Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Feed Your Body to Feed Your Brain

Winter has arrived. Just as the temperatures are dropping and daylight hours are getting shorter, students are gearing up for longer study days and less sleep. During exam period, students tend to over-consume caffeine and junk food and cut back on sleep and exercise. This combination often leads to fatigue and illness. Getting sick is the last thing you want to happen during exams. Exam period is when you need to be at your best so don’t underestimate the importance of healthy habits. Keep your body strong in order to keep your brain strong. Study for those exams but also eat a vegetable, go for a brisk walk, and get some sleep.


December 3, 2014 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wit and Wisdom from Conan the Barbarian

Along with the opening of Disney's EPCOT center and the death of Leonid Brezhnev, 1982 is best remembered for the release of Conan the Barbarian, the "Citizen Kane" of barbarian movies.

As anyone with a love of barbarians can tell you, the best line in the movie is when Conan (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who surprisingly lost the Academy Award for Best Actor to Henry Fonda) tells the Mongol general what Conan thinks is best in life:

Conan -- What is Best?

For law students, the next couple of weeks of studying for exams are likely to be pretty dreadful and keeping motivated is difficult.

To keep motivated, I suggest to my students that they post a picture that represents why they are in law school on their bathroom mirror -- whatever it may be.  While it may be something noble like "helping others" or supporting their families, it might be something less attractive like having the coolest condo in Manhattan or, like Conan, "crushing their enemies."  The fantastic writer Elizabeth McCracken once told me that "Revenge is a perfectly good motivation for writing."  I quote that line all the time.

Importantly, whatever the reason is, that reason is personal, locked in the bathroom, and only has to have meaning to the person brushing his or her teeth every day in that mirror.  It doesn't have to be edited, thought about, or worried over.

At this point in my life, the picture on the mirror would be my children.  When I was 22 and a first year law student, it probably would have been trees and wolves.

Or a really bitchin' guitar.

(Alex Ruskell)

December 2, 2014 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Study for Exams Like a Pro

Across the country law students are studying for semester exams. This is not the first blog post about staying healthy, managing time, and staying organized and motivated during exam prep. There is a reason for that. Law students tend to get distracted by what you are doing for exams that you forget to understand why you are studying for exams. It’s because you want to be a lawyer. Well, I’m a lawyer, too. Yes, I went to law school a long time ago and but exam prep hasn’t changed much. Law students still consume way too much caffeine, don’t shower or shave often enough, and stay up until the wee hours of the morning and then crash until noon. I don’t recommend doing any of these things. Law school is the bridge to the profession of law so treat it as such and start studying like a professional. Get up at 7-7:30, shower, eat breakfast, and be ready to study by 8-8:30. Put in 4 good hours in the morning (with a short break) and then take an hour for lunch. Not only do you need to feed your body but you need to give your brain a break and a chance to re-charge. After lunch, it’s time for another 4 focused hours of studying. It’s now 5-5:30 but you aren’t starving because you ate a decent breakfast and lunch. You take a 30-minute break (have a snack, get some fresh air), and are good for another 2 hours. Now it is 7-7:30 and you are hungry and tired. You’ve put in 10+ hours and it’s time to call it a day. You prepare and eat dinner and catch up on email and social media. Before going to bed, you review all you’ve accomplished and make a plan for the next day so when you get to your study spot you are ready to go and don’t have to waste time figuring out what to do. If this sounds too easy to be true, it’s not. It just requires you to stop thinking like an undergrad and start thinking like a lawyer. 


December 1, 2014 in Advice, Exams - Studying, Professionalism, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Out of Office"

It is a rarity that Academic Support Professionals get to take a long weekend without working. We answer emails and calls day and night, grade on the weekends, and prepare workshop and class materials around the clock.  While the nature of this job requires an abundance of feedback and prompt communication with students, we too need a break at times.  This Thanksgiving (day or weekend) consider putting on your out of office email notification. I typically only use an out of office email response when I will be away from wi-fi zones (aka camping at Mt. Rainier) or on vacation for an extended time. However, at this point in the semester, we encourage our students to take a break and spend time making memories with their families and friends. Thus, it is a great idea to take our own advice. I encourage you to unplug, unwind, and enjoy a relaxing holiday. The emails, papers to grade, and to-do lists will wait patiently until Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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

Monday, November 24, 2014

So One L's you have finished your last Legal Research and Writing Assignment for the term, now what . . .

Now that most first year law students have finished their final LRW assignment for the term, it is not time to relax.  While 1L's can cross one big item off their "to do lists," it is very important for 1L's to remain focused on the push toward final and mid-term exams.  Do not rehash that final writing assignment; instead, move on to exam preparation.

