Monday, August 10, 2020

Becoming More Culturally Proficient

A foundational part of our professional lives as ASPers is providing feedback to students. As we engage students to provide feedback, it is likely that we will sit across from people who differ greatly from us. Try as we might to avoid judging them based on stereotypes or in-group favoritism, we all have implicit biases that may thwart those efforts (even if we like to think we conduct ourselves in an identity-neutral manner).

Some may read this and think: “No, not me. I believe in justice and equity, and strive to treat everyone fairly. I deal with diverse students daily. I’m good.” In truth, however, a person can simultaneously be committed to those principles and largely avoid conscious expressions of bias, yet still have student interactions that are influenced by their implicit biases. We all have blind spots, despite any attempts to “use introspection to acquit ourselves of accusations of bias, while using realistic notions of human behavior to identify bias in others.” Richard A. Posner, How Judges Think 121 (2008). 

Acknowledging this reality is critical if we are to fully leverage opportunities for growth. To that end, the reflection questions below are a helpful starting point for those interested in identifying their orientation/preferences for communication and collaboration.

  • How do you like people to communicate with you?
  • How do you like to lead?
  • How do you like to be led?
  • How do you like people to resolve conflict with you?
  • How do you like people to collaborate with you?

After reflecting on these points, consider: (1) how your preferences inform the way you provide feedback to students, (2) how your preferences might differ from students’ preferences, (3) how having preferences that differ from students might affect your ability to effectively engage them, and (4) how you can leverage any takeaways in future interactions with students.


Lory Barsdate Easton & Stephen V. Armstrong, How to Minimize Implicit Biases (and Maximize Your Team’s Legal Talent), 58 No. 9 DRI For Def. 80 (2016).

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)

August 10, 2020 in Diversity Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Job Posting - Clinical Professor for Academic Success, University of Idaho (Moscow Campus)

Hello! I realize this is a bit last minute notice. Please email with questions.


Clinical Professor for Academic Success

Posting Details

Position Information

Position Title                                                  Clinical Professor for Academic Success

Location                                                           Moscow Division/College                                            College of Law Department                                                    Law

Employee Category                                     Faculty Classification Group Title                         Clinical Faculty Tenure Tracking                                            Not Applicable

Rank                                                                   Negotiable (must be justified)

Interim/Term Appointment                        No

Pay Range                                                       $95,000 – $105,000 as an Assistant Professor

Type of Appointment                                  Fiscal Year Full Time/Part Time                                              Full Time Funding

Internal Posting?

Position Summary                                        The College of Law seeks an individual to teach academic skills courses, develop and administer academic support and advising programs, and implement relevant policies, in collaboration with the College’s other student services professionals. The Professor for Academic Success designs, implements, and promotes activities helping all College of Law students achieve their full academic and professional potential through academic skills, bar preparation, and advising programs, as well as through individualized academic counseling and advising. These activities are required for law school accreditation under ABA Standards. This position also includes a teaching component; the Professor for Academic Success will teach academic skills courses.

A visa sponsorship is available for      No

the position listed in this vacancy.


Job Duty  Function                                       Teaching & Advising

Percentage Of Time                                     90


Job Duty  Function                                       Scholarship & Creative Activities

Percentage Of Time                                     0

Job Duty  Function                                        Outreach & Extension

Percentage Of Time                                     0

Job Duty  Function                                       University Service & Leadership

Percentage Of Time                                     10


Required Qualifications                             • J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school.

  • Successful completion of a bar exam in any state.
  • A minimum of 3 years of experience as a practicing attorney or in higher education.
  • Familiarity with scholarship on law school and bar exam success.
  • Ability to demonstrate self-direction, creativity, and logical problem-solving skills on a consistent basis.
  • Outstanding record of academic and/or professional achievement.
  • Desire to create an academic environment that respects and enhances diversity and inclusion.

Preferred Qualifications                          Teaching and/or tutoring experience in highly specialized fields, preferably law.

  • Three or more years of experience in student affairs, academic success, or related job duties.
  • Demonstrated understanding of, and commitment to, addressing issues of diversity and inclusion.
  • Experience working with students or others in crisis with a calm and respectful demeanor, and subsequently making well-reasoned determinations of next steps.
  • Interest in contributing to scholarship on law school or bar exam success.

Physical Requirements & Working


Degree Requirement                                   Listed degree qualification is required at time of application.

Posting Information

Posting Number                                            F000861P

Posting Date                                                   07/09/2020

Closing Date                                                   08/07/2020

Open Until Filled                                           No

Special Instructions to Applicants       Please include the following documents with your application:

- Resume/CV

- List of References

- Letter of Qualification


- 8-12  page writing sample demonstrating legal analysis (uploaded to the

Other Document 1 field)

Background Check Statement                Applicants who are selected as final possible candidates must be able to pass a criminal background check.

