Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Bar Exam is Next Week

Or, at least one of the Bar Exam is next week. The last one, so to speak. (Edit -I was informed FL is even later!) It’s been a crazy ride and I know that you are all exhausted. We, as Academic Success Professionals, are exhausted as well, and we see you and hear you.

It’s been rough, and there have been many hiccups, and on that – I have no advice.

However, I CAN give you some advice on how to spend your final week before the exam.

  1. Do something for yourself: Even if it means taking an afternoon or two off, do something for yourself. This is going to look different for everyone; it could be going for a run, binging a silly tv show, or spending some (socially distanced) time with friends or family. The point is that you are taking your mind off of the exam, and off of the law. Your brain needs this break so that you can be your best on exam day. My suggestion is to take Sunday afternoon and to do whatever you can to make yourself happy.
  2. Get enough rest: I’m not trying to mother you, I promise, and science will back me up. You need enough rest to do well on the exam. Start making sure you are getting enough sleep as early as Friday night. On a side note, also make sure you are eating well. Your brain needs fuel! And speaking of rest, that brings me to my next point.
  3. Don’t cram, or learn brand new material: Don’t stay up all night studying, or push yourself to your limit. You’ve already been pushed to your limit, and you don’t need to pack in that many more hours of study, especially at the expense of sleep. Instead, focus on what you do know, and perfecting that! Now is not the time to do a crazy amount of practice essays. Now is the time to work on fine tuning what you know. Maybe outline essays, so you are more comfortable with rule statements, or do very small sets of MBE questions. In fact, it’s a great time to redo old MBE questions that were wrong, and really make sure you learned from that question.
  4. Work on memory: Now is the time to memorize details, whether they be requirements for various hearsay exceptions, scrutinies for constitutional law, or something else. You don’t need to memorize everything, it’s ok. But take the time to memorize the things where exact wording is important. Do so in small chunks. Your brain can really only handle memorizing for about 5 minutes. So, work on memorization techniques in between doing other things. This is also why outlining essays can be useful, as it’s a great way to work on memory AND issue spotting.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make things up!: No really, make things up. I promise if you need to make up a rule it won’t be that absurd. You have a law degree, and you’ve been studying for this exam for what feels like forever – whatever your brain makes up will be close to accurate, I promise. Not every rule statement has to be exact, or perfectly worded. And, making up a rule and putting forth a well thought out analysis is much better than not tackling an issue.
  6. Be confident, and be kind to yourself: Finally – you got this! Be confident. You have a JD, and I promise, that means you know more than you think. Remind yourself that you are capable, and knowledgeable, and that you CAN do this. And, if this bar administration didn’t work out for you, and you had to delay, that’s ok as well. Similarly, if you don’t get the news you want in terms of results, remind yourself that this Summer and Fall have been hard on all of you, and you need to cut yourself some slack.

I can’t wait to have all of you as colleagues.

(Melissa Hale)

September 30, 2020 in Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Call for Editor of Learning Curve

Each year, The Learning Curve brings on a new member for a three-year term: the first two years as an Associate Editor, and the final year as Executive Editor.  Kevin Sherrill just ended his term, Sarira Sadeghi is stepping into the Executive Editor role this year, and Susan Landrum is in her second year on the publication and will become Executive Editor next year.  They are now seeking a new colleague to join this fantastic publication for a three-year term.

The publication puts out two editions each year, one toward the end of the calendar year and one near the end of the academic year.  Each editor is assigned between two and five articles for each edition.  The time commitment per edition is approximately 10 hours.

They are considering a third, special-edition next spring, but are also sensitive to the time constraints. 

The publication would like to invite anyone interested in joining the team to email Sarira their resume and a short (1-2 paragraphs) statement of interest at [email protected] by Sunday, October 4, 2020.  

September 27, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight, Professionalism, Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Improving Zoom Learning

The Legal Skills Prof. Blog picked up a story from the LA Times about the difficulty of learning with Zoom and some ideas for improvement.  I encourage everyone to check out the blog post here.

(Steven Foster)

September 26, 2020 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 25, 2020

Dean Search at American University Washington College of Law

More schools are selecting ASPers for Deanships, so I wanted to pass along this announcement.


Dean, Washington College of Law

Washington, D.C.

American University (AU) seeks a strategic, entrepreneurial, and energetic leader to serve as Dean of the Washington College of Law (WCL), commencing no later than July 1, 2021. This is an exceptional opportunity to lead a large, vibrant, creative, and forward-looking law school in the nation’s capital. WCL’s global preeminence and distinctive brand are anchored in the quality of its academic programs, the scholarly achievements of its faculty, the diversity of its community, and its impact on the challenges facing the legal professions and society today.

AU is a private doctoral university chartered by Congress in 1893. Today, AU enrolls about 14,000 students from every U.S. state and more than 140 countries. Among the university’s more than 900 full-time faculty and 700 adjunct faculty are policy makers, diplomats, journalists, artists, scientists, and business leaders. AU offers a rich array of undergraduate and undergraduate programs through eight colleges and schools. 

WCL was founded in 1896 by two pioneering women at a time when women were largely excluded from the legal profession. That tradition continues in the dedication to the professional advancement and well-being of all students, alumni, faculty, and staff and the commitment to “Championing What Matters.” Today, the 8.5 acre, LEED Gold certified campus a block from the DC metro features 5 courtrooms, light-filled classrooms, and state-of-the-art technology. WCL enrolls about 1,300 students from across the country and the world in the J.D., S.J.D., M.L.S., and LL.M. programs, including one of the oldest international LL.M. programs in the U.S., with alumni in every region of the globe. WCL is ranked among the 40 most diverse law schools in the U.S. The faculty of over 70 full-time and hundreds of adjunct professors are leaders in the D.C. legal community, ranked among the top 50 law faculties for scholarly distinction, and deeply involved in international, federal, state, and local lawmaking and regulation. A dedicated staff of over 150 full-time employees supports our academic, professional development, and research missions. U.S. News rankings place WCL #2 in Clinical Training, #4 in International Law, #4 in Trial Advocacy, #10 in Intellectual Property Law, #11 in Health Care Law, and #6 in Part-Time J.D. Programs. QS World recognizes WCL as one of the top 100 law schools in the world. 

