Friday, March 12, 2021
The Clinical Professor for Bar Success will work with the Associate Deans of Students, Clinical Professors of Academic Success, faculty, and others, in both locations [Moscow and Boise], to create and provide programming designed to improve students’ bar preparation efforts by advising, counseling, and supporting students individually, co-teaching an applied legal reasoning course for third-year law students to assist them in preparing for the bar examination, and developing and working with students and others in small group or workshop settings to promote bar success.
Thursday, March 11, 2021
You've most likely heard the expression that "there's a method to our madness." I'm not so sure that's true in much of legal education, at least when it comes to teaching and learning.
I sometimes wonder if there's not much of a method, beyond the Socratic method, which means that there might be a just a lot of plain madness without methods. If so, then I suspect that we are leaving a lot of learners behind. And our world needs each of them, each of their voices, their experiences, and their skills.
Big picture wise, I have a hunch that the method of legal education might be summarized as "outside-in" teaching. By this I mean that our teaching practices seem to suggest that we believe that the best way to teach our students to learn is to have them hear from us, to listen to us, to watch us, and to emulate us. "Outside-in."
But research on legal education suggests that much if not most learning takes place outside of the classroom. It's "inside-out." It's the work that our students undertake within themselves to make memories with the materials, to create new connections to what they've learned before, and to experience and grow as creative thinkers and critical problem-solvers.
Everyday I skim the news and learn nothing.
Why not? Because I don't act on it. By my actions (or rather lack of actions) I seem to think - erroneously - that just by taking the news in that I am in some way learning something new about the world around me. After all the word "news" is derived from the singular "new."
But nothing new happens to me unless I take another step, unless I change something about me and how I view the world, in short, unless I act upon what I read.
That takes resolve, work, time, reflection, passion, commitment, and patience. That's because, if I were to brainstorm possible words that might serve as synonyms to learning, I think that the word I would choose would be "growing." Learning means growing. So as you work with students, you might ask them how they view learning. Better yet, ask them what they are doing to learn...today. In fact, you might ask them to share examples of "inside-out" learning (and how that helped them learn). (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
It occurs to me that this time last year I had no idea what was coming. The last week in February, first week in March, I was actually in NYC with some wonderful colleagues, finishing up our CALI lessons. We took precautions, I remember bringing Clorox wipes for the plane and the hotel, but it was all still relatively normal. We went out to dinner, and looking back at those pictures we were so close to one another. We really had no idea how things were about to change.
I remember this week last year I was looking forward to a trip to New Zealand, my first ever, to visit my mother-in-law. My husband and I were excitedly booking tours at Hobbiton and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. I had just ordered a new bathing suit for the hot springs. We had no idea that the trip would be indefinitely delayed.
It also seems crazy to me that this time last year I had planned a 200 person gathering, with pizza, for my students. My “Bar Orientation”. It turned out to be the last day we would all be on campus.
What seems strangest to me is that when I left campus, I really thought this would be over by summer. We all chatted about graduation plans, and I remember thinking that canceling graduation was downright silly, because surely this would all be over by May, right? I had summer plans, for my 40th birthday, that included a large party, and two concerts. I celebrate a birthday week, ok? And again, I thought there was no way we’d still be in a pandemic when July came around! Not possible! I also remember hesitating to order a mask, because by the time it arrived, who would be wearing masks?
I was obviously incredibly naïve. But I’m not sure any of us really understood how much things would change, or that we were spending our last “normal” days having no clue they were so normal.
All of this to say that we are upon an anniversary that is not remotely normal, and it’s perfectly ok to feel strange. We have all missed so much; milestone birthdays, vacations, weddings, graduations, or just normal interaction with our friends and family.
