Friday, May 27, 2011

Working Nine to Five

Many students have the notion that studying for the bar exam is a nine to five venture.  “Just like a full-time job…” is what they tell me.  There are two major flaws in their understanding.  First, am I really the first one to clue them in to the fact that practicing law is not a nine to five gig?  Do they truly think that they will be home nightly by 5:30?  Sadly, some still believe that they will have more time on their hands when they are working full-time practicing law than they did in law school.  I briefly enlighten them to the realities associated with the practice of law but then I focus on a more imminent concern- their bar exam preparation.

Since my main function is to lead them on a path to success on the bar exam, I first need to wipe away any misunderstandings that they may have about the exam or the process of studying for it.   Urban myths regularly seep into the law student’s psyche gnawing at their self confidence and challenging their fortitude.  Debunking these myths and separating fact from fiction is a strategic starting point as I gradually replace their vision of a nine to five schedule with a more realistic nine to nine one.

For example, end of semester conferences just wrapped up with my Bar Exam Skills Lab students.  We have fifteen minutes in which to discuss a myriad of issues.  Discussions range from how do I pay for my bar prep class, to how do I study, to lessons in IRAC.  But repeatedly the question du jour was, “How long do I really need to study each day during bar prep?  Nine-five should really be enough, right?”  I was not shocked the first time I heard this but after a few dozen conferences and many similar sentiments, I knew I had some work to do. 

First I must ask, is this generational?  Unlike many of my students, when I was preparing for the bar exam I understood that my life (my complete existence) would be devoted to bar prep during the summer after graduation.  I knew lazy mornings with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, sunny days filled with berry picking and beach-combing, and long weekend camp-outs would be impossible given the shear amount of work ahead of me.  For current students (my California dreamers), it was time for me to deliver a cold, harsh wake-up call.

During one of my last classes of the semester, I discussed how to create an action plan for bar exam success.  With years of experience helping students through this process and the many useful ideas from the textbook I use, PASS THE BAR by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz , I formulated a snapshot view into the life of a bar student.  What an eye opener these soon to be bar takers!   Most were shocked by the intensity and length of time necessary to adequately study for the exam.  But overall, they were grateful to know how they should be spending their time this summer.

By knowing what to expect and establishing a routine before bar prep begins, students increase their likelihood of success on the bar exam.  By heading off procrastination before it starts, delegating unnecessary tasks when necessary, and taking all non-essential items off their calendars, students will free their time and their mind from needless worry.   

While their focus this summer is studying, I also encourage them to balance their bar prep with their personal needs.  Reminding students that sufficient sleep, good nutrition, and regular exercise are priorities seems a bit paternalistic but I have found that gentle prompting is always welcomed and needed.  Balancing and prioritizing our needs and responsibilities is difficult (for all of us).  However with careful planning and advanced scheduling, students should still be able to stay healthy, connect with their loved ones, and have some down time while studying for the bar.  Although bar prep is not a “nine to five gig”, “it’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it”[i].  Instilling confidence in your students and teaching prudent time management strategies should make the bar prep process more manageable and less unpredictable.  

(Lisa Young)

[i]Parton, Dolly. “9-5.” 9-5 and Odd Jobs. RCA, 1980

May 27, 2011 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Suggested books for 1L law students

I would suggest the following books written by academic success professionals or law  professors.  These books can be very helpful in understanding what law school will be like and how to succeed academically and personally.

Read one or two of these books before you arrive for your first semester.  When you come to the point in the semester where you need a skill (examples: reading and briefing cases, outlines and graphics, exams), re-read that chapter because it will remind you of techniques when you most need them.  Finally, re-read the books after your first semester to review the information and implement strategies and techniques that you missed or did not fully understand the importance of previously.

Andrew J. McClurg, 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School, Thomson West, 2009. 

Ruth Ann McKinney, Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert, Carolina Academic Press, 2005.

Herbert N. Ramy, Succeeding in Law School, Carolina Academic Press, Second Edition, 2010.

Michael Hunter Schwartz, Expert Learning for Law Students (workbook available also), Carolina Academic Press, Second Edition, 2008.

Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor, Bridging the Gap between College and Law School: Strategies for Success, Carolina Academic Press, Second Edition, 2009.

Dennis J. Tonsing, 1000 Days to the Bar: But the Practice of Law Begins Now!, William S. Hein & Co., Second Edition, 2010.

