Monday, February 29, 2016

LSSSE Upcoming Report

Below is a press release from Aaron Taylor, Director of LSSE, regarding the upcoming report release:

On March 7, the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) will release its latest annual results: How a Decade of Debt Changed the Law Student Experience.  The report analyzes law student debt trends during the 10-year period, 2006 to 2015.  The report also explores the nature and sources of law student stress. An advanced copy of the report is attached to this email.  [Editor's Note: Not included here in the Blog posting because incompatible with Typepad. Check your inbox to see if you got a press release email with a copy.]
According to Aaron N. Taylor, director of LSSSE and assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University School of Law:
“While we are all well aware that law student debt has increased significantly over the past decade, this year’s LSSSE annual results provide a nuanced view of these trends.  Both the extent of the increases and the uneven manner in which they have been distributed among students are concerning.  The data strongly suggest that while law school is more expensive across-the-board, the bulk of the increased costs is being born by students in the least favorable positions to incur them.”  
Noteworthy findings from the report include:
Overall Debt Trends:
Over the 10-year timeframe, increasing proportions of LSSSE respondents reported expecting high law school debt.  In 2006, 32% of respondents expected to incur more than $100,000 in debt during their law school matriculation.  In 2015, that proportion was 44%.  (Page 10)
Debt and Institutional Sector:
In 2006, only 11% of LSSSE respondents attending public law schools expected debt of more than $100,000; by 2015, this proportion had almost tripled to 31%.  Among private school respondents, the proportion increased from 38% in 2006 to 50% in 2015. (Page 11)
Debt and Race:
In 2006, there were only marginal racial and ethnic differences in expectations of more than $100,000 in debt.  By 2015, 61% of black respondents and 56% of Latino respondents expected debt at this level, compared to about 40% of white and Asian respondents.  (Page 12)
Debt and LSAT score:
In 2006, 16% of respondents with the LSAT scores of 155 or below expected to owe more than $120,000—the same proportion as those with higher LSAT scores.  By 2015, however, the proportion for the 155-or-below group was 37%, almost double the 20% proportion of the higher-LSAT group.  (Page 13)
Debt and Satisfaction:
In each survey year, respondents who expected to owe more than $120,000 were noticeably less likely to respond favorably to LSSSE satisfaction questions.  In 2015, 79% of these respondents had favorable views of their law school experiences, compared to 88% of those expecting no debt. 
In 2015, 74% of respondents who expected to owe more than $120,000 stated they would attend the same law school again, compared to 87% of those expecting no debt.  This 13-percentage point difference was the largest among the survey years. (Page 15)
Law Student Stress:
About three-quarters of respondents reported that concerns about academic performance and academic workload were sources of high stress and anxiety.  More than half of respondents indicated that concerns about job prospects and finances (including student debt) were sources of high stress and anxiety.  (Page 17)
Higher expected debt was associated with higher stress and anxiety.  More than half of respondents who expected to owe more than $80,000 reported experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety during the school year, compared to 41% of those who expected no debt.  (Page 19)
In 2015, 70% of respondents who expected to owe more than $120,000 reported high levels of stress relating to finances and student loans, compared to only 9% of respondents expecting no debt.  (Page 19)
How a Decade of Debt Changed the Law Student Experience will be available for download on March 7 at  Questions and media requests should be forwarded to Aaron N. Taylor at [email protected].
Aaron N. Taylor 
Assistant Professor of Law
Saint Louis University School of Law
Director, Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE)
Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research

100 N. Tucker | Suite 950 | Saint Louis, MO 63101 

February 29, 2016 in Diversity Issues, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Death of Justice Scalia and the Future of Affirmative Action

For those who are following the Fisher case, the following article from The Chronicle of Higher Education may be of interest: Antonin Scalia's Death Probably Won't Affect Fisher


February 28, 2016 in Diversity Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Save the Date for the NY Academic Support Workshop

Dear ASP friends;

We are pleased to announce this year’s full-day NY Academic Support Workshop, to be held from 9:30 to 5:30 at Brooklyn Law School on Friday, April 15. This will be a small and rather-intimate gathering of academic support professionals and colleagues actively working to learn from one another.

