Sunday, April 16, 2017
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently included a series of articles for faculty on how to use their summers and how to make time to research or write. Obviously, most of us in ASP/bar prep work are on 12-month contracts, so summers are not totally free, dead periods. However, many of us (with the exception of bar support) have some quieter periods that could be used productively for the tasks we long to have time for during the academic semesters. One of the articles included tips from a series of scholars and might be helpful to ASPers who want to make time to research and write or to complete other projects: Making Time for Research and Writing. (Amy Jarmon)
Thursday, August 18, 2016
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 teacher...in just one course...who provide individualized feedback within that course...improve grades for their students...across all courses, even controlling for LSAT and UGPA: http://abovethelaw.com/2016/05/one-thing-can-improve-all-your-law-school-grades/
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).
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Texas Academic Support and Legal Writing Scholars Colloquium
Location: Texas A&M University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas
Date: September 23, 2016
Although named the “Texas Academic Support and Legal Writing Scholars Colloquium," this gathering is open to legal writing and academic support faculty/instructors from anywhere to present works-in-progress across all disciplines within the law, doctrinal or pedagogical. Academic Support and Legal Writing faculty have complicated time commitments in our jobs, so we would like to create a forum to discuss our scholarship in light of our responsibilities that are somewhat different than from faculty members. The works presented can be in the very early stages to elicit comments for fully developing the project, to more complete articles for honing before publication. You can also participate without presenting if you like, to discuss your ideas informally with like minded colleagues during the breaks in the program.
Depending on the response, we will make every effort to create panels that share some common attributes. We would like to be able to distribute drafts, or even outlines of works in progress to the other members of the panel if possible.
The colloquium will be all day on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth, TX. There is no fee to participate, but registration is required so that we may plan our panels, plan for lunch and other logistic needs. We are located in downtown Fort Worth, with a wide variety of hotel choices, and two fairly close airports that make travel here not terribly difficult (DFW, and DAL). The Sheraton Fort Worth is directly next door, the Omni a short walk across the Watergarden, the Hilton a few blocks away, a lovely independent called the Ashton is also walking distance,and there are some more budget minded offerings within a short drive.
To register for the colloquium, email Deshun Harris at email@example.com by September 1, 2016. In the email, please include the title of your presentation topic (if you have one), your school name, previous publications/presentations, and your title. Please also let us know of any food or other accommodations that we can make to enhance your visit. Additionally, please note whether you will be attending the September 22, 2016 evening reception. Presenters are encouraged to submit a summary or draft paper two weeks prior to the colloquium (September 9) to ensure adequate time for review by panel members.
Professor of Law & Director of Academic Support and Bar Services
Texas A&M University School of Law
1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
The Learning Curve is the official publication of the AALS Section on Academic Support and is published twice yearly, once in the summer and once in the winter. We currently are considering articles for the Winter 2016 issue, and we want to hear from you! We encourage both new and seasoned ASP professionals to submit their work.
We are particularly interested in submissions surrounding the issue’s theme of using ASP to increase student engagement. How do you motivate students? Are you integrating ASP throughout the curriculum to offer engaging opportunities for students? Are you involved with assessment at your institution and have tools to share with your colleagues that will enhance engagement? Do you creatively use social media platforms to reach students? Please ensure that your articles are applicable to our wide readership. Principles that apply broadly- i.e., to all teaching or support program environments are especially welcome. While we always want to be supportive of your work, we discourage articles that focus solely on advertising for an individual school’s program.
Please send your submission to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com by no later than October 30, 2015. Attach it to your message as a Word file. Please do not send a hard-copy manuscript or paste a manuscript into the body of an email message. Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate. Our publishing software does not sup-port footnotes that run with text, so please include any references in a “References and Further Reading” list at the end of your manuscript. (Please see the articles in this issue for examples.)
For more information, you may contact Lisa Young at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not send inquiries to the Gmail account, as it is not regularly monitored.
We look forward to reading your work and learning from you!
