Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Academic Success Counselor Position at Valparaiso
Valparaiso University Law School is pleased to announce an opening for the position of Academic Success Counselor. Those interested may contact Bethany Lesniewski, Director of Academic Success, with any questions regarding this position, but should apply formally through the Human Resources website: https://valpocareers.silkroad.com/.
Please see below for the position description or click the link to the job posting: https://valpo-openhire.silkroad.com/epostings/index.cfm?fuseaction=app.jobinfo&jobid=45&source=ONLINE&JobOwner=992273&company_id=16674&version=1&byBusinessUnit=NULL&bycountry=0&bystate=0&bylocation=&keywords=&byCat=&proximityCountry=&postalCode=&radiusDistance=&isKilometers=&tosearch=yes
Valparaiso University Law School
Valparaiso University Law School invites applicants for the position of Academic Success Counselor.
Valparaiso University Law School is located in Northwest Indiana and is part of a residential community with excellent public schools and other resources. It is approximately ten miles from Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as well as one hour from downtown Chicago.
The law school is an integral part of Valparaiso University, a Lutheran affiliated institution founded in 1859 and known for its outstanding liberal arts education and professional programs. For more information about Valparaiso University Law School, see http://www.valpo.edu/law.
Valparaiso University Law School is looking for an Academic Success Counselor. The duties of the position include, but are not limited to, teaching academic study skills to currently enrolled Valparaiso University law students, counseling students on academic and bar exam success skills and attorney licensing requirements, and advising graduates studying for the bar examination.
- Assists in counseling and advising new students, students on academic probation, students "at risk", and any other student seeking to improve academic performance and/or other academic issues including course scheduling social influences, etc.
- Prepares and presents academic success workshops for 1L students during the fall and spring semesters. Assists in planning and executing new student orientation.
- Develops lesson plans and teaches the Legal Method course for 1L students on academic probation.
- In conjunction with the Director of Academic Success, directs the Dean's Fellow's program. Recruits, trains, and supervises the Dean's fellows. Evaluates the success of the program through student evaluations and other means.
- Assists students in reviewing answers to practice exams and provides advice regarding exam strategy, including bar exam essays and strategies.
- Tracks the academic progress of "at risk" students on academic probation. Assists the Director in maintaining the Academic Success website.
- Perform all other duties assigned by the Director of Academic Success.
Please upload cover letter, resume and professional references when applying for this position.
Cover letters may be addressed to:
Bethany Lesniewski, Director of Academic Success
School of Law
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Employment will require a background check.
- Excellent verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills.
- Demonstrated commitment to cultural diversity and the ability to work with individuals or groups from diverse backgrounds.
- J.D. degree from an ABA accredited law school with a strong academic record is required.
- Have at least one (1) year of academic experience in either law school teaching, counseling, or bar exam tutoring is preferred.
- Must be a member of a state bar who has successfully completed a bar examination.
- Strong academic and professional qualifications, as well as a demonstrated interest in teaching students with diverse backgrounds.
- Ability to establish and maintain positive working relationships with faculty, staff, law school affiliates and guests.
- Ability to use initiative and independent judgment within established policy and procedural guidelines.
- Ability to handle and keep confidential a variety of different student questions and concerns.
Valparaiso, Indiana, United States
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Back to Basics
Students who fail to perform as well as they would like in the first semester have often made a critical mistake early on in their law school experiences: they have not thoroughly briefed the assigned cases. They hear from others that they need only the facts and the rule and a one-paragraph rationale, and they embrace that approach wholeheartedly. Many times, they realize they can capture all three by merely highlighting parts of the text.
The problem, of course, is that they have failed to process the cases deeply on the one hand, and have created no record of the critical steps in the reasoning on the other. Therefore, they must get back to basics, but they have largely forgotten what those basics might have been.
Below are briefing steps I teach my students and insist on for those asking for or needing academic support. Because these steps form the basis for other critical strategies, I insist that students follow them if they are working with me. They should complete the steps for the majority opinion and repeat the reasoning steps for concurrences and dissents.
Begin with SPRS
Step 1 -- (S) Skim
Skim through the case looking for headings that may be helpful in giving a quick overview of the opinion.
Step 2 -- (P) Preread
Read the first sentence of each paragraph of the case. This step will take only a couple of minutes, even for lengthy cases. The result will be that you will have read most of the key concepts and will have a general grasp of the case before actually reading it. Details will make more sense, and the logic will jump out more easily.