These are only a few of the books by academic success professionals or law professors.  There are a number of others from which you can select.  Have a productive summer reading!  (Amy Jarmon)

May 21, 2011 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ten tips for preparing for your 1L year

Throngs of eager 1L students are awaiting the fall semester to start law school.  Many of them want to take some constructive steps to prepare themselves to do well academically and personally.  Here is my advice on ten things that will pay off big time:

  1. Have fun with family and friends this summer.  Law school is a marathon that tends to consume one's time.  The carefree days are over come August.  Relax now.  Spend time with the people who are important to you.  Make sure your energy levels are high for the start of the semester.  You won't get a true break until December after your exams are over.
  2. Read voraciously.  The type of reading does not necessarily matter.  The main point is that you get used to reading large numbers of pages each week.  Also practice summarizing the main points of what you have read: the story line, the important events, the main points.  Mix it up: novels, biographies, history, philosophy, plays.  Whatever strikes your fancy is fine - it does not have to be about the law.  In fact, reading doctrinal law books may not be helpful because you will not have the classroom context for what you are reading.
  3. Read one or two books on academic success by academic support professionals or law professors.  There are lots of books on succeeding in law school.  The advantage of reading books by academic success and professor experts rather than by ex-law students or attorneys is that those who are currently involved with law students on a daily basis and have professional expertise in law school success are more likely to give you well-rounded advice rather than narrow "this worked for me advice."  For book suggestions, watch this blog for later postings.
  4. Visit a courtroom.  If you have never observed a court hearing, now would be a great time to sit in the public gallery and absorb the world of law.  Attend a variety of court proceedings if possible in your area: federal, state; traffic, civil, criminal, family; trial, appellate.  Too many law students come to law school with no clue about what happens in court.  The latest legal sitcom or movie is the closest they have ever been to the real thing.  Observing in court will provide you with context for your legal studies.
  5. Evaluate your motivation for going to law school.  Internal motivators are helpful when the deadlines pile up: planned to be an attorney for a long time, want a profession in which you can help others, interested in an area of law, relates to prior work experience, like reading about the law.  Try to expand your personal list if at all possible.  External motivators are less likely to sustain you when the workload seems huge: want to make lots of money, didn't know what else to do, your parents want you to be an attorney, you didn't get into a Ph.D. program. 
  6. Evaluate your readiness to study long hours.  Many 1L's have been able to get top grades with very little studying prior to law school.  Most law students tell me that they studied less than 20 hours per week in college.  For a law student to get grades commensurate with academic potential, it will be necessary to study consistently 50 - 55 hours per week in a full-time program.  (Cramming does not work in law school because there is an overwhelming amount of material, application of concepts is critical rather than mere regurgitation of material, and retaining material long-term is important for the bar exam).   
  7. Evaluate your time wasters.  Law students who get into academic difficulty often do not use their time wisely to complete the many tasks that are required.  The biggest time wasters for law students seem to be surfing the web, using social media, talking on the phone, playing video games, taking naps, and watching television.
  8. Have a realistic financial plan.  1L students are not allowed to work under the American Bar Association rules unless they are in part-time or evening programs.  (After the first year, law students are allowed to work 20 hours per week maximum under the ABA rules.)  Plan what you can realistically spend each month and stick to your budget.  You don't want your student loans to run out before the end of the semester because you did not allocate monies well.  You will not be able to focus on academics if you are fraught over bills. 
  9. Talk with your family and friends about the demands of your upcoming law school life.  Law school is not like your prior educational experiences.  You will have to study harder (and smarter) than ever before in your education.  You will be with classmates who have been the best and the brightest at their colleges and universities.  Most law schools have a grading curve with a C or C+ median for 1L students - A and B grades are not as easy to come by in law school.  You need to talk with your family and friends about your no longer being able to take every weekend off, going on a fun-filled vacation during Thanksgiving or Spring Break, or having lots of company come visit.  You need them to understand that you have to be very focused and diligent if you plan to get top grades. 
  10. Get on a regular 8-hour sleep schedule now.  Law school study demands that you be alert so you can be productive, focused, and retain material.  Research shows that you should go to bed and get up at a regular time each day (varying by only 2 hours on the weekend) if you want your brain cells to work optimally.  A minimum of 7 hours of sleep is needed for good brain function.  I suggest getting 8 hours because it is likely that you are already sleep-deprived (Americans and the Japanese are the most sleep-deprived nations in the world).  You can cut back to 7 1/2 or 7 hours if you need to once law school starts.

