Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Typically, the first full week of October marks National Diversity Week, founded in 1998 to raise awareness about the diversity which has shaped, and continues to shape, the United States. Numerous cities, companies, and schools, including mine, will participate in this weeklong, nationwide event.
Roughly ten years after the founding of National Diversity Week, the American Bar Association also decided to make diversity and inclusion a top priority. That year the House of Delegates adopted just four goals for the Association:
- Serve Our Members,
- Improve Our Profession,
- Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity, and
- Advance the Rule of Law.
The Association then charged the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with advancing “Goal III,” namely to “promote full and equal participation in the Association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons” and to “eliminate bias in the legal profession and the Justice System.” The office now serves as a hub, coordinating the activities of seven other ABA entities:
- Commission on Women in the Profession
- Commission on Disability Rights
- Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession
- Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice
- Council for Diversity and Inclusion in the Educational Pipeline
- Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities
- Commission on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
The ABA has also created an online portal to centralize information concerning the Association’s various diversity and inclusion initiatives. The portal contains videos and toolkits to enable law firms and law schools to easily offer diversity and inclusion focused presentations throughout the year, such as an implicit bias training or a discussion on the concept of “grit” in women lawyers. (If you haven’t planned a Diversity Week event yet or want to beef up your existing plans, you can quickly download a lesson-in-the-box from the portal.)
In addition to the ABA resources, the National Diversity Council and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity have both made lasting impacts on the legal profession in the past decade.
The National Diversity Council is a non-partisan organization dedicated to being both a resource for and an advocate for the value of diversity and inclusion. “The National Diversity Council is the first non-profit organization to bring together the private, public and non-profit sectors to discuss the many dimensions and benefits of a multicultural environment. The success of the Texas Diversity Council (established in 2004) served as a catalyst for the National Diversity Council, launched in the fall of 2008."
The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, founded in 2009, “is an organization of more than 265 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners—the leadership of the profession—who have dedicated themselves to creating a truly diverse U.S. legal profession.” The organization hopes “to attract, inspire, and nurture the talent in society and within [legal] organizations, thereby helping a new and more diverse generation of attorneys ascend to positions of leadership.”
Lastly, for even more concrete ideas about how you—as an academic support professor—can best contribute to the legal profession’s goals of eliminating bias and promoting diversity, join us at the Inaugural AASE Diversity Conference, Fulfilling Promises: Providing Effective Academic and Bar Exam Support to Diverse Students on October 12-13, 2017, hosted by the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore, Maryland.
Monday, October 9, 2017
The counseling field has often highlighted the benefits of some personal disclosure from therapists to their clients. Some cited benefits include increased trust and rapport, as well validation of the clients’ experiences.
Join me this week at the Inaugural Diversity Conference for the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) in Baltimore, Maryland, for a moderated discussion on the benefits of academic support professionals sharing personal stories and struggles with their students.
Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences (i.e., their stories or struggles) relating to diversity and inclusion or their law school experience in general. These experiences may either be personal stories or struggles or stories related to students that the participants may have worked with in their capacity as academic support professionals. As presenters and participants share their stories, the “listening” participants will be modeling and reviewing some of the same active listening skills and nonverbal behaviors that academic support professionals should be engaging in when they work with students in either individual or group conferences.
Hope to see you in Maryland! (OJ Salinas)
October 9, 2017 in Advice, Disability Matters, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Meetings, Miscellany, News, Professionalism, Program Evaluation, Stress & Anxiety, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 8, 2017
SAVE THE DATE
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning—Summer 2018 Conference
Exploring the Use of Technology in the Law School Classroom
Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, Washington
Conference Theme: During this conference, we will explore the many and varied uses of technology in the law school classroom to improve student learning. The conference will focus on how law schools and professors are incorporating technology across the curriculum to enhance students’ learning in many areas such as assessments, group work, peer feedback, professor feedback, self-evaluation, and other skills.
Conference Proposals: The Institute will issue a Call for Proposals later this year inviting proposals for 60-minute workshop sessions addressing the conference theme. Proposals will be due by February 1, 2018.
Conference Structure: The conference will consist of a series of concurrent workshops that will take place on Tuesday, June 19 and Wednesday, June 20. The conference will open with an informal reception on Monday evening, June 18. Details about the conference will be available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and the Gonzaga University School of Law.
Who Should Attend: This conference is for all law faculty, adjuncts, and administrators.
Registration Information: The conference fee for participants is $400, which includes materials, meals during the conference (two breakfasts and two lunches), and the welcome reception Sunday, June 17. The conference fee for presenters is $300. Details regarding the registration process will be provided in future announcements.
Accommodations: A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees will be announced in the next couple of months. These hotels will be within walking distance from the law school. There is easy transportation to and from the airport, so a rental car may not be necessary.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at ways the academy will change with Generations X, Y, and Z as students, faculty, and administrators. We tend to consider these generations as learners and lawyers, but we may not fully appreciate how our law school environments will change when they become faculty and administrators later. The link is Generations Article .