Step 3 -- (R) Read
Read the case straight through, placing a dot in the margin next to each idea that seems important in the court's reasoning. Do not place dots next to facts because you have no real idea which facts are critical to the portion of the case excerpted for your casebook. Focus on reasoning, and do not worry if you find that nearly every sentence has a dot after it.
Step 4 -- (S) Summarize
Begin your brief by converting each dot into a numbered sentence under the heading "reasoning." As you reread the sentences you have marked, make a decision whether you still believe the concept is important enough to keep. In other words, could you use that concept to resolve a similar legal issue on an exam? If so, put it in your brief as a discreet concept. You should end up with a list of important principles, steps in the logic, tests, definitions, etc., instead of a vague paragraph that describes generally what the case means.
Complete Your Brief
Step 5 -- Identify the Holding
The holding is the specific result for the litigants in the case.
Step 6 -- Identify the Rule
The case has been chosen for the casebook because it articulates and applies some key rule or corollary rule. You should find the key rule in your reasoning section and can generally copy and paste under "Rule."
Step 7 -- Identify the Material Facts
Capture, as briefly as possible, the critical facts that will trigger the story for you in the future. The critical facts are those on which the decision turned. One way to think about critical facts is to decide which facts, if they had not existed, would have changed the outcome of the case.
Step 8 -- Additional Possibilities
You can add whatever else you find helpful. For example, many highly successful law students add a short personal reaction to the case or to its dissents or concurrences.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Planning Your Finances for the Bar Exam
An important piece of your bar exam preparation has nothing to do with Torts, Family Law, or Criminal Law. It has to do with planning ahead to ensure that you have a budget in place to pay for the expense of taking the bar exam.
A few ideas to get you started with your Bar Study Financial Plan:
- Create a budget that incorporates your bar review expenses. Make sure to include your bar review course fee, your bar exam application fees, examsoft fees if applicable, MPRE registration fees, your hotel/transportation during the administration of the bar exam, and living expenses while studying for the bar exam.
- Save a designated amount of money each month for your bar review. Put this money in a separate account or a “cookie jar” so that you do not unintentionally (or intentionally) spend it on something else. Try to make sure that you have scheduled enough months of saving to cover your projected expenses.
- Reduce your current spending (forgo that extra latte, brown bag it for lunch, or take the bus instead of paying for parking). Cutting out the extras can be a bummer but in the end, you will be happy to have saved enough to get through your bar preparation without having to work. It is unnatural to give up every luxury. Pick one or two things that help you feel good and that are good for you. If you enjoy your yoga classes or gym membership, keep those. If you like to get a smoothie or fill up at the salad bar once a week, you should continue. These are healthy choices that also make you feel good. Keep the treats that nourish you and pass on the rest.
- Discuss bar loans and/or bar scholarships with your law school’s Financial Services Office. If your finances will require you to apply for a bar loan, do not wait to research your options. Scholarships are numbered and due to the economic times there will be a great deal of competition. Learn about the opportunities in your State or City and apply early.
- You do not want to hear this but you could move back in with your folks. I know this may be a bitter pill to swallow. On one hand, you are an adult and you do not want to move back in with your parents. However, on the other hand, it is best to think about how you can save money while you are studying. Check to see if your relatives or friends have an apartment, cabin, or summer home that will be unoccupied or ask around to see if someone you know needs a house sitter for the summer.
- Graduation is around the corner. While you would rather use a gift of cash on a trip to Hawaii for after the bar exam, using graduation money to fund your bar study is a smarter and more fiscally responsible idea.
Although they are a costly endeavor, bar review courses are essential if you want to be successful on the bar exam. Planning ahead for the costs associated with the exam will lessen your stress and help you cope with the potential financial strain.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Job Tip: Believe in Yourself
I once blew a job I really wanted because I became convinced on the way to the interview that I was just filler in a field of heavy hitter applicants. In at least one way, I deserved to lose that offer because I had no right to think they would waste their time and mine if I were not a very serious candidate. Nevertheless, all the way to the interview, I could not shake the thought that I was up against people with whom I could never compete.
You might think I choked and wilted during the interview, but I did something completely different. I spent the entire day-long interview trying to convince everyone that I was a heavy hitter, that I was every bit as good as whoever was already in their back pocket.
I told them everything I had ever accomplished and everything I had ever thought of accomplishing. I assured them I would accomplish all those new things and probably much more. I was there to help them change the world, and I would give all that I had to be a key player in that mission.
