Wednesday, July 28, 2021

For Immediate Release - Re: Technical Issues for Remote Bar Exam (Statement from the Association of Academic Support Educators)

Monday, July 19, 2021

Summer Break

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during the summer.  As we do each July, the blog will take a short break from regular posting through August 9th to finish out the bar exam and prepare for the fall.  However, we may periodically post when new information about the summer bar exam comes out.

Good luck to all bar takers.

(Steven Foster)

July 19, 2021 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 18, 2021

ASP Writers' Block Monday

The next session of the ASP Writers' Block is Monday July 19th at 11am est.  Kris Franklin sent the zoom link to the google group.

Keep up the great work writing and advocating for our students.

July 18, 2021 in Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 16, 2021

Assistant Director of Academic Success at Loyola Chicago

Loyola University Chicago School of Law is seeking applications for the Assistant Director of Academic Success and Bar Programs. The Assistant Director of Academic Success and Bar Programs (Assistant Director) will work under the supervision of the Director of Academic Success and Bar Programs (Director). Together both parties will manage the day-to-day operations of Loyola Law’s Academic Success and Bar preparation program. The main goal of the Academic Success Program is to develop and deliver programs to promote the academic success of students from matriculation, throughout law school, and as they prepare to enter the legal profession. This includes programming and support for students during pre-orientation, orientation, the three years of law school, and bar prep. The Assistant Director will work under the supervision of the Director of Academic Success and Bar Programs.

To apply please send a cover letter and curriculum vitae or resume to Director of Academic Success and Bar Programs, Melissa Hale, at mhale@luc.edu.
Primary Responsibilities (include but are not limited to):

• Counsel individual students to help them improve study and exam-taking skills, specifically those students who may be at risk. • Assist in overseeing the First Year Academic Tutors
• Assist in developing and teaching academic support program for first year second semester students. • Providing individual academic counseling to all students and alumni preparing for the bar • Researching and implementing the most current best practices for bar preparation • Serving on the Bar Exam Success Committee
• Develop and maintain a high level of knowledge about academic support and bar preparation programs, techniques, and methods.
• Track student success and academic performance for students in academic difficulty and at-risk students.
• Assist with supplemental bar prep program
• Assist with collection and organization of data for long-term assessment of: (a) student participation in Academic and Bar Success programming and course offerings, (b) individual student academic and bar exam performance, and (c) Loyola University Chicago School of Law retention and bar passage rates.
• Perform other duties in support of the Academic and Bar Success program as assigned by the Director

Qualifications:
• Juris Doctor Degree from an ABA-accredited law school; successful passage of a Bar Exam.
• Have been licensed in any state for a minimum of 2-3 years.
• An equivalent combination of education and experience may be substituted.
• Interest in and enthusiasm for helping students build the skills necessary for law school and bar success.
• Individual must be a self-starter and demonstrate a sound work ethic.
• Must be able to function independently with minimal oversight.

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
• Intermediate level computer skills, specifically in Microsoft Office Suite, including MS Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint
• Strong legal writing, research, and analysis skills.
• Strong communication and public speaking skills.
• Commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community.
• Ability to identify methods to enhance learning for multiple learning styles.
• Demonstrated ability to exercise sound, ethical, and professional judgment.
• Proficient in compiling and analyzing data for statistical analysis.
• Some evening and weekend work necessary based on program and student needs.

July 16, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

What to do with only 2 weeks left......

I write about this every bar exam administration, because I always get the same question -“What should I do with the remaining 13 days before the Bar Exam?” so I thought I’d share my advice with anyone else that may be wondering.

First, 13 days is more than you think. I promise.

Second, remember that the goal is NOT to memorize everything. It’s not possible. So, if you don’t feel like you know every last piece of law ever that can possibly be tested on the exam, you are not alone. It’s a normal feeling!

So, what CAN you do?

Practice. Between now and the 22nd or so, this is the last big push where you can practice. Make sure you’ve practice MBE sets in 100, and timed. Make sure you’ve written more than one essay at a time. Now might be the time two take 90 minutes and write 3 essays, or take 3 hours and write 2 MPTs! It’s one thing to write one essay in 30 minutes, it’s an entirely different thing to get through 6 at a time! It’s hard, it’s tiring, and it’s easy to lose focus. So, the only want to work on your stamina and timing is to practice. This upcoming weekend and week is the perfect time to get that in, and really make sure you are practicing in test like conditions, or as close as possible.

Start to work on memory and recall. Yes, there are things you just NEED to remember. This week, and until the day of the exam, take 5-10 minute chunks to work on memory. See this post for more on memory: https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2021/02/memorization-v-understanding.html

Finally the days leading up to the exam, the weekend before, take some time to relax. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s important.

Here is a little timeline to help:

Four Days Before the Bar Exam

This should be your last day of “heavy lifting” activities. Complete a set of 50 timed MBE questions. Complete a set of three MEE questions, timed. Complete a full-length timed MPT. Do not pick and choose between these – do all of them. This is the last day you will do practice that improves your stamina and timing. Remember, you should be doing these things all week, but four days before the exam is your cut off point.

Three Days Before the Bar Exam

In terms of bar exam preparation, today you should complete 15 to 20 MBE questions, complete one timed MEE question, outline three to five additional MEE questions, and complete one full-length timed MPT. You are tapering off. This isn’t an exact science – the point is that you are practicing, so you will feel prepared, but you aren’t tiring yourself out.

This is also the day to do something relaxing for yourself – watch a movie, go on a run. Do something that is going to make you feel less stressed. You should also be sure to go to bed early and eat well. Yes, that sounds like “mothering” but it’s good advice. On the days of the exam you will NEED to be well rested and refreshed.

Two Days Before the Bar Exam

Rinse and repeat yesterday. Today you should complete 15 to 20 MBE questions, complete one timed MEE question, outline three to five additional MEE questions, and complete one full-length timed MPT.

