Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Director of Academic Success/Asst. Professor Position at UNLV

*Revised* Director of the Academic Success Program, Assistant Professor in Residence [17131]

Las Vegas, NV
  • Faculty - Law and Legal Studies
  • Admin - Admissions and Enrollment
Application Due:
Open Until Filled
Full Time
Announcement Number:

The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas invites applications for Director of the Academic Success Program, Assistant Professor in Residence (Search Number 17131).

UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of approximately 29,000 students and more than 3,000 faculty and staff that is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university with high research activity. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is on a path to join the top tier of national public research universities. The university is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diversifying population and workforce, driving economic activity through increased research and community partnerships, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada that includes the launch of a new UNLV School of Medicine. UNLV is located on a 332-acre main campus and two satellite campuses in Southern Nevada. For more information, visit us on line at:

The Director is responsible for all Academic Success Program (ASP) programming and initiatives in support of Boyd's 400 full-time, part-time day, and part-time evening students. The Director works closely with law faculty and administration to develop and implement programs to support student achievement in law school and to help students pass the bar exam and succeed in their professional lives. The Director interacts with students in formal and informal classes, conducting workshops and outreach on essential law school skills and bar exam preparation, and meets individually with students seeking to improve their academic performance and to develop strategies for bar exam study and success. The Director is expected to identify students who are likely to benefit from ASP resources and encourage their participation in ASP programming. The Director plays a prominent role in new student orientation, introducing students to legal reasoning and analysis, task and time management, and the services provided by ASP.

The Director is expected to be familiar with national bar exam standards and trends in bar exam assessment. He or she serves as the law school's authority on the Nevada bar examination, its content, and trends in that content. He or she works directly with students individually and in groups on bar preparation and with the law school faculty and administration on analysis of bar examination results and strategies for maximizing bar passage for Boyd graduates.

The Director supervises an Assistant Director and upper-class student mentors and directs their deployment in meeting ASP objectives. The faculty expects that the Director will be a resource for its members to increase teaching effectiveness. Given the nature of the position's responsibilities and the composition of the student body, the Director will be required to work evening and weekend hours as necessary.

This is an academic faculty position that offers opportunity for employment security through a long-term contract, as well as the potential for doctrinal course teaching assignment.

The Boyd School of Law, the only law school in Nevada, is a diverse community of faculty, students, and staff who work together collegially and respectfully to maximize the potential of its students and to help the law school fulfill its aspirations. We welcome applications from those who wish to participate in this sort of community, and we strongly encourage women and people of color to apply. For more information on the Boyd School of Law, see our website Please contact Associate Dean Frank D. Durand at (702) 895-1240 if you have questions about the position.

A J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school is required, together with membership in a state bar and successful completion of a state bar examination. The successful candidate will have significant law school professional experience, preferably in the context of a law school academic success program, a record of strong academic performance in law school, and experience in teaching or instruction. Also required are excellent project management skills, strong organizational skills with attention to detail, the ability to carry out responsibilities with a minimum of supervision, excellent oral and written communication and interpersonal skills, and a strong service commitment.

Submit a letter of interest, a detailed resume listing qualifications and experience, and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least three professional references who may be contacted. Applicants should fully describe their qualifications and experience, with specific reference to each of the minimum and preferred qualifications because this is the information on which the initial review of materials will be based.

Although this position will remain open until filled, review of candidates' materials will begin on March 1, 2017. Materials should be addressed to Associate Dean Frank D. Durand, Search Committee Chair, and are to be submitted via on-line application at For assistance with UNLV's on-line applicant portal, contact UNLV Employment Services at (702) 895-3504 or


Application Information

Human Resources
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Online App. Form:
UNLV is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action educator and employer committed to achieving excellence through diversity. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to, among other things, race, color, religion, sex, age, creed, national origin, veteran status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or any other factor protected by anti-discrimination laws. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas employs only United States citizens and non-citizens lawfully authorized to work in the United States. Women, under-represented groups, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply.

March 12, 2017 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation Position at U of South Dakota

Position Description – Academic Support and Bar Preparation

Title: Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation

Job Description:

The University of South Dakota School of Law anticipates an opening for a Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation. This is a brand new position at the law school, and the new Director will have an exciting opportunity to play a substantial role in designing the program. This will be a twelve-month appointment, and the Director will hold the faculty title of Instructor, Lecturer, or Senior Lecturer, dependent on qualifications. In addition, the successful candidate will report directly to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.  The duties of the Director will include: (1) developing and implementing academic support programming for first and second year students, particularly at-risk students; (2) developing and implementing bar exam preparation programming for third year students; (3) working in collaboration with faculty and staff; (4) collecting data related to academic success and bar passage rates; (5) drafting reports, as necessary, regarding student performance; (6) counseling students regarding academic performance; (7) advising and assisting students in the bar application process; (8) providing assistance for repeat bar-examinees; and (9) performing other duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications: The successful candidate must have a JD and be admitted to a Bar in a US jurisdiction. He or she must also have excellent written and oral communication skills. The successful candidate should also have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a collaborative environment.

