Monday, May 27, 2024

Animal Farm (and the 11th Annual AASE Conference).

I am just now coming down from the high of attending the 11th Annual AASE Conference last week, hosted --in the most gracious way-- by the University of Idaho College of Law in Boise. As one might expect, it was an incredibly collegial and informative academic conference. I know I have mentioned how academic support folks are by the far the kindest, most generous, and scholarly academicians. It is refreshing to be in room after room with colleagues who just get “it.”   “It” is how to get students to: attend workshops, participate in bar review, pay attention to how they learn, and create processes that are efficient and effective. But “it” also is: how to get doctrinal faculty to: attend workshops, keep an eye on students who are falling behind, keep an eye on students who may learn differently. “It” is finally the collective[1] search for information about the NextGen bar exam and whether your jurisdiction will adopt it (and if so, when).

One of the social events at the conference was a dinner and drinks at the Zoo. I mean, who doesn’t love a Zoo?[2] There were giraffes, zebras, lions, and a red panda who I think should have their own Instagram account. It was Tuesday, so there were tacos. It was a different and fun way to build community and enjoy a lovely evening in Boise.

However, I have to wonder if our monkeying[3] around trying to get a handle on a test that we do not know a lot about-including whether it will actually be a thing in many of our jurisdictions- is just caging up the academic support predator that would love to set its sights on this prey by getting to know it (and actually figuring out if knowing it is necessary).

We spent a lot of time talking about the NextGen bar exam together. There were wonderful sessions about how to get ready, or adapt, or prepare students for the NextGen bar exam. In fact, every presentation about bar readiness (and some that were not) discussed the NextGen bar exam. One example was a great presentation about how to use Professional Responsibility as a golden ticket for teaching skills for both the UBE and NextGen bar exams. Another talked about teaching IRAC from a NextGen perspective. We had amazing presentations about how to use AI to Draft Next Gen practice questions, how to prepare students for the new legal research components of the NextGen exam, creating rubrics and learning objectives based on NextGen foundational skills, and more.

But what if after all this careful planning and preparing for NextGen, we, like Columbus, do not find ourselves in the destination we had planned to reach? What if the unknowns we are so carefully trying to infer[4] have been calculated incorrectly? We may already have, or are about to welcome, students who could be taking this bar exam and we have been left with penumbras and emanations.  We have become like Academic Support Ninja Warriors[5] who are trying to get to the goal without knowing exactly what challenges lie ahead. Some of this is the NCBE not being entirely forthcoming about the exam, and another piece of it resides in jurisdictions who have not shown their hands either. Together, that leaves us no better off than the animals in the Zoo: we are at their mercy in terms of getting fed the information we need, and then we wonder if all our hard work to know more than we have been currently told is going to end up being merely entertaining -- but not freeing in any way.

A very special thank you to Karen Wellman and her amazing team at U. of Idaho and the AASE Executive and Programming teams for making this another memorable conference. We are lucky to have each other on this quest. AASE will be posting all the materials and slides from the conference-look in your emails and on the website for more information.

And finally, I am crazy excited that all these amazing people will come to me next year. We will see you in Boston for the 12th Annual AASE Conference-Suffolk University Law School, May 2025!

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] But not universal, some jurisdictions have committed with clear timelines in place.

[2] Yes, the animals there may not love it, but bear (get it?) with me for a moment.

[3] The puns will be fast and furious-please feel free to groan-or just shoot me an email that says, “UGH!,” I deserve it.

[4] And asking ChatGPT to help us infer as well.

[5] Which will be the name of my second ASP themed band.

May 27, 2024 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Meetings, Professionalism, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2023

We Are the Champions, My Friends

Lately, a list-serv I have subscribed to has been a hotbed of political group-wide emails. It is not a political list-serv, so this volley is something of a surprise. The emails are about the war between Israel and Hamas-and they have been ugly. Am I a coward for not engaging in the group email chain but rather writing about it in a blog entry? Perhaps, but I contend that the professionals (that I suppose I can call colleagues) on this list-serv are engaging in behavior that they are absolutely free to engage in but is also demeaning and chilling. One thing some posters on the list do is launch personal attacks.  Others basically argue that if you do not agree with them, it is because you are ignorant and uneducated about the subject area, so they offer a lot of links--some from questionable sources-and one, in a total twist of fate, written by my sister-in-law (a reputable source!). The same email accusing people of being essentially unintelligent is signed, “Yours in Solidarity…” Um, I am not going to actually agree with you that I am an imbecile because I don’t see things exactly as you do, so that’s a big nope on the solidarity.

Some of these posters could learn a lot from Academic Support folks about how to be collegial. That is why I am thankful this year for the amazing community of ASP folks who are the champions:

  1. We share well. ASP conferences are the best because we share everything. We share materials, techniques, statistics, joy, triumph, frustrations, and passion.
  2. We care about each other. I have had more people in this community inquire about my family in Israel than I ever anticipated. It actually brought me to tears.
  3. We care about our students. We always use the possessive when we talk about them-they belong to us and while we cannot help every single student, we would if we could (and they came to office hours, just saying).
  4. We celebrate and uplift each other’s work. Think of the work Louis does on this blog every Tuesday to announce recent scholarship-and that is just one example of how we amplify the community.
  5. We respect each other. We would never call each other names or require acquiescence to be deserving of solidarity.
  6. We are family. We know each other. We welcome newcomers with offers of help and materials.
  7. And even if you don’t agree with the above points, I still think the world of you and your intelligence and accomplishments.