Take some more time to do something relaxing for yourself to help relieve some of that bar exam stress. And again - you should be sure to go to bed early and eat well.

Also, when I say do something relaxing for yourself, that can be almost anything that makes you happy. The point is to get out of your head a bit, and give yourself a break. I realize it might seem like the worst time to take a break, but it’s not. Your brain needs to feel “fresh” on exam days. Think of it like running a marathon – you don’t run 26.2 miles, or even 13 miles, the day before the marathon. You’d be exhausted. The days leading up to the actual marathon you might run 1-5 miles and stretch, and relax, and eat pasta. This is your mental marathon, so treat your brain accordingly.

One Day Before the Bar Exam

Today you should lighten the mental lift even more. Review your flashcards and other memory devices. Outline three to five MEE questions. Do five MBE questions to keep your brain in the practice of thinking through MBE questions without overly taxing it.

You also want to make sure you have everything ready for tomorrow. What types of ID do you need? What are you allowed to bring in with you to the exam? Make sure to have all those items pulled together and ready to go. Make sure your laptop is fully charged. And as silly as it sounds, map out how you will get to the exam location (if you are going to a location). Do you need to worry about parking? Are you taking a train? Do not leave anything to chance. Most of you, but not all, are currently looking at virtual exams. So do you have a good space to take the exam? Do you know how you will log in? What the timing is? Etc?

Finally, relax. You’ve put in so many hours, weeks, months of preparation – you’ve got this. Take some time to relax and unwind before bed. Eat a simple meal that will sit well with your potentially uneasy stomach. Lastly, head to bed a bit earlier than usual to account for nerves keeping you awake.

Day One of the Bar Exam

Today is the day. Make sure you are on time for check in and have everything with you. Today is filled with the MPT and MEE. At the lunch break and after the day of testing ends, do not talk with others about the contents of the exam. Invariably, one of you will think you saw a subject the other did not spot – and you won’t know who was right or wrong until you get your final bar results, so there is no benefit to discussing such matters now. Doing so will only freak you out and add to your anxiety.

After the testing day is complete, eat dinner and mentally decompress. If you must, review a few flashcards – perhaps the ones you still struggle with and want just one more run at. But this is not the time to do any serious review or learning because your brain is tired from today and needs to rest up for tomorrow. What is there is there. Have confidence that your hard work will pay off tomorrow!

Day Two of the Bar Exam

It is almost over! Today you will tackle the MBE and then – be done! After the testing day is over, just like yesterday – do not talk about the exam! Instead, relax, take a nap, celebrate!

(Melissa Hale)

July 14, 2021 in Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Critical Legal Analysis Instructor at Rutgers

Position Details

Recruitment/Posting Title Criticial Legal Analysis Instructor
Department Sch of Law-Nwk, Dean's Office
Salary Salary per Credit
Posting Summary
Adjunct Critical Legal Analysis Professors Needed for Rutgers Law School

Rutgers Law School, located in both Camden and Newark New Jersey, invites applications for Critical Legal Analysis (CLA), with openings in both locations for immediate needs in Fall, 2021 and Spring, 2022.   We encourage applications and inquiries from candidates who contribute to the diversity of our faculty, including, but not limited to, people of color, people living with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community.
 
The primary teaching responsibility of the CLA Adjunct faculty position is to improve students’ ability to deconstruct legal rules, to explain and evaluate the significance of facts, to thoroughly support conclusions of law, and to effectively organize content.  These skills are critical in applying law to the hypothetical questions typical of both law school and bar exams.  The hands-on learning methodology used in the course will include in-class analytical and writing work in both individual and group settings.  CLA helps students develop their legal reasoning and analysis skills and improve their ability to communicate clear and well supported reasoning though legal writing.  
 
The instructor will present course material during the assigned course times, hold office hours, administer exams, assign grades and coordinate any other requirements related to course instruction.  Candidates must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and demonstrated ability in analysis, writing and lawyering skills.  
 
Please submit your application by 7/6/21 if possible and indicate your preferences for location and for teaching day or evening sections.
 
We also seek part-time lecturers for Fall, 2021 to teach Legal Analysis, Writing & Research Skills and for the Spring, 2021 semester to teach in various disciplines.
 
Two schools, each with distinctive strengths, have come together to create one law school with extraordinary opportunities for learning experiences and career growth.  Rutgers Law School—with locations in Camden and Newark—offers a world-class faculty; a curriculum of exceptional breadth and depth in theory, practice, and interdisciplinary studies; a geographic presence that spans one of the nation’s 10 largest legal markets (New Jersey) while also offering immediate access to two of the five largest markets (New York City and Philadelphia); an alumni network with over 20,000 members; and a strong tradition of diversity and social impact.  As the law school for a top public university, Rutgers Law School is committed to the highest standards of teaching, scholarship, and service to its host communities, the state of New Jersey, and the nation.
Posting Number 21FA0768
Posting Open Date 06/30/2021
Posting Close Date 09/01/2021
Minimum Education and Experience
JD
Certifications/Licenses  
Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities  
Equipment Utilized  
Physical Demands and Work Environment  
Overview  
Statement  
Special Instructions to Applicants  
Quick Link to Posting
Campus Rutgers University-Newark
Home Location Campus Rutgers University-Newark
Location Details

July 10, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Perspective

Right now, many of our bar takers are feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, despite many weeks of laboring studies, as to whether they have what it really takes to successfully pass their bar exams later this month. 

In my own life, self-chatter takes up so much of my thought-time and mental efforts.  

Self-doubt, lack of confidence, deep rooted feelings of not fitting in, of not having, the "right stuff," so to speak.  

In short, we start to wonder if we really do belong, if we really do measure up, if we somehow didn't just happen to make it through law school but someday, we will be found out to be a fraud, to be faking it all along.