The Learning Curve Editors
Lisa Young, Seattle University School of Law (Executive Editor)
Jeremiah Ho, UMass Dartmouth (Associate Editor)
Chelsea Baldwin, Oklahoma City University (Assistant Editor)
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Twelve law schools across the country are hosting LWI One-Day Legal Writing Conferences on one of the first two weekends in December. The Conferences are hosted by schools in every region of the country. They are great opportunities for first-time presenters as well as the seasoned legal writing, lawyering skills, and academic support professionals. Many locations include Academic Support as part of their theme: collaborating with ASP, preparing the academically unprepared law student, meeting the needs of different learners, and integrating legal writing and academic success, to name a few.
For more information about attending or presenting, please use the following link:
The link includes information about the schools hosting, the themes for each school's conference, the date and the site coordinators.
For those interested in submitting a presentation proposal, it also includes an area to submit proposals and to rank the sites in order of your preference to participate. Proposals are due by Thursday, September 17, 2015 10:00 PM PST.
After you submit a proposal the information will be compiled and distributed to the site coordinators. The site coordinators will then invite those whose proposals fit well within their schedule to participate.
If you don't want to present but are interested in attending, registration will open soon after the proposal submission process is complete.
Send any questions about the link or proposal submission process to email@example.com, and questions about the specific locations to the site coordinators.
This is a great opportunity for ASP professionals to learn, share, and collaborate with colleagues at different schools across the county. I encourage you to consider submitting a presentation proposal.
Monday, February 23, 2015
The Legal Skills Prof Blog recently posted this reference to a short piece on acronyms. I agree that acronyms and other abbreviations can cause confusion, ruin the flow of an essay, and cause the reader frustration. The article suggests a few useful guidelines on when to use them and when to avoid them. I have even had one bar examiner tell me to instruct students that their bar exam essays should not read like a text message. In an acronym, twitter/text, abbreviation heavy culture, this is a good reminder. Thus, I advise my students that when they are in doubt, they should write it out.
Monday, January 12, 2015
When it comes to legal writing, "if you cannot say it, it does not exist."
While attending the 2015 meeting of the American Association of Law Schools, I had the opportunity to attend the Blackwell Reception. The Blackwell Reception is put on by the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors.
At the 2015 Blackwell Reception, these organizations presented two awards:
The Golden Pen Award went to the Honorable Michael Ponsor, Judge for the United States District court for the Western District of Massachusetts.
So, finally -- the significance of the title of this blog post: "If you cannot say it, it does not exist." Judge Ponsor made this statement as he accepted his award and, not surprisingly, received much applause from the roomful of legal writing professors. Judge Ponsor's statement goes well beyond the confines of legal research and writing classes.
Even if this bloger did not do double duty in both Academic Support and Legal Writing and even if this blogger did not work at a law school in Western Massachusetts (where Judge Ponsor is a welcome and respected speaker) his statement would be worthy of this blog. The statement applies to every aspect of a law student's journey toward success in law school and in law practice. As law professors, law students, or lawyers, if we cannot explain or articulate our analysis, that analysis does not exist. I have already used Judge Ponsor's statement -- in the first class of my upper level course.
Have a great Spring Semester!
Monday, September 29, 2014
Time management and doctrinal classes can be challenging enough. However, when Legal Research and Writing assignments are thrown into the mix, your schedule can get even more challenging.
First, create a weekly schedule as a way to effectively manage your time. Start by penciling in your classes; then add work hours, if any, and regular appointments. Next block out study times for each class (4-5 hours for every hour that you are in class). Remember to add breaks -- every now and then. Do not try to study for hours on end -- without breaks of, say 10-15 minutes, after 60-90 minutes of study.
Next, look at your Legal Research and Writing Syllabus- note the deadlines for major writing assignments and work backward from those deadlines. When will you complete your draft? When will you outline the assignment? When will you finish the bulk of the required research? Add these tasks to your weekly schedule to maximize the likelihood that you will not be doing the bulk of the work the day before the assignment is due. Try to leave time to print out your draft and set it aside for a while (24 hours is a good goal) -- before your final proofread and edit.