As the chief executive of WCL, the dean reports to AU’s provost and is responsible for all activities within the law school. The dean provides strategic, intellectual, and creative leadership to faculty, staff, and students and is responsible for fundraising, market research, budget planning, internal administration, and program development efforts. The dean works closely with faculty, staff, and other AU leaders to build consensus and advance the law school and the university. The dean’s work must reflect deep respect for both the practice and scholarly aspects of legal education. The dean must emphasize the central importance of inclusive excellence and strive to achieve the best possible climate, practices, and outcomes with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition, the dean is a visible force on the world stage.

WittKieffer is assisting American University in this search. Application materials can be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal or by email. Review of candidate materials will continue until the position is filled, with priority given to applications received by December 4, 2020. Confidential nominations and inquiries can be directed to Werner Boel, LL.M. and Veena Abraham, J.D. at [email protected].

American University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution that operates in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, an individual’s genetic information or any other bases under federal or local laws (collectively “Protected Bases”) in its programs and activities.

September 25, 2020 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Benefits of Learning Law Later (and How to Enjoy Them Now)

Around this time of year, I usually end up telling my 1L students something about my experience in law school. I inadvertently chose what, in retrospect, seemed like the best way to become an attorney: After working as a paralegal for a couple of years (to get a taste of the world of law), getting married and living in Japan for a couple of years (to get a taste of the world in general), I thought that Georgetown's evening program looked really appealing, because it would allow me to work and earn money during the day and not drag my wife with me into the penurious life of a student. I wasn't wrong about that, but that did not turn out to be the greatest benefit to the evening program, or even in the top three.

What hadn't occurred to me before I arrived in D.C. was what the rest of the evening program class would be like. Georgetown can support a substantial evening program because Washington is full of people who have done well in government, the military, business, or the arts and now want to take the next step in their career.  If the informal reckoning of our evening cohort of 125 students was correct, there was only one of us who came directly from college.  The day program, four times larger, had a more traditional proportion of recent undergraduates.  Going to school with classmates who had essentially all achieved some measure of success already meant that our program felt different in three momentous ways:

1) Less stress and competition.  Not that we were stress-free; this was, after all, law school.  Most of my evening classmates had full-time jobs, like I did, and some were in demanding positions that took up more than 40 hours per week.  Our law school commitments were lessened in the part-time evening program (so it took us all 4 years to graduate), but still, it could be a pretty heavy load.  Nevertheless, there was almost no undercurrent of shared anxiety, and the kind of ruthless competition that I had expected in law school never materialized. (In my 2L year, when I became a Fellow in the legal writing program and worked directly with the school librarians, they told me how much they enjoyed working with the evening students because they never pilfered reserve books or sabotaged assigned reading the way that the day students did.) One of my classmates had a theory about this. He suggested that it was easier for us evening students not to stake our whole sense of self-worth on some grade on an exam, because most of us had proven ourselves in other arenas. This made sense to me; it meant it was easier for us to see grades as measures of our personal progress, rather than as a way of sorting us by value.  

2) More organization and efficiency.  I know that I was roughly one hundred times a better student, practically, in law school than when I was in college. Part of it was simply forced by necessity: If you work from 9 to 5, then attend classes from 5:45 to 9 or 10 each weeknight, you really don't have a lot of room in your schedule for futzing around. But some of it was the shared culture of the evening program, in which not only did we all face the same issue, but also nearly all of us had developed methods of calendaring and prioritizing in the workplace. Some of us had spouses or even children that had to be fit into our schedules.  Knowing that it all could be done, because we had had to do much of it before in our jobs, made it more manageable in law school. Furthermore, we all understood how valuable each other's time was, so the time we spent together in study groups, on joint projects, or in student organizations was also spent efficiently (but also quite pleasantly -- see "less competition", above).

3) More collegiality.  By which I do not mean "friendliness"; the day students that I met then, like the students I work with now, were at least as amiable and as good company as my evening companions. But time away from school, in many cases working with more seasoned co-workers on a first-name basis or even with equal status, had bestowed upon most evening students the realization that everyone in the law school -- classmates, professors, administrators, employees -- could be seen as colleagues: people with whom you are striving towards a common goal. Thus, evening students were often less reluctant, and more comfortable, than day students in seeking help or offering suggestions. 

The reason I bring up my experience with my 1L class is to point out to them that you don't need to be an evening student to enjoy these beneficial distinctions.  They might have come more naturally to those in my program -- certainly to the program as a whole -- because of our previous life experiences, but that doesn't mean that these benefits are only available to those of a certain age or background.  What matters are attitude, awareness, and mindset.  A student who is in touch with her previous accomplishments, and can ground her sense of self-worth on them, will find it easier to see grades as personal touchstones rather than signifiers of inherent worth. A student who accepts both that his available time is limited (which is merely a matter of thoughtful perception) and that he has the capacity to get done what needs to be done in that limited time (which is perhaps a bit more of a leap of faith) will find the ways he needs to be efficient.  And by recognizing that they are attending a professional school whose common goals include each student's successful education, students can position themselves to take full advantage of all the human resources around them. Experience is a good teacher, but sometimes learning from other people's experience is even better.

(Bill MacDonald)

September 22, 2020 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Professionalism, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2020


Tomorrow. Tomorrow is the mythical land where the vast majority of your productivity resides.  Tomorrow is when you fully unlock and harness all of your motivation and efficiency. Tomorrow you will get everything done. In truth, tomorrow will come but the enhanced productivity, efficiency, and motivation you anticipate may not.

Putting off tasks until tomorrow is a common form of procrastination and procrastination hinders one’s ability to allocate work and manage time effectively. One of the most challenging aspects of law school (and one of the most important skills for law students) is time management. At any given time, law students may be juggling class preparation, writing assignments, extracurricular activities, networking events, interviews, personal commitments, etc. Effective time management is essential to keeping each of those balls in the air.