These ten tips are based on what has worked well for thousands of law students over the years.  Your 1L year will be exciting, challenging, exhausting, and demanding.  However, you can succeed easily if you do not misplace your commonsense.  (Amy Jarmon)  

May 19, 2011 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thoughts on the dreaded curve

I am going to get meta here and refer to two other blogs writing about something we have blogged about (I think?) and we have talked about in the ASP community. The Faculty Lounge links to Prawfsblog and work by Ethan Leib on mandatory grading curves.  Dan Filler comments on something many of us have encountered in ASP; if a student is in the bottom of the class with a 3.0, they can't see they need help.  If that same student has a 2.4 (or 2.0) it is a different story; students intrinsically know this a problematic GPA.

Years ago, I encountered this phenomenon with a student with roughly a 2.9/3.0. The student was furious that s/he had to meet with me. S/he was certain she was not struggling, although s/he was in the bottom 10 in the class. S/he was on a journal (one that accepted everyone who applied and had a passing grade in their Legal Writing course). S/he went on to tell me s/he had graduated from high school at 16, graduated at the top of s/her college, and the law school was making a mistake. I spoke with a few faculty members after the meeting, who had a similar experience with the students--the student was deeply in denial, and angry at anyone who tried to confront the problem. I recently saw a link to the student (now alumni) profile on a business networking site, and it appears s/he to be struggling to find work. It also appears that s/he did not take or pass a bar exam, or chose not to list bar passage in their profile.

Would it have helped if the student was at a school with a more harsh curve? I don't know the answer to that. It may have been easier for me to show the student they were in trouble. I think the curve has some pernicious effects on student motivation, collegiality, and morale. But an "easy" curve, such as one that doesn't require grades lower than a B-, may be worse than no curve at all. It lulls students into a false sense of their own competence. A C is a shock to the system in a way that a B- doesn't appear to be.

I don't want this post to sound like I am suddenly a fan of mandatory curves. I actually think they should be abolished. What is happening at many schools, in response to the jobs crisis, is artificial inflation of grades that defeats the purpose of a curve AND hurts students who need extra support. I recieve an email from a former student at least once a week asking for help finding a job; I understand the problem. But I don't think the answer, at least from an ASP standpoint, is to ease the curve and bring students false hope about their prospects and needs. (RCF)

May 18, 2011 in Bar Exam Preparation, Current Affairs, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Looking for work in an ASP world

As you will see from the job postings that have populated this blog over the last several weeks, it is the hiring season again.  Some of our ASP colleagues will retire - we will miss their wisdom.  Many current ASP'ers will move on to new positions at other law schools or be promoted within the ASP hierarchy in their own law schools.  New folks will consider ASP as a career change that they hope to make.

The variety of academic support programs is amazing.  There is no "one size fits all" model for this type of work.  The programs are as unique as the law schools that are served.  Here are some variables that may be helpful to think about when picking the right position to match you:

The law school:

  • Accreditation status of the school
  • Stand-alone or part of a college or university
  • Academic reputation of the school
  • Profession's view of the school
  • Financial position of the school
  • Bar passage rates for the school
  • Demographics of the student body
  • Demographics of the faculty
  • Alumni support for the school

History of ASP/bar prep:

  • Long-standing program with depth and breadth
  • Defunct or limping program to be revitalized or redirected
  • New program to build from the ground up
  • Part-time efforts by faculty/staff to be taken over and expanded
  • Support of the faculty for ASP/bar prep efforts
  • Support of the administration for ASP/bar prep efforts

Reporting structure and collegiality:

  • To whom will you report: associate dean for academics or for student affairs; faculty committee; other designation; multiple reporting lines or just one
  • Who will report to you: assistant director; counselors; tutors or teaching assistants; administrative assistant; other designation
  • Who are the colleagues on your level in the hierarchy
  • Who are the possible mentors and supporters within the organization
  • Relationships among faculty, administration, and staff


  • Tenure-track faculty: research, teaching, and service aspects; promotion and tenure process
  • Non-tenured faculty: type of contract and review; promotion opportunities; research, teaching and service aspects; voting status
  • Administration: position for 9-, 10-, or 12-months; type of contract and review; opportunities for teaching or service; promotion opportunities; speaking/voting status
  • Part-time: tacked on to other duties at the law school already; limited to just part-time duties in ASP/bar prep alone; type of contract and review   


  • Academic support: all students; all 1L students; invited students in the program; probation students
  • Bar prep: responsible personally for this area in addition to ASP; coordinate with another person responsible for bar prep program; supervise bar prep person; 3L students; 2L and 3L students; all students; repeat takers; focus on state bar; focus on multiple state bars; statistical analysis duties
  • Pre-law: work with undergraduates desiring to attend law school; work with pre-law advisors for the undergraduates; work with pipeline programs in K-12 education
  • Other: legal writing clinic; ESL expertise; work with student assistants such as teaching assistants, tutors, fellows; the sky's the limit here


