Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Protecting Time and Energy

All of us in ASP and bar prep face challenges: students with declining credentials, limited staff, budget woes, concerns over bar pass rates, students burdened by debt who juggle academics and work, and more aspects unique to our own positions or law schools. Many of us work hours far beyond a 40-hour week to get everything done to provide the best services to our students. A growing number of ASPers teach ASP or bar courses; some of us teach other law courses. We are active in our professional organizations and write in various formats. In short, it is easy to feel overworked long before the end of the academic year.

Instead of recharging our batteries and finding breathing space regularly, we tend to collapse in exhaustion whenever there is a break in the calendar: Thanksgiving, the few federal holidays we get on the actual dates, the university closure for the holiday period, a week or two vacation in the summer.

Good intentions to carve out space for projects and time for oneself are often quickly forgotten among the daily demands. So, before your calendar gets fully booked with student appointments, classes, meetings, and workshops, take the time to carve out blocks of time that you reserve on your calendar to help you stay excited about your work, to carve out professional development, and to recharge your batteries:

  • Schedule one or more blocks for project time each week. These times will allow you to focus on revamping materials and planning new strategies or services. Look at last year's appointment calendar to figure out the best days and times to schedule these blocks - and then protect them.
  • Find time at the beginning or end of each day to read the listserv items and blog postings for several sources in our field as well as other sources outside ASP - perhaps The Chronicle of Higher Education or one of the major newspapers that regularly covers legal education topics.
  • Allocate time at least once a month for reading longer pieces in the field to stay updated. You want to read the latest books and articles by colleagues. Crossover materials from psychology, education, and other disciplines can broaden our perspectives.
  • If you are trying to do scholarship and publish, set aside time on your calendar to focus on those tasks rather than try to grab time here and there. Have a mentor who will keep you accountable for discussing ideas, finishing research, and producing drafts for review.
  • Weigh carefully each new commitment that you are asked to take on within your workload and other commitments. Can you realistically be on that new committee or spearhead that new effort? Some tasks are truly unavoidable. But we often have choices that can be made. In those cases of choice, learn to say "yes" selectively. Practice saying "no" or "later but not now."
  • Find other ways to protect your time and space: check your emails at work only four times a day (or if you will have withdrawal, just on the hour); use your email functions to have alerts only for important emails (the Dean, your supervisor); unsubscribe from RSS feeds or library publication rotas that you no longer care about; turn off your cell phone every evening after a certain time and during portions of the weekend; stop checking emails constantly in the evenings and on weekends; make commitments with family and friends and keep them sacrosanct.
  • Choose one or two weekends during the semester when you can take a three-day weekend. Block it off now and negotiate with your supervisor that you will be gone those days. If you will cave and be in the office unless you have out-of-town plans, then commit to plans now with your relatives, spouse, friends, long-lost cousins, or others who will hold you accountable to that time with them.

Best wishes to all of our colleagues for happy and productive new academic years. (Amy Jarmon)


August 20, 2016 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sensitivity and the Modern Law Student

Whenever I lecture, I put together a PowerPoint of different pictures emphasizing one point or another I am trying to make.  A few years ago, I put up a picture of a clown to go along with my statement that "No one you actually want to be friends with thinks you're a bozo if you mess up when you are called on in class.  They're just happy they weren't the ones called on."  After the lecture, a student came up and asked if it would be possible to add a "trigger warning" if I was going to put up any more clown pictures.

At first, I honestly thought the student was just messing with me and possibly trying to make some political statement about the validity of "trigger warnings" or something.  I quickly realized he wasn't.  Apparently, he was just really scared of clowns.

It would have been very easy for me to blow off the student's request or make some comment about living in the real world or toughening up if he expected to be a decent lawyer.  I could completely understand someone thinking that I should have done exactly that and that there would have been some educational value in me doing so.  I didn't have any more clown pictures on any of my other slides for the entire year, so it was basically a non-issue.

Still, I went back to my office without really saying much of anything and thought about it.  At heart, I thought the idea of a "trigger warning" for clowns was goofy and probably devalued the entire idea of a warning for things or concepts that might actually be deserving of some kind of warning.  But then I wondered why exactly I thought so?  Was I simply being arrogant in thinking that a trigger warning for clowns was dumb?  Was this an isolated weird case or the beginning of some slippery slope where I had to warn people about everything?  If I didn't honor the request, why wasn't I honoring it?  By honoring it, was I handing over power to the student that I shouldn't give him?  Did I really have a good reason or was I simply choosing not to listen?  Had I reached the age where I'm utterly convinced of the halcyon days of my own youth and thought that this generation should just freaking grow up and get off my lawn?

When I was in law school, my friend's wife was pregnant.  All 130 of us in our section knew it because he talked about it constantly.  Chris wore a beeper on his belt in case his wife went into labor while he was in class.  One day in torts, after we'd spent about an hour talking about accidents at birth and fetal defects and what not, his beeper went off.  None of us could believe that it had chosen to go off at that exact moment, including my professor, who suddenly looked a little green.  Chris stood up, looked at the beeper, and merrily said, "Well, I hope my baby isn't born dead!"  Then he bolted out of the room.  The baby was fine, but for at least 24 hours I think my professor was worried he had somehow cursed her. 