If you stray from your weekly schedule once or twice, do not discard the schedule. Instead, try to get back on the schedule. Last - but not least - remember to include time for exercise and enjoyment.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
August 18, 2014
As the summer wanes and we move into the fall semester, the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth School of Law wishes to invite you to our Second Annual Junior Faculty Scholarship Exchange. This is an opportunity for junior faculty in the New England region to gather together to discuss works in progress, finished papers, research interests, and to network with peers from other institutions. Our hope is to provide a local forum for legal scholars to develop their ideas and scholarship with input and constructive criticism from fellow law teachers. This event is especially aimed at faculty with seven, or fewer, years of law teaching experience.
We are hosting this conference at the UMass Club, located in the heart of Boston’s financial district, on the 33rd floor of 225 Franklin Street. The venue is close to South Station, and the red and orange lines of the MBTA, several parking garages and local hotels. A hot buffet lunch, with morning and afternoon snack services will be provided. For directions, see: http://www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/University-of-Massachusetts-Club/About-the-Club/Directions-Hours.
Please consider joining us for this event by marking your calendar for Friday, October 17th, 2014, from 10 to 4. Seating will be limited. To register for the Junior Faculty Scholarship Exchange, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly include a short abstract of the work you wish to share with our group. We will confirm your registration for the event. Once we achieve capacity, we will need to decline further registrations . As this event is being underwritten by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth School of Law there is no registration fee. Attendees will need to assume responsibility for their personal travel or lodging expenses.
Feel free to forward this invitation to a junior faculty member that you believe may be interested. If this is information that you would prefer not to receive, please let us know and we will take you off of our list. If you have any immediate questions or concerns please call us at (509)985-1121, and ask to speak with Emma or me. Thank you.
Spencer E. Clough
Associate Dean/Director of the Law Library
The University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth School of Law
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The Learning Curve is the official publication of the AALS Section on Academic Support. It is published twice yearly, once in the summer and once in the winter. As shared in the summer issue last month (also attached again here), the Editors are considering articles for the upcoming winter issue. We are particularly interested in submissions surrounding the new issue’s themes of incorporating experiential learning into programs and meeting the needs of law students in the "new normal." Are you doing something innovative in your classroom that helps motivate a new generation of law students? Do you have a fresh take on technology or what it means to be "ASPish" in these changing times? Do you have proven exercises and assessment tools from which your colleagues might benefit?
Please send your submission as an attached Word document to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com by no later than October 1, 2014. (Please do not send inquiries to the Gmail account, as it is not regularly monitored.) Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length. If light references are appropriate, please include them in a references list at the end of your manuscript, as opposed to using footnotes. (For examples, please see the attached issue.)
We encourage both new and seasoned ASP (and ASP-friendly) professionals to submit their work. Please ensure that your articles are applicable to our wide readership. Principles that apply broadly — i.e., to all teaching or support program environments — are especially welcome. While we always want to be supportive of your work, we discourage articles that focus on advertising for an individual school’s program.
We wish you all the best as you begin a new academic year, and we look forward to reading your work and learning from you!
--The Learning Curve Editors
Courtney Lee, Pacific McGeorge (Executive Editor)
Lisa Young, Seattle (Associate Editor)
Jeremiah Ho, UMass Dartmouth (Assistant Editor)
Friday, August 15, 2014
I was surprised several years ago when I discovered that many of my law students can only print. They are unable to write in cursive (or longhand as some of us also remember it being called). Some explained that their elementary/middle/high schools had never taught them cursive writing at all. Others stated that they had learned it at some point but had little experience writing in cursive now.
