Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Academic and Bar Support Scholarship Spotlight

Before I get started, let me take a moment to encourage readers to send me their scholarship or the works of others you have found helpful.    

This week in Academic/ Bar Support scholarship:

1.  Benjamin Afton Cavanaugh (St. Mary's), Testing Privilege: Coaching Bar Testing Privilege: Coaching Bar Takers Towards “Minimum Competency” During the 2020 Pandemic, 23 THE SCHOLAR 357 (2021).

From the article:

Part I of this paper provides an overview of the history of the bar exam and its role in acting as a significant obstacle to licensure for people from communities of color. Though this issue was discussed long before 2020, this paper also looks at the way in which the pandemic’s impact on
the bar exam highlighted the fact that the bar exam tests the privilege of its individual applicants at least as much as it tests their skills. 

Part II presents an approach to helping graduates prepare for and overcome the bar exam even when the odds are seemingly stacked against their success. It delves into the unique advantage that intensive coaching provides over more generalized guidance on bar success. The success and challenges of this method of assistance will be analyzed with an eye towards how other law schools looking to adopt a similar program might go about mitigating the challenges faced by their students in attempting to pass the bar exam.

Finally, this paper explores how Raise the Bar served as an important support for bar takers in an unprecedented time of crisis. Until the problems posed by the bar exam can be resolved, it is incumbent upon law schools to assist their students in overcoming the bar exam barrier.

2.  Marsha Griggs (Washburn), Race, Rules, and Disregarded Reality, 82 Ohio State L. J. __ (forthcoming 2021).

From the abstract:

Exploring issues of racial bias and social injustice in the law school classroom is a modern imperative. Yet, important conversations about systemic inequality in the law and legal profession are too often dissociated from core doctrinal courses and woodenly siloed to the periphery of the curriculum. This dissociation creates a paradigm of irrelevancy by omission that disregards the realities of the lived experiences of our students and the clients they will ultimately serve. Using Evidence as a launch pad, Professor Deborah Merritt has paved a pathway to incorporate these disregarded realities in doctrinal teaching. This important pathway leads to safe spaces necessary for both faculty and students to explore the historical context of racial subordination in law. Professor Merritt’s disruptive pedagogy upends the casebook method of law school teaching. Her groundbreaking “uncasebook” has prompted deeper thinking about the meaning, purpose, and role of law. This Article serves dual aims. First, it lauds Professor Merritt’s career-long commitment to the goals of equity and inclusion in law teaching and the legal profession. Second, it complements the existing discourse on the role of race and the record of racial disparity in the Rules of Evidence by adding the personal narrative of an outgroup insider. We can do more to promote equity and inclusion in the law school classroom. This Article offers a revealing example of why we must.

3.  Jamie R. Abrams (Louisville), Legal Education's Curricular Tipping Point Toward Inclusive Socratic Teaching, 49 Hofstra L. Rev. 897 (2021).

From the abstract:

Two seismic curricular disruptions create a tipping point for legal education to reform and transform. COVID-19 abruptly disrupted the delivery of legal education. It aligned with a tectonic racial justice reckoning, as more professors and institutions reconsidered their content and classroom cultures, allying with faculty of color who had long confronted these issues actively. The frenzy of these dual disruptions starkly contrasts with the steady drumbeat of critical legal scholars advocating for decades to reduce hierarchies and inequalities in legal education pedagogy.

This context presents a tipping point supporting two pedagogical reforms that leverage this unique moment. First, it is time to abandon the presumptive reverence and implicit immunity given to problematic Socratic teaching despite the harms and inadequacies of such performances. Professor Kingsfield depicted an archetype of Socratic teaching where the professor wields power over students instead of wielding knowledge to empower students. He used strategic tools of humiliation, degradation, mockery, fear, and shame. Socratic performances that are professor-centered and power-centered do not merit the reverence and immunity they still receive after decades of sound critiques. This critique is framed as a call to “cancel Kingsfield.” Socratic teaching can (must) be performed inclusively. This Article proposes a set of shared Socratic values that are student-centered, skills-centered, client-centered, and community-centered.

Second, this Article proposes refining law school accreditation standards to ensure that students achieve learning outcomes equitably in inclusive classrooms. Accreditation reforms cannot happen around the architectural perimeter of legal education. Nor can reforms be implemented solely in episodic siloes by staff, external speakers, or even robust seminar courses. Rather, accreditation standards need to hold institutions accountable to measuring learning outcomes and addressing identified disparities and inadequacies in the curricular core of legal education.

L. Schulze (FIU Law)

December 7, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 6, 2021

Points of Light

Last night was the eighth and final night of Hanukkah (or Chanukkah, or even Hannukah). This year we had two different types of candles for our two menorahs. We had one box of artisanal long and graceful white to blue ombre candles. We also had a standard 99¢ little blue box of shorter, more colorful candles from the supermarket (or maybe a leftover box that one of our three kids brought home from Sunday school). We lit both menorahs each night: one with the pretty candles and one with the garish little blue box candles. The pretty candles burned and melted. The plain candles did as well. The bottom line was this: it was meaningful regardless of which candles we used.

Here comes the (possibly heavy handed) link to law school exams. If students have an exam answer where they spotted the issues, used the correct the rule, did both sides of analysis, and weighed the options before concluding, then it is meaningful even if it isn’t graceful (or long). There are all sorts of other holiday analogies I could make here…like remember to go one at a time when lighting your candles; remember that you need to light the helper candle first (that being the student’s knowledge and wellbeing); do not re-spin your answer to multiple choice questions, and, of course, the miracle of being asked eight multiple choice questions about one thing you know really, really well. Surely, miracles and light are what many students are asking for this time of year.

It is also important to remember, though, that like any ritual, exams have their traditions and practices. We should be sure to remind students that after each exam, they should scrape off the remnants of the last one and reload with one more point of light before moving on to the next one. Make this a tradition. Lamenting over what went wrong on the last exam is always going create a barrier to going forward-and moving on to the next exam is part of the ritual. Remembering what went well (this year, none of our cats lit themselves on fire!) will be more productive. Make this a practice. Afterall, you cannot light fewer candles as Hanukkah progresses because you cannot travel through time (yet).

Finally, when exams are all over, students should be sure to clean up before putting their exam self away. No one wants to deal with a December mess in May. And for what it is worth, the fancy candles were a bear to clean up.

Happy Holidays to all!

(Liz Stillman)

December 6, 2021 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Theory, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Associate Dean of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at Southwestern

Associate Dean of Academic Success and Bar Preparation

Southwestern Law School seeks a dynamic, experienced candidate with excellent teaching and collaborative skills to lead our Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. The ideal candidate will be a creative, organized, compassionate team leader who has passed the California bar examination, is committed to Southwestern’s mission, and is eager to engage with students from their admission into our school through their admission into the bar.