Once, I was giving a guest lecture on the law to about 200 high school students and one of the students asked me a question.  To answer it, I came up with a hypothetical on the spot revolving around drunk driving and a car wreck.  If I remember correctly, I used the phrase "guy gets drunk after football game, car plows into tree ..."  As I'm talking, I notice some of the students start crying.  A few get up and leave.  A couple of teachers come over and begin to comfort people.  

What I didn't know was that the week before my lecture the exact scenario had happened and a couple of students died.  Once I figured out what was going on, I apologized, back-tracked, and apologized some more.  But the lecture was done.  They weren't able to hear me anymore.  Remarkably, the evaluations they turned in for the talk were really positive, except for a few students who thought I "should have known" or "should have read the paper."  I knew that I really hadn't done anything wrong, but I still wished it hadn't happened.

Basically, the clown thing reminded me of the car crash thing and Chris's baby thing, and for about two weeks I fell down a second-guessing spiral of everything I was doing.  I had students read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" (which is about a village stoning someone to death) simply because it was a classic story and I needed something short to gauge reading speed with.  Should I change it to something a little less violent?  I had them brief the "Ghostbuster" case and Mayo v. Satan and his Staff.  Could this be offensive to the deeply religious?  I used an example of a lifeguard and a child drowning to talk about negligence.  Had any of my students lost someone to drowning?  Should I come up with something else?

Ultimately, I calmed down and decided I didn't need to change anything, although I did get rid of the clown picture because it was pretty unnecessary, admittedly creepy, and it reminded me of Pennywise from Stephen King's "It."  

Academic Support helps all students, many of them vulnerable.  It has to be supportive and inclusive in a way that other parts of legal education probably don't need to be.  That fact is actually one of the things I like most about it.  I've turned the second-guessing into a habit, and if something sets off my radar, I either change it or ask a colleague if I'm being crazy.  So far, I haven't changed anything and I've been told I'm being crazy several times, but I think I've become a more effective educator by at least asking myself the question.

(Alex Ruskell) 




August 19, 2016 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

One Thing Can Improve Students' Grades in All Their Courses!

Simply amazing!

As reported in "Above the Law," there is one thing that we can do to improve our students' grades in all their courses this academic term.  

In her post about the article "The Impact of Individualized Feedback on Law Student Performance,"  Kathryn Rubio summarizes the research of Daniel Schwarcz and Dion Farganis that demonstrates that law students that have just one just one course...who provide individualized feedback within that course...improve grades for their students...across all courses, even controlling for LSAT and UGPA: 

Here's the proof (or, for those of you that are trial attorneys, the empirical evidence):  The Impact of Individualized Feedback on Law Student Performance

For us, this is incredible news…because…we can make that difference for our students - across all their courses - by integrating individualized feedback through our own courses and programs.

Wow…that's the power of one!  (Scott Johns).


August 18, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Capitalizing on Post Summer Enthusiasm of 2Ls & 3Ls

At the end of the first year of law school, many rising 2Ls leave for their respective destinations with an array of emotions but they are excited that the academic year has ended. The anxiety about academic performance is significant for most students.  Some of these students had a rough fall and spring semester because they did not achieve their academic goals for any number of reasons.  They are also uncertain about whether the adjustments and newly implemented strategies will yield the positive results they expect for the spring semester.  There are other students who had a successful fall semester because they met or exceeded their academic goals but found spring semester rather challenging and/or competitive.  These students are now fearful that they will not academically perform the way they did in the fall.  Finally, there are students who are confident in their academic performance both semesters but they are simply exhausted by all the energy expounded all academic year.  At the start of the summer, all of these students are happy to turn the page and embrace a new chapter away from the rigors of the first year. 

For some students, the summer means getting sleep and reentering life as an average human being. The recharge of energy is necessary for these individuals to function effectively during the academic year.  This might be the student who does not take on activities a typical law student might expect to the summer of their 1L year.  For others, the end of classes marks the start of an externship, internship, or summer associate position.  For these students, this is an opportunity to do what they came to law school to do and to be exposed to some of the intricacies of the legal profession.  Over the years, I have noted that students who return from these experiences are more motivated, have gained perspective, and are more confident in their abilities.  Certain other students instead opt to take summer classes, pair summer classes with summer practical experience or work, or simply work.  These students feel a sense of accomplishment because they are a few credits ahead or have secured finances for the summer and the academic year.  For all students, the 1L law school experience may have created some self-doubt that is now long gone.

All this to say that fall semester is a great semester for most returning students (2L, 3L). Students are more alive, reenergized, and reconnected with the confidence they had when they first walked into the law school.  Students are optimistic and maybe even idealistic.  So how do we capitalize on this bliss?