Here are a few strategies to avoid procrastination and make the hypothetical productivity, motivation, and efficiency of tomorrow a reality today:

  • Commit to timeliness. Commit to being on time to class, work, events, etc. Commit to timely completion of assignments. Set deadlines and keep them.
  • Start today. Starting is often the hardest part. If you find yourself waiting or searching for the “perfect” time to start, remember that there is no perfect time. Since procrastination involves delaying doing something, the most direct way to stop procrastinating is to start. By starting today, you will put the most difficult part of the task behind you.
  • Find your motivation. If you’re searching for motivation to complete a task, try reminding yourself why the task is important and how it connects to your goals.
  • Break large projects into smaller pieces. This practice enables you to better allocate your workload and makes those larger projects seem less intimidating. Think of these as mini-goals and create deadlines for completing each smaller task. The feeling you get from accomplishing these smaller tasks can motivate you to keep going.
  • Convert items on your to-do list that are likely to induce procrastination into blocks of time on your calendar. Blocking time for these tasks on your calendar transforms them from the indefinite to the definite and represents a commitment to yourself that you will “show up” to work on those tasks. It also serves as a visual cue and a reminder of your priorities as you navigate your daily schedule.
  • Make the tasks you need to complete more fun. For instance, if you need to clean and only have 20 minutes, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how much you can get done before the timer sounds. You may not get it all done, but the process becomes more fun and you will probably come away with ideas about how to be more efficient the next time you clean.
  • Reward yourself for creating and meeting your deadlines. Reward yourself when you resist the urge to procrastinate, complete one of your mini-goals, complete a task on your calendar, etc. Rewards help reinforce the behavior you want to repeat.
  • Find an accountability partner. Choose someone you like and trust (and who likes and trusts you) to fill this role. Share your goals with that person, discuss the specifics of your partnership, and plan accountability check-ins.

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)

September 21, 2020 in Advice, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 18, 2020

Academic Success and Bar Preparation Faculty at Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial University

Academic Success and Bar Preparation Faculty

Duncan School of Law— Knoxville, Tennessee

Reports to: Associate Dean for Student Learning

Department: Law Classification: Faculty

Division: Academic Affairs Date: August 27, 2020

Candidate Information: The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law in Knoxville, Tennessee (“LMU Law”) is seeking applications to fill a non-tenure track faculty position as Assistant Professor of Law in the Academic Success Program, starting January 1, 2021. LMU Law is a student-centered institution with the mission of improving access to legal services in Appalachia and other underserved regions. The school has a rigorous, practice-focused curriculum that is designed to emphasize student learning outcomes, maintain high bar passage rates, and ensure that its students have the knowledge and skills needed to make a positive contribution to their communities as lawyers and leaders.
LMU Law’s Academic Success Program is designed to benefit all students, enabling them to succeed throughout law school, preparing them to pass the bar exam, and equipping them to practice law at the highest levels. Members of the Academic Success Program faculty teach courses that are designed to introduce, reinforce, and develop skills to enable students to be successful in law school and beyond. Faculty also work with students one-on-one to provide individualized instruction and coaching.

Finalists for this position will be asked to make a presentation to the law school faculty as part of the selection process. LMU Law is an equal opportunity employer that prioritizes inclusion and cultural competence and therefore strongly encourages racial, ethnic and sexual minorities to apply. LMU Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. Its home is the historic Old City Hall building in the heart of downtown Knoxville, which offers a high quality of life and excellent cultural and recreational opportunities, including proximity to several state and national parks.

Job Summary: The non-tenure track faculty member, in coordination and collaboration with the Director of Academic Success & Assessment and the Associate Dean for Student Learning, shall have the primary responsibilities of teaching and assisting in the development of academic success and bar preparation courses, workshops, and other programming and resources. This position is a non-tenure track, term appointment as an Assistant Professor of Law with year-round service and instruction obligations.
Councils and Committees: The faculty member shall serve on university and law school councils and committees as elected or appointed.

Duties and Responsibilities: *Work collaboratively with the Director of Academic Success & Assessment, the Associate Dean for Student Learning, the faculty, and other departments to promote the academic success of LMU Law students and graduates from pre-matriculation to bar passage; *teach courses for first-year and upper-level students focusing on the development of academic skills, including, but not limited to, class preparation, time management, case briefing, rule synthesis, outlining, systematic problem-solving skills, and exam writing; *teach other courses as assigned; *meet with and counsel students on their academic progress, including providing one-on-one tutoring; *provide tailored advising, coaching, instruction, and referrals to address barriers and develop essential skills for law school and bar success, as requested; *assist in the development and oversight of the execution of individualized remediation plans; *assist in the coordination and oversight of LMU Law’s peer-led academic success program; *develop and help teach sessions in LMU Law’s pre-matriculation and orientation programs, in coordination with appropriate law school departments; *develop and teach group instructional sessions on the skills and information needed for success at LMU Law; *promote LMU Law’s mission to all faculty, staff, students and to the community at large; *promote effective working relationships among faculty, staff and students; * *comply with the university Faculty/Staff Policy Manual and other announced requirements; *engage in professional development; *provide committee service; *attend department, school and university faculty meetings; *participate in community and public service opportunities; *attend commencement activities; *participate in annual faculty evaluation; *complete required institutional and program accreditation reports and other reports necessary for the operation and advancement of the University; and *perform other duties as assigned.

Faculty Scholarship Expectation: Because this is a year-round position, research and scholarship obligations, other than those necessary to fulfill instruction and service obligations, are not required. However, to advance in rank or term of contract, scholarship and research performance, as defined by the Faculty/Staff Policy Manual and the LMU Law Supplement is necessary and will be considered.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: *ability to work collaboratively and independently; *effective oral and written communication with individuals and large groups.

Qualifications: Required: *Juris Doctor Degree from an ABA-accredited law school; *a demonstrated ability to devise, coordinate, and implement innovative programming; *bar membership in any U.S. jurisdiction (can be inactive); *teaching experience with adult learners; *experience giving effective presentations in one-on-one, small group, and large class settings; *knowledge of learning and teaching strategies for law students; *experience working with, and demonstrated commitment to supporting, diverse populations.

Preferred: *personal record of strong academic achievement; *demonstrated commitment to working with students, inside and outside the classroom, to improve their academic and
bar exam performance; *experience in data collection, data management, and basic statistics; *at least three years of law practice or judicial clerking experience.
August 2020

September 18, 2020 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Practice Makes Possible...and Helps to Quiet the Heart Too

I spent most of my law school on the back steps of the loading dock, wedged behind a dumpster, in fear.  

