother technology.

7.  A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, national or regional ASP or writing conferences, or other academic conferences.  (The Committee is interested in this information because we wish to select and showcase seasoned, as well as fresh, talent.)

8.  Your school affiliation, title, courses taught, and contact information (please include email address and telephone number).

9.  Any articles or books that you have published that relate to your proposed presentation.

10. Any other information you think will help the Committee appreciate the value your presentation will provide. 

Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so please send yours as soon as possible, but no later than Tuesday, April 1st at 5pm to Goldie Pritchard, Michigan State University College of Law,  If you have questions, please email Goldie Pritchard or call at 517.432.6881.

The Section on Academic Support Program Committee:

Goldie Pritchard, Chair

Robin Boyle Laisure, Past Chair

Ilana Ben-zeev

Robert Coulthard

Steven Foster

Lyndsay Garmond

DeShun Harris

Danielle Kocal

Haley Meade

Maysa Nichter

Brendon Taga

ASP Section Chair:  Amy Jarmon


March 11, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2014

AASE Conference Heads Up

Save the dates for the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) conference at University of Indiana McKinney School of Law from May 29 - June 1 in Indianapolis!  Registration will open on Thursday, May 29th from 10:30 a.m. - noon with the program beginning at noon.  Friday and Saturday will be full programming days with evening events.  The conference programming will end at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 1st.  Detailed information on registrations, hotels, and the conference sessions will be sent out once the final program is ready.

March 10, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What the Best Law Teachers Do Conference


Northwestern Law and the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning are proud to present:  What the Best Law Teachers Do: Educators in Action, a two-and-a-half day conference, June 25-27, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois.  

What the Best Law Teachers Do: Educators in Action provides a forum to hear the presentations of one-dozen remarkable law educators featured in Harvard Press’s newly-released book. These outstanding educators will share their insights and teaching techniques over the course of two full days. For more information, please visit our website

Summer in Chicago is a delight to behold. Steps from Lake Michigan and just a short walk from the Magnificent Mile, the exciting Second City is at your doorstep. 

For details about the conference, to review our speakers, organizers, and sponsors, and to register for the conference and for our exquisite accommodations, please visit our website

See you in the Windy City! 

Debbie Borman,

Northwestern University School of Law


Emily Grant,

Gerry Hess,

Michael Hunter Schwartz,

Sandra Simpson,

Sophie Sparrow,

Kelly Terry,

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning

March 9, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Dean's LIfe

Our readers may be interested in a recent article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education that discusses being a good dean or a mediocre dean.  Although it is written by a pair of former education deans, it is relevant to the lives of law school deans as well.

I noted the point about how important certain "dispositions" are for a good dean.  Perhaps these dispositions explain in part why some of our own ASP'ers have gone on to being highly successful deans!  The link is here: A Tale of 2 Deans.  (Amy Jarmon) 

March 8, 2014 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Post Bar Exam Blues

Now that the celebrations and champagne toasts have faded, bar examinees may feel lost, deflated, or generally lacking direction.  This state of mind is what I refer to as the "Post Bar Exam Blues."  As with other challenging life transitions, processing their bar exam experience will take time.  They have been on a roller coaster ride with extreme highs and lows for the last eight weeks.  Once the ride ends, it is hard to remember who you were before you got on.   

In order to best move through this period, I suggest that students first reflect on their experience.  Sharing their feelings with someone they trust can help them work through their fears, their doubts, and acknowledge the incredible accomplishment of getting through this test.  Writing out their feelings is also helpful.  Once they get these emotions out into the universe, it is easier for them to put the experience behind them and avoid replaying it over and over again in their mind.

Results generally take several months to be released.  Thus, once they have the opportunity to reflect on their experience, it is best to redirect them toward something positive and productive.  Second guessing their performance, or holding their breath until results are posted is fruitless.  Instead, having them create a list of current projects or ways to use their free time can help them see that there is life outside of bar review.  Also, jumping head first into a new job or a job search can help remind them why they wanted to become a lawyer.  Ultimately, getting them to understand that they are not defined by their MBE score will help them remedy their blues.


March 6, 2014 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

UCC Article 3 & 4, No More

Is the check a negotiable instrument?  Is the party a holder in due course?  Was the check properly payable? These are frequent questions bar students draft as they struggle through answering Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Article 3 & 4 bar essays.  However, these struggles appear to be over for many.  According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), effective with the February 2015 bar exam, Negotiable Instruments (Uniform Commercial Code Article 3 and the excerpts of Article 4, Bank Collections) will no longer be tested on the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). 