  1. Bottle it up. I encourage students to bottle the summer experiences and feelings so they can utilize them later, at a more challenging time. It is often the case that students who had very difficult academic experiences are the most excited about their summer experiences such as projects and cases they worked on, how they performed in summer classes, or the fun things they accomplished.
  2. Be purposeful. This is a time for students to jot down their aspirations and dreams and contemplate how they are going to achieve them. These can be as simple as adding one opportunity to obtain practical experience each and every semester to feel connected to members of your community.
  3. Recreate the experience. We discuss how students can have the summer experiences here in the law school environment.   Would it entail collaborating with a professor to make something happen or do we already have things in place?
  4. Empower. I actively listen to students as they share their experiences and take mental notes with the goal of later empowering students. I remind students of their accomplishments over the summer when they are disappointed. I use their practical experiences when we meet one-on-one because I know what their interests are and can help them bring the material to life. I also highlight how their experiences and individuality can contribute to the legal profession. Finally, this is an opportunity to highlight skills that they developed and explore how they can use those to be a successful student. Also, simply reminding a student about a positive comment made by a supervisor or professor can be helpful at times.

Since we are in the business of helping students succeed academically and on the bar exam, we need to pay attention to other aspects of our student’s development. We need to help students recognize the skills and gifts they possess and have developed.  (Goldie Pritchard)

August 17, 2016 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Report from SEALS

The Southeastern Association of Law Schools just held its 2016 Annual Conference at Amelia Island, Florida. Academic support educators sometimes overlook SEALS as a conference to attend. Over the last few years, SEALS has made a concerted effort to include more programs that would appeal to academic support educators and legal writing professors.

The Workshops on Legal Education and Discussion Groups especially covered a number of ASPish topics (with ASP or prior ASP colleagues presenting on some of these panels). Just a few examples in an extensive 7-day conference were: Incorporating Mindfulness into Legal Education (Jane Grise and Courtney Lee); Formative Assessment and Learning Outcomes (Barbara Gleisner-Fines); Adapting to New Realities in Legal Education (Amy Jarmon); Preparing Students for Solo and Small Firm Practice (Cynthia Fontaine); The Art and Science of Mentoring Law Students (our long-time friend at LSAC Kent Lollis and Laurie Zimet).

In addition, there were many sessions on teaching methods, scholarship and getting published, the changes in ABA standards, and more that would interest ASP professionals. Next year's conference will be held in Boca Raton, FL during July 30 - August 6. Keep it in mind if your travel funds provide for a regional conference (though you do not have to be from the region to attend or present).

August 16, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Registration Open for AALS

January 3 – January 7, 2017
San Francisco, CA

Register | E-Brochure

Online registration is now open for the 111th AALS Annual Meeting! We are delighted to return to San Francisco next January with the theme “Why Law Matters,” selected by AALS President Kellye Y. Testy.

Reasons to Attend

1. Programming. This Annual Meeting will provide a forum for novel thinking and fresh perspectives on the role of law in society and the academy’s role in advancing respect for and understanding of the rule of law. Our program, which you can preview here, offers valuable sessions for every stage of your career, whether you’re a dean or an adjunct, a first-year teacher or emeritus. Attend a hot topic session, a discussion group, or a session from our 100 volunteer-led Sections. You are certain to find programming to suit your needs and interests.

2. Connection. As always, you’ll have the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and renew relationships at more than 50 networking events, both formal and informal, sponsored by law schools and legal education organizations.

You’ll also be able to take advantage of events held in the Exhibit Hall, where you can mingle while connecting with vendors and sponsors who support the legal academy and the Annual Meeting and provide us with necessary products and services.

3. Affordability. We’ve continued our efforts to keep the Annual Meeting affordable:

  • Registration fees have not been increased from last year
  • 50% registration discount for new teachers and emeriti/retired faculty
  • Discounted registration fee for early bird registrants — register by November 17
  • Reduced rates for guest rooms at our headquarters hotel – $171 per night plus taxes for single/double occupancy at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 Hilton

Click here to register now.

4. New topics, including a new President’s Program on Diversity. Diversity is a core value of AALS and is critical to our law schools, the legal profession, and the world. Recognizing its importance, the current and incoming AALS Presidents have joined together to launch a two-year focus on diversity, encompassing its many facets, starting with this Presidential Program at the Annual Meeting.

For more information on the 2017 Annual Meeting visit our website or download the Registration Brochure. View our request for proposals page for more information on open RFPs including the AALS President’s Program on Diversity, Hot Topic Programs, and Discussion Groups.

We hope you’ll join us in San Francisco in January.


