Thursday, November 13, 2014

The MBE Decline: Are law students “less able” to pass the bar exam?

There have been several blog posts, email exchanges, and listserve threads discussing the decline in the Summer 2014 MBE scores and state pass rates, including a reproachful letter recently sent to the NCBE from a law school Dean.  The National Conference of Bar Examiners stated in an October letter, that they see the drop in scores as a “matter of concern.”  But, they also stated that their equating, the adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination, and scoring of the test were not the cause of the decline.  The only explanation mentioned in the letter, albeit vague and slightly patronizing, was that the July 2014 test takers were “less able” than the July 2013 test takers.

After recovering from a bit of shock, this statement led me to question whether students really were “less able” to pass the bar exam this summer than they were last summer.  I have helped prepare students for the bar exam, in various forms, for over 14 years.  Throughout this time, I have in fact encountered only a handful of individuals who are not capable of passing the bar exam.  However, I have also worked with dozens of capable and competent bar applicants who struggle with passing the bar for various reasons. 

Tennessee reported that the national mean scaled MBE score for July 2014 was 141.47, which is the lowest since the July 2004 MBE.  Thus, this drop created lower bar pass rates across almost all jurisdictions this summer.  Again, while this drop is noted, it is not evident as to why this drop occurred.  In the same letter referenced above, the NCBE noted that the number of test takers dropped by 5% between the July 2013 and July 2014 exams.  However, it is unclear how the number of test takers has any bearing on the actual test taker’s performance.  The mere fact that less individuals took the exam, 5% less, should not dictate a lower pass rate. 

The data, or lack of it, led me to again question, “Were this summer’s bar applicants “less able?”  Many commenters have refuted that the LSAT is to blame since LSAT scores for this group of test takers (2011 law school start dates) did not take a plunge.  Thus, lower LSATs cannot adequately explain this decline.   

In addition, according to one of the leading national bar review companies, the mean scores for their simulated exams in Summer 2013 and Summer 2014 were virtually identical.  As many of us know, there is a strong correlation between simulated exam performance and actual MBE performance.  Thus, it bears noting that, readily identifiable performance indicators lead to the conclusion that the test takers in summer 2014 were just as capable as the test takers in summer 2013. 

If this is the case, why did this decline occur?  Was it the exam-soft fiasco?  Could it be the NCBE’s new question format?  Is this a result of an error in the scaling process?  Or, could it possibly be due to the retirement of long time NCBE Director of Testing Dr. Susan Case? Ultimately, is the decline a consequence of form difficulty differences and not group differences?  Without knowing the specifics of the anchor test, the equating calculations, and specific differences within the tested groups, it is virtually impossible to have a definitive answer.  That said, we should keep asking these questions.  Individuals who fail the bar exam need us to keep asking these questions.

(Lisa Bove Young)

November 13, 2014 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Association of Academic Support Educators: Third Annual Conference

AASE Conference: May 26-28, 2015

The John Marshall Law School, Chicago Illinois

Call for Proposals

The 2015 Conference of the Association of Academic Support Educators will bring together colleagues interested in legal education and academic support. In this collegial and collaborative environment, colleagues will have a chance to meet, reconnect, and share ideas about pedagogy, scholarship, and professional growth.

The program committee welcomes proposals on any subject relating to legal education and academic support. Please read and conform to the Proposal Requirements (below).

Please craft your proposal carefully. The program committee will look for proposals that describe the presentation and its goals in detail. Our assumption is that a clear and detailed proposal today will lead to a stronger presentation.

Presentation topics

The committee seeks a mix of presentations, including but not limited to, presentations that address teaching ideas for new and veteran teachers, scholarship, research, professional growth, assessment, and hot topics in legal education. These may include sessions related to: creativity in law teaching and learning; teaching methods; analytical and academic competencies necessary for success in law school, on the bar, and in practice; counseling; educational psychology; assisting students with learning disabilities; the role and status of Academic Support Professionals in the legal academy; and intersections between academic support, legal writing and doctrinal teaching.

Presentation format

Presentations may be in any form the presenter finds effective. Although the committee does seek to accommodate all presenters with their selection for presentation format and timing, the committee may occasionally ask presenters to change the format or timing of a presentation to fit the needs of a comprehensive and diverse program.

Please indicate your target audience in your proposal.  For example: newbies, bar prep, large schools, etc. 

The following is a description of the different types of presentations:

Interactive Workshops

An interactive workshop is a presentation with audience participation throughout. A proposal for an interactive workshop should discuss what you plan to do to make the presentation interactive.