Happy end of classes!

(Liz Stillman)

November 27, 2023 in Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2023

NECASP Conference Registration is now open!

Please join us in White Plains, NY for the annual North East Consortium of Academic Support Professionals conference. December 15, 2023 from 11:00-3:00 ET. 

This year's program is entitled ASP Expanding our Reach: Are We Reaching Out and Are We Reachable?  We have an amazing line-up of presenters and are excited to spend the day sharing ideas both in-person and virtually. 

The conference will be hosted in person at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. However we will also have a zoom option for those who cannot travel to NY. 

There is no registration fee but we ask that you please register (whether coming in person or virtually) using this link so that we can adequately prepare. 

https://forms.gle/raNAwUUZxGJYLCYc7

We are reserving a block of rooms at Sonesta White Plains Downtown and will share hotel information with registrants next week. 

We look forward to seeing many of you next month! 

 

Danielle, Stephen, Erica, and Liz

November 17, 2023 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 30, 2023

NECASP Conference Call for Proposals Extended to November 3!

Request for Proposals: Presentations and Scholarly “Works in Progress”

Northeast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) Conference

Friday, December 15, 2023, 11am-3pm ET, in-person and via Zoom

Hosted by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

 

NECASP will be holding its annual one-day conference this December. We are excited to return to an in-person conference this year, although we will still be including a remote option to accommodate those participants and presenters unable to travel to New York. Our topic this year is ASP Expanding our Reach: Are We Reaching Out and Are We Reachable?

 

Description: In order to adjust to the ever-changing needs of our students, it’s imperative we do a yearly audit of our messaging and our services to our students. So, this year, let’s get together (in person!!!) to discuss ways we can ensure we are reaching out to all of our students consistently and make sure we are accessible to them.

 

We welcome a broad range of proposals –from presenters in the Northeast region and beyond –and at various stages of completion –from idea to fruition. Please note that we may ask you to co-present with other ASP colleagues depending on the number of proposals selected. Our conference will be in-person on the Pace Law campus in White Plains, NY; however, we will have a Zoom option and will consider proposals from both in-person and remote attendees. If you wish to present, the proposal process is as follows:

 

  1. Submit your proposal by NOVEMBER 3, 2023, via email to Danielle Kocal at [email protected]
  2. Proposals may be submitted as a Word document or as a PDF
  3. Proposals must include the following:
  4. Name and title of presenter
    b. Law School
    c. Address, email address, and telephone number for presenter
    d. Title
    e. If a scholarly work in progress, an abstract no more than 500 words
  5. Whether you will be attending in-person or remotely
    g. Media or computer presentation needs
  6. As noted above, proposals are due on October 27, 2023. The NECASP Board will review the proposals and reply to each by November 17, 2023.


If you have any questions about your proposal, please do not hesitate to contact one of us, and we look forward to seeing you at our conference!

 

Information such as hotel blocks and zoom links will be forthcoming. As always, there is no fee to attend this conference.

 

 

 

 

 

2023-24 NECASP Board Members

 

Chair:   Danielle Kocal, Director of Academic Success The Elizabeth Haub School of Law / Pace University, [email protected]

Vice Chair:   Erica Sylvia, Assistant Director of Bar Success & Adjunct Professor of LawUniversity of Massachusetts School of Law, [email protected]

Treasurer:   Stephen Iannacone, Director of Academic Success, Cardozo Law, [email protected]

Secretary:   Elizabeth Stillman, Associate Professor of Academic Support, Suffolk University, [email protected] 

 

October 30, 2023 in Meetings, Professionalism, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 16, 2023

The AASE 4th Biennial Diversity Conference

The fabulous 4th AASE Biennial Diversity Conference finished up Friday at the lovely American University Washington College of Law. It was three days of amazing presentations by our colleagues in ASP and graciously hosted by American. It was welcoming and enlightening.

The theme, "The Choices We Make Matter: Building More Inclusive Spaces for Historically Excluded Communities," was timely and needed. I know the hosts and AASE Diversity Committee are working on posting all the presentations and slides on the AASE website, but they deserve a rest for at least a few days after all the work they put in. Please take a look when the materials are available: you will be awed at what our community has been working on but not really surprised since we already know that we are passionate about our students and their success. 

Community and collaboration were key topics during this conference-and no one does this better than ASP folks. We sat in our discomfort together and peeked around the corner of it to find better ways for our students. No one likes learning more than teachers.

A special shout out to AUWCL's Joni Wiredu, Rachel Gordon, Michael Levine, Sarah Schenkman, Lisa Sonia Taylor, Alisa Lopez, and the AASE Diversity Committee for making this a wonderful conference.  I am sure I missed some names (as one always does when making a published list, or printing a team t-shirt).

(Liz Stillman)

 

October 16, 2023 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 9, 2023

Annual North East Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) Conference-Call for Proposals

Request for Proposals: Presentations and Scholarly “Works in Progress”

Northeast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) Conference

Friday, December 15, 2023, 11am-3pm ET, in-person and via Zoom

Hosted by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

 

NECASP will be holding its annual one-day conference this December. We are excited to return to an in-person conference this year, although we will still be including a remote option to accommodate those participants and presenters unable to travel to New York. Our topic this year is ASP Expanding our Reach: Are We Reaching Out and Are We Reachable?

