Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do they teach writing in college? Should they?

Okay, seems like a simple proposition. It has a significant impact on us, especially those in ASP and Legal Writing, that deal with writing everyday. I have yet to attend a conference where someone, either at lunch, or in a formal program, decries student's inability to write. Their inability to write is often conflated with an inability to be logical or formulate a coherent analysis of an issue.  To me, that is a different, albeit equally challenging, problem. Another problem that is conflated with the inability to write is the idea that this is a part of a generational war; "back in the day, when I was a student..." everyone was a great writer on and so forth.  Maybe, maybe not. Do students lack the ability to write? My completely anecdotal, unscientific polling would suggest that yes, most of us believe many of our students don't know how to write when they get to law school, and it's not a skill we should have to teach while teaching doctrinal material. (I believe Legal Writing is doctrinal and skills-based, and I am framing the argument from that perspective). 

There is an argument that writing, or composition, in it's purest form, is not taught in college. At the undergrad level, writing is taught in "writing-intensive" courses that focus on content, not style, grammar, or clarity.

Stanley Fish from the New York Times (and a fellow law professor) wrote a wonderful piece on the problem of writing instruction at the college level. The piece discusses other problems of a political nature, but it provides a thought-provoking argument about the lack of writing instruction at the undergraduate level. Should we, as part of the legal academy, make certain writing skills, or composition, classes a requirement for admission to law school? Should we be a part of this discussion? If we complain enough and feel this brings down the level of our instruction, do we have a duty to insist that students come to law school knowing basic composition? I admit, I never had a composition class in college--I tested out of them--and I feel my writing reflects my lack of instruction in the area. I don't have any answers to these questions, just lots of thoughts. (RCF)

August 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Job at CharlotteLaw

Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success (CPAS)

The Charlotte School of Law invites applicants for the position of Director of the CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success (“CPAS”). This is a non-faculty full-time administrative position starting August 1, 2009, at a salary commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The CPAS Director reports directly to the Associate Dean of Student Services and the Associate Dean of Academics.  The director will work with students seeking to improve academic performance or experiencing academic difficulty.  The Counselor performs other academic support functions essential to promoting students’ success in law school and to the success growth and of the institution. 

Duties & Responsibilities:

·         Hiring, training, and supervising CharlotteLaw Program for Academic Success (CPAS) staff and managing the general operations of the CPAS program including the budget, short and long-term goals and strategies, coordination of offerings within the program and with departments within the law school

·         Designing and implementing strategies to assist all students, particularly high risk students, students in academic difficulty, and those for whom English is a second language

·         Establishing and monitoring department metrics

·         In collaboration with InfiLaw Consortium Best Practice Groups, assessing the effectiveness of the existing CPAS program and recommending improvements

·         In collaboration with other members of the administration, evaluating and creating reports on statistical data regarding students’ academic performance, utilizing entrance data and bar passage results

·         Providing individual tutoring and counseling as well as leading group study sessions and Teaching Assistant training workshops

  • ·         Collaborate with the CharlotteLaw Director of Teaching Excellence
  • ·         Assist and facilitate the bar exam preparation program and bar-exam related events
  • ·         Designing and implementing the academic component of the orientation programs


  • Required Qualifications:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Director must be a licensed attorney with one to three years of legal experience.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have at least two years prior academic support experience (either professional or as part of a graduate or law school program) or teaching experience (i.e., legal writing or comparable teaching experience in writing and analytical skills training).
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Possess the ability to think creatively and critically about the goals of academic support in legal education and to design and present programs to meet those goals.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Possess the ability to counsel, advise and instruct individual students from diverse backgrounds. 
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Possess a genuine interest in and ability to work closely with faculty, staff and students to enhance program effectiveness is required.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A solid academic record.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • ·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Director must possess a minimum of 2 years relevant experience with an existing law school’s academic support program.


Licensed by a State Bar Association.


Salary is dependent on qualifications.  Full benefits package. 

For more information about Charlotte School of Law, please visit

 Application Deadline: Monday, September 7, 2009.

To Apply:

Please send a letter of interest, a resume, and the names of three current professional references (including addresses and phone numbers) to [email protected] or via mail to: 

Charlotte School of Law--Human Resources

2145 Suttle Ave

Charlotte, NC 28208

Charlotte School of Law is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Inquiries welcome from qualified candidates.