EEO Statement                                              The University of Idaho (U of I) is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer committed to assembling a diverse, broadly trained faculty and staff. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. In compliance with applicable laws and in furtherance of its commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes and embraces diversity, U of I does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, genetic information or status as any protected veteran or military status in its programs or activities, including employment, admissions and educational programs.

Applicant Documents

Required Documents

  1. Resume/CV
  2. List of References
  3. Letter of Qualification
  4. Other Document 1

Optional Documents


Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

  1. * How did you hear about this employment opportunity?

◦  Academic Keys

◦  Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU)

◦  Chronicle of Higher Education

◦  Craig's List

◦  Department of Labor/Job Service including Job Central or Idaho Works

◦  Facebook


◦  Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC)


◦  LinkedIn

◦  National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (website)

◦  Newspaper

◦  Professional Listservs (Ex: NACUBO, AAAE, ISMC, ect.)

◦  UI Employee

◦  UI Register

◦  University of Idaho Website

◦  Veterans in Higher Ed

◦  Word of Mouth

◦  Other Advertising Venue

August 6, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Colorado Bar Taker Tests Positive for COVID-19

This week, a number of states were holding in-person bar exams, complete with formidable safety protocols as defenses.  Nevertheless, a group of Colorado bar takers were notified shortly after completion of their in-person bar exams that they were in close proximity with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.  Here are the initial details: Previously, recent graduates from the state's two law schools along with many other people sent a petition to the Colorado Supreme Court seeking an alternative licensure pathway, namely, diploma privilege, arguing that conditions were unsafe for individuals to take in-person bar exams.  

July 30, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

ASP Writers' Block on August 3rd

Kris Franklin is hosting another ASP Writers' Block zoom meeting on August 3rd at 11am est.  This will be a dedicated work session. Expect to meet in a small group of colleagues who will cycle through two pomodoros (25-minute worktime increments) in which we will turn off our email and work in a focused way on whatever project needs doing and is nourishing us in this difficult summer (scholarship is great, but does not have to be what you spend this time working on!). Afterwards, we will briefly share our progress on our individual projects and get supportive feedback from other group members.

You can find the information in the google group or you can email Kris Franklin at



July 30, 2020 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Conference (Virtual)

WCCASP Save the Date

July 29, 2020 in Meetings, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Director of Academic Achievement at Atlanta's John Marshall Law School

Director of Academic Achievement

JOB SUMMARY:        

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is seeking a Director of Academic Achievement to lead its Office of Academic Achievement (OAA) in effectively implementing and continuously evaluating its current program.  The primary goal of the Office is to provide the academic support needed for our students’ success both in law school and eventually on the bar exam.

REPORTS TO:            

Department:            Office of Academic Achievement

Primary:                  Associate Dean of Academics



  • J.D. from program accredited by the American Bar Association
  • Minimum of 3 years of experience in law practice or law teaching with a focus on legal writing and analysis
  • Experience in Law School academic support and bar exam support, preferred
  • Proficiency with MS Office and proprietary JMLS software

FLSA STATUS:           


ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS:                                                                                                                      

  • Teaches courses offered through OAA, such as Legal Foundations, Legal Methods, Mastering Legal Skills, and/or Mastering Legal Principles I, Mastering Legal Principles II. The OAA website has a description of these courses on the Law School’s website for reference.
  • Manages and supervises academic professionals in the office, including making teaching assignments and other assignments to effectively deliver the current program offered through OAA.
  • Working with students and alumni, individually and collectively, to leverage student performance in law school and on the bar exam. This includes individual tutoring and counseling along with developing academic action plans to help meet student goals.
  • Assists and participates in the first-year orientation program for first years, which is a for-credit orientation program. This include the academic lab, which consists of a classroom component for the first several weeks of first year.
  • Prepare and deliver summer and winter bar review workshops for alumni preparing for a bar exam.
  • Work with commercial bar review vendors to execute contractual agreements effectively.
  • Provide written feedback to students and alumni to advance academic skills and bar exam skills
  • Grade and evaluate the 1L assessment, which is an end-of-year assessment for first years.
  • Collect and evaluate data to determine program effectiveness and make recommended changes as needed.
  • Develop academic success plans for students at-risk and/or required to meet with OAA.
  • Must be able to work with both day and evening students, including during summer months. 
  • Collaborates with faculty, students and staff, to identify and develop academic skills resources and programming and to advocate for use of best practices
  • Participate in admissions events as needed to inform incoming students of the resources offered through the program. 
  • Continuously monitor and assess the program’s effectiveness
  • Work and coordinate with the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions on presentations offered to students.
  • Keep accurate records


  • Experience and/or educational training in the learning sciences.  
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct data analytics
  • Ability to measure program effectiveness
  • Effective teaching strategies for classroom and individual students
  • Familiarity with ABA standards 309b and 316 and ability to estimate and determine compliance with these standards.  
  • Experience with developing academic support courses and bar exam courses. 
  • Experience with bar exams and attorney licensing requirements
  • Experience working with bar review vendors and contracts related to commercial bar review
  • Adaptability- able to change tasks quickly as business needs dictate
  • Excellent Organizational skills
  • Ability to foster trust and respect among students, peers and superiors
  • Uses discretion when dealing with sensitive and confidential information
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and demonstrated ability to adapt communication style to audience
  • Ability to prioritize responsibilities, manage time effectively, and meet deadlines accordingly
  • Ability to maintain composure and professionalism when dealing with difficult personalities
  • Effective supervisory and management skills