That seemed to be the only place were I wouldn't bump into people -- fellow law students, faculty, or administrators.  

You see, I was afraid of all of them because, in my mind, they were perfect.  Perfect students, perfect learners, perfect teachers.  And, there was no way that I was any match for them.  So, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was isolating myself...out of fear of being found out by others to be a fraud.

Looking back, I wish I had reached out to my academic dean, or the academic support department, or student affairs, really anyone at all.  But, I was sure that I didn't belong in law school. So instead, I spent most of my time between classes, on the loading dock steps.

Had I read Prof. Victoria McCoy Dunkley's blog about perfectionism, realizing that there is no such thing as perfect, I would have been in much better shape, because I would have realized that "the law is messy" and that "there is often no right or perfect answer."  

But instead, I spent most of my on-campus hours by the loading dock trying to re-read each case, trying to master each assigned reading with perfect answers in preparation for being called upon in class, not realizing that I had done more than enough, that I was as ready as anyone for class, and that it's okay to make mistakes and to not know it all.  

So, for those of you in your first year of law school studies, it's okay to be afraid, to worry, to not be sure of yourself, to wonder if you have what it takes, etc.  But, let me speak from my heart.  You don't have to go it alone like I tried to do. Instead, reach out to someone at your law school and talk it out.  Share what you are concerned about.  If the truth be told, there are no perfect people in law school (or anywhere else for that matter).  

And that's exactly as it should be because life is not a solo sport.  It's a team project.  It's meant to be lived with others, with all of our blemishes and mistakes and fears, in which we lean on each other and learn from each other.  

So, as you practice learning the law ask someone to join you.  If you're afraid (as I was) of being called on in class, ask a friend to sit with you and ask you questions about today's reading assignments.  Along the way, realize that your practice answers don't need to be perfect (because there are no perfect answers).  Rather, the practice in just practicing makes it possible for you to overcome your concerns, your fears, and your worries.  (Scott Johns). 

P.S. I just noticed all of my typos in this imperfect blog!

September 17, 2020 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Practice Makes Perfect....or does it?

Monday’s post by Victoria McCoy Dunkley, on the harm of “perfect” resonated with me. So, I wanted to expand on that, because that’s what we do in Academic Support!

The concept of perfect IS harmful and subjective, meaning striving for perfection often feels like a losing battle, and it mostly is. However, it’s hardwired into most of us that are lawyers, law professors or law students that it’s ideal to be a perfectionist. In fact, I’m currently co-authoring a UBE book, and we find that we have said “practice makes perfect” at least once a chapter. After reading Victoria’s post, we decided that needed to be changed. It comes so naturally, that phrase, but is it helpful or true?

Does “Practice make Perfect?”

First, since I’m agreeing with Victoria that there is no perfect and that it’s unattainable and subjective, it makes me think that maybe I’ve been using an empty phrase. (Dunkley, 2020)

Since I’m using it in context of the bar exam, practice does NOT make perfect. If we are discussing the UBE, a “perfect” MEE score is a 6. However, those essays aren’t perfect! They might be better than average, but they are far from perfect. A passing score on the Bar Exam in general is far from perfection, so practice makes perfect doesn’t really work in that context.

What about law school? Again, even the best exam answers aren’t usually “perfect”, they are merely some of the best of the bunch. But by no means perfect.

What about legal practice? After all, that is what we are ultimately practicing for when we go to law school and study for the bar. Is there perfection in the legal practice? Of course not. Lawyers, many wiser and more practiced than I, will confirm that each time they submit a motion they find something they could have done better, something they could have improved. Litigators will also tell you that even after winning cases they reflect upon things and look for ways to improve. So, no, not even a winning case is “perfect.”

So, what can we say instead of ‘practice makes perfect?’  Well, my co-author, Toni Miceli, suggested that we use ‘Practice makes prepared’ and Victoria suggests in her post that ‘practice makes progress’. I love both of those phrases, mostly because they both capture the idea of growth mindset.

We can’t be perfect, but we can always improve. We can’t be perfect, but we can be prepared. We can’t be perfect, but we can make progress.

I can’t speak for her, but I feel like the author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”,  Dr. Angela Duckworth, would agree that “practice makes progress” is better than “practice makes perfect.” Her book discusses practice at length, and  how of course experts practice far more than non experts.??? She discusses Spelling Bee Champions, Olympians, and world renowned artisans – noting that the thing they all have in common is the frequency of their practice. However, she also notes something else. Even experts and champions strive to be better. They look for negative feedback and how they can improve. To quote Dr. Duckworth, “experts are more interested in what they did wrong – so they can fix it – than what they did right. The active processing of this feedback is as essential as its immediacy.” (Duckworth, 2016) So, even the champion doesn’t have a perfect performance!

I think this is incredibly important for law students, especially entering first years who are learning a new language and skill. But it’s also important for bar students, practitioners, and those of us that are educators. We can always improve. But to do that we need to reflect. We need to let go of the idea of perfection, and reflect immediately on areas of improvement. This reflection can be difficult, especially since it’s hard to admit that we are not perfect, nor should we be. So reflecting on our faults and on our mistakes can be daunting.

It’s also worth noting that deliberate practice is not easy, nor does it feel good. Since I’m a former dancer, I was especially taken with the quote by dancer Martha Graham that Dr. Duckworth used: “Dancing appears glamorous, easy, delightful. But the path to paradise of that achievement is not easier than any other. There is fatigue so great that the body cries in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration. There are daily small deaths.”. I can tell you she’s not exaggerating. I can also tell you that no professional dancer ever thinks their performance was perfect, and they always reflect to see how they can improve.

Dr. Duckworth explains that for practice to be deliberate, you need 4 main things:

  • A clearly defined stretch goal
  • Full concentration and effort
  • Immediate and informative feedback
  • Repetition and reflection and refinement

I think the part that we, as a profession, forget is the reflection and refinement. Or rather, we do it, but don’t talk about it. That leads us to believing that other students, other practitioners or other educators are “perfect” when they are not. We talk about our successes, and raise each other up, but let’s also talk about the failures, and how we can learn from them. It’s hard to practice if we don’t reflect on what we did wrong, and after all “practice makes progress” and progress is what we need instead of perfection.


Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. New York: Scribner.

Dunkley, V. M. (2020, September 14). Perfect Hurts. Retrieved from Law School Academic Support Blog:

(Melissa Hale)

September 16, 2020 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2020

Perfect Hurts

Merriam-Webster defines perfectionism as “a disposition to regard anything short of perfect as unacceptable.” Perfectionism and its status as something to which we should aspire is introduced early and often. We think that if we look perfect, act perfect, and are perfect then we can avoid or minimize shame, blame, and judgment.

In reality, perfectionism is an anchor that drags us down and keeps us from reaching our true potential. The quest for perfection is an exercise in futility. Perfection is a matter of opinion. Aspiring to be perfect means we are prioritizing the perceptions of others over our perception of self.  Rather than aiming to be the best version of ourselves (OUR best), we are instead focused on making someone else believe we are THE best.

Many law students, as perpetual high achievers, have perfectionist tendencies that existed long before law school. However, the hyper-competitiveness of the law school environment and law students’ propensities to compare themselves to their peers make law students particularly susceptible to intensified perfectionist tendencies. These tendencies can have significant negative consequences that affect academic performance:

  • Lower productivity: The quest for perfection makes every task seem more daunting and time intensive. The average law student spends in excess of 50 hours per week completing law-school related tasks. Students who have difficulty transitioning from one task to the next until a task is “perfect” will likely remain stalled. For instance, the desire to complete the “perfect” course outline may occupy so much of a student’s time that the student is left with little, if any, time left to complete a critical mass of practice exam questions.
  • Procrastination: Much like Forrest Gump and Jenny, perfectionism and procrastination go together like peas and carrots. Exceptionally high standards can be difficult (perhaps even impossible) to meet which leaves students feeling so overwhelmed that they defer completing tasks.
  • Reduced confidence: Perfectionism is a confidence killer. We are imperfect beings who make mistakes. Law students are imperfect human beings who are developing their skills. Mistakes will happen—as will growth. For perfectionist law students, making a mistake or receiving feedback that they need to further develop a skill can crush their self-esteem and confidence. It may keep them from trying new things or speaking up in class for fear that they won’t be perfect. Students may also base their self-worth on their academic achievements and see instances of perceived failure not as opportunities for growth but, instead, as evidence that they are a failure.
  • Lethargy & Anxiety: The quest for perfection is exhausting! The vicious cycle of setting impossibly high standards, trying to meet them, feeling overwhelmed and procrastinating, not meeting those standards, and then trying to manage anxiety while dusting oneself off to try all over again is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining.

Fortunately, there are several helpful strategies for managing perfectionist tendencies. Here are some suggestions:

  • Be kind to yourself. Rather than being your greatest critic, try being your greatest coach or ally. Record those negative thoughts and then reframe them in a kinder, more compassionate way. Replace negative thoughts and damaging self-talk with words of encouragement.
  • Cultivate your authenticity. Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. We are all made of strength and struggle. You, imperfections and all, are enough. In fact, those imperfections are what make you uniquely and authentically you.
  • Adopt a growth mindset. Your strengths and skills are not set in stone. You are a work in progress.  Use feedback to improve your skills and identify the lessons to be learned from perceived setbacks. Focus on being YOUR best.
  • Note triggers for and manifestations of your perfectionist tendencies and plan for how to manage those situations.
  • Break larger projects into more discrete tasks to better manage your workload and stress.
  • Set reasonable time limits for completing tasks and do your best to stick to those limits. Once that time is up, move on to the next task.
  • Remember that the law is messy. Facts do not always align neatly with case law. Case law is not always clear. There often is no one “right” or “perfect” answer.

Managing perfectionist tendencies requires intentionality and practice. And, as we all know, practice makes progress.

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)


Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection 49–76 (2010).

Jordana Alter Confino, Reining in Perfectionism, ABA Law Practice Today, Jan. 14, 2019,

Keriann Stout, How Perfectionism Hurts Law Students, Above The Law, Feb. 26, 2018,

September 14, 2020 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2020

Assistant Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at Stetson

Stetson University College of Law seeks to hire an Assistant Director for Academic Success & Bar Preparation Services.

The Assistant Director participates in the development and implementation of a comprehensive program that partners with students and alumni from admission through bar passage. The Assistant Director is primarily responsible for academic counseling, planning and presenting academic skills workshops, and coaching alumni who are studying for the bar exam. For a complete job description, please visit:

Founded in 1900 as Florida’s first law school, Stetson University College of Law has educated
outstanding lawyers, judges and other leaders for more than 100 years. Stetson is ranked #1 in trial
advocacy and #3 in legal writing by U.S. News & World Report. In 1954, the College moved from Stetson’s main campus in DeLand to Gulfport, nestled in the Tampa Bay region, one of the eighteenth largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The College of Law opened a satellite campus in downtown Tampa in 2004. Stetson is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1931. Stetson College of Law is internationally known for its programs in Advocacy, Legal Writing, Elder Law, Environmental Law, and Higher Education Law. We encourage interested applicants to visit our website at to learn more about Stetson, our community, and our programs. The law school is a part of Stetson University, with a College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration, and School of Music in DeLand.

STARTING DATE: November 1, 2020

Please visit to apply online and submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and contact information for your professional references.
The Stetson University community is dedicated to being one of inclusive excellence, where
people from all backgrounds can live, learn, work and contribute.

Stetson University is an Equal Opportunity Employer that affirms cultural diversity and inclusion as a core value of academic excellence at Stetson University. We are committed to achieving equal access in education, employment, and participation through the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty, staff, and students from diverse backgrounds, and to meaningful academic and intellectual transformation in curriculum, research and service. We are dedicated to actions and policies that foster a community in which individuals with various identities, cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints work together to create opportunities for engagement through rewarding and fulfilling careers and personal experiences in a culturally and racially diverse society and a globalized world. We strongly encourage members of historically under-represented and economically disadvantaged groups and women to apply for employment. Stetson University is an EEO, ADA, ADEA, and GINA employer.