In catching up on some back The Chronicle of Higher Education articles, I came across an article by Valerie Hotchkiss about the implications of another non-cursive generation and what the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign is doing to combat the loss of cursive: Cursive Is an Endangered Species. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, August 9, 2014
I just had my first article accepted (yeah!) and while it is still fresh in my mind, I figure I would give some advice about publishing. I felt like I was lost in the woods; while most law professors worked on a law review in law school, have mentors and peers with vast publishing experience, and/or spent time as a VAP, I did not. I have wonderful, amazing mentors in Judith Wegner, RuthAnn McKinney, and Kris Franklin, but I did not have the day-to-day, hands-on contact with mentors that many doctrinal professors have when they are writing (all three women living several hundred miles from me). This is not because I don't have wonderful people at my school; it's that I was so busy with ASP, that I did not have much time to interact and chat about writing with my UMass colleagues. I know many people in ASP have the same experience.
1) Find some good, highly critical scholars who will review your article. God bless Judith Wegner and Kris Franklin, who read and commented extensively on my article. Don't be sensitive. Look for critical reviewers who will tell you exactly where the article has issues. As my dean says, "when you are in the weeds," it's very difficult to spot big-picture problems with your argument.
Also, find some really strong grammarians to proofread your article. It's amazing what you can miss when you have read your article everyday, for 45 days, 15 hours each day.
2) Go to LWI or AALS sessions on publishing. I attended Katherine Vukadin's session at LWI, and it was invaluable. If you can get your hands on her handout from LWI, do it! I used her suggestions as a guide when I wrote my abstract and cover letter, and her marketing advice was 100%, spot-on perfect (in fact, I think I am getting publishing in one of my first choice law reviews because I sent a marketing letter directly to the editors).
3) Do NOT switch computers between finishing your draft and submitting. If you have a perfect, proofread, spell-checked, and double-checked article ready to submit, submit it from that computer. And be absolutely, 100% certain that you are either submitting via PDF, or you have turned off comments and highlighting (if they are not turned off, you can save a "clean" copy, yet attach a copy with highlights and comments.) Be very, very careful submitting via Expresso and Scholastica. You can't recall a submission (because you submitted the wrong version, found an error, etc.) unless you plan on withdrawing and paying again.Trust me, these issues caused me huge headaches.
4) Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Yes, it could always be better. Yes, you could spend more time on it. But sometimes, you just need to let it go.
5) If you are writing a pedagogy piece, find some trusted advisers to help you choose a placement. I went with a specialty journal that focuses on my topic (BYU Journal of Education and Law) despite having offers from some very well-ranked general law reviews. I knew that my audience was different from the audience for most law review articles, so I chose a placement that would draw readers and scholars interested in legal education.
Lastly, if you are like me, and terrified of Bluebooking, (because I did not have law review experience from law school) BE NOT AFRAID. Seriously, Bluebooking is about 1/10th as difficult as a law professor than it was when you were a law student. Once I got the hang of it (and it did take a week or so of correcting, and correcting again) it was not difficult, just tedious. I would advise against using a student research assistant to do your Bluebooking if you are afraid to do it yourself. You need to have the confidence to check your article before you submit, and you can't do that if you are relying, completely, on the skill and knowledge of a student worker.
And good luck! I hope to see many more ASPer's writing and publishing. (RCF)
Saturday, June 28, 2014
I am in the middle (or actually, the middle of the end) of writing my first law review article in 7 years. It has been a monumental task, starting with the fact that I am terribly out of practice. The Bluebook has changed since the last time I published in a law review (and I wasn't great at Bluebooking to begin with!) I have only had a month of solid writing time, although I have been researching and writing piecemeal for almost a year. To get inspired this morning, because I am so tantalizingly close to the end, but just so burnt out and exhausted, I read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed comparing writing to running. I am a long distance runner, primarily at the 10k to half-marathon length, so I thought the article could help inspire me. And she did have some good advice.
Done is better than perfect. As I write, I think about all the connections I should be making. However, I don't have the time to write the article of my dreams, I have to finish. And done is better than perfect. I think this also applies to bar takers. So many high-achieving students get stuck during bar prep because they have trained themselves to be perfect. On law school exams, aiming for perfect is important if you want to be in the top of your class. But for bar prep, just getting the work done is more important than perfect. You can't be perfect when you have so many subjects to cover, and so little time.