Friday, October 6, 2017
The debate on electronic devices in the classroom and no bans/partial bans/total bans continues as Generation Z enters the classrooms of higher education. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently looked again at the issue: Gen Z Changes the Debate. (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
The hustle and bustle of day to day academic support life does not always allow for me to say all that I would like to say to the countless students who contact me to let me know that they passed the bar exam. In the moment, I am excited, I might scream, my heart and my soul are filled with joy, and I might even shed a tear as the bar passer and I recall the challenges they overcame to make it to this point. While addressed to one individual, this letter addresses most of what I would have liked to say but may not have. I am certain that I missed something so please forgive me in advance.
I am so very proud of you!!! You passed the bar exam and did it on the first try! You should be very proud of yourself and your accomplishments. I am certain that your family is very excited for you. Many of your former law school colleagues have stopped by to ask whether I heard about your success and expressed their joy, excitement, and pride. You are an inspiration, a role model, and mentor to others who will walk in your shoes very soon so please do not take that role lightly. I also look to you for support of soon to be bar takers so please do not forget to provide me with any advice you have for those who will soon sit for your state bar exam.
At this time, passing the bar might be a surreal experience but I am here to remind you that you did it. I also want to remind you of what it took for you to get here because the journey was not a simple walk in the park. You sacrificed a lot in the past three years. Was it worth it to you? I want you to take some time prior to your swearing-in ceremony, prior to the start of your job, prior to your journey to finding a job, or prior to the official start of your legal journey to reflect on your legal education journey so that you never forget what it took to achieve this success.
Remember the community you come from and what lead you to consider pursuing a law degree. Maybe you are a first-generation college student, first-generation graduate, or first-generation professional school student so you had to sort through how to navigate the necessary steps to attend law school. Maybe everyone around you said you could not make it to or through law school or maybe you had a supportive family who believed that you could achieve anything and you were slated for success. Maybe you were the only one in your community to graduate from high school and/or college. But you did it and that in itself is an achievement you should be proud of.
Remember all that you sacrificed to attend law school and how much of a toll it took on you, your children, your marriage, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your family, and all those around you. Maybe you moved from across the country to attend law school. Maybe you gave up a well- paying job to live like a college student to pursue your dream of obtaining a legal education. Maybe you left an environment you felt comfortable in to move to one where you stuck out like a sore thumb and never really understood or felt a part of. Maybe you had to leave significant others behind or become a different type of parent, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, son, daughter, brother, or sister to achieve your dream. Maybe you were not as “present” as you used to be, missed holiday celebrations, and other significant life events to obtain your law degree.
Remember the countless hours you devoted to law school studies and bar exam studies. Maybe you were admitted through a conditional admission program, alternative admission program, or simply opted to participate in a pre-law school program, early start program or jump start program. Maybe reading cases, understanding concepts, briefing, outlining, and drafting memoranda took you longer than the next person to master or at least get comfortable with. Maybe law school studies posed the first academic challenge you have ever experienced in life. Maybe you sacrificed hours on course preparation, did not yield the expected results but you kept going. Maybe you experienced many challenges during your summer bar studies. You had no idea how you would manage all of the subject matter and apply it when necessary. Maybe your scores and feedback on essays, Multistate Bar Exams (MBE), Multistate Performance Tests (MPT) and mock bar exams were subpar and you were unsure about whether you would pass the bar exam. Maybe your entry credentials did not “guarantee” law school or bar exam success but you nevertheless dispelled every single one of those myths - you PASSED!
Remember when you said that you were “over law school”, law school was not for you, and you wanted to and also planned to go back home and never return. Maybe you felt like an impostor, alienated, alone, pushed to your limit. What would have happened had you given up on your dream? Would you have experienced the success you now have? The world would have lost an amazing attorney, YOU!
Remember when you ran out of funds and had no food to eat, no means to buy books, and thought you might become homeless. You became resourceful, learned about the options available to you, and overcame each and every one of those obstacles. Your classmates, professors, friends, and family may not have known about your needs and thought you were doing alright. Remember when your grandmother passed away, when your classmate passed away, when your mother or your father told you they had cancer, and when you faced countless other tragedies. Those experiences may make you relatable to some of the clients you will encounter or at the very least will motivate you to support causes that impact various indigent, disenfranchised, and struggling communities and individuals. You are also a stronger person because of what you have experienced.
You did that! No one else! You stared fear and challenges in the eye and emerged stronger, wiser, and capable. Someone once told me: “what is meant for you is yours, and no one can ever take it away.” This statement holds true for you.
You are an amazing person! You inspire me every day and by sharing your story with me, many others will benefit. You persisted in the face of challenges when some others gave up.
My only advice is that you remember the positive things others did for you and do it for someone else if and whenever you are able to. That is the biggest reward you will ever experience. My role as your coach was to push you so that you would see your endless potential and to propel you beyond your own limited dreams and aspirations because hopefully, I saw more in you than you saw in yourself. Remember all that you are, all that you experienced, all that you accomplished and did not accomplish, and where you have been. Never be so important as to deny your ability to lift someone else up. You are done with one challenge and I am certain that you will experience countless others in the months and years to come but you are equipped for it all. Believe it!