  • One-on-one appointments: probation students; invited students in the program; all students; all 1L students; length of appointments; topics for appointments
  • Credit or non-credit classes: mandatory enrollment; voluntary enrollment; mixed enrollment; semester-long or year-long; ASP skills only; integrated into doctrinal subject matter; taught by ASP'ers; taught by faculty; co-taught by ASP'ers and faculty
  • Workshops: small or large groups; orientation or semester sessions; mandatory enrollment; voluntary enrollment; mixed enrollment; range of topics; taught by ASP'ers; taught by faculty; co-taught by ASP'ers and faculty
  • Supplemental study groups: study skills only; doctrinal review; all 1L students; invited students in the program; upper-division students as fellows, tutors, or teaching assistants; faculty involvement
  • Other media: podcasts; Facebook; Twitter; web pages; other technology; handouts on topics; brochures 


  • Set budget line with flexibility to justify increases in the future
  • Set budget line not likely to be increased
  • Negotiable budget each year
  • Negotiable budget for a new program
  • Budget line for professional development funds (travel, professional books, research assistants)
  • Budget line for teaching assistants, tutors, fellows, work study students
  • Budget line for library materials such as study aids
  • Budget line for food to attract students to programming
  • Internal university grant opportunities to fund new programming ideas 


  • Director's office preferably with small conference table to work with study groups
  • Office space for any assistant directors or part-time bar prep or other staff
  • Library space with shelving for study aids and academic success books for circulation
  • Reception desk for clerical assistance (could be in the library space)
  • Workroom for file cabinets, photocopier/network printer
  • Space for teaching assistants or other student staff preferably with computer stations (could be in the workroom area)
  • Small classroom with AV equipment for workshops
  • Study spaces for students within ASP 

Other items to consider:

  • Encouragement/requirement for publications, presentations, professional association duties
  • Opportunities to teach outside the ASP area
  • Involvement on law school committees
  • Involvement on university-wide committees
  • Salary and benefits

Each ASP'er will have personal requirements to consider as well such as housing, career opportunities for a spouse, cost of living, commute time, community amenities, and more.  The list provided is far from exhaustive, but gives some aspects that may be important to consider.  (Amy Jarmon)

May 17, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A 3L's perspective on relationships with professors

I would like to give a hat tip to Sue Liemer at Southern Illinois University for bringing the following blog post to our attention on the Legal Writing Prof Blog.  Although the student's posting on Beyond Hearsay is specifically related to legal writing professors, I think it has merit for relationships with all doctrinal professors and ASP'ers.

J. Richard Lindsay, a 3L at Southern Illinois, writes about learning humility as a law student writer so that he could learn from his legal writing professor instead of seeing his professor as an enemy.  He writes about professors becoming allies when law students are able to get past the hurt and frustration of criticism of their work.  The link is here: Uncovering Secret Allies: How Humility Can Lead to Great Relationships.  (Amy Jarmon)


May 14, 2011 in Advice, Miscellany, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Interesting classroom design at University of Missouri - St. Louis

I need to give a hat tip to the Legal Writing Professor listserv for this interesting article on classroom design.  If your law school is doing a renovation project, you may find this concept of interest. 

Steven G. Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Law and Finance at the UMSL College of Business Administration, shared information on a unique classroom concept being used at UMSL.  The classrooms have flexible-seating and the latest high-tech capabilities.  Their design creates an atmosphere that has positive results for student engagement and learning as well as for instructor course design.  You can read the article that is published in the EDUCAUSE Quarterly entitled The Space Is the Message: First Assessment of a Learning Studio.

We have a classroom attached to the ASP suite here at Texas Tech which has flexible seating and all the technology of our other classrooms as well as lots of whiteboards.  However, what UMSL has done is far more innovative than our budget allowed.  Kudos to UMSL! 

I think this design will go into my "wish list" folder for whenever we get another building expansion.  Maybe you can incorporate some of the ideas in a renovation coming your way.  (Amy Jarmon)

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A resource for law students

A new batch of 1L students is being admitted for the fall.  They are eager to learn how to manage law school.  Law students are finishing their 1L year and are wondering what they can do to improve next year's grades. 