Writing and running each require one small step. An article doesn't come out whole in a day or a week. Neither does bar prep. Each are about taking one small step, then another, and so on. Because if you look at the project, the race, or the bar exam, as one giant monolith, you will never get started. And you have to get started. And you have to keep going when you only have 4 pages of a 30 page article, or you have only read one subject in a 15 subject outline, or you have run one mile, and have 12.1 more to go.
So with that, I need to get back to writing. I am working on one of my last sections, a section that is dear to my heart--ASP. And then I need to write my conclusions. Wish me luck. And to all of you working on the bar exam, good luck to you, too. I hope to see fellow ASPers at LWI next week.
Monday, June 16, 2014
As you plan your summer writing, remember the call of papers by the Section on Academic Support for our fourth speaker at the AALS Annual Meeting in January 2015. The call for papers deadline for submission of your paper is 5:00 p.m. Friday, August 15, 2014. The full announcement is below.
Call for Papers
AALS Section on Academic Support
January 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
ASP a Roadmap at the Crossroad: How Academic Support Will Meet Today’s Varied Challenges
This year, the Academic Support Program Committee opted to have a call for papers and one speaker will be selected from the call. From isolated academic support efforts to more formalized multifaceted programs, academic support has fundamentally changed itself and legal education over the years. In light of shrinking budgets, disappearing positions, smaller applicant pools, changing profiles of incoming students, and media attacks on legal education, academic support programs face newer and varied challenges. We seek papers highlighting innovative methods, programs, or ideas related to these challenges.
Topics might include, but are not limited to, efficient and effective ways to: collaborate with faculty; manage limited human and financial resources; attract and retain students; provide resources for students with learning and other disabilities; and create programming for diverse populations to address any social isolation and/or bridge any skills deficiencies.
As the deadline for program proposals was April 1, 2014, our list of program proposal speakers will be forthcoming. The selected paper speaker will join those speakers as one of the presenters. There is no formal requirement as to length of the abstract and paper submission. Preference will be given to papers that offer novel scholarly insights on the panel topic. A paper may have already been accepted for publication as long as it will not be published prior to the Annual Meeting. The Section does not have plans to publish the papers, so individual presenters are free to seek their own publishing opportunities.
Papers must include the following information:
1. A title for your paper.
2. An abstract of your paper.
3. A final draft of your paper.
4. The amount of time requested for your presentation. No single presenter should exceed 30 minutes in total. [Deleted statement about shorter presentations because paper speaker should be given at least 30 minutes.]
5. A detailed description of both the substantive content and the techniques to be employed, if any, to engage the audience.
6. Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employother technology.
7. A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, national or regional ASP or writing conferences, or other academic conferences.
8. A list of your published scholarly articles or books within the last three years.
9. Your school affiliation, title, courses taught, and contact information (please include email address and telephone number).
10. Any other information you think will help the Committee appreciate the value your paper presentation will provide.
Please submit your paper by Friday, August 15, 2014 at 5pm to Goldie Pritchard, Michigan State University College of Law, email@example.com. If you have questions, please email Goldie Pritchard or call at 517.432.6881.
The Section on Academic Support Program Committee:
Goldie Pritchard, Chair
Robin Boyle Laisure
ASP Section Chair: Amy Jarmon
Friday, March 21, 2014
Many students have problems with outlining an answer before writing it on the exam. When all you hear is typing fingers around you, taking the time to outline your answer might seem like a luxury you don't have time for.
Consequently, I have students make a short "attack" outline to use during the exam (if it is open book), and ask them to set up that outline in something of a fill-in-the-blank format.
For example, the attack breakdown for adverse possession might look something like this:
Open and Notorious --
On the exam, once the student recognizes that a question is asking about adverse possession, he or she can simply fill in the relevant facts on the attack outline and then write the exam answer. Especially for the weakest students, who might have timing issues and tend to leave out elements and specific facts, such an attack outline can be invaluable.
