Monday, April 10, 2017
The 2017 conference will be at Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth, TX. Links to the conference information are:
Note that hotel reservations must be made by April 22nd to get the conference rate of $179.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Thank you to Kandace J. Kukas, Assistant Dean & Director of Bar Admission Programs at Western New England University School of Law, for providing us with a write-up regarding this recent New York event:
Fifteenth Successful Conference in the Books!
The New York Academic Support Workshop celebrated its fifteenth year at New York Law School on Friday, March 31, 2017. With more than 25 attendees from New York, New England and the East Coast, the one-day conference re-energized ASP professionals for the end of year and bar exam stress, as well as creating thoughtful discussion of how to more effectively and efficiently reach our students.
Hosts Kris Franklin of New York Law School and Linda Feldman of Brooklyn Law School set up a robust agenda consisting of insightful conversations, activities and sharing. One of the day’s highlights was the “Improvising Your Way to Good Legal Analysis” session led by Victoria Eastus of New York Law School. All participants formed a circle and learned how improv can help break the ice with our students as well as show the students they already know how to implement legal analysis. Our everyday living requires analysis, when shifted to the legal arena the connections proved to be quite powerful and generated quite a buzz in the room!
Additional “take-aways” from the day included a recognition that a flipped class may have some draw backs for students who learn differently, project management is a crucial part of legal work and we can guide our students through creative means to understanding task management, and none of us likes homework; especially ASP Professionals! In addition, we discussed and shared experiences creating an Academic Support Program, helping the students with doctrine comprehension using creative methods, and the components necessary to writing well; rules, doctrine, issues and facts. Finally, we shared our time management techniques, with students and ourselves; we are pulled in many directions as are our students, we can use ourselves as guides and examples of superior time management.
Most importantly we shared support and comradery! It is crucial that every now and then we reach out beyond our school’s walls and remember there are a number of brilliant people across the country working very hard to ensure student success in law school and beyond. These friendships and the support felt in the room are some of the reasons I am honored to be in academic support!
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Hat tip to Steve Black, my colleague here at Texas Tech School of Law, for telling me about Ankiweb to make flashcards. You can build flashcards on your computer and share them with your other devices. The link to the website is Ankiweb. (The phone app is also available through the Google Play Store for Android phones.) (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, April 6, 2017
It's gone "viral." Apparently it's the most watched graduation speech...ever. That's great news for our world because the subject was about changing the world for the better. So, here's the kicker, according to graduation speaker Admiral William McRaven (now chancellor at the University of Texas), it starts in the morning.
That' right. Start in the morning...with making your bed. You see, according to McRaven, it's the little things that matter because the little things add up to bigger things, and the bigger things add up to big things, and the big things, well, add up to great things (at least that's my paraphrase of his speech). So, when you make your bed in the morning, you've already taken one mighty little step to taking charge over the issues that you are about to confront that day. In short, even before you've reached school, you've demonstrated a success. And, success begets success.
That's particularly important in the study (and in the practice) of law. I heard a speaker today say that the issue with lawyers is that lawyers overthink. That made me think, of course, because I am a lawyer. I overthink everything. And, in my overthinking, I tend not to get moving because I don't know where to start. So, instead of concrete positive action in trying to change the world, I'm often stalled in my thoughts, which leads to worry. In short, I'm stymied, perplexed, and overstressed. But, it doesn't have to be that way, according to Adm. McRaven. If I just start each day with tackling a simple problem, I'll see progress. And, as I start to make progress, I start to feel more confident, to believe in myself, in tackling even more problems on the way to changing the world.
Let's bring this back to the classroom. In the study of law, we are so often afraid to "make our bed." What do I mean by that? Well, we spend way too much time overthinking the cases in our reading for classes that we never start using the cases to practice solving legal problems. We stay in bed. We hide under the covers. We don't move into the morning by working through hypotheticals, testing ourselves, seeing if we can figure out how to solve legal problems.