August 15, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Director Position at South Dakota

Position Description – Academic Support and Bar Preparation

Title: Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation

Job Description: The University of South Dakota School of Law anticipates an opening for a Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation. This is a new position at the law school, and will be a twelve-month appointment. The Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation will hold the faculty title of Instructor, Lecturer, or Senior Lecturer, dependent on qualifications, and will report directly to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.  A successful candidate will be expected to: (1) develop and implement academic support programming for first and second year students, particularly at-risk students; (2) develop and implement bar exam preparation programming for third year students; (3) work in collaboration with faculty and staff; (4) collect and evaluate data related to academic success and bar passage rates; (5) draft reports, as necessary, regarding student performance analyses; (6) counsel students regarding academic performance; (7) advise and assist students in the bar application process; (8) provide assistance for repeat bar-examinees; and (9) perform other duties as assigned.

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

Preferred Qualifications: (1) The ideal candidate would have at least one year of teaching experience acquired in an academic support program at an ABA-accredited school. This is a highly-preferred qualification. (2) Prior experience in educational analytics or a BS or MS in education is preferred. (3) One year experience in the private or governmental practice of law is preferred.

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

Applications must be submitted through the Board of Regents electronic employment site: Include on the website: application letter, vita, and names and addresses of three current references.  Inquiries about the position or the use of the website may be directed to: Tiffany C. Graham, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, University of South Dakota School of Law, 414 East Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069; email; or telephone 605-677-5393.

August 14, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

ASP and Bar Prep Position at Touro

Touro College

Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Job Posting

Assistant Director for Academic Development and Bar Programs

Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center is accepting applications for the position of Assistant Director for Academic Development and Bar Programs.  This position is a 12-month position and reports to the Director of Academic Development and Bar Programs. 

We are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic candidate to join our Academic Development Department. The ideal candidate will have experience with both bar preparation and academic support.


The Assistant Director for Academic Development and Bar Programs is a full-time, staff-level position that assists the Director of Academic Development and Bar Programs in all aspects of Touro’s Academic Development programs including: working with students on an individual basis; coordinating and providing skills training workshops; developing appropriate student learning materials; maintaining records associated with bar tutoring and counseling programs, coordinating and teaching in Touro’s bar-preparation programs; and implementing new services relevant to enhancing our law students’ academic experience.  Evening availability necessary; some weekend work.


  •  Counseling and working with students individually, regarding academic support and study skills;
  • Developing, implementing, and teaching academic success workshops and other programs for 1L student and 2L students;
  • Sharing in the creation, maintenance, and distribution of teaching materials in conjunction with the Director of Academic Development and Bar Programs;
    ● Assisting in implementing and teaching in programs related to bar exam preparation;
    ● One-on-one tutoring in Touro’s bar prep programs;
  • Providing support for graduates during the bar review periods as they prepare for the bar exam;
  • Assisting with the collection and analysis of data related to bar exam outcomes and bar exam materials;
  • Maintaining records associated with bar preparation and counseling programs; and
  • Other duties related to academic support, success, retention, and bar preparation as assigned by the Director of Academic Development and Bar Programs.


Education, Preparation, and Training

Applicants must possess a J.D. degree with a record of high academic achievement from an ABA-accredited law school.  Admission to the bar in at least one U.S. jurisdiction. At least one year of experience teaching academic support or bar preparation in a classroom setting, whether at the college or law school level, is required.  Evening and some weekend work is required. 


  • Excellent writing, speaking, and organizational skills
  • A demonstrated commitment to academic support
  • Strong interpersonal communications skills are essential

Physical Demands

  • Sitting for long periods of time

Computer Skills

  • Basic knowledge of Microsoft Office


  • N/A


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential function satisfactorily.  The requirements listed above are representative of the knowledge, skill and/or ability required.  Reasonable accommodation may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential duties.

Application Procedure

Please send a cover letter and your resume to:  The subject line of your email should read:  Assistant Director for Academic Development and Bar Programs. 

Application Deadline:  August 22, 2016 with rolling application review

Touro Law Center is located in Central Islip, on the south shore of Long Island, an hour from New York City. Fifty full-time law faculty members provide a practice-oriented educational curriculum to approximately 700 students in both full-time day and part-time evening programs. Visit for more information about Touro Law Center.

Touro College is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity. Our practices and employment decisions regarding employment, hiring, assignment, promotion, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment are not be based on an employee's race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, disability, ancestry, military discharge status, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic predisposition, housing status, or any other protected status, in accordance with applicable law. Our policies are in conformance with Title IX, 1972 Education Amendments.

August 13, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Law School Stress & Pro-Active Anti-Stress Measures for All of Us (i.e., Be A Brain Cell Creator!

Stress.  Oh my!  

Just the thought of it hits me in the stomach.  But, there's more than just stomach aches at stake.

According to law professor Debra Austin, Ph.D., excessive law school stress also harms the mind too.  That's the bad news. But, here's the great news!  In fact, it is really terrific news!  And, it is news that we can all use…today! 

But first, some background.  

As the American Bar Association (ABA) reports with respect to Prof. Austin's research, in general stress weakens brain cognition.  But, exercise (along with other pro-active measures) actually creates more brain cells…brain cells that we can all use (whether students or ASP'ers) to perform better and without debilitating stress: 

So, as many of us begin a new year of legal studies as students and ASP'ers, it's time to take charge over stress rather than having stress take charge over us.  But how, you might ask?