1. Continue to update, review, and condense those course outlines.

2. Stay up-to-date on all remaining assignments for your doctrinal courses.

3. Be sure that you know the dates and room locations for all of your end of term exams.

4. Prepare and stick to your study schedule. Be specific for every block of time as to how you will allocate your time.

5. Your study schedule must continue throughout the Thanksgiving Break.  Now is not the time to let up.

6. Be certain to include doing practice exams in your study regimine: do both essay and multiple choice questions, when appropriate.

7. Meet with classmates to review exam answers -- after writing the answers yourself.

8. Take time to enjoy Thanksgiving and breathe.

(Myra Orlen)

November 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Correct Email Address for Nominations for AALS Academic Support Section

The correct email address for nominations for Treasurer and Board Members for the AALS Section on Academic Support is to Louis Schulze at  If you sent a nomination to the incorrect address, please re-send it.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

November 24, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Expert Exam Advice

For most people, the end of November means Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping season. It means family, food, and football. For law students, it means the start of exams. It is a time for writing papers, creating outlines, and studying. A lot of studying. For 1Ls especially, it can be stressful and quite overwhelming. This is the first set of exams they will take and success is not guaranteed.

I recently had breakfast with a group of 2Ls and as the conversation turned to exams, I asked them to share some advice: what do 1Ls need to know about law school exams? Here are their wise words:

  • Make your own outline and start with 20 minute blocks to overcome beginner’s inertia.
  • Focus on what is important, including the non-school aspects. Don’t let finals take over your life.
  • Don’t mistake organizing for studying. You make the perfect outline and not know a thing on it.
  • Know the terms of art and use them when answering questions.
  • Many people study in different ways. Trust your methods. Don’t feel like you have to be white knuckle the whole finals period.
  • Studying is key, but you need to know when to stop. If your outline is done (and it should be) stop the night before the final and do something else: anything else. Especially near the end of your finals, you need to give your brain a break.
  • Don’t neglect relationships.


November 24, 2014 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Correct Email Address for Nominations for AALS Academic Support Section

The correct email address to send nominations for the AALS Academic Support Section Treasurer and Board Members is to Louis Schulze at  If you sent a nomination to the incorrect address, please re-send it.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

November 22, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome Phil Kaplan to ASP

Kaplan picture

Please welcome Phil Kaplan as Associate Professor of Academic Support at Suffolk University Law School where he assumed ASP duties in July 2014. 

Phil graduated from Suffolk University Law School and practiced law in Boston for nine years prior to returning to Suffolk to teach.  This past July he transferred to the Academic Support Program. For the past eighteen years he has taught in the law school’s Legal Practice Skills Department, including a semester as acting director in spring of 2007. Phil was also the 2009 recipient of the Thomas J. McMahon Award for Dedication to Students.

Phil has thoroughly enjoyed his new position. It allows him to take the skills and knowledge that he has taught for 18 years and focus them in a new direction. Academic Support also affords him a greater opportunity for one-to-one contact with students, which has always been one of his favorite parts of academia.

Please welcome Phil to academic support when you see him at a regional conference, the AALS Annual Meeting, or AASE!


November 22, 2014 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Call for Nominations for AALS Section on Academic Support Elections for Treasurer and two Board Members

Call for Nominations for AALS Section on Academic Support Treasurer and Two Board Members

Elections are scheduled for the AALS Section on Academic Support business meeting on Friday, January 2nd at 6:30 – 7:30 the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting.  The Nominations Committee will receive the nominations and will recommend a slate of candidates at the business meeting.  In addition, nominations will be taken from the floor at business meeting.

The Executive Committee of the Section consists of Officers and Board Members: Chair, Chair-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Immediate Past Chair, and four Board Members.  Officers hold one-year terms; Board Members hold two-year terms. 

The 2014 – 2015 Executive Committee is:

Chair: Amy Jarmon

Chair-Elect: Lisa Young

Immediate Past Chair: Louis Schulze

Secretary: Melinda Drew

Treasurer: Chelsea Baldwin

Board Member (term expires January 2015): Jamie Kleppetsch

Board Member (term expires January 2015): Goldie Pritchard

Board Member (term expires January 2016): Linda Puertas

Board Member (term expires January 2016): Alex Ruskell

For 2015 – 2016, a rotation of 2014 – 2015 Officers will occur as follows: the Chair will rotate into the Immediate Past Chair position; the Chair-Elect will rotate into the Chair position; the Secretary will rotate into the Chair-Elect position; the Treasurer will rotate into the Secretary position.  The two January 2016 Board Member positions continue.

