Friday, October 30, 2020

Additional Research from AccessLex on Bar Exam

AccessLex released additional research on the California bar exam this week.  The additional study analyzed California's Supervised Provisional License Program.  Here is the information for the report:

A Five-Year Retroactive Analysis of Cut Score Impact: California’s Proposed Supervised Provisional License Program

Over the last 6 months, we witnessed ASPers along with other faculty members publish numerous pieces on the bar exam.  I am encouraged that we are actively engaging the community to build a better test.  I hope we continue to advocate for our students until the test reflects an appropriate assessment of competence.

(Steven Foster)

October 30, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Building a Better Bar

Hat tip to Prof. Natalie Rodriguez!  

Speaking of hope, here's a new article entitled "Building a Better Bar: The Twelve Building Blocks of Minimum Competency."    The prelude argues that bar exams should be open book, using written problems only (no multiple-choice questions), set in practice settings, with more time for responding to questions.

October 29, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hope in the Mist of Troubles and Despairs

According to a quote in a recent article, psychology professor Anthony Scioli says that we "...can think of hope as a PPE - a Personal Protective Emotion." E. Bernstein, Finding Hope When Everything Feels Hopeless, WJS, p. A12 (Oct. 28, 2020).    I'm no psychologist but I think there's more to hope than just the personal.  I think hope might be a necessary bridge for building better law school communities, empowering better learning, and creating better relationships.  But there's more to hope than meets the eye.

Unlike optimism, "...which is the belief that the future will work out no matter what you do," hope is something that we have to work on and wrestle with.  Id.  According to columnist Elizabeth Bernstein, hope "...has two crucial components.  Agency, or the motivation, to achieve the desired goal.  And a strategy, or pathway, to do that."  Id.  In other words, hope is optimism enacted to help secure what isn't yet certain about our future.  Again, hope requires (1) agency and (2) planning.  Let's look a bit closer at the "hope components."  

First, agency...  

As Elizabeth Bernstein summarizes, agency has to do with motivation, which has the root word motion in it.  It involves not just the will but the ability to move forward towards one's goals, to act on one's plans, to accomplish something each and every day that leads to growth, not just for us but for others too.  That suggests our law school communities should be closely scrutinizing whether we are extending agency to our students, equipping them and empowering them to learn and to grow.  In short, agency requires more than just external or internal motivation.  It requires us to work to make sure that our students have the resources, the counsel, and the instruction to act on their own behalves in achieving their learning goals.

Second, planning...  

According to Elizabeth Bernstein, planning has to do with developing a strategy to achieve future goals.  Id.  Notice, then, that planning is strategic.  It's meant to lead us forward, like a map that leads us step-by-step to a destination by previewing the route for our travels.  That suggests that law school communities might be focused too much on the substance of the law while neglecting to guide our students in how to learn the law, how to work with the law, and how to experience the law, to the detriment of a sizable pool of our law school communities.  Indeed, I often wonder about the lack of sizable assessments and training in learning across the law school curriculum and throughout the entirety of the law school experience.  It's as though we are asking students to perform a play (on final exams) without ever giving them the opportunity to learn their lines, to experience stage fright, and to develop expertise as learners.

I close with this thought from Ms. Bernstein's article:  "Every word we speak or write matters." (quoting Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust).  Id.  

Those words touched me because they reminded me that what we say as educational leaders to others (and to ourselves in self-talk) either leads to growth and life in our students or to struggles and hopelessness.  I like to think of the academic support community as more than a community of optimism but a community that brings hope, realistic hope, helping the dreams of our students become the realities of their futures. I don't think that's being too hopeful at all!  (Scott Johns).





October 29, 2020 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Call for SALT Award Nominations - Due November 13th

Call for Award Nominations

All nominations are due by November 13, 2020.

The Society of American Law Teachers invites members to nominate individuals or groups for the Great Teacher Award, the M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award, and the Junior Faculty Teaching Award. SALT will honor the awardees and celebrate our community at the virtual annual event, date still to be determined. Please take a moment to recognize members of academia and the community for their exceptional and meaningful contributions to social justice, human rights, equality, and a better world. 
The successful nominees must be available to receive the award virtually at SALT’s celebration. You must be a current member of SALT to make a nomination. To check the status of your membership, email [email protected].
M. Shanara Gilbert Award 

The M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award recognizes the contributions of individuals or groups who are tireless advocates for social justice, human rights, equality, and justice. The award is named after a CUNY Law School professor who dedicated her life to these principals and worked for social justice domestically and internationally. In her memory, SALT honors those who believe in fighting for a better world. The M. Shanara Gilbert Award is not awarded annually and is only bestowed when an exceptional individual, people, group or organization make significant contributions that warrant recognition from our community.

Past M. Shanara Gilbert Honorees: Azadeh N. Shashahani, the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at MSU Law, Jim Silk, Zahra Billoo, Sherrilyn Ifill, Hope Lewiz, Florence Roisman, Norris Henderson, Prison Law Office, Rhonda Copelon, Jennifer Harbury and Sister Dianna Ortiz, Joshua Rosenkranz, David Cole and Center for Constitutional Rights, Eva Patterson, Congressman John Lewis, Steven Bright and Bryan Stevenson, Honorable Barney Frank, Dr. Jesse N. Stone, Jr., and M. Shanara Gilbert

Great Teacher Award  

The SALT Great Teacher Award recognizes individuals that have made important contributions to teaching, legal education, and mentoring. The most important criteria are demonstrated 1) excellence in teaching and 2) commitment to advancing social justice and equality. 