This news should come as a relief to future bar exam applicants and Academic Support Professors as well.  UCC 3 & 4 is an area that students rarely study in law school.  They approach bar review with little (if any) knowledge of negotiable instruments and bank deposits and collections.  The unfamiliar language coupled with the lack of practicality make this area difficult for students to internalize.  Some students may have never even written a check!  Additionally, many states that do not use the MEE, no longer test UCC 3 & 4.  Thus, the decision to remove UCC 3 & 4 from the list of subjects tested on the MEE seems timely and appropriate.

This news also made me wonder how decisions like this are made.  For example, are there are other subjects that should also be eliminated from or added to the list of subjects tested on the MEE?  What is the process by which these decisions are made?  Additionally, NCBE has expressed interest in adding more subjects to the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).   Should all of the current MEE subjects also be tested on the MBE?  Is this truly necessary for assessing competency?  Or, is this a bar that will negatively impact access to the profession?


March 5, 2014 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Variety in ASP

I am off to the Southwestern Consortium Workshop in a few days.  One of the things that I like most about ASP workshops and conferences is hearing from colleagues what they do at their schools under the ASP umbrella. 

I find it fascinating that there are so many great ways to accomplish our objectives.  Although programs have many commonalities, the best way to do it at a particular law school depends on philosophy, historical structures/events, student characteristics, academic standards, staffing levels, facilities, budget, ASP status, faculty interface, administrative support, and so much more.

Here are some of the ways that we differ while everyone is working toward the goals of retention and improving student skills and bar studier success:

  • Areas covered: academic success - bar preparation - legal writing - some combination
  • Staff size: one-person offices - under 5 people - 6 or more people
  • Appointments: administrative dean - 9/10/12-month staff - faculty on tenure track - non-tenure-track faculty - hybrids
  • Budgeting:  budget funded by a fee - defined budget process with discussion - defined budget process without discussion - ask and hope to receive per item
  • Facilities: director's office - director's office plus another secretary/library/teaching fellow space - dedicated office suite
  • Study aids library: publisher complementary copy arrangement - budgeted study aids library - donated used study aids - director's own collection - hybrids
  • Office equipment/files: dedicated workspace - shared space with others - in director's office - hybrids
  • Secretarial support - dedicated ASP secretarial support - shared secretarial support - work study or other student support
  • Duties of law student workers: teaching fellows/tutors who present doctrinal reviews and study skills - teaching fellows/tutors who present only study skills - research assistants to assist with assessment and statistics - hybrids
  • Faculty involvement: ASP across the curriculum - first-year faculty involved - upper-division faculty for required courses involved - as needed/asked basis with select faculty - little/no faculty involvement - hybrids
  • Summer course for invited "at risk" first-year students: length varies - number of students varies - criteria for admission vary - graded or pass/fail - conditional admission based on grade achieved or enrolled upon completion - required curriculum course or elective course segment - hybrids
  • Pre-orientation ASP: pre-orientation workshops/online tutorials for all first-year students on academic skills - pre-orientation workshops/online tutorials for invited first-year students on academic skills - required/suggested summer reading for first-year students - no pre-orientation
  • Orientation sessions: orientation sessions on academic skills presented by ASP - orientation sessions on academic skills presented by faculty - orientation sessions on academic skills presented by upper-division students - hybrids
  • Study groups for first-years: mandatory structured study groups for first-year students - voluntary structured study groups for first-year students - freelance study groups for first-year students - hybrids
  • Extended orientation: extended orientation sessions on academic skills - extended orientation sessions on non-academic topics - mandatory with consequences/"mandatory" without consequences/voluntary - hybrids
  • Courses: academic support course for first-year students - academic support course for upper-division students - bar preparation course - mandatory/voluntary - credit/non-credit - graded/pass or fail
  • Workshops: workshops for first-year students - workshops for upper-division students - no workshops - hybrids
  • Probation or "at risk defined by cum GPA" students: mandatory with consequences meetings/workshops/course - "mandatory" without consequences meetings/workshops/course - voluntary meetings/workshops/course - hybrids
  • Academic dismissal process: ASP has official role in the process - ASP has informal role in the process - no ASP role in the process
  • Academic advising: ASP has official role in the process - ASP has informal role in the process - no ASP role in the process
  • Other duties: adjunct professor - university committee work - law school committee work - advisor to student organization/competition team - pre-law advising - K to 12 pipeline outreach

There are many other facets of our work on which we have variations.  One of the joys of ASP work is that colleagues are willing to share their expertise, materials, and suggestions.  ASP'ers are a refreshing group of legally-trained folks because everyone is willing to learn from others and contribute positively to the dialogue.  I am looking forward to seeing you in San Antonio, Indianapolis, or at another workshop where we can exchange ideas.  (Amy Jarmon)   


March 3, 2014 in Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Note taking in class: the how to and the benefits -- a refresher

I am currently attending Constitutional Law classes as a way of helping me work with students toward academic success.  As I attend these classes, I take notes.  Note taking in class is one way, among many, to remain actively engaged in learning.