For our bar takers, let me say at the outset that, if you feel gripped by worries and fear, you are not alone, at all.  

Most of us, when we took our bar exams, were worried out of our minds.

That's because - to be frank - taking bar exams is really not a natural part of life (and really has no place in the practice of law because it's totally unlike the practice of law with its over-reliance on recall and quick identification and resolution of issues).  Who practices law like that? So, it's okay to be concerned, stressed, and worried.

But let me also say that the next few weeks, while important, don't have to be lived out perfectly, as perfectly studious and perfectly performed. Rather, as you prepare for your bar exam later this month, focus on just two tasks.  

First, work through lots of essays and multiple-choice problems with the goal of discovering and learning and growing.  That means, when you miss things, don't give up.  Rather, use those opportunities as springboards to figure out how to get that sort of problem correct next time.

Second, spend time rehearing your lines, like an actor on stage, walking through, talking out, and practicing your study tools, issue spotters, and big picture problem-solving rules.  Focus on the major rules.  Forget the minor details.  People pass based on majoring on the major rules not on those pesky minor details.

But often times we, as human beings, think we have to know it all to pass the bar exam.  We don't.  You don't.  Rather, be confident in taking these next few weeks as opportunities to experience more practice problems and to practice rehearing the rules.  That's it.  Just two tasks.

That's still a lot - and that's were perspective comes in.  I'm in my sixties.  Just two years ago, I fractured my back in five places in a car accident, leaving me unable to walk without assistance and without a walker for a number of weeks and into several months.  In fact, as I took my first steps, I recall thinking that I would never ever again be able to hike, or walk, or bike.  That's because I was so focused on what I couldn't do, at present.  At best, with lots of help from both sides and a walker to balance myself too, I could only muster a handful of steps.  And painful steps to boot.

Last weekend, my wife and I took two days to trek about a little over thirty miles in the local mountains.  In other words, although I wouldn't have believed it two years ago, I'm back on the trail.  At the time, two years ago, I never saw any progress, or at least not much at all.  

Bar prep is a bit like that.  It just doesn't seem like we are progressing much at all, especially because we keep on missing so many issues and questions.  But, in the last week, things come together, exponentially so to speak, because we've planted and watered so many seeds of learning and discovering throughout this summer that they all start to bloom, like a beautiful flower bed, all at once.  

As we hiked through the mountains this week, headed uphill to a 11,700 foot plateau, I realized that I had actually grown quite a bit, as a hiker, over the past two years, so much so that I actually passed a few people, all much younger that I.  Of course, I was going uphill.  The hikers I passed were going downhill.  But I still take good cheer that I'm hiking on my own trail.  

That's all we ask of you and all that you should ask of yourself in the course of these next few weeks of bar prep.  Be yourself, walk at your own pace, keep going uphill, step by step.  But just like I do often on the trail, feel free to take lots of breaks throughout the day.  Those breaks help you see how far you have come uphill and how much you're progressed in your learning.  So trust yourself.   You can do this, one step at a time.  (Scott Johns).

 

July 8, 2021 in Advice, Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 4, 2021

July Bar Prep: Keep Shooting Free Throws

July always makes me think of shooting free throws in my backyard. I used to practice continuously, always imagining that moment where I would have an opportunity to shine, picturing no time left on the clock and the game coming down to my performance. If I made two consecutive shots, the crowd in my imagination would cheer, fans would rush the court, and I would be hoisted off the court on the shoulders of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to celebrate winning the NBA Championship (I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan).

However, and this will not surprise anyone who saw me shoot free throws in my early days, I did not always make the shot. Sometimes, despite my intention to win multiple imaginary championship rings, I would hear a clank and the ball would bounce off of the rim for me to chase down. It seemed that I had let the entire arena, all of the television audience, and my beloved Chicago Bulls team down…

BUT WAIT! Someone on the other team had stepped into the lane, and I was miraculously granted another shot (literally) to win the game. My past miss no longer mattered, but instead I now had the opportunity to shine and win again. In fact, no matter how many times I missed, someone would always step in the lane or get hit with a technical foul, and I would get another chance to win the game. During this process, I would always think about the shot I had made or missed, and whether I was balanced correctly, whether my elbow was aligned under the ball, whether my eyes were focused in the right place on the rim, and whether I followed-through correctly (B.E.E.F. for you basketball enthusiasts). 

Eventually, because I gave myself opportunities to be successful in practice, I built both my skill and confidence. Because I didn’t let every miss defeat and discourage me, I was able to diligently work to improve through repetition and positive self-talk. By reviewing constantly what I was doing when I made a shot and when I missed a shot, I got to the point where I was willing to be on that free throw line in any real-life situation, because I knew that every make and miss had prepared me to be successful when it actually counted.

July is a great time to remind our students to treat themselves with kindness and to approach bar preparation the way I used to practice free throws. They need to understand that in order to be successful on the bar exam, you do not have to be perfect in practice, but rather you just have to keep practicing and making adjustments. It is not about getting every question right now, but rather it is about learning and analyzing what you are doing to continuously make adjustments and build towards your eventual success. Students need to be reminded that any one day will neither make them successful nor limit their chances of success, but rather it is the daily effort, reviewing, learning, analyzing, and intellectual growth that will ultimately lead them to win the proverbial championship of being successful on the bar exam.

Encourage your students to keep shooting those practice free throws so they will be ready for game day, and remind them of the famous words of Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Remind them to continue working each day to realize success.