Examples include: pair and share, break-out group discussions, use of demonstrative aids that involve the audience, or other audience participation. Note that providing handouts, although very beneficial for attendees, does not on its own make the presentation interactive.

If you submit a proposal with more than one presenter for your session, your proposal should include the name, e-mail address, and school for each presenter. In determining how many presenters to include in your proposal, please make sure that each person will have sufficient time to fully discuss his or her topic. Because most presentations will last only 45 minutes, we recommend no more than 2 to 3 presenters.

Lesson in a Box

A lesson in a box presentation is a session devoted to the presentation of a lesson on a single topic. Such sessions should include all of the information and materials necessary for attendees to leave the session prepared to deliver the lesson on their own.

Moderated Group Discussion

Moderated Group Discussions are more informal presentations that feature group conversation and interaction. The committee encourages presentations that will foster dialogue among conference attendees. These sessions are particularly well suited for hot topics.

Brochure Summary

Please provide a short summary of your presentation for the conference brochure.  The summary should not exceed 250 words and should accurately reflect the subject of the presentation.

Technology

As part of your proposal we ask that you explain whether your presentation requires projection, internet access, audio, or other technology and the degree to which each is necessary to your presentation. We ask that proposals identify any technology needs at this early point so that we can be prepared well in advance of the conference to provide accessibility.

Time slots

The committee expects that nearly all presentations will be assigned a 30 min, 45 min, or 1 hour time slot. However, we recognize that a few presentations are better served with more time. If you are interested in a 75-minute time slot, your proposal should clearly explain why 75 minutes is necessary.

Submission Deadline

Proposals must be submitted to no later than January 12, 2015.

Multiple proposals and the “one-presentation rule”

You may submit a maximum of two proposals, and you need not rank your proposals in order of preference. If you are selected for more than one presentation or panel, you will be given the opportunity to select the one presentation or panel in which you would like to participate, as each person is limited to one presentation or panel.

No marketing

Although the committee welcomes proposals on any topic of interest to academic support faculty, a proposal will not be accepted if it appears to be a means to market a textbook or other for-pay product.

Questions

If you have any questions, please contact the Program Committee at:

aaseconference@gmail.com

 

(Myra Orlen)

 

 

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

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Being an Introvert in Law School

Law school attracts extroverts and in many ways is designed for them.  An astute law student must highlight their successes, be vocal participants in a Socratic classroom, and zealously advocate in order to thrive in the competitive law school environment.  However, being an introvert does not mean that an individual cannot excel in law school or contribute meaningfully to the practice of law. 

There is a great TED talk by Susan Cain, a lawyer turned writer, who explores introversion and the value of quiet.   In this TED talk, she implores everyone to “stop the constant group work”, “unplug and get inside your own head”, and share your gifts with others.  Part of her manifesto includes a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  How beautiful would it be for law school classrooms to honor the quiet introvert as much as the outspoken extrovert?  Is it possible to encourage “gentle shaking” in a law school doctrinal classroom?  Here are a few suggestions that will help introverts feel more comfortable speaking up and contributing in a sometimes intimidating law school classroom.

  • Rethink participation during class and provide alternative means to have students engage with the material or with each other.
  • See each student as an individual who expresses their ideas and knowledge in multiple and various ways.
  • Have students sign up to be the expert for a particular class period or for a particular set of cases.
  • Use think- pair-share prior to full classroom discussions about a topic, case, or set of problems.
  • Distribute or post discussion questions with the reading assignment prior to class.
  • Allow students to pass in class (within reason).
  • Teach students how to brief cases and prepare for class discussions.  This type of transparency will create more engaged students and lead to a more a dynamic discussion.
  • Do not call on students too quickly.  Let the question stew with the class and allow introverts more time to reflect and process. 
  • Consider a flipped classroom so that students feel more prepared to discuss and/or participate during class time. 
  • Use technology in the classroom.  Technology is ubiquitous, and can be integrated it into the classroom to provide added layers of participation and engagement- especially for diverse learners.
  • Create learning groups, which will help make a large law school classroom more accessible to introverts.
  • Reflect on your own learning style and personality.  How do they affect your teaching style and how is your delivery received by extroverts and introverts?  How can alter your style to be more inclusive?