This position is a full-time faculty position, non-tenure-track, with voting rights and faculty governance opportunities. The successful candidate will be offered a five-year renewable contract. The Associate Dean will report to the Vice Dean but have direct access to the President and Dean.

Southwestern Law School has four distinct J.D. programs: a traditional, three-year day program; a part-time, four-year hybrid evening program; a four-year part-time day program designed specifically for individuals with caretaking responsibilities; and an accelerated two-year program. The Academic Success and Bar Preparation team works across all programs.

The law school is located in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, in the historic Bullocks Wilshire building. We have returned to in-person instruction and work, although employees have some flexibility to work remotely.

The successful candidate must be available to start no later than July 1, 2022.

Position Overview

The Associate Dean for Academic Success and Bar Preparation provides overall leadership and management for all aspects of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. The department develops and delivers programs that promote students’ academic success from pre- matriculation through bar admission. As a department head, the Associate Dean supervises other program faculty and staff and ensures that the team provides equitable and excellent service to Southwestern’s diverse community of students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Reporting to the Vice Dean, the Associate Dean will work closely with members of the law school leadership, staff, faculty, and committees to envision, design, manage, and implement programming to support the school’s teaching and learning goals. The Associate Dean will draw on experience, research, analysis of the law school’s needs, and national best practices to coordinate existing programs and create new programming to support teaching and learning at Southwestern Law School.

Core Responsibilities:

Programming and Teaching

  • Develop and implement a cohesive and comprehensive curriculum to help transition students into law school, promote their academic success, and prepare them to pass the bar exam and become successful legal professionals.

  • Research and implement the most current best practices for academic success skills and bar preparation.

  • Develop data-driven mechanisms for evaluating the success of students and program goals.

  • Regularly review Southwestern’s academic and bar support programs and courses and make recommendations to the faculty and administration to enhance the learning experience for students.

  • Teach in the program.

    Leadership and Administration

  • Work closely with law school leaders, faculty, and departments to promote the development of students as effective, empowered, and reflective learners and legal professionals.

  • Work closely with other departments, including but not limited to the Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs, Admissions, and Career Services Office.

  • Meet regularly with student support leaders to promote a culture of academic excellence.

  • Stay well-informed about changes and trends in legal education and bar admission and make recommendations to the faculty and administration based on these changes.

  • Oversee data gathering and analysis related to bar passage for long-term assessment.

  • Complete the annual ABA Bar Passage Questionnaire and other bar passage surveys.

  • Manage the program budget.

  • Attend and participate in faculty and department head meetings.

  • Serve on faculty committees that seek to advance the goals of Southwestern and the Academic Success and Bar Preparation programs and courses.

    Team Management

  • Supervise Academic Success and Bar Preparation team.

  • Maintain a flow of information to promote a cohesive department environment, which

    includes regular individual and team-wide meetings.

  • Develop personal growth opportunities for members of the team and take other steps to

    promote retention.

Minimum Job Requirements

  • J.D. from an ABA-approved law school; strong academic credentials.

  • Admitted to the bar in at least one jurisdiction (license may be inactive but must be

    eligible for immediate conversion to active status).

  • Passed the California bar examination.

  • Significant knowledge of the substantive law tested on the California Bar Examination.

  • Familiarity with the current format of the California Bar Examination and major bar

    preparation companies.

  • At least two years working as a practicing attorney in any field is preferred.

  • At least five years of prior law school teaching experience in or related to academic

    support or bar preparation is preferred.

    Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Required or Preferred:

  • Significant knowledge of the law school curriculum and best practices for law teaching.

  • Superior written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills.

  • An understanding of the dynamics of diversity and accessibility (including first-

    generation college graduates) in higher education and a demonstrated ability to

    incorporate this understanding into their work.

  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with a diverse population of students,

    faculty, staff, and administrators.

  • Ability to foster a cooperative work environment, employee development, and

    performance management skills.

  • Demonstrated ability to think creatively and critically about techniques to improve law

    students’ academic development and to design, implement, and manage innovative

    programs to promote that development.

  • Demonstrated ability to handle confidential information, exhibit good judgment, and

    exemplify customer service in working with students, faculty, and staff.

  • Ability to manage multiple competing priorities and meet firm deadlines.

  • Accuracy and meticulous attention to detail.

  • Highly organized with excellent time-management skills.

  • Excellent critical thinking and listening skills.

  • Ability to apply creative problem-solving skills to develop solutions within established

    policies, guidelines, accreditation standards, and applicable law.

  • Knowledge of advising, coaching, and counseling techniques.

  • Technology fluency; knowledge and experience working with Microsoft Office, Canvas or another learning management system, Zoom, and social media.

  • Demonstrated commitment to holistic education and wellness.

  • Flexibility to work in person and online, in the evenings, and sometimes on weekends.

  • Experience working with statistics and data is a plus.

  • Prior experience directing or serving as an associate director of an academic support or

    bar preparation program is a plus.

  • A self-starter and demonstrated work ethic.

  • Ability to function independently with minimal oversight.

  • Prior budget experience is a plus. To Apply

For full consideration, interested individuals should apply by submitting a resume or curriculum vitae and cover letter connecting their experience to the job responsibilities to jobs10@swlaw.edu by January 30, 2022. Our review of candidate materials will begin on or about February 1 and continue on a rolling basis.

Southwestern Law School does not discriminate based on race (including hairstyle and hair texture), color, religion, creed, ancestry, national origin, sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age (40 and over), disability (mental or physical), medical condition, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law in its programs and activities. We strongly encourage women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, and all qualified persons to apply for this position.

December 5, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Associate Director in the Academic Skills Program at Berkley

POSITION OVERVIEW

Position title: Associate Director

Salary range: Salary commensurate with experience
Percent time: 100%
Anticipated start: December 1, 2021
Position duration: One-year, full-time (100%) academic appointment, subject to renewal.

APPLICATION WINDOW

Open date: November 17th, 2021

Next review date: Friday, Dec 17, 2021 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.

Final date: Friday, Dec 17, 2021 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.

POSITION DESCRIPTION

Position and Program Overview
Berkeley Law is committed to fostering a supportive academic environment that allows students to achieve their full potential. The Academic Skills Program provides instruction and individual advising in a law school environment. Effective study methods are crucial to law school success, and the goal of the program is to ensure that students gain the necessary skills to succeed as law students and as lawyers.

The Associate Director will assist and collaborate with the Director in all aspects of the Academic Support Program. The position is primarily engaged in the coordination of academic programs but may include a separate but accompanying lecturer appointment.

Job Description
The Associate Director will assist in planning and implementing a summer pre-orientation program, a student tutor program, workshops for students and faculty, and individual support for students. The Associate Director will also collaborate with the Director in developing new programming, including additional bar preparation support.