 

Description: In order to adjust to the ever-changing needs of our students, it’s imperative we do a yearly audit of our messaging and our services to our students. So, this year, let’s get together (in person!!!) to discuss ways we can ensure we are reaching out to all of our students consistently and make sure we are accessible to them.

 

We welcome a broad range of proposals –from presenters in the Northeast region and beyond –and at various stages of completion –from idea to fruition. Please note that we may ask you to co-present with other ASP colleagues depending on the number of proposals selected. Our conference will be in-person on the Pace Law campus in White Plains, NY; however, we will have a Zoom option and will consider proposals from both in-person and remote attendees. If you wish to present, the proposal process is as follows:

 

  1. Submit your proposal by October 27, 2023, via email to Danielle Kocal at [email protected]
  2. Proposals may be submitted as a Word document or as a PDF
  3. Proposals must include the following:
  4. Name and title of presenter
    b. Law School
    c. Address, email address, and telephone number for presenter
    d. Title
    e. If a scholarly work in progress, an abstract no more than 500 words
  5. Whether you will be attending in-person or remotely
    g. Media or computer presentation needs
  6. As noted above, proposals are due on October 27, 2023. The NECASP Board will review the proposals and reply to each by November 17, 2023.


If you have any questions about your proposal, please do not hesitate to contact one of us, and we look forward to seeing you at our conference!

 

Information such as hotel blocks and zoom links will be forthcoming. As always, there is no fee to attend this conference.

 

 

 

 

 

2023-24 NECASP Board Members

 

Chair:   Danielle Kocal, Director of Academic Success The Elizabeth Haub School of Law / Pace University, [email protected]

Vice Chair:   Erica Sylvia, Assistant Director of Bar Success & Adjunct Professor of LawUniversity of Massachusetts School of Law, [email protected]

Treasurer:   Stephen Iannacone, Director of Academic Success, Cardozo Law, [email protected]

Secretary:   Elizabeth Stillman, Associate Professor of Academic Support, Suffolk University, [email protected] 

 

 

 

October 9, 2023 in Meetings, Professionalism, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 25, 2023

Invisibility

Many of you probably received an email from AALS last week with a link (and “unique PIN”) to a “Faculty Survey.”  The email said,

The Association of American Law Schools is interested in your experiences as a law school faculty member. AALS wants to know more about you, your career trajectory, current workload, time allocation across your various responsibilities, and perceptions of tenure. We are asking you to take part in the American Law School Faculty Study…

The survey itself, being conducted by an outside vendor, (NORC) has the following preamble (again, the bold is in the original):

“This survey focuses on the experiences of individuals who currently serve in the position of law school tenured, tenure-track, long-term contract, clinical, or legal writing faculty.”

It is a well-established canon of construction that, “the expression of one thing implies the exclusion of others (expressio unius est exclusio alterius).”[1] So, the preamble alone should have made it clear to me that ASP and Bar Prep faculty members were not their intended audience-and yet, it was sent to all of us. If I had not checked off “long term contract,” my survey would have ended right there. Luckily, a colleague alerted me to this before I started, and I was able to voice my displeasure at being intentionally excluded as part of my response. Otherwise, I would have remained invisible.

As we know from the AASE Survey last year, not all of us could click on long term contract and avoid being entirely canceled from being considered faculty by an organization that our institutions are likely members of and actually has an Academic Support Section[2]. In fact, only 26% of AASE respondents are on multiyear contracts and 17% have presumptively renewable contracts. 47% of respondents are at-will employees and another 11% have year to year contracts.[3] This means that less than half of our ASP colleagues would be eligible to participate in this survey. Surely, our experiences are as relevant as other traditionally non-tenured faculty such as clinical and legal writing. While there has been progress in tenure for these other groups, ASP tenure (or tenure track) is currently unavailable to 92% of professionals who responded to our survey.[4]

My esteemed colleague, Matt Carluzzo, who is Assistant Dean of Students and Academic Success at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law responded to NORC with an email where he expressed his disappointment and went on to say, “[M]any law schools still see and accordingly treat ASP as an afterthought - something necessary, but still very ‘other’ … I was initially disappointed (though not surprised) when there was no "academic success/support" option listed on the opening page.  I was genuinely shocked, however, when upon selecting "Other," I was instantly directed to the curt, "Thank you for your time today" completion screen.  Apparently this survey is not for ASP professionals.  This is hard to interpret as anything other than yet another example of ASP being either unintentionally overlooked, or intentionally excluded…Your website says that AALS ‘hired NORC to learn more about law school faculty hiring, voting rights, tenure policies, and other key issues[5].’  In my opinion, this is a key issue that is blatantly overlooked and/or ignored.  Any doubt, disbelief, or resistance to this idea is contradicted by the old cliche: the proof is in the pudding.” I could not have said it better. We await a response from AALS, NORC, and perhaps even the AccessLex Institute (who was another sponsor of the survey).