All of the very best,
Your ASP and Bar Coach (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
For my fourth and penultimate pumpkin post, I recommend that novices regularly remind themselves of their original goal.
In Lesson #2 I explained how I came to establish my personal goal for the growing season, namely to get a single healthy pumpkin to the weigh-off scale. Now that the weigh-off is less than two weeks away, I'm starting to secretly hope I win the Rookie of the Year award. Consciously I know that I have not done as much work as some other new growers, but that fact hasn't stopped me from wanting to win the award. My original goal was to grow a pumpkin, and I've done just that. Yet, I have the distinct feeling that I'm going to be (irrationally) disappointed with my ranking on the leaderboard at the weigh-off event.
All this ranking-focused-thinking got me wondering about my students and their first-year grades. At the beginning of the semester, I asked my criminal law class (which, by design, also includes my AEP students) to tell me what they most wanted out of the fall semester. The top two responses: "to survive" and "to pass." Only a handful of students offered more specific aspirations, like learning about murder, gaining confidence, performing pro bono work, or learning "how to write." It seems that most of my rookie students and I had the same mindset at the outset of our respective endeavors: to survive the new experience. So, does that mean that most of my students will start dreaming of sitting at the top of the leaderboard in December, even though that wasn't their original goal, and even though they may not have put forth the amount of effort needed to achieve a high ranking?
Admittedly, I don't have an answer; rather I'm making an observation about novices. Nonetheless, I do plan to discuss the theory with my students. I suspect that a candid discussion about my own illogical (and last minute) desire to be "the best" may help reframe my students' thoughts and expectations with regard to their own fall grades. In a school with a mandatory grade curve, there can only be handful of "A"s in each class. But, a law school "B" can be equally worthy of celebration--especially if the original goal was just "to survive." (Kirsha Trychta)
Here is "Presley" in mid-September, weighing an estimated 400 pounds.
Monday, October 2, 2017
I mentioned last week that students don’t have to wait until final exams at the end of the semester to find out whether they have a good understanding of what their doctrinal professors are teaching. Since most law school classes don’t have traditional periodic tests, I encouraged students to use their professors’ various “what ifs” and “how abouts” to test their understanding of key rules and concepts that the professors are covering in class.
Students: If you are able to answer the professors’ hypotheticals—whether out loud or in your head—you are positioning yourself well to answer the professors’ hypotheticals on their final exams.
A final exam is often just a mixture of a bunch of hypotheticals in one or two large stories. The hypotheticals test your recollection and understanding of key rules that you have covered throughout the semester. The hypotheticals also test your ability to identify and apply significant facts within the hypotheticals to your key rules. This application of law to facts is legal analysis. The better your legal analysis is on a final exam, the more likely you will get a better grade.
But, I know the Socratic class can often be an intimidating and difficult experience, particularly for many 1L students. I know it is not easy sitting in a Socratic class worrying about getting called on—I’ve been there, and I didn’t particularly like it. I disliked the Socratic class so much that I wanted to quit law school after my first year (That story is for another blog post; but you can read a little more about my law school experience here.)
I feared speaking up in the Socratic class because I didn’t want to be seen as incompetent. I worried too much about what my professors or my peers might have thought about me during that moment right after the professor called my name in class. I worried about getting the professor's question wrong. I worried about appearing nervous. I worried.
It took me a long while to adjust to the type of teaching in the Socratic class. It took me a long while to realize that it didn't matter if I was nervous or got a question wrong--what mattered was how I did on the final exams.
So, I wanted to do what I could to prepare for the final exams. I tried to do a lot of preparation outside of class. I read my cases. But, I also used study aids to help give me context for what I was reading. The study aids also provided me with a bunch of hypotheticals where I could practice my legal analysis.
I practiced my legal analysis within the confines of my safe apartment where I didn’t have to worry about others “judging” me if my voice cracked or was shaky or when I didn’t answer a question correctly. I trained myself on issue spotting and applying law to facts so that I could feel more confident not only in the Socratic class, but on the final exams as well. And things turned out okay for me. The guy who wanted to quit law school after his 1L year is now teaching in a law school.
It’s funny how things turn out. And things can turn out well for you, too. Try to engage with your professors’ hypotheticals. If you are not fully able to engage with the hypotheticals in class, look for ways to engage with hypotheticals outside of the potentially intimidating classroom. Like anything in life, the more you practice, the better you will get. And you have an entire semester to practice for your big day (and it won't matter on that big day whether your voiced ever cracked in class or whether you got a question wrong when the professor called on you). (OJ Salinas)
October 2, 2017 in Advice, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Exams - Theory, Learning Styles, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 1, 2017
A wide range of study aids is available to law students. You need to choose carefully which study aids to use and when to use them. Otherwise you can be overwhelmed by choice and waste time and effort.
What type of study aid do you need for the task?
- Study aids that are strictly commentaries. These study aids explain the law in depth. Examples: Understanding Law, Concise Hornbooks, Hornbooks, Inside, Mastering, Foundation, Concepts & Insights, Nutshells, Law School Legends (audio), Sum & Substance (audio).