I wore them out. By the end of the day, they thought I was a self-important blowhard that could not listen, cared nothing for others' interests, and thought I was God's gift to their organization and the profession.
I found out later that I had been the top candidate until that interview. The job had been mine to lose, and I had lost it with a vengeance.
Had I actually ignored my fears and believed I would be a good fit, I might have landed that job. It may be that I would have lost out to someone better anyway, but at least it would have been the real me losing out instead of the lunatic they met.
Identify your strengths and be able to talk about them realistically. Have some faith in those strengths, however, and do not work too hard to show them off to everyone. Give the organization a little credit and assume they are not in the habit of interviewing people they are not serious about. They have seen something in you. Be yourself, and that something might just come out naturally.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Congratulations to Michael Hunter Schwartz: One of our own is a dean!
While we don't usually highlight the comings and goings of law school administration here at the ASP blog (Faculty Lounge covers that realm) I thought it was important that we recognize University of Arkansas-Little Rock for hiring Michael Hunter Schwartz as their new dean. Most of us know Mike from his work in ASP, but for those who haven't met Mike, he is one of the most prolific, generous, gifted people in ASP. His book Expert Learning for Law Students is a classic in academic support, and his more recent book with Denise Riebbi, Pass the Bar!, is a classic-in-the-making.
I am thrilled for Mike, and for UALR, but I also think his appointment signifies something important for our field: one of our own has made it to the top. This is a wonderful thing for our students, who will benefit from a renewed focus on student-centered teaching in the academy.
Mike is not the only ASPer in a deanship; it is important to note that Mary Lu Bilek at UMass Law also has deep roots in our field. Mary Lu came on board at UMass this past year. Let's celebrate these milestones, and congratulate our newest deans!
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Finding a Job
First, the bad news: law jobs are not falling off trees. Here's the good news: the jobs are out there because people always need lawyers, and law firms need you. They may simply not be coming to campus to find you.
The giant firms can afford to let an associate sit all day on your campus, interviewing the top 15%. In a firm of hundreds, that associate's day represents a tiny fraction of the firm's billable hours.
Smaller firms cannot afford anyone to sit around interviewing all day. In a firm of five attorneys, one person's day represents somewhere around 20% of the day's billable hours. The jobs are there, but you will not find the firms sitting around on campus to pick up a summer associate or new attorney.
So how do you find these jobs? It takes some hard work and persistence, but you can find them if you go about the search in the right ways. One way that has worked for many of my students is below.
Step 1: Make a list of all the lawyers and judges you know personally. It may be a short list.
Step 2: Make a list of everyone you know that may have used a lawyer at some point. Think about adoptions, divorces, trusts and wills. Think about people who own businesses, work in management positions in organizations that have legal counsel. Think about people who have been in accidents or property disputes or employment disputes. Think of all the ways people use lawyers and ask yourself whom you know that would likely have a lawyer. Include your friends, family, and parents' friends.
Step 3: From the two lists, choose three people who would know attorneys that do the kind of work you might like to try. If it is a lawyer or a judge that you know call her and ask if you could take her to lunch to pick her brain about opportunities in the field. If it is a lay person, ask if you could use that person's name to contact his attorney and invite the attorney to lunch. Tell the attorney, "Your client, Joe Smith, suggested I contact you and invite you to lunch to get your advice on finding the kind of work I am interested in pursuing."
Lawyers pay attention when they hear the words "your client." They also need to go to lunch, so you are not wasting their time. Finally, most attorneys would love to help a novice get established.
Step 4: Take these people to lunch (separately, of course) -- nothing too pricey; they all know you are a student. Talk to them about their experiences in the field and your goals and interests. Give them copies of your resume, and ask for advice on how best to place yourself in the field. Whatever you do, do not ask for a job. This cannot be a bait and switch. Learn from them.
Step 5: Send a note thanking each for his advice and time.
What typically happens is that each lunch partner will send your resume around to people she knows in the field who might be looking for someone like you. You may be surprised who calls you. My students often are.