Past Great Teacher Honorees: Jean C. Love, Lisa Brodoff, Frank Askin, Susan Bryant and Jean Koh Peters, Martha Mahoney, Holly Maguigan, Margaret Montoya, Keith Aoki, Phoebe Haddon, Francisco Valdés, Steve Wizner, Fran Ansley, Stephanie Wildman, Eric Yamamoto, Howard Glickstein, Bill Quigley, Charles Lawrence & Mari Matsuda, SALT Founders, Sylvia Law, Marjorie M. Schultz, Anthony Amsterdam, Jim Jones, W. Hayward Burns, Barbara Aldave, Trina Grillo, Norman Dorsen, Cruz Reynoso, Mary Jo Frug, Marilyn Yarborough, Rhonda Rivera, University of Wisconsin Law School, Howard Lesnick, Barbara Babcock, Clinton Bamberger, CUNY Law School, Derrick Bell, Herma Hill Kay, Charles Black, Arthur Leff, Harry Edwards, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rennard Strickland, Thomas Emerson, Charles Miller, David Cavers.

Junior Faculty Award

The SALT Junior Faculty Award recognizes an outstanding recent entrant (seven years or fewer) into legal education who demonstrates a commitment to justice, equality, and academic excellence through their teaching, scholarship, and/or social justice advocacy. This award is designed to honor all faculty, including clinical, legal research and writing, librarian, and doctrinal teachers, as well as contract, tenure-track, and tenured faculty.

The Junior Faculty Award honors a faculty member who actively demonstrates a commitment to and alignment with SALT’s mission through teaching, scholarship, mentorship, and/or advocacy. For this award:

  • Excellence in Teaching is defined as the incorporation of social justice themes in the classroom and innovative curricular design in order to incorporate diversity and access to justice.
  • Excellence in Scholarship is defined as the incorporation of social justice and equality themes in scholarship.
  • Excellence in Advocacy is defined as efforts to increase access to and inclusion in legal education to marginalized students and first generation students; service to under-served and marginalized populations through direct advocacy or representation; and/or efforts to support individuals, nonprofits, communities, and/or movements that further justice and equality. 
  • Mentorship to others includes engagement with students and faculty members, in social justice pedagogy, scholarship, career preparation, or advocacy.

The award committee will also consider the following factors in its decision-making process:

  • Whether the nominee identifies as someone from a historically marginalized group;
  • Whether the nominee’s home law school has provided tangible and/or intangible support to the nominee’s efforts;
  • Whether the nominee has already received substantial recognition for their efforts (nominees who have not already received substantial recognition will be considered highly); and
  • The extent to which the nominee’s teaching area of focus aligns with social justice (nominees who focus on social justice but whose work does not clearly align with social justice will be considered highly).

Nomination Instructions

Nominations for the M. Shanara Gilbert Award and Great Teacher Award must be submitted to [email protected], subject line Gilbert Award Nominee or Great Teacher Award Nominee, by November 13, 2020 and include:

  • Name of the person or organization being nominated
  • Name of the nominator
  • Nominator and nominee SALT membership status
  • Statement in support of the nomination (2 page maximum). The statement should explain why the person or organization deserves the award, including how their work contributes to the mission of SALT.

Nominations for the Junior Faculty Award are also due November 13, 2020. Please complete the information listed on this online nomination form and email the nomination to [email protected]

October 28, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Monster Mashup

This is a scary time of year – a time of growing cold and darkness.  The terror of the unknown, of loss and calamity.  The young ones, they don masks – smiles or stoic glares – to hide their fear. They binge on the distracting delight of sweets.  But the elders know.  It is the time of the season.  Days are shorter.  Workloads are increasing.  Midterm grades are coming in.  Soon it will be winter, and with winter come final exams.  Minds once lit and warmed by the excitement of a new school year are feeling fatigued and worn, craving respite, giving in to torpor. And the sleep of reason breeds monsters:

Witches:  Dazzled by the apparent power of the esoteric words wielded by the great jurists of the past, these students become convinced that the path to glory is paved with sorcerous phrases.  They fill notebook after notebook, or thumb drive after thumb drive, with quotations of passages from lectures and cases and textbooks, daring not to cut a single word, sparing not the time for reflection or comprehension, merely hoping that they when they need it most, they will choose the right magic portion to make their professors fall in love with their essays. 

Ghosts:  These poor souls are caught between worlds and have not found a way to move on.  In a former life, they were happy and successful.  Maybe this one was a college student, coasting through noteless classes on innate brilliance and heady all-nighters.  Maybe that one had prospered at work, a wizard with people and systems but never paying too much attention to the written word.  Perhaps another one came from a truly different world – another country, another culture, another field of study – where things just work differently.  We must all pass through the veil of law school admission and climb the stairway to replevin, but a few of us are held back, tethered to our pasts.

Werewolves:  The most unexpected of all monsters, these accursed brutes look and act like happy-go-lucky, indifferent law students . . . most of the time.  But every month or so, as the glare of an impending exam or deadline grows increasingly full, they undergo an uncontrollable metamorphosis!  Their mild-mannered calm deserts them, and they howl like beasts as they despair over the seemingly impossible task before them.  Raving overnight in the darkness, they may teeter on incomprehensibility until the magic hour finally passes, and, exhausted, they tumble into bed – awakening the next day with no apparent memory of the horror they are thus doomed to repeat.