Both of these sets of students should read Andrew J. McClurg's 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law SchoolProfessor McClurg gives a lot of sound advice in his book.  He includes in it comments from his own 1L students and from legal writing professors.  He makes reference throughout the book to research studies and other sources.

In addition to the expected chapters on law school study skills and exam-taking, Professor McClurg also includes chapters on planning before law school starts, law student worries, law student types, well-being, extracurricular activities, and study aids.  The book is written in a readable style and packed with good information for law students.

It is obvious why I recommend the book to entering 1L students.  Why do I recommend it to those completing 1L year?  The reason is that they can use their new perspective on law school to gain from the strategies that they did not use during 1L year but realize would be helpful in future law school courses.  (Amy Jarmon)


May 10, 2011 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Especially for "newcomers" to Academic Support

Last week, Rebecca wrote about "Getting Together with Colleagues."  One line struck me as particularly important: "The primary value in the meeting," she wrote, "was the exchange of ideas between others in the Academic Success community." Newcomers to ASP: step right up and start asking questions! 

I joined the community in 1999.  My first assignment was to design and direct a program at Vermont Law School.  Although I had experience at designing and directing programs and helping students understand how to study more productively, none of that experience was law school experience.  The hiring committee was taking a risk by hiring someone who had only practiced law for two decades and taught in high schools and universities for a few years.  Thank goodness for the internet.  I don’t know how many times I typed “Law School Academic Support,” and “How to brief cases,” and “How to answer law school essay exams” in to AltaVista (yes, before Google was a household word), to find different perspectives. 

In those days, last century :-), there were few Academic Support meetings.  But as Amy Jarmon pointed out, "ASP folks are the kindest, most generous, most innovative, and helpful folks in the world in my viewpoint."  You bet, Amy! 

The ASP veterans ... Vernellia Randall, Ruta Stropus, Laurie Zimet, Paul Bateman, Linda Feldman, Kris Franklin, Ken Rosenblum, Paula Lustbader, Thorny Steele,  Kris Knaplund, Rich Litvin … (and others, I’m sure) helped me get my bearings, counseled me about what may work best for my students, and they infused in me a spirit I just can’t seem to shake after a dozen years!  When I was given the same chore at Roger Williams University School of Law (designing and directing), I turned to the same folks – along with so many others who had joined the village since I began – and found the same attitude: “How can I help you?  What do you need?”

The “community” is just that.  The Academic Support Village.  You find the villagers at the LSAC conferences (thanks to Kent Lollis), at the annual AALS meetings, and at regional gatherings that seem to pop up everywhere in the country.  Frankly, wherever two or more ASP professionals show up in the same room, the kind, generous, innovative help that Amy wrote about begins happening.  Guaranteed. 

In 2007 my wife and I moved to South America (we now live in Ecuador).  As much as I miss the face-to-face contact with the ASP villagers and the students we serve, I continue to work with law students as they struggle with how to score higher on exams (now as a Senior Instructor for Concord Law School, online).  And when I encounter a new problem – how to help a student with some aspect of exam-answering or bar exam prep (yes, there are always “new” problems, no matter how long you do this!), where do I turn?  The village.  For me, this comfortable neighborhood of McLuhan’s global village is where the answers are. 

How can I help?  Just ask. E-mail: [email protected]  (djt)    

May 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What "The King's Speech" has to do with law school

I am an Anglophile.  I lived and practiced in England for 5 1/2 years.  I love everything British. 

Plymouth, England was one of the most heavily bombed cities during WWII because of the naval facilities there.  When I lived in Plymouth during the time period leading up to the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, my elderly friends told me stories about life during the bombings and the destruction left behind.  They also told me about the visit that George VI and his wife made to the city to bolster the morale of the residents during WWII.  

Consequently, going to the cinema to see The King's Speech was significant for me.  In the ensuing weeks, I have reflected on Bertie's struggle to overcome his speech impediment and his fear of being king.  I realized that his story has parallels with some of my law students' struggles in law school.

Bertie had to overcome his pride to ask for help.  He wanted to depend on his special status as royalty.  He wanted to hold himself out as better than others.  Some law students have to overcome pride to ask for help as well.  They were treated like royalty in high school and college because they received high grades with seemingly little effort.  They were told that they were special and their fellow students were less capable.

Bertie did not want to trust that someone had a better way than what he thought should be done.  He balked at Lionel's methods.  He wanted to depend on the familiar rather than confront the painfulness of the unknown and untried.  Some law students balk at suggested study techniques for law school.  They want to continue doing what worked in undergraduate school rather than struggle with new methods that seem suspect.  They rather listen to the bad advice of upper-division students than trust the expertise of someone who is "administration." 