Key responsibilities include:
• Assist in administering the Academic Skills Program’s student-facing programs, including exam preparation workshops, study sessions, one-on-one meetings, orientation programs, and other special events at the law school;
• Lead workshops on study and exam-taking techniques for various audiences;
• Assist in supervising and training student tutors;
• Develop and implement innovative programming, including bar preparation support; and
• Attend conferences and/or professional workshops to stay informed of current trends in the field of legal education and academic support.

Additional materials may be required of applicants.

QUALIFICATIONS

Basic qualifications (required at time of application)

• J.D. degree or equivalent degree

Additional qualifications (required at time of start)

• At least one year post-law school professional experience

Preferred qualifications

• At least three years post-law school professional experience;
• Familiarity with the operations of a law school and legal organizations;
• Previous teaching experience and/or equivalent facilitation experience;
• Advanced program-development and problem-solving skills;
• Ability to relate to diverse audiences—students, faculty, academic administrators, practicing lawyers—within the legal profession;
• Ability to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students;
• Excellent oral and written communication skills; and
• Excellent interpersonal skills.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

Document requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

  • Cover Letter (Optional)

  • Statement on Contributions to Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Statement on your contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including information about your understanding of these topics, your record of activities to date, and your specific plans and goals for advancing equity and inclusion if hired at Berkeley (for additional information go to https://ofew.berkeley.edu/recruitment/contributions-diversity).

Reference requirements
  • 3 required (contact information only)
Apply link: https://aprecruit.berkeley.edu/JPF03141

Help contact: academicpositions@law.berkeley.edu

CAMPUS INFORMATION

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are core values at UC Berkeley. Our excellence can only be fully realized by faculty, students, and academic and non-academic staff who share our commitment to these values. Successful candidates for our academic positions will demonstrate evidence of a commitment to advancing equity, inclusion, and belonging.

The University of California, Berkeley 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

In searches when letters of reference are required all letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service or career center), to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality (http://apo.berkeley.edu/ucb-confidentiality-policy) prior to submitting their letter.

As a condition of employment, you will be required to comply with the University of California SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Policy https://policy.ucop.edu/doc/5000695/SARS-CoV-2_Covid-19. All Covered Individuals under the policy must provide proof of Full Vaccination or, if applicable, submit a request for Exception (based on Medical Exemption, Disability, and/or Religious Objection) or Deferral (based on pregnancy) no later than the applicable deadline. For new University of California employees, the applicable deadline is eight weeks after their first date of employment. (Capitalized terms in this paragraph are defined in the policy.)

Apply Here

December 4, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 3, 2021

Director of Academic Success at Vermont Law School

Description

Vermont Law School is mission-driven, guided by its motto: “Lex pro urbe et orbe,” law for the community and the world. This mission is apparent in the Law School’s longtime commitment to environmental law, social and restorative justice, and the varied careers that its students have pursued in those fields. The Law School’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board share a strong sense of this mission. 

Vermont Law School is located on the White River in the historic village of South Royalton, VT, which is approximately a 30-minute drive from Hanover, NH, and a 45-minute drive from Montpelier, VT. For more information on the Law School please go to www.vermontlaw.edu.

Vermont Law School is committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion and connectedness. We grow and learn better together with a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students. In recruiting for faculty and staff, we seek unique backgrounds to enrich and challenge our community. As part of our commitment to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, candidates who meet the qualifications for this position and who require accommodations to apply should contact Human Resources at jobs@vermontlaw.edu. Vermont Law School strives to raise the bar for being an Equal Opportunity Employer, and we prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, place of birth, marital status, disability, veteran's status, HIV status, pregnancy, genetic information, health insurance status, and crime victim status.

Summary of Responsibilities:

The Academic Success Program serves students in the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program, various master’s programs, and Master of Laws program. The Program reinforces vital academic skills, provides support in substantive instruction areas, and emphasizes organizational and time management skills. Academic Success is a growing and vibrant department. The Director is eligible for a series of initial one or two-year contracts with the possibility of a long-term contract following a successful review. This is a year-round position.

The Director of Academic Success answers directly to the Vice Dean for Students. The Director also has two direct reports: the Assistant Director of Academic Success and the Academic Success Program Manager. The Director of Academic Success teaches core ASP courses, including Foundations of Legal Analysis, Legal Methods, and Bar Exam Skills & Tactics (BEST). The Director is also responsible for coordinating the July Education for the Bar (JEB) program, a course designed to prepare students to sit for the July iteration of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), or the February Early Bar (FEB) program, a six-credit course designed to prepare students to sit for Vermont (UBE) February bar exam before graduating in May.

The Director is also responsible for presenting at ASP workshops, meeting with students individually, collaborating with faculty and staff, serving on faculty committees, and other administrative duties, including compiling, and filing mandatory reports. Additional responsibilities include attending school functions such as graduation, faculty meetings, and various other events throughout the year. Occasional availability on nights or weekends is required.

Essential Functions and Principal Accountabilities:

  • Supervise the Assistant Director of Academic Success and the Academic Success Program Manager.
  • Design and teach courses for high-risk students, students on academic probation, and students preparing for the bar examination.
  • Provide individual tutoring and counseling for students about study habits, skills, tools for improvement, time management, outlining, exam preparation, and bar-related issues.
  • Design, plan and implement, academic support programs for all students at VLS.
  • Develop and implement student programming for all three classes, including but not limited to curriculum design and implementation of first-year skills-based course, second-year bar information session, and third-year bar-passage course.
  • Design and implement workshop series and informational resources for all students including maintenance of Program websites, bulletin boards, flyers, and emails.
  • Aid in design and implementation of pre-orientation and orientation activities for incoming students.
  • Continuously work to increase awareness of department services. Provide support to doctrinal faculty in utilizing Academic Success services.
  • Help students in connecting and maximizing usage of institutional and community resources.
  • Coordinate activities of Student Mentors and oversee Mentor selection, training, and support. Meet regularly with Student Mentors to monitor both mentor and mentee progress.
  • Maintain involvement in national activities related to academic success.
Requirements

Education, Skills, and Experience:

  • Juris Doctor degree required with a license to practice law.
  • Four years of experience in higher education administration and/or teaching at the JD or master’s level or comparable relevant work experience.
  • Experience in legal practice is a plus, but not required.
  • Working knowledge of or ability to learn adult learning theories.
  • Familiarity with first-year law curriculum.
  • Knowledge of or ability to learn FERPA regulations.
  • Strong legal analysis skills.
  • Excellent writing ability.
  • Ability to navigate basic technology systems in a Windows/Office environment for email, scheduling, online meetings via Teams or other platforms, and various school-specific databases.
  • Understanding of and appreciation for inclusion, including the ability to work with students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds, identities, and viewpoints.

