Tuesday, June 7, 2005

In the Academic Support Sporlight: Michael Hunter Schwartz


(You may have read about the recent publication of Expert Learning for Law Students by Carolina Academic Press and ordered your own copy.  You'll find the following biography of the author of interest.  els)

Professor Michael Hunter Schwartz is a Professor of Law and the Director of Ex-L at Charleston School of Law, the academic support program at Charleston.  Between 1991 and 2005, he taught at Western State University College of Law.  For the first eight years of his career at Western State, Professor Schwartz was a doctrinal professor, teaching contracts, remedies and insurance law.

In 1999, Professor Schwartz decided to follow his passion and begged his way into the directorship of Western State’s academic support programs.  Professor Schwartz overhauled Western State’s academic support programs, creating seven distinct programs focusing on student law school achievement and bar pass, lowering Western State’s academic attrition rate by 81% while increasing its first- time bar pass rate by 44%.

Professor Schwartz is the author of Expert Learning for Law Students (Carolina Academic Press 2005), a text designed to teach self-regulated learning skills and law school learning strategies to entering law students as part of law school’s introductory programs, academic support programs and academic probation programs.


In writing the book, which was his sabbatical project a few years ago, Professor Schwartz conducted an exhaustive review of research in the education field.  The book is accompanied by a workbook that includes exercises and reflection questions and a teacher’s manual that includes, among other things, the background educational research, answers to the exercises, detailed syllabi, instructional objectives, quizzes, a set of cases (with commentary and questions similar to what students will encounter in their law school texts) and briefs of all the cases. 

Professor Schwartz currently is in the process of co-authoring (with Professor Denise Riebe, who teaches at Duke University School of Law and University of North Carolina School of Law) a new text, Pass The Bar!.   The authors, who met as a result of exchanging ideas on the ASP listserv, expect to complete Pass The Bar! this fall. The text, which also will be published by Carolina Academic Press, has been designed to be used by academic support professionals in law school bar pass programs.

They designed the text to be used in stand-alone bar pass courses or as a supplemental text for upper-division bar-tested courses so that faculty can integrate bar study principles into such classes, using the bar study principles to teach the doctrine and the doctrine to teach the bar study principles.  The authors also believe that students will be able to use the book on their own for self-study.  The book demystifies the bar preparation and bar exam process. To help students reflectively plan their bar study, adopt bar study practices that maximize their chances of passing the bar exam, and manage their stress and time during the bar study and bar exam process, the book includes dozens of exercises and practice bar exam questions.  Pass The Bar! will be accompanied by a teacher’s manual that will provide background research, classroom exercises, model answers, syllabi and instructional objectives.

Professor Schwartz also has written two law review articles and three shorter works relating to law teaching and learning and two other law review articles that address doctrinally-related matters: the defects in arbitration as a form of dispute resolution and power as a legal construct.

He has delivered presentations on law teaching and learning subjects at Institute for Law School Teaching, Legal Writing Directors’ and CALI Conferences and as an invited speaker to the faculties at Hastings College of the Law, Santa Clara University School of Law, Albany Law School, UDC Law School, the John Marshall Law School, Southern New England School of Law and John Marshall Law School in Atlanta.

He also is on the Steering Committee of and is a contributor to CLEA’s “Best Practices of Law Schools for Preparing Students to Practice Law” Project/White Paper and is on the Board of Directors of the Humanizing Legal Education Movement.

Professor Schwartz is married to the person he says he most admires and likes in the world and has two daughters, ages 9 and 12, whom he describes as wonderful.  His major hobby is spending time with his wife and daughters; to that end, he has volunteered his time in his daughters’ elementary school classes and to their musical theatre production group.


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