Bertie wanted instant success.  He wanted results without the heartache, embarrassment, and frustration.  Some law students are overwhelmed when reading cases is difficult.  They want professors to spoon-feed them rules rather than have to discover the law buried within the material.  They become frustrated when things are hard or they make errors when called on in class.

Bertie triumphed both in self-esteem and in reputation as the king that Britain needed.  He achieved his success through his willingness to change, to confront his fears, and to persevere.  Law students who learn new ways of doing things, take on the challenges, and do not give up also have success.  Their self-esteem increases as they do well the very things they feared they could not do.  Their reputation as law students and future lawyers is gained as they are recognized as being serious about becoming the best they can be.

Bertie became the successful king that was always hidden within him.  My law students can become the successful studiers hidden within them.  (Amy Jarmon)




May 7, 2011 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The importance of getting together with colleagues

Yesterday I met with other members of the ASP community at the NECASP (New England Consortium of Academic Success Professionals) at BC Law for our annual business meeting. While we did take care of business, the primary value in the meeting was the exchange of ideas between others in the Academic Success community. Amy's wonderful post on exhaustion highlights the importance of rejuvenation, and meeting with colleagues can help remind you of the importance of peer support. In addition to the joy of swapping stories with friends in the ASP community, I learned about some fantastic innovative programs at New England law schools. This is my shout-out:

1) UNH Law's Sunny Mulligan and Alice Briggs summer program for select incoming law students.  Tremendous effort that went into planning a program that builds on the strengths of other summer programs, while bringing a unique New Hampshire touch to their program. Sunny and Alice have had great success avoiding stigma (the great bane of ASP) by embracing transparency in their programs. Sunny also talked about the innovative partnership between Career Services, ASP, and the Externship Program at UNH. I believe UNH is on the cutting edge with their program, and it is something all of us should be exploring during this time of belt-tightening at law schools.  

2) Alex Ruskell at Roger Williams runs both the Honors Program and ASP. This is a neat, and somewhat unusual, group of duties, but it has benefits. Coming to the ASP office loses it's stigma (fast!) when it is as likely the student is visiting because they are in the Honors Program as it is they are looking for help. Alex also has a fantastic summer program for incoming students, and he had several ideas I plan on using if I go back to working on pre-orientation.

3) Lis Keller at BC was not only a gracious host, but brought up some challenging theoriesabout who ASP should serve. This is a concept we are looking at in more depth for our fall conference. BC Law's first-year orientation occurs three weeks into the semester, when students are ready to hear about outlining and preparing for exams. This approach to orientation inspired a lot of discussion within our group about how this can be employed at other schools. Many of us felt that some of what we do in orientation goes over the heads of our students who have no context before the start of the semester. BC's approach is one that I envision more schools will employ if they can find a way to fit it into 1L schedules.

4) Louis Schulz and Elizabeth Bloom at New England-Boston filled us in on the details of their comprehensive ASP, which includes programs for students through all three years of law school. Louis is always moving a thousand miles an hour, and the breadth of programs sponsored by NE-Boston demonstrate his energy and ingenuity.

5) Liz Stillman and Janet Fischer from Suffolk facilitated discussion among our group on the benefits and possible costs to students when ASPer's write job recommendations. This is a timely topic, as we are being bombarded with stories about the state of the job market. Janet made the connection between the job market and the upswing in interest in ASP that many of us are seeing.

I came home from the meeting excited about the innovation within ASP, and grateful that I belong to such a wonderful, warm, supportive community. (RCF)


May 6, 2011 in Advice, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Position for Bar Prep and Academic Success at Barry

Barry University School of Law is searching for an Assistant Dean of Bar Preparation and Academic Success.   The job announcement is below. 

Assistant Dean of Bar Preparation and Academic Success



School of Law - Orlando




4/15/2011 12:49:00 PM




Salary commensurate with experience




The Assistant Dean of Bar Preparation and Academic Success oversees and performs academic support functions essential to promoting students' success in law school, and to the growth of the institution including working with students seeking to improve academic performance and prepare for the bar examination. The Assistant Dean is responsible for all program design, implementation, and reporting.




Coordinate Bar Preparation and Academic Success Programs:
a. Design, implement, manage, supervise, and report on all academic success and bar prep programming (including all bar application and hearing programs)
b. Manage Bar Prep staff and ASP staff.
c. Metrics reported include attrition data, bar pass probability and actual bar pass rates.