This has been an odd year for all of us, students, faculty, administrators. I miss my colleagues, and just being able to run into them in hallways or share a lunch. I miss my students, and meeting with them in person, mostly because I can’t give them chocolate over zoom, nor can they just “pop by” my office. I miss being in the classroom. Sure, I don’t miss my commute, and I am enjoying comfy pants WAY too much, but I’m also mourning the loss of a year without my colleagues and students. So it’s ok to feel strange, to feel off this week, and to feel like none of this is normal. Because it really isn’t! It’s ok to mourn what we’ve lost, or appreciate the fact that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Take time to grieve, even if you are “mostly” ok. Give yourself time to process. And hopefully next year this will be part of our past!
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Hat Tip to Shane Dizon who forwarded the NYBOLE news to the listserv. If you haven't seen it, the excerpt is below. With another round of remote bar exams, will the NCBE consider whether computer testing leads to different scores? The inability to effectively notate, draw property transactions, and write out the communications in contract formation must have an impact on taker's ability to solve the legal question. I don't believe the functions through the exam software are as effective as the ability to write in the book. My hope is the NCBE would analyze the impact of remote testing on MBE performance. I also hope they publish their findings.
UPDATED MARCH 5, 2021:
JULY 2021 BAR EXAMINATION
On February 2, 2021, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) announced that it will make a full set of Uniform Bar Exam materials available for a remote examination in July 2021. Although vaccinations are now available and the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing, the COVID-19 pandemic has not abated sufficiently to permit the Board of Law Examiners to safely conduct in-person testing of large numbers of bar applicants in New York. Therefore, in order to provide sufficient notice to prospective bar exam applicants, the July 2021 New York Bar Examination will be administered remotely.
Application to the July 27-28, 2021 bar examination will be open to all eligible applicants. However, the Board will cap the number of applications at 10,000. The application filing period for the July 27-28, 2021 New York bar examination is April 1 – 30, 2021. The application will close on April 30, 2021 or when the 10,000 cap is reached. Applicants shall apply through their BOLE Account in the Applicant Services Portal.
Since the results from the February 2021 bar examination are not anticipated to be released until late April, applicants who are unsuccessful on the February 2021 New York bar examination will be provided an opportunity to apply for the July 2021 bar examination after the release of the February 2021 New York bar exam results.
Friday, March 5, 2021
Otto Stockmeyer from WMU-Cooley Law School recently reposted one of his prior blog posts explaining the background and basics of IRAC. Most graders read answers where we believe the student knows more information than is written on the page. Many times students make incorrect assumptions about what scores points on exams. This is a good post to forward to students explaining the background of IRAC and providing a basic structure. Check it out here.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
I just read an article suggesting that learning to learn is the latest fad in higher education. Something that will pass, sooner or later, much like the buzz a few years back about learning styles. I'm not so sure.
Now I do have my doubts about the efficacy of lectures featuring talking-head presentations about how to learn to learn. That doesn't seem like learning how to learn. Rather, that seems like a good way, especially on zoom, to lull a class into a nice dreamlike state of slumber.
But, I've shown a few of the charts from the research reports to my students. When I show graphs to my students, I don't' talk. I wait. I wait some more. And I ask them what they see. I ask them what they learn from that chart about learning. I ask them how they might apply what they are learning to their academic work as law students. In other words, I have them act and create something personal from what they are witnessing so that what they are learning becomes part of them, becomes true to them.
So is learning to learn the latest craze? I can't say for sure. But it sure seems to be helping my students develop confidence in actively learning and diving into their studies, not as students, but as learners instead. And that's something to say, fad or no fad. (Scott Johns).
You've heard the quip about "the chicken or the egg, which comes first?"
Well, as the joke goes, "I've just ordered one of each from Amazon, so I let you know tomorrow!"
That got me thinking about memorization.
My students are really concerned about memorization, particularly because most of their law school exams, unlike bar exams, are open book/open note exams. But take a look at the word "memorization." That's a word of action, of a process, of recalling something previously learned. In other words, at its root core the word "memorization" derives from creating "memories." So how do you create memories when it comes to learning rules of law?
Or, to ask it another way, which comes first, memorization or memories?