Preferred Qualifications: (1) The ideal candidate would have at least one year of teaching experience acquired in an academic support program at an ABA-accredited school. (2) Prior experience in educational analytics or a BS or MS in education is valuable, though none of those qualifications is required. (3) One year of experience in the private or governmental practice of law is preferred.

Vermillion is a small, charming community in southeast South Dakota that can boast a low cost of living, a friendly atmosphere, proximity to natural beauty, and a safe environment. In addition, we are located only one hour away from Sioux Falls, which is the largest metropolitan area in the state, and are only two hours away from Omaha, Nebraska. Finally, we are the flagship institution in the state of South Dakota, as well as the only law school serving the state.  

Diversity and inclusiveness are values that are embraced and practiced at the University of South Dakota.  Candidates who support these values are encouraged to apply.  EEO/AA.

Applications must be submitted through the Board of Regents electronic employment site:  . For application assistance or accommodation, call 605-677-5671. Include on the website: application letter, vita, and names and addresses of three current references.  Inquiries about the position or the use of the website may be directed to: Tiffany C. Graham, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, University of South Dakota School of Law, 414 East Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069; email; or telephone 605-677-5393. Review of applications begins 3/21/2017 and the position is open until filled.

March 11, 2017 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Success: It's a Matter of Perspective!

It's the middle of the academic semester for most of us.  

That often means midterm exams or filling out bar exam applications or working on that summer job hunt.  In the midst of so much to do with so much competition for achieving success, it's easy to feel out of place.  To be overwhelmed.  To sense that I don't really belong in law school or that I can't succeed.

When that sort of self-doubt starts in, it's time to step back and gain perspective about who you are, your strengths, your character, and your purpose.  You see, too often I am comparing myself against the wrong benchmark (others!), and, in doing so, I'm trying to be someone who I am not.  And, that's mighty stressful because it is awful hard (i.e., impossible) to be someone else!  So, instead of trying to measure success based on what others are doing, step back and get some perspective about who you are.

Not quite sure about how to get some perspective?

Well, there's a great video clip that illustrates the point quite well.  It involves a boy struggling to hit a baseball.  When it seems that all is lost, that he just can't manage to connect the baseball bat to the ball, he takes a that moment of pause...he realizes something brilliantly radiant about what he is good at. So, if you happen to feel like you are not quite hitting the mark in law school, take a moment to enjoy this short video clip. I promise, it will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. And, in the process of taking a pause, you'll be reminded of a great truth -- that success is a matter of perspective (and not at all a matter of competition).

(Scott Johns).

March 9, 2017 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spring Break Shenanigans

It is spring break at my law school and it is very quiet. Most of the students have left for the break but a few remain. Some students are anticipating getting ahead in their academic work, working on legal writing assignments, or hoping to improve overall academic performance by starting to prepare for exams early. Other students continue to maintain their individual meetings with my office so I continue to interact with students. Although it is spring break, I find myself with much to do such as: (1) planning for the remainder of the semester, (2) planning for a part of the summer, (3) checking-in with students who recently sat for the bar exam, and also (4) getting some rest.  Additionally, I try to take a day or two off from work to laze around or simply take care of household responsibilities because I know that I will have to wait until July for the next lull.

Spring break is typically a time when I am able to make “small talk” with my colleagues when I take breaks away from my desk. It is also a time when I can leave the building for lunch because attempting to leave the building when school is in session is a challenge due to back to back meetings throughout the day. Even when I am able to leave the building for lunch, I encounter difficulties finding a parking space upon my return because parking is also a challenge. Today, in recognition of International Women’s Day, I had lunch with a female colleague I have been trying to meet-up with for several months. Happy International Women’s Day to all Academic Support Professionals who self-identify as female! (Goldie Pritchard)

March 8, 2017 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A West Texas Perspective on What Matters

We have passed the midpoint in classes now at my law school. This coming week is our Spring Break. A number of students have told me that they have paper drafts, midterms, presentations, or other projects due the week after Spring Break. Now that we are on the downward slope of the semester, more and more students are looking stressed.

I live in West Texas. It is a semi-arid, agricultural area - noticeable once you get beyond the city limits with all the non-indigenous trees and green lawns. When the cotton is not planted and covering the fields, the South Plains can look pretty stark. Flying over this region now will confront you with almost a lunar landscape effect: irrigation circles in the unplanted fields, a land-grant grid, canyons, and scrawny mesquite trees and brush.

And March winds. Lots and lots of winds. And dust blown up by those winds on some days. And enormous tumbleweeds blocking my driveway (my garage off a paved alley skirts a mesquite pasture).