So, here's my suggestion:
Just start working on the little problems, the short hypotheticals. It doesn't have to be big gnarly essay questions. In fact, start small. But, start. Grab pen and paper along with your notes and take a stab at solving a practice problem. That will lead to solving bigger practice problems, which will increase your confidence to solve even more difficult problems. And then, before you know it, you'll be witnessing your own graduation...as a brand new problem-solving lawyer...and well-prepared to change the world for the better too! (Scott Johns)
P.S. Here's a video clip from part of the University of Texas speech: Step 1: If You Want to Change the World...
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
This is the week our students’ appellate briefs are due therefore I assumed that they would be unprepared for the directed study group meeting scheduled for this week. Instead of cancelling the meeting, I developed several activities with the materials students had covered thus far in their doctrinal course. The students were engaged and appeared to enjoy the activities. We highlighted areas they were unfamiliar with, areas they needed to work on, and areas of strength. Students worked in groups and one of the groups was composed of mostly male students and one female student. The female student held her own but one situation gave me pause. Her group was consulting before they buzzed in their answer. I heard her say the correct answer but her male counterparts disagreed and tried to persuade her otherwise. The group spokesperson stated the answer the majority agreed on but it was an incorrect answer. When they realized she had the correct answer, they were dumbfounded. I told the male students: “you should have listened to her” and I saw her smile. I was glad to validate her “correct” contribution and thought about the experiences of other female students.
At times, the law school environment can be a challenging place for female students for a variety of reasons including the fact that their abilities are sometimes underestimated and undervalued. This can reduce confidence in even the most confident person. There are several articles, studies, and news reports on the topic. However, I found an eight minute TEDx Talk which illustrates some of the challenges females face and how they can help themselves and other females find “The Confidence Factor.” Here is the link to “The Confidence Factor” by Carol Sankar.
Sankar suggests three things all women must do enact their confidence factor, challenging them to students, particularly female students:
1. Know the power of negotiation. If you know your worth before you leave the house; you now have the power of negotiate. Know your worth.
2. Seek a balance of support and mentorship. Support is the praise and comfort but not the facts. Mentorship is when people tell us the truth regardless of how we feel about what we hear; someone with the courage to push us and tell us the truth.
3. Your inner circle. Create an inner circle which includes one who likes you, one who can’t stand you, one who will tell the truth, and one who will tell you a lie. Also consider individuals not known to you. (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
I was talking to a colleague about a student who turned in a mediocre paper for a class. Because of some gaps in the syllabus information, the student was able to get full credit although the paper was not really up to the professor's expectations. The professor had no choice but to give credit and fix the syllabus for the next time around. The loophole benefited the student on that occasion.
Let's face it, students often find the loopholes in syllabi, discipline codes, academic regulations, and more. Administrators and faculty regularly clean up the language or add the details to fill in the gaps to avoid future problems. The students get the benefit of the loopholes for the time being. I understand the necessity of that ongoing process.
But what if the loophole situation is not a "one off" for the student? Unfortunately, I have met some law students who spend their three years constantly looking for loopholes rather than pushing themselves to achieve their best work. Such students repeatedly look for ways to get out of work, to get by with minimal effort, and to "pull one over" on their professors. They often have tremendous academic potential, but prefer to coast rather than excel. For these students, "lookout for loopholes" becomes a lifestyle.
Will these students become lawyers who do minimal work on behalf of clients? Will they try to take shortcuts at every turn? Will they expect to "pull one over" on opposing counsel, the jury, or the judge? Perhaps they will be different in the "real world of practice" because law school was just a game to them. However, I am concerned what has been a lifestyle in law school will jeopardize their professionalism in practice. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, April 3, 2017
Just posted Director of Academic and Professional Excellence (APEx) position at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. This is Northwestern's proactive professional and academic counseling position. The full job description, posting, and application can be found here. The job ID is 30731. A summary of responsibilities is as follows:
The Director, Academic & Professional Excellence is responsible for curating and directing all academic excellence programming, counseling students on their academic preparation and success, and supporting the Associate Dean of Student Services as needed. This includes planning, coordination, project management, internal and external networking, conflict management, and teamwork within Student Services as outlined in the duties described below.