It Was an Accident
Sometimes, those who perform well in the first semester do not really know how they did it. We should reach out to all of our students to help them find the most "bang-for-buck" learning strategies, even if they have succeeded "by accident" in the first semester. After all, do we ever want to say that success precludes help to learn more deeply and consistently? I should hope not.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
New bar passage rules in California
California will be changing the rules for law schools seeking to maintain their California accreditation.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Working With Students Experiencing Major Trauma
I want to start this post with a disclaimer: I am not a licensed counselor or therapist, and I am do not have a PhD or a PsyD in clinical psychology. I held this post for two weeks because I wanted to give my thoughts on events some time to process. This post is based on my experience as a law student who experienced major trauma and as an ASP professional who has worked with students experiencing major trauma. If you have a student who is experiencing major trauma, I suggest consulting with a licensed mental health professional.
Connecticut is the size of a shoebox; several states have counties that are almost as large as my home state. Everyone I know has a personal connection to the tragedy of two weeks ago; they have a friend, neighbor, or colleague related to a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they have lived in Newtown, or they are related to a first responder. The tragedy is unspeakable, but here in Connecticut, it's the only thing anyone can talk about. It's on the news, in the papers, on the radio. The horror is replayed over and over.
I anticipate that there are law students studying in other states, and at other law schools, that have a connection to the tragedy. I am sharing some of my experience, in hopes that it can help a new ASPer who may not have experience working with students experiencing major trauma.
Don't expect them to want to share, talk or emote. As a culture, we expect people experiencing major trauma to scream, cry, yell, and emote. Not all people process tragedy in this way. You may not know who is experiencing major trauma until well after the event. Students will share on their own schedule.
They will laugh. Yes, they will laugh, even in the depths of grieving. They will smile.They will go out with their friends. They will play board games, go to parties, and hang out with friends. It does not mean they are blocking or avoiding the trauma. It means they are living.Do not expect, or pressure them, to take the semester off. Some people process grief by adhering to the structure that shapes their life. Some students will need to go right back to class, take a full course load, and work a part-time job. The structure helps them feel safe in a world where nothing feels safe. Do not pressure a student to take it easy, or take a reduced course load, or to take time off. For a student who needs purpose in their life, telling them to stay home, without a focus, will be terrifying. Let the student decide what they need in their life in order to process their feelings.
They may not want to go home if they live in CT. Our instincts tell us that someone experiencing major trauma will want to go home. But not everyone feels they can handle the situation, and those students may want to take a break before coming home. They should not be made to feel unfeeling if they decide to stay with a friend instead of going straight home. Living in CT right now is extremely difficult. Yes, we have come together as a state. But the media is an echo chamber of sensationalism, distortions, and horror. It's not just traditional news coverage; daytime and prime-time TV is being regularly interrupted by memorials, tributes, and "breaking" news. Not everyone can handle going back to a place that will force them to relive horror, day after day. If a student has a history of major trauma, it may be safest for them to go to a place where they feel somewhat sheltered from the media.
My experience is that there are as many ways to process tragedy and trauma as there are humans on earth. Everyone is shaped by their own experiences. There are many ways to grieve, and many ways to mourn. As long as the student is practicing self-care, their method of processing and healing is normal. Watch for self-destructive coping mechanisms: alcohol, drugs, or a refusal to engage with the world. Get a professional involved immediately if you think the student is making self-destructive choices. (RCF)
Thursday, January 3, 2013
ASP Section Newsletter - Check It OutCheck out the ASP Section's Winter Newsletter that Herb Ramy just distributed through the AALS listserv. There is lots of information included on the Section's AALS highlights: speakers for our program, posters to view, officer/board candidates, committee members and chairs, other events, and the section award.
ASP Business Meeting at AALS Update
Here is an update from Herb Ramy on the location for the ASP Business Meeting at AALS:
Regarding the section business meeting, please note that the original AALS Program did not contain a time or room for the event. The most recent online version of the program lists the Section Business Meeting as occurring on Sunday, January 6, 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. Windsor, Third Floor, Hilton New Orleans Riverside. This is an hour and 15 minutes after our section program concludes. Unfortunately, we could not meet immediately after the section program due to a conflict with another event.
Director Position at UNH
University of New Hampshire School of Law
Director of Academic Success
The University of New Hampshire School of Law, located in Concord, New Hampshire, seeks a Director of Academic Success.
Working collaboratively with the law school community, the Director will focus the Academic Success program on the skills critical to being a lawyer, succeeding in law school, and passing the bar exam. These skills include the analytical ability to understand and organize the law, apply it to facts, make arguments where appropriate, and communicate effectively. In addition, the program will also address non-analytical skills such as time and stress management, motivation, responsibility, self-direction, among others, necessary for students to succeed in law practice, law school and on the bar exam. The Director will effectively design and prioritize academic success efforts to maximize student performance in these areas. A complete job description, with required education, experience, skills and characteristics is available at: http://law.unh.edu/about/employment.