- Study aids that are commentaries with embedded questions. These study aids explain the law in depth with questions in the text to illustrate the concepts and provide the reader with practice on the narrow issues being discussed. Examples: Examples & Explanations, Glannon Guides.
- Study aids that contain short summaries of the material with or without practice questions/problems. Examples: Acing, Short & Happy Guides, Skills & Values.
- Study aids that are lengthy outline versions of the material. These study aids typically have exam tips and practice questions as well. Examples: Gilbert Law Summaries, Emanuel Law Outlines, and Black Letter Outlines.
- Study aids that are mixed volumes with summaries of material, visual organizers, and practice questions. Examples: Finals, CrunchTime.
- Study aids that are strictly practice question books. Examples: ExamPro, Siegel's, Friedman's, Q&A.
- Study aids that are flashcards to help you memorize the black letter law. Examples: Law in a Flash, Lawdecks, Spaced Repetition.
When and how should you use a study aid?
- To preview information quickly before starting a topic, scan a summary study aid to get a general idea of the terms and subtopics you will be studying.
- To pull together the information quickly at the end of a topic before outlining, scan a summary study aid to see what you studied. You may find the summary's structure useful for determining your outline structure if the table of contents for your casebook or your professor's syllabus does not provide a structure.
- To clear up confusion, a commentary study aid is often useful at the point of outlining. After you have pulled together your own notes and briefs into an outline, you will be more aware of what you understand fully, partially, or not at all. Read a commentary to help with the parts you do not understand and then flesh out your outline as needed. (It is very inefficient to read topics that you understand fully. Focus on what you do not know.)
- To review material while doing chores, on the treadmill, or on a trip, you may find it useful to listen to one of the audio commentaries for a course. Consider listening to a section and then stopping the CD to explain that section aloud to check your comprehension.
- To find questions to help you clarify information for narrow issues when you outline, turn to the commentaries with embedded questions. These questions will help you think through the material for that narrow issue as "starter questions." However, these questions may be easier than "exam-worthy questions" because they are so focused on a specific issue.
- To test your ability to apply the law that you have already learned well, use the practice questions in the mixed volumes, practice question books, or commercial outlines. These questions are often intermediate level in difficulty. For the hardest exam practice questions, visit your law school's exam database.
- To test retention of material, application of it to new scenarios, and exam-taking strategies, complete practice questions at least 2-3 days after the material is learned well. If you complete questions too close to the review, you will automatically get them right.
- To test your ability to perform under time restraints in an exam, do as many practice questions as possible under exam conditions. For essay questions, read/analyze the fact pattern, outline an answer, and write an answer in the time period that would be required for that length/difficulty of a question. For objective questions, complete question sets in a realistic time frame for segments of your professor's exam.
- To memorize the black letter law, use flashcards throughout the semester to learn items over time. Cramming for memorization at the end of the semester is usually very ineffective.
What are some cautions in using study aids?
- Study aids are written for purchase and use by all law students in the country. Tailor your use to what matches your professor's coverage of the topics in the volumes.
- If your professor's version of the course differs from a study aid, learn your professor's version - the grader of your exam is the person to please.
- Check the copyright date of a study aid: Is it recent? Do you have the latest edition? Has the law changed since it was published?
- Check the jurisdictions covered by the study aid: Is it national in scope? Is it state specific? Does it cover the variations (UCC, Restatement, etc.) that your professor will test?
- Greater learning occurs when you generate your own study aids because you process the information instead of just reading what someone else processed. Examples: flashcards, outlines, flowcharts.
Study aids can be great supplements to your learning - however, they are not substitutes for your being an active learner and doing the hard work. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Assistant Director of Academic Support
The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University invites applicants for the position of Assistant Director of Academic Support. The Academic Support Program assists J.D. and LL.M. students in the development of the critical skills necessary to succeed in law school, on the Bar Exam, and in practice. The successful candidate will report to the Director of Academic Support and will assist in designing and implementing all aspects of Hofstra’s established Academic Support Program including:
- Teaching first-year and upper-level classes and workshops;
- Assisting in planning and implementing first-year and upper-level programs;
- Providing individual writing, study and test-taking skills assistance and counseling;
- Identifying and assisting students who need additional academic support;
- Assisting in the development and implementation of bar exam preparation classes, programs and events;
- Assisting in the development and implementation of new services to enhance our students’ academic performance;
- Assisting in the compilation, maintenance and presentation of bar exam data and departmental database;
- Special projects as requested by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation.
Minimum requirements are: a J.D.; a strong academic record; a background demonstrating a potential for excellence in academic support and/or bar exam preparation; an understanding of developments in legal pedagogy; strong organizational and interpersonal skills; the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the law school community; proficiency with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint; and excellent writing and speaking skills. The following are not required but would substantially enhance an application: experience in law school academic support programs or other relevant teaching experience (including experience as a teaching assistant during law school); and/or an advanced degree in education, psychology, counseling, or a related field. Law practice experience is helpful, but without teaching experience will generally not be sufficient. Salary will be commensurate with experience. Some evening hours are part of this position.