- Implementation of all academic excellence programming in Summer, Fall, and Spring, and incorporating student and faculty feedback to most effectively, efficiently, and successfully meet the needs of Northwestern Law students. These offerings include the Summer Law Preparatory Program, Acclimating to Law School, Case Briefing, Outlining, Exam Writing, and Post-Exam Learning, as well as other periodic presentations.
- Advise and counsel individual students on academic progress and performance, personal issues, educational decisions, and any other academic issues and objectives.
- Solicit, select, and supervise APEx Advisors (second and third year law students) who will support Director and counsel law students.
- Coordinate related events with other Student Services Directors, including but not limited to orientation, journal selection, award selection, graduation, and others.
- Collaborate in program and policy development for Student Services.
- Form network alliances with key internal department partners and external partners.
- Support Student Services and take on other assignments as delegated by the Associate Dean of Student Services.
- Performs other duties as assigned.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Appalachian School of Law is seeking a Director of Academic Support and Bar Prep and Professor of Law. This tenure track position includes teaching 1L and upper division academic support courses, and directing the bar prep program. Salary and benefits are competitive and commensurate with experience, as is the professorial rank. If interested, please forward CV to Acting Dean Sandra McGlothin (email@example.com). Additional information is below.
Base Pay Band (not including summer stipends or professional development):
$70,000 to $79,999
To coordinate and supervise the Academic Support and Bar Prep Program at Appalachian School of Law (ASL).
ASL is seeking to appoint a Director of Academic Support & Bar Prep Program (ASP) to begin on August 1, 2017.
To work collaboratively with all the faculty to support ASL’s students academically and in preparation for their bar examinations; to teach Legal Strategies I in the fall and Legal Strategies II in the spring to first-year students (ASL’s academic-support courses); to help teach ASL’s Intro to Law Orientation for first-year students; to meet individually with first-year and second-year students who are at-risk academically and other students if requested or if recommended by a professor; to host academic support and bar prep workshops; to monitor learning outcomes; to evaluate data concerning student performance; to support students in their preparation for their bar examinations, including post-graduate support; and to track and report information regarding bar passage and assessments.
A JD from an ABA accredited law school; admission to the practice of law from at least one state bar; and at least three years of experience in law school academic support or teaching.
Five to ten years of experience working in a higher-education setting in the areas of teaching, academic assistance, academic counseling or similar administrative, teaching, or practice experience; excellent written and verbal communication skills; and the ability to work effectively with a wide range of constituents within the diverse law school community, including students served by the ASP, faculty, and administrators.
Law School Description:
ASL is located in the scenic, mountainous region of southwestern Virginia. All aspects of ASL’s academic program—from the structured curriculum and the required summer externship to the community service commitment—are designed to respond to the unique needs and opportunities of a law school in this region.
The search committee will begin reviewing applications immediately and will continue to review applications until the position is filled.
Special Instructions to Applicants:
Candidates should submit a letter of interest, resume, and names of three references with e-mail addresses and telephone numbers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appalachian School of Law
Assistant Professor & Director of Academic Support & Bar Prep
1. The position advertised: _X_ a. is a tenure-track appointment. ___ b. may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years. ___ c. may lead only to successive short-term contracts of one to four years. (Full Time Position) ___ d. has an upper-limit on the number of years a teacher may be appointed. ___ e. is part of a fellowship program for one or two years. ___ f. is a part-time appointment, or a year-to-year adjunct appointment. (One-Year Visitorship only)
___ g. is for at will employment.
- The professor hired: _X_ a. will be permitted to vote on all matters at faculty meetings.