In the meantime, I am convinced that when clicking “other” brings you to a dead end, it is not a good look for an organization that claims that their “...mission is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. In support of this mission, AALS promotes the core values of excellence in teaching and scholarship, academic freedom, and diversity, including diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, while seeking to improve the legal profession, to foster justice, and to serve our many communities–local, national, and international.[6]” I would also add that the introduction to the survey expresses AALS’s interest “in examining the work-life balance and career trajectories of law faculty.”[7] 

If the opinions of legal writing and clinical faculty merit consideration, ASP faculty opinions should not be overlooked and disregarded. While the doctrinal faculty that seem to be the target of this survey do not always know all that we do in ASP, they no doubt are glad it is done.  Their students certainly are. We should be seen and heard. We deserve-—no, wait—we have earned better.

If AALS truly wants to know more about the “career trajectories of law faculty,” why not study the folks who have nowhere to go but up?

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] https://judicature.duke.edu/articles/a-dozen-canons-of-statutory-and-constitutional-text-construction/

[2] However, there were some issues about ASP’s inclusion at the AALS conference this past January as well, see, https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2023/01/academic-support-programs-should-be-included-in-us-news-rankingsmaybe.html

[3] Please feel free to contact any of us who serve on the AASE Assessment Committee for the full survey report: https://associationofacademicsupporteducators.org/committees/assessment/

[4] See, note 3.

[5] https://www.norc.org/research/projects/2023-american-law-school-faculty.html

[6] https://www.aals.org/about/mission/

[7] https://www.norc.org/research/projects/2023-american-law-school-faculty.html

September 25, 2023 in Meetings, Professionalism, Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 18, 2023

Rainy Days and Mondays

It is gray and rainy here in Boston at the beginning of week three of law school classes. This weather seems appropriate for the shift in student mood judging from the meetings I have had with students so far today. They have many questions....

So, in keeping with my success syllabus, I have compiled a week by week list of answers to frequently asked questions:

  1. Week One:
    1. Yes, it is going to be a lot, but you can do it!
    2. My advice? Do your reading! Brief your cases! And don’t forget to do something fun every now and then.
  2. Week Two:
    1. Yes, the reading does seem to increase exponentially.
    2. No, I am not really using that word in the math sense, this is a math free zone.
    3. Yes, I know case briefing takes a while early on, but you will winnow it down from boxers to a thong shortly…and if not, come see me.
    4. Yes, that was an underwear reference.
  3. Week Three:
    1. No, the model penal code is not the law anywhere.
    2. Yes, I’ve heard of Pierson v. Post[1].
    3. Yes, you should start outlining now, oh, but you are only through half of mens rea and that is the only thing you have discussed in Crim? Hmm. Maybe wait until you finish.
    4. Yes, we have a whole website devoted to videos and other resources on how to outline, and,
    5. Yes, we are sending you about 1.3 million emails a week about that, so you should know about it, but here is the link if you haven’t seen our billboard…
  4. Week Four:
    1. No, we can not set up weekly two-hour meetings. Why? Um, because I have reached an age where I cannot commit to that much time for anything!?
    2. Yes, you should be outlining.
    3. Yes, we have a whole library full of study aids (on line and in person).
    4. Yes, you can still borrow mine (I finished law school, so I am not currently using it).
    5. Yes, I know that that class only has a final and no graded midterm.
    6. No, I don’t think that is a good idea.
  5. Week Five:
    1. Yes, all questions about homicide will involve someone being dead.
    2. Yes, there are many crimes under the umbrella term of homicide.
    3. No, I don’t find that dark and creepy.
    4. Yes, this is hard and I know you have more legal writing assignments due soon as well.

This is just a start.  In the next installment, we will provide answers to questions about midterms, hitting the wall, and why they are called number 2 pencils.

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] But, interestingly, have never read it. My property professor started with INS v. AP and didn’t look back….

September 18, 2023 in Advice, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Unique--and call for proposals for the AASE Diversity Conference

Unique:

For the last two weeks, I taught a class for undergraduates who wish to attend law school. I had 20 amazing students from historically excluded communities in the study and profession of law. As an ice breaker on the first day, we did a bingo game where we needed to find people who played a sport, or an instrument, or currently had nail polish on. The rules stated that you needed to find one person for each square (no doubles), and you could not count yourself. The grand prize went to someone who filled out the entire board.

One square that appeared on every board was (to find) "someone who was left-handed." There were 25 people playing this game: all the students, the faculty teaching in the program, and the program coordinators. And only one left-handed person amongst all of them. That was me. While this was a tiny and trivial example of how it feels to be the "only" in a room, the fact that everyone needed to find me in order to succeed--but I could not possibly win-- was very clear. 

Let me preface this next part by saying that I am not sure this is my story to tell. The stakes for me were extremely low and had virtually no impact on me or how I value myself. But I thought, in that moment, that it may be similar to how purely performative diversity initiatives feel to students. Do students of color (or first gen students, or any historically excluded law student) feel that everyone needs their presence to "win," but that the student cannot?

Remember, being left-handed (at least in this current time and place) is a relatively neutral difference-the stereotypes associated with being left-handed are not particularly negative (sure, feel free to think I am artistic or clumsy); and being left-handed doesn't really have implications for me academically or professionally. But the stereotypes and assumptions and micro-aggressions (or just aggressions) associated with race, gender, socioeconomic status etc. are toxic to students. Are law schools guilty of valuing the presence of a diverse student body, but still setting them up to fail? In the the game we played to break the ice, the rules were the reason I couldn't win.

Rules can be changed. 