August 26, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Personal reflections on a new year, new classes

My last couple of posts have been about starting the school year from a more objective perspective.  I always add my anecdotes as examples, but I haven't said much about how I feel about the start of the school year.

Excited, and terrified. I will admit it; the start of a new semester scares me. I know it's a "good" scared. I am trying something new. In the past four years, there has been only one semester where I did not do something new, different, and out-of-my-comfort zone. I always come home from the summer conferences with a million ideas, and a precious few make it into a new syllabus, a new course, or a new approach to reaching students. 

At the start of every semester, I am sure, in my heart, that whatever I am doing differently is not going to work.  I reassure everyone around me, and then get into a blind panic during the two weeks before the semester begins. I am not sure my blind panic is much different than the panic new ASPer's feel right now. Although I prepare all summer, I am certain I did not prepare enough. It doesn't matter that the brilliant Kris Franklin has reassured me that over-preparation is not the best plan for great classroom learning. It doesn't matter that the brilliant Paula Manning has told me that the sharp learning curve when teaching a new class means I will be one class ahead of the students. I am scared, and I get snappish at the people around me.

I would love to say the first class always allays my fears and goes beautifully. Sometimes that happens, but sometimes my fear gets in the way, and the first class is a clunker. But my worst first-day experience (worse than a clunker; it just bombed) teaching a new class also happened to be the best class I ever taught.  It was brand-new material, at a new school, teaching a class that was new to the school.  Five of the fifteen students assigned to the class showed up on the first day. Someone was checking his cell-phone throughout class.  But then it started to jell. By the end of the semester, I had twenty-seven students; twelve had added the class after the second week based on the word-of-mouth of students who came the second week. It was a great mix of personalities.  I trusted my class and shared my anxieties about teaching, and I let the class become student-directed. They told me what they needed, and I responded with lessons that met their needs.  They trusted that my #1 priority was a class where they learned, where their needs were met, and where they could feel safe to make mistakes. In other words, it just had magic. 

So yes, right now I am in a blind panic of preparation and writing, re-writing, and re-working material I have been looking at all summer. It's not the same panic my students feel right now.  I do trust that we will be in this together. My classes will be a safe place to make mistakes and to take intellectual risks. I will be taking risks right along with my students, but doing my very best for them, for the next thirteen weeks. I don't have success without them. (RCF)

August 25, 2009 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Right on Red

I am a New Yorker-I was born and raised there.  I went to New York City public schools and as a New York City native, I learned how to drive there.  In New York City, you cannot make a right turn at a red light; when the light is red: you stop, period.  Yes, I am sure you all have stories about how that didn’t happen when you were there, and how the driver then cursed at you when you got in their way, but I apologized then and I meant it.  I was also taught to always use my signals when making a turn. 

Now, I live in Massachusetts where turning right on red is the rule, not the exception, and I wonder if the cars even come equipped with signals.  However, old habits die hard and I often find myself sitting at a red light, with my right turn signal on, waiting for the light to change.  Fellow drivers are nice enough to remind me (using both sounds and gestures) that I needn’t wait and my husband just looks at me and says, “right on red, right on red” like it should be my new Boston driving mantra.  Even my 4-year-old will say, “you can go Mommy, even though the light is rojo.”  (Thank you Dora and Diego).

At the end of the spring semester, our faculty voted to let us (as well as the legal writing faculty) have voting rights at faculty meetings.  It was an incredible feeling to finally be able to vote on proposals I had worked on or committee recommendations that I had drafted.  After all, I have worked here for nine years and I am thrilled with all the progress we have made in that time. I am truly looking forward to voting at meetings this year; that is, if I can remember to actually vote.

Immediately following the “vote for the vote” we had another item on the agenda that required a vote and when the faculty was called upon to vote, I just sat there in my chair.  I didn’t raise my hand for yes or no-nope, I just sat there with my signals on waiting for the light to turn green.


August 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Negotiating beyond salary once you get an ASP job offer

I wanted to follow up on Rebecca's excellent posting this summer about job hunting in ASP.  A number of positions have been posted over the summer.  Some of those positions may still be "in the works."  There may be a domino effect during the next few weeks as people are selected for those positions and give notice at their current law schools.  The domino effect may also bring about postings for positions to start in January.

Rebecca talked about the reality that many schools do not have a great deal of latitude when it comes to salary.  I have certainly found that statement to be true.  A few thousand dollars may be the maximum room for negotiation.  Some schools with budgetary constraints may have zero room to negotiate on salary.