___ b. will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings on matters except those pertaining to hiring, tenure, and promotion. ___ c. will not be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3.The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range checked below. (A base salary does not include stipends for coaching moot court teams, teaching other courses, or teaching in summer school; a base salary does not include conference travel or other professional development funds.) ___ over $120,000 ___ $110,000 - $119,999 ___ $100,000 - $109,999 ___ $90,000 - $99,999 ___ $80,000 - $89,999 _X_ $70,000 - $79,999 ___ $60,000 - $69,999 ___ $50,000 - $59,999 ___ $40, 000-49,999 ___ this is a part-time appointment paying less than $30,000 ___ this is an adjunct appointment paying less than $10,000
- The person hired will have the title of:
___ a. Associate Dean (including Dean of Students).
_X_ b. Director.
_X_ c. Professor (tenure track).
___ d. Professor (clinical tenure track or its equivalent).
___ e. Professor (neither tenure track nor clinical tenure track).
___ f. no title.
- Job responsibilities include:
_X_ a. working with students whose predicators (LSAT and University GPA) suggest they will struggle to excel in law school.
_X_ b. working with students who performed relatively poorly on their law school examinations or other assessments.
_X_ c. working with diverse students.
_X_ d. managing orientation.
_X_ e. teaching ASP-related classes (case briefing, synthesis, analysis, etc.).
_X_ f. teaching bar-exam related classes.
_X_ g. working with students on an individual basis.
_X_ h. teaching other law school courses (If desired and subject to curricular needs).
- The person hired will be present in the office and work regularly during the summer months (June – August).
_X_ a. Yes.
___ b. No.
- The person hired is required to publish, in some form, in order to maintain employment.
_X_ a. Yes.
___ b. No.
This institution is an AA/EEO employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, national and ethnic origin, age, veteran status or political affiliation.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Law students may be making some foolish study decisions as they realize their exams are only 4-6 weeks away. Now is the time when the rumor mill generates some study tips that on the surface may sound time-saving, but in reality are very foolish.
Here are some of the rumors that are passed around and the explanation why the study tip is harmful:
- The rumor: Stop preparing for class and just focus on exam study. The harm if followed: Minimal class preparation is a sure way to miss the nuances in class discussion. You will not know what is or is not important without context from preparation. You will not know what the professor is skipping because you were expected to have learned and understood those points during your preparation. The new material will also be on the exam. Why act like it is not a priority? Be efficient and effective in your class preparation, but do not jettison it.
- The rumor: Take all of your remaining class absences so that you have more study time. The harm if followed: Professors will make comments about the exam content and format during the last weeks. Do you want to depend on another law student passing on that inside scoop? For some courses, the last weeks of material pull the entire course together. Some professors test the last part of the semester more heavily because of the very important topics covered at the end.
- The rumor: Have your study group divide up topics for the course so that each person focuses on one or two topics and then teaches the others what they need to know. The harm if followed: All this accomplishes is your being personally ready only for the exam questions on the topics you were assigned. You will know the gist of the other topics, but not have deep understanding of the material others have covered for you. Would you want a emergency room doctor who thoroughly understood broken bones, but only listened to others explain the gist of cardiac arrest?
- The rumor: Spend your time doing practice questions in a study group with everyone chipping in on the possible issues and answers. The harm if followed: Study groups can be helpful for discussing practice questions after you have done them on your own: reading, analyzing, organizing an answer, and writing an answer. Group think without individual work does not tell you whether you would have spotted all issues, you would have thoroughly understood the analysis, and you would have written a solid exam answer. The group will not be with you in the exam to help you think through the questions.
- The rumor: Spend as little time as possible on your 1L writing assignments because your doctrinal courses count for more credit hours. The harm if followed: A high grade in your lower-credit 1L research and writing course is still a high grade! It helps your GPA. Employers pay a great deal of attention to the legal research and writing grades. Employers realize you may have to gain some background on bankruptcy or environmental law; they expect you to know how to research and write already. You will depend on good research and writing skills every day as a lawyer.