Call for Proposals:

The AASE Diversity Committee is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for the 4th Biennial AASE Diversity Conference, October 11-13, 2023 at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. Please see attached document or visit the following link to submit your proposal. (be sure to click through the ad if it pops up). The conference will offer an in-person and virtual experience. The theme for the October 2023 Diversity Conference is “The Choices We Make Matter: Revisioning Legal Academia’s Structures and Systems to Build More Inclusive Spaces for Historically Excluded Communities.” We welcome proposals on diversity, inclusion and belonging as it relates to legal education, academic support, bar examination and licensure. Proposals are due by July 31, 2023. Presenters will be notified no later than August 31, 2023.

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]

(Liz Stillman)

 

June 27, 2023 in Diversity Issues, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 22, 2023

Best Practitioners

Greetings from Santa Clara, California, and 10th Annual AASE conference! The sun is shining, and it is amazing to see everyone-the people I have missed in our pandemic years as well as people I had not met in person before today (like the amazing editor of this blog, Steven Foster!)

Here are the things I've learned so far (today was the day for "newbies" to learn the ins and outs of Academic Support):

  1. There are palm trees here-but they are not indigenous to this area. But they are so pretty swaying in the wind. I know they'd not survive a New England winter, but I wouldn't mind giving a try....
  2. ASP People are the best people-actually, I already knew that, but proof of this fact was undeniable today. We are the kindest, most generous, and collegial academics out there. And if you argue with me about that, I'll most likely ask you for your sources and then have you frame a counterargument because that is what we do, but I won't be thrilled about it.
  3. Although I am far from a newbie, I was bolstered by listening to the most respected folks I know tell me what their process is, and even more exciting: it is my process too!!! Which is not to say I didn't learn amazing new things, but I am so happy I am engaging in best practices. Phew!
  4. We are doing world class scholarship and lifting each other up with it. This is wonderful!!
  5. I cannot wait to see what else (and who else!) I will encounter tomorrow.

I am looking forward to spending more time learning from, as well as hanging and laughing with the amazing community. We value each other when we aren't universally valued in other realms. we are family.

(Liz Stillman)

 

May 22, 2023 in About This Blog, Meetings, Professionalism, Program Evaluation, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 15, 2023

Double Digits!!

Happy Monday! Our conference begins in about a week, and it is a big one (double digits!). Please see the note below from Afton Cavanaugh about a cool project that we are undertaking to commemorate our 10th Anniversary. We need your input-having a national organization is an important step towards our professional goals, so we should celebrate its longevity and our dreams for the future together.

My personal countdown of school lunches left to prepare (ever, since my youngest is graduating in a few short weeks) is a 9 to go. More on that next week.

(Liz Stillman)

Hi Everyone -

I am working on putting together a short slideshow for the AASE Business Meeting to commemorate 10 years of AASE. I have pictures to add to the slideshow, but I would love to add quotes and short video snippets of no more than 10-20 seconds that answer any of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, what has AASE meant to you?
  • What word or phrase would you use to describe the AASE community?
  • In 1-2 sentences, tell us about something you learned from a past AASE conference that you have used in your role?
  • In 1-2 sentences, tell us how a member of AASE helped you.

Please address only one question per video. You may upload multiple videos though. These videos do not need to be fancy, the only thing you should ensure is that you record in a well-lit area. Upload your video to this folder: AASE Memories

You can also answer one or more of these questions on the word document located here if you prefer not to create a video: Quotes.docx

You may also email me, but videos are often too big to send via email. If you record via Zoom and make the file downloadable, you can email me the Zoom recording link. I won't be able to use everything I receive, but we can add everything with the conference materials so that you can see what anyone that shared had to say. 

Best,

Afton Cavanaugh
Assistant Dean of Law Success 

Service Professor in Law

St. Mary’s University School of Law
                                                                      

May 15, 2023 in Meetings, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 24, 2023

Ghosted

­This past semester I’ve been lucky that my classes don’t actually begin until noon at the earliest. I haven’t had this schedule since I was a second-semester senior in college with very few credits left to finish. But, as a result of this scheduling bonanza, I have been able to set up one on one meetings with 1L students before their classes begin in the morning. This is a both a good and bad thing. I have had one student who prefers only in-person meetings on Mondays when I may not start classes until 12:30 p.m., but my last class ends at 8:00 p.m. That student’s classes began at 9:30 a.m., so that makes a very long day for me. And this student didn’t always show up or communicate that they would be absent from our early meetings either before, during, or after our scheduled time.  I would get into my office by 8;45 a.m. at the latest to be there and ready to meet and would usually end up getting some coffee when they didn’t show. I left a note on my door when I did that in case they were running late.

After two straight weeks of this non-communication or attendance, I was, understandably (I think) a bit pissed. I assumed I was being ghosted by a student who decided that Academic Support just wasn’t something they needed. I felt disrespected and devalued because my time was clearly not worth anything to them.

But then I remembered that when this student did come to meet with me, they were fragile. They had recently left the military and had some mental health issues-and above all, the military background combined with coming from the South meant that they were unbelievably polite when they sat across from me in my office. They used so many ma’ams that it made me feel old and I asked them (jokingly) to stop to which they replied, “my apologies ma’am.” We both laughed.

I also realized that this student was not someone who would ghost me, or anyone else, if they were okay, which I now doubted they were. It was a good reminder that a student can get lost. They can get lost in big classes, they can get lost in a big building, and they can get lost socially when other students are also stressed and hurried. Instead of being someone this student disrespected, I was someone this student had, in a way, trusted to see their absence and go looking for them.

