Tuesday, December 20, 2022
This week's installment of the Academic and Bar Support Spotlight gives us this:
Jane B. Grise, Grise's Critical Reading for Success in Law School and Beyond (with video) (West Academic, 2nd ed. 2022).
From the publisher's description:
Reading cases and statutes is challenging for students and attorneys. However, everybody can learn critical reading strategies and become effective legal readers and advocates. Critical Reading for Success in Law School and Beyond identifies the reading strategies used by expert legal readers and presents the strategies in a systematic sequence. Critical Reading is written in an easy to read style with lots of examples. Readers will learn:
- the purpose for reading cases,
- how to read with focus,
- case structure and important civil and criminal procedure terms,
- techniques for understanding complex text,
- strategies for identifying the parts of a case,
- how to brief a case,
- legal analysis skills such as analogical reasoning and case synthesis, and
- strategies for reading statutes.
The second edition adds chapters that address reading on screens and techniques for reading bar prep materials. The second edition also has a seventeen part video series with PowerPoint slides. Each video introduces a reading strategy, provides helpful tips, includes a short student exercise, and gives students the opportunity to self-assess their proficiency.
Critical Reading can be used in law school pre-orientation and orientation programs, academic success courses, bar prep courses, and legal writing and doctrinal classes. It is also useful for legal readers who want to improve their reading efficiency and effectiveness.
[Posted by Louis Schulze, FIU Law]
Monday, December 19, 2022
All of us at the Law School Academic Support Blog wish you and your families Happy Holidays! We appreciate you reading our posts. We also hope you are able to get a break over the next few weeks. 2022 may have been slightly more normal, but it brought its own challenges. I hope you have a chance to recharge the next couple weeks.
We are taking a break to celebrate the season. We may post sporadically, but regular posting will begin again the week of January 9th.
Sunday, December 18, 2022
It is with both gratitude and disappointment that I announce Scott Johns won't be posting for us regularly starting in the spring. He is tackling new adventures, but you may see him pop in with guest posts when available. While disappointed he won't be posting, I want to thank him for his tenure on the blog. He started as a Contributing Editor in 2016. I was looking for the date he started, and was amazed at the numerous Top Ten Blog Posts of the Week from Texas Law Today he received. I lost count after 10. I loved reading his unique insights over the years, and am extremely glad he was a contributing editor when I became an editor. He consistently provided insight and bar exam advocacy through extremely difficult times the last few years. I will miss reading the posts each week, but I can't wait to hear about the semester next year at AASE. Thank you Scott for your years of service.
Sunday, December 11, 2022
Thursday, December 8, 2022
I recently came across an article by an 83-year old history professor talking about a method of teaching that I had never heard - the Harkness Method. Martindale, Jr., Wigt, "This Old Man, He Teaches History, WSJ (Nov. 17, 2022). In the article, he suggests that our curriculum should be centered around two "rules." First, that survey courses are the most important courses for high school and college education because they present the opportunity for students to learn the context of what will follow in their educational pursuits. Second, and the point I'd like to share in this blog, is that we cannot teach today's students using outdated methods.
That's when, in a passing comment, I first heard of the Harkness Method - "an oval table discussion format that encourages a class to explore an idea as a group." Id. I recall after law school when I spent a passing year working half-time while engaging in a full-time doctoral program that the entire graduate school experience was built around this so-called Harkness Method. In law schools, we might call it the seminar class.
That got me thinking, especially with bar exam rates downhill for most jurisdictions, that maybe we in law schools are violating the professor's rule no. 2. We might be teaching using outdated quasi-socratic lecture methods when perhaps we should instead by devoting the resources and the time to teach in oval-table discussions with lots of small group settings. Of course, that would be quite expensive because factory-like 1L curriculum is much more efficient, at least from the viewpoint of costs. But cost efficiency in itself is not necessarily promoting better learning, learning that sticks, as a book title suggests. https://www.amazon.com/Learning-That-Sticks-Brain-Based-Instructional/dp/1416629106.
In my impromptu attempt to learn more about the Harkness Method, I came across some brief introductions about some other possible ways to reach today's students deeply and meaningfully. They include the Harkness Method, the so-called flipped classroom experience, and problem-based learning (PBL). https://discussion.miami.edu/teaching-methods/index.html
I have to admit that I sort of skipped the Harkness Method because my class enrollments are not likely to be reduced from 50-75 students, at least at anytime in the near future. But I really appreciated the information about flipped learning and the PBL methods. One thing caught my attention in particular. Flipped learning need not involve video cameo appearances, something I struggle with, and, to be honest, as a sometimes student myself, often find mind numbing.
As the internet explorations often do, that lead me to a buried link outlining 5 ways to embrace flipped learning without the video camera.That's something I can get on board with. Here's the link for 5 suggestions that might actually work out better for you and your students. https://rtalbert.org/flipped-learning-without-video/
Regardless of what you choose, you need not chose alone. Too often, however, in my own case, I'm stuck in the past because I'm comfortable with the past. But a good life is not necessarily the comfortable life and good teaching is not necessarily comfortable either. As Prof. Martindale writes: "Teaching is hard. Good teachers still have to know how to make contact with students and recognize a change in the climate of a classroom." Id. But the hard things are often the best things in life. And we are called to serve in one of the best pursuits of all - helping others become their dreams of service too as future attorneys. (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
That's my summary of a wonderful article sharing a helpful learning practice and the reasons behind it. In the article, Prof. Dawn Young at the University of Idaho shares that "working a hypo a day can help you grow a gigantic analytical muscle" because the daily practice helps organize thoughts, see patterns, and learn exam analysis skills. I wholeheartedly agree. Here's the link for the details: Brunette, J, "3 Reasons a Hypo a Day will Keep Bad Grades Away," National Jurist (Nov. 30, 2022) (quoting and referencing Prof. Dawn Young). (Scott Johns).
P.S. And, if you're in the midst of final exams, as many of you are at present, there's still ample time to start the habit, today. In fact, starring at your outlines, trying to memorize them, is not near as useful as using your outlines to solve hypes and past final exam problems. So take charge of your learning by courageously tackling and experiencing problems before you take on your remaining final exams.
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
An important addition to the academic and bar support literature:
Joan Haworth, Shaping the Bar: The Future of Attorney Licensing (Stanford University Press 2022).
From the publisher:
In Shaping the Bar, Joan Howarth describes how the twin gatekeepers of the legal profession—law schools and licensers—are failing the public. Attorney licensing should be laser-focused on readiness to practice law with the minimum competence of a new attorney. According to Howarth, requirements today are both too difficult and too easy. Amid the crisis in unmet legal services, record numbers of law school graduates—disproportionately people of color—are failing bar exams that are not meaningful tests of competence to practice. At the same time, after seven years of higher education, hundreds of thousands of dollars of law school debt, two months of cramming legal rules, and success on a bar exam, a candidate can be licensed to practice law without ever having been in a law office or even seen a lawyer with a client.
Howarth makes the case that the licensing rituals familiar to generations of lawyers—unfocused law degrees and obsolete bar exams—are protecting members of the profession more than the public. Beyond explaining the failures of the current system, this book presents the latest research on competent lawyering and examples of better approaches. This book presents the path forward by means of licensing changes to protect the public while building an inclusive, diverse, competent, ethical profession.
Thoughtful and engaging, Shaping the Bar is both an authoritative account of attorney licensing and a pragmatic handbook for overdue equitable reform of a powerful profession.
[Posted by Louis Schulze, FIU Law]