 

(Lisa Bove Young)

 

November 8, 2014 in Advice, Learning Styles, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 7, 2014

New App for Future Interests

If you are working on future interests with any of your students, one of the professors here at South Carolina has made a new mobile app for learning future interests called Future Interests Made Simple.  It includes pictures, diagrams, graphics, examples, and lots of practice problems with explanations.  It's available for iPhones, iPads, and Android phones for $2.99.  I've taken it on several test drives, and I think it works pretty well.  The links for it are below:   

iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id933368390

Google Play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appnotch.sec.hln7690

(Alex Ruskell)

November 7, 2014 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Address the Stress with Mindfulness

Lawyers have a higher rate of depression, anxiety, substance-abuse, and suicide than the rest of the population. The practice of law can be stressful but aren’t most jobs?  Why are lawyers having so much trouble dealing with stress? Stress is a mental (and sometimes physical) reaction to a perceived threat or change. In law school, stress manifests early in the 1L year: our past perfection drives our desire to do well and it joins forces with the realization that everyone else is striving for the same level of success. It then crashes into the curved grade system which means that no matter how hard you work, your grade ultimately depends on how well others do. Regardless of the grade, the uncertainty and lack of control lingers throughout your law school career. Then you enter the practice of law and these feelings collide with the emotional intensity of dealing with clients’ problems day after day and working with other lawyers who are often adversarial. It’s a recipe for anxiety, depression, and substance-abuse.

The reality is, life itself is a constant flow of change so we will always have stress. However, stress is not so much the event itself but our perception and reaction to that event. There will always be deadlines and performance expectations. We can’t change that but we can change the way we perceive stress.

Oftentimes, we react to negative situations without thinking. Instead of intentionally focusing on the present moment, we immediately judge it as good/bad, right/wrong, fair/unfair. This habit is not necessarily a positive one because it is reacting without thinking.  It leads to stress, anxiety, depression. Instead, we need to develop a new habit: mindfulness. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for addressing emotional challenges because it helps develop meta-cognition, focuses attention, and strengthens the ability to make deliberate choices. Mindfulness addresses the stress. It allows us to be in control of our own mind instead of our mind controlling us. In practicing mindfulness we learn to become aware of our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior so we can interrupt stress cycles before they take over.

Janice Marturano, author of Finding the Space to Lead, and Executive Director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership recommends something called the Purposeful Pause. The Purposeful Pause is more than just stopping. It is about redirecting and focusing attention so you can make conscious choices. Try incorporating one of these Purposeful Pauses into your day:

  • Choose to start your day rather than letting the day start you. Start the day by just breathing and before getting out of bed, take a few seconds to notice the sensations of your breathing.
  • Use transitions wisely. Pick a day to drive to (or from) work/school without the radio or phone. When you arrive, allow yourself a few moments  to sit in the car, noticing the breath.
  • Just walk between meetings/classes. No emails, texts, or social media. Think about each step you take and the possibility of greeting colleagues you pass rather  than bumping into them while you text!

Mindfulness is an opportunity to create new, healthy habits. Let’s make the intentional choice to be mindful and let’s change those statistics.

KSK

November 5, 2014 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Reminder ASP Conference in Boston, MA on December 8th

Hybrid Learning & Flipped Classroom Principles in Academic Support
New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) Annual Conference
December 8, 2014   Suffolk University Law School
 
Morning session:             Registration & Welcome (10:00 – 10:35)
 
Speaker and workshop:
Sara Smith, Instructional Designer
 
Working lunch:                  12:00 – 1:15
Afternoon Session:        Presentations of Scholarly Works in Progress
                                          Dyane O’Leary, Suffolk University School of Law
Flipped Out & Blended In: Calling Attention to Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the Virtual Classroom.
 
Krisitin Pawlowski, Florida Coastal School of Law
HigherEd.com – a Recognition of Digital Media’s Influence on the Millennial Generation and the Need for Tech-Savvy Teaching Models to be Employed in Higher Ed Institutions.
 
Tshaka Randall, Florida A&M University College of Law
Using an Online Learning Management System to Provide Feedback Opportunities Through Peer-and-Self-Assessment.
 
NECASP Business Meeting:           Open to all attendees (2:45 – 3:15)

 

Registration fee:
$25.00 (by check payable to the New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals)
 
Registration Deadline:   November 17, 2014
 
Register by replying to Kandace J. Kukas, Assistant Dean & Director of Bar Admission Programs
Western New England University School of Law, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield, MA 01119

When registering for this conference, please include your name, title, school, address, and email address.
 