Vacancies to be filled by election will occur in the Treasurer position and the two Board positions expiring in January 2015.  Nominations are being solicited for these vacancies.

  • Treasurer: one-year term as Treasurer; the Treasurer will serve as the Co-Chair or Chair of a committee (committee determined in discussion with the incoming Chair); this position would rotate in future years to the Secretary, Chair-Elect, and Chair positions under the current procedures.
  • Board Members: Two vacancies; two-year terms expiring in January 2017; Board Members serve on one of the Section committees (committee determined in discussion with the incoming Chair).

The nomination process:

  • Who may be nominated: Persons nominated must be faculty or professional staff of AALS-member law schools and also be members of the AALS Section on Academic Support.
  • Who may submit a nomination: You may nominate yourself or any other eligible candidate. 
  • Contents of the Nomination: The nomination must be in writing and include the following:
    • The nominee’s name
    • The nominee’s title, institutional affiliation, business address, and business telephone
    • A brief statement (less than 200 words) regarding the nominee’s role at his/her institution and connection with law school academic support.
    • If you nominate someone other than yourself, please indicate whether you have obtained the nominee’s permission.
    • Deadline for submission of nominations: Nominations must be received by Monday, December 15, 2014.
    • Where to send the nominations: Email submissions are preferred and should be sent to Louis Schulze at Florida International University (corrected email:; mailed submissions should be sent to Louis N. Schulze, Jr., Assistant Dean and Professor of Academic Support, Florida International University College of Law, Modesto Maidique Campus, RDB Hall 2047, Miami, FL 33199.


Dr. Amy L. Jarmon

Assistant Dean for Academic Success Programs and Lecturer

Texas Tech University School of Law

2014 – 2015 Chair AALS Section on Academic Support

November 21, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Do You Want to Get More Involved in AALS?

Calling All Volunteers for AALS Section on Academic Support Committees!!!!

 Get involved in your Section by participating on one of the committees.  The committees that need your help are:

  • Awards Committee: The Committee decides whether the Section will present a Section award at the next AALS Annual Meeting, solicits nominations, votes on the nominations, and recommends a recipient to the Executive Committee for submission to AALS for approval.
  • Bar Passage Committee: The Committee discusses aspects that affect law graduates’ success on the bar exam and considers hot topics that should be brought to the attention of the membership.
  • Learning Curve: Learning Curve is the Section publication for articles on academic support and related issues; one issue is electronic, and one issue is hard copy.
  • Nominations Committee: Solicits nominations for the open officer and board positions and presents a slate to the Executive Committee for election at the Business Meeting at the AALS Annual Meeting. 
  • Program Committee: Plans the main program for the Section at the AALS Annual Meeting.  The committee chooses a theme to complement the main conference theme, solicits proposals and papers for potential presenters, and plans the details of the program.
  • Website Committee: Oversees the Law School Academic Success Project website for the Section.  The website includes a directory and a variety of resources for ASP’ers and students including podcasts, conference information, job postings, and more.

To become involved on a committee, either sign up at the business meeting or program at the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. or send an email to Lisa Young, Chair-Elect at

November 21, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Turkey, Taters, and Torts...Early Prep for Finals