WORK ENVIRONMENT AND PHYSICAL DEMANDS                                                                               

  • General office environment with individual work space and standard office noise
  • Ability to sit and type at a computer terminal for long periods of time utilizing close vision to review reports and documents.
  • Physical capacity to carry and lift up to 25 pounds
  • Minimal stooping, squatting, bending may be required
  • No travel required

Interested candidates may submit their letter of interest, resume, and three professional references to:

July 29, 2020 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Heartfelt Message to All ASPers from AccessLex!

Here's a message from the AccessLex Team of gratitude & appreciation to all of the ASPers during this unprecedented time:


July 23, 2020 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

AASE Ad Hoc Covid-19 Task Force

The AASE Executive Board created an ad-hoc committee, the COVID-19 Task Force, to address our membership's changing needs as a result of the pandemic and to plan for any future disruptions.

During 2020-21, the Task Force will develop recommendations for the Executive Board to implement or charge to other committees. The committee will include the chair, Joni Wiredu, and five (5) members. Some members of this committee will be selected from members with an expressed interest in serving. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please fill out the interest form using this link

Please see the attached charge for more information about the COVID-19 Task Force.

Covid-19 Task Force

(Ad Hoc Committee)


The charge of the Covid-19 Task Force is to evaluate both short-term and long-term initiatives necessary to continue to serve the needs of AASE members. The committee will evaluate the long-term and short-term needs of AASE in light of Covid-19 and similar disruptions.

The task force should consider the following issues, gathering data, researching processes used by other organizations, and conducting other research to help inform its work.

  1. Long-Term Initiatives:

The National Conference is a fundamental aspect of AASE. Covid-19 caused the cancellation of the National Conference in 2020. To avoid or mitigate future disruptions, the committee is tasked with developing or identifying a committee to develop an emergency plan for continuing the conference in light of any future major disruptions. This includes, but is not limited to, developing a plan for converting to an online conference, plans for agreements with schools, vendors and hotels that contemplate disruptions, and to evaluate conditions needed to support members who may experience disruption to travel for years to come due to Covid-19 conditions.

  1. Short-Term Initiatives:

The ad hoc committee will evaluate short-term measures to address the changed needs of the membership and will develop or identify a committee to develop measures to address these short-term needs. This includes, but is not limited to, what follows: The committee will address ways to facilitate interactions between AASE members that the canceled conference displaced. The committee will address the changing methods of instruction or changing roles of academic support professionals (e.g., online courses and programming, longer support of bar takers, and additional duties imposed). The committee will address how to aid members in engaging in self-care to address the additional work and stress brought on by Covid-19.

  1. Related Initiatives:

The ad hoc committee has the authority to evaluate all other measures that arise because of Covid-19 or to plan for similar disruptions that may impede an AASE National Conference or change the nature of academic support or bar preparation work.

Task Force Membership:

The committee will be composed of five members (the composition of which will be determined by the board) and will be chaired by the Host School Representative.


This ad hoc committee will submit to the AASE board recommendations for actions and committee assignments related to each of these tasks. In addition to monthly updates, the ad hoc committee will prioritize initiatives as it finds suitable to the task and will create at least two reports to enable action on tasks at two points in the 2020-2021 year: November 20 (AASE Board Meeting) and April TBD. These reports will be submitted to the President to be presented to the Board for consideration of implementation.

July 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Final Fridays Webinar "Difficult Conversations on Racial Equity When Educating Law Students"

The AALS Section on Academic Support’s next Final Fridays Webinar, titled “Difficult Conversations on Racial Equity When Educating Law Students,” will focus on facilitating difficult conversations in law school.

On Friday, July 24 at 1:00 EST, panelists Yolanda Sewell (Cooley), Russell McClain (Maryland Carey Law), and Goldie Pritchard (MSU) will provide concrete suggestions on how start difficult conversations around racial equity. We will also discuss who bears the responsibility to facilitate discussions on racial equity and pointers for how to successfully facilitate such conversations. Afton Cavanaugh (St. Mary's) will moderate the discussion. 

Though you will have the benefit of participating live as well, we also ask that you submit questions ahead of time at this link: The panelists will address these questions throughout the webinar. 

AALS-ASP Final Fridays Webinar Series

“Difficult Conversations on Racial Equity When Educating Law Students”

July 24, 2020

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 869 437 8868

Password: AALSASP1

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Dial by your location

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Meeting ID: 869 437 8868

Find your local number:

Join by Skype for Business

Participation is free and open to all. The webinars will also be available for on-demand viewing later, via the members-only section of the AALS Section on Academic Support webpage.  The benefit of participating live is the ability to ask questions of our panelists and to engage in the discussion.