As is our usual practice, the afternoon sessions of the workshop will have an open agenda and room to include any subject of interest to those in attendance, while the morning sessions will be centered on a specific topic. For this year’s morning session we would like to concentrate on incorporating new (or newer) learning theories into our academic support work. What sorts of learning theories are especially exciting you right now? Do they affect what you teach? How you advise students to study or work? What insights into law school learning can we or should we derive from general learning theories and apply or adapt for law students? Any and all insights, discussions, ideas or presentations will be welcome.

One thing that makes all ASP gatherings exciting has always been our unique emphasis on interactions—ASP folks DO things together so that we can learn together. NY Workshop participants work with one another to develop or enhance our individual lessons, materials, presentations, or any other part of our professional endeavors. No one who comes is allowed to be a back-bencher. If you would like to attend, please let us know whether you want to share one of your own materials or ideas, lead a discussion on a topic we all wrestle with etc., or comment on ideas presented by other participants, or both. And please let us know whether you think your topic/question/issue/material/presentation lends itself to our morning’s theme or to the more open-ended part of our agenda. When we confirm who will attend and what specific questions the participants plan to address, we will send out a finalized workshop agenda.

RSVP to Kris and Linda, at addresses below and cc’d above

Since this is not a formal conference there is no fee to attend. We hope to see many of you soon!

Kris Franklin                         Linda Feldman
New York Law School         Brooklyn Law School
[email protected]         [email protected]

February 27, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 26, 2016

I Did Not Do Well Last Semester Because...

During the past few weeks, I have been meeting with our students who are on probation. As part of these meetings, we always discuss the students' initial thoughts on their performance. (We will do lots of more specific assessment, but I am interested in their reactions and perspectives shortly after getting their grades.) The responses tend to fall into several general categories; individual students may fall into several of these categories

1: Outside circumstances that impacted them. Examples in this category would be serious personal illness, death or serious illness in the family, victim of a serious crime, or sudden change in financial circumstances.

2: Circumstances during the final exam that impacted them. Examples in this category would be illness during the exam, panic attack during the exam, or computer crash and loss of answers.

3: Poor academic decisions throughout the semester. Examples in this category would be reading only when they knew they would be called on, taking the maximum number of absences, surfing the web in class, or depending on canned briefs/others' outlines/class scripts.

4:Poor exam preparation. Examples in this category would be cramming at the very end, outlining right before exams, completing no practice questions, or skipping the professor's exam review session.

5: Poor exam strategies during the exam. Examples in this category would be not reading the instructions ("do 3 of the 5 questions"), ignoring the allotted time for sections of the exam, not organizing answers before writing, including insufficient analysis, or spending time on rabbit trails.

6. Others at fault for the performance. Examples in this category would be the professor's exam was too hard, the exam covered material not discussed in class, my section was the hard section, or my study group was not good.

No doubt, I could come up with other categories or parse these categories differently. However, I think these six categories would cover most of what I have heard over the years. Here is my take on each of these categories in isolation:

Category 1: These types of circumstances are usually unavoidable or outside of the control of the student. They are the serious "life happens" category. It is easy to see how these circumstances would impact a student's ability to study and focus on law school. If the circumstances have resolved, then the student can focus on their studies more. If circumstances are ongoing, then the student needs referral to resources to help (examples, student health services, counseling center) and strategies to work within the life parameters they are faced with while in school. Some students decide to take a leave of absence and return after the circumstances have resolved themselves.

Category 2: These types of circumstances may be "one off" situations or they may have continuing implications. Referrals may be needed (example, to deal with panic attacks). Discussion about procedures to avoid the situation in the future may be needed (example, if you are unwell, request an exam reschedule under the school's procedure). Hopefully, many of these types of circumstances will not reoccur.

Categories 3 and 4: These types of circumstances can usually be addressed effectively through new study strategies. Motivation problems, procrastination, and life circumstances may be part of this category's impact on grades. If so, then those aspects will also need to be addressed.