(Myra Orlen)

November 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Many Hats of ASP

Due to the nature of our work and the lightning fast pace of the academic year, we are so busy that we often forget the many things that we do and various roles that we play.  When asked about our jobs, it is easy to answer with a title, “I am the Director of the Bar Studies Program,” or “I am an Academic Support Professor.”  Or, to answer with an important aspect of our work, “I help students prepare for the bar exam” or “I provide tools for academic success to 1Ls.”  But, these statements do not nearly cover the many hats that we wear at our law schools. 

Instead, listing the qualities that are fundamental to our work is more apropos.  We educate, we advocate, we counsel, and we empathize.  Interestingly, these attributes are strikingly similar to those of a good lawyer.  We, like lawyers, balance our time listening, thinking and analyzing, instructing, and communicating with and for our clients or students.  In a series of blog posts, I will explore the various responsibilities, tasks, and missions we have as ASP Professionals with the hope that others will better understand the work that we do and the essential needs that we fill.  

  Mortar board

Educator  

Some of us see our main goal in ASP to be that of an educator.  Simply put, we love teaching.  And, as educators, we are constantly honing our craft.  We research new teaching methodologies and strategies.  We implement new techniques in the classroom and monitor student progress and their learning needs.  We reflect on our own work and the impact it has on our students.  We seek out curricular changes that will benefit the student body as a whole.  We provide formative assessments so students can become self-regulated learners and remedy their weak areas.  And, above all, we tirelessly work to help students achieve academic and bar success.

We educate our students in many ways with the work that we do.  In ASP, we teach 1Ls the basics of reading and briefing cases, outlining and exam preparation, and school/life balance.  We help 2Ls fine tune their legal writing, strengthen their legal analysis skills, and help them establish their professional persona.  And, we usher 3Ls into the world of law practice by teaching them the fundamentals necessary to pass the bar examination.  

Webster defines an educator as: “one skilled in teaching” and “a student of the theory and practice of education.”  Academic Support Professionals are truly skilled in teaching and are the epitome of life-long learners.  It is in our roles as educators that we engage students and help them utilize their strengths and improve their weaknesses.   We constantly learn from these interactions with students and from our application of learning theory in our work. In ASP, we wear our "educator hat" most often, but we are also always perpetually being schooled by our students.

 (LBY)

October 30, 2014 in Miscellany, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prof Looking to Assemble Panel for SEALS conference

Professor Russell L. Weaver at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law is hoping to put together a panel of Academic Success folks to attend the SEALS conference and address the topic of disabilities and support in law school.  If you are interested, please contact him at russ.weaver@louisville.edu.

 

October 29, 2014 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Learning by Doing

First year law students may be experiencing law school mid-term exams at this time of the semester.  These exams bring with them stress – on the one hand – and opportunities for growth and learning – on the other hand.

Prepare for mid-term exams by completing, perfecting, and condensing outlines.  Do practice questions to gain experience dealing with law school essays and with multiple-choice questions.  Find questions by looking at what your law school may have on file, by asking your professors,  or by looking at study aids that contain questions and corresponding answers.  Write practice essays under conditions that mimic those of the actual mid-terms.  Meet with study groups to discuss the answers; meet with professors to review your answers.  Last – but not least – go back to your outlines to be certain that they contained the concepts needed to answer the practice questions.

After the mid-term, review the feedback given by the professor.  If the professor distributes a model answer, outline the model answer – as you compare your answer to the model answer.    Additionally, do an IRAC check of your essay to see whether you included the necessary components of a law school essay.  Once you have an understanding of what went right and what went wrong, try to rewrite the essay – as a learning-by-practice experience.  Meet with your professor to review your work and to make the most out of the learning opportunities that mid-term exams present.

(Myra Orlen)

October 27, 2014 in Advice, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2014

The MPRE: Trick or Treat?

The Multistate Professional Responsiblity Exam is being administered next week on November 1st- yes, the day after Halloween.  In a previous post, I outlined the basics of the MPRE and reminders for test day.  If you are preparing for the test next week, you should check it out.