Other Requirements:

  •   Respect – Understanding and interest in incorporating VLS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion values into the classroom and workspace.
  • Adaptability and Flexibility - Must be able to adapt to new and emerging technology as established and communicated by the law school to carry out the administrative duties associated with teaching. Willingness and ability to work remotely in emergency situations. Ability to work the occasional after-hours and weekend hours required to support students in this position. 
  • Communication - talk and/or listen to convey or exchange information; communicate effectively and efficiently in written correspondence and technical correspondence; process and comprehend written material; exchange ideas, information, and opinions with others to formulate policies and programs and/or jointly arrive at conclusions, solutions, or dispute resolution. 
  • Professional Discretion - exercise thoughtful judgment and meet deadlines; develop and maintain effective professional relationships with others; function effectively under stress; adapt to changing environments; display flexibility; and function in the face of uncertainties and ambiguities.
  • Collaboration- This position requires collaboration with peers and colleagues as well as students, and the ability to independently manage deadlines and multiple projects. 
  • Service- Faculty and staff at Vermont law school provide service to students, the community, and one another through service on committees and appropriate volunteer opportunities both on-and off-campus.
  • Scholarship- Faculty at Vermont Law School are encouraged to pursue research and scholarship opportunities as a critical part of their own continuous learning process.
  • Safety - Willingness to participate with the Vermont Law School faculty and student community and follow Covid19 safety policies and guidelines as laid out by the One VLS Action Team based on the changing landscape of the Covid19 pandemic.

Apply here

December 3, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 2, 2021

It's Okay to Take It Slow Sometimes

There's an old story about a NASA engineer on the way to a big space launch of one of the Apollo moon rockets.

Living in Orlando, about an hour from the cape, the engineer was falling behind so he stepped on it, traveling as fast as he could on the highway.  Caught speeding, the engineer learned that perhaps the fastest way to the destination is not always the quickest.

That especially came to heart when the police officer asked the engineer: "What's the hurry?"  In response, the engineer said, truthfully: "I'm running late for a big moon launch."

In reply, the quick thinking cop said: "I just have one question to ask before I decide if I write you a speeding ticket.  If you died in a speedy crash today on the way to the launch pad, would NASA still launch?"

Hesitantly, the engineer - a bit embarrassed at the truth of it all - acknowledged: "Yes, NASA would still launch."

Consequently, the police officer wrote the ticket, saying that the rush wasn't worth the possible tragic cost of life and limb to the engineer or to others on the public highway.

Lesson learned:  

Too often we are speeding, recklessly traveling, when slow and pokey might actually be better for us and for all we serve.

So, ASP professionals, as you make plans for next year with this semester's final exams underway, take time to reflect on where you are going and how fast you are going.  And take time for yourself with your friends and your families.

Perhaps there's no better way to capture the spirit behind this lesson than with a poster, courtesy of Amber Dannis, assistant director of student affairs at the University of Denver.

When I first saw the saying, posted in the student affairs office, I was in a frantic rush. so it was nice to be given "permission" to unplug for for a bit.  Words of wisdom, I think.

 

IMG_0675

Scott Johns

 

December 2, 2021 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Practice Makes Progress

Not perfect, progress. Because there is no such thing as perfect - only progress towards your goal.

Having said that, exam season is around the corner. If you are a first year student, this will be your first set of exams, and it's daunting and stressful. It's tempting to try to memorize every piece of your outline or re-read cases. Don't. Practice is what makes progress.

Do as many practice exams as possible. Redo your midterm if you had one. Do as many practice exams or hypotheticals as your professors have passed out. Ask for more if you don't have many. If your professor doesn't have, or won't distribute, past exams, look for other sources of practice exams. Typically your Academic Support person might have some, or there might be some in supplements. The point is to practice your writing. Yes, you need to know the law when you are taking an exam, but the most important thing you can do is put forth a thoughtful analysis, and that takes PRACTICE.

It will also be tempting to to make sure you have everything memorized, or organized, and then practice. Don't fall for this. Practicing hypos and exams will help you learn where your gaps are, and it will help you determine whether your notes and outline are working for you. I'd even suggesting doing practice hypos with notes, to help you better remember the law.

It is not enough to just read through a practice hypo, thinking about what you might write. It's also not enough to just read sample answers or rubrics and go "oh i would have written that." You have to practice actually writing it out! More than once!

I'm fairly excitable about this topic because every January I meet with students who didn't do so well in their first semester. And lo and behold, when discussing how they study, all of them confess that they either failed to do any practice hypos or exams, only did one, maybe two, or only outlined them, or looked at the answer.

This is the biggest piece of advice that I can give you right now; practice makes progress, and the more practice the better!

Good luck, and happy practicing!

(Melissa Hale)

December 1, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 29, 2021

Idle Times

Every summer, our family rents a (dog friendly) house out on Cape Cod. Recently, we have been renting bicycles when we get there at a bike rental place called Idle Times. It isn’t fancy, but it is friendly--the name is welcoming and seems to be assuring us that we need not race or even labor much to get around on the bicycles. It is the kind of place where an old black lab lies in the overgrown seagrass and seems to will the kids trying out bicycles to go around him rather than move from his shady spot. It is idyllic-no false advertising involved. This past weekend (that started on a Wednesday-shouldn’t they all?) was also gloriously idle (aside from the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and latkes). I removed my laptop from the table (yes, the new one for those of you who have been following these posts) and didn’t return it to its spot until yesterday. And here I am on a Monday morning trying to jump start my professional brain after this lovely idleness.

Today is the last day of classes for us. While many might think that this is the beginning of a nice break for all academics, it is absolutely crunch time for ASP folks. There are students panicked about finals. They seem shocked that exams are almost upon us despite all the warning signs. I agree that by the time we develop our fall mojo, it is already Veteran’s Day-which was less than three weeks ago. Fall seems like a slow walk uphill to a sudden cliff, while spring semester seems like a cold, dark walk through a cave into the light. 

Nonetheless, we are about to begin our "reading days." I’m not sure how much time between classes ending and exams beginning is just right; I don’t think there is a one size fits all time period, but our 1L students have around 2.5 days.