Category 5: This type of problem can be addressed with specific exam-taking strategies. Strategies will vary somewhat depending on the type of exam (essay, short answer, multiple-choice, true-false, mixed). The problems are often correctable. Practicing the new strategies will be important to success.

Category 6: In many ways, this category of student explanations is the most troubling. If students are still at the stage of blaming others for their performance, they are not yet ready to work on strategies to improve their performance. Students need to get beyond disappointment, anger, embarrassment, and finger-pointing - the reasons for this category's viewpoint are varied. If they are going to take control of their academic performance and strive toward improvement through implementing new strategies, they need to get beyond the emotional reactions. It often takes several weeks to work with these students to get past their discontent and unwillingness to evaluate any personal responsibility for their performance.

Assistance to students will be most effective if the ASP and student efforts are part of a team approach. The student needs ASP support and input. But, ultimately, the student has to implement changes and do the work. Most students welcome being part of a team and will succeed. (Amy Jarmon)





February 26, 2016 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Director of Critical Skills and Academic Support Postion at Nova Southeastern

Nova Southeastern University
Position Description

Employee Details

Employee First Name:
Employee Last Name:

Position Information

Position Title Director, Critical Skills and Academic Support Program
Position Number 992657
Job Category: Exempt
Job Group: 106-Academic-Related Dir/Mgr
Center/Department Shepard Broad College of Law
Job Grade/Level: 91
Type of Shift: Non-Faculty Full time
Benefits Eligible: Reg FT w/Benefits
Pay Basis: Annually
Reports to: (TITLE) Dean, Shepard Broad College of Law
Reports to: (POSITION NUMBER) 992879

Primary Purpose:

The Director of Critical Skills and Academic Support administers and assesses the existing critical skills, academic support, and bar preparation programs, and executes strategies designed to strengthen academic success, focusing on initiatives to increase bar passage rates.
Essential Job Functions:

1. Administers all aspects of critical skills instruction, individual academic support services, and bar examination preparation for students and graduates, including teaching in and/or administering the relevant courses.

2. Develops programs, workshops and events that provide academic assistance for all students to improve foundational skills including logic, critical reading comprehension, essay writing, legal issue identification, and legal analysis skills.

3. Plans and organizes workshops designed to assist students as they develop and improve legal study and test-taking skills, bar application and admission process, and preparation to enter law practice.

4. Designs and implements assessment tools to identify "at-risk" students at each phase of their program participation to provide relevant remediation for each student to help improve retention and bar passage.

5. Designs and implements innovative academic and bar readiness programs.

6. Develops learning outcomes, exercises, and assessment tools designed to help students develop into self-regulated learners consistent with College of Law strategic goals, ABA accreditation, and SACS accreditation requirements.

7. Counsels and works with students in individual and small group sessions, and providing intensive support for graduates during the bar review period as they prepare for the bar exam.

8. Collaborates with commercial bar review programs, works with the alumni department on the alumni mentoring program, tracks at-risk students, develops assessment tools, and prepares bar exam statistics and reports.

9. Implements a program to track and report bar passage information and programming assessments with outcomes focused on improving existing programs.

10. Represents the College of Law at and participates in outside conferences and other events organized for and/or by bar preparation or academic support professionals.

11. Performs other duties as directed by the Dean.

Marginal Job Functions:

1. This position demands some work on evenings and weekends.

2. Ensures compliance with University policies and procedures, county, state, federal regulations and accreditation requirements.

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

1. Superior writing, analytical, interpersonal, organizational, managerial, and communication skills required to work with a diverse student body.

2. Knowledge of legal theory and analysis necessary to succeed in law school and on the bar examination.

3. Ability to handle sensitive and confidential information in a responsible manner.

4. Demonstrated ability to lead a team and manage programs effectively and efficiently.

5. Flexible and team-orientated.

Required Education: Juris Doctorate

Required Experience:

  1. Minimum of three years education and law teaching experience, academic counseling, tutoring or experience in an academic success and bar preparation programs.

2. Demonstrated administrative and supervisory experience, and engaging presentation skills.

3. Experience with curriculum design, including an understanding of educational learning theory, best practices in teaching pedagogy, and individual learning styles.