Here is one way of thinking about how note taking fits into your learning process in law school:

1. Before class

*You read cases;

*Read cases again, this time you take notes in the margins of your case books; and

*Read cases one more time, at least, and brief the cases.

2. During class, you attend; listen; participate; and, yes, take notes.

Too many times, students either take limited notes or only make notations on their case briefs or in their case books.   While, no student should try to transcribe every word spoken in class, all students should take notes – separate from their case briefs.

* Take note of anything the professor writes on the board – either before or during class;

*Take note of the professor’s questions about the cases and hypothetical questions;

*Take note of any tests and the professor’s interpretation of how the courts have applied those tests;

*Take note if your professor explains how the law will or won’t be applied to a hypothetical situation;

*Take note when your professor begins class by summarizing a previous class or previous classes;

*Take note when your professor ends class by summarizing what was covered in class;

*Take note, if your professor ends a unit of study by summarizing the topic;

*Take note if your professor incorporates multiple-choice questions into the class.

*Take note if you lose focus.  Try to record the point at which you lost focus and the point at which you regained focus.  By doing so, you will know where you need to fill in gaps in your notes.

3. After class, review and polish your notes.  Do so within 24 hours of taking the notes.  In that way, you will be able to spot holes in your notes and can consult with classmates or the professor to fill them.  Reviewing notes within 24 hours can help you to remember the material.

4. At the end of every week, review and clean up your notes for each class.  Doing this will help you to get in shape for outlining. 

*Outline as you go; when you complete a topic in class, outline the topic.  Build in weekly time to work on your outlines.

*Reread your outlines every week.  Repeated exposure to material will help you to remember the material.


(Myra Orlen)

March 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Brief Writing


This post may not be directly on point with the topic of this blog.  But the attached brief is inspiring.

Or, maybe the post is related to the topic of this blog.  Law students are facing a busy and pressure-filled time -- whether they are first-year students or upper-level students.  The semester will rapidly come to a close, with all of the anxieties that attach to that time of the school year. Students may be seeking assistance  as they prepare persuasive briefs for their first-year and upper-level writng courses.  Students may be questioning their motivation for attending law school.

The attached amicus brief was written by a Michigan high school student.  The student filed the brief in the Michigan Supreme Court in connection with three cases pending in that court.  The cases arise under  Miller v. Alabama, the SCOTUS decision prohibiting  mandatory sentences of life without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. 

Download FGR Amicus Curiae Brief

(Myra Orlen)

February 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Time to write persuasive memoranda and briefs

At this time of year, as Spring Break looms large for many of us, law students are facing the, sometimes daunting, task of writng and polishing persuaive memoranda and appellate briefs.  John Mollenkamp, a former academic support educator and legal writing professor, created a video that walks through the process of creating tables of authorites.  The video can be found at the following URL:

 (Myra Orlen)

February 28, 2014 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Three Cheers for Bar Completion

Congratulations to all law schools' graduates who have completed a state bar exam this week!  Yesterday we had faculty and staff gather outside the law school and cheer the bar studiers as they exited the building.  Some stopped for cookies and chats before heading home for a well-deserved break.

I am sure that many of us can vividly recall our bar exam experiences.  I took the Virginia bar exam in Roanoke at the Civic Center in July.  In Virginia one had to wear court attire (last time I checked, they still do) so that the moment it was over the fellows were ripping off their neckties, everyone shed suit jackets, and the gals were changing into comfortable shoes. 

Since my folks lived two hours away from the test site instead of my own six hours back to where my home and law school were, I drove straight to their house.  I think I was semi-shell-shocked the whole way.  It was over!  I was worn out, already thinking about the long wait for results, and praying that I would not have to take it again.

After my mother's delicious home-cooked meal, I crashed into bed and slept until well past noon the next day.  When I returned home a few days later, lots of bar studiers were still in town.  Everyone had a bar exam tale to tell.  

Virginia issued results late that year.  Rumors were rampant about how many had failed and why there was a delay.  When results finally came out, I felt like a millstone had dropped from my neck and was SOOOO relieved to pass.  Even after we had all been practicing for several years, others told me that they still shuddered whenever they drove the interstate across Virginia and the Roanoke Civic Center came into view from the highway.  Most passers vowed to never move from Virginia so that the experience would never have to be repeated!

