Friday, February 29, 2008

How You Live

This morning as I was driving into work, the song "How You Live" by Point of Grace was playing on the car radio.  A line in the song is (roughly, because I am notorious for being unable to get lyrics perfect): "It's not who you know.  It's not what you do.  It's how you live."  The song is pointing out that ultimately how we live our lives day to day is what is important.  Connections, job titles, awards, and honors will not sum up who we are in life.  We need to live our lives with honor, integrity, compassion, and humility to be remembered as great people.

The legal profession puts a lot of emphasis on being ethical and having a reputation for honesty and integrity as lawyers.  Sometimes, I think we need to remind our students that their reputations start here in law school. 

Grade point and activities of an individual will not be the most remembered attributes by classmates when they consider a referral of a client to a prior classmate after graduation.  The lawyer making the referral will remember "how the person lived" during law school.  Was that classmate honorable at all times?  Did that classmate help others who were less brilliant?  Was that classmate humble or arrogant over honors and awards?  Did that classmate show compassion for the less fortunate in our society?

Our law students will determine how they live in law school and in later practice.  However, we can be the models for their lives.  We can live and teach and counsel students with honor, integrity, compassion, and humility.  We can encourage them to make good choices in how they live.  (Amy Jarmon)

February 29, 2008 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 22, 2008

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ASP Job Posting

This Lecturer, Academic Support position is a one year appointment with the possibility of continuing for an additional 2 years (12 months per year).

Duties and responsibilities will include a variety of activities in the Academic Achievement Program.  Responsibilities might include any of the following: teaching academic skills in the classroom and in workshops to first year students; meeting individually with students regarding academic performance issues; providing writing support for students in a variety of academic contexts; supervising student assistants; teaching introductory summer programs; working with the Director of Academic Achievement to design and implement an enhanced bar passage program; teaching upper level classes in analysis; teaching a course in bar examination preparation; working individually with students preparing for the bar examination; assisting with additional services to enhance the academic success of students.

Some evening and weekend work is required as the law school has both day and evening programs.

Qualifications: At least two years legal work experience in practice, government, non-profit organization, judicial clerking, or other legal setting.  Admission to the bar of any state.  JD from an ABA accredited law school.  Ability to work evenings and weekends as needed.

Preferred Qualifications: Prior experience in law school academic support or law school teaching.

Applicants must complete the online application at University of Denver Jobs Link or by going directly to Direct Link to Job Application.  Please include a resume with the names of 3 references.

You can view a Univeristy of Denver benefits summary at Link to Benefits Summary.

The University of Denver is committed to enhancing the diversity of its faculty and staff and encourages applications from women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans.  DU is an EEO/AA employer.

February 22, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Making Law Real--"A Raisin in the Sun"

A crossover possibility for both Property and Constitutional Law:
ABC will be airing a remake of the classic "A Raisin in the Sun" this Sunday night. This is a great example of how restrictive covenants impacted real families, and power of the law to change people lives.
(Rebecca Flanagan)

February 21, 2008 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Making Law Fun

About this time of year, I try to bring in examples of *fun* in the law for my 1L's in my ASP class.  They tend to be so discouraged, so beat-up, and it's helpful to remind them that the law is alive, vibrant, and yes, fun. I want students see remember law is a part of their lives in ways they may not see in their 1L classes. 

Credit where credit is due: This is not my idea; I borrowed this from one of my favorite professors at UNC Law, Dean Lolly Gasaway, who uses this in her Copyright class.

Law and Pop Culture:
Did George Harrison violate copyright laws by plagiarizing the melody from "He's So Fine" by the Chiffon's for his hit single "My Sweet Lord"?

This website allows you to play both songs simultaneously, so students can hear the similarities, and judge for themselves whether one of the best-selling artists of all time (as part of the Beatles) lifted the melody from a '60's classic.