4. Understanding of disability and multicultural issues, and ability to build rapport with students having academic challenges.

Preferred Qualifications:
1. Familiarity with outcomes based assessments.

2. Ability to think critically and innovatively about measuring student academic progress.

Is this a safety sensitive position (are applicants potentially subject to drug testing)?
Safety Sensitive Policy.

Does this position require a criminal background screening?


Budget Year: FY17

Job Description Disclaimer These statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required.

Commitment Principles:
ADA Addendum Nova Southeastern University is in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and does not discriminate with regard to applicants or employees with disabilities, and will make reasonable accommodation when necessary.




February 25, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 8, 2016

How are things going with each course?

Now that you have had some time to settle into your courses, you can evaluate your plan of attack for each course. Here are some things that you want to consider:

• Re-read your syllabus yet again to make sure you understand everything that you need to know about the course: the learning objectives, suggested supplements, assignment details, deadlines.

• What amount of time do you need for really good class preparation in each course?

    Really good class preparation means that you are focused on learning and understanding the material and not just skimming it.
    Really good class preparation means that you are taking responsibility for learning and understanding the material and not expecting the professor to spoon-feed the information           to you as many undergraduate courses do.
    Class preparation can include a variety of tasks depending on the course; some of those tasks may be the following:
        Reading and briefing cases
        Reading articles
        Reading code/rule sections
        Answering questions at the end of chapters
        Answering study questions handed out by the professor
        Completing worksheets or problem sets
        Preparing practice-like documents (contracts, business plans, interrogatories, closing statements, wills, etc.)
    Class preparation should include answering the questions that you know your professor always asks every class period.
    Class preparation should include thinking about the material on two levels:
        In-depth understanding of the separate cases, articles, etc.
        Synthesis of how separate cases, articles, code sections, etc. work together and give meaning to the subtopic/topic
    Look ahead in your syllabus to see if future assignments will get longer and in your casebook to see if future topics look more difficult – plan accordingly for the time you need to add     for class preparation.

• What level of difficulty are you having with the course material at this point?

    If you are concerned about a course, talk to the professor about specific study strategies and supplements that might help you with the material.
    Evaluate how well you are understanding the course material.
    Look through your class notes and briefs to determine where you have gaps in your understanding.
    Determine how you will fill in any gaps: study aids, talking to the professor, talking to classmates, or other methods.
    Outline all of the material that has been covered so far and ask these questions:
        Does my outline just cover the gist of the material without any depth of understanding?
        Does my outline help me inter-relate cases/code/etc. into the subtopics and topics?
        Am I too bogged down in detail and irrelevant material?
        Will my outline help me solve new legal problems (example, fact scenarios) that I have never seen before?
    If you outline is incomplete and unrelated to problem-solving, fix the problems now.
    Plan on-going strategies that you can implement to improve your understanding for each course.

• What resources do you have for the course that will help you apply the material that you are learning throughout the semester as you review topics or subtopics? Remember to increase the difficulty of practice questions as you review topics more thoroughly.

    Study aids with practice questions
    CALI exercises
    Practice questions on the professor’s course website
    Problems or hypotheticals in the course materials
    For 1Ls, tutoring practice questions
    Draft-and-swap question opportunities with friends
    Exam database for your law school

• For paper courses, plan out your research and writing and begin tasks now rather than procrastinating.

    What deadlines are required by your professor: topic approval, paper outline, initial bibliography, drafts.
    Break down larger tasks into small steps so that you do not get overwhelmed.
    Set an artificial deadline two days before each deadline and work toward that earlier date. You will have more time for edits and rewrites if necessary rather than last-minute panic.

• Look ahead at your calendar and plan how you will get work done beforehand if you have weekends out-of-town, team or BOB competition weeks, or family events to attend.

Evaluate how well your plans are working periodically during the semester. Tweak or rework as needed. (Amy Jarmon)

February 8, 2016 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Linear or Non-Linear Storytelling

Lawyers are storytellers. Hat tip to Stephen Paskey, Legal Skills Faculty SUNY Buffalo, for mentioning this interesting article on the LRWPROF listserv: How the Brain Reacts to Scrambled Stories.