September 11, 2020 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Six Steps to Creating Personal Study Tools to Enhance Learning

First Year Law Students: 

It's not too early (or too late) to start creating your own personal handy-dandy study tools.  

But, you ask, how?  

Well, here's a suggestion for creating your study tools from scratch in just 6 easy steps!

But first, let's lay the groundwork.  

Why should you create a study tool especially with so many other tasks at hand that demand your attention in law school?  

There are at least two reasons.

First, the process of creating your own study tool creates a sort of "mental harness" for your thoughts.  It serves to bring you back to the big picture of what you have been studying the past few weeks or so.  And, that's important because your final exams are going to ask you to ponder through and problem-solve hypothetical legal problems based on the readings, conversations, and your own post-class thoughts that you can bring to bear on the subject.

Second, the process of creating your own study tool develops your abilities to synthesize, analogize, and solve problems….skills that YOU will be demonstrating on your final exams (and in your future practice of law too).  In essence, your study tools are an organized collection of pre-written, organized answers in preparation for tackling the hypothetical problems that your professor might ask on your final exam.

So, let's set out the 6 steps:

1.  Grab Your Personal Study Tool Kit Support Team!  

That means surrounding yourself with your casebook, your class syllabus, and your class notes.  They are your "team members" to work with you to help you create your own personal study tool.  Here's a tip:  Pay particular attention to the topics in the table of contents and your syllabus.  The casebook authors and your professors are giving you an organizational tool that you can use to build your own study tool.  And, in a pinch, which I have often found myself in, I make a copy of the table of contents, blow it up a bit, and then annotate it with the steps below.  Voila!

2.  Create the Big Picture Skeleton for Your Study Tool!  

That's right.  It might look like a skeleton.  Not pretty at all.  That's okay.  Remember, it's in the process of creating your study tool that leads to learning.  So, relax and enjoy the mess.  My outlines were always, well, miserable, at least from the point of view of others.  But, because I created them, they were just perfect for my own personal use.  Here's a tip:  Use the table of contents and class syllabus to insert the big picture topics and sub-topics into your study tool.

3.  Insert the Rules!  

Be bold.  Be daring. Be adventuresome.  If you see something that looks like a rule, whether from a statute or from a common law principle, for example, such as "all contracts require an offer, acceptance, and consideration," just put it into your study tool.  Bravo!

4.  Break-up the Rules into Elements (i.e., Sections).  

Most rules have multiple-parts.  So, for example, using the rule stated above for the three requirements to create a contract, there are three (3) requirements!  (1) Offer; (2) Acceptance; and, (3) Consideration.  Over the course of the term, you will have read plenty of cases about each of those three requirements, so give the requirements "breathing room" by giving each requirement its own "holding" place in your study tool or outlines.

5.  Insert Case Blurbs, Hypos, and Public Policy Reasons!  

Within each section for a legal element or requirement, make a brief insertion of the cases, then next the hypothetical problems that were posed in your classes, and finally, any public policy reasons that might support (or defeat) the purpose of the legal element or requirement.  Here's a tip:  A "case blurb" is just that…a quick blurb containing a brief phrase about the material facts (to help you recall the case) and a short sentence or two that summarizes that holding (decision) of the court and it's rationale or motive in reaching that decision.  Try to use the word "because" in your case blurb…because….that forces you to get to the heart of the principle behind that particular case that you are inserting into your study tool.

6.  Take Your Study Tool for a Test Flight!  

Yes, you might crash. In fact, if you are like me, you will crash!  But, just grab hold of some old hypothetical problems or final exam questions and - this is important - see if you can outline and write out a sample answer using your study tool.  Then, just refine your study tool based on what your learned by using your study tool to test fly another old practice exam question or two.  Not sure where to find practice problems?  Well, first check with your professor and library for copies of old final exams.  Second, check out this site containing old bar exam questions organized by subject matter:

Finally, let me make set the record straight.  You don't have to make an outline as your study tool.  Rather, your study tool can be an outline…or a flowchart…or a set of flashcards.  And there's more great news.  There are no perfect study tools, so feel free to experiment.  Indeed, what's important is that it is YOUR study tool that YOU built from YOUR own handiwork.  So feel free to let your artistic creative side flow as you make your study tools.

(Scott Johns)




September 10, 2020 in Advice, Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

I Have No Words

If you are a “July 2020” Bar taker I have no words. I put July in quotes, because I’m not even sure how to refer to this Bar Exam Administration.

I have no words for what you are going through. The constant uncertainty and constant changes. The constant anxiety.

I have no words for how exhausted you must be. Some of you have been studying almost 6 months. If you took bar prep courses in your final semester, maybe even longer. Also, on behalf of all bar prep professors, I apologize. I always encourage my students, especially the students who are also working full time or have other non traditional circumstances, to start early. Easier to start early and then take breaks, than to start late and not have the time to take breaks. But I didn’t forsee this. Even when I knew the bar would be delayed until September, I encouraged students to start early. Again, better to be better prepared and then study less each day, or take days off, than run out of time. But the burnout is now real, and I have no words.

I have no words for the stress you are under. Not just from studying, but we are all stressed. We are going through a pandemic, and that adds so much uncertainty and anxiety to all of our lives. But for you, it adds even more. The regular stress of bar studies, as well as uncertainty of when you’ll be able to practice, and find a job. The extra anxiety of not knowing exactly what this administration will look like.

I have no words for any of it.

Usually when students ask me for advice, I am confident I have at least some small bit of sage wisdom to impart. I’ve been prepping students for the Bar Exam for over a decade, almost 14 years. In fact, this Bar, whatever it is, will be the 27th Bar Exam in which I’ve helped students prepare in some capacity. But it’s the first time I have no words.

Sure, I can still give you advice on how to memorize rules. (Hint – do it in small bits of time, 5 minutes, not an hour. Another hint – try to remember concepts, not verbatim words) I can still give you advice on the Bar Exam itself, like spend more time practicing than trying to memorize every last rule.

But this Bar Exam is different. The format is different. The anxiety is different.  

And I can’t give advice on how to get through this. On how to stay motivated. On how to not cry. On how to keep going when so much is uncertain.  