Here is (some of) what I advise students to do now and during these days and the exam period:

  1. Get out of the law school building (we are all in one building here). The air is thick with stress and every little whisper will make you think someone knows something you don’t about a class you are in. I point out to our students that we are (in the fall at least) out of sync with our undergraduate and business schools, so their libraries might be a better place to study if a library is your preferred spot. At least the din there won’t make you feel unnecessarily inadequate. In pre-COVID times I would also recommend a coffee place (away from school) or even my favorite, the café at the Museum of Fine Arts (excellent place to study and wonderful place to be when you need a break from it).
  1. Make an exam plan. Work backwards from your last exam and plan reasonable study schedules for each day. Remember to add a teaser of the exam after the immediate one into your plan-so if Civ. Pro is on Thursday, you can take an hour and review a little Crim because that is next and so on.
  1. Attend to your hygiene and health! Seriously, this is going to be a marathon, pace yourself and be sure to stay hydrated. Don’t take unnecessary pandemic risks right now. Showering is important even if the alternative can help with social distancing.
  1. Practice writing answers and doing multiple choice questions: while reading carefully will be an important part of your exams, you will still need to produce an answer. You should practice essays often enough that IRAC is a muscle memory. Do enough multiple-choice questions that you are not confused by slight changes in terminology (because…gasp…sometimes doctrinal professors do not write their own questions). Remember, a good way to be prepared for exams is to be a PERP: Prepared for class, Engaged in class, Reviewing after class and Practicing. Ok, now I can see why this didn’t catch on, PERP is just not going to happen. But there is still hope for fetch.
  1. Handle different subjects with different strategic approaches: Civil Procedure is linear and chronological; Contracts is transactional; Torts and Criminal law just beg for making a chart with all the people and causes of action involved and so on…
  1. Just get started: if you are lost on the exam, start with something you can answer to get the brain engaged and then go back. However, do not go back and change any multiple-choice answers if you have already made a choice-it will not end well.
  1. Get out again-after the exam, leave the building. Do not discuss it with other people. I know that talking about a shared trauma can be therapeutic, but this will not be. I promise. Think about what you have done well on this exam and then move on with your plan. As Timon famously says in The Lion King, “You gotta put your past behind you.”
  1. When all the exams are over, enjoy the idle time.

(Liz Stillman)

November 29, 2021 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

I'm grateful for AASE

Every November I do a "Month of Gratitude." I started it around 2014 or so, with an aim to reflect on the good in my life. Scientists who are much smarter than I am say that writing down what you are grateful for boosts things like serotonin. I always feel like I can use a free boost of serotonin, so can't hurt to try!

This year, one of my days of gratitude was dedicated to AASE, or the Association of Academic Support Educators. The organization itself, and the work it does. But also the people. These are people I can genuinely call my friends.

Awhile ago Laurie Zimet coined the term "Asp-ish" - which essentially translates to "very giving, supportive, and generous". In fact, I remember vividly at one annual AASE meeting discussing the idea of AASE Awards (start thinking, I'll be asking for nominations in Feb!)  and some members worrying that by giving awards to some members, we are excluding others. However, our desire to lift each other up and recognize accomplishments won the day. I just feel like that conversation very much encapsulates the spirit of AASE - inclusion, and lifting each other up!
 
Never has there been a group so quick to talk about each other's accomplishments,  quick to advocate for equity for all , quick to advocate on behalf of students, quick to agree to co-author a book or an article, and  quick to share a syllabus, share course materials, share powerpoints. It truly is an incredibly giving organization. As a group, we share our resources, both actual resources we use in class and time spent giving advice and mentorship. 
 
I can't think of a more collegial and positive group, and I am so proud to lead, if only for awhile. On that note, I think we are all missing our in person gatherings. I think, in the past, we have gone into conferences feeling drained, burnt out, and yet left feeling energized and excited, simply after being around one another. I like that we can share ideas, but also be incredibly social.
 
To that end, I'm very much looking forward to seeing all of you in Texas. May of 2022 can't get here soon enough!  Remember to Save the Date! And thank you Afton Cavanaugh for this fantastic teaser video.  A call for proposals will go out Mid December, and we will be updating you all with more details soon! Cheers to San Antonio, Cheers to Afton and St. Mary's, and Cheers to all of you!
(Melissa Hale)
 
AASE 2022 Save the Date (2)
 
 
 

November 24, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thank You, And . . .

I was honored and surprised and thrilled to find out that I was the recipient of the 2022 Trailblazer Award. I truly feel that I have the best job in the world, and part of that is because I get to be a member of the broader academic support community.

While I take pride in and ownership of my accomplishments, it also is not lost on me that they would be much more difficult for many other academic support professionals to achieve because of the inconsistency and inequity among how we are treated at our schools. I wanted to highlight the ways in which my institution – Suffolk University Law School (SULS) – has supported me, in the hopes it will encourage other law schools to do the same.

  1. Financial and logistical support for research and writing: SULS provides summer funding for professors who wish to take on scholarly projects, and they extend this funding to academic support professors. I’ve written four articles and have received funding for two of those. The funding is both a financial help, as well as – importantly - an incentive and a vote of confidence. I wasn’t sure that I would ever write an article, but getting funding made me feel like the school believed I could. In addition to the funding, the law school has an active and robust Scholarship Committee and does not require me to teach a full course load over the summer.
  1. Faculty status: I'm faculty and therefore involved in faculty committees and meetings, which allows me to form relationships with other faculty, get ideas, exchange ideas, and feel more invested in the school.[1]
  1. Conference funding: SULS provides me with conference funding, which allows me to meet other academic support colleagues, build community, and gain skills.
  1. Long-term contracts: Those of us in the Academic Support Program have 1-, 3- and 5-year contracts, which allow us greater stability than others who face yearly renewal and review.
  1. Parental leave: I received maternity leave (it is sad that this even needs to be said, yet it does).
  1. A significant academic support program: There are four full-time academic support professors at Suffolk (names familiar to and beloved by anyone working in the field: Herb Ramy, Liz Stillman, Phil Kaplan, and Jen Ciarimboli). This is not only crucial because we have a very large student body, but also benefits me immensely because I have generous, wise, and hardworking colleagues with whom to exchange ideas and resources.
  1. Teaching opportunities: Finally, in recent years, SULS has allowed me to teach non-ASP classes like Professional Responsibility and Negotiation. Doing so has helped me gain experience and confidence, generated ideas for scholarship, provided me with additional pay, and helps students and faculty see that ASP professors are part of the broader curriculum.

Of course, we are not perfect at SULS. In short: I would love to have tenure. When I joined legal academia, tenure seemed primarily like a matter of ego to me. But now, I value it more. I’d like financial equity with my colleagues; to feel fully respected and valued; to have full academic freedom; and to be able to have a greater impact on my community through voting on matters of appointments and tenure.[2] Perhaps this award will be a step towards these goals.

And perhaps I am sharing too much, being too transparent. I’ve come to learn that a certain amount of gamesmanship is expected in academia. But I believe part of the success of many of us in academic support is our authenticity and transparency.

If you are a tenured faculty member or administrator reading this - thank you, and I hope this has given you some ideas.

If you are academic support staff or faculty, please feel free to reach out if I can be of support - I know how much you do for students, how unquantifiable the majority of it is, and I believe in and value you.

 

[1] I don’t mean at all to prioritize faculty over staff, and I think staff should receive these benefits as well. I intend instead to acknowledge what I gain from being a faculty member.