For some students, the MPRE is a treat.  It is straightforward, testing only one subject; it is timed, but not too intense; and it is only sixy questions.  For others the MPRE is a trick.  It is filled with tricky questions involving ethical obligations and moral judgments.   In either case, here are a few MPRE study strategies and tips to consider:

  • Know your learning style.  For example, if you are an auditory learner, you should listen to the MPRE lecturers from one or a few bar review companies.  As mentioned, these are free and will help you learn the material by hearing clear explanations of the rules and the application of the rules to hypotheticals.
  • Do not merely take full practice tests.  You need to have a solid understanding of the rules in order to perform well on the MPRE.  Therefore, you must study!   Is it proper to enter into a business transaction with a client? Can you split a fee with an attorney from a different firm?  Do attorneys have a duty of confidentiality to prospective clients?  Know these answers before you walk into your test.
  • Remember that more than one answer choice could be “correct.”  However, you need to choose the “best” answer.  Determining the central issue is the best way to do this. 
  • Determine the central issue and make sure you are answering the question being asked.  Sometimes you can easily determine the central issue from the call line (the interrogatory at the end of the fact pattern), while other times you need to search the facts to find it.  Whichever the case, determine the central issue before selecting your answer.  Before bubbling in your answer choice, make sure you assess whether you have answered the question based on the central issue.
  • Do not merely select an answer based on the “Yes” or “No” in the answer choices.  Read the entire answer choice and pay close attention to words such as: “if,” “unless,” and “only,” which qualify each of the answer choices.
  • Read the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (with a highlighter or pen).  By actively reading the rules, you will get to know the rules that you clearly know and the rules that you need to study further.  You need to know more than what was covered in your PR class, and even your MPRE lecture.  Read and learn the Model Rules.
  • Review the scope of coverage and study accordingly.  The NCBE produces an outline, which delineates the coverage on the MPRE.  Focus on the areas with higher coverage: Conflicts, lawyer-client relationships, and litigation/advocacy.
  • Don’t forget about the Model Code of Judicial Conduct.  There could be 2-5 questions in this area, which many of you are not familiar. 
  • Review MPRE practice questions in small chunks.  Complete 5 at a time and then review the ones you got wrong AND the ones you got right.  Take notes regarding what you missed and areas of confusion.  Review these notes before moving on to the next 5 questions.
  • Take at least 2 full practice tests after you have spent a considerable amount of time studying the rules.
  • Get a good night’s rest before exam day- NO LATE NIGHT HALLOWEEN PARTIES!
  • Take a few “easy” questions in the morning (before you leave your house) to warm up.
  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast and repeat positive affirmations.

While it is unrealistic for me to say that this exam will be a treat, I do hope it is not too tricky!

Lisa Bove Young

October 24, 2014 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Conference: Hybrid Learning & Flipped Classroom Principles in Academic Support

Hybrid Learning & Flipped Classroom Principles in Academic Support

New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) Annual Conference

December 8, 2014   at Suffolk University Law School

 10:00 - 2:45

Morning Workshop: Sara Smith, Instructional Designer

Working Lunch

Afternoon - Presentation of Scholarly Works in Progress:

Dyane O'Leary, Suffolk University School of Law: Flipped out & Blended in: Calling Attention to Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Kristin Pawlawski, Florida Coastal School of Law: HigherEd.com -- A Recognition of Digital Media's Influence on the Millenial Generation and the Need for Tech-Savvy Teaching Models to he employed in Higher Ed Institutions.

Tshaka Randall, Florida A&M University college of Law: Using an Online Learning Management System to Provide Feedback Opportunities Through Peer-and-Self-Assessment.

NECASP Business Meeting to be held from 2:45 - 3:15 (Open to all Attendees)

Registration Deadline: November 17, 2014:

Registration fee of $25.00 - To register send fee (check payable to the New England Consortiumof Academic Support Professionals) to Kandace J. Kukas, Assistant Dean & Director of Bar Passage, Western New England University School of Law, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield, MA 01119.

Include your name, title, school, address, and email. 

  (Myra Orlen)

October 20, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Law School Action Comics #7

Lsac7

(Alex Ruskell)

October 19, 2014 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Welcome Mary Ann Becker to the ASP Community

Becker

Please welcome Mary Ann Becker!  Mary Ann is the Associate Director of Writing Programs and Academic Support at Loyola Unviersity Chicago School of Law.  Thank you to Jennifer Brendel, the Director, for providing more information on Mary Ann:

Before joining Loyola’s faculty as the Associate Director of Writing Programs and Academic Support, Mary Ann Becker taught legal research and writing to first, second, and third year students at DePaul University College of Law for seven years.  She had also acted as the interim assistant director of the legal writing program at DePaul and was a member of Board of Editors for The Second Draft.  Before teaching, she worked as a litigation attorney in Chicago.  She graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in French language and literature and she earned her J.D. from DePaul University.  Though new to academic support, she will be presenting an article she wrote at Duquesne’s December 6 conference, Teaching the Academically Underprepared Law Student, and she looks forward to meeting many of you soon!