And today, smoke from the wildfires approximately two hours to our north. I live on the southwest edge of town. When I left for work, the smell of smoke was slight in my house, but hit me as soon as I opened the garage door. The sky was an odd gray; the sun was orange behind the smoke. As I drove into campus (a 15-minute drive northeast), the smell of smoke became much stronger. The sun was now a strange yellow with blurred edges.

My thoughts turned to the folks farther north. To the first responders fighting the wildfires. To the farmers and cattlemen concerned about their land and herds. To the small towns that are potentially in the way if the winds kick up more and shift the wrong way.

In short, the stress and anxiety of law school are manageable in light of what could be happening in our lives. It is often hard in the fish-bowl environment of law school to remember the cares of the world outside our doors - our very insular academic world.

I hope my students regained their perspectives today. There are stress situations that are unpredictable and life-threatening. Law school stress may be self-imposed and can often be successfully managed with scheduling, curbing procrastination, and seeking help from many resources. Law school is tough. But life can be tougher. (Amy Jarmon) 


March 7, 2017 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Visiting Professor of the Practice of Law Position at U of Denver

Visiting Professor of the Practice of Law, Academic Achievement - Sturm College of Law

Job Description

Founded in 1892, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (Denver Law) is a nationally recognized leader in experiential legal education featuring top-20 programs in legal writing, clinical training, trial advocacy, tax law, and other fields. Located in one of the nations most dynamic and beautiful cities, Denver Law has a long-standing tradition of innovation in legal education and a commitment to producing ethical, skilled, and professionally aware lawyers through a variety of teaching approaches, including its innovative Academic Achievement and Bar Success Programs.

Position Summary

Denver Law is hiring for a full-time, 12-month faculty position to teach in its Academic Achievement Program. Key responsibilities for the position include: teaching foundational academic skills to first-year students in both classroom and workshop settings; counseling students regarding their academic performance; providing writing support for students across a range of academic settings; teaching upper-level classes in legal analysis; teaching a course in the Bar Success Program and working individually with students preparing for the bar examination; supervising student assistants; and providing additional services (in collaboration with other faculty and staff colleagues) to enhance the academic success of students. The initial term is one academic year with the possibility of renewal based on job performance and pedagogical needs.

Required Qualifications

Assistant Visiting Professor of the Practice of Law

  • J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited institution.
  • Minimum of two years of law practice experience and/or law teaching experience.

Associate Visiting Professor of the Practice of Law

  • J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited institution.
  • Minimum of five years of law practice experience and/or law teaching experience.

Visiting Professor of the Practice of Law

  • J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited institution.
  • Minimum of seven years of law practice experience and/or law teaching experience.

Additional requirements include:

  • Outstanding academic record.
  • Relevant legal practice experience.
  • Demonstrated interest and/or experience in law teaching.
  • Expertise in legal research, analysis, reasoning and communication.
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a dedicated team of faculty and staff colleagues.
  • Commitment to working effectively with individuals from historically underrepresented populations.
  • Demonstrated potential for outstanding pedagogical achievement and national recognition in the field.

Special Instructions

Candidates must apply online through to be considered. Only applications submitted online will be accepted. Once within the job description online, please click New Resume/CV at the bottom of the page to begin application. Inquiries about this position may can be made to Viva Moffat, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at   

Please include the following documents with your application:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Curriculum Vitae 

PLEASE NOTE: The online application system is limited to uploading 5 files total. Please combine content (clearly labeled) if necessary to upload all required content.

The University of Denver is committed to enhancing the diversity of its faculty and staff and encourages applications from women, minorities, members of the LBGT community, people with disabilities and veterans. The University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. 

All offers of employment are based upon satisfactory completion of a criminal history background check.

SCOL-JD Instruction
Position Type

March 7, 2017 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

NALSAP: Registration Now Open for June 1-3 Conference


We are thrilled to announce that NALSAP Conference registration is NOW OPEN! Registration is $100 for NALSAP members and $150 for non-members. The conference will take place on June 1-3, 2017, at UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, California. You can register online here:

Here are some highlights of what the inaugural conference will feature:

  • Connie Horton will provide us with a “counseling toolbox” for student affairs professionals. Specific counseling tools us laypeople can employ as we’re meeting with students on the front lines. Dr. Horton, Ph.D. and a Licensed Psychologist, is the Associate Vice President for Student Life and the Senior Director of Counseling, Health, and Wellness at Pepperdine University.
  • Catherine Matthews, J.D., Ph.D., Indiana University Maurer School of Law, will provide a higher education law primer aimed specifically at law school student affairs professionals.
  • 14 concurrent sessions covering a broad range of topics, such as supporting marginalized students, Generation Z, mentorship programs, conduct, strategies for doing more with less in an era of decreasing budgets, strategies for inclusion of Graduate Program & International Students, diversity and implicit bias, student development theory, and so much more!
  • Opportunities for networking with colleagues from across the nation at the first conference entirely devoted to law student affairs professionals, including a welcome mixer, networking lunches, wellness activities with the NALSAP Conference Committee, and more.
  • Two NALSAP business meetings where you can learn more about this brand new organization and get involved in various leadership roles.
  • Wellness, wellness, wellness! Mindfulness, meditation, self-care (for students AND for US!) will be woven throughout the conference into various plenary/concurrent sessions, as well as some fun experiential offerings.
  • Optional QPR suicide prevention training on Saturday afternoon. QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. QPR’s suicide prevention course is designed to teach professionals how to reduce the immediate risk of suicide and provide longer-term care for those at risk.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in June!  


Rebekah Grodsky & Emily Scivoletto

NALSAP Conference Co-Chairs

Like us on Facebook!

Register for the NALSAP Conference:

March 7, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Gen Z: Our Future Law Students

Hat tip to Vickie Sutton, the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at Texas Tech School of Law, for forwarding a report released by Barnes & Noble and an article about the report. Gen Z students are currently 13-18 years old. The two items can be found here:  Download Gen-Z-Research-Report-Final and Download ECampus News Gen Z is about to take ove... (Amy Jarmon)

March 6, 2017 in Learning Styles, Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Compilation of Reader Comments and Emails

We periodically gather some comments from our readers to share on the Blog. Here are some responses and conversations that we have had over the last several months:

Marsha Griggs (Texas Southern ) shares her idea in response to Goldie Pritchard's A Wall of Inspiration post on February 22nd: "I do something similar via Facebook. I have a private FB group set up for our bar takers. Each day of bar study, I send motivational pictures, quotes and positive affirmations. The response is overwhelmingly positive." 

Don Macaulay (Pipeline to Practice Foundation) sent a link to their website in response to our announcement of the Inaugural AASE Conference on Diversity:

Rod Fong (U of San Francisco) and I had a nice email exchange after my February 19th post on Rediscovering a Sense of Purpose. Rod shared two links that may interest readers who have not seen them: Angela Lee Duckworth's Ted Talk on Grit (Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance) and Eduardo Briceno's Tex Talk on Growth Mindset and Success ( Rod also observed: "I combine the grit and growth mindset with two other social-psychological theories, belonging and stereotype threat.  I find these four work together well. The other thing I'm noticing in students is that grit and growth mindset don't work well if the students are not good self-regulated learners.  Without this skill, they seem to think that just doing the work, like going through the motions, is enough to learn and study. . . . They don't realize that it takes energy to assess their work and properly correct their mistakes." 

Otto Stockmeyer (Emeritus Western Michigan) gave some historical insight on IRAC following Goldie Prichard's January 13 post on Dr. Martin Luther King: "The Letter from the Birmingham Jail," and IRAC?: "Michael Josephson, who founded a bar review course in Michigan in 1991 which became one of the country's largest within 10 years, emphasized IRAC in the essay-writing portion of his course. He attributed IRAC's origin to the U.S. Army. According to him, the Army developed IRAC at the outbreak of World War II as a method of teaching problem-solving to a flood of new recruits. Whether or not IRAC helped us win WWII, it made Josephson a millionaire." 

Otto Stockmeyer (Emeritus Western Michigan) also commented on Alex Ruskell's Weapon of Choice post on January 13th: "My experience counseling poorly performing students has been that 60% of the time they change right answers to wrong ones. Of course, they are presented with more wrong choices, so that may explain part of it. Also, it may be a characteristic of poor performers and not universal." 

Thank you to our many readers who post comments for the editors after reading our posts. We have a policy of not posting comments publicly because of the amount of spam comments that are received by the Blog. Please know that we appreciate hearing from you. (Amy Jarmon)

March 5, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Director of Academic Success Position at UDC - DCSL


UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DAVID A. CLARKE SCHOOL OF LAW (UDC-DCSL) invites applications to fill the tenure-track position of Director of Academic Support.  We will consider exceptionally talented applicants at either the assistant or associate professor level. Candidates must demonstrate a record of strong academic performance and excellent potential for scholarly achievement.  The position will begin in July, 2017.

We are looking for an experienced academic success professional who is familiar with the best practices in the field and interested in designing a state-of-the-art academic success program suitable for our mission. The mission of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is to recruit and enroll students from groups under-represented at the bar, provide a well-rounded theoretical and practical legal education that will enable students to be effective and ethical advocates, and represent the legal needs of low-income District of Columbia residents through the school’s legal clinics.  UDC-DCSL is one of only six American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  UDC is the nation’s only urban, public land grant university.  UDC-DCSL is highly ranked: Top 10 in the nation in Law School Clinical Programs (US News and World Report, 2017); 2nd most diverse faculty (Princeton Review, 2016); 2nd most chosen by older students (Princeton Review, 2016); 2nd best environment for minority students (Princeton Review, 2016); and the #1 Ranked law school in National Jurist Magazine’s “Schools with the most community service hours per student” (2017).  UDC-DCSL has a strong commitment to diversity among its faculty and encourages applications from minorities and women.