Here's a list of three (3) possible "anti-stress"countermeasures straight out of the research from Prof. Austin:

  1. Be an exerciser…because neuroscience shows that exercise provides us with "cognitive restoration."
  2. Get slumber time…because sleep plays "the key consolidating memories."  So, sleep on your studies rather than staying up all night to study!
  3. Engage in contemplative practices…such as mindfulness, meditation, relaxation, and focusing on the positive in gratitude…because such practices increase "the gray matter in the thinking brain," improve "psychological functions such as attention, compassion, and empathy," and "decrease stress-related cortisol," among other positives.


For all the details, please see Prof. Austin's research article Killing Them Softly: Neuroscience Reveals How Brain Cells Die From Law School Stress and How Neural Self-Hacking Can Optimize Cognitive Performance, 59 Loyola L. Rev. 791 (2013), available at:

To sum up, learning - real learning - means that we all must take time…counter-intuitively...away from learning…so that we can really experience learning.  So, be kind to yourself resting and relaxing and exercising.  You'll be mighty happy that you did!  (Scott Johns).


August 11, 2016 in Advice, Learning Styles, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

1L Students and Summer Pre-Law School Programs

If finances permitted or your law school offered an “early or summer start program,” hopefully you took advantage of these summer pre-law school opportunities. Early start programs range in mission, goal, structure, depth, and breath. The purpose of these programs is to provide students with a preview or general exposure to the law school environment, both the academic culture and social experience. They primarily serve to assist students in engaging with and developing some of the skills necessary to ensure academic success. Some programs cater to certain underrepresented populations, others cater to students with certain credentials, and yet others are available to the law student population at large. Most first year law students have been exposed to very limited, if any, information about the practical aspects of learning in law school. The presumption is that past academic success evidenced by GPA and current LSAT predictors are sufficient for law success. This is true for some but not for all. Attending such a program might be a good way to learn about a few things you can use before classes start and maybe even cultivate relationships with other law students. If you took advantage of such a program, hopefully, it met your expectations.

Once you have completed such a program, I would caution you to guard against being overly confident. Confidence is good but overconfidence can be an obstacle to success. Students look for and tend to think that there is a checklist for how to succeed in law school and that “one size fits all.” You will likely have to make some overall adjustments to the systems and processes you have adopted. You will also have to make adjustments to meet specific professor expectations and to acclimate to the culture at your law school. A willingness to adapt and make changes is imperative. Don’t get frustrated when you do not yield the results you expect immediately. The law school experience will challenge you academically, leave you frustrated at times, and may lead you to question your knowledge and abilities. This is the nature of the law school experience which builds up your resilience.

If attending an “early or summer start program” was unavailable to you for whatever reason, do not fret. You still have opportunities to build a sense of community and ease some of the fears and concerns you have about law school. You will likely have an orientation which will give you an opportunity to meet peers. You will also likely have an academic support program which will provide programming, workshops, and other opportunities tailored to help you develop the skills necessary for academic success.

Be confident but not too confident. All the best to first year law students. (Goldie Pritchard)

August 10, 2016 in Advice, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Trawling Linked In

Do you ever get days when you wonder if you are making a difference? Do you get so focused on day-to-day meetings with struggling students that you lose your overall perspective?

Periodically, I spend time on Linked In catching up on alums: what types of position do they have; what career choices have they made; where are they geographically. There are two types of students that I look for during my trawling: 1) graduates who enrolled through our Summer Entry Program "leg-up" course [we just finished summer number 13] and 2) graduates who were on probation at some point during their law school years.

What do I find? These graduates are practicing law in a variety of states even though we are predominately a Texans' law school: TX, LA, GA, MD, FL, CA, NM, AK, WA, WV to name a few. They practice in small, medium, and large law firms in a myriad of specialties. Some are partners. Some have won bar association or other awards and recognition. Some are solo practitioners - often after initial years at another law firm. Some are in-house counsel while others have non-legal positions such as land men, financial advisors, or hospital administrators. Some work in JAG, legislative roles, government agencies, or other public service positions. Many serve on community boards and volunteer in their communities in other capacities.

In short, they are contributing to the legal profession and their communities in valuable ways. All of them needed someone to believe in them to get to where they are today. For our SEPers, our faculty as a whole and those of us who teach in the program believed that LSAT/GPA predictors alone did not tell their stories: we chose to give them a chance. For those who were on probation at some point, they needed ASP and faculty members to believe that they could improve their academics: we chose to give them a second chance.

Isn't that what ASP is all about? Giving our students their best skills to reach their academic potential and ultimately become lawyers who give back to their communities - ASP values these things.

So next time you are discouraged about the enormous efforts you put in for minimal pay and status, spend a little time trawling. It will make you smile to see your alums' successes. It will remind you that you were honored to be an initial part of those journeys. Look forward to the impacts you can have as we begin another academic year. (Amy Jarmon) 


August 7, 2016 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sociologists Consider Law School Rankings

The Chronicle on Higher Education recently published an article on a new book that looks at U. S. News rankings and law schools:What Rankings Have Wrought.