February 6, 2016 in Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Call for Proposals for the AALS Section on Teaching Methods Program at AALS 2017

Dear Colleagues:

The AALS Teaching Methods Section plans to host an exciting program called “Reaching Students Effectively: Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities in Legal Education” at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco (January 3-7, 2017). Here is our current vision of the program, followed by the call for proposals:

Reaching Students Effectively: Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities in Legal Education
We are in the midst of a time of great change in legal education. We face new obstacles and new opportunities as we work to find the best means of engaging and teaching today’s law students. As part of this program, we will ask panelists to spotlight effective teaching methods for overcoming new challenges and embracing new opportunities in one or more of these topic areas:
1. Technology (whether used by students inside or outside of the classroom or by educators to teach inside or outside the classroom)

2. Student emotional intelligence or self-awareness

3. Student aptitude (particularly if perceived to be lower due to recent admissions trends)

4. Changing law market needs and demands (e.g., of prospective employers)

5. Developments in learning theory, research, and literature

We hope addressing these topics
will help to ignite a broader dialogue about the challenges and opportunities presented by teaching and learning inside and outside the modern law school classroom. By program’s end, attendants should have some concrete ideas for teaching in their own classes in new and inspiring ways.

The Call

We welcome one-page proposals that address effective teaching methods for overcoming new challenges and embracing new opportunities with respect to one or more of the topic areas, as posed by the program description above. In responding, please keep in mind:
• The proposal may address any law school substantive course area, but we hope for the audience (presumed to include educators that teach in a broad variety of course areas) to be able to relate the presented methods to their own classes.
• Proposals featuring any type of interactive learning exercise that will engage the audience — especially a method used by the presenter with her or his own students — will be greeted with heightened enthusiasm.
Please submit proposals to the Program Chair Professor Michael Bloom via email at [email protected] by
March 1, 2016. The program committee looks forward to reviewing
your proposals
and to learning about your innovations and ideas for making legal education in the modern era come alive for our students.

Director, Transactional Lab & Clinic
Clinical Assistant Professor
Univ. of Michigan Law School

February 5, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Welcome Louisa Heiny to the ASP/Bar Prep Profession


Please join me welcoming Louisa Heiny to our community. Louisa began at University of Utah Law School in January 2016. Please take the time to chat with her when you see her at regional or AASE events!

Her faculty profile can be found here: Louisa Heiny. Below is a short introduction that she shared so all of you can get to know her:

I am an Associate Professor/ Lecturer at the University of Utah Law School. I teach Evidence, Judicial Process, and Legal Writing for Judicial Clerks. I've been teaching at Utah as an adjunct for since 2010, and before that was a Professor of Legal Writing at the University of Colorado Law School. I was hired full time in January to teach, develop ASP programs for upper-division and transfer students, and integrate those new programs into our existing 1L ASP and Bar prep programs.

February 4, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Welcome Nicole Lefton to ASP/Bar Prep

Nicole lefton photo

Please welcome Nicole Lefton who joined the Hofstra ASP/Bar Prep community in mid-January 2016. Please make a point of introducing yourselves to her at the next regional conference or AASE! Nicole shared the following information with us so you can get acquainted with her:

Nicole Lefton joins Hofstra as the Director of Academic Support and Bar Exam Preparation and a visiting professor. Prior to Hofstra, Nicole was the Senior Director of Academics at Kaplan Bar Review, where she worked for close to eight years. In addition, she taught Legal Writing and Lawyering Skills for several years to both JDs and International LL.M.s at Cardozo School of Law. Nicole graduated from Vassar College, and she received her JD from Cornell Law School. After graduating from Cornell, she joined the law firm of Rosenman & Colin as a real estate associate. She then joined Brownstone Publishers, a national, legal newsletter publisher, where she began as an editor and eventually became editor-in-chief. Nicole is admitted to the New York State Bar. She resides in New York City with her husband and two sons.



February 3, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)