UNH Law, an affiliated school of the University of New Hampshire, is internationally renowned for its intellectual property program. The school’s unique Daniel Webster Scholar Honors program is a pioneer in practice-based education. The Social Justice Institute offers a wide range of clinics, externships and practice-based curricular opportunities. Concord, the capitol of New Hampshire, is home to the state’s legislature, state offices and local, state and federal courts. Just over an hour’s drive from Boston, Massachusetts, the ocean, and the majestic White Mountains, Concord offers good schools, high quality of life, and a variety of affordable housing options. Salary for the position will be competitive and commensurate with experience.
Please submit a cover letter and CV to Professor Margaret Sova McCabe, Chair of the Academic Success Director National Search Committee, via e-mail to Lorraine.Albanese@law.unh.edu. Submissions are due by February 11, 2013.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
As Administrators We Need to Model Head and Heart for Students
I spent seventeen years in my first career working with undergraduate and graduate students. Then after graduating law school as a non-traditional student and practicing for some years, I decided to return to higher education and combine my education and law backgrounds. Those earlier years in my student affairs career have certainly held me in good stead in my current ASP work.
For most of the years in my first career, I was involved not only with academic dismissals but also with disciplinary cases and, towards the end, with Honor Council cases. I was the one who investigated cases, presented at administrative hearings, and counseled dismissed students.
Part of my discussions with students focused on their behaviors (actions or lack of actions), consequences, rules, integrity, maturity, self-discipline, etc. I always wanted students to learn from the situations so they could avoid future problems. This aspect of my work was really more about the head - how to think through situations, how to see alternative courses of action, how to understand societal norms, how to implement different study strategies for success, how to behave differently, or whatever matched the circumstances.
No matter how difficult the student had been during the process of an academic dismissal or a discipline/Honor case, I always tried to add a second part to the discussion. I switched to the heart by focusing the end of a discussion on how the student was coping with the results (suspension, possible readmission later, permanent dismissal), how the student was dealing with the legal process if there was one when disciplinary actions applied (we took administrative actions first because too many lawyers had played around with court continuances in order to go beyond a graduation date or a transfer when we previously waited), whether the student had told their parents/spouse/others, and what the student's plan of action was for the future.
Why did I spend the time switching from head to heart matters? Because no matter what a student had done, the student was still a human being. Once we had dealt with the head matters, the student was still often dealing with the heart matters all alone. Most students had not told family or friends that they were in academic or disciplinary or Honor Council trouble. Most students had hoped to the last moment (often unrealistically) that a suspension or dismissal would not happen. Most students were without a game plan to deal with the worst outcome.
One thing I learned early on was that if I could look beyond the failures/behaviors to the person, the student left with a different attitude than if I stayed merely aloof and clinical. The student was more willing to take responsibility for the situation rather than blame the school, the administration, the student witnesses, the faculty member, or others involved. The student was more willing to look at the life lessons and consider change. The student was less likely to bad mouth the school to others later on in life.
By taking the time to treat the student as a person, to help the student decide the next steps, to listen to the fears, or to even role play how the student would tell family and friends, I allowed the healing to begin. I allowed the student to learn that one can recognize bad decisions the student made or disapprove of/censure behaviors but still treat the person with dignity. I let students know that someone cared about them even in unpleasant circumstances when many might say they got themselves into the situations.
At law schools, I think the head part of the process is sometimes focused on totally, and the heart process is ignored. Students from various law schools around the country have told me about getting only an academic dismissal letter and not being given an appointment to discuss it. Students have told me about being told they are "not good enough" or do not have "the right stuff" to be in law school. They have told me about comments suggesting they will be failures in life because they could not meet law school academic standards. The stories have come from students at both public and private law schools, at law schools in every tier, and law schools in different parts of the country.
Our profession has begun to recognize that there are "soft skills" that attorneys need and that the human element does have merit in the legal process. I hope that we can regularly recognize the same need for the human element at our law schools when we deal with the multitude of conduct and academic problems that students are involved in during law school.
As professional schools, we definitely need to maintain standards of conduct, integrity, and academics. But we also need to maintain those standards while treating others as human beings during the processes.