Ensure Bar Preparation for students including:
a. Counsel and advise students regarding bar applications and admission, bar exam prep, students on academic probation and other students seeking to improve academic performance.
b. Assist students in reviewing answers to practice exams and provides advice regarding exam strategy.
c. Track subjects tests on bar exams and keep information of those subjects current.
d. Attend each Florida Bar exam administration (travel to Tampa required) 
e. Support students during the bar exam.
f. Prepare and organize events during the bar examination.

Workshops and Training:
a. Conduct Florida Bar and MBE strategies courses each fall and spring.
b. Supervise and assist in preparing and presenting the Academic Success workshops and bar prep workshops including all first year and MBE workshops.

Perform Administrative duties:
a. Serve as a member of appointed committee by the Dean and perform various duties as assigned by the group.
b. Attend meetings as necessary with the law school.
c. Attend seminars and conferences to improve ability to provide appropriate services at the law school
d. Prepare and oversee Academic Success and Bar Preparation budgets.
e. Oversee New Student Orientation in planning and execution.
f. Serve as a member of the Academic Team and assist the Team and Career Services in planning and executing Rising 2L and 3L orientations.

Perform other related duties as assigned or required.




Knowledge and Skills:

  • Demonstrate good judgment and effective analytical skills.
  • Advanced understanding of complex job-related concepts and procedures.
  • Ability to determine multiple tasks involved in a project and prioritize their completion.
  • Ability to develop department budget
  • Proficient in computer programs such as excel, PowerPoint, word.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills with students, staff and administration.

Education and Experience:

  • JD required
  • Minimum 3-5 years experience as Director or Assistant Director in a Bar Prep program
  • Must be admitted to the Florida Bar

The employment process will consist of the completion of an application, background and reference checks, and interviews.

Interested candidates are required to submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected]. Please include ASST DEAN BAR PREP in the email subject line.

Once you have emailed your resume please complete the application online at

This position is located in Orlando: Barry University School of Law, 6441 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando FL 32807.

Barry University is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer. Barry University does not discriminate against applicants or employees for terms of employment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, political affiliation or any other terms prohibited under the county ordinance, state or federal law.

Application Information


Human Resources
School of Law

Email Address:

[email protected]


May 4, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Keeping grades in perspective

It is exam time.  Angst is in the air.  So many students are seeing their grades as life and death matters.

Losing perspective is easy In the middle of all the stress, studying, and single-minded focus on exams.  The competitive atmosphere is not helping matters.  It all seems so incredibly important in the fish bowl of law school.

Here are some things to keep in mind about grades on exams:

  • An exam measures knowledge on one set of questions, on one day, at one point in time.  No exam is able to measure everything that was in the course.  No exam is able to measure everything that a student may have learned from a course.
  • A grade reflects an assessment in just X credits out of Y credits required for graduation.  If the course is 3 credits out of 90 credits for graduation, then there are 87 other credits that can reflect ability when one course exam proves disappointing. 
  • Employers look for upward trends in grades.  A weak semester can be overcome by future strong semesters.
  • There are jobs for people who are not in the top 10% - 25% - 30% - 50% of the class.  There are also plenty of attorneys working who were in the bottom half of the class in law school.  All of those attorneys have jobs at law firms, government agencies, and non-profits with competent professionals committed to serving clients well.
  • Plenty of attorneys who were not the "cream" at their law schools prove themselves in practice.  Law firms unwilling to consider them right out of law school based on grades will later woo them based on reputation.
  • Focus on taking one day at a time.  Perseverance and hard work will improve the chance of good grades.  Fretting over grades merely steals energy from more important tasks.
  • Avoid talking about exams after they are over.  The issues that others say they spotted may have been rabbit trails.  Some students will purposely pretend there were issues on an exam to upset others in their studying.  You cannot change anything about a completed exam.  It is more valuable to turn your attention to the next exam. 
  • Do not focus on your feelings about an exam.  I can recount many stories of students certain they did poorly who end up with very good grades - they focus on how they feel about the exam and do not know the big picture of overall performance for the entire class.

Ten years from now, no one hiring you for a new opportunity in practice will likely ask about your specific grades.  They will want to know how well you perform in the practice of law.  They will want to know whether you are ethical, hard-working, committed to clients, and a good fit with their current attorneys and staff. 