Zombies:  Once ordinary scholars, these creatures have been blighted (some say through contact with other zombies) and are now driven by a single impulse: BRAAAAAAINS!  MUST HAVE BRAAAAAINS!  Their every conscious (term used loosely) moment is devoted to consuming books, lectures, outlines, practice tests, flash cards, supplements, mnemonics, YouTube videos, omega-3 fatty acids, and biographies of Supreme Court Justices.  And they will pick at their professors’ brains if they can.  They have little time for other sustenance and none for camaraderie. 

Vampires:  The wampyr is a tragic being, at once part of the human world and cleaved from it.  Rarely seen in daylight, it hides in the dark corners of the classroom, feeding off the thoughts and words of others, but fading, like a mist, when its own opinions are sought.  The vampire does not project an image, so it can be seen neither in mirror nor in Zoom class.  What keeps it from the fellowship of humanity?  Is it anxiety?  Indifference?  Misunderstanding?  Perhaps this spirit feels that it is the one who is misunderstood.

Yes, this is the moment to meet the mysterious menagerie!  And you might fear, as Ichabod Crane discovered, that a teacher is no match for a spectral fiend.  But remember, every monster is merely a suffering human.  We do what we can to restore them.  We teach the witches that the power they seek is not in the words, but in what they can learn to make with them.  We show the ghosts how to take the best parts of their old lives with them as they rise to face their new ones.  We help the werewolves release themselves from their curse by breaking the waxing and waning cycle of rising anxiety and falling productivity, through the mystical art of tempus administratione.  We demonstrate to the zombies the benefits of a more balanced diet, one enhanced with practical experience, meaningful relationships, proper recreation, and appropriate amounts of fiber.  We reach out to the vampire, drawing it into the light, the better to see what is keeping it at bay and to see to what degree they bring an affliction to school, and to what degree the school imposes an affliction on them. 

Happy Hallowe’en to all!

“There is no situation in life but has its advantages and pleasures--provided we will but take a joke as we find it.” – Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

[Bill MacDonald]

October 27, 2020 in Advice, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Tenure Track ASP Position at UNT Dallas College of Law


Position Details

UNT System Overview

Welcome to the University of North Texas System, or UNT World as we like to call ourselves. UNT World includes the University of North Texas in Denton, the University of North Texas at Dallas and the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. We are the only university system based exclusively in the robust Dallas-Fort Worth region and we are committed to transforming lives and creating economic opportunity through education. Over the past decade, combined UNTS enrollment has grown by more than 25 percent to nearly 44,000 students.

Classification Title Associate Dean
Department DAL-CoL Dean's Off-517000
Job Location Downtown Dallas
Department Summary

The UNT Dallas College of Law welcomes applications for a full time, senior administrator, with significant experience in academic success and bar readiness in legal education, with the ability to oversee the operations of a law school academic success and bar readiness department.

Salary Information Salary commensurate with experience
Position Summary

A full time, senior administrator, with significant experience in academic success and bar readiness in legal education, with the ability to oversee the operations of a law school academic success and bar readiness department. This administrator will also teach bar readiness courses, and substantive courses, depending on interest and needs of the College of Law, and hold faculty rank as a tenured or tenure-track Professor of Law. This administrator will serve as advisor to the Dean and to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in matters relating to student success and the Academic Success Bar Readiness Program.

Minimum Qualifications

• J.D. degree;
• At least 6 years’ experience in direct academic success work at the law school level;
• At least 3 years’ experience in programming or individual tutoring with respect to bar readiness;
• Record of excellence in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service that demonstrates eligibility for tenure;
• Demonstrated ability to make use of student learning data resulting from regular formative and summative assessments;
• Demonstrated expertise in creating, presenting, and monitoring academic departmental budget;
• Demonstrated expertise with respect to the adult learning process;
• Excellent academic and professional qualifications;
• Demonstrated ability to guide and mentor the professional development of staff, junior faculty, and students;
• Demonstrated ability to supervise faculty and staff;
• Commitment to the goals of the College of Law and its curricular and instructional model;
• Leadership experience and skills;
• A collaborative and inclusive leadership style
• Strong verbal and written communication skills;
• Ability to work under pressure, to adjust to constant changes, to handle multiple tasks and to coordinate the work of others;
• Ability to conceptualize, plan, and organize complex projects;
• Demonstrated ability to exercise good judgment
• Ability to exercise tact and discretion when handling sensitive and confidential matters;
• Knowledge of the operation and culture of law schools;
• Skills in developing and maintaining good working relationships;
• Ability to foster a culture that is professional, inclusive, collaborative, and positive;
• Strong analytical, interpersonal, communication and managerial skills;
• A capacity to work energetically and to maintain a cheerful spirit, even in the face of a demanding workload;
• Commitment to the goals of the College of Law and its curricular and instructional methods and goals.

Preferred Qualifications  
Required License / Registration / Certification  
Physical Requirements Carrying, Lifting up to 10 pounds, Pushing, Reaching, Sitting, Squatting, Stooping, Bending, Standing, Twisting, Walking, Writing, Grasp, Talk or Hear
Security Sensitive This is a security senstive position
EEO Statement

The University of North Texas System and its component institutions are committed to equal opportunity and comply with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. The University of North Texas System and its component institutions do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status in its application and admission processes, educational programs and activities, and employment practices.

Driving University Vehicle No
Full Time/Part Time Full-Time
Work Schedule

As required to meet the academic schedule.