Few of our students are dismissed under circumstances so egregious that they are incapable of being productive and worthy members of society. If we model combining head and heart in unpleasant circumstances, we treat students with dignity and provide a lesson that will resonate throughout their lives about how to treat others. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, December 24, 2012
ASP is not a magic band-aid
Among non-ASP faculty, there is sometimes a misperception that ASP is a magic band-aid. The magic band-aid theory of ASP holds that a good ASP that can easily and painlessly fix what ails a student, a program, or a school, in only a few short meetings. But ASP is not a magic band-aid. Here is why:
It is hard to learn new ways to think. This is difficult for many law professors to understand, because law came easy to them. But for students who have great potential, but did not grow up with logic puzzles or parents who were lawyers or teachers, law requires new, unfamiliar ways of thinking. Emotion and desire are less important than logic and process. For students who go to law school because of a burning passion to fix an injustice, the first semester of law school is not only bewildering, but it can be disheartening to learn that burning passion is not logical. Using process to find justice can be disheartening as well, because process does not always end in the result they feel is fair. Learning new ways to think can be emotionally and mentally taxing. Teaching students how to use logic and argument is taxing for the professionals who need to keep students motivated, while helping them see that logic is the key to exam success.
It is hard to change the way you study. Students who start law school with inadequate or dysfunctional study skills need to accept that 1) those study skills that got them to law school will not help them in law school 2) that they have to let go of something that is comfortable, and find a new way of doing things that is unfamiliar. This does not happen overnight; learning new study skills is a long-term process. It is challenging for ASP professionals, because there is not one, master way to study. Study skills need to fit the work (law) as well as the student. It takes time to get to know the student, for them to open up and trust you enough to admit how they study for classes and exams. And it takes even more time for students to learn new study skills, to practice with them, and to find which techniques are the best fit.
It is hard to change the way you teach. Non-ASP law professors can sometimes hold onto the belief that if their ASP was just "better," than their students would not struggle (on exams, on the bar, finding jobs, etc). But ASP alone cannot create "better" students. Across the curriculum, teaching needs to evolve in tandem with efforts by ASP. Teachers need to meet students where they are, not where they think they ought to be. That may mean using techniques and methods in the classroom that are new. ASP can help students with study skills, writing, and thinking, but it cannot create "better" students without assistance and support from across the curriculum. (RCF)
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Wishing You Wonderful BreaksOur readers vary in the time off they will have depending on whether they are students, faculty, ASP'ers, or others. No matter how many days or weeks you will have a break from the law school environment, we wish you relaxation, rest, fun, and time with family and friends. Although you will likely see a few posts before the New Year, they may be sparse - just like snow flakes in the tropics. Enjoy your time off!
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Team-Teaching: Constant Conversations about Teaching
If you have the opportunity to team-teach a course at your law school, jump at the opportunity.
With the close of this semester, I've had a chance to think about how team-teaching has worked in one of the new courses a colleague and I teach. Two advantages to the team approach were obvious: the broadening of the students' learning experience, and the broadening of the teaching experience for those of us at the front of the room (yes, I know, asp-ers, you are all over the room!).
This new course, “Practical Lawyering Skills,” was created to fill a gap in our academic support offerings. While we had plenty of academic support offerings in the first year, and a newly introduced third-year “just-before-you-take-the-bar” course for graduating students, the second year (or third year for our part-time students) was empty of academic support opportunities. Intervention in the second year seemed a natural extension of academic support offerings.
It also seemed natural to me to design the course as a team-taught enterprise in order to bring as much diverse experience to the class as possible, both in teaching style as well as in legal experience. My co-teacher in the fall semester is a senior faculty member, highly respected by faculty and students alike. As well as having impressive criminal law experience, she is also an experienced doctrinal professor having won “best teacher” awards several times. The two of us, having team-taught in other courses over many years, are comfortable together in the classroom.
In the spring I teach with a newer professor, but one with plenty of civil practice experience. While our experience teaching together is not as deep as that with my fall colleague, the teaching relationship is quickly maturing after just one semester together. I think students enjoy this ”double treat,” something we carry over into the grading of their assignments so that students get a broad spectrum of evaluation.
The "carry-over" effect of team-teaching reaches outside the classroom as well. My colleagues often ask about the "how" of our team-teaching, about the logistics of how we do it—the choreography. (More about that at another time.)