However, you want to consider other items that are not salary exactly but can add up to additional money or other pluses.  Each law school differs as to flexibility depending on its status or procedures (public or private, geographic location, size of law school, budget system, and other traits).  Even if some of these ideas are not relevant to your negotiations, there may be other creative approaches that would be.

Obviously, you will have the most opportunity to garner additional funding, time,or title resources if you have a strong resume and some experience in ASP.  However, if a law school really wants you to become their ASP professional, it will give you more bargaining power in all circumstances.  A mentor told me years ago that negotiating power is greatest when you have not yet accepted the postion; after that, you lose a great deal of your clout.

  • Explore whether there are additional ways that you can be paid for duties that are related but not currently in the salary:
    •  Inclusion as a paid faculty member or administrator for a summer program for 1L students who are enrolled in a conditional/unconditional summer law school course required for their admission.
    • Bar preparation workshops if none exist at your school. 
    • Ability to teach a section of a 1L or elective course in your field of expertise as an instructor or adjunct professor in future semesters/summers.
  • Consider requesting a title change or the addition of a teaching status (instructor or adjunct) to the administrative title.  There may not be the ability for an official title change because of structured personnel grades.  However, a title change might be possible for both internal and external use.  Although no money will follow, it may affect your status now and in future job hunts. 
  • Explore whether you will be provided with a travel/professional development allowance so that you can attend conferences and purchase professional books for your own use.  Some law schools do this for all faculty and administrators.  Other law schools are more restrictive in their inclusion, but may be willing to negotiate. 
  • Explore whether you are eligible for budget funds for Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, work study students, or others who can assist in your workload even when you have no official secretary or other staff.
  • Discuss whether you can receive an additional moving expense allowance:
    •  This request is especially effective if they want you there quickly for the start of a semester or before too many weeks go by in the semester.
    • Ask for a larger dollar allowance if a set amount is given and explain why the allowance is inadequate (distance of move, turn around allowing less selection of movers, or other matters).
    • Ask for the law school to pay to have your belongings packed by the movers as well as moved so that you can arrive more quickly and begin work sooner.
    • Ask the law school to pick up the storage tab in your new city if you will not have time to buy/rent a house and will be in temporary quarters for several months.
    • Ask the law school to pick up additional costs that may result from your having to break a lease without sufficient notice. 
    • Moving expense allowances are sometimes calculated for the young professional without family responsibilities or many belongings.  If you own a house full of furniture and/or have family to move, ask for your differing circumstances to be recognized. 
  • Discuss whether there are any special mortgage or other benefits provided by the university or law school that may be helpful to you.  For example, a local bank had extended to our law faculty a lower mortgage interest rate the semester prior to my negotiations.  A telephone call from my dean meant that I was allowed to be considered belatedly which has saved significantly on my mortgage.
  • Keep in mind healthcare costs.  Some law schools have university-wide plans that do not start immediately upon arrival.  You may be able to negotiate having your interim COBRA payments reimbursed.
  • Consider negotiating research leave that will be salaried but will not count as vacation time if you have a legal field expertise that you want to continue (whether or not you will be able to teach those courses).  The semester break or summer may be the best times to agree to take this type of allowance.
  • Ask for assistance in introducing your spouse/partner to contacts in the community for his/her job hunting. Law schools are often well-connected in the local community beyond just law. 

You will need to decide which of these negotiation strategies will work in your favor in your particular circumstances.  One or two additional items can help financially or improve your workload within the law school or status for future job hunts.  (Amy Jarmon)

August 17, 2009 in Job Descriptions, Miscellany, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 14, 2009

5 Things to Remember at the Start of a New Academic Year

I will try to keep it short and sweet:

1) It's a new year. Leave last year behind, good or bad. New students, new experiences, and a new dynamic in the classroom.  Each class has it's own character. Each "class character" has it's own strengths and weaknesses (EX: whininess can also be vigilance; the class that complains about nonsense is also on top of details, which is an important lawyering skill).  Focus and encourage the positive characteristics, and model better choices to minimize bad characteristics (they are watching us closer than we think....)

2) Dress up on the first day. A recent study found that dressing in professional attire on the first day makes an impression. The study found that you don't need to keep it up if it's not you; by the sixth week, professorial sartorial choices made no impact on student impressions of the class. I, personally, choose to dress in suits or dresses when I am with law students or pre-law students; I want to model that they are choosing to join a profession, not a country club. But I know of extremely successful professors who are much more relaxed and convey the seriousness of the profession.