(Scot Goins - Guest Blogger)

July 4, 2021 in Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Closing Night

Tonight will be closing night for my kitchen table classroom. The latest word from my school is that we will be teaching in person next semester, in our regular classrooms with the regular number of students. So, I will strike this set. I will pack up the books, papers, RBG and Kamala Harris action figures and bring them back to my “real” office in the next few weeks. I’ll store the mesh metal inbox and pen holder (that my nephew left behind when he finished college and didn’t want to drag back them to his home abroad) in the basement. I’ll unpack my box of “Zoom worthy” earrings and return the contents to my bedroom jewelry box. I don’t know what I will do with laptop stand, because I already had one in my office, but I’m sure I’ll find a place for it that will escape me when I need to find it again.

In the past 15+ months of this pandemic, I have used this table as my classroom, my desk, the venue for our Thanksgiving dinner (once) and our Passover seders (twice). I have shared this table with my adult daughter as she worked at one end while I taught my classes at the other. She even did a cameo of me on April Fool’s Day before she headed back home (she does a dead-on imitation of my Zoom classroom patter). I cleared space for my younger daughter to finish her college exams this spring when they were sent home a few days early because of an uptick in positivity. I watched my son literally crawl behind me (numerous times) to get to the refrigerator during my class so he wouldn’t be seen. I wasn’t going to tell him that I had a virtual background on-or that we were in breakout rooms. We all needed more laughs. As the seasons changed, I learned how the light shifts in this space and how to avoid looking like an old detective show’s interrogation subject on Zoom during winter faculty meetings.

As the lights on this run begin to dim, I have been Googling dining tables and chairs because I just don’t want to look at this table anymore. I think it is ready to retire after 25 years, three children and over a year of being a classroom/home office. And yet, I hesitate to replace it just yet, because maybe it will look different when it isn’t doing so many jobs. Maybe, once this table is just (to very loosely paraphrase Freud) a table, I’ll be able to see it with new eyes. Maybe, I’d even miss it.

In the fall, I might miss having food, Coke Zero and coffee immediately available, or a bathroom that does not require a key. Will I miss the cat snoozing just outside of camera range or my dog punctuating my most important points (that coincided with mail or package delivery)? I don’t think I will miss the chaos of people walking through my classroom/office making noise or slamming doors. I don’t think I will miss my ritual morning clean-up of this space because in my “real” office, the only person who might leave debris on my desk would be me. Will I enjoy being alone in a quiet space after over a year of knowing where everyone in my immediate family is and what they are doing? Will people judge me if I sit at my desk and watch Gilmore Girls while I eat lunch at the office? And, to be utterly cliched, nothing beats the commute or current dress code. Change, even good change, is hard.

As part of my cleaning this morning, I pulled out my Swiffer. As I swabbed under the table, I realized that the chair that I had been sitting in all this time has left four distinct worn spots on the wooden floor. A scar left by the pandemic. I immediately started to google how to best erase or cover the spots but then I stopped. Like the ghost light left on after the theater is dark for the night, these spots need to stay.

(Elizabeth Stillman - Guest Blogger)

July 3, 2021 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

A Few Possible "Big Picture" Thoughts on ASP Best Practices

Ah, just about the middle of the summer.  It's sort of like the 7th inning stretch in baseball, a time to stand, sing, and refocus a bit.  Especially with so many of us working with so many of our recent graduates as they prepare for remote and in-person bar exams. It's an opportunity for a quick breather before the final three weeks of bar prep polish and work.

Personally, this weekend is an opportunity for me to step back a bit, to take a look at what I ought to really be focused on, to ask how would others view the programs that I am responsible for delivering to our students and graduates.

Well, to be honest, I'm a bit afraid to ask others.  But, as I think about preparing for the upcoming academic year, I thought I'd share the follow as food for thought about "ASP Best Practices."  I'd love to hear your suggestions and comments too.  P.S. Thanks to Visiting Prof. Chris Newman (DU Law) for development of this slide and his insights too. (Scott Johns).

ASP Practices

July 1, 2021 in Advice, Learning Styles, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Picture of the Multi-Faceted Relationships in Learning, Discovery, and Growth

They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Well, here's a picture of what I call the so-called "Learning Triangle," put together with a few words to boot, thanks to Prof. Chris Newman, Visiting Asst. Professor of Practice at the University of Denver.  Let us know what you think! (Scott Johns).

ASP Learning Blogs

 

July 1, 2021 in Advice, Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Quick Fix (or is it?)

According to author Jesse Singal: "Power posing, grit and other trendy concepts are scientifically unproven but have become enormously popular by offering simple solutions to deeply rooted social problems."

In particular, Singal suggests "[b]ecause they promise so much reward for so little effort, social psychology fads often win attention and resources long before there is any evidence of their effectiveness."  As evidence, Singal writes "only about half of all published experimental psychological findings are successfully replicated by other researchers." Singal, J., "The False Promise of Quick-Fix Psychology," WSJ (April 10, 2021). 

While I haven't yet had a chance to dive into Singal's book, as a trained mathematician, I have my doubts regarding any research results making make singular claims about human nature because human nature, it seems to me, is just too complex to nail down to one variable of influence. Singal, J., The Quick Fix, Macmillian (2021).

That being said, I do share with my students research about growth mindset and grit, for instance, and the empirical claims about associations with learning effectiveness.  

Nevertheless, I'm not sure that growth mindset and grit is something that you can just call upon on command.  Rather, I see our roles as educators to come along side our students, in community with them and with others, to help them see themselves as valuable members of our educational community.  In sum, I sense that growth mindset development is more the result of a sense of well-being and belonging within the academic community, which for many of our students, is often felt lacking.

So, rather than focus on pep talks about growth mindset and the power of grit, I think that it might be more valuable for our faculty and staff to get to know our students, to hear them out, to let them express themselves.  With summer well in swing, one possibility for beginning that project is to form a one-evening book or movie club this summer with a handful of staff and faculty members and a few entering law students, current law students, and alumni members too.