The AALS Section on Academic Support Executive Board

Chair: Jamie Kleppetsch, DePaul University College of Law

Chair-Elect: Melissa Hale, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Secretary: Kirsha Weyandt Trychta, West Virginia University College of Law

Treasurer: Joe Buffington, Albany Law School

Board Member: Afton R. Cavanaugh, St. Mary's University of San Antonio School of Law

Board Member: Maryann Herman, Duquesne University School of Law

Board Member: Haley A. Meade, City University of New York School of Law

Board Member: Herbert N. Ramy, Suffolk University Law School

July 15, 2020 in Current Affairs, Diversity Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Joint Statement of AASE and AALS Section on Academic Support Programs

Joint Statement of the Association of Academic Support Educators and the AALS, Section on Academic Support Programs

July 6, 2020

We are in the midst of a 400-year-old pandemic that is systemic racism. The continuous oppression and repeated slayings of Black and other marginalized populations in the face of police brutality, hatred, and bias must cease. Black Lives Matter. We call out the names of all those who have fallen victim to police brutality. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and the countless others whose names have strayed from the headlines We grieve with the families of every victim of anti-Black violence, and we must work to effect change in our sphere of influence.

As attorneys and legal educators, we are problem solvers and agents of change. The recent historic events test our resolve to forge ahead with our indispensable work of preparing and supporting socially conscious lawyers. We cannot stop now! As academic support educators, we acknowledge that we play a unique role in the lives of students and recommit to actively supporting them as whole people, not just law students. For the skills they acquire in law school are only good when they are matched with a strong social identity, and we want our students, as future defenders of justice, to be confident in that identity.

In this time, AASE & AALS Section on Academic Support Programs would like to reaffirm our collective commitment to ensuring that legal education is accessible to all students and to supporting academic support educators. We stand in solidarity with Black people and all marginalized individuals in the struggle for equality, inclusion, and the promotion of justice. 



President: DeShun Harris, University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

President-Elect: Melissa Hale, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Past President: Antonia Miceli, Saint Louis University School of Law

Vice President of Diversity, Yolonda Sewell, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

Treasurer: Twinette Johnson, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law

Treasurer-Elect: Laura Mott, City University of New York School of Law

Secretary: Goldie Pritchard, Michigan State University College of Law

Host School Representative, Joni Wiredu, American University Washington College of Law

Host School Representative-Elect, Zoe Niesel, St. Mary’s University School of Law


AALS Section on Academic Support:

Chair: Jamie Kleppetsch, DePaul University College of Law

Chair-Elect: Melissa Hale, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Secretary: Kirsha Weyandt Trychta, West Virginia University College of Law

Treasurer: Joe Buffington, Albany Law School

Board Member: Afton R. Cavanaugh, St. Mary’s University School of Law

Board Member: Maryann Herman, Duquesne University School of Law

Board Member: Haley A. Meade, City University of New York School of Law

Board Member: Herbert N. Ramy, Suffolk University Law School

July 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

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 10th 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 5, 2020 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Life versus Licensure...

That's how Texas bar taker Claire Calhoun put it when describing what she and thousands like her face with the prospect of in-person bar exams in light of increasing incidences of COVID-19:  

“We really, really hope and frankly need the bar examiners and the Texas Supreme Court to do something here to step in on our behalf, because it’s life versus licensure, and I don't think that's fair to make us pick."

It seems like Claire has been heard, at least in part.  On July 2, 2020, the Texas Board of Law Examiners, in part due to calls from students such as Claire, has decided to recommend to the Texas Supreme Court that in-person bar exams be cancelled and replaced with an October 2020 remote online bar exam instead.  Id.  As of this writing, let's hope that the Texas Supreme Court has heeded Claire's warning too.  Frankly, it's a choice that no law graduate ought be forced to make. 

Now I know that some might say that that's a bit too dramatic.  That Claire overstates the risk of harm.  But as any bar taker can tell you, it's a real palpable foreseeable risk of harm, something that tort law might and ought to recognize.  And, I don't think that Claire's concerns are that far fetched, because some states, seeming to recognize the tort risks at hand, are requiring bar takers to waive liability claims against bar examiners as a condition to sit for bar exams.  

In my opinion, that's too much to ask of our future colleagues.  Let me speak plainly.  It's wrong, downright wrong, especially because the risk of harm is not just a risk that the bar takers and proctors are being asked to assume but it's a risk that bar takers will then be spreading to others who didn't assume that risk at all.  That's just not fair or right.

But I'm not convinced that postponement to October 2020 for a remote online exam is right either.  Here's why.  At this point, with just over three weeks to the scheduled bar exam in July, most bar takers have been studying full-time since graduation in May.   They've been planning and preparing for July bar exams.  And, as cited in the Texas Tribune article, the financial impact of a 3-month postponement is not something to be taken lightly:  “I specifically budgeted my whole summer to take this July bar,” [bar taker] Anastasia Bolshakov said. “None of us are working right now. We have no income. The money we had in May, that's been slowly depleting.”  Id

Listen again to the words of these two bar takers.  Don't just read them.  Listen to them.  Take them to heart, or at least hear them out:  

"Slowly depleting."  