The New York Times ran an article on fox-hunting with dogs in England on Monday, Feb. 18, 2008.
"Tally Ho! A Determined Crew Hunts for Fox Hunters" by Sarah Lyall

This article can be a great tool to make Pierson v. Post come alive for students who don't see the relevance of a case on fox-hunting, with cross-over possibilities for discussing Keeble v. Hickeringill and Ghen v. Rich.  It also deals with ambiguity in the law; another great discussion-starter for a 1L class.  There are a lot of silly details in the article that make it fun to read and discuss, but opens up the importance of old cases to young law students.  And yes, fox hunting is still an important sport. (Rebecca Flanagan)

February 19, 2008 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Sympathies to Our Colleagues at Northern Illinois

All of us at the Law School Academic Support Blog are saddened by the events at Northern Illinois University yesterday.  We offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers for our colleagues there and the students and families of the Northern Illinois University community.

February 15, 2008 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Opportunity in Atlanta

      Atlanta's John Marshall Law School is expanding its Academic Support Program and seeks to appoint a Director of Academic Support.  The successful candidate will assist in all aspects of the Academic Support Program, helping students to hone their legal skills to enhance their performance in law school, the Bar Exam, and in practice. 

      The Director will design and present a first-year program, which focuses upon developing law school skills, enriching analytical abilities, and creating a supportive learning environment.  The Director will also work individually with students who have either self-referred or been referred to Academic Support by a member of the faculty.  Finally, the Director will also counsel students on study skills, analysis, time-management, bar preparation, and balance. 

      The Academic Support Program enjoys strong support from the law school's students, faculty, and administration.  Candidates must possess a J.D., a strong academic record, solid legal writing skills, and experience demonstrating interest and potential in academic support.  Prior successful teaching experience, particularly in academic support or a related field, is particularly desirable.  Practice experience is also advantageous. 

      Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.  Application review has begun and will continue until the position is filled. Submit a letter of application, resume, and the names of three references to: Dean Richardson Lynn, Atlanta's John Marshall Law School, 1422 West Peachtree Street, N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30309 or [email protected].

      Atlanta's John Marshall Law School encourages applications from candidates whose background would contribute to the law school's commitment to diversity.  Atlanta's John Marshall Law School is an Equal Opportunity employer.

Dan Weddle

February 15, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Website on Lawyers and Depression

The January 2008 ABA Journal has a short piece on page ten entitled "Struggling against Sadness."  The article talks about a website that was started by Dan Lukasik, managing partner at a Buffalo law firm who struggled with this illness.  The website is updated regularly and includes a number of different resources about depression in general and its relationship to the practice of law.  Check out the website at Lawyers with Depression.  (Amy Jarmon) 

February 14, 2008 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winter in Vermont

Today was my third work-from-home Wednesday in a row, not by choice. It’s the third Wednesday since the start of the new semester I had to rearrange appointments, reschedule class visits, and spend my day bundled in blankets with my computer to keep me warm.

For those of us in the northern climes, it’s been a brutal winter. The snow is removed with construction trucks here in Vermont; plows attached to trucks just won't do it anymore.

The winter takes its toll on students, and it takes its toll on us. The toughest part of the winter has been missing contact time with students, students who need remedial lessons and emotional support. While it’s the snow that causes the delays here in Vermont, delays happen everywhere.  It’s a delicate balance—how do you make up missed time without bombarding students who already feel like they are drowning? How do you keep them interested in remedial lessons when they are falling behind on class work because of weather, illness, crisis?  How do you remember to enjoy the snow day, something that was so easy to do as a kid, instead of fretting about lost time? 

(Rebecca Flanagan)

February 13, 2008 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ASP Job UC Davis

Title:      Director of Academic Support, UC Davis School of Law

Description:  The Director of the School of Law’s Academic Support will assist in all aspects of the law school’s academic support program, which is designed to help students develop the academic skills necessary for success in law school, on the bar exam, and in practice.  The Director will design, implement, and manage an academic support program for law students.  Responsibilities will include teaching academic skills to first year and upper division students (including students on academic probation); training and supervising law student teaching assistants conducting tutorial sessions for first year courses; identifying at risk students in need of academic support; individual and group counseling; creation, management, and implementation of bar programs; and assisting with other academic support-related programs and services.  Responsibilities might include teaching an academic support course. 

Job Qualifications:  Applicants must have a J.D., a strong academic record, bar admission and experience that demonstrates a potential for excellence in academic support.  Knowledge and ability to think imaginatively about the relationship of academic support to legal education; demonstrated ability to work with law students, faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds; solid law school academic record; prior teaching and academic support experience strongly preferred but is not required.  The successful candidate must possess strong interpersonal skills, the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the law school community, and excellent writing, speaking, and organizational skills. 