Mary Ann's faculty profile can be found here: Mary Ann Becker.  Please welcome her when you see her at a conference or workshop.

October 17, 2014 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ASP Book Review: PASS THE BAR EXAM

There are several new books on the market for Academic Support Professionals and for law students.  In a series of posts, I will review a few of those books and some of the tried and true ones that I often turn to when I am in need of some words of wisdom or professional guidance.

First, I am reviewing a book published last year by the American Bar Association, PASS THE BAR EXAM written by Professor Sara J. Berman.  This book provides a step by step guide for individuals embarking on their journey to pass the bar examination.  Not only does this book provide crucial details about the bar exam, it guides readers to understand who they are learners and thinkers.  It offers interactive questions, quizzes, and exercises to increase thoughtful reflection and a deeper awareness of the motivational factors required for successful bar passage.  One highlight for Professors and Academic Support Educators is that the Teacher’s Edition provides many useful tools that can be integrated into Bar Support Classes and Programs.

Professor Berman’s two decades of experience is illuminated in this text and the teacher’s manual.  This resource can help make studying for the bar exam more manageable and less stressful.   If you are thinking about starting a Bar Support Program at your law school, if you are a student seeking a framework for bar strategy and success, or a Professor who wants to integrate more bar support into your curriculum, this book is a great place to begin.

 (LBY)

 

October 16, 2014 in Bar Exam Preparation, Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Test-Taking Strategies: Mid-terms and Beyond

Mid October means time for mid-terms. In addition to preparing for the substance, you should also prepare for the exam experience. Here are a few tips for getting and staying focused during an exam.

  • Before the      exam begins: Sit calmly and do not think about anything or anyone      else. Listen carefully to instructions. Do not worry about any other part      of the exam. Focus solely on what is right in front of you. Take      it one step at a time.
  • When the exam      begins: Look at the first question and take a second to      remind yourself that you can do this. Start smoothly, work efficiently,      and remain focused and calm.
  • If you get      stuck: Take a breath and take it one step at a time. (1) Identify      the issue. This will help you regain your composure and lead you back to      the process of thinking like a lawyer. (2) Look at the facts,      starting with the nouns: identify parties and legal relationships. Then      look at the verbs: what are the parties doing? Identify acts or omissions.      Next, look at the adjectives and adverbs, dates and sequence of events. Your      professor included them for a reason. Identify the connection to the nouns      and verbs. (3) Develop a rule using legal terms like reasonable,      intentional, foreseeable, exceeds the scope, etc. (4) Stay calm and      continue to work through the question.
  • After the exam      is over:Put it      behind you. You did the best you could and (over)thinking about perceived      mistakes or perfection only leads to a false sense of performance. Don’t      discuss it with your classmates. This is the cardinal rule of exams. Invariably      someone will bring up an issue that you didn’t see (or vice versa) and you      won’t be able to stop thinking about it and will convince yourself that      you bombed the test. If someone asks you how you did, just respond with, “I      did the best I could.”

Go into the mid-term ready to handle the substance, manage your time, and keep your cool. If you can do this, you will surely succeed. (KSK)

October 15, 2014 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking Control over Exam Study

We have just passed the halfway point in our semester.  Up until now, most students have been focused on daily survival and have not thought much about their exams.  Now is the time for them to allot time for exam study as well as for daily class preparation.

Why become a two-task law student?  Most semesters are 14-15 weeks long.  To try to learn that amount of material closer to the end of the semester is a daunting task.  By spreading exam study over a longer period, students gain several advantages:

  1. Deeper understanding of the material - how it works rather than just rote memory
  2. Greater retention - multiple reviews create long-term memory
  3. More practice question time - monitoring what one really knows and can apply
  4. More exam-taking experience - practice questions allow exam strategies to become auto-pilot rather than uncomfortable

There are several things that law students can do to take control over their exam study.  First, they can compile their current knowledge about each course exam.  That knowledge may come from the syllabus, the professor's comments in class, or other sources. 

Categories of information might include: question formats, open- or closed-book, length of the exam, any topics excluded from the exam, a practice database provided by the professor, or suggested supplements.  After indicating what they already know, they can determine what additional information they want to find out over the remainder of the semester.

Here is an example format that could be used for each course:

WHAT I KNOW ABOUT MY EXAMS

WHAT I NEED TO FIND OUT

Course #1: Torts

At least 3 long fact-pattern essay questions

At least 25 multiple-choice questions

Partially open book

Prof recommends CALI lessons

Practice essay questions on prof's course website

 

 Prof will tell us more about any material not on the exam two weeks beforehand

No information yet on what partially open book means

Second, students can compile the list of topics and subtopics that require study for the exam.  For courses in which they have the entire semester's syllabus, the list can be completed through the end of the semester.  For courses in which they get the syllabus in chunks, the list can be completed through the current chunk and expanded in future weeks.