"No income."  

"Budgeted my whole summer."  

"Life versus licensure." 

Perhaps the risk of COVID-19 will not materialize such that the July and September 2020 bar exams can safely take place in person without putting bar takers, examiners, or the public at risk.  If so, by all means have the bar exam.  

But if not, let's not fail our most recent graduates by not being ready to immediately provide an alternative licensure path, without any delay at all.  For some states, that might mean being ready to immediately transition to an online bar exam with materials and procedures ready to go, for the July 2020 bar exam.  For other states, that might mean be ready to roll out a diploma licensure option for July 2020 bar takers.

As every pilot knows, no flight plan is complete if it doesn't plan for the possibility of a diversion to an alternate destination in case the weather turns sour or the destination airport closes.  

But it seems like many states have no alternative bar exam plans at all.  And, in my mind, postponement is not really a viable alternative plan because it's asking too much of those who have so little to give, especially when they've spent so much, over the course of the past three years, emotionally, mentally, and financially, to prepare for embarking on the profession of serving as attorneys.  To not have a viable alternative plan for our most recent graduates, at this point of time in the summer, is to leave our bar takers suspended in the air, without any place to land.  

Perhaps I am speaking out of turn.  Perhaps states have alternative licensure mechanisms ready to go so that the July 2020 bar takers need not fear any delays whatsoever.  If so, let them be known. Share them with your future colleagues.  

But if not, reach out to them.  Work with them, their law schools, and state bar associations and practitioners to develop and plan viable alternative licensure pathways that are ready to go if need be.  After all, at this point, no one has been able to accurately predict that path of COVID-19, not even the scientific experts.  

That suggests that the best laid plans must include ready-to-go alternatives, too.  That's the only way to fly safely.  And that's the only way to practice law wisely.  So also, it's the only way to do justice to not only the public but also our most recent law school graduates.  (Scott Johns).

P.S. Let me suggest two possible licensure alternatives.  

• First, a remote online exam with law schools footing the bill to provide - as needed - stable internet and testing locations for individuals without such capabilities.  I would envision a 3-hour open book written exam, composed of four (4) 30-minute essays and (one) 1 mini-performance test, drafted by local practitioners and courts and their law clerks.  Such an exam could be easily prepared and logistically administered by state supreme courts with just under three weeks to go to the July bar exam.  

• Second, a diploma licensure "plus" program.  In the event that in-person exams must be postponed without an alternative remote exam, partner with jurists, practitioners, and faculty to host two-day online workshops, guided by these experts, in which bar applicants and attorneys join together to work through a number of legal problems.  In shaping the online program, I would encourage state supreme courts to frame workshop problems around current events that raise issues from the bar tested-subjects, with the workshops implemented in lieu of the July bar exam, such that completion of the exam would result in the admittance to the bar.

July 2, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exams, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Let's Talk About Practice Tests!

So, most of you had a scheduled practice test this last week, or will have one soon. It’s likely you’re feeling many things, so let’s talk about what the score means, and what you can do.

First, the score tells you where you are NOW, not whether you will pass or fail. Before I tell you what you can do AFTER the exam, I want to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a bar taker. Right around July 1st she took a practice exam from BarBri. This was so long ago that you had to do everything by hand, including the grading. As she graded, it slowly occurred to her that her score was not great. Really not great. She got 90. Not 90%, but 90 questions right out of 200. Yikes. And she thought she was good at multiple choice. This came as quite a blow to her ego, and she was very distraught. There might have been some wallowing, crying, and ice cream.

So, after some wallowing, she did what I’m going to tell you to do, and ended up getting a 148 raw on the actual MBE. I only point this out because that’s an increase in 58 points. And trust me, if she can do it, you can too.

So, first and foremost, remember that the practice test is PRACTICE. It’s designed to help you learn. You have 4 weeks, and in some cases more, before the bar exam. That means you are still learning!

Next, if you didn’t do well, allow yourself some time to wallow. Grab the ice cream, go for a run, clear your head. Do what you need to do. Then come back, and let’s assess and learn.

First, get out an excel spreadsheet or make a chart in a word doc. You’re going to track what you did wrong, and what you did right.

Obviously, track which topics were better and worse. Did you get more wrong in contracts than torts? But, go a step further, and track the subtopics. So many people will come up to me, frustrated that they aren’t doing well in a particular subject. But what PARTS of that subject are you struggling with? For contracts are you getting all of the damages questions wrong, but doing fine with formation? This matters for two reasons. First, it matters because it helps you decide where to spend your time. Don’t just think about spending your time with “contracts”, but focus it further. In addition, if you notice you are struggling with damages, don’t assume that you don’t know the law. Line up some wrong questions and see if you notice a pattern. Is it the way the question is being asked? Or are you struggling to pick the right answer out of 2?