The salary range for the position is $97,513 - $122,004, depending upon appointed rank.

Although we will accept applications until the position is filled, we strongly encourage interested applicants to submit applications by March 20, 2017 for complete consideration. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume.  Contact:  Professor Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, Co-Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Building 52, Room 470, Washington, D.C. 20008.

March 4, 2017 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Work is a Four-Letter Word

My love of punk rock reflects my general paranoia about the messages that consumer culture crams into our heads.  This week, in meeting with students about bar prep, poor performance, or other issues, I was struck by how many students made some reference to their need to relax.  For example, I got an email saying someone couldn't meet at a certain time because "that was the time they went home to take a nap."  Another student told me that they were spending all of Spring Break "beaching and golfing."  Another student listened to my spiel about bringing up her grades and then said, "That's great advice -- but, to be honest, I'm not doing that much work."

It kills me when students fail the bar and it turns out they did under 50 percent of their commercial bar prep.  I generally blame the phenomenon on computers, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's really coming from advertising and culture.

Since we live in a consumer culture, most of the messages we get on a daily basis are about consuming.  Consuming goes hand and hand with relaxing -- stop doing whatever it is you are doing and eat this burger, drink this coffee, put two iron tubs out in your backyard and hold hands with your mate, etc.  Social media reflects it in weird pictures of people's dinners and smiling vacation shots.  Besides advertising and social media, there's constant messaging about working less, slowing down, and smelling the roses.  That stuff has to sink in.  

ASP is in a weird position because we're often dealing with students in crisis, and we are often counselors and sounding boards for struggling students.  Consequently, being a hard ass and piling on a bunch more work is probably not a fantastic idea.  However, although I used to worry about "burn out" when figuring out study plans for struggling students, I've more or less stopped taking that into consideration.  Making the assumption that no student is going to do 100 percent of what I say, I figure I don't need to add to the constant barrage of "you deserve and need to take time off" that students hear everyday.  I tell them they need to sleep, eat healthy, and exercise, but I leave relaxing for them to figure out.

The above post may ultimately be just another example of an older generation dissing on a younger one ("Back in my day, I had to walk uphill both ways to school"), but I want all of them to succeed.  I used to describe what I do as teaching them to study "smarter," but maybe I should really change it to studying "smarter and harder."

The Smiths -- Work is a Four-Letter Word 

(Alex Ruskell)

March 3, 2017 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

"Voice Opportunities" to Make a Difference in Legal Education: ABA Nominations - Due April 10, 2017!

The ABA Section on Legal Education and Bar Admissions is seeking nominations for leadership positions on the Council.  In light of the important field work that academic support professionals play in the enhancement and the betterment of legal education, this is a great opportunity to share your voice and expertise with others.  So, if interested, here's the link to nominate yourself or others:  (Scott Johns).

March 2, 2017 in Advice, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

You Are Not An Island

Microaggression. Merriam Webster initially noted this word as “a term to watch” but added this word to the dictionary in February 2017. Microaggression as defined by Merriam Webster is “a comment or action that is subtly and often unintentionally hostile or demeaning to a member of a minority or marginalized group.”

How do we, academic support professionals, support our students who deal with microaggressions and aggressions that impact their ability to focus on academic work and impact their academic performance? I pose this question not because I have an answer but because this is a question I have asked myself lately.

It is quite difficult to be mentally present, engage with doctrinal content, and focus on tasks at hand while being concerned about what covert or overt actions will occur next or be directed towards you. The idea that one might have to contend with a racial or ethnic land mine at any time in a law school classroom or hallway is very daunting. A microaggressive comment from a professor during exam review can be devastating particularly when we encourage students to meet with professors to review exams and obtain feedback. There are a few articles addressing the impact of microaggressions on the recipient which highlight serious psychological effects.

Oftentimes, just reminding students of why they are in law school and encouraging them to not give up on a future legal career while having honest discussions about how they will manage these situations is usually a starting point. I spend time encouraging students to view these encounters as strengthening their abilities to deal with difficult situations while making them realize they are not alone. We discuss their feelings, anticipated accomplishments and consequences of each situation, and management of similar situations. I fundamentally view this process as an unwritten part of my job mainly because I am a person of color who was once a student of color. Silencing the loud voices of negativity when a student already has a few layers of self-doubt, and awakening and reminding students of the infinite reach of their abilities to view the world as a better place can be a struggle and long term process.