Opening is for the 2008-2009 academic year.  Full-time position and non-tenure faculty status as lecturer; salary commensurate with experience.

The law school is an equal opportunity employer and has a special interest in enriching its intellectual environment through further diversifying the range of perspectives represented within the faculty.  We welcome all qualified applicants to apply, including women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

Please send resume and cover letter by March 15, 2008 to Ms. Debbie Hicks, UC Davis School of Law, 400 Mrak Hall Drive, Davis, CA 95616; position will remain open until filled.

February 13, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Lessons from Ballroom Dancing

A few months ago, I shared my insights on how learning ballroom dancing is similar to learning law.  After writing that post, I decided to work towards the my long-term dream of competing in ballroom dancing.

I had seven weeks to prepare for my first competition.  In that time, I had to learn three new dances (rhumba, foxtrot, and swing) and perfect those and two other dances (waltz and cha cha).  Here are some of the lessons that I learned and how they relate to our law students.

  • Learning something new can be scary.  There were days when I wondered what I had gotten myself into with my dream.  I was frequently reminded of how I felt as a 1L trying to sort out mysterious courses about which I knew nothing and questioning whether law school had been a good idea. 
  • Learning something new can be frustrating.  I wanted to learn steps more quickly than was humanly possible.  When I got frustrated at my "slow" learning, I had to remind myself that I tell my law students to be patient and take one day at a time.  I tell them that any new skill takes time. 
  • Learning something new can be embarrassing.  I stepped on my instructor's feet.  I looked like a klutz in front of a World Champion dance coach.  I had regular mental blocks in mid-dance.  Through it all, I had to know how to laugh at myself and realize that it was not the end of the world.  I sympathized with our students who are sure that the professor and everyone in class will remember their abysmal class performance for years to come.
  • Learning something new is easier if the instructor understands how I learn.  My dance instructor tries very hard to explain things to me in ways that I can understand.  He combines approaches to match how I learn: talking through steps, listening to my questions, verbal analogies, diagrams, and application as needed.  ASP professionals earnestly try to be cognizant of learning styles.  When our faculty colleagues do the same, more students can have the lightbulbs turn on in their brains.    
  • Learning by tying new information to old information really works.  New steps came more quickly when I could relate the rhumba to similar steps in cha cha, foxtrot to similar moves in waltz, and swing to English jive.  Our students also need to make associations of new learning to old learning or experiences for greater comprehension.  When they try to learn in isolation, they fail to see connections that help them build on learning. 
  • Learning the basics of something is not the same as perfecting that learning.  I realized that I can pick up the patterns and steps fairly quickly.  However, the styling and technique (that make the dances beautiful to watch) take much longer for me.  Our students often pick up the gist of a course pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, some of them do not realize how necessary precise rule statements, deeper understanding for perceptive analysis, and the fine points of fact patterns affect them.
  • Learning can be both exciting and drudgery.  The feelings of accomplishment and improvement over the weeks were inspiring.  I could see how far I had come.  However, doing the same three steps in a pattern hundreds of times to get my foot position or arm position correct was drudgery.  Necessary, but not fun.  Many of our students love the law.  Many of our students do not love law school because of the drudgery that can accompany learning.
  • Learning requires practice for many hours.  I could not just read about the dances, watch videos of ballroom dancing, or have my instructor tell me about the steps.  I had to practice diligently.  I went to hours of lessons.  I practiced steps at home while I balanced a book on my head so that my posture and frame were correct.  I did various exercises to train my muscle memory.  I condensed pages of notes on things to correct for each dance into the essentials to continue to work on right before the competition.  Too many of our law students spend hours reading, listening in class, and memorizing but never practice before they walk into the final exams.  No wonder their hard work has insufficient payoff.
  • No matter how well we do, there is still more hard work ahead of us to get better.  I was delighted to win the third place trophy for the overall competition first time out.  However, I now know what to work on before the next competition.  I have not perfected any of the dances.  And, for years to come, I can improve.  Our students need to realize that they need to perfect their study habits over time.  No matter the initial success there is room for improvement.  Newcomer level versus gold level is something that requires on-going dedication.
  • After all of the hours of hard work, life happens.  I was petrified for the first five heats in the smooth competition in the morning and again for the rhythm competition in the afternoon.  During the other 50 heats, I was fine.  I made mistakes that I had not made for weeks.  I suddenly did a cha cha step during the rhumba.  Hearing my students talk about their test anxiety during finals seems all too familiar now.  When they tell me they blanked or that they could only remember contracts in their torts exam, I have greater empathy.   
  • Ideally, learning never ends.  No matter how competent we may be in some areas of our lives, we shall meet challenges during which we are incompetent at the beginning.  However, competence grows as we open ourselves to learning new things.  We need to make sure that our law students remain open to learning new things and having the courage to be novices.  We need to cheer them on for their successes even when they are focusing on their failures.