Posting Number E028P
Special Instructions to Applicants  
Quicklink for Posting
Position End Date (if temporary)

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

Saturday, October 24, 2020

AALS Section on Academic Support Award

The Awards Committee for the AALS Section on Academic Support is soliciting nominations for our annual section award winner.  The AALS Section Award will be presented to an outstanding member of the ASP community at our section meeting at the virtual AALS Annual Meeting. Date for the virtual section meeting is TBD.  The committee members are: Jamie Kleppetsch (chair), Kris Franklin, Marsha Griggs, and Amy Vaughn-Thomas. Please review the eligibility and criteria information below and send nominations directly to Jamie, at [email protected]

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, October 30 at 5:00 p.m. CSTFor a nomination to be considered, it must include (at a minimum) a one to two paragraph explanation of why the nominee is deserving of the award.  Only AALS ASP Section members may make nominations, but all those within the ASP community may be nominated.  Membership in the section is free and can be processed by e-mailing a membership request to [email protected].

Eligibility and Criteria for Selection.  The eligible nominees for the award are individuals who have made significant and/or long-term contributions to the development of the field of law student academic support.  All legal educators, regardless of the nature or longevity of their appointment or position, who have at some point in their careers worked part-time or full-time in academic support are eligible for the award.  The award will be granted to recognize those who have made such contributions through any combination of the following activities: 

  • service to the profession and to professional institutions—e.g., advocacy with the NCBE or assumption of leadership roles in the ASP community;
  • support to and mentoring of ASP colleagues;
  • support to and mentoring of students;
  • promoting diversity in the profession and expanding access to the legal profession; and
  • developing ideas or innovations—whether disseminated through academic writing, newsletters, conference presentations, or over the listserv.

Law schools, institutions, or organizations cannot receive an award.  Prior year or current year Section officers are excluded from being selected as an award winner.

October 24, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 23, 2020


On Friday, October 16, Gonzaga University School of Law hosted the 9th Annual West Coast Consortium for Academic Support Professionals Conference. It was held it virtually. The theme for this year’s conference was ASP Past, Present, and Future: Breaking Down Institutional Barriers.

When I volunteered to host the conference last fall, I had no idea it would end up being such a highly attended conference! Generally, for the regional conferences, you only get regional ASP’ers with maybe one or two others from neighboring regions. Due to the virtual nature, we had a much higher attendance rate than we probably would have had otherwise. There were nearly 100 registrants to the conference, representing over 60 different law schools.

So, while Covid-19 prevented us from our usual in-person meetings, it pushed us into a virtual world in which a regional conference had a nationwide reach!

We had AMAZING presentations from ASP’ers across the country. The topics discussed included removing stigma from ASP classes, student engagement influence on their success, dismantling bar exam gatekeeping, remote learning generating more access to education, supporting first-gens, and team approaches to overcoming institutional barriers.

Our keynote speaker, Marsha Griggs from Washburn University School of Law, presented on where the community of ASP goes from here as we move into this new time in which we find ourselves. I want to share my two major take-aways from her presentation.

Marsha posed the question, “What if you applied every message you teach your students to your own professional choices?” It is not a complicated question, but it gave me pause. It forced me into a reflective space where I realized that I don’t do that. I am not certain I ever have as an educator.

I tell my students never to apologize for asking a clarifying question or needing to seek assistance when they come into my office. And yet, I apologize for things all the time as if it’s now a required part of speech. I apologized for seeking support when I realized how many attendees were joining us for the conference. Clearly, I need to take my own advice!

The second piece of advice I give my students that I haven’t always seamlessly followed is regarding self-advocacy. I am constantly telling my students they need to be good self-advocates, that developing and refining this skill will translate well in their future, for themselves and for their clients. I tell them that they cannot be shy about asking questions or asking for something they identify they need.

Reflecting on Marsha’s question, I thought about my own short-comings when it comes to self-advocacy. So, I propose that I start looking at it this way- when I advocate for myself at my institution, I’m also advocating for ASPer’s across the country. I’m advocating for any ASP person who comes to this institution after me. It is bigger than one person, and it’s important that we all share that responsibility so that we can continue to demand respect for our profession in the larger world of legal academia.

It’s critical that I continue in the way my predecessor did to advocate the importance of ASP to the leadership in the school. It’s critical to keep the momentum going and to continue moving ASP into the mainstream of the culture at our institutions. It’s critical to let leadership know that ASP’ers have valuable points of view to contribute to faculty meetings and curricular decisions.

So, I am making a commitment to myself and to our community to do better with stopping the auto-apologies for asking for help. I am committing to engage in more active self-advocacy and ASP/BP advocacy at my institution; to not be afraid to speak up and say what is necessary for this department to be viewed as just as integral to the legal education as clinical and legal writing; and to continue doing all that I can to keep pushing our programming forward so it’s as effective as it can be for our students!

I am confident in saying that this year’s conference was a success. I credit that success to our panel of speakers (Joni Wiredu, Marsha Griggs, Tiffane Cochran, Sara Berman, Yolanda Ingram, Christina Chong, Kinyon Devin, and Mary Purvis), our sponsor AccessLex, Lyssa Thaden at AccessLex, and Vicky Daniels at Gonzaga University School of Law. Thank you to all of you for your help and participation! And, of course, thank you, ASP’ers for the invigorating and uplifting conference! It was much needed! 

(Michele Berger)

October 23, 2020 in Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Lights, Camera, Action?