So congratulations on your hard work.  Celebrate your perseverence.  Get some rest! (Amy Jarmon)


February 28, 2014 in Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Am a Scientist

After my last post, several people asked me what questions I ask students after a bad first semester.  For all of my poor-performing students, I point out the importance of studying what happened in the past semester and learning from mistakes, and then I give them a form asking:

1.  How often did you attend class?  If you missed classes, why?

2.  How many Academic Success Workshops did you go to?  Which ones?

3.  Did you go to tutoring?  How often, and for which classes?

4.  Did you go to your professor's office hours?  Which ones?

5.  In legal writing, when did you do your assignments?  Were you able to turn in multiple drafts?

6.  How much time each week did you spend reading cases and other assigned readings?

7.  When did you start your outlines?  Did you make your own?

8.  How many practice questions did you do?  In what classes?

9.  Did you use commercial outlines or other materials?  Did you use them to make your outline?

10.  Did you have a set schedule?  (Please attach)

11.  How did you prepare for exams?

12.  Describe your typical exam writing experience.  Did you have problems with time management?

13.  What were your grades?  Were they what you expected?

14.  Have you reviewed your exams?  Which ones?  What weaknesses did you see?

15.  Did you meet with your professors to go over exams?  Which ones?  What weaknesses did they see?

16.  What do you think you need the most help with?

17.  What do you think you need the least help with?

18.  Is there anything else that happened last term that got in the way of law school?

19.  Have you ever been tested for any academic disability?  Do you have any accommodations in taking your exams?


(Alex Ruskell)




February 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Listen Like a Lawyer

If you have not discovered it yet, I recommend taking a look at the Listen Like a Lawyer Blog.  Jennifer Murphy Romig from Emory University School of Law has some postings that deal with law students specifically.  Here are several to look at that deal with listening in the law school classroom:

  • September 30, 2013: Listening check-up for first-semester law students
  • October 11, 2013: The listening technique that worked for me in law school
  • February 11, 2014: Listening in law school: second-semester update. 

There are other law school related postings that deal with externships, interviews, and other topics. (Amy Jarmon)

February 26, 2014 in Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"The front lines of student care."

Check out Lisa McElroy's post, which highlights the discrepancies in status and salary that legal writers (and ASPers) face.


February 25, 2014 in Current Affairs, Miscellany, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Reminder: April Assessment Conference

Assessment Across The Curriculum

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning

Spring Conference 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014


“Assessment Across the Curriculum” is a one-day conference for new and experienced law teachers who are interested in designing and implementing effective techniques for assessing student learning.  The conference will take place on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Conference Content:  Sessions will address topics such as

  • Formative Assessment in Large Classes
  • Classroom Assessment Techniques
  • Using Rubrics for Formative and Summative Assessment
  • Assessing the Ineffable: Professionalism, Judgment, and Teamwork
  • Assessment Techniques for Statutory or Transactional Courses 

By the end of the conference, participants will have concrete ideas and assessment practices to take back to their students, colleagues, and institutions. 

Who Should Attend:  This conference is for all law faculty (full-time and adjunct) who want to learn about best practices for course-level assessment of student learning. 

Conference Structure:  The conference opens with an optional informal gathering on Friday evening, April 4.  The conference will officially start with an opening session on Saturday, April 5, followed by a series of workshops.  Breaks are scheduled with adequate time to provide participants with opportunities to discuss ideas from the conference.  The conference ends at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.  Details about the conference are available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning ( and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law ( 

Conference Faculty:  Conference workshops will be taught by experienced faculty, including Michael Hunter Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Rory Bahadur (Washburn), Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga), Sophie Sparrow (University of New Hampshire), Lyn Entrikin (UALR Bowen), and Richard Neumann (Hofstra).

Accommodations:  A block of hotel rooms for conference participants has been reserved at The DoubleTree Little Rock, 424 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72201.  Reservations may be made by calling the hotel directly at 501-372-4371, calling the DoubleTree Central Reservations System at 800-222-TREE, or booking online at  The group code to use when making reservations for the conference is “LAW.” 



February 16, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 14, 2014

When Does Life-School Balance Become Too Difficult?

It is not unusual for law students to have life interfere at times with their law school studies.  A student gets a cold that turns into bronchitis and then pneumonia and drags on for a month.  A parent has a medical emergency and needs the student home for every weekend.  A car accident causes the student to miss two weeks of class.  Divorce papers are served two-thirds of the way into the semester on a surprised law student who thought that the marriage was surviving okay.