If what the rumor mill is suggesting seems too easy, it probably is not good advice. Unsure about what you are hearing? Talk with the academic support professional at your law school to get good advice that will be based on efficient and effective study strategies that will get you more results. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Recently while teaching asylum law, we took some time in class to talk about justice. How do we know what is the right thing to do? What standard(s) should we use to decide whether a case result is just or not? I was just about to recap our discussion when a student asked, poignantly, "What does Justice have to do with the Law?"
In brief, the student commented that very few classes ever even talk about justice, and, the student also asked me directly if I have ever even talked about justice as a litigator before the court. Those were great questions. And, the student got me thinking...deeply...because if what we are doing is not just, then we should be doing something else. And, if we are not talking about justice, then, let's be frank, we are not engaging with our students in heart-felt learning because they came to law school - not to be mechanics robotically applying the law - but to make the world better, to make the world more just, in short, to restore and right and mend relationships.
As I reflected on my student's questions, I started to realize that implicit in much discourse concerning the outcome of cases are principles that manifest themselves in real impact on real people. So, my first step was to refocus on teaching about the people (and not just the mechanical facts, issues, holdings, and rationales). I try to find out what happened to the litigants. I sometimes call the attorneys that litigated the case. In short, I try to bring life to the cases that we read. Second, I try to keep my eye out for opportunities to talk about whether the decisions in the cases that we study are just (and why or why not). I try to make it explicit. Third, as we talk about representing people, I bring up opportunities to appeal to courts by using principles of justice.
So, that brings me back to learning. It seems like many law students are just plain tired, primarily it seems to me, because we have taught them that the law is lifeless. We've stripped the cases of all humanity. We talk about cases as if they are just impersonal scripts, and, in the process, our students begin to feel like the lawyer's job is just to keep the machine going. That they are a cog in a process that lacks life. That law school is not a place to learn about how to make the world better but rather just a place that keeps the world going, faltering along, without improvement, growth, or hope. Our students start to think that justice has very little to do with the law.
Perhaps that is true. But, it need not be so. That's because in a common law system the law grows out of relationships and arguments presented by real people to real people to resolve real disputes based on real appeals to the heart. So, as we teach our students, I need to help them empower themselves to speak boldly and think deeply about what the right thing to do is (and why). And, when I do that, my students start to sit up straight, they take notice, they start pondering, thinking, and, of course, learning...because they realize that they do have something to say, something that is important, something that might actually someday make a powerful impact in the lives of others when incorporated into the common law. In fact, our world needs their voices - all of their voices in order to realize justice for all.
If you're looking for a place to learn how to incorporate justice into your teaching, here's a great source. Professor Michael Sandel has a free web platform that focus on teaching justice with much of the discussion based on the law and litigation. And, in the process, you'll see a masterful teacher helping his students develop into learners. http://justiceharvard.org/justicecourse/ (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Yesterday, as I was leaving the supply room, heading towards the floor where my office is located, I overheard a conversation that stopped me in my tracks. I saw a student filling her water bottle as a professor approached her. The professor communicated how impressed she was with the student’s performance on an assignment, emphasized positive aspects of the assignment, touted the student’s abilities, and praised her for thinking outside the box. I was drawn to this exchange by an unmistakable display of enthusiasm which radiated on the student’s face. Although this student has excelled academically, she appeared excited, amazed, and touched by the professor’s positive words. The student indicated to the professor and me that this encounter made her day. As it is rare to witness positive affirmations in the law school environment, a few kind and genuine words can create a jolt of confidence that can carry students a long way.
Merriam-Webster defines affirmation as: “a positive assertion.” I understand that the word affirmation comes from the Latin “affirmare” which means “to make steady, strengthen.” Words are very powerful. When we verbally affirm another’s dreams and ambitions, we are instantly empowering them with a deep sense of reassurance that our wishful words will become reality. Law school can shake a student’s confidence regardless of how self-assured that student is. A law school community should always encourage and help strengthen students by reminding them of their aspirations and goals.