I'm terrible at following instructions.  We just got a handful of solar-powered lights, helpfully advertised as "some assembly required."  Well, I'm not a machinist.  But I wasn't about to admit that and then read the instructions.  So, I just laid all the parts across a table and started tinkering away.  I'll leave you in the "dark" about how it went.  But let me just say that there's a reason for instructions.

Which brings me back to this article, written by law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, providing step-by-step instructions (with photos too!) on how to build an "inexpensive" studio classroom with three cameras, some sort of push-button contraption to direct the filming, and even a low cost teleprompter for remembering your lines as you teach online.   G.H. Reynolds, Tired of Looking Boring (Sep 29, 2020).     Frankly, I was appalled about the cost - between $1700 and $1800.  But, it did seem to bring the action back to online teaching.  And, truth be told, I found the instructions for making an on-the-fly studio, well, instructional.

October 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Curricular Changes that Helped Lead to Bar Exam Successes

Here's a quick read describing the concrete steps and the rationale behind those steps that led to increases in bar exam success for one law school's graduates. But be forewarned. It didn't happen due to sudden magical moments as students prepared for their bar exams. Rather, as Professor O.J. Salinas documents, the remedy took shape as a community-wide effort right from the start of their students' legal educational experience as 1L students. O.J. Salinas, Improving Bar Exam Success: Curricular Changes at the University of North Carolina, The Bar Examiners (Summer 2019).


October 22, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2020

For Minority Law Students, Learning the Law Can Be Intellectually Violent

A colleague recently shared an ABA Journal article with me entitled: “For Minority Law Students, Learning the Law Can Be Intellectually Violent.”

In the article, Professor Shaun Ossei-Owusu discusses the deleterious effects that a race-neutral, all-sides-matters approach to teaching law can have on BIPOC students, particularly as they struggle to reconcile that approach with the “world’s racial realities.” Professor Ossei-Owusu offers BIPOC law students two coping strategies in the absence of a more race-conscious curriculum: compartmentalizing and engaging. As the nation continues to grapple with the most recent reckoning on racial injustice and the uncertainty of the future, including the future of race-related trainings, these issues—and the way they are addressed (or not addressed) in law school classrooms—matter and have implications for students’ well-being and academic performance.

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)

October 19, 2020 in Diversity Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Cut Scores Impact Racial Diversity of Profession without Protecting Public

The UBE is spreading through the country faster than any legal education reform in recent memory.  A few short years ago, multiple people with information on Oklahoma's decision making thought the UBE would never happen in Texas, and following their lead, Oklahoma would also be one of the last states to adopt it.  Oklahoma disavowed scaling just a few years ago, and then, Texas followed the UBE lemmings.  Once Texas joined the crowd, the Oklahoma Supreme Court created a committee to study adopting the UBE.  One major question for the committee was whether the UBE, through scaling, would impact diversity.  The court also wanted to know if certain cut scores would impact diversity.  At that time, no one had a great answer.  No study looked at both the bar's impact on diversity along with cut score implications.  For Oklahoma, any information was even more irrelevant because Oklahoma was one of only a few states not scaling essay scores to the MBE.  The court proceeded to adopt the UBE without much information on that issue.

At that moment, there was a complete lack of information on critical topics.  Thanks to AccessLex and a team of researchers, we now have a quality study on cut scores' impact on diversity.  AccessLex offers grants for research on legal education issues.  You can read numerous interesting articles on their grant page.  The most recent article on California bar exam cut score is especially interesting.

The article Examining the California Cut Score:  An Empirical Analysis of Minimum Competency, Public Protection, Disparate Impact, and National Standards considers the impact of California's cut sore on diversity while also asking whether cut scores really protect the public from incompetent or unethical lawyers.  The analysis is very interesting.  I encourage everyone to ready the study.  We are in a unique period for bar exam reform and UBE expansion.  We should definitely ask whether the bar accomplishes its intended goal of protecting the public, especially if the impact functionally prohibits diversity of the profession.

(Steven Foster)


October 18, 2020 in Bar Exams, Diversity Issues, Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Assistant Dean of Students at McGeorge School of Law

The University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law invites applications from candidates to serve as the law school’s next Assistant Dean of Students. We seek applications from exceptional candidates with a passion for serving students, and who are excited about being part of a collegial, student-oriented, committed community.  Pacific McGeorge is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or protected veteran status. The McGeorge faculty unanimously committed itself to undertake the work to transform itself into an anti-racist law school.  Thus, applicants who share that vision and particularly those who would enhance the racial and ethnic diversity of the community are strongly urged to apply. Interested persons may apply through the University of the Pacific portal at by November 1, 2020.

October 17, 2020 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 16, 2020

Call for Proposals for Detroit Mercy's Law Review Symposium

2021 Detroit Mercy Law Review Symposium

Pandemic: From Disparity to Equity

Call for Proposals

Deadline: October 31, 2020

The Detroit Mercy Law Review at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law invites proposals for its 105th annual symposium, which will be held March 5, 2021.  This year’s topic is Pandemic: From Disparity to Equity, focusing on disparities arising from the current COVID-19 pandemic and working from those toward an equitable new normal.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the role of law and regulation in light of the pandemic’s disparate impacts across race and class; the impact of pre-pandemic healthcare inequities in underserved communities; effects of the pandemic on education; managing prison release programs during pandemic; housing policy and eviction protections during and after pandemic; legal flexibility and fundamental rights within pandemic “hotspots”; and any other topic related to the law’s response to COVID-19’s effects across race and class.  Quality articles based on presentations made at the Symposium will be published in our annual Symposium edition.