Racial Battle Fatigue (RBF). A term coined by William Smith in the Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society (2008) is “a theory attributed to the psychological attrition that People of Color experience from the daily battle of deflecting racialized insults, stereotypes, and discrimination.”i “RBF is the cumulative effect of being “on guard” and having to finesse responses to insults, both subtle and covert.”ii

How do we, academic support professionals, support our students who have been microaggressed when we are managing our own instances of microaggressions and aggressions but also contending with Racial Battle Fatigue? I pose this question because I am curious about how other academic support professionals manage such situations.

To make a very long story short, I had a week filled with incidents that would fit the classic definition of microaggressions and some I would characterize as aggressions coming from various aspects of life in the span of five days. I was anxious and somewhat distracted, which is out of character for me, unfocused, and unhappy but tried to be positive but all efforts failed. I faced each situation, responding in various ways I deemed appropriate, sought the support of my circle of trust, and moved on. I usually do a good job not showing my frustrations. In retrospect, I did not realize how much these encounters impacted me.

Something amazing happened the following week; I found joy, passion, and energy because of the students. I received a number of kind notes, nice words, positive feedback about programs and presentations, and other expressions of appreciation. For someone who is accustomed to problem-solving, affirming students, acknowledging wrong doings, validating feelings, empowering students, and checking-in to ensure that all is well, I did not quite know what to do with myself. It was like the universe suddenly said: “everything is great; this is just a step in your journey.”

I often believe that I am on an island even though there are so many people that surround me. No one knows the many battles fought and won within the confines of the four walls of my office, on the island. What often keeps me going are moments when students make comments to me such as; your words or actions made a difference and changed my outlook when I was on the precipice of giving up and filled with tears. This brings back memories of individuals who did the same for me during moments of immense pressure and self-doubt. (Goldie Pritchard)

iRacial Battle Fatigue’ Is Real: Victims of Racial Microaggressions Are Stressed Like Soldiers in War

iiChristopher Dorner and Racial Battle Fatigue

March 1, 2017 in Advice, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Two Top Ten Badges Earned


Two of our Contributing Editors received recognition from the State Bar of Texas Texas Bar Today for their posts near the end of last semester. Congratulations to Scott Johns and Goldie Pritchard for recognition of their posts! Scott's post can be found here: Chewing the Cud: Should You Be the Tortoise or the Hare in Exam Prep. Goldie's post can be found here: Exams Are Coming.

February 28, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Oops! Correction to AALS Section Officers/Exec Board Post

Our apologies to Jenn Car! She was incorrectly listed as still being at UNLV. She is now at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The corrected Exec Board list is below:

    Chair: Danielle Kocal (Pace)

    Chair-Elect: Staci Rucker (Dayton)

    Secretary: Courtney Lee (McGeorge)

    Treasurer: Jenn Carr (Thomas Jefferson)

    Past Chair: Amy Jarmon (Texas Tech)

    Board position (expiring January 2018): Twinette Johnson (Southern Illinois)

    Board position (expiring January 2018): Philip Kaplan (Suffolk)

    Board position (expiring January 2019): Raul Ruiz (Florida International)

    Board position (expiring January 2019): Goldie Pritchard (Michigan State)

February 27, 2017 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spring Break - Already??!!

This has been the week when students suddenly have realized that it is only two weeks to our law school's Spring Break. The reactions have been joy or trepidation. Here are some of the comments:

The joy group:

  • I'm going home! I miss my family/siblings/mother's cooking/friends/dog. It will be wonderful to be home.
  • I'm getting married and having a short honeymoon! Grin.
  • I'm heading to the beach/slopes/Vegas for the week. (Mixed group - some clearly plan to play full-time; some add they will take their outlines along and get some study in - wink, wink.)

The trepidation group:

  • I'll never be able to take time to go home if I want to study enough.
  • I am so far behind, I'll spend the whole time outlining and writing my papers.
  • Gosh! Exams start seven weeks after Spring Break! Groan.
  • The semester is going by too fast! I'll never get everything done.
  • That means I need to spend a whole week trying to understand Con Law/Commercial Law/Income Tax/(fill in the blank).

Whichever group the students fall into, they all realize that time is marching on this semester. It is well past the beginning weeks of the semester when some students coast. It is time to buckle down and make progress. (Amy Jarmon)

February 26, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Do You Know Who Your Exec Board and Officers Are for AALS Section on Academic Support?