3) Show up at orientation, even if you don't have to.  Dean Gail Agarwal, now of KU Law, was my Torts professor. She was at the first day of orientation, at 7am, in the blazing-hot Carolina sun. She did not have to be there...but everyone from my Torts section remembers that she was there, with a big smile. Mike McCann, while a visiting professor at BC Law last year, drove up for the day to be at Vermont's orientation; colleagues who have to be at orientation notice and remember their peers who show up. The students remember too, and it makes a difference. 

4) Bar results start coming out simultaneously with orientation (exceptions being the big states--CA, NY, MA-- which tend to release results later in the semester).  When the bar results come out for your state, be there for the ones who did not make it. Congratulate the ones that did pass the bar.  Listen to their stories. Be a cheering section and a shoulder to cry on.

5) Remember your first day of law school.  Remember the butterflies. Feel the excitement. I think we should get sucked into the whirl of energy at the start of the year. I remember thinking that the first day of law school was the first day of my "real" life (although I was a second-career law student with a master's degree).  And in many ways, it was the start of a new life.  We, as law professors, and as ASPer's, get to experience something that is only shared by kindergarten teachers and med school professors. It is magical.


August 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Playing Catch-Up During the Waning Days of Summer

Ahh, as always, it feels like summer hasn't really begun and we are back to the grind of the school year. This is the time when my procrastination is hitting me full-force, and I have to play catch-up for all the things I should have been doing since June, but somehow fell to the back of my mind (and my calendar). For all you many, many new ASPer's out there, here is my not-quite-complete list of things I am doing that need to be taken care of before the school year starts. After classes begin, your life becomes a maze of student appointments, class prep, and crisis management, and these things, while important, just don't get done.

  1. If you are brand-new and don't have a job description, write one NOW. You don't want to be shocked when review time comes and you get poor marks for not achieving something you never knew you had to do. If you weren't given a job description, write one and discuss it with your supervisor. If you have a job description, meet with your supervisor to review exactly what they mean for each item.
  2. If you are not brand-new…make a plan to do something new this year. Step out of your comfort zone. Think out publishing something if you haven't done so yet. Ask about teaching a hybrid doctrinal/ASP class. Rewrite your syllabus from scratch. Doing just one thing that is new will bring back some of the excitement you had when you first started in ASP. If you don't make a plan now, you will drift into old ways as soon as the semester begins.
  3. Take your secretary out to lunch. If he doesn't do lunch, buy him chocolates. They will be your savior on days when you feel like you are wading through peanut-butter and you can't un-stick yourself from the mess.
  4. Get in contact with any rising 2L students who are "at-risk" after their first year. If you don't offer a class or seminars for them, it's always good to "check-in" and see how they are fairing emotionally and mentally.
  5. Review books you might want to recommend to students. Many great books come out each year, and if you don't review them over the summer, you never will during the year.
  6. File and otherwise organize. Unless you are compulsively neat, take a day to clean up and clear out the debris. It just feels better to start each year with a clean, organized office.
  7. Have lunch with any faculty members that are around that you haven't had a chance to meet. Many meetings turn out to be incredibly interesting. You would never guess where your interests and talents overlap with faculty and administrators you would think you have nothing in common with. Yes, some of the lunches are dreadful and boring (but those lunches make for GREAT stories at ASP conferences!)


August 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dec 7: Save the Date! NECASP Conference on TA's and Student Mentors in ASP

On Monday, December 7, 2009, NECASP (New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals) will be holding its first conference at Suffolk University Law School.  This will be a one-day conference that will run from approximately 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM.  The fee for attending the conference is $20, and this cost will cover your breakfast and lunch at the event.  

As this is our nascent organization's first conference, we are extremely fortunate that two of the ASP community's "heavy hitters" have agreed to speak at the event.  Joanne Harvest Koren of the University of Miami School of Law and Paula Manning of Whittier Law School (short bios appear below) will speak on the use of teaching assistants and student mentors as integral parts of an Academic Support Program.

As the date of the conference gets closer, we will be in touch with more information about registration, additional speakers, local hotels, etc.

We look forward to seeing you in December, and remember to save the date!