What I tell my colleagues, however, is that the strength of our team-teaching is more about what happens outside the classroom--in our preparation, debriefing, and shared evaluation of students--more so than in our dual presence in the classroom. While many of us have had someone observe our classes to receive feedback on our approach, the team-teaching model creates a constant stream of observation and evaluation, as well as a constant conversation about how we approach the course and, on any given day, how we approach and deliver specific, daily classroom goals.
That conversation provides endless opportunities for evaluating global teaching approaches as well as the individual components of a class session. So you can have a continual discussion and evaluation from the creator's point of view, and you don't have to wait for the student reviews some time after the final exam to make some navigation corrections. What I have learned from this experience has given me greater confidence in the classroom and a greater willingness to take risks.
NECASP Winter Conference Update
We in the Northeast had a wonderful conference on Dec. 10, on counseling students. Marty Peters, PhD, and professor emeritus of Elon Law School, led us through several exercises designed to help ASP professionals counsel students during one-on-one appointments. The conference was attended by ASPer's from up and down the East Coast. I think I speak for everyone at the conference when I say it was incredibly valuable.
Thank you to Marty Peters, and NECASP co-chairs Sunny Mulligan and Elizabeth Bloom. (RCF)
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
More on AALS
To piggy-back on Lisa's post today on getting the most out of AALS, I wanted to post an e-mail that was on the listserv from Herb Ramy reminding all of us of days/times/rooms for the sessions at AALS. (Amy Jarmon)
Just a quick reminder that the AALS Section on Academic Support will be presenting our first section award to Kent Lollis during the section breakfast on January 5th. The breakfast begins at 7:00 AM in the Grand Salon 9 & 12, First Floor, Hilton New Orleans, Riverside. This is a separate fee event, so please be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. Tickets are available online through the AALS Website (pre-registration is required) and at the AALS meeting site until Friday evening, January 4th, if space is available. No tickets for the breakfast will be sold at the door.
In addition to the section breakfast and the awards ceremony, here is an updated list (including locations) of other events related to our section:
Saturday, January 5th, 1:30 – 2:30 PM
Court Assembly, Third Floor, Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Sunday, January 6, 4:00–5:45 p.m.
AALS Section Program, Assessing Our Students, Our Success and Ourselves
Grand Ballroom C, First Floor, Hilton New Orleans Riverside
In response to a growing need within the legal academy, many institutions and individuals have developed programs to assure the success of law students as well as techniques to assess those programs. Increasingly, law schools are interested in institutional assessment but lack the expertise to reach beyond the obvious measures to fully evaluate the relationships between programs and outcomes. Each of these presentations highlights a different aspect of assessment to inform participants about sources of existing data, methods of gathering additional information, and uses of that information to create new programs and assess existing ones.
Section Business Meeting, Windsor, Third Floor, Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Sunday, January 6, 7:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Court Assembly, Third Floor, Hilton New Orleans Riverside
The Section Business Meeting did not appear in the AALS Preliminary Program or in the programs that were mailed to AALS members. It does appear in the online version of the program.
I look forward to seeing all of you in New Orleans!
Herb Ramy, Section Chair
AALS Section on Academic Support
Professor Herbert N. Ramy, Director
Academic Support Program
Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02108
Making the Most of AALS 2013
Going to the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Conference is a huge perk for someone in Academic Support. The registration cost is astronomical and the cost of travel and accommodations often pushes this event out of reach and out of budget. Thus, if you do get a chance to attend AALS, you want to make the most of it. I have included a few ideas about how to maximize your experience.
- Review the Program ahead of time. I read the Program and flag all of the presentations that I must attend and the ones that I would like to attend. There may not be enough time in the day to attend all of the presentations that look interesting to you but you should at least commit to making it to the ones that you must attend. If at first you do not find enough sessions, I suggest taking another look. Look not only at the Presentation Titles or the Sections offering the presentations, but also look at the specific presenters. You may find familiar names among the presenters or moderators. Even if the topic does not interest you, seeing particular speakers in their element can make attendance worth it. If you do not have a hard copy, you can access it here AALS 2013 Annual Meeting Program.
- Calendar all of the presentations in your phone or on a list that you can easily carry with you. Believe me, you will thank me later. When someone asks you to join them for a cup of coffee or at another presentation later in the day, you can quickly check your list to see whether you are available.
- Try to connect with others in the field. This year our section program is not being given until late Sunday. Personally, that is too long for me to wait to find “my people”. Try to touch base with a few others before arriving in New Orleans or approach someone from ASP at another earlier presentation. Or better yet, attend the Academic Support Breakfast on Saturday morning (more later on this).