If the students were on top of all their study tasks before the life interruption occurred, they tend to bounce back more easily from difficult circumstances.  However, if they were barely preparing for class already and behind in every other study task, the unexpected life event can seriously jeopardize their  regaining their academic momentum for the semester.

Every law school has some procedures that can help students with their academics when the unexpected happens to disrupt their studies.  But, the options vary greatly among law schools.  And the timing of the event may preclude some options.  Financial aid and loan repayment rules may be perceived by students as blocking any real choices.  Parental pressure for certain options over others may also be a factor.

Those of us in ASP are often in the thick of these situations working with the student and colleagues at the law school to help the student sort out the options and the pros and cons of each.  Assisting a student with a plan to catch up on missed work and keep up with current work is part of the process.  Fortunately, some options have long open windows so that everyone can monitor the student's progress and delay a stay-or-leave decision for some weeks.  Other options may be on a now-or-never decision line.

Many students will work diligently with ASP, professors, and other university services to try to catch up and turn around the situation.  In some cases extensions on work, rescheduled exams, underloads, or other measures will make it possible for them to succeed.  Some of the students who have worked so hard will decide to withdraw from the semester at the last minute.  

There are always some students who decide to stay in school no matter what.  They keep attending classes knowing that they will not be able to retrieve their academics.  In many cases, they are delaying the inevitable because they are locked in to leases, will be faced with earlier loan repayments, or have other family problems that make going home impossible.  They see those other factors as more daunting than F grades on their transcripts.  

Whatever choices the students make, those choices are inevitably theirs to make.  We can advise and inform, but they have to make the final decisions.  All we can do is be supportive throughout the process.  (Amy Jarmon) 



February 14, 2014 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

NY ASP Workshop - Call for Proposals

ASP friends,

We are pleased to announce this year’s one-day N.Y. Academic Support Workshop,
to be held on Friday, April 4 from 9:30 to 5:30 at CUNY School of Law in
Long Island City, N.Y
. For those of you who are not familiar with Long
Island City, it is conveniently located minutes from midtown Manhattan and
accessible by all forms of public transportation. We want to thank Linda
Feldman of Brooklyn Law School and Kris Franklin of New York Law School for
graciously sharing with the opportunity host and plan this year’s workshop, now
that we have a beautiful, more accessible building. We are delighted to be able
to continue the wonderful workshops that Linda and Kris have held over the

We anticipate that the workshop will be an intimate and intensive gathering of
academic support professionals learning from one another. In keeping with
tradition, this year’s workshop agenda will focus on a particular theme in the
morning; in the afternoon, the agenda will be generated by the interests and
topics suggested by participants.  

The title of the morning session is: Note-Taking: The Skill that Dare Not
Speak its Name
. Although we have addressed this issue before, we thought
that the time seemed right to revisit it.  Aside from being an almost
impossible skill to teach (hence the subtitle of the workshop), students’ need
to do it well from the very start of their law school careers, as well as
recent developments and practices (e.g., the now almost-ubiquitous use of
laptops and the classrooms in which they are banned, the “flipped” classroom,
distance learning, e-casebooks, etc.) raise new and lingering challenges to our
students and faculty colleagues.  The basic pedagogy of law school - the
modified Socratic method - remains a difficult environment in which to take
notes.  Since most of us advocate the linear process of note-taking -
revision - outlining, we thought it would be useful to share our techniques and
strategies for helping students learn this critical and difficult skill, and
perhaps also to bring to the group problems and issues that we have run up

Please consider this a friendly Call for Proposals, as well as a “Save the
Date.”  Let us know if you want to share one of your own lessons, issues,
ideas, etc., or comment on ones brought by other participants. Also, please let
us know whether your proposed discussion relates to our theme of note-taking,
or would be more appropriate for the open agenda portion of the day.  We
will send out a finalized workshop agenda in mid-March. Please RSVP to Haley at Proposals d be happy to talk with you before then, as you think about possibly presenting.

There is no fee to attend.  If you are coming from outside the immediate
N.Y. area and would like advice about hotels, etc., please let us know. Also,
if you’d love to attend but just don’t have the budget to stay overnight, let
us know and we’ll see if it is possible to help you find housing with local

We are looking forward to seeing many of you in April! 

Haley and David

Haley A. Meade
Director of Professional Skills Center



David Nadvorney                        

Director of Academic Support Programs 


CUNY School of Law


February 13, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Writers are the Worst Procrastinators

Hat tip to Deborah Borman for the link to an article on the Legal Research and Writing Professor listserv.  The article combines procrastination, writing, Dweck's research, and millenials into one piece: Why Writers are the Worst Procrastinators.  (Amy Jarmon)

February 12, 2014 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)