August 6, 2016 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

ASP-ers as Coaches? Perhaps!

"A great sports instructor or coach builds us up, but also teaches us important lessons of emotional management, such as confidence, perseverance, resilience and how to conquer fear and anxiety. Many times, these lessons have a permanent impact on our mind-set and attitude well beyond the playing field."  So says columnist Elizabeth Bernstein in her article: "A Coach's Influence Off the Field."

That got me thinking about life…my life as an Academic Support Professional.  With the start of a new academic year upon us, perhaps this is an opportunity - as Goldie Pritchard puts it - to try something new.  So, I've been thinking and reflecting about my life as an ASP-er, and, in particular, that I might focus on something new--serving as a coach to our law students.

You see, and this is where the rub is, the most significant teachers in my life have, well, not just been teachers.  Rather, they've been more than teachers; they've been coaches.  And, not just sport coaches.  More like life coaches.  Whether they were teaching political science or trying to help me throw a ball, they all left indelible imprints, imprints that made me a better person and that went well beyond the classroom (or the baseball field)...because they taught me lessons that were much bigger than just about political science or baseball.  

Let me give you an example from political science.  I once had a professor by the name of Sandel.  No offense, but I can't recall the principles of Kant's categorical imperative or Hannah Arndt's political theories. But, I can vividly remember something much more important that I learned, in particular, to call people by their name…to invite students to comment and participate…to let people speak…by truly listening to them.  Those were lessons well given.

Or, in another context regarding life's many daily struggles, as Bernstein sums up in her column, coaches teach us lessons that help us when the going gets tough, for example, in Bernstein's words, "...when I’m on deadline or giving a speech to an intimidating crowd:  You need to arrest a negative thought immediately, in midair. Remind yourself that you are competent and know what you’re doing. Slow your breath."  Let me be frank. Those are the lessons that got me through law school.  And, I learned them through teachers that were, really, coaches. 

Thus, as we begin to embark on a new academic season, perhaps I should focus more on coaching.  After all, our work brings us in contact with people that are really struggling over learning to be learners in a new learning environment…an environment that we call law school...with people that need us to coach.  So, what does a coach do?  According to Bernstein, a coach says things that change our lives for the better…and for ever, such as:

“You rock!”

“Great job in difficult circumstances.”

“You should be really proud of yourself.”

But, in my own words, a coach, first and foremost, listens and observes others.  That I can do, if only, I'd stop talking so much!  (Scott Johns)

August 4, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Orientation, Professionalism, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Learn Something New

For many academic support educators, we move from bar support to preparing to welcome the incoming class. The law school cycle never quite stops but simply slows down or picks up. Returning students are preparing for their new journey as a 2L or a 3L and incoming students are excited about a new academic adventure. There is something we can all do, students and those who work with students, to prepare for the new academic year. This is a brilliant idea that as an educator, I kick myself for not thinking about: consider how you reconnect with the learning process.

I definitely cannot take credit for this one but when I heard it, I thought that this was the best thing I heard about preparing for law school. A student, a 3L at the time, told me that in anticipation of starting law school, she spent the summer learning how to use a planner. She never used a planner in the past but she recognized that she would have to plan her life a little bit more in law school even though she had juggled school, activities, religious observances, and a business prior to law school. Using a planner over the summer allowed her to get in the habit of writing things down, crossing things off, sticking to a schedule, being flexible in making adjustments, accounting for buffer times, determining whether paper and pen or electronic planners worked best, and the like. She worked on her time management skills before law school so she had a plan while in law school. Isn’t that awesome?!

This is yet another suggestion I cannot take credit for and that was shared with me in a conversation with a colleague at a conference in 2015. Because the beginning of the academic year is upon us, I encourage you to learn a new skill or start a new activity in the days and weeks to come. I would encourage you to try something you are fearful of or would find particularly challenging. The process of facing your fear or challenge is what you should focus on. What steps did you take? Where did you start? How did you start? What was the best process for you? Were you able to follow written instructions or did you need to see a picture or demonstration? Did you revisit the task to ensure you had mastered it? When did you feel comfortable? When did you feel frustrated? First year law students, you should consider your process and your steps because you might find some aspects of law school just as challenging. For the rest of us, it is a reminder of the process. In law school, we typically learn how to learn all over again so it is helpful to be reminded of the slow, methodical, and sometimes frustrating process.  

We often forget about the struggle experienced when mastering a skill that is now second nature. Regardless of how in tune we feel, we occasionally need to revisit that process.  This can only make us better educators and “meet students where they are” but also move them along to where they should or need to be.  I love this idea because it is applicable to all, teaching assistants/teaching fellows, upper level law students, ASP professionals, and professors. 