Ballroom dancing has been good for me as a learner.  Now I can use my recent experiences to help my law students learn.  (Amy Jarmon)      

February 11, 2008 in Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Job Posting on behalf of Natt Gant, Regent School of Law

The following information is from an e-mail that was recently sent to the ASP listserv.  Please excuse any spacing problems.  Typepad is not a happy camper this morning!

Regent is seeking to hire in a tenure-track faculty position an Associate Director of Academic Success.

The person would also have faculty rank as either an Assistant or Associate Professor, depending on experience, publication record, and other factors in his or her background.  The person would assist me in running the program by meeting with students in one-on- one advising sessions and by helping direct our Summer Academic Success Program and our Study Skills Workshops.  (Please see our website at

for general information about our program.)  In addition to assisting me in our Academic Success Program, this person would teach one doctrinal course per semester.  The specific course taught would depend on the person's interests and experience and on our curricular needs.


I am excited about this new position and believe it will provide a great opportunity for someone with a strong desire to work in the academic support field to obtain tenure-track (and hopefully ultimately tenured) status.  The position will also enable someone to combine his or her love of academic support with his or her desire to teach a doctrinal course each semester.  The position will begin in the 2008-09 academic year, and the compensation level will reflect the tenure-track rank of the position. 

Candidates should have excellent academic records and interpersonal skills and should have demonstrated potential for outstanding teaching and scholarly achievement.  Candidates with a background in the ASP field are particularly encouraged, as I believe that candidates for this position should have the desire to become an educational specialist at the law school.


If you any have questions, please contact me at [email protected]

at Regent University School of Law, 1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23464, 757.226.4640. 

February 6, 2008 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Grammar is my Achilles Heel

What do you do when…?

 What do you do when a student needs help with something you are awful at?

This is a challenge I face every time a student comes to me with questions about grammar. I am awful at grammar. I can still see the bright red “30%” written on the top of my grammar tests in the eighth grade (if that wasn’t reason enough to retire the red grading pens!) Somehow, I managed to pass eighth grade English Composition, and I have lived in terror of grammar ever since. Logically, I know I must know something. I couldn’t have fooled everyone on the way to my BA (in English!), MA, and JD. But that doesn’t help the nagging fear that I am a fraud, just one question about dangling participles away from being exposed.*

Everyone has that one thing that still scares them, that area of law they never understood, that critical skill they never grasped. Yet we all managed to graduate and become successful ASP professionals despite our failures and misapprehensions. But an Achilles heel also has the ability to turn a seasoned professional into a defensive amateur. If you are not secure about your skills, it’s easy to allow an angry student to make you feel as if you are not qualified to help them.

I have turned my Achilles heel into a teaching exercise. I own up to my weakness; my office is filled with books on grammar, style, and legal writing. I have the hardcover, illustrated edition of Strunk and White on my desk. I help the student research the answer to their grammar problem.

I may not have the answer to their grammar problem, but I feel I am teaching them a far greater lesson in admitting when to seek help.

Rebecca Flanagan

*After I wrote this entry, I noticed an article in the New York Times on feeling like a fraud...very interesting stuff! "Feeling Like Fraud? Sometimes, Maybe You Should" by Benedict Carey, Feb. 5, 2007

February 5, 2008 in Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Elusive Balance Between Work and Life

Here's and interesting perspective on the continuing struggle to balance work and personal life.  The author suggests that maybe that balance is impossible to achieve, at least perfectly, and that embracing that fact can be the healthiest response.  Check it out:,23414,1664181,00.html?cnn=yes.

Dan Weddle

February 1, 2008 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)