Application Instructions: Qualified and interested candidates may send a cover letter and resume via email to: Nicole R. Lefton, Esq., Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation & Assistant Professor of Academic Support and Bar Preparation, email: LawSchoolJobs@hofstra.edu. Please include “Assistant Director of Academic Support” in the subject line.
Hofstra University is an equal opportunity employer, committed to fostering diversity in its faculty, administrative staff and student body, and encourages applications from the entire spectrum of a diverse community.
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS DARTMOUTH
OFFICIAL JOB TITLE: Director of Academic Success DIVISION: Academic & Student Affairs
DEPARTMENT: Student Services Law School
BARGAINING UNIT STATUS: ESU, Cat. 15
FLSA STATUS: Exempt EEO STATUS: 3.1 JOB CODE: 023
REPORTS TO: Director of Teaching and Learning Methods
SUPERVISES: Student employees and peer tutors
SUMMARY PURPOSE OF POSITION: Collaborates in the design, direction, and implementation of all aspects of the Law School’s Academic Support program. The Director promotes law student retention with remedial programming and academic counseling and collaborates with Deans and Faculty to ensure students' successful completion of law school and bar exam passage.
Follows the University’s best practices to build and/or support student academic success and retention, and assist in meeting strategic objectives for persistence and timely graduation of all the student population.
EXAMPLES OF PRIMARY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
- Collaborates on the design and implementation of programming for law students to facilitate their analytical development, examination skills, and early integration into the Law School’s curriculum.
- Presents MPRE resources and workshops to secure student success on the required Professional Ethics exam.
- Provides and oversees programmatic assistance and counseling for all students in academic difficulty.
- Collaborates with Associate Dean as requested in evaluating and resolving student petitions.
- Functions as staff member to all faculty Academic Standards Committee meetings.
- Liaises with Students Services personnel and Law Enrollment Center personnel for comprehensive student support services.
- Works with individual faculty members to provide final exam reviews for students.
- Writes Academic Plans for students who are out of satisfactory academic performance.
- Works with the Faculty and Deans to monitor, analyze, and promote student retention.
- Oversees and manages the Instructional Assistants program for faculty members, and designs and manages peer tutoring program as directed by the Director of Teaching and Learning Methods.
- In collaboration with the Director of Teaching and Learning Methods and Law School leadership, administers the Law Learning Center, remedial workshops, summer instructional programming, and MPRE preparation, and participates in staff meetings.
- Gathers and analyzes data regarding student use of academic support resources.
- In collaboration with faculty, is available to teach academic success courses.
- Performs other related duties as assigned.
EDUCATION: Juris Doctor, strong educational background.
EXPERIENCE: Previous (over one year) of experience providing academic support to law students.
OTHER: Must be available to work nights and weekends; occasional travel is required to local, regional and national conferences as well as travel to support students and graduates taking the bar exam.
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES REQUIRED:
- Strong interpersonal, organizational, analytical, and public speaking skills.
- Proficiency with Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
- Ability to collect, interpret, and analyze data.
- Ability to develop and manage higher educational programs.
- Knowledge of academic programs pertaining to law students.
- Knowledge of educational theories, learning styles, and disabilities.
- Three years of experience providing academic support to law students.
- Demonstrated ability to provide support for bar exam preparation.
Friday, September 29, 2017
Allie Robbins, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at CUNY School of Law, started a blog last summer for graduates studying for the bar exam. Many helpful tips are included in the posts. Allie will be adding new posts specifically for February bar studiers, so keep this blog in mind. The link to The Activist Guide to Passing the Bar is found here. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Perhaps surprisingly, there might be some ancient history right under your nose illustrating the value of creating "picture-books" to teach, guide, synthesis, and communicate legal principles at work. At least, that's the case at one law school's library (and it might be the same at your law library).
As related by the Wall Street Journal, the use of illustrations to depict the law is nothing new. And, it's not really old either because a brief internet search provides lots of exemplars, even in legal educational settings, of the value of "seeing" the law through pictures and illustrations. So, as you approach midterms or just want to help catch the "big picture" overview of your notes and outlines, feel free to doodle. Let yourself go wild with your legal imagination. Create something in a picture, as they say, that is worth a thousand words. That will be a great way to remember all of those words without having to try to even remember them!
For your reference, here's the article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/laws-picture-books-the-yale-law-library-collection-illustrating-the-letter-of-the-law-1506460653 (Scott Johns)
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Does academic support extend beyond the law school environment and the time students are at an institution? Does it take on a different form? Is it even academic support anymore? We have a general idea of what academic support offices do and the nature and purpose of our interactions with students. Most of our interactions revolve around helping students develop skills to be academically successful and successful on the bar exam. Certain interactions permit us to get to know some of our students as more than just an individual who has difficulty outlining or organizing answers to essay questions. We get to know about where the student hails from, their interests, their life’s challenges, their journey to law school, and sometimes, rare information about their families. Do those relationships stop there?