For me, this blog is a new experience that is both exciting and somewhat intimidating but I look forward to the mistakes I will make and the things I will learn along the way. (Goldie Pritchard)

August 3, 2016 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Critical Skills Program Instructor at Nova Southeastern

Critical Skills Instructor - Nova Southeastern University

Job Title Critical Skills Instructor
Position Number 995033
Center Shepard Broad College of Law
Location Main Campus, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314

Job Open Date 07212016
Job Close Date Open Until Filled
Job Category Exempt
Hiring Range: Commensurate with Experience
Pay Basis Annually
Subject to Grant Funding?: No
Job Grade/level: 87
Type of Shift NonFaculty
Full time
Benefits Eligible Reg FT w/Benefits

Primary Purpose:
Provide academic support, implement instructional programs, and supervise the parttime (adjunct) instructors of the Critical Skills Program, under the guidance and approval of the Associate Dean.
1. The first priority of all members of the College of Law is to serve our clients, the applicants, students, and alumni. Therefore, Instructors will
not be limited by this job description but will perform whatever tasks are assigned by supervisor(s). Instructors will be readily available,
visible, and accessible to students and other constituents of the College of Law. Primary responsibilities will be teaching and providing academic
support to the students.
2. Teaches courses assigned through the academic support program.
3. Regularly assists with designing and presenting the various workshops and instructional segments for the program on preparing for
and succeeding in law school.
4. Supervises parttime (adjunct) instructors when needed.
5. Directs and facilitates additional small group and individualized instruction by parttime
(adjunct) instructors with students in the program.
6. Monitors attendance and participates in academic support sessions on an ongoing basis to maintain the quality of the program.
7. Meets regularly with the Associate Dean and coordinates faculty assistance for skills workshops. Identifies and collaborates with faculty
interested in assessing, improving and critiquing student skills development.

Essential Job Functions:
8. Interacts with students informally and formally on a regular basis to collect helpful feedback from students.
9. Coordinates with Student Affairs to monitor and assist students with academic difficulties.
10. Communicates with the program's personnel to receive information about students who require personal counseling and advice about
attending and benefiting from the program.
11. Coordinates and creates structures for the integration of law school and communitywide
resources to facilitate the delivery and development of the bar examination initiative across the curriculum.
12. Conducts, publicizes and coordinates all Skills Workshops.
13. Maintains and updates links to the exam bank website and the online learning support center website on an ongoing basis. Coordinates
and establishes teaching support platform online using internet resources including newsgroups.
14. Oversees materials on reserve in the onsite library for use by law students and parttime
instructors, including academic and bar review materials, articles on academic support programs, law teaching, bar
examinations, legal education advances, and related topics.
15. Conducts research in appropriate, related areas.
16. Ensures compliance with University policies and procedures, county, state and federal regulations, and accreditation requirements.
17. At certain times during the academic year, this position demands some work on evenings and weekends. Evening hours will be expected
to accommodate the evening program students.
18. Other duties as assigned by the Associate Dean for Critical Skills Programs.

Marginal Job Functions:
Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
1. Adequate knowledge of and familiarity with the content and academic requirements of firstyear
law school courses and law related skills to respond to the academic needs of firstyear law students.
2. Excellent research and internet skills.
3. Excellent organizational and communication skills, both oral and written.
4. A history evidencing high selfmotivation, a capacity and willingness to work hard, and strong leadership and interpersonal skills.
5. Proficiency in Word.

Job Description
Job Requirements
Required Certifications/Licensures:
Required Education Juris Doctorate
Major (if required):
Required Experience: Two (2) years' experience in the practice of law, or the equivalent experience, is required.
Preferred Qualifications:
1. Bar membership and experience in the areas of study skills, reading or expository writing.
2. Previous successful work experience in an academic environment.
Is this a safety sensitive position (are applicants potentially subject to drug testing)?
Does this position require a criminal background screening? No
Sensitivity Disclaimer
Quick Link:

If you have questions, please email the Human Resources department at or call (954)262HR4U

August 2, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Adjunct Positions at New York Law School

From an ASP listserv posting by Professor Kris Franklin:

New York Law School is replacing its venerable Princliples of Legal Analysis ASP intervention classes with a series of curricular innovations that include a new style of Advanced Legal Methods course for all students, as well as additional course offerings to be rolled out over the next year or so.

Right now we are looking for a fairly substantial number of adjunct faculty members to teach in this new program. There will also be the possibility for some of these teachers to pick up other ASPish classes that we will be introducing in Fall 2017. Pay will be generous for adjunct salary, but of course, is not sufficient for full-time folks. Still, this is a great way for someone who wants to move into teaching to get a foot in the door with what will (I hope) be the support of an exciting and collegial training process.

If you know anyone in the NY area who might be a good fit for one of these positions, please pass on the job description below.

Course description: Designed to reinforce writing and analytical skills. Will be taught in small sections in day and evening divisions.  Will incorporate frequent writing and homework projects for which adjunct faculty will provide individual feedback. Meets twice a week for 60 minutes. In addition, adjunct faculty should expect to attend weekly planning meetings for an additional 2 hours per week. Materials and sample class plans will be provided. 