So many of you also have other aspects of your life causing you anxiety. I’m asked how to prioritize the Bar Exam when you are worried about finances, or a loved one’s health, or taking care of a child. I don’t know. I just don’t have the words.

But know that I see you, and while I can’t fully understand what you’re going through, I do know you are going through much more than you should. And while I have no words, and have no advice that has been tried and true, I can offer some thoughts:

  • Be kind to yourself. More than usual. I always tell my students this. I try to stress that failure is part of learning, and that you know more than you think you do. But it’s more important than ever to truly remember that.
  • Take time for self care. The burn out IS real, and you need to take breaks. And take care of yourself, whatever that means for you.
  • The Bar Exam does not define you. If you fail this Bar Exam, or decide not to take this administration, neither of those things define you, or the type of attorney you will be.

Above all else, do what is best for you in these circumstances, and don’t let anyone else judge. I know I can also speak on behalf of all Academic Support Professionals when I say we are thinking of you constantly, and wishing we had the words.

(Melissa Hale)

September 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Social Distance Learning

Back in the day (2019 and earlier), the first few weeks of law school was a time of intense bonding among classmates.  Shared feelings of excitement, tinged with fear of embarrassment and workload-motivated shock, served to turn strangers into friends in a matter of days.  These friendships would last throughout law school and beyond, and to good effect: Students would always have at least a couple friends in each course from whom they could borrow notes if they missed class due to illness.  Friends, and, okay, sometimes mere acquaintances, would form study groups to share and test ideas.  Soon, 2L and 3L students would introduce themselves, visiting classes or tabling in the hallways for various organizations, broadening the new students' networks of connections to include those with similar interests or backgrounds.  After law school, these connected students would be connected lawyers, and would do what lawyers do in the real world: provide referrals, share expertise, give moral support.  Part of learning to be a lawyer is learning to be part of a legal community.

This year, to varying degrees across the country, the first few weeks of law school have a different texture.  In my school, as in many others, only a portion of classes are being conducted live, in a classroom, and those usually the smaller classes.  Larger classes are being conducted online, where commiseration over an awkward cold-call response is much more difficult, and where, with no one sitting next to you, idle introductory chit-chat is almost as hard.  Representatives from student organizations will probably still visit Zoom classes to introduce themselves and their groups, but with mostly empty hallways, opportunities for getting to know new students in conversation will be less frequent.  

In short: it is going to be harder, and in some ways less natural, to make the kinds and numbers of connections that twelve months ago we all would have taken for granted.  If you have lecture classes that are entirely online, or even asynchronous, it would be all to easy to think of those classes as a kind of enhanced television program, something that grabs your attention but does not feature you in the cast.  Resist this temptation!  Instead, make developing your social network one of your goals this semester: 

  • Join and participate in GroupMe and Facebook groups when invited, or form them yourself. 
  • Speak up in class, whether orally or in the chat box, and when possible, respond directly to classmates whose views interest you. 
  • Ask your professors or student life directors to help connect people interested in forming study groups. 
  • Seek out and contact the leaders of student organizations that interest you. 
  • Visit your professor's office hours -- real or virtual -- and chat with the other students who attend.  
  • When you find other classmates who share something in common with you -- an alma mater, a hometown, a hobby, etc. -- use that as a reason to approach them and perhaps get to know them better.

Although all this will take some additional effort, at a time in which you may already feel you are working harder than you have ever done before, that effort is an excellent investment.  Later in the semester, as you start preparing for final exams, you will find the community you have made will make your work easier.  Your law school experience will be enriched by the support, perspective, and opportunities provided by your network.  And that network, and the skills you will develop in forming relationships within the legal community even under trying circumstances, will benefit you throughout your career.

[Bill MacDonald]

September 8, 2020 in Advice, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 6, 2020

MBE National Mean Up Significantly. Should it Be?

The NCBE released the national MBE mean score for the jurisdictions that administered a bar exam in July.  The mean was 146.1, which is a 5 point increase over last year's 141.1.  I was surprised at that large of an increase based on previous announcements by the NCBE.

Erica Moeser, previous president of the NCBE, stated in 2014 that the bar examinees were “less able” and that is why nationwide MBE mean scores plummeted.  She attributed the results to schools going deeper into the applicant pool because applications were down.  She referred to entering credentials as one of the indicators.  If she is correct, then this result doesn't make much sense.  There was a decrease in 2017 law school applicants, which presumably make up the majority of the 2020 July takers, with a LSAT score of 160 and above.  From 2014-2017, the number of high LSATs (160 and above) seem to decrease every year except for 2016.  The continued decline should have seen a coinciding decline in MBE scores from 2017-2020.  However, the July mean MBE score increased every year from 2018-2020.  The previous LSAT explanation doesn't seem to coincide with the results.

The result goes beyond not following their explanation.  146.1 is the highest July mean MBE score that I can find since before 2005.  The LSAT profiles do not follow that same pattern.  The 2017 entering class is not the most credential entering class in the 2000s.  I know my students worked hard this summer, and Mike Sim's recent quotes indicate students across the country worked hard.  The good news is this is evidence students can work hard to overcome lower entering credentials.  However, the NCBE should at least attempt to answer how their previous explanation is incompatible with the drastic (potentially historic) increase this year.

To the students who endured bar prep and the exam, great job.  Your effort and resilience is remarkable.  Effort and resilience is a great foundation to build a legal career on.

(Steven Foster)

September 6, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

5 Types of Legal Reasoning and Argument

Scott Fruehwald recently released a book to help law students "think like a lawyer".  A colleague of mine immediately got a copy and read it during a road trip in August.  She loved it and highly recommended it.  He posted a brief summary of legal reasoning on the legal skills blog in August if you want a preview of some of his thoughts.  You can read the post here.

I plan to read the book to see if it is a book to add to our collection.  I am always looking for new ways to reach students who need a little more help.

(Steven Foster)

September 5, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 4, 2020

AALS Section Seeking Panelists

AALS Section on Real Estate Transactions and Section on Academic Support

The Changing Architecture of Legal Education: 

Real Estate Transactions as a Case Study

Seeking Panelists:

What real property law courses should law schools be teaching?

Who should be teaching these courses?

How should the courses be taught?