Current plans call for the Symposium to take place entirely online.  In lieu of our usual reimbursement for travel expenses, presenters will be provided a $500 honorarium.

Submission Procedure 

The deadline for proposals has been extended to 5 p.m. EDT October 31, 2020. Proposals should be approximately 250–500 words, double-spaced, and must be submitted by e-mail to Marta Mazur, Symposium Director, at [email protected]. In your e-mail, please indicate whether your proposal is for a presentation only or if you plan to submit an article based on your presentation.

Acceptances will be e-mailed on or before November 2, 2020. Preference for presentation times will be given to those also planning to submit an article for publication. Articles will be due to the Law Review on Friday, March 12, 2021.

October 16, 2020 in Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Art of Embracing Failure

Failure, and how we don’t have to be perfect, has been a hot topic as of late. Many of us have discussed modeling failure for our students and for each other. So, I’d like to do that.

So, yesterday I realized I failed. I messed up. And I’ve been a bit panicky and stressed about it. Then, I realized, this was a perfect opportunity to model failure for my students.

I gave a midterm on Sunday, which was partially multiple choice. I carefully chose the questions, and when I graded, I decided to take the questions that most students got wrong, and make a review video. I did notice that there was one question that everyone got wrong. So, I really made that the focus of my video.

After releasing the video to students, one of them contacted me and had a question. I had used the same question on a prior quiz, a few weeks ago, but it had a different answer. I looked at the old quiz question, assuming there would be a small difference, even one word. After all, we all know that one single word can change a question entirely, and students often miss this. However, I was not so lucky. It was the exact same question, with a different answer. Yikes.

A pit formed in my stomach. How would my students trust me? I have failed them, I have let them down. I’m a fraud of an educator. These were all of the thoughts swirling through my brain.

Then I reminded myself of how often I’ve been writing about the value of failure, and learning from failure. That everyone makes mistakes. Turns out, I should practice what I preach. This feels remarkably like the time I discovered a student of mine had been struggling in her first semester due to untreated migraines. As I know all too well, it took time to find a medication that worked, and in that time, she suffered in silence and tried to push through, continuing to do her class readings, and show up to class, despite having awful migraines. If any of you are fellow migraine sufferers, you know that what shew as trying was impossible. She wasn’t retaining information, she was just making herself miserable. So, I spend some time during office hours convincing her that it was ok to take time off, to take a break, when she had a migraine. She didn’t have to push through, and no good would come of it. The next day I was sitting in my office with a terrible migraine. I could barely see my computer screen, and couldn’t think straight. My Dean of Students popped into my office, took one look at me and said “Why don’t you practice what you preach and go home?”  It was a reminder I needed, and the universe reminding me that I was not above needing the advice I so frequently doled out.

So, once again, the universe turns up to smack me in the head and remind me that I’m not perfect, and sometimes I should take my own advice.

I am not a perfect bastion of knowledge, nor am I infallible. I make mistakes, and sometimes, when feeling overwhelmed and behind, don’t pay enough attention to detail. And I need to own that, and realize it doesn’t make me less of an educator.

So, I told my students I made mistake. I said the fault completely rests on my shoulders. But I also reminded them that mistakes happen, and are ok. They are allowed to make mistakes as well. It was also a good opportunity to show that the MBE questions are tricky, and even those of us that teach for this test can mess up.

It’s not yet been a full 24 hours, but as far as I can tell the world has not ended, and my students have not yet mutinied. So, I think it’s safe to embrace our failures and use them as teaching moments.

(Melissa Hale)

October 14, 2020 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Seattle

While note necessarily an ASP job, I wanted to pass along a position that some may be interested in.  ASP skills would definitely help in the position.

Associate Dean for Student Affairs, School of Law - Seattle University

FLSA Status: Exempt

Months Per Year: 12

Hours Per Week: 37.5

Position Description

The Associate Dean for Student Affairs reports directly to the Dean of the School of Law and is a vital member of the Dean’s Leadership Team. The person in this role supervises the Admission, Registrar, Student Financial Services, and Student Life teams in the School of Law, which together create a student environment that fosters lifelong student learning and professional development, contributes to a vibrant and engaged student experience, and promotes the mission of Seattle University. 

Seattle University School of Law educates ethical lawyers who distinguish themselves through their outstanding professional skills and their dedication to the law in the service of justice. Faculty, students, and staff form a vibrant, diverse, and collaborative community that promotes leadership for a just and humane world. The School of Law’s commitment to academic distinction is grounded in its Jesuit Catholic tradition, one that encourages open inquiry, thoughtful reflection, and concern for personal growth. Our rigorous academic program is distinguished by its emphasis on innovation, professional development, and a commitment to justice, which prepares our graduates for a wide range of successful and rewarding careers in law, business, and public service.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is a Jesuit Catholic university located on 50 acres in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. More than 7,200 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within nine schools and colleges. U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges 2019” ranks Seattle University 8th in the West among universities that offer a full range of masters and undergraduate programs. Seattle University is an equal opportunity employer.

In support of its pursuit of academic and scholarly excellence, Seattle University is committed to creating a diverse community of students, faculty and staff that is dedicated to the fundamental principles of equal opportunity and treatment in education and employment regardless of age, color, disability, gender identity, national origin, political ideology, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The university encourages applications from, and nominations of, individuals whose differing backgrounds, beliefs, ideas, and life experiences will further enrich the diversity of its educational community.

