Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Academic and Bar Support Scholarship Spotlight

1.    David Jaffe (American), Katherine Bender (Bridgewater State), and Jerome M. Organ (St. Thomas (Minn.)), It is Okay to Not Be Okay': The 2021 Survey of Law Student Well-Being, __ Univ. of Louisville L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2022).

The abstract:

The Survey of Law Student Well-Being, implemented in Spring 2014 [hereinafter “2014 SLSWB”], was the first multi-law school study in over twenty years to assess alcohol and drug use among law students, and it was the first multi-law school study ever to address prescription drug use, mental health, and help-seeking attitudes. The article summarizing the results of the 2014 SLSWB has been downloaded over 12,000 times.

With a desire to learn what has changed since 2014 given the increased emphasis on law student and lawyer well-being among law schools and legal professionals, the authors sought and received grant funding from AccessLex Institute to implement another survey of law student well-being. In addition to assessing alcohol use, street drug use, prescription drug use, mental health, and help-seeking attitudes, the 2021 Survey of Law Student Well-Being [hereinafter “2021 SLSWB”] also included new questions focused on law student experiences with trauma and on concerns of third-year law students related to preparing for and taking the bar exam. Additionally, the 2021 SLSWB included a set of open-text questions asking respondents to identify actions their law schools are taking or could be taking to support law student well-being.

Section II provides a literature review, inclusive of research on law student wellness since the original article on the 2014 SLSWB was published in 2016. Section III describes the methods of recruitment, response rates, and design of the 2021 SLSWB survey instrument. Section IV provides results from the largest multi-law school study of its kind, comparing results from the 2021 SLSWB with results from the 2014 SLSWB where possible. Section V discusses the results and includes recommendations for steps different stakeholders within legal education and the legal profession could pursue to better support law student well-being. With representation from thirty-nine law schools across the country, including public, private, and religious law schools, as well as small, medium, and large law schools in terms of student enrollment, the findings of the 2021 SLSWB have implications for multiple stakeholders in legal education, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators, along with boards of law examiners.

2.  Sneddon, Karen J. (Mercer),  Square Pegs and Round Holes: Differentiated Instruction and the Law School Classroom, 48 Mitchell Hamline L. Rev. 1095 (2022).

The abstract:

Adapting to the needs of student learners while adequately preparing them for the challenges of the bar exam, and the demands of practice, may seem impossible. This Article shares a theoretical framework built from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and educational theories that legal educators can use. That theoretical framework, commonly referred to as an instructional strategy, is differentiated instruction.1 This Article first describes differentiated instruction, which originated in K-12 education and has now been translated into higher education. 2 Second, this Article explores the value that differentiated instruction would add to the law school classroom.3 Third, this Article situates differentiated instruction within the context of popular teaching and learning theories to share how differentiated instruction is compatible with what law professors do now and how some modifications in current methods can amplify the learning process.4 Finally, this Article applies differentiated instruction in the law school classroom by presenting concrete examples that translate differentiated instruction to the law school classroom.5 This Article presents a series of modifications to commonly used law school instructional strategies to enhance the ability of the professor to respond to the needs of learners. In addition, this Article presents a series of more innovative instructional strategies that use student choice to leverage learning potential and achievement. Law students have a range of experiences, preparations, and interests. As this Article demonstrates, differentiated instruction is a framework that allows law school educators to adapt and respond to the needs of all learners rather than forcing square pegs into round holes.

3.  Although not new, this one is certainly "ASP mandatory reading":  John F. Murphy, Teaching Remedial Problem-Solving Skills to a Law School's Underperforming Students, 16 Nev. L. J. 173 (2015).

This article describes a course called the “Art of Lawyering” developed by the Texas A&M University School of Law to help the bottom quarter of the 2L class develop the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they should have learned in their first year of law school. Students in the bottom quarter of the class at the beginning of their 2L year are most at risk for failing the bar exam after graduation. The Art of Lawyering gives these students the structural framework necessary to solve problems like a lawyer, improve their performance in law school, and pass the bar exam.

The course, in its current iteration, is remarkably effective, producing a significant increase in students’ grade-point averages. This article describes the theory, methods, and resources behind the course, and it includes a detailed lesson plan so that other schools can replicate the course and realize similar success.

(Posted by:  Louis Schulze, FIU Law)


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