The Section on Real Estate Transactions and the Section on Academic Support seek to explore these questions and related issues at their joint online session during the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting, The Changing Architecture of Approaches to Legal Education: Real Estate Transactions as a Case Study.

Members of the legal academic community are invited to submit statements of interest in joining the panel of presenters who will discuss the following in the context of real property law and related courses (mortgage finance, securitization, commercial leasing, housing law, real estate development, etc.):

  • Law schools’ curricular choices
  • Course content and design
  • Teaching and pedagogy application.

As explained more in the “Background” section below, the Sections are specifically looking to highlight issues related to course offerings, curricular design, and teaching methodologies that can better prepare students for modern practice and ensure student achievement of course objectives. Statements of interest (including a description/summary of your proposed presentation) should be emailed to Andrea Boyack at [email protected] by September 17, 2020.

There is no formal paper requirement associated with participation on the panel. 

**Note that the AALS Annual Meeting in January 2021 will be held in a completely digital format, and individual registration fees will not be charged for participation in/attendance at the Annual Meeting.**

Background/Program Overview: 

In the past decade, legal education has experienced a number of body blows from which it still struggles to recover. In 2007, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (more commonly known as the “Carnegie Report”) criticized the academy for insufficiently preparing students for legal practice. In the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis and global recession, many attorneys (especially from Big Law) were laid off and new graduates faced fewer and fewer job prospects. Mainstream and social media spotlighted lawyer and law student discontent, worries about sustainability of legal careers and the high cost of legal education, schools skewing data to try to game US News rankings, and the growing number of for-profit institutions. Law firms and their clients started exhibiting an increasing hesitancy with respect to hiring and training inexperienced attorneys. Law school admission rates tumbled as college graduates changed their opinions about the value of a legal education, as the ABA began making new demands of law schools pertaining to skills training and assessments. The practice of law, in the meantime, has changed dramatically, with automation, internet resources, and contract attorneys (or non-attorneys) taking the place performing tasks lawyers once controlled. Furthermore, schools have struggled to adapt to different expectations of the Millennial and Gen-Z generations of law students. Then, in March 2020, legal academia and law practice suddenly shifted to operating (temporarily?), primarily in the digital/virtual realm. The world has changed over the past 15 years, the practice of law has changed, and law schools struggle to adapt quickly enough to stay relevant and valuable.

The evolving demands and expectations for law schools are not just issues to be addressed by deans and administrators. Nor can the task of preparing new lawyers be allocated exclusively to clinicians and adjunct instructors of specialized “skills” classes. Doctrinal professors may want to also change their approach in the classroom in response to new industry demands for practice competencies and evolving attorney roles in an ever-changing marketplace, but have our pedagogical approaches adequately adapted to this new world? And how has law schools’ increasing reliance on adjunct professors impacted the students’ experience and preparation for the bar and beyond? In short: In what ways do we need to rethink what we teach and how we teach it in order to remain optimally relevant to tomorrow’s lawyers.


Per AALS rules, faculty at fee-paid law schools, foreign faculty, adjunct and visiting faculty (without a full-time position at an AALS member law school), graduate students, fellows, and non-law school faculty are not eligible to submit a statement of interest.

September 4, 2020 in Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

WCCASP Call for Proposals

WCCASP Call for Proposals

September 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professional - 9th Annual Virtual Conference

Registration is Open

Registration is now open! AccessLex has offered to sponsor the conference so that we can keep with the tradition of not charging a registration fee.

Please see the attached and use the Eventbrite link below to register.

Because this is a virtual conference and we will have to mail out materials, we hope to get an accurate headcount of those who will be active participants in the conference. If you could please register by September 25, that would be most helpful.

The C.E.A.L. Division here at Gonzaga University School of Law is very excited to host this conference! We look forward to you joining us!


michele h berger
Interim Director of Academic Support and Bar Programming
School of Law


PHONE (509) 313-5186

September 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Time Is Out of Joint

A sharp sense of time has always been a key attribute of successful modern law students and lawyers.  Awareness of deadlines, efficient time management, careful accounting of time spent -- all of these contribute to law school performance, and are usually part of a practicing lawyer's quotidian world of minimum billable hours and filing periods.  

How unsettling, then, that many of our incoming, current, and recent students find themselves adrift in the time stream.  New 1L students in many jurisdictions, starting their legal educations under conditions that have limited orientation activities and warped customary fall semester schedules, are not falling as easily into the clockwork demands of law school as other students have every year before them.  Second- and third-year students have already been through six months of time-shifted classes and unwinding employment and internship opportunities, and are beginning a new school year very different from what they had experienced before.  And around the country, many recent graduates (such as mine) have grown simultaneously complacent and anxious as their planned bar examinations have been postponed multiple times.  Many students and graduates appear to take this all in stride, but it seems a significant number are manifestly affected -- falling behind on long-term projects, working with a diminishing sense of urgency or an inflated sense of panic, or having difficulty juggling responsibilities.

It feels as if the unexpected loss of schedules and signposts that so many took for granted has left some people unmoored, warping their senses of time in the same way that isolation and darkness affects cave explorers.  In 1993, for example, sociologist Maurizio Montalbini spent a full year alone in an underground cavern, but because the solitude and lack of natural light had stretched his sense of time, he believed that only a little more than 200 days had passed.  

Human beings need cues to help keep our sense of time on track.  In a new situation, or one that has changed drastically, we may not perceive sufficient cues to keep us oriented, and we may not even be aware that we are slipping.  We can help our students and recent graduates maintain their crucial awareness of the time they have -- and of the time they need to achieve their goals -- by providing supplemental cues.  Introducing students to their professors' expectations over the course of the (in some cases altered) new semester, and touching base with reminders of upcoming opportunities and deadlines, may help anchor them when classes are asynchronous and gatherings are infrequent.  Weekly emails, frequent online group meetings, and providing and reviewing supplementary materials can help bar examinees feel less disconnected and more engaged in this interminable bar study period.  And frequent communication with our colleagues in other departments and schools -- learning their plans for the semester, sharing ideas and insights, and organizing joint efforts -- can help us retain our own sharp senses of time -- especially important if we are going to serve as the touchstones to others.

[Bill MacDonald]

September 1, 2020 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)