That brings us to the next important step of tracking. WHY did you get the answer wrong? Don’t just assume it was the law. Could it be something else? Were you reading carefully? If not, mark that down as “RC” or reading comprehension. Did you miss the law being tested? Perhaps you feel confident that you know the rule against perpetuities, but you didn’t recognize that it was being tested in this question. Were you second guessing yourself? Did you have the right answer and change it? Did you miss an important fact?

The point is to look for patterns. Everyone assumes they don’t know the law, but you graduated from law school! No small feat! That means you know something, I promise. So, look for other patterns. For example, most of the time when I get multiple choice questions wrong it’s careful reading. I read quickly and miss important facts, or don’t pay close enough attention to the call of the question. But now that I know this about myself, I can watch for it and remedy it. I also tell students who find they second guess themselves frequently to do the math – what would your score have been if you had NEVER second guessed yourself? If your score would have increased, use that as motivation to NOT second guess yourself. The point is, knowing the patterns help, and will help you study more effectively.

Also, if the law is the reason you got it wrong, be specific. Is it that you didn’t remember the law? Or that you didn’t understand it? Your answer to this changes your review. If you just failed to remember an element or an exception, working on memory will help. But students often assume this is the fix to all things, when in fact, they don’t fully understand the law. If that’s the case, merely memorizing the law will not help you get the question right. To test this, use your outline. With the law in front of you, can you get it right? If the answer is no, it’s not memory, and you need to look elsewhere.

As you track, think of a takeaway per question. So, if I got 90 right on my practice test, that’s 110 opportunities to learn something new. Yes, I know, cheesey. But it works, I promise. Remember 58 points! So, if I can learn 110 new things, that’s an increase in your points for sure. Statistically, about 20-30 points. Your takeaway should be something that you can use on multiple questions. It can be a reminder that when a question asks you for the BEST defense, it doesn’t mean defendant will win. It can be putting a nuance or an exception on a flashcard. It can be the reason why one answer is better than another. For example, if a contracts question asks about breach of contract, an answer choice that talks about reliance or estoppel will be wrong, because that’s not a contract.

The point is to learn something from each question. I promise, it WILL work. Don’t just go back to your outlines and redo them, or make them prettier. Don’t just review law or re-watch videos. Dive into those questions and really learn.

A few last multiple choice notes. It’s important to practice using pencil and scantron (actually bubbling in answers) before the test, potentially multiple times. It’s also important to practice in timed conditions. Make the test conditions as test like as possible – limit bathroom breaks, don’t drink water, or eat. Set a timer. If you plan on using ear plugs, wear them.

If you are struggling with multiple choice in general, our very own Steven Foster has a CALI lesson for that!

Finally, good luck, and remember practice makes perfect!

(Melissa Hale)

July 1, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2020

My Lifelong Frenemy

As I sat down to put fingers to keyboard for my first blog post, I found myself overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of ideas swirling around in my head. Overwhelmed by my thinking that this post must be perfect, thoughtful, groundbreaking, and transcendent. I was convinced that this post must be rainbows and unicorns rolled into one, it must be as mellifluous and powerful as Aretha Franklin’s voice, it must be everything to everyone, and it must be nothing to no one. 

It took me about 20 minutes to ask myself the obvious question (beyond the other obvious question of why I would set the bar anywhere near the otherworldliness of ‘Retha): “why, exactly, must your first blog post be all of these things?” In that moment, I realized the pressures I felt are traceable to a lifelong frenemy that, much like a phoenix, continues to rise from the ashes: imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is characterized by one’s persistent feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt about their abilities or achievements, coupled with a fear of being exposed as a fraud despite those achievements and ongoing success.

Thinking about my old frenemy­ brought to mind a conversation I once had with a student. For the last couple of years, I have served as a panelist during our 1L orientation diversity and inclusion program. At the end of last year’s program, a student approached me to, among other things, thank me for sharing my 1L experience with imposter syndrome. 

I am a Black woman and first-generation college graduate who grew up with few socioeconomic advantages. To say law school was a culture shock would be an understatement. I spent most of my first year convinced the admissions office had erred in admitting me to the law school and much of my second and third years dismissing my achievements as “luck” and “waiting for the other shoe to drop” (i.e. for someone to realize that I was a fraud and did not belong at the law school).

At the end of my conversation with this student, they asked “when did you overcome imposter syndrome?” I do not recall what my answer was in that moment, but the question has triggered several deeply personal moments of introspection. When I think of that conversation, I know the honest answer to that student’s question would have been (and still is): “I’ll let you know.”

If I’m still trying to figure out how to consciously uncouple from vanquish my lifelong frenemy, it is incumbent upon me to be cognizant of similar challenges experienced by students and supportive in helping them work through—or past—those feelings of inadequacy.  To this end, today I renew my commitment to: name my frenemy unapologetically, serve as a sounding board and source of support for students battling imposter syndrome, remind those students of their strength and accomplishments, and encourage them to be kind to themselves.  I also commit to taking my own advice. 