[2] Another note: my title is not Associate Professor, but Associate Professor of Academic Support, and many wonderful scholars have noted the way that titles perpetuate hierarchy. See, e.g., Rachel Lopez, Unentitled: The Power of Designation in the Legal Academy, 73 Rutgers L. Rev. 923 (2021).

(Sarah Schendel - Guest Post, Associate Professor of Academic Support, Suffolk Law School)

November 23, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 22, 2021

Outlining for Thanksgiving

 

I. This is a tradition-based argument, so be sure to analyze questions in that context. Note: historical reasons for celebration are morally and legally troubling and clean hands analysis should be undertaken. More current traditional rationales are easier to support but not corrective.

II. Elements of T-day dinner (may vary by jurisdiction, this is the model T-Day Dinner rule in the Restatement and on the Bar):

    A. Turkey, note that in some jurisdictions, Tofurkey or other non-meat alternatives can substitute here (Restatement on Thanksgiving, §143(a)(3))

    B. Stuffing (any variety)

    C. Potatoes:

        i. Can be candied, or

        ii. Mashed, or

        iii. Baked, or

        iv. All of the above

        v. (Marshmallows on a case-by-case basis),

    D. Gravy,

    E. Something green, (must be edible-ex. green napkins are insufficient)

    F. Beverages (be sure to look at (I) below in selecting),

    G. Pies, (plural intended)

    H. Other food items are allowed but not required, and

    I. Family

            i. Actually related, or

            ii. Chosen, or

            iii. Others

III. To have a complete answer, be sure to engage in the “what goes in the oven when” analysis: THIS MAY INVOLVE MATH-bring a calculator to exam if allowed.

    A. NOTE: The turkey, like federal law, may occupy the field

    B. If this is the case, be sure to do the temporal analysis and seek additional heat sources (Restatement §350).

IV.  To finish the exam question:

    A. Invite family,

    B. Gather foodstuffs,

    C. Set the table,

    D. Cook,

    E. Enjoy everyone’s company while eating, and

    F. Do not forget remedies:

            i. Take a walk,

            ii. Take a nap,

            iii. Watch football (or be football adjacent)

V. Have a great holiday.

(Liz Stillman)

November 22, 2021 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Assistant Director of Academic Excellence and Bar Success at Turo

Overview

    Touro Law Center seeks an enthusiastic candidate with superior academic credentials to join our Academic Excellence and Bar Success Department. The ideal candidate will be a highly organized, detail-oriented, and intellectually curious team player who is committed to the Touro Law Center mission, law teaching and learning excellence, and is eager to engage with students throughout law school and bar exam preparation.
    This is a full-time professional staff position. The candidate who is selected will report to the Asst. Dean of Academic Excellence & Bar Success Programs and will work collaboratively within the Department and with other law school faculty and staff to promote student success in law school and on the bar exam. Work will include but is not limited to: teaching in-person and online courses and workshops, counseling and mentoring students regarding academic excellence and bar success developing, updating content, creating and tracking assessments within an online learning management system, gathering and analyzing data and other work to advance academic excellence and bar exam success. Evening and sometimes weekend availability is necessary.

Responsibilities

  • Counsel, teach, and mentor law students individually and in groups
  • Work with others in the department to develop and implement workshops and course content
  • Assist in the gathering and analysis of data relevant to academic and bar success outcomes
  • Become knowledgeable and stay current with all aspects of the bar exam and all other requirements for licensure in NY
  • Assist in maintaining records associated with the law school’s academic and bar success programs
  • Grade and provide extensive feedback on numerous formative and summative assessments
  • Communicate professionally and effectively to students, faculty, staff, and alumni
  • Other duties related to academic and bar success as assigned by the Asst. Dean of Academic Excellence & Bar Success Programs. 

Qualifications

Degrees

  • Juris Doctor degree with a record of high academic achievement from an ABA-accredited law school
  • Must be admitted to the bar in at least one United States jurisdiction.

Knowledge/ Skills/ Abilities

  • Committed to excellence and continuous improvement in law school teaching and learning
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the Touro Law Center mission and to legal education
  • Team player who can work collaboratively with others 
  • Self-starter who can demonstrate initiative and work well independently.
  • Ability to work both in person and online and sometimes during evenings and weekends.
  • Excellent writing, speaking, and interpersonal communication
  • Excellent organizational skills are essential
  • Technology fluency; knowledge and experience working with Microsoft Office, Zoom, or other distance communications tools, Canvas or a similar online learning management systems, social media,and other technology experience
  • Experience working with statistics and data is not required but will be an asset to the position as will experience with video and audio recording and editing

Posting Here

November 20, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

So you failed the bar........

So You Failed the Bar? I write this literally 2 times a year, because students that fail the bar need to hear it. 

First and foremost, this does not define you. Trust me, we have all heard stories of prominent lawyers, judges, and politicians that have failed the bar, sometimes multiple times. I could make you a list of all of the successful lawyers that were unsuccessful on the bar exam their first time.  But I won’t, because failing the bar does not define them. If you try to make a list, you won’t find “failed the bar” on Wikipedia pages, or official biographies, or resumes. It’s not because it’s some secret shame, but because no one cares. In 5-10 years, no one will care how many times it took you to pass the bar. In fact, they won’t care in 6 months or a year. It seems like a defining moment right now, but it isn’t. Your defining moments come from the way you treat clients, the way you treat colleagues, and what you choose to do with your license once you have it.

I write this twice a year, every time results come out, because I think the message is that important. So let me repeat, this does NOT define you.

Especially this past year. Pass rates are down all over, and I firmly believe that is due to significant pandemic stress, burnout, and anxiety, coupled with significant tech issues. I realize this doesn't help things, but know that you are not alone, and this is NOT a reflection of you, your skills, or your ability to practice law. 

Having said that, it’s ok to take a few days to be upset. Do what you need to do. But then dust yourself off, and start looking towards the next bar. Also, remember that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a part of success. Every successful lawyer has failed – on the bar, at trial, in a negotiation, not getting a job. Every failed politician has lost a race. Every failed Olympian has lost a game or a match. That failure is a normal way to achieves success in the future. However, for that to be true, you have to learn from failure.

So how to learn from this?

Step 1: Request your essays back.  Many states allow you to request, or view, your essays.  There are often deadlines for this, so make sure you do it right away.

Once you have your essays, I want you to do a couple things. Review your answers. Now that you are removed from the day of writing, what do you notice? Then, if possible, compare them to the sample answers. See if you can pick out patterns. Don’t just focus on the conclusions, or the issues spotted. Did the sample answers use more facts? Or have a more in depth analysis? Be honest with yourself. Also, if you have a varied set of scores (one essay is a 1, while another is a 5) compare the 2. What is the difference? Don’t just shrug it off as you know one subject better. Pay attention to the writing in both.