Closer to home, with bar prep in full swing, this past week, I've been hosting a number of zoom chats focused on reviewing mock bar questions with them.  My first questions, almost without exception, are about their passions for the law and about how they are doing.  With close to 200 students this summer, I sometime feel like I just don't have time for the so-called "niceties,"  But without the "niceties" of life, there really is not much to life because it's the "niceties" of life, the opportunities to learn, grow, and discovery together, that really make life well-lived.  And, I'm not so sure that my role as as an educator is to fix people but rather to live with them in community, something that has seemed to be particular difficult in the midst of this pandemic.  

So, as we appear to be turning a page on the pandemic, I am looking forward to meeting and working with students, faculty, and staff together again, and in person, too! And, I look forward to seeing you again at a conference or other event!  Cheers! (Scott Johns).

 

 

July 1, 2021 in Advice, Current Affairs, Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Baking and Growth Mindset....again

So, you may, or may not, remember my yule log. As I mastered the art of making a roulade, or rolled cake, it made me think of growth mindset and legal writing. 

Last month, well in May,  I traveled to St. Louis for the virtual AASE Conference. Yes, I realize I didn’t have to leave my home, or even my yoga pants, for a virtual conference. But I decided to join fellow AASE member and my co-author, Toni Miceli, as we are both vaccinated, so we could enjoy the conference together. There may have also been the real need to work on finalizing some teacher’s manual materials for our book, as well as bake with her son, Alex. Both clearly, equally important.

Alex loves to bake, and loves to learn about baking. Specifically, I think he loves to decorate more than the baking part, and I’m not sure I can blame him. Plus, he’s getting good at it!

So, he heard that I might be coming to his house for a visit, and kindly asked whether we could make a layered cake. (Fun fact, when I was 6 I wrote in one of those school projects that “I want to be a layer when I grow up”. Well, now I am a lawyer that can layer! Sorry, I’ll see myself out.)

Alex wanted a 3-tiered ocean themed cake. I assured him that we could make this happen, but we would have to learn some new things together.

See, as much as I love to bake, I’ve never really layered things before. So, this became my opportunity to continue my baking growth mindset. See, I had mastered the rolled cake (I use the term “mastered” loosely), but that doesn’t mean I can make ALL cakes expertly. And just like with the rolled cake, while I could transfer SOME skills, many were still brand new.

Now, last time I tried layering a cake it had a distinct Leaning Tower of Pisa vibe that was not part of my vision. So, this time around I did some research, and discovered that – a ha – I needed to use dowels and cardboard to stack the layers. Fantastic! So, Toni went out and bought a set. Then, I watched multiple videos on stacking. Finally, the day came – we were going to stack these cakes! Six of them to be precise, for a grand total of three tiers! Toni and I read the directions for the layering kit carefully, remembered the video, and viola – success. Well, there was still a minor tilt or two that we smoothed with icing. But overall, a resounding success.

198951035_563285198164131_2950132143620883717_n

Similarly, in law school you will learn many new skills. And most of them transfer to new situations and assignments. However, you often have to tweak these skills, adapting them to new situations (or more likely, varied types of legal writing), just like I had to adapt to a new style of cake!

The two most important steps in adapting to this new style of cake making were to  1) read the directions before hand and carefully follow those directions and 2) have patience. It also helped to work in collaboration. Toni and I are both skilled and experienced bakers, but putting our skills together meant we likely got a better result than we would have working by ourselves. Unless otherwise prohibited, work with your study groups, or even just one partner. If you are in law school, you are a skilled and experienced student, and combining your skills and experience with others skilled and experienced students might help you refine the new skill a bit faster!

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions or try new techniques. Or rather, just think outside of the box. One of the joys of baking with Toni’s son was seeing growth mindset in real time, through a child’s eyes. Alex is learning new baking skills all the time, and eager to learn new things. He’s getting better and better at baking and decorating because he’s not afraid to fail. We decided to try to make our seaweed out of melting chocolate (remember, this was an ocean themed cake, so seaweed was a must). I will admit that I had never done this before, and am not great at “freehand” chocolate. I told Alex as much, and very wisely he said “Well, let’s try. If it’s bad, it’s still chocolate – we can eat it!”

So true – and I encourage us all to adopt Alex’s attitude in all things – if it’s bad, it’s still chocolate and we can eat it!

Bon Appetit!

(Melissa Hale)

June 30, 2021 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 27, 2021

ASP Writers' Block Tomorrow

ASP Writers’ Block 2nd session of the summer is Monday, June 28th.  

As a reminder: we work independently in one another’s company for 2 pomodoro cycles (25 minutes each), then briefly share what we are working on and solicit any feedback needed from our colleagues. Thus meetings usually last for about an hour and 20 minutes, though everyone is welcome to join in whatever portion they can attend.

Next two dates are:  July 19, August 2.

Zoom link information in the google group.

June 27, 2021 in Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Call for Proposals from AALS Section on Academic Support

CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS

For a Joint Presentation by the
AALS Section on Academic Support and Section on Technology, Law, and Education

“Online Teaching: Is it good for legal education? Which professors are doing it? And who owns the content once it is created?”
(Working Title/Theme Subject to Change)

Program Description
The theme for the AALS 2022 Annual Meeting is “Freedom, Equality, and the Common Good.” We seek to explore these topics as they relate to the intersection of academic support and distance legal education. First, we hope to explore whether distance legal education (a.k.a. online teaching) serves the Common Good in legal education. In other words, does technology help or hurt legal education? Next, we plan to pivot to the question of Equality. Are all faculty equally expected to contribute to courses dealing with technology and are faculty compensated adequately (whether time and/or money) for their time in developing asynchronous content? Finally, the presentation will conclude with a discussion of Academic Freedom. Most notably, who owns the work?