My answer is no. Post-graduation interactions initially begin as pure focus on taking and passing the bar exam. Later, conversations shift to career opportunities, careers, people management, and life management. In sum, the interactions are less academic support related and more “human” focused. This indicates that academic support is an institutional community building tool that may not be visible to many. Once conversations shift to career development, they typically relate to job search successes and wows, strategic job searching, and career challenges. I am by no means a career services expert; therefore, I direct my students to that office for support and assistance. Most of my conversations pertain to what I know about alums, their interests, the truth about their strategies and approaches, and considering worse case scenarios and options. We have “real talk sessions” that culminate into unique holistic conversations.
When I am not speaking with first career or first “real job” alums, I speak with former students who have worked for one to five years and have decided to make a career change or are sorting through how to navigate office politics. Included in our discussions are debates about what it means to be a woman and/or a person of color in legal and non-legal environments and the nature of their interactions with men, other people of color, and people not of color. Alums often share personal stories and all of sudden, we have created an impromptu professional development session for all of us. While interactions with alums might not be specifically “ASP” related, they often provide me with information that I can then use to encourage and help current students. I have also built a network of alums that I can call on and know will be responsive if I need help with bar preparation advice or individuals I can connect with a current student from a similar background in need of support and direction that I know I am unable to provide them with. Alums are also a good source of assessment of various programs offered by my office because they will tell me the truth. They know that I will not take offense as I am simply trying to improve what I do to help students like them (Goldie Pritchard).
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Last year a self-confessed shy student came to my office in search of a study partner. She wanted to form a study group, but was uncomfortable soliciting classmates to join her group. She asked me if anyone else had inquired about the same thing, and if so, would I please put them in contact with her. Her request sparked an idea: an ASP-coordinated study group matchmaking service. Now in its second year, the Study Group Matchmaking Service has been a hit with first-year students. The service aids students in identifying other classmates who share their same learning preferences and study schedules. The service also provides a proposed structure for the study groups, with recommended meeting times, a pre-identified group leader, and suggested activities tied to the group's expressed learning preferences. For anyone who is interested in trying out the service at their school, here is a "How To."
Step One: Create a Survey Form
I start by creating a short, online questionnaire (using Qualtrics, which is similar to Survey Monkey). The 7-question survey asks:
- What's your name?
- Which professors do you have this semester? (check all the boxes that apply)
- Rank your VARK learning styles from most preferred (1) to least preferred (5).
- Would you describe yourself as an extrovert or introvert?
- Do you prefer to lead a group meeting or simply attend the meeting?
- When do you prefer to study: early morning, right before class (7-9am); midday, between classes and on the lunch break; afternoon, right after classes (4-6pm); evening (6-9pm); or late night (after 9pm)?
- Is there anything else you think Professor Trychta should know?
The online form allows me to download the responses into an Excel spreadsheet and then electronically sort answers to select questions, which helps in the matchmaking process. If your school uses the StrengthsQuest program or a Myers-Briggs personality inventory during Orientation, you may want to incorporate that information into your intake survey as well.
Step Two: Announce the Service
In mid-September, I send out an email describing the Study Group Matchmaking Service. I also post the same information to Facebook and TWEN. The email reads:
Are you interested in joining a (new) study group? The Academic Excellence Center seeks to group interested first-year students together into highly effective study groups. The benefits of an AEP study group—as opposed to your “friends group”—are many:
- Membership to the group will be based on your individual learning preferences (visual, aural, read/write, or kinesthetic), introvert/extrovert status, and other academic variables. If you don’t know your learning preference, click here to find out.
- Members will agree to a set of rules and standards to ensure that the group functions optimally.
- Each group will be limited to 2-4 individuals.
- Prof. Trychta and the Dean’s Fellows will be available to assist the AEP study groups with room reservations, locating practice problems, identifying ideal study strategies, and resolving disputes.
The other benefits of any study group include sharing case briefs, reviewing class notes, preparing group outlines, and, most importantly: group problem solving. If interested in being matched with a few like-minded classmates, complete this 7-question intake questionnaire (hyperlinked in original) by [next Thursday]. I’ll send out group announcements on [Friday morning], and you can plan to meet your new study group for a quick “hello” at 1:00 p.m. after Torts.
Step Three: Form the Groups
After the students complete the survey, I use the Excel document to look for patterns in their responses. I start by sorting the students based on their professors. Next I look for self-confessed group leaders and try to assign one leader to each potential group. Along those same lines, I try not to put two leaders in the same group, to minimize the opportunity for conflict. Then I break these groups into smaller subgroups based on learning preferences and desired study schedules. I am also mindful not to stick an introvert in a group with three extroverts, or vice versa. This process goes relatively smoothly for most of the students. However, the last few students can prove hard to place, especially if no one else shares a particular student's same preferences. For the handful of hard-to-place students, I reach out to them individually. I tell them honestly that I'm having difficulty placing them in a group because of X reason, and ask them how important that particular preference is to them. I also tell them about the next-best-fit group and ask if they would be interested in that group instead. For example: "Dear Lynn, I think the group mentioned below would be a good fit for you, except that they want to meet in the morning. Otherwise, everything else checks out. Would you be interested in joining an AM study group?--Prof." After everyone is assigned, I schedule a speed date.