Essential Responsibilities

Admission:  Work with the School of Law Dean, Assistant Dean for Admission, and Associate Dean for Finance and Administration to determine admission priorities and entering 1L class goals for each admission cycle.  In coordination with the Assistant Dean and admission staff, establish guidelines and objectives for the review of applicant files and participate in admission tasks as needed.  Supervise the Assistant Dean of Admission.

Registrar:  Along with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Dean/Registrar, implement the institutional academic policies/procedures for an efficient and effective Registrar’s Office.  Oversee the School of Law exam processes, including reviewing and approving student exam accommodations and evaluating and making recommendations to the faculty for grading policies.  Assist with Bar certifications, including character and fitness reporting requirements.  Work with students who are considering transferring to another law school.  Approve student changes in programs, overloads and underloads, withdrawals and leave of absences.  Jointly supervise the Assistant Dean/Registrar (who reports to the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs).  

Student Financial Services:  With the Director of Student Financial Services, implement the institutional policies/procedures for an efficient and effective Student Financial Services office.  Manage and allocate the School of Law scholarship budget and award year-end scholarships.  Notify students of non-renewal of conditional scholarships and manage/review the scholarship petition process.  Award all private scholarships and prepare donor reports as appropriate for each gift or endowment, in coordination with Advancement staff and the Dean.  Serve on the Loan Forgiveness Committee.  Supervise the Director of Student Financial Services.

Student Life:  With the Associate Director for Student Life, create a warm and welcoming environment that supports law students in the pursuit of their education and one that promotes student wellness and a sense of belonging for all law students.  Develop and implement programing that responds to the needs of law students and is current with the external life experiences and challenges they are facing in their lives.  Develop, implement, and monitor policies and procedures related to student organization activities and events.  Lead the Orientation and Graduation programs and coordinate the academic and student support services required for these activities.  Annually review and update the Student Handbook.  Supervise the Associate Director for Student Life.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:  Along with the Dean and others, provide leadership in proposing, designing, and implementing policies, structures, and programs grounded in institutional commitments to antiracism, equity, and inclusive excellence for all law students.

Disability Accommodations:  The Associate Dean receives and reviews all student requests and materials for disability accommodations and develops reasonable accommodations, in consultation with appropriate University administrators.  Meet with students to finalize and document the reasonable accommodations and provide communication to faculty as appropriate for individual situations.    

Academic Status:  The Associate Dean is responsible for communicating with students regarding their academic status, including notice of dismissal due to academic performance issues.  Coordinate and manage the petition for readmission process, including developing recommendations for the Dean on each individual student petition.  Coordinate with the Academic Resource Center (ARC) team to identify and communicate with students who are required to participate in ARC academic support programming.  Provide general academic advising to students regarding course selection and/or appropriate referrals to faculty subject matter experts.  Review and approve student petitions to study away, including student requests to participate in international programs or visit away at other ABA-accredited law schools.  

Counseling:  The Associate Dean is the primary point of contact for students who are encountering personal difficulties that are interfering with their academic performance.  Provide a sounding board, counseling and advice, and access to law school and university resources appropriate to each individual student.  Consult and/or provide referrals for applicants and current students regarding character and fitness questions or issues. 

Student Code of Conduct:  The Associate Dean is the School of Law liaison to the University Student Code of Conduct process.  Along with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs is responsible for enforcing the Academic Integrity Code in the School of Law and recommending amendments or revisions to the Code.          

Other duties as assigned.



JD degree required from an ABA-accredited law school and bar passage/state licensing preferred, with at least five years of leadership and administrative experience in higher education, or an equivalent role.

Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to advancing social justice. 

Self-motivated, with an ability to take initiative on projects and follow them through to their successful completion.

Ability to build rapport with students in individual counseling situations and maintain student and student record confidentiality.

A high level of self-motivation, organization, flexibility, and solid judgment and interpersonal skills.  Proven ability to work cooperatively and collaboratively in a team environment. 

Outstanding communication skills, both verbal and written, and public speaking experience.

Strong analytical, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills.

High-level management experience, including supervisory responsibilities.

An understanding of, and demonstrated commitment to, the university’s mission, vision, and values.

Facility with Microsoft Office suite and social media platforms.  The ability and willingness to learn and utilize institutional software programs. 

All positions at Seattle University require a criminal history background check.

Candidates for this position should submit a cover letter, resume, and a list of at least three professional references (along with their contact information). 

Benefits at a Glance

Consistent with its fundamental Jesuits value, Seattle University offers a wide range of benefits designed to care for the whole person. Choose from three different medical plans, a dental and vision insurance programs. Protect your income with life, short & long-term disability coverage, and plan for your future with a generous 10% employer contribution for retirement benefits. You may also take advantage of 100% tuition remission benefits for the employee and dependents, a subsidized transportation benefit, a wellness program with an onsite fitness facility, and a wide variety of campus events. Enjoy a generous holiday schedule, including a paid Christmas break closure, vacation and paid sick leave, and paid community service leave. For more information explore the Benefits website at:  

Application Instructions

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and a list of at least three professional references, along with their contact information. Persons who need assistance with the recruitment process may contact the Office of Human Resources at: 206-296-5870. Job postings are open until filled, unless otherwise specified. 