Some ideas with these themes may include, but are not limited to:

Common Good
• Did the rise of Zoom Law during a worldwide pandemic help or hurt the development of online teaching?
• Is tech a legitimate delivery method?
• How to overcome the argument regarding lack of engagement?
• Is there a specific type of course that is better suited to be online, and conversely, courses that should never be taught online?
• Which types of technology most effectively maximize student learning and help develop skills?

Equality
• Within a law school, who typically creates and teaches online courses?
• Are certain technology focused courses like E-discovery taught by certain types of faculty?
• What type of courses should be taught online?
• Who is using technology in the classroom?
• Are all technologies really equal or do certain types of technology provide more effective tools for learners than others?

Academic Freedom
• Who owns the work?
• Does your university have a policy regarding the creation and retention of asynchronous courses?
• What happens to an already prepared online course when a professor leaves the institution, or even dies?
• Will the rise of “canned” online courses lead to faculty teaching themselves out of a job?

The Section on Technology, Law, and Education and the Section on Academic Support seek to explore these questions and related issues at the January 2022 AALS Annual (virtual)

Meeting during their joint program.

Call for Presenters

Proposals should contain a detailed explanation of both the substance of the presentation and the methods to be employed. Individuals as well as groups are invited to propose topics. The Committee would prefer to highlight talent across a spectrum of law schools and disciplines and is especially interested in new and innovative ideas. Please share this call with colleagues—both within and outside of the legal academy and the academic support community.

Submission Guidelines

Proposals must include the following information:
• A title for your presentation.
• A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.
• A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or outcomes.
• The amount of time requested for your presentation. No single presenter should exceed 45 minutes in total. Presentations as short as 15 minutes are welcomed.
• A detailed description of both the substantive content and the techniques to be employed, if any, to engage the audience.
• Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employ other technology.
• A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, AASE, or other academic conferences. (The Committee is interested in this information because we wish to select and showcase seasoned, as well as fresh, talent.)
• Your school affiliation, title, courses taught, and contact information (please include email address and telephone number).
• Any articles or books that you have published that relate to your proposed presentation.
• Any other information you think will help the Committee appreciate the value your presentation will provide.

Please submit your proposal to the Academic Support Programming Chair, Kirsha Trychta, at kwtrychta@mail.wvu.edu by June 30, 2021. The Committee anticipates notifying those who have been selected to present on/around July 14, 2021.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the Programming Co-Chairs: Natalie Rodriguez at narodriguez@swlaw.edu, Kirsha Weyandt Trychta at kwtrychta@mail.wvu.edu, or Michelle Zakarin at mzakarin@tourolaw.edu.

June 26, 2021 in Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 25, 2021

High Water Mark for UBE?

Hat tip to Greg Bordelon for sending out the link to New York's report on the UBE.  You can find the report here: 

https://nysba.org/app/uploads/2021/06/9.-Task-Force-on-the-New-York-Bar-Examination-with-staff-memo.pdf

I found this paragraph interesting:

The Task Force reaffirms its central recommendation that applicants for admission to

practice law in New York be required to demonstrate basic knowledge of New York law. It

remains our view that, if passage of a Bar Examination is either the exclusive, or an alternative,

pathway to practice in New York, that examination should include a rigorous test on matters of

New York law. We strongly believe that persons seeking admission to practice law in New

York must be required to demonstrate that they are able to do so competently. Given the unique

complexities of the New York legal landscape, including an elaborate court structure, a

complicated civil practice code, and distinctive rules governing evidence, family law, and trusts

and estates, among a myriad of legal principles unique to New York, it is not enough that an

applicant show competence solely with reference to the “law of nowhere.”

 

This paragraph is the reason I erroneously believed New York would never adopt the UBE in the first place.  Many argue NY adoption is what led many other states to follow, including Texas.  Texas adoption is what led to Oklahoma, etc.  If this is a concern, NY probably shouldn't have adopted the UBE.  

The other interesting conclusion from the report is the worry that the new bar exam in 5 years will be even worse than the UBE.  I will admit to being skeptical of the entire bar task force process, but I was actually impressed with a few of the choices on the drafting committee (I am sure I would be impressed with others, I just didn't know everyone).  The new bar exam may be the best measure of minimum competence the legal profession has seen, and we may also see states flee from it.  The next 4-5 years will be interesting.

(Steven Foster)

June 25, 2021 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Academic and Bar Support Scholarship Spotlight

Rachel Lopez (Drexel), Unentitled: The Power of Designation in the Legal Academy, 73 Rutgers L. Rev. 101 (2021).

Note:  This piece is important.  I urge all who frequent this blog to read it.  Professor Lopez explores the gender and racial dimensions of subordination by title.  As she puts it most poignantly:  "If law schools truly aspire to be anti-racist institutions, as so many have pledged to be, we must acknowledge and hopefully someday soon address the racial and gendered (often intersectional) dynamics of titles in the legal academy."

From the abstract:

Last December, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed that questioned whether Dr. Jill Biden should more appropriately be addressed as Madame First Lady, Mrs. Biden, Jill, or even kiddo, characterizing her desire to be called doctor “fraudulent” and a “touch comic.” Many were understandably outraged by the lack of respect afforded to Dr. Biden, which had a distinctly gendered dimension. More recently, after a controversial decision by the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees to deny her tenure, Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur “genius grant” winner, was instead appointed as a “Professor of Practice” on a five year fixed term contract. These high-profile examples put in sharp focus what many women of color in the legal academy already know all too well: labels have an innate power to confer or diminish status. This Essay explores the role that titles play in the legal academy and, in particular, their often depreciative consequences for women of color. Drawing from my story, those relayed to me by others, and other empirical evidence, I will show how titles perpetuate stereotypes and entrench existing racial and gender hierarchies in the legal academy, although they appear race- and gender-neutral.