Step Four: Schedule a Speed Date
The next step in the process is to introduce the group members to each other. I begin the process with an email, detailing the results and next steps:
Thank you for signing up for an AEP study group. This year, we had 25 people request a partner. Each partnership or group should be between 2-4 members. Less than 2 is not a group, and more than 4 is unwieldy. The members of your proposed partnership or group are: H.R. and A.A.
I tried to group students together based on their expressed learning preferences, class schedules, and personalities. You each have Professors Trychta, Cady, & Rhee, are available to study in the early mornings, prefer read/write and kinesthetic techniques, while disfavoring aural learning techniques. On paper, you’re a great fit. (FYI – There are two other Trychta-Cady-Rhee groups: (1) M.D. & T.G. and (2) A.L., B.D. & M.H. You may find it helpful to collaborate with them periodically.)
Signing-up for the matchmaking service does not mean that you must join the group. Instead, you should plan to meet briefly in the lobby [on Friday] after Torts class to introduce yourselves and discuss the goals of the group. Treat this initial meeting much like a first date. If you opt to join the group, then you should promise to commit to the group for the rest of the semester. If the members of your group can’t reach a consensus about some aspect of the study group’s objectives or rules, let me know. Perhaps I can reassign some of the members or suggest a compromise.
The most effective study groups are those that have clearly defined objectives and rules. For example, the purpose of your group may be to (a) outline or (b) discuss hypotheticals. The group should discuss the options, and then make a conscious decision based on what the members hope to get out of the group study experience. To aid you in determining the group’s rules, I’ve attached a sample “contract.” Feel free to use, modify, or ignore the sample contract, as your group sees fit.
Obviously, you may choose to run your group however you decide. But I note that group problem solving works most effectively when the members of the group (1) ask someone to introduce a specific problem or issue, (2) appoint a scrivener and a leader, (3) identify all the potential issues, but not the solutions (4) then discuss all the possible answers, (5) consult resources for additional help, and finally (6) organize and summarize what you learned.
Moving forward, your group may reserve law school classrooms and conference rooms for study sessions by making a request at the Student Services front desk. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
As mentioned above, I attach a sample study group contract to the email. You can Download Study Group Contract using the interactive link. I'm quite confident that I stole this contract idea from someone on a blog or listserv several years ago, but I cannot remember who drafted it. If you're the original author, please feel free to reach out to me and I will happily give you a proper attribution credit.
Step Five: Stay Out of The Way
Lastly, I make myself available in my office during the meet-n-greet hour, but I do not affirmatively attend the event. Once I have identified and disclosed a potential group match, I stay out of the way unless specifically asked by students to intervene. While I actively oversee the Dean's Fellows study groups, I assert no ownership or responsibility over these Matchmaking Groups. Rather my job is to simply facilitate an introduction. With little oversight, admittedly, not every group will work out, but a few do. In fact, I still see one group from Fall 2016 meeting regularly in the lobby as second-year students. And, that alone is enough motivation for me to continue the service. (Kirsha Trychta)
Monday, September 25, 2017
We are several weeks into the Fall semester. 1L students are starting to get a little better handle on what law school is all about. If they didn’t know this already, they are starting to realize that law school is much different than college.
There are no boldface words and glossaries in the law school casebooks. The Socratic class is not filled with a professor lecturing at passive students for the duration of class. And there are few, if any, written “chapter tests” during the semester so that students can assess their understanding of the material.
But, there are many opportunities throughout the semester where students can assess whether they are picking up what they should pick up in the course. These opportunities happen every day in class as a result of the often-dreaded Socratic method (and I dreaded it when I was a 1L--but, that story is for another blog post).
The professors’ many “what ifs” and “how abouts” give students opportunities to test their understanding of the relevant law; they are given chances to apply this law to many factual scenarios—which, in turn, help the students become better issue-spotters and legal analysts. And, as we all know in the ASP world, the more issues a student is able to spot and analyze on a law school final exam, the more likely that student will gain more points on the professor’s final exam rubric.
So, students: Try to engage with the professors’ hypotheticals in class—even when you have not been cold called in class to verbally answer the questions. Try to answer the questions to yourself in your own head. If you can’t come up with an answer to a hypothetical, write the question down on your notes and revisit that question after class or on the weekend when you review what you have covered in class for the week. You may not have come up with the answer in class. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with the answer on the final exam--when it really counts!