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)

June 29, 2020 in Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Online Teaching: Students' Perspectives

About six weeks ago, I posted a question on Twitter: “Students, assuming we’re all doing online learning again in the fall, what do you want your profs to keep doing/stop doing/start doing?”

The tweet got a lot of comments from students, faculty, and parents spanning many disciplines and education levels. Naturally, plenty of responses were unhelpful (“Stop charging full tuition”), others were contradictory (“Synchronous classes!” “Asynchronous classes!”), and some had suggestions that I assume by now are obvious (“Provide closed-captions or transcripts for prerecorded videos.”) Some interesting themes and tidbits did emerge, though, and I thought I’d share:

Course materials. Students were enthusiastic for faculty to upload as many materials as possible as soon as possible—suggestions included scheduling material uploads (e.g., next week’s materials will be posted on Wednesday mornings) and uploading your lecture notes before class so students can follow along. Please don’t use slides that are only photos—when reviewing later, it’s difficult for students to know what the intended content was. Also keep in mind that students have limited access to printers at home; format accordingly.

Communication, in class and out of it. Clarity of assignments and expectations is paramount. Use the course homepage to post announcements, rather than expecting students to sift through their emails for course updates. Polls and discussion boards are largely ineffective for student engagement or facilitating conversation. Instead, encourage students to pose questions using the chat feature (which TAs can monitor for you, if you have a TA.)

Assessments: There were several calls for more frequent, smaller assignments rather than big assignments during the semester. Graduate-level students in particular requested final papers over final exams, to demonstrate depth of learning and thought rather than memorization. Students appreciated flexible deadlines where possible, as it relieved students of having to request (sometimes multiple) extensions. One commenter pointed out that middle-of-the-night deadlines do not necessarily benefit students residing in other time zones. When a timed final exam is necessary, make sure students can see the entire exam at first—it’s impossible for students to triage or manage their time effectively if the software shows only one question at a time and doesn’t allow a student to go back. For exams that inevitably go for many pages or include multiple questions, a cover sheet can help by explaining how many questions there are and how much each question is weighted.

Tech hacks for video transcripts: Faculty posted various suggestions to get transcripts of pre-recorded videos. Write out a script for yourself, which reduces your ums and ahs and also serves as a transcript after the recording is finished. Software-generated transcripts are generally pretty good, though you’ll have to edit them. Various platforms were suggested: YouTube, Kaltura, and Screencast-o-matic, along with the dictation functions on Microsoft Word, Google, and Google Slides. (If you’re not comfortable with your content being on YouTube, your videos can de-listed so they’re accessible by link but not by searching; you can also upload a video, download the transcript, and take down the video.)

Ask the students for feedback: They’re digital natives, plus they’re the ones taking your course. Professors have gotten good feedback from students, particularly when they explain why they’re asking (“My colleagues and I all noticed that by the end of the semester, few students had cameras on. This was very difficult for me as an instructor, because I realized how much I depend on non-verbal communication. Not seeing faces was really hard for me. On the other hand, there's clearly something going on. Research has shown that having cameras on can be stressful, and it's obviously not just one or two students without cameras. So what insights do you have? Should I not even bother trying to get people to connect with cameras? Should I leave it as an option? Why weren't most students turning their cameras on?”)

(Cassie Christopher - Guest Blogger)

June 28, 2020 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

AASE Scholarship: A Conversation for ASPers Wanting to Write More

The AASE Scholarship Committee will host a workshop on Friday, July 10 at 2pm Central for a casual conversation about scholarship for ASP-ish faculty. Everyone is welcome, no matter the status of your project—trust me, we run the gamut from “I feel like I want to write something” to “I have polished work product and a publication contract.” We’ll convene and then break out into small groups to brainstorm, motivate, troubleshoot, and generally support you in your scholarly ambitions.

Zoom info is in the google group.

Cassie Christopher, Marsha Griggs, DeShun Harris, Susan Landrum, and Kirsha Trychta put together this great event.

June 27, 2020 in Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Current State of the Bar Exam: It's NOT Great

Let’s talk about what’s been going on with the bar, and what our students have been dealing with. I would like to stress that these recent graduates will be the newest members of our profession. We owe it to them to care about their mental and physical well being. 

First, back in March and April, there was uncertainty about the bar in general. Would it happen? Would it be postponed? While the class of 2020 was already dealing with moving classes online, dealing with non graduation, losing jobs they had already secured, now there is the uncertainty of the bar exam.

Sure, we were all dealing with uncertainty at that point, and still are. But I feel like this is different. This is going from looking forward to celebrating something you’ve worked so hard for, and potentially having your future figured out, to complete uncertainty.

In late April, and early May, states started announcing their decisions. Some were going to go ahead with July, some were postponing until the Fall. For those states that postponed, this meant students were now burdened with the stress of potentially changing housing plans, or figuring out how to finance their life (you know, a roof over their head and food to eat) for two extra months.