So, keep things in perspective.  Take a deep breath.  Cross off the days on your calendar until you can celebrate the end of another semester.  (Amy Jarmon)   

May 4, 2011 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fellowship position at Southwestern Law School





Southwestern Law School invites applicants for the administration, counseling and teaching fellowship in the Academic Support and Bar-Related Programs office (ASP) for a one-year term beginning in August 2011.  The fellowship provides a unique opportunity for a young lawyer or recent law school graduate to gain experience in administration, counseling and teaching in academic support and bar programs.  The fellow will work closely with the Academic Support and Bar-Related Programs Faculty assisting in the creation, administration and implementation of new programs and courses, the supervision of student tutors and the development of academic support and bar-related course curriculum. 


Duties and responsibilities may include but are not limited to any of the following:

  • Working with the Director of Academic Support and Bar-Related Programs to research, design, implement and manage academic support programs, including pre-matriculation programs, first-year programs and Bar examination preparation programs
  • Meeting with students individually and in small groups regarding academic performance issues
  • Supervising student teaching assistants
  • Teaching academic skills in workshops to current students
  • Assisting with additional services to enhance the academic success of students


Required Qualifications:

  • JD from an ABA accredited law school and admission to the California Bar
  • At least one year of legal work experience in practice, government, non-profit organization, judicial clerking or other legal setting
  • Ability to work with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, including students, staff and faculty
  • Ability to counsel, critique and guide students to self-improvement through a professional, rigorous, respectful, supportive and reliable commitment to them
  • Experience in academic support or legal writing instruction or other teaching experience
  • Availability to offer occasional weekend or evening workshops
  • Imagination, innovation and desire to grow into responsibilities in areas of mutual interest and need
  • Understanding of, and ability to work for, the mission and goals of Southwestern Law School


The fellowship is an opportunity to develop a career in academic support or skills teaching.  The salary is competitive with other academic fellowships.  The fellow will also receive a competitive benefits package provided by Southwestern Law School.  


Applicants should submit the following:


  • A one page cover-letter describing (a) prior experience in providing legal services and teaching legal skills or concepts to law students; (b) other relevant experience; (c) aspirations for future legal education work; and (d) information relevant to the applicant’s potential for program development and management, supervision and teaching.
  • A resume
  • Contact information for three professional references and
  • A law school transcript (unofficial is acceptable)


Applications must be received by May 15, 2011 or until position is filled and e-mailed directly to Professor Gabriela Ryan, at [email protected].


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Southwestern Law School is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other prohibited category. We strongly encourage women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and all qualified persons to apply for this position.





May 3, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bar Passage Counselor position at Charlotte Law

Charlotte School of Law (CharlotteLaw) seeks applications for an experienced Bar Passage Counselor.

The Bar Passage Counselor reports directly to the Associate Dean for Students.  He or she will work with students seeking to assist them with their bar admissions goals.  The Counselor performs other academic support functions essential to promoting students’ success in law school and to the success and growth of the institution. 

The school is a member of The InfiLaw System, a consortium of independent law schools committed to making legal education more responsive to the realities of new career dynamics. Its mission is to establish student-centered, American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools in underserved markets that graduate students with practice-ready skills, and achieve true diversity programs aimed at student academic and career success.

Primary Duties & Responsibilities:

• Counsel and advise students on bar admissions protocol, bar exam preparation, law school in general and the legal profession;
• Teach law school courses developed to increase students’ likelihood of bar exam success;
• Assist in the maintenance of statistical information on students and graduates;
• Prepare and present various Bar Exam related workshops and seminars;
• Further develop current bar exam preparation programming;
• Attend the North Carolina and South Carolina bar exams (where appropriate);
• Participate in bar exam related best practices meetings;
• Assist students in reviewing answers to practice exams;
• Attend meetings as necessary within the law school; and
• Attend seminars and conferences to improve ability to provide appropriate services at the law school.


Preferably, applicant will be a North Carolina or South Carolina licensed attorney.    
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) is preferred.


Licensed attorney in North Carolina or South Carolina.  (Dual licensure preferred).

Salary is commensurate with experience. CharlotteLaw offers a full benefits package. For more information about Charlotte School of Law, please visit

If helping others and working in a dynamic workplace is what you feel passionate about and you are looking for a new challenge and a chance to put your experience to work in an innovative environment – Charlotte School of Law may be the place for you.

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

Charlotte School of Law
Human Resources
2145 Suttle Avenue
Charlotte, NC, 28208

Charlotte School of Law is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


May 3, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Director of Academic Support position at USC

The University of Southern California Gould School of Law is seeking a new Director of Academic Support.  The details concerning the position can be found at the following link: University of Southern California Job Description

May 3, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)