I find that affirmations are a way of helping students rewire their brains, thus creating a positive and supportive environment that helps with their overall well-being and academic improvement. I do not provide students with affirmations on a regular basis but whenever I do, I am genuine and strive to ensure I communicate positives that support and strengthen students when it appears they need it. Then I empower them to do what they need to do next. Some of the words I share include reminding students that they "possess the qualities necessary to be successful otherwise they would not be here at the law school"; they "have the ability to conquer challenges as their potential for success is infinite given the challenges they have already overcome to be here"; and "each obstacle in their way is carving their path towards greatness." Words are powerful, have impact, and can strengthen students by helping them believe in their potential to manifest their dreams. (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Mitchell Hamline School of Law was formed in December 2015 upon the combination of William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law. It is an independent law school with a strong, visible, and enduring relationship with Hamline University. Mitchell Hamline embraces a mission of access to the legal profession by students from diverse backgrounds, and we offer the Juris Doctor degree in four programs: a full-time weekday program, a part-time evening program, a part-time weekend program, and in a unique hybrid online program.
Reporting to the Dean of Academic Excellence, the Assistant Director will be responsible for directing the Law School’s programs and initiatives designed to enrich students’ learning experiences and help prepare students to pass the bar exam. The Assistant Director will provide for the effective and comprehensive deliver of programs and initiatives designed to assist law students in the transition to law school, promote successful completion of their legal studies, and prepare students to pass the bar exam. The Assistant Director will meet with and counsel students on their academic progress; develop and oversee the execution of individualized learning plans: teach classes and workshops; develop, implement and report on programs and initiatives; provide one-on-one tutoring; recruit, train, and evaluate adjunct faculty and students involved in student-led programs; and participate in the development and implementation of events and programs that provide a comprehensive and meaningful academic experience for law students.
Qualifications: J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school; admission to the bar; minimum of 1 year of legal practice or post-graduate clerkship; minimum 2 years teaching, advising, or mentoring students preferably in the area of bar preparation or academic support; strong legal writing, research, and analysis skills; ability to build rapport with students, faculty and staff; demonstrated ability to exercise sound, ethical, and professional judgment; and proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite and social learning platforms. Some evening and weekend work necessary based on program and student needs.
To apply please send cover letter and resume, salary requirements and three professional references by e-mail to email@example.com; by fax to (651) 290-8645; or by mail to Human Resources, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105.
Members of under-represented groups are encouraged to apply. AA/EOE.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Hat tip to Aslihan Bulut, a Librarian at Harvard Law School, for sharing this wonderful resource on movies related to law and the legal profession. I met Aslihan at the the Global Legal Skills XII Conference in Monterrey, Mexico last week. The link to Ted Tjaden's Legal Research and Writing page and movie list is here: Law-Related Movies. The movies are listed in multiple ways to make the resource more useful: A-Z, substantive law, documentary, court martial related, prison related, etc. Other movie-related resources are also given on the same page. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, March 25, 2017
I had the privilege of presenting at the Global Legal Skills XII Conference in Monterrey, Mexico last week. It was a wonderful conference. Presenters and participants came from around the world to discuss issues in international legal education. This conference specifically addressed international L.L.M and exchange student populations as well as teaching, legal research and writing, and technology issues for global legal education. I met legal educators from Australia, Canada, Estonia, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Qatar, United Kingdom to just name a few of the countries represented. Law schools throughout the United States were represented at the conference in large numbers as well.
All of us work with international or L.L.M. students in our ASP and bar preparation work. We are familiar with their adjustments to U.S. legal education, their struggles, and their successes. It was a pleasure to spend a week with others who are dedicated to providing support to these students. The participants at the conference are as friendly and ready to share ideas and materials as our fellow ASP'ers here in the U.S.