- It’s NOLA! New Orleans is one of the most fascinating cities. It is rich in tradition, culture, and history. And….the food is amazing! Take advantage of soaking in a bit of the jazzy nightlife, the sinfully delicious po’boys and infamous Café Du Monde beignets, and the French Quarter architecture. I still remember the incredible flavors of the roasted duck and buttery cornbread pudding that I ate at NOLA (one of Emeril’s restaurants) two years ago. Now, I am getting hungry!
- Attend the Academic Support Breakfast on Saturday morning. (Yes, I know I already mentioned this above.) I want to mention this breakfast again because it a great way to network, vent, generate ideas, make dining plans for the weekend, and make new friends. Warning, this will not be a culinary experience to remember. Instead, this is a wonderful reunion of friends and colleagues and an exchange of ideas and support. It is well worth the cost. You can work up an appetite for lunch and find someone new to share it with. Jambalaya anyone?
- Make plans, be a joiner, and be inclusive. ASPers are known for being fun, inclusive, and movers and shakers. Do not be a loner at AALS! Go site seeing, enjoy a group meal, or maybe a late night game of Taboo with old (or new) friends;) If you are new, introduce yourself; if you are seasoned, find a newbie to befriend. My first AALS in 2009 was so overwhelming! I literally got lost at the hotel while trying to find a presentation. This was not fun and I was late for the presentation. Plan ahead and leave extra time for detours.
- Do not forget to attend the Poster Presentations. This year they are on Saturday from 1:30-2:30 in the Court Assembly, Third Floor, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. This is a great way to connect with ASPers, support our colleagues, and learn something new.
- Attend our Section Program: Assessing Our Students, Our Successes, and Ourselves; and, don’t forget to stay for the Business Meeting. This is a great way to discuss assessment and get involved with others in Academic Support.
I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
How should you spend your semester break if you are a law student?
We finish our exam period tomorrow afternoon. The first-year students finished yesterday. The building has emptied significantly since 5:00 p.m. after the last 1L exam.
Some students (especially 1Ls) have been asking what they should do over the semester break to get ready for second semester. For the most part, I advise them to relax, rest, recharge their batteries, and renew their relationships with family and friends.
They are often surprised that I do not tell them to read a study aid for each new class or start to read their casebooks. I realize that some of them are eager to "get ahead" and "have a leg up on their classmates" for the next semester. However, I caution them to not get too gung-ho.
Here are some reasons why I do not suggest a bookish break:
- Most law students are worn out after the semester and need time away from the law school routine.
- Many law students have become myopic over the semester without a life outside of law school and need to regain perspective on life outside the law school walls.
- Family and friends have endured the "loss" of their law student for 15 weeks and want to reconnect.
- Brain cells are often gasping from exertion and need a Florida vacation from the heavy-lifting of cases, hypotheticals, and legal analysis.
- Many law students have had too little sleep, too few nutritious meals, and minimal exercise for the entire semester - good habits need to be re-established.
- Professors will skip topics in the casebooks, take a different perspective on a course from a study aid, and emphasize different angles on a course - studying/reading ahead may cause a student to go off track before the course even begins.
- Reading a casebook or study aid without class discussion can lead to emphasizing the wrong material or, even worse, serious confusion about the material.
If a student really feels compelled to prepare for the second semester, I suggest that reading a good book on law school study skills might be more beneficial than a book about a course subject area. Books by Michael Hunter Schwartz, Herb Ramy, Dennis Tonsing, Ruth Ann McKinney, Andrew McClurg, John Delaney, Charles Calleros, Will Huhn, or other ASP'ers and professors will likely assist students who want to become better law students during the next semester.
Why do I say that? Many law students read "how to succeed" books before they arrive at law school. That is useful preparation, but I seriously think they get even more out of the books if they re-read them after they have at least one or more semesters under their belts. What previously was merely theoretical to them now has real context.
Students who are in their 2L and 3L years can also benefit from these books because they now realize they have specific, repeating areas of weakness that need to be addressed. If they do not know where they are weak, then the books will help them to evaluate changes that they may need in multiple study areas.
Most of all, I think students need to have a break - that is why it is called a semester break. It is fine to do some general evaluation of study skills and preparation to do better as a student. However, burning oneself out with studying before the next fifteen-week marathon is just asking for trouble. (Amy Jarmon)