It is no secret that the legal academy is extraordinarily hierarchical, with women and people of color often populating the lower ranks of the totem pole. There is a stinging irony to this. As Ruth Gordon eloquently put it, “many of us spend our professional lives contesting hierarchy and exclusion—whether on the basis of race, gender, or class—but when it comes to academia—and I would suggest especially legal academia—we appear to have finally found a hierarchy we can believe in.” There is a problem of academic exceptionalism in the legal academy—hierarchy and exclusion are others’ problems, not our own.

Labels, in the form of titles, help cement these disparities, concretizing them into a caste system that justify unequal pay, less power in faculty governance, and, at times, abusive behavior. While doctrinal professors are “Professors of Law,” the academic archetype, the legal academy has developed a virtual cottage industry of other professional designations. These titles denote “the other teachers” in the legal academy: Clinical Professor, Professor of Practice, Teaching Professor, and Legal Writing Instructor, to name a few. The message is that “Professors of Law” are the ones who really teach the law, while those with the other titles teach something else less important.

If law schools truly aspire to be anti-racist institutions, as so many have pledged to be, we must acknowledge and hopefully someday soon address the racial and gendered (often intersectional) dynamics of titles in the legal academy.

(h/t: Tax Prof Blog)

(Louis Schulze, FIU Law)

June 22, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academic and Bar Support Scholarship Spotlight

Janet Thompson Jackson (Washburn), Wellness and Law: Reforming Legal Education to Support Student Wellness, 65 How. L. J. __ (2021):

From the abstract:

No one goes to law school with the expectation that their mental health and overall well-being will be significantly compromised during those three years. But, for a substantial number of law students, it is. It does not have to be this way.

This is not a typical law review article. It cannot afford to be. Most law students begin law school as reasonably happy and well-adjusted people. We must ask, what is it about law school that contributes to the disproportionate decline in student wellness? The answer to that question is complex because many of the very factors that make good lawyers also contribute to their mental health challenges.

(h/t:  Tax Prof Blog).

Ruggero J. Aldisert, Stephen Clowney, and Jeremy D. Peterson, Logic for Law Students: How to Think Like a Lawyer, 69 Pitt. L. Rev. 100 (2007).

From the abstract:

Law schools no longer teach logic. In the authors' view this is tragic, given that the fundamental principles of logic continue to undergird the law and guide the thinking of judges. In an effort to reverse the trend, this essay explains the core principles of logic and how they apply in the law school classroom. The manuscript begins by examining the basics of the deductive syllogisms and then turns to inductive generalizations and the uses and abuses of analogies. The authors claim that students who master the basics of logic laid out in this article will be better lawyers and will feel more comfortable when they find themselves presenting arguments to judges and juries.

(Louis Schulze, FIU Law)

June 22, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 18, 2021

Assistant Director of Academic Achievement at Cal Western

Asst Dir Academic Achievement

Full TimeProfessional
Requisition ID: 1055

California Western School of Law (CWSL) is seeking applications for the Assistant Director of Academic Achievement.   Under the direct supervision of the Assistant Dean for Academic Achievement, the Assistant Director of Academic Achievement provides academic and bar exam preparation support to law students and graduates, particularly those academically at risk.  The Assistant Director is primarily responsible for supervising the first year and upper division tutoring program, presenting skills workshops, and working with first-year students who are facing academic difficulty.  The Assistant Director teaches the first year skills course for academically at-risk students and other skills courses as determined by the Vice Dean for Academic and Student Affairs and Assistant Dean for Academic Achievement, as well as assists alumni who are studying for the California bar exam.

Primary Responsibilities (include but are not limited to):

  • Assist in hiring and supervising teaching fellows in the CWSL tutoring programs (large-group tutoring and small-group labs).
  • Maintain CWSL website information for the Academic Achievement Department. 
  • Develop course plan and teach Skills Workshops and Labs to 1L students.
  • Counsel individual students to help them improve study and exam-taking skills.
  • Collaborate with faculty and staff in programming and analysis of pilot programs for 1L students.
  • Assist in developing and teaching academic support program for second-trimester students.
  • Teach sections of first year academic support courses and workshops.
  • Teach sections of either the Academic Achievement Workshop, Advanced Legal Analysis, or Pre-Bar to upper division students as needed.
  • Teach other skills courses as determined by the Vice Dean for Academic and Student Affairs and Assistant Dean for Academic Achievement.
  • Works with Assistant Dean and Associate Director of Academic Achievement to: 
    1. Cross-teach as necessary in CWSL Bar Program courses to ensure continuity in pedagogy with overall Academic Achievement Department goals.
    2. Support and tutor CWSL alumni participating in the graduate component of the CWSL bar review program.
    3. Assist in the collection of data and the analysis of CWSL Bar Program effectiveness, including maintain statistics of bar exam performance.
  • Develop and maintain a high level of knowledge about academic support and bar preparation programs, techniques, and methods.
  • Schedule meetings, tutoring, and bar review sessions, including room reservations, audio visual and coordinating schedules.
  • Cooperate with other CWSL employees in matters of scheduling, room reservations, etcetera.
  • Draft and/or edit letters, reports, memoranda, classroom instructional materials, posters, and other materials as needed.
  • Effectively plan, organize, and schedule teaching fellows tutoring sessions. 
  • Set and enforce policies and procedures for tutoring programs.
  • Supervise Teaching Fellows:
    1. Work with faculty to ensure teaching fellows meet identified needs and expectations.
    2. In coordination with assigned faculty, hire, train, coach, discipline and evaluate tutors.
    3. Delegate effectively to ensure workload is balanced for efficiency and effectiveness.
    4. Provide appropriate feedback and coaching to assigned tutors on a regular basis.
    5. Accountable for tutors’ performance results.
  • Attend law school functions as the representative of the department.
  • Report as needed, verbally or in writing, to the Board of Trustees, the Dean, the Vice Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, and other senior administration.
  • Coordinate with other departments to plan and implement effective program initiatives.
  • Be accountable for work product.
  • Work with appropriate level of assistance, instruction and supervision.
  • Proactively advise the Assistant Dean of project status, potential issues, and overall departmental progress.
  • Suggest strategies to promote productivity and service.
  • Perform, with team approach, other duties as required.