Here is a very brief sample of a few ASPish presentation topics:
- Beyond IRAC: Introducing LLM Students to Problem Solving - Lurene Cotento, John Marshall Law School, Chicago
- Teaching Common Law Skills to Civil Law Students - Amrita Bahri, ITAM, Mexico
- Teaching and Diversity: How MBTI Might Assist an Inclusive Approach to Individual Consultations, Chantal Morton, Melbourne Law School, Australia
- Put It To Practice: Role-Play Exercises in the International Graduate Classroom - Kathryn Edwards Piper and Sarah Kelly, St. Johns School of Law
- Facilitating Online, Peer Support Student Study Networks Using a Number of Social Media Solutions - Matthew Homewood, Nottingham Law School, UK
- LLM Orientation Design for Cohort-Building and Academic Success: Two Models - Miki Pike Hamstra and Cathy Beck, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
- Using Film to Teach about Foreign Legal Systems - Lauren Fielder, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
The next Global Legal Skills Conference (XIII) will be held in Melbourne, Australia in December 2018. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, March 24, 2017
It's difficult to write simply. Many students make the mistake of trying to "sound like a lawyer" when they write, when really the goal should be to sound like a newspaper.
To improve your writing, train yourself to cut. James Joyce is considered one of the giants of English literature. Years ago, I saw a draft of his novel, Ulysses, where he'd crossed out every word on the page except "eeled."
If you haven't done so already, make sure you do a lot of practice questions before exams (and actually write them out -- don't outline or bullet point). When you go over your answers, see what can be cut. For example:
The first issue that we must consider is whether Skippy can correctly argue that he has acquired title to the land through the doctrine of adverse possession. In determining whether adverse possession can be applied, courts look to several factors. Those factors are use that is open, continuous for the statutory period, exclusive, actual, and notorious. If any of these elements are not met, adverse possession fails. Skippy has several good arguments, although Slappy, the landowner, will argue that the land was not gained through adverse possession. First, Skippy's use was open in that ....
A person gains title to land through adverse possession if he or she engages in use that is open, continuous, exclusive, actual, and notorious for the statutory period. Here, Skippy's use was open because Slappy would have seen the well if he went onto the land to look; it was continuous because ....
Practice cutting by taking a pen and marking out the extraneous stuff until you can cut in your head as you write.
Cutting is a skill that will serve you well in practice, teaching, or whatever it is you decide to do with your law degree. Be direct. Be simple. Avoid Latin. Only use a word like antidisestablishmentarianism if you're drunk. Think Hemingway, not Faulkner. Punk rock, not Prog rock. Rothko, not Bosch. Your clients, employees, graders, or students will thank you.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Lost In Space: Try Case Charting to See Cases Fit Together to Form a Beautiful Constellation of Stars!
I grew up with a now-ancient children's TV show called "Lost in Space," in which a family of rocketeers meandered across the universe trying to find their way back home to Earth. What's interesting to me is that they never seemed to look at the big picture, i.e., to consider a map of the stars in the universe, to try to navigate their way home.
Well, at this time of the semester, I often feel lost in space too (or rather..."lost in cases" without any sense of where I am headed or even where I have been!). But, there's a cure and it is really quite a snap. In brief, the key to no longer being "lost in cases" is to create a chart - a visually portrait - of the cases for each class. And, it's not too late at all because you can start with your case reading for your very next class. And, there's more great news. It's a breeze to create!
So, here are the nuts and bolts for a "Case Chart" to help you (and me) make sense of the big picture of the cases:
First, I make a chart with columns for each of the cases that I am reading in preparation for a particular class (say Torts). If I have just two cases, it will have columns as illustrated below. But, if I have three or four cases, I'll just add more columns for each of the additional cases.
Second, I peek at the casebook table of contents or my class syllabus to identify the major concept that the cases illustrate. In the lefthand column, I annotate that concept to help me see the big picture as to why I've been assigned to read these particular cases for this particular class.