One of the many differences from college and law school is that you don’t have several formal written tests throughout the semester; you often only have one exam at the end of the semester per course that often dictates your entire semester course grade. Try to prepare for that final exam every day in class when you engage with the professors’ hypotheticals, and practice the legal analysis skills that will help make you a better law school test-taker and, eventually, lawyer. (OJ Salinas)
September 25, 2017 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Exams - Theory, Learning Styles, Miscellany, Professionalism, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Our Contributing Editors were recognized by Texas Bar Today for a number of Top 10 Awards this summer. You may have missed these posts while you were on vacation, so I want to list them here so you can read any that you did not see. Take a few minutes to catch up on some excellent posts from the editorial staff:
Goldie Pritchard received Top 10 recognition for the following posts:
A Game Plan: Last Minute Bar Preparation (7/12/17)
We Made the Right Decision (8/23/17)
Scott Johns received Top 10 recognition for the following posts:
O.J. Salinas received Top 10 recognition for the following post:
Congratulations to our Contributing Editors for their recognition from Texas Bar Today! (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Brooklyn Law School seeks candidates for the Director of its Academic Success Program. The Director will:
- Enhance learning habits and strategies of entering and returning students, both through classroom and one-on-one instruction;
- Coordinate efforts to increase students’ success in tests, bar exams and other requirements for admission to practice;
- Serve a student population composed of accelerated 2-year, traditional 3-year, and extended 4-year JD students and internationally-trained LLM students;
- Conduct ongoing monitoring of student needs and periodically inform the faculty of those needs;
- Mentor students in a range of activities, including the annual journal competition.
Applicants must articulate a clear vision for the future of the Brooklyn Law School’s Academic Success Program and demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for working with students who seek or require academic enhancement. They must have both a deep theoretical knowledge of and significant experience in enhancing student learning and also possess the ability to build rapport with all students. The status of the Director of Academic Success Program will commensurate with experience and credentials, as well as with a possibility of tenure for candidates holding a JD and producing a substantial body of relevant scholarship. We are committed to hiring a proven, innovative leader, and we are especially interested in candidates who will enhance the diversity of our faculty.
Applicants should email their materials to Prof. Alex Stein, Chair of the Lateral Appointments Subcommittee, Brooklyn Law School: email@example.com.
Friday, September 22, 2017
The UNT Dallas College of Law is a new public law school whose inaugural class started in Fall 2014. The College of Law currently has, and plans to continue having, one full-time section of approximately 80-90 students, and one part-time evening division of between 40-60 students. For the near-term, each entering class will include a day section and an evening section of approximately these sizes.
The College of Law’s goals are: (1) widening access to legal education for those who could be superb legal professionals but who cannot realistically access a legal education given factors including location, cost, and the current role of the LSAT in admission to and financing of law school; (2) providing an educational program focused on excellence in developing practice-related competencies, through a curriculum mapped to those competencies and using best instructional practices, including multiple formative and summative assessment throughout, engaged class design, and a spectrum of experiential education; (3) creating opportunity for our students by keeping tuition and debt low and producing graduates with high value and ability in multiple segments of the market for legal services; (4) becoming a national leader in advancing understanding of best legal education practices, of professional formation, and of the relationship between legal education and the evolving practice and business of law; (5) improving access to justice for underserved legal needs; and (6) serving as a valuable partner in civic engagement with the City of Dallas and the North Texas region.
The University – the first four-year public institution of higher education in the city – seeks an individual who will help shape the character of a 21st century, teaching-focused university. Candidates should possess enthusiastic support for the mission of the university to transform the lives of students, families and communities by providing high-quality, student-focused education in preparation for tomorrow’s careers, and its vision to create the place of choice where students are inspired to learn, faculty are inspired to teach and the community is inspired to support. For more information about the university, go to: http://untdallas.edu/
Responsibilities of the position include, but are not limited to:
- Teach and assist in the development of academic support related courses to enhance law school performance.
- Teach and assist in the development of bar readiness related work product courses and workshops.
- Assist in the design and teaching of workshops to improve the academic skills of students.
- Assist in the design and implementation of student-led programs, including training.
- Evaluate and provide written and individual feedback on student work product and bar readiness related work product.
- Provide individual academic support counseling to students in all stages of their studies, including those struggling academically and those preparing for the bar exam.
- Serve as an individual support to students, monitor the progress of students, and provide the encouragement necessary to contribute to successful academic completion.
- By utilizing various outreach mechanisms, encourage students and bar takers throughout major events such as finals and the bar exam.
- Assist in providing academic advising to all students.
- Assist in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of student data.
- Assist in the coordination of efforts and work with other student services departments to address the needs of students.
- Respond to student concerns in a timely manner, and
- Otherwise support the Director of Academic Success and Bar Readiness, as needed.
The University of North Texas System is firmly committed to equal opportunity and does not permit – and takes actions to prevent – discrimination, harassment (including sexual violence), and retaliation on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, family status, genetic information, citizenship or veteran status in its application and admission processes, educational programs and activities, facilities, and employment practices. The University of North Texas System immediately investigates and takes remedial action when appropriate.
The University of North Texas System also takes actions to prevent retaliation against individuals who oppose a discriminatory practice, file a charge, or testify, assist or participate in an investigative proceeding or hearing.
Link to the job posting: https://unt-dallas.peopleadmin.com/postings/2967
The UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law is currently looking for our new Assistant Director of Academic Support and Bar Success Services. You can find the job posting here.
The Director of Academic Support and Bar Success Services is responsible for managing the Law School’s academic support program and the Law School’s bar passage program. This includes supervising student mentors, assisting in academic support programming development and instructing the law school bar preparation skills courses during the academic year.
This is a great position for anyone who may new to academic support or is looking for an opportunity to innovate in the classroom.