 

Qualifications:

  • Juris Doctor Degree from an ABA-accredited law school; successful passage of California Bar exam.
  • At least three to four years of law teaching experience in an academic support or bar preparation program required, experience in both programs preferred.
  • Two years of supervisory experience, preferred.
  • Experience in course planning, classroom presentations, and one-on-one tutoring; experience in learning theories and effective pedagogy, including formative and summative assessment; and knowledge of California Civil Procedure preferred.
  • An equivalent combination of education and experience may be substituted.
  • Individual must be a self-starter and demonstrate a sound work ethic.
  • Must be able to function independently with minimal oversight.
  • Must demonstrate a passion for working with students and have a track record of developing robust relationships with students and faculty.  

Computer Skills:

  • Intermediate level computer skills.
  • Intermediate experience in Microsoft Office Suite, including MS Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.
  • Knowledge of effective internet search properties. 
  • Experience with website management, electronic communication and database systems, data analysis and interpretation preferred.
  • Must be highly proficient with legal research databases such as Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, and familiar with other legal and government resources.
  • Experience with educational technology and/or statistical analysis software (like SPSS) is a plus.
  • Aptitude for learning new technology. 

 

APPLY NOW

Click the link below to complete an application through the CWSL Career Center website. 

https://workforcenow.adp.com/jobs/apply/posting.html?client=35y2n&ccId=19000101_000001&type=MP&lang=en_US

Application review will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

June 18, 2021 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Purposeful Connections

According to a recent article, research suggests that changing the way curriculum is presented and taught can improve retention of underrepresented minorities in STEM programs. Berman, Jillian, How to Get More Women Into Technology: A Number of Programs Have Tried to Steer Women Into Step--Here's What Works, WSJ (Jun 1, 2021)

The article focused on a number of programs within the STEM fields in trying to increase representation and graduation in STEM majors of women and underrepresented minorities.  The overall trends are not promising.  For example, the percentage of women earning computer science degrees has decreased in the 20 year period from 1998 to 2018, and the percentage of Black women earning computer science or engineering degreee has likewise decreased during the same time period 1998 to 2018.  Nevertheless, one comment in particular caught my eye and it has nothing to do with programs but with a person - a person making a difference.

In the article, Dr. Cara Gomally laments that courses, particularly introductory biology courses, are often taught as a "march through content with no connection of why you should care."  Id.  Sounds a bit like some introductory law school courses to me.  

That lack of connection, of a nexus to purpose, the article suggests, leaves some people behind, particularly in the STEM fields.  To remedy the deficit, Dr. Gomally is designing curriculum to focus not just on content but on the broader connections and uses one can make with the content, such as exploring questions with students as to how antidepressants work or whether students should participate in genetic testing.  Id.  

Those sorts of "why-questions" are filled with life; they create space for people to see how what they are learning can make an impact for them and for their communities and the world at large.  It's in those opportunities in exploring the why of what we are learning that we start to see ourselves, as I understand the article, as valuable participants in the enterprise of, in this case, science.  Id.

This summer, we are working with a number of recent law school graduates preparing for next month's bar exams who, for the most part, will not practice constitutional litigation or contract law or the law of future interests or defensible fees.  Consequently, much of bar prep seems like rote memory and regurgitation, without making connections or exploring meanings to something greater than the mere content and skills in which they are tested by bar examiners.  

To the extent that our graduates fail to make such connections with what they are learning to their future lives as legal practitioners, I think we are doing a disservice to them.  Because many of our graduates want to practice immigration law, I like to explore connections to the word of immigration law within the midst of the bar exam content and skills.  Let me share a few examples.  

First, take the definition of a refugee - one who has a well-founded fear of persecution based on a protected characteristic with the government unable or unwilling to protect them.  

That sounds a lot like a type of tort, perhaps both an intention tort and also a bit like negligence with the state unable or unwilling to protect the person fleeing persecution.

Second, take an article this week from the southern border about the U.S. government's decision to ask non-governmental organizations (NGO's) to designate some asylum applicants as especially vulnerable and therefore eligible to enter the U.S. to proceed with their asylum claims while leaving others behind.

That raises at least two constitutional issues, both of which are tested by bar examiners. First, there's a question as to whether vulnerability determinations by the NGO's constitute state action.  Second, there's a question as to whether vulnerability classifications used by individual NGO's violate the equal protection principle.  That's just getting started.  What about procedural due process and substantive due process considerations?  

Recently, I talked with a graduate, heading into criminal defense work as a public defender, who shared that they were not doing very well on contracts multiple-choice questions.  As to why, the content just didn't excite the person; it seemed irrelevant - totally unconnected - to their future practice as criminal defense counsel.  

In reflection, I asked whether there might be any connections b between contracts and the person's future work as a public defender.  It's just a hunch, we surmised, but we suspected that guilty pleas are contracts, which would ostensibly be governed by common law contract principles, such that if  a government withheld exculpatory evidence, that would not only be a constitutional violation but also a contract defense of unconscionability.  

To cut to the chase, the graduate said that in some ways contract law might actually reinforce the person's future clients' constitutional protections.  

In short, there can sometimes be more to the content than just mere rote learning.  Perhaps one day, somehow and someway, something from bar prep will lead to a new way of looking at how the law applies, really applies, to best protect rights and freedoms. And, in the course of exploring those possible connections with our students and graduates today, we might just be able to help them see that they belong in the legal field, that their experiences count, that they have more than what it takes to be attorneys. (Scott Johns).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 17, 2021 in Advice, Bar Exam Preparation, Current Affairs, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)