In case you were not at the January 2017 business meeting and are wondering who to contact about the AALS Section on Academic Support, here is a list of the 2017-2018 leadership:

    Chair: Danielle Kocal (Pace)

    Chair-Elect: Staci Rucker (Dayton)

    Secretary: Courtney Lee (McGeorge)

    Treasurer: Jenn Carr (UNLV)

    Past Chair: Amy Jarmon (Texas Tech)

    Board position (expiring January 2018): Twinette Johnson (Southern Illinois)

    Board position (expiring January 2018): Philip Kaplan (Suffolk)

    Board position (expiring January 2019): Raul Ruiz (Florida International)

    Board position (expiring January 2019): Goldie Pritchard (Michigan State)

February 25, 2017 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Such a Scream

The other day I was listening to music in my office when a student came in.  We said hello, she sat, and I turned off my iTunes.  The first thing she asked was "What was THAT you were listening to?"

When I first started in ASP, I worried a lot about acting like a "good professor."  I read articles and watched professors who were considered "great" as I tried to figure out what personality traits or styles or workshops might connect best with students.  Since every ASP thing I've ever done was voluntary, I thought it was especially important for me to be attractive to students.  I watched people who were really funny, people who were really energetic, people who were really clear, people who bled with confidence, and people who all but screamed "Real Life Experience!"  I stirred all this "good professor" stuff into a slightly bitter bouillabaisse and tried to drink it down.  But I wasn't really happy with it. 

I read this week's post about a photo board of success and thought that maybe I should do something like that (really, it sounds great and probably helps a lot, and I in no way mean to criticize it).  But, honestly, that kind of thing is not me.  It would feel phony.  I'd hate doing it.  I think if I tried something like that with my personality it would actually have the opposite effect.  Students would be able to see I was presenting myself as someone I am not, and I think that would ultimately make them less likely to seek my help.

If you are new to ASP, you'll find that ASP people are super helpful and cool about offering advice, teaching tips, etc., but don't feel like you have to do them all, or that what you're doing is necessarily wrong.

The things in your personality that ultimately make you a "good professor" will probably be things that you didn't think would help.  On opposite walls of my office, I have a cartoon poster of my daughter as the superhero "Unicorn Girl" and a zombie apocalypse poster from the CDC.  I hung them up simply because I liked them, but I have ended up getting an enormous amount of conversational mileage from them.  Especially with students in grade trouble who were "sent to my office," the two posters have turned out to be terrific ice breakers.  I don't think either poster would fit with anyone's classic image of a "good professor."

Ultimately, if you're worried about connecting with students, I think the best advice is to simply be yourself.

By the by, this is what I was listening to:

Tom Waits -- Such a Scream

(Alex Ruskell)


February 24, 2017 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Matter of The Heart: Moving Forward in the Midst of the Bar Exam Wait

It’s a great time for you - as this week’s bar takers - to reflect, appreciate, and take pride in your herculean work in accomplishing law school and tackling the bar exam.

Let's be direct!  Bravo! Magnificent! Heroic!  Those are just some of the words that come to mind…words that you should be rightly speaking to yourself…because…they are true of you to the core!

But, for most of us right now, we just don’t quite feel super-human about the bar exam. Such accolades of self-talk are, frankly, just difficult to do. Rather, most of us just feel relief – plain and simple relief – that the bar exam is finally over and we have somehow survived.  

That’s because very few of us, upon completion of the bar exam, feel like we have passed the bar exam. Most of us just don’t know.   So now, the long “waiting” period begins with results not due out for most of us for a number of months.

So, here’s the conundrum about the “waiting” period:

Lot’s of well-meaning people will tell you that you have nothing to worry about; that they are sure that you passed the bar exam; and that the bar exam wasn’t that hard…really.

Really? Not that hard?

Really? You know that I passed?

Really? There’s nothing for me to worry about?

Let me give you a concrete real life example. Like you, I took the bar exam. And, like most of you, I had no idea at all whether I passed the bar exam. I was just so glad that it was finally over.

But all of my friends, my legal employer (a judge), my former law professors, and my family kept telling me that I had absolutely nothing to be worried about; that I passed the bar exam; that I worked hard; that they knew that I could do it.

But, they didn’t know something secret about my bar exam. They didn’t know about my lunch on the first day of the bar exam.

At the risk of revealing a closely held secret, my first day of the bar exam actually started out on the right foot, so to speak. I was on time for the exam. In fact, I got to the convention center early enough that I got a prime parking spot. Moreover, in preparation for my next big break (lunch), I had already cased out the nearest handy-dandy fast food restaurants for grabbing a quick bite to eat before the afternoon portion of the bar exam so that I would not miss the start of the afternoon session of the bar exam.

So, when lunch came, I was so excited to eat that I went straight to Burger King. I really wanted that “crown,” perhaps because I really didn’t understand many of the essay problems from the morning exam. But as I approached Burger King, the line was far out of the door. Impossibly out of the door. And, it didn’t get any better at McDonalds next door. I then faced the same conundrum at Wendy’s and then at Taco Bell.