By completing this step, students are less likely to underestimate the amount of information that will be on the exam.  By breaking the topics into subtopics, students can focus on learning small chunks when they have time instead of waiting to find huge blocks of time (as in "It will take me all weekend to learn negligence.")

Here is an example format that could be used for each course:

Course: ____Torts________ TOPICS AND SUBTOPICS ON EXAM

TOPIC

SUBTOPICS

 

INTENTIONAL TORTS

 

  • Intent
  • Intentional Tort of Battery
  • Intentional Tort of Assault
  • Intentional Tort of False Imprisonment
  • Intentional Tort of Trespass to Land
  • Intentional Tort of Trespass to Chattels
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • Defenses

By looking carefully at their weekly schedules, they can often carve out pockets of time for exam review that they thought did not exist. 

  • Is their reading and briefing taking less time now for a particular course because they are more efficient?
  • Are they sleeping in on the weekends when they could capture 1 or 2 hours of exam review time?
  • Do they waste blocks of time on digital distractions such as email, Twitter, FaceBook, etc.?
  • Can they spend 1 hour instead of 2 hours at the gym? 
  • Could they study until 7 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night rather than knocking off at 3 p.m.?

By making a schedule of those captured times, students are more likely to follow through on their exam review:

DAY OF THE WEEK EXAM REVIEW TIME AVAILABLE

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

 

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 

Sunday

8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

8:30 - 10:00 p.m.

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

3:00 - 6:00 p.m.

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

3:00 - 7:00 p.m.

None

 

 

Students gain more control when they garner information about their exams, list exactly what to study, and capture wasted time from their schedules for exam review.  As they begin to see progress - even in small steps on their topic/subtopic list - they can gain confidence.  As they highlight their progress on exam subtopics and keep to their time commitments for review, they will feel more positive about the upcoming end of classes and exam period. (Amy Jarmon)

 Taking Control: 1. Information
 2. Content 3. Time

October 10, 2014 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Start spreading the news: The UBE in NY

New York is considering the adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination.  That is one sentence I did not imagine that I would be writing in 2014.  But, it is true.  NY may be the 15th state to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam.  The New York State Board of Law Examiners (SBLE) has recommended to the New York Court of Appeals that the current bar examination be replaced with the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) beginning with the July 2015 administration.  This news made me wonder, “What are the benefits of the UBE and why would a state like New York want to adopt it?”

The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) to test the knowledge and skills that every lawyer should be able to demonstrate prior to becoming licensed to practice law. It is comprised of six Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) essays, two Multistate Performance Test (MPT) tasks, and the Multistate Bar Examination(MBE). It is uniformly administered, graded, and scored by user jurisdictions and results in a portable score that can be used by applicants who seek admission in jurisdictions that accept UBE scores. 

When a law school graduate takes the UBE, they can use their UBE score to apply to other UBE jurisdictions for bar licensure.  The following jurisdictions have adopted the UBE: Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Colorado; Idaho; Minnesota; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire; North Dakota; Utah; Washington; and Wyoming.  With New York possibly on board and other states considering it, the UBE is beginning to look more like a national exam. 

Since many law students do not yet know where they would like to practice law, the portability of an applicant’s UBE score allows for more flexibility and mobility.  Law graduates can take the UBE in any UBE jurisdiction and use their score to apply to as many UBE State Bar Associations as they would like.  Instead of sitting for another bar exam, UBE licensed graduates can bypass a second test and apply directly for additional bar licenses with their UBE score.

However, other state specific requirements may also be required.  For example, New York has proposed adding an additional New York specific one hour, 50 question, multiple choice test that would be given on the second day of the UBE.  In order to practice in NY, an applicant would need to pass the UBE, with a score of 266, and score at least 60% on the state specific exam. 

Avoiding a second bar exam is wise since bar exams are costly, excruciatingly difficult, and very time consuming.  Taking the bar exam once is enough!  The Uniform Bar Examination has many benefits- from portable scores, to multijurisdictional practice, to greater employment options.  Having the UBE take a bite out of The Big Apple is a huge move in the right direction for this generation of law graduates.   