I sent an email to the student expressing my concern at their absence without judgment or hints of being pissed. I got no answer. I took this information to our Dean of Students and asked her to check in. I was the only one who asked.

Sometimes I need to look for the red-flags and not just see the red.

(Liz Stillman)

April 24, 2023 in Meetings, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Survey reminder no. 3,564,722

Last week, we sent out another email with the individual and institutional survey links to all AASE members. If you didn't receive it, please email me at: [email protected] and I'll get it to you!

The data that we amass as a result of this survey will help our profession know a number of things:

  1. Who we are: who are the ASP professionals in our nation's law schools
  2. What we do: so, so much, but more specifically we will have information on what classes we teach, workshops we offer, bar prep (during and after law school), orientation programs...really everything we offer to our students.
  3. How we are valued, classified, and compensated. This cannot change if we do not know the baseline.
  4. How we spend our time in these roles, doing all this work.

 As promised (threatened?), here is a limerick for the occasion:

There once was a survey from AASE     

That didn’t take up all that much space

It asked for the info we need

To help us succeed

In making our tenure track case!

The deadline to answer (APRIL 14TH!!!) is TOMORROW!!!.

Please do not make me resort to sonnets.

(Liz Stillman)

April 13, 2023 in Meetings, Professionalism, Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2023

BOLO

Please be on the lookout for the 2023 AASE surveys later this week. We plan to launch the individual and institutional surveys on Wednesday and have them remain open until April 14th.  We are looking to collect data on who we are, who we serve, our status in the academic hierarchy, and what we do both inside and outside the ASP/Bar Prep paradigms. We will be presenting our findings at the AASE 10th Anniversary Conference in May.

Please, everyone, fill out your individual survey when you receive it!  It is entirely anonymous. If you are a program director, you get to fill out two surveys (yay!): one for yourself and one for your school.

Our quest for equity begins with the collection of data. We are valuable members of every law school’s faculty team, and while it seems unsavory (and sometimes outright unfair) to have to prove ourselves to get the respect (and salary) we deserve, we must. More participation gives our data more credibility for use later on.

Be counted and seen!

(Liz Stillman)

March 27, 2023 in Meetings, Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 23, 2023

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough

It is that time of year when ASP folks are inundated with students who have had an epiphany about their study habits -- usually brought on by grades that were less than stellar. It is also the time of year when students with grades that our law school is concerned about are told to come visit ASP. These students all have a few Cs and have been told that this GPA might not be good enough to continue after the first year. They are frightened, chastened, and often need the tissues and the chocolate I've stocked for this season. I have a general plan for working with these students-almost a template: go over the bad exams, let's see where the deficiencies are (not phrased that way!), and let's get started with building the skills to avoid them for the next set of exams. If the issue is output (lack of IRAC, multiple choice questions that were confusing, etc., time), I get them started on practice questions ASAP. If it is input (didn't outline, didn't study efficiently, missing classes, other distractions), I get them started on building better habits and practice. If it was a mental health issue, or some outside trauma, I ask if they are in a better place, make sure that they are getting help, and then send them to practice (but very gently). I'm sure you do something very similar. This is the bread and butter of ASP. Time-proven technology that is individualized for each student.

But (you knew there would be a but), what do you do with the students who come to you with very good grades? Recently, before I even got a chance to email the 1Ls who will be notified that they should be seeing me, another first year student asked to meet with me to discuss improving their grades. Their grades were: A, A-, A-, and the dreaded B+. I had some good advice about improving their social life--i.e., don't complain to anyone else about these grades--that I kept to myself. I also did not want to dismiss the student with a "those are great grades, whatever you are doing, keep doing it." Although, I will admit this was my first thought along with, "do you realize that there are students here who would kill for those grades????" All I could think of was that Michael Jackson song, "[k]eep on, with the force, don't stop. Don't stop 'til you get enough1." Sigh.

Yet, I would never turn away a student who asked for help-even if my knee jerk reaction was that they did not need it. So, I followed the protocol-I told them to go talk to the professors and ask what was good, what might have been better on the exams,  and then to come back to me so we can start working on those things. I warned them that the professors might be seeing students with lower grades first so that they would need some patience.  I'm guessing I'll see them again by late February-hopefully.

In a way, I respect this student's drive, and in another way, I am a little concerned about it as well. So rather than act as a surly gatekeeper to the ASP resources in this situation, I thought it might be a good idea to keep an eye on this student to remind them every now and then that the goal is learning. I fully understand that if their grades are worse in the spring, I might be considered the reason. 

Academic support is more than academic. We all know it, so while this student may not need academic help, they do seem to need support. So, if I am their personal Stuart Smalley2 who helps them see that they are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, they belong in law school, maybe that will be enough.