The NECASP Executive Committee

Herbert Ramy (Suffolk University Law School

Louis Schulze (New England Law Boston)

Melinda Drew (Northeastern University School of Law)

Sunny Mulligan (Franklin Pierce Law Center)

Rebecca Flanagan (University of Connecticut School of Law)


Joanne Harvest Koren, Director of the Academic Achievement Program, earned a B.A. in Education with high honors from the University of Florida in 1977 and a J.D. in 1984 from the University of Miami School of Law, where she was an associate editor of the University of Miami Law Review.  She taught in the Miami-Dade County public schools before she earned her law degree. After graduating from the Law School, she practiced law in Miami and worked as a pro bono attorney for the Miami-Dade County Guardian Ad Litem Program.  She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Florida Bar, and the Dade County Bar. She taught as a Legal Research and Writing instructor at the Law School from 1984-1988, and then again from 1990-1994.  She also taught Legal Analysis and Legal Writing at the Law School's James Weldon Johnson /Robert H. Waters Summer Institute from 1991-2006.  In the summer of 1994, she created the Academic Achievement Program and was named its Director. Under her direction, the program has gained national attention and grown into a multi-faceted program, with more than 350 law students regularly participating every semester.  In the fall of 1996, she was named the director the Law School's Writing Center. Additionally, she is a member of the AALS Section on Academic Support and the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education. In addition, she served as a member of the 2008 Florida Democratic Lawyers' Council-Obama for America.


Paula Manning is Associate Dean for Student and Graduate Academic Support at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California. Ms. Manning directs the school's academic support programs, including an extensive Bar Preparation Program. Before joining the faculty at Whittier, she held faculty and administrative positions at Western State University College of Law; she taught substantive and bar preparation courses, and served as Assistant Director of both the Legal Writing and Academic Support programs. For the past eight years, she has developed curricula and provided instruction in various bar preparation courses. She has lectured locally and nationally on preparing students for the bar examination.

August 5, 2009 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Asst. Dean of Academic Support and Student Life: Campbell Law School

Campbell University School of Law will be looking for an Assistant Dean in the areas of academic support and student life.  Some academic support duties included in this position are consultations with probationary students, providing leadership and guidance to a group of student teaching scholars as they assist the first year class, conducting study seminars for first year students, conducting review sessions for upperclass students, handling testing accommodations under the ADA, as well as any other duties assigned by the Dean.  The Assistant Dean will also serve the needs of students inside and outside the classroom, and provide services and information to students navigating the complex realities of law school life.  Also, this September, the school is moving to a new location in downtown  Raleigh,NC.

If you know of anyone interested please have them submit a resume to Vice Dean Keith Faulkner at [email protected] by August 15th, 2009.

August 2, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 1, 2009





The University of Iowa College of Law invites applications for the position of Career and Judicial Clerkship Advisor. This is a full-time administrative staff appointment starting September 15, 2009 or earlier.  The salary will range from $44,037 to $87,480.


The College of Law is a welcoming professional community located in a vibrant university city. The Career and Judicial Clerkship Advisor will work with other professionals in the Office of Career Services to help students and alumni throughout their careers. 


The primary responsibilities for this position include: counseling J.D. and LL.M. students on job search strategies and career development; reviewing and critiquing resumes, cover letters and other job application materials; conducting mock interviews; organizing and conducting workshops on career-related subjects, particularly with respect to programs related to judicial externships and clerkships; developing job search strategies using web-based networking resources, and serving as the primary advisor for students and alumni interested in judicial clerkships. As part of the Career Services team, the advisor will also contribute ideas for on-campus interview programming and assist with career-development programs organized by other members of the Career Services team.


Inquiries about the position may be directed to Associate Dean Carin Crain at 319-335-9648 or [email protected].


Required Education


·          A bachelor’s degree and a juris doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school.


Required Certification

            Admission to a state bar.


Required Qualifications

·          Minimum of 3-years post-J.D. legal work experience,

·          Judicial Clerkship of at least one year’s duration,

·          Excellent written and oral communication skills,

·          Detail orientation,

·          Ability to work effectively with colleagues,

·          Ability to counsel and advise individuals from diverse backgrounds, and

·          Genuine interest in helping students explore career options and guiding them through the job search process.


Desirable Qualifications

·          Legal practice experience, and

·          Appellate or Federal District Court Clerkship of at least one-year’s duration.


To apply, visit and refer to requisition #56976.  Review of applications

will begin upon receipt, and continue until the position is filled. The University of Iowa is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.


August 1, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)