In addition, here is a CALI lesson on assessing your own work. It may seem geared towards law students, but it can help you assess your essays: https://www.cali.org/lesson/18101

Assessing your essays is the really important first step. I have seen so many students that know the law, and know it well. But they don’t put enough explanation in their essays, and that costs them. So really take that time to be critical, and see what you need to work on.

Step 2: Analyze your score  How close or far away are you from passing? Did you do better on a certain subject? Is your written score considerably better than your MBE score? This is an excellent place to start. Some things to keep in mind:

  • If your essay score is higher than your MBE, it may be tempting to place most of your energy into MBE practice, and forget about essays. This will only result in your score “swapping.” So, while it is good to note that you might need more work on the MBE, don’t forget that you aren’t carrying the score with you so you still need to practice essays. The reverse is true if you did better on MBE than the essays.
  • Perhaps you did really well on the torts MBE, but your lowest score was civil procedure. Again, do not just focus on civil procedure, and forget other subjects. Your scores will just swap places, and not improve overall.
  • You might be only 2 points away from passing. Great! However, your score is still starting from scratch. Meaning, in one sense, you only need 2 more points, but that’s not how the bar works, obviously. You have to still work to get the points you already got AGAIN, and it is likely you forgot things, and are out of practice.

Step 3: Think about external things  Did something unrelated to the bar impact your studying? Perhaps a health issue, physical or mental? Perhaps a family emergency, or ongoing family issues?

Have you suffered from anxiety in general or related to exams? If you do, are you being treated for the anxiety?

These things can and will impact your studying. Not matter how much time and effort you put in, if you are not physically and mentally healthy, you won’t process the information correctly.

Not to mention, if there is something in your life that is distracting you, that will also impact how you process information.

And again, we were in a pandemic. This likely impacted your ability to study and focus. That’s ok, and that’s normal.

Step 4: Accommodations  If you were entitled to accommodations in law school, did you use them on the bar exam? If not, make sure you apply for them this time around. If you were denied accommodations, still try again. They likely need more recent testing, or paperwork.

Step 5: Think about your Study Habits.  The most important thing you can do is practice. Many bar students get caught up in trying to memorize every sing law, or master every subject. While this is admirable, and takes quite a bit of time and effort, it's not a surefire way to find success.  This is because mastering the bar is a SKILL. You need to practice. When I work with repeat takers, I often find that they knew the law, and they studied hard, but didn’t practice enough essays or enough timed MBE.

This matters for a few reasons. One is timing. You can know all the law in the world, but if you can’t write an essay in 30 minutes, you will struggle to get the scores you need. Similarly, doing 100 MBE questions in 3 hours is not easy, even if you DO know the law. You need to practice the timing, and practice for the stamina.

Secondly, the skill being tested on the bar is applying the law to the unique set of facts. Yes, you need to know the law to do this, but knowing the law is not enough. You need to practice the application. The application is typically where you will get most points. 

This means that writing essays, fully out, not just passively reading sample answers or issue spotting, is key. It has to be a priority in studying.

In fact, all of your studying should be active. Don’t focus on rewriting, or reviewing, outline after outline. Again, yes, you need to know the law, but you are also more likely to remember the law if you apply it – in MBE questions, writing essays, and so forth.

Step 6: Change it Up.  Different study habits work for different people. If you studied at home and found that you were easily distracted, find a space at the library or nearby coffee shop to study. If you did go the library/school/coffee shop every day, maybe try studying at home.

Finally, if you can, reach out to your school's bar prep person!

And good luck!

(Melissa Hale)

 

November 17, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Academic and Bar Support Scholarship Spotlight

Melissa Shultz, Professor, Please Help Me Pass the Bar Exam: #NEXTGENBAR2025/26, 69 J. Legal Educ. (forthcoming 2021).

From the abstract:

For students who begin law school in 2022, the final hurdle that they must clear to use their hard-earned degrees—the bar exam—will be substantively and structurally distinct from all bar exams previously administered. Although (with rousing support from law school graduates) this so-called NextGen bar exam reduces the breadth of legal knowledge examinees must memorize, it is novel in its breadth of skills testing and its requirement that examinees engage in practice-skills not previously tested on the bar exam, including client counseling, negotiation, and legal research. Moreover, the NextGen bar exam will no longer be anchored by 200-multiple-choice questions, but it will require students to grapple with various subjects in multiple ways moving from multiple-choice questions to short answer questions to essay questions to task-based performance exercises.

These monumental changes to the bar exam do not allow for the legal academy to take a tempered “wait-and-see” approach before taking action. Instead, law schools must—working together—understand the changes adopted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners in January of 2021 and begin to meaningfully adjust their curricular and assessment practices to ensure students graduating in 2025 or 2026 (when the NextGen exam will first be administered) have the skills necessary to clear the new, final hurdle of the NextGen bar exam.

L. Schulze (FIU Law).

November 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Thankfulness

Remember in Harry Potter when Professor Lupin praised Harry for not being afraid of Voldemort, but rather being afraid of fear itself? Don’t even get me started on the psychological symbolism of dementors if you do not have a few minutes hours days to discuss all the good and bad symbolism in the series. But there is something in that particular moment that resonates with me. At this time of year, when everyone thinks about what they are grateful for, I think I most grateful for gratefulness.

I have a friend who writes a blog that is entirely about gratitude[1]. I love that it has been going on for 2054 days even though it started as a 30 day project. There was just too much to be thankful for in this world to be confined to one month. But in the Academic Support world, I think sometimes ASP faculty do not make the list for students, schools[2], or even as relevant enough to be considered in the U.S. News rankings. Our data on thankfulness is almost entirely anecdotal. So here is my list of what I am thankful for in Academic Support:

  1. The amazing academic writing produced by ASP people-wow, just wow,
  2. That this is most warm, generous, and kind assembly of colleagues in all the academic realm (seriously, I mean every seemingly over-the-top word here),
  3. Students who are essentially groupies. I love students who come by regularly without being asked or told to do so for all three or four years of law school,
  4. Not being the person who grades all the exams or papers-just helping with prep and other issues is highly liberating especially when you add the disclaimer, “of course, I am not grading this, so be sure to check with your [insert legal writing or doctrinal] professor also…,”
  5. Students who take my advice. I offer a lot of advice-some solicited and some not, but all well-meaning and with some evidence/experience/inside knowledge to back it up,
  6. When a plan comes together-it could be a study plan, a paper plan, a bar plan, or even a registration plan-when it works out for a student and they are successful, my heart grows three sizes (premature holiday reference, sorry).
  7. The beginning of the tenure conversation for ASP faculty. We may need a Patronus charm to get there, but we are in the room of requirement getting our wands ready for the battle.

There is more-there is always more. I am thankful for (among many other things) students who send me grading playlists, texts about successes from graduates, and being able to resume having an open-door policy this semester. But most of all, I am thankful for thankfulness. Gratitude is self-perpetuating.