Third, after reading each case, I just jot down a few "sound bites" or phrases for each of the identified items (material factoids, issue, rule, analysis, conclusion, and my insights). I try to keep the facts super-short (to just a few "red hot" key facts that will help me remember the cases). And, I use the word "because" in the analysis section to help me explain the court's application of the rules to the facts. But, the most important items are the comments that you and I make in the bottom row of the case chart. That helps me see how the cases fit together to explain or create a legal principle.
|Major Casebook Concept||Case No. 1 (Court and Date)||Case No. 2 (Court and Date)|
In sum, using a "Case Chart," I've created a nice tidy "map" that helps me navigate the celestial space of my own universe of case preparation and reading for cases. Each case is like a "star" that I personally experienced. Now, it's got a home in my chart. And, because I can see that case's relationship with the other cases that I am reading for that particular class concept, I can start to see how the cases fit together to form a constellation that takes on the shape of a particular legal principle. In short, I'm no longer just a meandering rocketeer. I'm now on a mindful journey of learning...within the stellar universe of the law. (Scott Johns)
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
“It takes a village” or “it takes a village to raise a child” are sayings that we often hear. The origins of these sayings are unclear and there is much dispute about the origins. It is primarily thought that these sayings originate from an African proverb which states: “it takes a village to raise a child.” Some also believe the saying has Native American roots. Here, my discussion is centered on the relevance of these sayings in relation to the work of Academic Support professionals. In this context, I am highlighting the collective social responsibility our law school community shares for one another and particularly for the students we serve. We all have a concern for the morale and overall well-being of the community.
In our law school communities, there are individuals, visible and invisible, who contribute to the daily and overall functioning of our institutions. These individuals can, and often do, have a profound impact on students, providing them with support in a variety of ways. The individuals I am referring to are the administrative assistants, custodial and janitorial staff, librarians, teaching assistants, and general clerical or other support staff. These individuals interact with students in different ways than students do with faculty and administrators, probably because students view them as “regular and average” individuals rather than individuals in positions of authority. I have found that students often share more personal information with these individuals because they have regular interactions with them. As students typically stick to study spaces, they are more likely to run into a teaching assistant or a custodian. Also, students might communicate their stresses and fears as they drop-off or pick-up materials from administrative assistants. The best aspect of these interactions is that most of these visible and invisible individuals are familiar with campus and community resources because they are a part of both of those communities. Through their relationships with communities, they are often able to provide students with moral support, words of encouragement, and a piece of familial nurturing, something rarely found in the law school environment and something certain ethnic and cultural groups desire.
Why then are these individuals mentioned above an asset to Academic Support professionals? They are an asset because they not only provide valuable insights into the habits, culture, and concerns of students, but also alert Academic Support professionals to things they might want to implement. By interacting with the lady at the welcome desk, I was urged to become a notary to provide a free service to students who could not afford to pay to have bar application documents notarized. By speaking with a custodian, I learned about a student who slept on campus during the final exam period for fear of missing early morning exams, thus enabling us to find alternate options for the student. By overhearing a conversation between a student and a teaching assistant, I learned that some students were unable to afford food therefore a colleague and I jointly developed creative ways to inform students about the food bank on campus.
The best part of all of this is that interactions are mutually beneficial: students find the support they need and the visible and invisible members of our community share the enthusiasm of having students who look like them or hail from similar backgrounds attend a professional school and work towards becoming a lawyer.
It is noteworthy to mention here that regardless of a law student’s family name or place of origin, career growth or development, each student's academic success and degree completion metaphorically "belongs to the entire law school community." And for those of us who grew up in rural areas in Africa or as members of certain ethnic and cultural groups, ingrained in our experiences is the idea that we all share in our successes, achievements, and challenges. (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017
Berkeley Law is seeking a Director of LL.M. Writing and Academic Support.
The Director will be responsible for developing the curriculum for Berkeley Law's LL.M. legal research and writing (LRW) programs, for teaching two sections of LRW and a two-unit course of general interest to LL.M.s, and for developing and administering an academic support program for LL.M. students.
The position is anticipated to begin May 15, 2017, and is open until filled. The position is half-time with benefits. For details on the position, including required qualifications and application materials, and information about how to apply, please visit https://aprecruit.berkeley.edu/apply/JPF01311.
If you have questions about the position, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000376/NondiscrimAffirmAct.