Requirements:  JD and a minimum of five years of experience. 

Salary: Highly competitive  

To apply: Send a statement of interest, resume or c.v., and short writing sample to Ashley Oliver at Applications will be reviewed beginning August 1, 2016 and will continue to be reviewed until all positions are filled.

August 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation Services Stetson

Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation Services

STETSON UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW may seek to fill a faculty position for Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation Services beginning in fall 2017.

Our main campus is located in Gulfport, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area, the nation’s nineteenth largest metro area.  Stetson was established in 1900 and is Florida’s oldest law school.  Stetson has earned a national reputation for its advocacy, elder law, legal writing, and higher education programs, and has Centers for Excellence in Advocacy, Elder Law, Higher Education Law and Policy, and International Law. We encourage potential applicants to visit our website at to learn more about our school, our community and our programs.

We welcome applications from candidates interested in serving as the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation Services to prepare students to thrive in law school and pass the bar exam on their first attempt. Responsibilities will include leading the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Programs, coordinating instruction for workshops and bar-related courses, and mentoring and counseling individual students. Stetson encourages applications from women, minorities, LGBTQ candidates, and all others who will contribute to our stimulating and diverse cultural and intellectual environment. All applicants must have a strong academic record and be committed to outstanding teaching.

The Faculty Appointments Committee will begin reviewing applications on or around August 15, 2016. Candidates will be interviewed during the AALS 2016 Faculty Recruitment Conference in Washington, D.C., although some interviews may take place at other times and locations.

Contact: Applicants should send a cover letter indicating their interest, a current CV, and at least three professional references to Professor Candace M. Zierdt at or by standard mail to Professor Zierdt at Stetson University College of Law, 1401 61st Street South, Gulfport, FL 33707.


August 2, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_Small (002)

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard! She was a awarded a Top Ten Badge by the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for her July 27th posting The Bar Exam Is Over, Now What.

July 31, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Several ASPish Topics in AALS Call for Discussion Group Participation


AALS 2017 Annual Meeting

A Call for Participation in Discussion Groups

January 3-7, 2017
San Francisco, CA

Discussion Groups are a new session format introduced by the Program Committee in 2016 to facilitate scholarly discussion and engagement. Discussion Groups do not feature formal presentations; rather, the objective is to facilitate a lively and engaging real-time discussion. Participants consist of a mix of the invitees identified in the original proposal along with additional individuals selected on the basis of this call for participation. There will be limited audience seating for those not selected in advance.

The selected Discussion Groups for the 2017 Annual Meeting are:

If you would like to participate in one of these Discussion Groups, please submit an abstract using the online submission form here by August 30, 2016. For specific details on the submission requirements for participation in each of the specific Discussion Groups, click the links above.

Program Committee for the 2017 Annual Meeting
D. Benjamin Barros, University of Toledo College of Law
George W. Dent, Jr., Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Rachel F. Moran, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Donna M. Nagy, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Chair
Hillary A. Sale, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law


Association of American Law Schools Advancing Excellence in Legal Education
1614 20th Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20009-1001
Phone: 202.296.8851
Fax: 202.296.8869




July 30, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 29, 2016

What to Do Before You Start Law School

During the summer months, I sometimes get calls or emails from students who are about to enter law school asking me what they should watch or read before law school starts.  My advice is always just to relax and get charged up for the coming fall.  Personally, I wouldn't watch or read anything even remotely dealing with the law.  

The summer before I went to law school, I had a job counting otters in Idaho (they were attacking people, which is a long story).  Consequently, I spent all summer only thinking about otters, fly-fishing, and how much more fun I'd be having if my girlfriend had come with me.  I was aware I was going to law school, but I don't think I thought about law once.  The only books I had were the usual sci-fi and fantasy nonsense I like, and I had no television or access to movies.

I drove straight from Idaho to Austin and hit the first day of law school really psyched.  Everything seemed novel and shiny.  I learned that a "tort" was not a delicious jelly-filled dessert.  I answered a question about an exploding stove.  I found a place in the library where I could study surrounded by the death masks of English executioners.  I figured out where the law school bar was.  I made a bunch of friends right off.  Law school looked like it was going to be grand.  

Then, I got the idea that I should watch The Paper Chase because it was about law school.  So, a few friends and I got the movie from Blockbuster (which, believe it or not, used to be a big deal where a person would spend a lot of their time), bought some beer and pizza, and sat down to watch.

The Paper Chase freaked me out.  After watching it, I was a little terrified of returning to law school.  Professors were going to yell at me.  My friends and I were going to freak out during exams.  I'd be buried in reams of paper.

I got over it and went right back to liking law school, but I think I would have been better off just experiencing law school as I went and not trying to get a read on it from pop culture.

So, as the final weeks of summer fade and you get ready to begin your legal career, I think you could do worse than just playing Pokemon Go and hanging out at the pool.  

(Alex Ruskell)

July 29, 2016 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)