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

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Learning Articles

A colleague recently sent me an article about memory she saved in  I don't know much about getpocket, but the article she sent me and the few articles below it were pretty good.  They are short enough students may actually read them, but they have helpful information.  They were originally posted a couple years ago at different sources, but many of our current students probably didn't see them.  Here are the links:

An Effortless Way to Improve Memory

These 10 Scientific Ways to Learn Anything Faster Could Change Everything You Know About Dramatically Improving Your Memory

How to Teach Your Brain Something It Won't Forget a Week Later

3 Ways to Study Better According to Cognitive Research

The 50/50 Rule

(Steven Foster)


October 10, 2020 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 9, 2020

Meditation for Law Students

Mental Health is an important topic for everyone, especially law students.  The statistics about the severity of mental health issues in the legal profession are astounding.  You can check those out at  A great resource offered by Nina Farber at Boston College is Wakeful Wednesdays.  I encourage everyone to attend her sessions.

Here's the information on Wakeful Wednesdays: 

Please join the Academic and Student Divisions of the Mindfulness in Law Society for Wakeful Wednesdays:

  • Who: Law students from any law school in the United States are welcome. No need to join MILS, although why not? Membership is free to law students!  
  • What: A 15 minute meditation, led by Academic Division Co-chair, Nina Farber, followed by 15 minutes to share wellness tips and ask questions.
  • When: Every Wednesday from 5:00 - 5:30 p.m. (eastern time), beginning Wednesday, October 21, 2020
  • Where: On Zoom, please use the link on the MILS Website to join.

(Steven Foster)

October 9, 2020 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Hidden in Plain Sight - "The Link Between Well-Being and Inclusion"

Hot off the press, here's a must-read article from former professor and ASP colleague Patty Powell entitled:  "The Link between Well-Being and Inclusion," published in the Colorado Lawyer (June 2020):   

In the article, Prof. Powell explores a "hidden link" to explain why lawyers tend to have the highest rates - among all professions - of substance abuse and mental health distress while, at the same time, the legal profession - of all professions - "sits at the bottom in terms of diversity and inclusion." Id. 

At its foundation, the article calls on leaders (that's us!) to proactively create spaces for all to participate authentically as valuable belonging community members and Professor Powell points us to research for possible steps that we can immediately take to promote well-being and inclusion.

(Scott Johns).

October 8, 2020 in Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Once More Unto the Breach?

As I write these words, my former students are busily working through the final session of the most unusual and stress-inducing bar examination I have ever known – one that has been twice delayed, resulting in erratic study schedules and lost employment opportunities; that is being delivered entirely online using new software, after the cancellation and hacking of online exams in other jurisdictions this summer; that permitted registration only to certain groups of law school graduates, some of whom waited on tenterhooks for weeks before finding out that they would be permitted, or not permitted, to take the exam; and that examinees had to prepare for in the midst of a global pandemic and one of the most contentious political environments in the past 150 years.  The last five months have provided a cavalcade of anxiety, uncertainty, pessimism, and anger, marching in different permutations through opinion pieces, Facebook posts, public hearings, Twitter threads, and Zoom discussions, week by week, right up until yesterday at noon, when the examinees finally had to slay the dragon.

And yet.  Here we are, 30 minutes or so from the end, and mostly . . . things seem okay.

Except for the odd momentary computer freeze, I have not yet received any panicked reports of tech problems – no crashed programs, no lost data.  The dozen or so graduates testing on campus have been in cautiously good spirits and have reported that they felt the test has been fair.  The graduates testing at home have largely been quiet, though I encouraged them to reach out to me if they encountered any difficulties. 

This is lucky, to be sure.  Although in the media (social and traditional) I found no reports of widespread, catastrophic system failure, there are plenty of individual reports of examinees losing data, having trouble with facial recognition software, or simply being unable to get the testing program to work.  According to ExamSoft, the company whose software delivers the exam, 98.4% of the estimated 40,000 examinees had successfully started the exam by late Monday.  Even if some people chose at the last minute not to take the test, that still leaves potentially several hundred frustrated examinees.

So far, my graduates have not reported problems. Still, we might just be in the eye of the hurricane.  It remains to be seen if everyone can upload all the required answer and video files before tomorrow night’s deadline.  An overly fastidious review of the video files captured by the remote proctoring program could lead to objectionable disputes or even disqualifications. And it is impossible to predict what the grading will be like, given the smaller number of questions, limited pool of examinees, and delay in administration, compared to an ordinary bar exam.  If the results that come out in December are wildly different from those of previous years, there may be complaints that it was too hard – or too easy.

Nevertheless, the facts that we have now arrived at the end of day two of the remote examination without witnessing the “barpocalypse” some had predicted, and that we have not yet arrived at any foreseeable end to the pandemic that forced remote testing in the first place, suggest that we should at least be thinking about preparing for another remote test in February.  There may be other approaches to bar admission, such as diploma privilege, that we should continue to advocate for.  But there was always the danger/promise that a relatively successful remote administration would lessen resistance to future remote exams.

I am pleased to see that – at least according to the early reports from my students – the nature of the remote exam seems to have caused far less distress than the delay and uncertainty that preceded it, and which hopefully will be avoided in the future.  And I am enormously proud of the effort, attitude, and skills that these examinees displayed under such extreme conditions as they prepared for and then took the exam.  But the fact that the remote exam was not a total disaster does not mean that it couldn’t have worked better, or that no examinees were unfairly disadvantaged or prevented from testing.  If we have to have another round of remote testing in February, let us continue to press for ongoing improvement in its administration.

[Bill MacDonald]

October 7, 2020 in Bar Exam Issues, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)