If you would like to learn more about the Uniform Bar Examination, please visit The National Conference of Bar Examiners web-page at http://www.ncbex.org/about-ncbe-exams/ube/.  If you would like to comment on New York’s proposal to adopt the UBE, you can e-mail your comments to: UniformBarExam@nycourts.gov or write to: Diane Bosse, Chair, New York State Board of Law Examiners, Corporate Plaza, Building 3, 254 Washington Avenue Extension, Albany, NY 12203-5195. Submissions will be accepted until November 7, 2014.

 

(LBY)

 

October 9, 2014 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Director of Academic Achievement Position at Savannah Law School

Savannah Law School has an exciting and challenging opportunity for an outgoing, organized and energetic person to serve as Director of Academic Achievement.  The Director of Academic Achievement will facilitate the development of programs and workshops to assist students with their transition to law school, employ academic resource tools and exercises for skills assessment, and promote successful completion of the J. D. program. Teaching assignment includes all P.A.S.S (Professional and Academic Success Seminar) classes, the Advanced Analytical Methods course, and an Advanced Bar Skills course to prepare students to sit for the bar exam.  A key responsibility will be to maintain an interactive web-based informational site, including the academic TWEN site.  This position also assists the Vice Dean of the Campus with modifying existing academic program offerings to make them more accessible for students.

The ideal candidate will have a J.D. from an accredited institution and at least 3 years of successful experience in law teaching with a focus on legal writing and analysis.  Preference will be given to candidates with law school academic support and bar preparation experience. 

SLS is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in any of its programs or activities on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, marital status, age, disability, color, or religious belief.  Salary will be competitive based on experience.  Interested candidates may submit their letter of interest, along with a current professional resume and the names of three references, to:

Savannah Law School

Attn: Rose Anne Nespica

          Vice Dean

          516 Drayton Street

          Savannah, Georgia 31401

                   or

rnespica@savannahlawschool.org

 

October 8, 2014 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Assistant Director for Academic Achievement Position at Cal Western

Assistant Director for Academic Achievement

California Western School of Law

 

Summary Description:

Under the general direction of the Assistant Dean for Academic Achievement, the Assistant Director of Academic Achievement provides academic support to law students, particularly those at academic risk.  The Assistant Director is primarily responsible for supervising the tutoring program, presenting skills workshops, and working with first-year students who are facing academic difficulty.  The Assistant Director teaches the Academic Achievement Workshop for second-year students and assists alumni who are studying for the California bar exam.

Qualifications:

Juris Doctor Degree from an ABA-accredited law school; successful passage of California Bar exam; at least one year of law teaching experience in an academic support or bar preparation program.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

Individual must be a self-starter, able to prioritize and complete multiple tasks of varying complexity and urgency in a timely and efficient manner.  The individual must have a firm commitment to provide exemplary services in a demanding and challenging environment.  The individual must demonstrate poise, tactfulness, diplomacy and professionalism when dealing with staff, faculty, students and outside constituents. Must demonstrate a passion for working with students and have a track record of developing robust relationships with students. Experience in course planning, classroom presentations, and one-on-one tutoring is a plus.  Experience in learning theories and effective pedagogy, including formative and summative assessment a plus. Knowledge of California Civil Procedure a plus.  Must have ability to speak effectively to groups.

Must be able to maintain confidentiality.  Must understand confidentiality of student information in accordance with FERPA regulations as well as school policies, and other State and Federal laws.  Must be creative and flexible in order to effectively manage student needs on an individual and group basis.  Demonstrated ability and interest in working with a highly diverse student population are required.

Application Deadline:

October 24, 2014, or until filled

Start Date:

Ideally December 2014 to facilitate transition into the spring trimester

Send materials to:

E-mail: HR@cwsl.edu // ATTN: Rikki S. Ueda, Esq., Vice President of Human Resources

 

October 7, 2014 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Reading in Print Helps with Comprehension

Recent studies show that reading is good for us and that reading in print is, well, even better.

To quote a recent, ahem – online publication – “reading in print helps with comprehension.”

 

So, what do these studies mean for law students? Law students might consider the following:

  1. In your Legal Research and Writing class, print out the sources, e.g., the cases and statutes, that are relevant to your assignments and that you will use to write those memos.
  2. Print out your notes and outlines – if you have typed them.  Put these materials in binders and read them from the printed page – not on the screen.
  3. Reconsider using textbooks in e-book format and favor print books.
  4. Build in time to read for relaxation – a print book, short story, or magazine –  of course.

(Myra Orlen)

October 6, 2014 in Advice, Exams - Studying, Reading, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)