(Liz Stillman)

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yURRmWtbTbo
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Smalley#:~:text=%22I'm%20good%20enough%2C,%2Ding%20all%20over%20yourself.%22

January 23, 2023 in Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Meetings, Professionalism, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Mark Your Calendar - ASP Presentations January 2023 at AALS Conference

AALS ASP Meeting 23 Highlights copy

November 22, 2022 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Request for Proposals

NECASP IS HAVING THEIR ANNUAL ONE DAY CONFERENCE  (VIA ZOOM) ON DECEMBER 9TH, 2022. Below is their request for proposals:

RFP Deadline Extended to November 8

Request for Proposals: Presentations and Scholarly “Works in Progress” New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) Conference Friday, December 9, 2022, 10am-3pm ET via Zoom Hosted by the Suffolk University Law School (Zoom link to follow)

NECASP will be holding its annual one-day conference online this December. Our topic this year is “Strengthening Our Core: Attaining Equity for Academic Support and Bar Professionals.” We will gather online to share and explore ideas with ASP colleagues on issues surrounding the attempts towards attaining parity in status in academia for ASP and Bar Professionals.

We welcome a broad range of proposals –from presenters in the New England Region and beyond –and at various stages of completion –from idea to fruition. Please note that we may ask you to co-present with other ASP colleagues depending on the number of proposals selected.

If you wish to present, the proposal process is as follows:

  1. Submit your proposal by 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, via email to Philip Kaplan at [email protected]
  2. Proposals may be submitted as a Word document or as a PDF 3. Proposals must include the following:    

            a. Name and title of presenter

            b. Law School

            c. Address, email address, and telephone number for presenter

            d. Title

            e. If a scholarly work in progress, an abstract no more than 500 words

            f. Media or computer presentation needs

4. As noted above, proposals are due on November 8, 2022. The NECASP Board will review the proposals and reply to each by November 17, 2022.

If you have any questions about your proposal, please do not hesitate to contact one of us, and we look forward to seeing you at our conference!

2022-23 NECASP Board Members:

Chair: Phil Kaplan, Associate Professor of Academic Support Suffolk University, [email protected]

Vice-Chair: Brittany Raposa, Associate Director & Professor of Bar Support Roger Williams School of Law, [email protected]

Treasurer: Danielle Kocal, Director of Academic Success The Elizabeth Haub School of Law / Pace University, [email protected]

Secretary: Erica Sylvia, Assistant Director of Bar Success & Adjunct Professor of Law University of Massachusetts School of Law, [email protected]

(Liz Stillman)

November 2, 2022 in Meetings, Miscellany, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 29, 2022

An Illusion

Did you know that the collective noun for a group of magicians is an “illusion?”[1] I believe that Academic Support Professionals are the magicians of law school academics, not because we engage in sorcery, but because we do so much hard work behind the scenes that it seems like things just happen.

Last week, I was lucky to be able to share the tricks of the trade (with the best community of colleagues ever!) at the 9th Annual AASE Conference at the lovely St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas and on Zoom!  I already knew that ASP folks are the hardest-working, kindest, and most generous people. I was also aware that we are supreme innovators. In short, the brain power in the sessions at our conference could have provided enough energy for the entire state of Texas.[2] And it would have been a clean, renewable source of power!

It was amazing to be in the company of people who truly understand the work—and the flip side of doing so much important work often without having job security or recognition. I know that I am extremely fortunate that my law school is supportive and offers long-term contracts with options for more security,[3] as well as funding for scholarship and conferences. Yet, academic support and bar prep are often seen as—oh wait, actually, we are often not seen at all…

At a faculty meeting last week, after what I consider a big win that added a DEI course graduation requirement,[4] we moved on to an agenda item that tangentially dealt with tenure policy. During this discussion, a tenured, doctrinal faculty member referred to people who had our (ASP and other non-tenure track) faculty status as “faculty with a small f.” As in, essentially, lower case “f” faculty should very clearly not be allowed to vote on tenure policy changes. Yes, I had a big F reaction to that.[5] That was more than just rain on my parade, it was a full-on blizzard: cold and windy. Following my glorious moment in the sun, I was returned to my cubby crumpled and dirty like a kindergartener’s lunchbox after recess.

It is moments like this that make a national conference of all the law school thaumaturges[6] even more imperative for the survival of our profession. We need to work together to collectively ask that the curtain be pulled back so that our doctrinal colleagues[7] can see the work that is often going on out of their sight. There is no magic in what we do, just a lot of hard work that should be transparently visible.

A huge thank you to Afton Cavanaugh and the team at St. Mary’s for solving the huge logistical puzzle that this hybrid conference must have presented!! It was glorious and I am truly enriched by the endless magnificence of this community. I am already looking forward to next year’s 10th annual AASE conference at Santa Clara Law.[8]

And finally, did you know that the collective noun for a group of doctrinal professors is known as a “pomposity?[9]” 

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] http://www.collectivenouns.biz/list-of-collective-nouns/collective-nouns-people/

[2] Texas is huge! I knew it was big before, but I really had not understood it until I was there.

[3] A presumptively renewable contract-but not tenure.

[4] I was the leader on this effort, and I am crazy excited that it really happened!

[5] Silently-but I am originally from the Bronx. I’ll just leave it at that.

[6] https://www.dictionary.com/browse/thaumaturge (I had a little fun with google on this…)

[7] Those who don’t already know-there are always going to be allies in every school!!

[8] May 23-25, 2023-save the dates!

[9] http://www.collectivenouns.biz/list-of-collective-nouns/collective-nouns-people/

May 29, 2022 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Professionalism, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 10, 2022

Rebuttable Presumptions

When I was in high school, and college and law school, I would tell my parents when I was nervous about exams like SATs, midterms, finals... And they would always answer, “you’ll be fine.” I’m not complaining about the faith they had in me, but even after I explained the reason for my extra concern, the answer remained the same. I was dismissed. It didn’t help me feel better in any way and certainly didn’t help me prepare for what was ahead.