Finally, I had to face up to cold hard facts.  I could either eat lunch or I could take the afternoon portion of the bar exam. But, I couldn’t do both. The lines were just too long. So, I was about to give up - as I had exhausted all of the local fast food outlets surrounding the convention center - when I luckily caught a glimpse of a possible solution to both lunch and making it back to the bar exam in time for the afternoon session – a liquor store.  There was no line. Not a soul. I had the place to myself. So, I ran into the liquor store to grab my bar exam lunch: two Snicker’s bars. With plenty of time to now spare, I then leisurely made my way back to the bar exam on time for the start of the afternoon session.

But, here’s the rub:

All of my friends and family members (and even the judge that I was clerking for throughout the waiting period) were adamant that I had passed the bar exam. They just knew it! But, they didn’t know that I ate lunch at the liquor store.

So when several months later the bar results were publicly available on the Internet, I went to work for my judge wondering what the judge might do when the truth came out – that I didn’t pass the bar exam because I didn’t pack a lunch to eat at the bar exam.

To be honest, I was completely stick to my stomach. But, I was stuck; I was at work and everyone believed in me. Then, later that morning while still at work computer, the results came out. My heart raced, but my name just didn’t seem to be listed at all. No Scott Johns. And then, I realized that my official attorney name begins with William. I was looking at the wrong section of the Johns and Johnsons. My name was there! I had passed!   I never told the judge my secret about my “snicker bar” lunch. I was just plain relieved that the bar exam “wait” was finally over.

That’s the problem with all of the helpful advice from our friends, employers, law professors, and family members during this waiting period. For all of us (or at least most of us), there was something unusual that happened during our bar exam. It didn’t seem to go perfectly. Quite frankly, we just don’t know if we indeed passed the bar exam.

So, here’s a suggestion for your time right now with your friends, employers, law professors, and family members.

1.  First, just let them know how you are feeling. Be open and frank. Share your thoughts with them along with your hopes and fears.

2.  Second, give them a hearty thank you for all of their enriching support, encouragement, and steadfast faithfulness that they have shared with you as walked your way through law school and through this week’s bar exam. Perhaps send them a personal notecard. Or, make a quick phone call of thanks. Or send a snap chat of thankful appreciation.  Regardless of your particular method of communication, reach out to let them know out of the bottom of your heart that their support has been invaluable to you. That’s a great way to spend your time as you wait - over the course of the next several months - for the bar exam results.

3.  Finally, celebrate yourself, your  achievement, and your true taking time out - right now - to appreciate the momentous accomplishment of undertaking a legal education, graduating from law school, and tackling your bar exam.  You've done something great, and, more importantly, something mightily significant.  (Scott Johns).

February 23, 2017 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exams, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Wall of Inspiration

For first-time bar takers and repeat bar takers, this is the week they have prepared for the past two months. This preparatory period was particularly demanding for me as students responded to my advice and used the ASP office extensively. Between November and February, students from coast to coast engaged with me through emails and phone conversations. I heard the devastation of poor performance on mock exams and practice questions and read about the fear of failure and saw it spread to other bar takers. Current students expressed concern for bar takers and asked whether their former classmates were in touch with me. The most challenging aspect of this bar preparatory period was coaching students to manage the roller coaster of inevitable emotions. For some students, the “real talk” discussions to address frustrations, implosions, and physical tolls were insufficient. I had to find a creative way to re-energize bar takers.

Something I have always wanted to do but never had the opportunity to do came to mind. I always wanted to highlight the achievements of former students, mostly to inspire current students but I saw an opportunity to encourage my February bar takers as well. I contacted a select yet diverse group of alums who I believe would influence current students and requested pictures for display. With their permission, I would post pictures on a wall in my office and use them to motivate current students. Of course, not everyone responded but those who did were quite elated about the idea of sharing their pictures with others. This project provided me with the opportunity to speak with former students, some of whom I met for the first time almost eight years ago.

Today, about two thirds of my display board is filled with pictures from commencement and swearing-in ceremonies. So far, every day has been a wonderful walk down memory lane. I remember each student’s struggles and successes, laughter and excitement. I remember serious conversations we have had, new and unique things they taught me, and fears and concerns they harbored. I witnessed these students achieve their dreams.

For my February bar takers, I shared with them a photo of my wall with an inspirational message and it was a hit. I encouraged them to visualize their own successes and remember what they have already accomplished including the struggles of law school and all they overcame to make it to commencement. For my current students, when they come into my office, there are many unfamiliar faces, yet a few recognizable faces posted on my wall. This wall of pictures has been a great conversation starter particularly about the things students look forward to accomplishing. Reflection is imperative to rejuvenation. Every now and then, I look up at my wall and smile.

Congratulations to the February 2017 bar takers, you survived! Here’s to plenty of rest before your next endeavor. (Goldie Pritchard)

February 22, 2017 in Bar Exam Preparation, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)