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] https://gratitudeathon.com/

[2] I am extremely lucky that my school has truly valued ASP work and faculty.

November 15, 2021 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Common Mistakes at the End of the Semester

The semester is almost over, which means final exams are right around the corner.  I wanted to pass along a handful of mistakes to avoid when preparing for finals.

  1. Don't ignore the last couple weeks of class.  Some students think professors won't put material from the last couple weeks on the exam.  That is not the case in most classes, and some professors will intentionally test that material if they perceive the class is showing up ill prepared.  
  2. Don't wait until after Thanksgiving to update, start, edit, etc. outlines.  This advice would apply to early in the semester as well, but don't wait until the last minute to update outlines.  Keep adding in material to maximize study and practice time later.
  3. Don't stay up all night studying.  I engaged in this conversation a few times already this past week.  Staying up all night studying is not ideal.  Sleep is critical for the brain to rest and retain information.  Losing sleep equals losing information.  One student responded saying some students like to study at night and sleep during the day.  I understand that happens, but your body needs to be ready to take the exam during the actual exam time.  Learning and performance is impacted by the time you do it.  This is one reason why West Coast NFL teams play worse when traveling to the East Coast for games.
  4. Don't Constantly re-read outlines.  The most common study mistake is repetitive reading of an outline.  Re-reading passively attempts to learn the material and is inefficient.  Most people feel more comfortable reading when studies show it doesn't work as well.  The best way to study is retrieval practice.  After reviewing your outline, try to write your outline down from memory.  Issue spot and outline practice questions.  Complete multiple choice questions.  Try to talk through your outline out loud.  The key is to add in attempts at recalling the information.
  5. Don't try to memorize every case name at the expense of understanding the big picture doctrine.  Final exams include stories of individual's actions.  The goal is to determine whether the individual action resulted in a Tort, Contract, etc.  Cases help in the process, but not the way most students think they help.  Professors may give bonus points for case names, but name dropping cases while not understanding how the rules fit together will not lead to high scores.

Finals induce significant stress.  My advice is to work both hard and smart.  Use the most efficient study techniques, especially practice.  The end of the race is near.  Good luck!

(Steven Foster)

November 14, 2021 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Assistant Director of Academic Achievement at Oklahoma City University

November is here, and the weather still hits 70.  The cost of living is one of the best in the country, and OKC is constantly ranked as a top city to live in.  Many reasons to either apply to work in OKC or recommend it to someone you know.

OCU is recruiting the Assistant Director of Academic Achievement position.  The start date can be flexible.  You can apply for the position here.  The actual announcement is below. 

Oklahoma City University School of Law seeks experienced, diverse, and innovative candidates for an Assistant Director of Academic Achievement.

The Assistant Director of Academic Achievement will help train a diverse population of law students for the rigor of law school, the bar exam, and the practice of law with academic workshops and individual coaching.  The Assistant Director will primarily provide one-on-one instruction for first and second-year students and will assist in the bar preparation program. This is a staff position. Candidates must have a J.D. degree, a law license in the United States, and a minimum of six months of experience in the areas of academic advising, academic support, teaching (adjunct instruction accepted), and/or one-on-one instruction in an ABA accredited law school.  A suitable combination of education and experience may be substituted for minimum requirements.  

November 13, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 12, 2021

Assistant Director of Bar Success at UMass

University of Massachusetts School of Law is seeking an Assistant Director of Bar Success.
 
If you are interested in working at a fast-growing law school, set in a relaxing bucolic farming community, please consider applying for this position.  Or, if you know someone who might be interested, please forward this announcement.
 
The Assistant Director of Bar Success will work with the Program Director of Bar Success, as well as faculty and staff, to assist students and graduates as they prepare for the bar exam, both as they progress through Law School and after they graduate. In tandem with the Program Director of Bar Success, coordinates and implements school-wide initiatives to improve bar passage, including joint workshops and courses, and meetings with students, graduates, Academic Success professionals and faculty.
 

November 12, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Curious Reading

The next weeks are fast paced for our students, as they finish projects, create and condense study tools, and practice problems in preparation for final exams.  But one thing often goes missing - reading.  And not just any sort of reading, reading curiously, carefully, and courageously.  I call these the "3-sees of reading."

That's especially apparent when doing exam reviews.

Often times, exams miss the point because, well, students miss the questions asked.  

Why?

Because students are often so worried about time or memorization that they don't train themselves to take care to read carefully, curiously, and courageously. That takes lots of practice with problems - using study tools as tools - and then reflecting and learning from what one produced through reflective practice.  That includes practice in reading curiously, carefully, and courageously.

I like what one person said:

"Practice makes possible." Turner, C., "Practice Makes Possible: What We Learn by Studying Amazing Kids," NPR (Jun. 1, 2016). 

In that article, the author in interviewing scholars Anders Ericcson and Robert Pool discovers that studies show that experts are not born but grown through deliberate practice.  Practice that makes possible.

That's true with reading, too. But not just any sort of practice.  It's practice with purpose. That's where we in ASP come in mighty handily.  We can help our students help themselves grow as readers, learners, and problem-solvers.  

For a few thoughts on what that might look like, take a look at the article cited above.  Or, to borrow the words of Prof. Liz Stillman, reflect on this thought: "Academic Support professors profess to assist pre-professionals become professionals using practices that produce prosperity." Stillman, L, Articulation (Nov. 8, 2021).  That makes me wonder, what sorts of practices do I use to improve the reading of my students? (Scott Johns).

November 11, 2021 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Signs

I'm constantly on the lookout for signs of bears, especially this time of the year when I hike.  That said, signs are often hard to spot for bears. Despite their lumbering sizes, bears are grazers, quietly hiding in brush, often within in plain sight, if only we could see the signs.

I think that also might be true of us, especially as to how we are doing as persons in community with others. As a recent blog post pointed out, teacher burn-out, including in the ASP community, threatens to undo the work that we do for others. Foster, S., Semester Nearing an End, so Exhaustion is Increasing (Nov. 7, 2021).

What to do about it?

Take care of yourself, take care of others, be caring of others, be caring of yourself.  

And, feel free when you see the signs, in yourself or others, to unplug.  We don't have to be all things to all people.  Frankly, we can't.  And, if your law school is asking that of you, then they really aren't respecting you as a person either or your students either.  So feel free to unplug. That's part of the human experience.

That's when this sign caught my attention, placed in our law school's student affairs office by Amber Davis, assistant director of student affairs.  I especially like this sign because, notice carefully, it is sitting in a chair, resting and yet speaking.

Sometimes it is in our moments of quiet that we can do the best for others and for ourselves.

So give yourself a break (and a big hug), even if for just a few minutes.  (Scott Johns).

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November 11, 2021 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)