Grades were released last week at my law school, and it has been…a lot. I can hear a lot of you nodding in agreement right now. In between extremely interesting AALS sessions, I spent hours speaking with students towards the end of the week. And like most of you, I met with students at all positions on the grade spectrum from, “I don’t know how I got an A-“ to “Am I going to get dismissed?”

Our list-serv has also been full of amazing emails and messages we [1]send students to get them through this time-all starting with the basic idea that “your grades do not define you.” I wholeheartedly agree that students are more than their grades and that their grades do not define them. Collectively, in the next few weeks, we will help students make study plans, assure them that they have more exam experience going forward, and remind them that we are here to help. We will give advice to talk to professors about exam performance, diagnose the issues or types of questions that plagued their exam, and offer practice materials. We will take action.

Yet, there is an elephant in the room: how can I tell students that they are not their grades and at the same time fail to acknowledge the reality that until they have some legal work experience, they may, in fact, be defined by their grades. I am telling them to transcend the grades at the same time I am helping them make plans to get better ones. They know, and they know that I know, that potential employers do care about class rank even I don’t agree with that as a bright line rule for granting interviews (and trust me, “don’t agree” is an extremely diluted way to express how I feel about that)[2]. I worry that I am being dismissive if I say it shouldn’t matter-or even worse-misleading some students to blame circumstances (or people) they cannot control for the grades they received. I absolutely know that some students are laid low by circumstances outside of their control (I had a student whose house burned down last year), but frequently students need to own (or adversely possess) the bad grades to make positive changes.

I think some of the hardest work I have done these past few days (and I assure you, my dance card is full today as well) is speaking to students who need to plead their case to a committee to be allowed to stay in law school (after one seemingly catastrophic semester). There is, per our academic rules, a presumption of dismissal (albeit rebuttable). We advise our students to share all the distractions, traumas, and circumstances that led to this situation. No doubt, this pandemic will be the underlying cause of trauma and academic distress long after we box up our masks and hope they get moldy in the basement from non-use.  More importantly, students need to tell the committee about the plans they have made to deal with these issues. I remind them to tell the committee that they are taking control over what is in their power to control and talk about their plans to ask for help when what is uncontrollable becomes too much. I assure them that asking for, and receiving, help is a sign of maturity and resilience-not weakness. And we should not forget that the next time these students take an exam, they will have an extra layer of stress added because they need to do better and are still frightened by how things went last time.

I will definitely tell students that things are going to be okay (and more often than not, they will be)-but it cannot be the only thing I tell them. I know students need to hear those words in my voice, but I also need to be certain that they will benefit from hearing it more than I will.

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] Thank you to Melissa Hale, Susan Landrum, and Kirsha Trychta!

[2] I don’t even agree with ranking them, but that will be another post.

January 10, 2022 in Advice, Exams - Theory, Meetings, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 8, 2022

ASPalooza

Happy New Year!

I know that we are still basking in the (blue light) glow of the ASP sessions of the AALS annual meeting, but I wanted to make sure that I mentioned a few of the highlights (ones that I saw-I probably missed some important things since the AALS session schedule is like a Cheesecake Factory menu).

First, my amazing colleague at Suffolk University Law School, Sarah Schendel, was honored with the Trailblazer Award at the annual meeting of our section on January 4th. This was a richly deserved recognition of her scholarship and contributions to ASP! Also, we welcomed new leadership to our executive board and thanked our past leaders for their amazing work.

The Academic Support and Technology, Law and Legal Education Joint Program (Co-Sponsored by Pre-Law Education and Admission to Law School) panels on “Leveraging Technology to Increase Student Engagement in Online Courses” and “Who Should Own the Course Content Created for Online Delivery?” on January7th were informative and timely--considering that many schools will likely reopen remotely this spring (we are going remote for the first two weeks). Charles Calleros wonderfully explained the best practices to establish and maintain student engagement. I loved the idea of creating a more flipped experience with DIY videos paired with short quizzes that Martha Ertman discussed. Our own Louis Schulze’s methods of using the Zoom chat to empower students to be experts was incredibly interesting. The other methods he outlined to keep students engaged were really helpful as I organize classes for the upcoming semester.  Jane Grise’s discussion of how screens effect our reading and attention was something I will be absolutely be more cognizant of in planning my two weeks (hopefully!) of remote classes -she also presented us with an opportunity to get up and dance (well, she said to stretch, but it was a Friday and all).

The next panel on the ownership of created materials used in online delivery was eye-opening (and full of twists and turns). While the work-for-hire doctrine might make our scholarly writings and course materials (absent contractual provisions to the contrary), the property of the schools we work for since we are employees, the panelists (and some great questions from the crowd) have left me wondering who has rights to our created ASP study techniques and skills materials since these are mainly expressions of ideas and whether writing is actually within the scope of my employment. I will be looking at my employee handbook more carefully to determine our institutional intellectual property policies. I took three pages of notes on the applicable intellectual property law during this panel-and later this weekend, I’ll be sure to put them in outline form (little ASP humor).

All in all, I was reminded, yet again, of how amazing the ASP community is-we are intelligent, prolific, and generous.

(Liz Stillman)

January 8, 2022 in Meetings, Publishing, Teaching Tips, Web/Tech, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)