Friday, February 28, 2014
At this time of year, as Spring Break looms large for many of us, law students are facing the, sometimes daunting, task of writng and polishing persuaive memoranda and appellate briefs. John Mollenkamp, a former academic support educator and legal writing professor, created a video that walks through the process of creating tables of authorites. The video can be found at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F2h8AD-9aY
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Hat tip to Deborah Borman for the link to an article on the Legal Research and Writing Professor listserv. The article combines procrastination, writing, Dweck's research, and millenials into one piece: Why Writers are the Worst Procrastinators. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Today is National Punctuation Day! Any of us who work with students on the legal writing aspects of law school or lawyering skills know that many students struggle with correct punctuation. Commas show up in all sorts of places they are not needed. Semicolons are exotic for our students. Where the punctuation goes in relation to the final quotation mark in a sentence is a mystery for many. And apostrophes are appearing in amazing locations.
My praise, empathy, and heartfelt thanks to all ASP'ers and professors who join in the fight to train lawyers who will correctly place the punctuation in their drafted legislation, contracts, legal memoranda, and other documents. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
During the last few years I have been blessed with some writing opportunities that have taught me a great deal about putting words on paper while juggling a busy ASP office. In addition to writing articles for the Student Lawyer and writing posts for this Blog, I have had the opportunity to publish Time and Workplace Management for Lawyers through the ABA this past spring.
If anyone had asked me before these opportunities if I would ever be published in any format, I would have been skeptical because my full-time job is so busy. Here are some of the tips that I can pass on to ASP'ers who might want to write but who are unsure how to get started:
- Realize that you have something to say that can help law students and your colleagues. ASP'ers may discount their expertise if they are treated as "just administrators" and peripheral to the law school experience in their own work settings. ASP'ers are experts and with declining law school applications are becoming more important because of the changing law school populations.
- Turn items that you already use with your law students into writing opportunities. You may be able to use e-mail study tips, a series of handouts, a Power Point workshop, or other material as the basis for an article.
- Turn presentation materials that you have done for a regional workshop or national conference into an article on the same topic. Watch for conferences which are linked to publication opportunities with paper submissions linked to the sessions.
- Turn trends and observations that you have noticed about student skills or problem areas into possible research projects and later writing opportunities. Remember, however, to clear any research through your institution's human subject research approval process. Once you have collected and analyzed your results, consider whether you can turn your research into an article.
- Look for opportunities to write articles in related disciplines. Legal writing, balance in legal education, pre-law advising, teaching legal education, and student services are just some of the overlap areas that often have academic support writing opportunities.
- Start out with smaller writing opportunities that seem possible within your time constraints: guest posts submitted to this Blog; guest posts for other blogs that you read; short articles (usually 1,000 to 2,000 words) or comments (roughly 500 words) to newsletters, web publications, and other publications; book reviews for publications.
- Realize that many writing opportunities in the beginning are unpaid opportunities. Once your material becomes known, you may be able to land a paid situation on a regular or occasional basis. Even unpaid opportunities are beneficial!
- If law review articles are your interest, then talk to faculty and ASP'ers who are already published to gain tips on submissions; look for mentors who will review your articles and make constructive comments during your writing process.
- Consider starting your own blog or web pages. You can use tweets to gain followers.
- Consider posting your research papers on SSRN either as finished works or as working papers for comment.
- Set aside time in your schedule to write so it will happen instead of staying just a wish. Personally I work in the evenings and especially on the weekend when I have articles and book projects. An article of 1,200 words may take me 8 hours of writing time and 2 hours of editing time. My book on the other hand went through about 5 drafts during the approximately 20 months before the manuscript went to the publisher.
Writing is not for everyone. It is okay not to be interested in such tasks if you are not required by your law school to publish. However, if writing appeals to you, make time for it. Being published can add to your resume, your own feelings of personal accomplishment, and your credibility with ASP'ers, faculty, and students. Most of all, enjoy the process and the opportunities. (Amy Jarmon)