With Thanksgiving week coming up, law students everywhere are thinking about spending time with family and friends and taking a few days off to relax.  However, the long weekend is also a great time to begin thinking about final exam preparation.  Therefore, in between the pumpkin pie and leftover turkey sandwiches, law students, especially 1Ls, will benefit from creating a study strategy for upcoming finals.  Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Create a detailed study plan. Calendar the next month so that you are able to incorporate your study agenda with all of your other responsibilities. Don’t forget to calendar your down time including: exercise, veg-out time, and the sleep.
  • Think about what you covered thus far this semester in class. Did you spend more time on particular areas of law or on certain cases? If yes, make sure you have a solid understanding of those areas. In addition to reviewing your notes from class, go back and reread the important cases again and take detailed notes. 
  • Prepare to begin memorization. Depending on when your finals are scheduled, you may not be ready to begin the memorization process. However, this is a great time to prepare for memorization.  Create study aids (see below) and/or mnemonics as you begin reviewing the material.
  • Consider your learning style. Are you a visual learner? Then, try creating a flowchart or mind-map. Use a whiteboard and color-code your checklists. Are you a kinesthetic learner? Make flashcards or record yourself talking about the law or reciting the elements. Think outside the box, not everyone learns from “outlining.” Instead, I encourage you to create a “study aid” that is tailored to your needs as a learner.
  • Review the big picture. Having an understanding of the law or the overarching legal theories will help you as you begin your memorization and intensive studying.  A good way to effectuate this understanding is to create a one page schema or mind-map of the main ideas or concepts from the course. This will help you see the big picture without getting bogged down in the minutia and will help you see how connections can be made between the many parts. Chunking the material into sections will also help you make these connections and allow you to have a deeper understanding of the law.
  • Look over sample outlines and study guides. These can help you get started, but try not to rely solely on them for your exam study. Also, many of the bar review companies provide 1L study guide material, which may include traditional outlines, on-line lectures, and practice questions. These are great resources and are typically free!
  • Ask for your Professor or Academic Success Office for past sample exams. These exams are extremely valuable study tools. You can use them to identify the issues being tested, the rules to apply, and, more importantly, to understand your Professor's expectations.
  • Take practice tests. You can also simulate a final exam with past exams or hypos and practice questions found in various study aids. The more exam writing you practice, the more proficient you will become. This is the most effective way to study for final exams! It is not only what you know, but also being able to apply what you know in a timely and logical manner.
  • Lastly, Thanksgiving is about being thankful. If you are not happy, well-rested, self-confident, and balanced, the rest of your life (especially exam prep) will not be productive. Use this time to reflect on what you are thankful for, catch up on your sleep, and build up your spirit.

 I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(Lisa Bove Young)

November 20, 2014 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Director for the Academic Resource Center Position at Seattle University

Seattle University School of Law invites applications to serve as the Director for the Academic Resource Center (ARC), ideally beginning on June 1, 2015.  ARC is a nationally renowned academic support program, which is known for its commitment to providing access to the legal profession. The ARC program’s dual purpose is to support the diverse and non-traditional students admitted through SU’s Access Admission Program so they excel in law school and beyond, as well as to provide general academic support and bar preparation assistance to the entire student body. The ideal candidate will have expertise and experience in providing academic support for law students, as well as teaching excellence and administrative capability. 

The director reports to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and supervises three staff members (ARC Associate Director, ARC Assistant Director, and Director of Bar Studies) as well as a team of law student teaching assistants. The director will oversee and evaluate the instructional and programmatic activities of the ARC to implement a comprehensive series of student academic support services that facilitate student academic success and retention, and that support law faculty teaching. The director will teach the intensive summer course for Access Admission students, as well as other academic support-related courses and study strategy workshops. The director is expected to be a supportive link between faculty, teaching assistants, and students by handling questions and helping resolve academic-related problems. The director is also expected to help create and maintain an open and welcoming environment for students and provide advice and counsel to students on issues related to their academic success. In addition, the director works collaboratively with other law school student service departments to provide comprehensive student educational services, oversees ARC Access Admission Alumni events and programs, and actively represents the ARC and School of Law with the Washington State Bar Association, local specialty associations, and national organizations.

This position may be a tenure-track/tenured, long-term contract, or an administrative staff appointment, depending on experience and expertise.  Tenure-track Assistant, Associate or Full Professor appointees are responsible for teaching, maintaining an active research/scholarship agenda and providing service to the School and University.  Contract Assistant, Associate or Professor of Lawyering Skills faculty are responsible for teaching, professional development and community service to the School and University.   

Required:  J.D. from an ABA-accredited institution and license to practice;

Preferred: An advanced degree in a field related to education. 

Seattle University School of Law educates ethical lawyers who distinguish themselves through their outstanding professional skills and their dedication to law in the service of justice. Faculty, students and staff form a vibrant, diverse, and collaborative community that promotes leadership for a just and humane world. The Law School’s commitment to academic distinction is grounded in its Jesuit Catholic tradition, one that encourages open inquiry, thoughtful reflection and concern for personal growth. Our rigorous educational program is characterized by innovation, creativity and technological sophistication, and we prepare our graduates for a wide range of successful and rewarding careers in law, business and public service.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is a Jesuit Catholic university located on 48 acres on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. More than 7,700 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within eight schools. U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges 2015” ranks Seattle University among the top 10 universities in the West that offer a full range of masters and undergraduate programs. Seattle University is an equal opportunity employer. 

In support of its pursuit of academic and scholarly excellence, Seattle University is committed to creating a diverse community of students, faculty and staff that is dedicated to the fundamental principles of equal opportunity and treatment in education and employment regardless of age, color, disability, gender identity, national origin, political ideology, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The university encourages applications from, and nominations of, individuals whose differing backgrounds, beliefs, ideas and life experiences will further enrich the diversity of its educational community.