Added to that, some states like Rhode Island, didn’t even announce a decision until June! Leaving students wondering if there would be a bar exam to sit for, and if not where might they take the bar?

In the midst of all of this some states were restricting seats, leaving students to wonder if they would even get to take the bar exam. And oh right, the fees paid were non refundable. Because hundreds of dollars is nothing to a student, right?

Now, added to all of this is the fact that it’s almost July, Covid-19 is still spreading, and in most states the cases are rising. But some states plan to go ahead with the July exam. With hundreds of people in a testing site. And no guarantee that they can provide for safe accommodations. In fact, multiple states have said that masks will not be allowed while testing, and some states are requiring test takers to sign waivers. 

 Yes, we all had to take the bar, yes, it’s hard for everyone. But we didn’t have to deal with this. We didn't have to wonder if we'd contract a potentially deadly virus. (On a side note, yes, the young people can die from Covid, and not everyone taking the bar exam is young. On top of that, let's not forget that many of our bar takers might be at high risk, despite age)

Students don’t know if they’ll have seats. Students don’t know if they’ll be safe. Students don’t know if they are risking their health and lives in order to be licensed. This is too much to put on the newest members or our profession.

Also, at least 3 states have announced that test takers must quarantine prior to taking the bar. While I appreciate this from a health and safety stand point, most bar takers can not afford to take stay in a hotel for 14 days. And, if they choose to not take the bar, they’re not getting a refund.

However, I think someone preparing for the bar, sums it up a bit better than I can.  (I have linked instead of sharing every tweet)

1 2 3 4 5

This is a really great and informative thread, that gives us insight into what students are going through. I haven't put every tweet here, because it's long. But please go to the link to read all of it. 

Students are worried about their health. They are worried about their livelihood. 

There are so many attorneys out there with a “life was rough for me, so it should be for you too” attitude. They have literally told these students to suck it up and deal with it. But none of us, I promise,  have had to deal with this. This is much more than the usual stress that bar students are under, and we need to recognize that. 

I’m at a loss, personally. I can’t imagine the stress that this class is under. There is nothing I can do individually but advocate for this class and support them. And I think, at the very least, we should all be supportive and empathetic, and understand that what we are asking of these bar takers is simply too much.

(Melissa Hale)

June 26, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Considering Class Formats This Fall - Check Out This Article

In light of the ongoing debate about whether to proceed with online, hybrid, and/or in-person classes this fall term, here's a timely essay that explores the potential impact on student well-being and learning:  P. Huang, D. Austin, "Unsafe At Any Campus: Don't Let Colleges Become the Next Cruise Ships, Nursing Homes, and Meat Packing Plaints," forthcoming Indiana Law Journal Supplement (Jun. 16, 2020).   According to the authors, "[r]eopening campuses is a public bad (because of multiple negative externalities to students, staff, local communities, and faculty), inequitable (to immunocompromised, older, disabled, and at-risk groups), and an inferior option (in terms of educational efficacy) to socially responsible higher education." Id. at 20.  As a side note, with many states in flux concerning this summer's bar exam, this article provides food-for-thought as to whether bar exam administrations and supreme courts ought to hold in-person bar exams or rather instead move expeditiously to online bar exams or consider temporary diploma licensure options, especially in light of increasing incidences of COVID-19 at the time of this posting.  (Scott Johns).

June 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zero-L - An Online Platform Option for Entering Law Students

Hat Tip to Adjunct Prof. Alan Blakley.... 

In light of the ongoing pandemic, here's a free online program created by Harvard Law School for possible consideration and/or adoption by law schools as we move towards the fall start for entering law students.  According to the introductory video, Zero-L is a free online program focused on helping entering law students develop confidence and competence in thinking like law students:  Specifically, Zero-L indicates that it is designed as an "onramp" for law school students, regardless of background and experience.  For more details, please see the syllabus, available at the following link:

June 25, 2020 in Learning Styles, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

AALS-ASP Webinar on Self-Care

The AALS Section on Academic Support’s next Final Fridays Webinar, titled “Supporting Ourselves & Each Other,” will focus on self-care.

On Friday, June 26 at 1:00 EST, panelists Tracy Kepler (CNA Insurance), Danielle Kocal (Pace), and Courtney Lee (U. of Pacific McGeorge) will provide concrete suggestions on how we can implement self-care techniques like mindfulness, mind-body-connections, grit, and resilience into our everyday lives.  Jamie Kleppetsch (DePaul) will moderate the discussion.

AALS-ASP Final Fridays Webinar Series

“Supporting Ourselves & Each Other”

June 26, 2020

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST


Participation is free and open to all. The webinars will also be available for on-demand viewing later, via the members-only section of the AALS Section on Academic Support webpage.  The benefit of participating live is the ability to ask questions of our panelists and to engage in the discussion.

June 24, 2020 in Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)