Interested applicants should submit applications online at, and include a cover letter, Curriculum Vitae, and contact information for at least three references. The cover letter should be addressed to Professor Catherine O’Neill, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, and should describe the applicant’s educational philosophy, commitment to diversity in the legal profession, and how the applicant believes the ARC mission of providing access and support to students from under-represented populations furthers the mission of the Seattle University School of Law.  For full consideration, applications should be submitted by December 15, 2015.  Open until filled.


November 20, 2014 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Make Plans Now to Attend AALS Academic Support Section Events in D.C.

Dear Colleagues:

I hope that all of you are making your preparations to join us at the AALS Annual Meeting 2015 in Washington, D.C. during January 2 – 5, 2015.  If you have not made your plans, the link to the AALS registration is found at

The events for the AALS Academic Support Section are as follows:

Friday, January 2nd, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Business Meeting including elections and sign-up for committees

Saturday, January 3rd, approximately 11:15 a.m. Informal early lunch (details to be provided closer to the time)

Saturday, January 3rd, 1:30 – 3:15 p.m. Academic Support Section Program – ASP a Roadmap at the Crossroad: How Academic Support Will Meet Today’s Varied Challenges

From isolated academic support efforts to more formalized multifaceted programs, academic support has fundamentally changed itself and legal education over the years.  In light of shrinking budgets, disappearing positions, smaller applicant pools, changing profiles of incoming students, and media attacks on legal education, academic support programs face newer and varied challenges.

This program highlights some efficient and effective ways academic support programs can provide services in the face of these challenges.  Speakers will focus on how to expand the use of technology for widespread student feedback, how mindfulness and other brain fitness techniques have a positive impact on law student success in law school, how to integrate academic support techniques into traditional doctrinal courses through collaboration with professors, and how law professors can empower diverse law students through their pedagogy.  Participants will leave with concrete ideas they can implement and suggestions on how to refine currently employed techniques and services.

  • Moderator: Goldie Pritchard, Michigan State University College of Law
  • Presenter: Jane B. Grise, University of Kentucky College of Law – Brain Fitness Techniques for Law Students
  • Presenter: Betsy Brand Six, University of Kansas School of Law – Using Technology to Help More Students
  • Presenter: Lisa Young, Seattle University School of Law – Intersection of Academic Support with Doctrinal Courses
  • Paper Presenters: Kristen Holmquist, University of California Berkeley School of Law and Sean Darling-Hammond, Legal Clerk, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland – Creating Wise Classrooms to Empower Diverse Law Students: Lessons in Pedagogy from Transformative Law Professors
  • Presentation of the AALS Section on Academic Support Award to Professor Paula Lustbader, Seattle University School of Law

Please know that the events are open to all AALS attendees, so plan to join our collegial group for these events in Washington, D.C.

Best regards,

Dr. Amy L. Jarmon

Assistant Dean for Academic Success Programs and Lecturer

Texas Tech University School of Law

2014-2015 Chair, AALS Section on Academic Support


November 19, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AALS Section on Academic Support Award

The Awards Committee and Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Academic Support are pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the AALS Section on Academic Support Award. 

Professor Paula Lustbader is being recognized for her long-standing commitment to our academic support community and to the law students we serve.  Paula is Professor of Law and Director of the Academic Resource Center at Seattle University School of Law.  During her 25 years in academic support work, she has pursued excellence in many areas: academic success for students, teaching methods, diversity, and more.  She has served as the chair of both the Academic Support  and the Teaching Methods Sections of AALS.  She has presented at a wide variety of conferences and provided scholarship on legal education.  Among her colleagues, she is known for her enthusiasm for academic support and her willingness to help newcomers to the field.  

The award will be presented at the AALS Annual Meeting 2015 in Washington, D. C. during the Section on Academic Support Program on Saturday, January 3rd (1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.).  Please join us to celebrate Professor Lustbader’s achievements and thank her for her contributions to our profession.


Awards Committee:

Joyce Savio Herleth, Chair

Chelsea Baldwin

L. O. Natt Gantt

Berryl Gordon-Thompson

Joanne Harvest Koren

Courtney Lee

Emily L. Scivoletto


Executive Committee:

Amy L. Jarmon, Chair

Lisa Young, Chair-Elect

Louis Schulze, Immediate Past Chair

Melinda Drew, Secretary

Chelsea Baldwin, Treasurer

Jamie Kleppetsch, Board Member

Goldie Pritchard, Board Member

Linda Puertas, Board Member

Alex Ruskell, Board Member

November 18, 2014 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.


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.


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


(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:

Google Play store:

(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.


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