Well, I think that the answer to that question is in the question because it's memories that we memorize. So the key to memorizing is to work through lots of problems, to test yourself with your study tools, in short, to create lots of memories with the rules. You see, memorization is just a fancy word for the process of experiencing memories through distributed and mixed practice over time. So, instead of worrying about memorization, make a memory (and lots of them). (Scott Johns).
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Two articles this week:
1. Milan Markovic (Texas A&M Law), In Defense of the Diploma Privilege (February 19, 2021).
From the abstract:
The bar examination has long loomed over legal education. Although many states formerly admitted law school graduates into legal practice via the diploma privilege, Wisconsin is the only state that recognizes the privilege today. The bar examination is so central to the attorney admissions process that all but a handful of jurisdictions required it amidst a pandemic that turned bar exam administration into a life-or-death matter.
This Article analyzes the diploma privilege from a historical and empirical perspective. Whereas courts and regulators maintain that bar examinations screen out incompetent practitioners, the legal profession formerly placed little emphasis on bar examinations and viewed them as superfluous for graduates of accredited law schools. The organized bar turned against the diploma privilege as the legal profession began to diversify, and some states abolished the diploma privilege specifically to block black law students from the profession. The notion that bar examinations ensure a base level of competence is a relatively recent construct.
Perhaps this history could be excused if there were evidence that bar examinations protect the public. However, drawing on cross-state attorney complaint and charge data as well as Wisconsin attorney disciplinary cases, I demonstrate that the bar examination requirement has no apparent effect on attorney misconduct. The complaint rate against Wisconsin attorneys is similar to that of other jurisdictions, and Wisconsin attorneys are charged with misconduct less often than attorneys in most other states. In addition, the rate of public discipline against Wisconsin attorneys who were admitted via the diploma privilege is the same as that of Wisconsin attorneys admitted via bar examinations.
A carefully drafted and enacted diploma privilege would comply with the Constitution’s Dormant Commerce Clause and would incentivize law schools to better prepare students for practice. States also have more direct means to address attorney misconduct than relying on ex ante measures such as bar examinations.
2. R. Bahadur, K. Ruth, K. Toliver Jones, Reexamining Relative Bar Performance as a Function of Non-Linearity, Heteroscedasticity, and a New Independent Variable, 52 N. Mex. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2021).
From the abstract:
One might think that if a law school’s graduates do better on the bar exam than their credentials on entering law school would have predicted, the law school’s faculty must have done a good job. Indeed, some scholarship makes that claim. But it is empirically untrue. What actually yields such superficially impressive results is not pedagogy but rather prestidigitation. When law schools manipulate their matriculant pools via academic attrition and transfer, that sleight of hand improves their bar performance rates. This article reveals the math behind the magic.
We challenge the assertion that effective pedagogy is the primary driver of a school’s overperformance on the bar examination by demonstrating the model misspecification of the linear regressions in support of that assertion. Our analyses, based on original code written for the program Mathematica, generate regression equations that clearly illustrate the error of applying linear regression to heteroscedastic, non-linear data, and the bias in favor of schools with mid-range LSAT and UGPA matriculants this misapplication causes.
Over and under performance on the bar examination, relative to the entering credentials of a school’s matriculants, can be explained in large part by combining the institutions’ academic attrition and net transfer rates into a single independent variable. We demonstrate the marked difference in the value of this variable between schools identified as overperforming and those identified as underperforming their matriculation credentials on the bar examination.
The article concludes by emphasizing the harm to legal education that stems from the unwarranted attribution of bar success to pedagogy and especially the harm this causes to untenured academic support faculty. We also raise the question of whether ABA standard 316—mandating a certain level of bar passage by law schools’ graduates—is ethically and morally supportable given the ability of schools to manipulate bar passage rates by modulating academic attrition and transfer rates.
(LNS, FIU Law)
Sunday, February 28, 2021
A golfer is staring down a putt to win the tournament. His mind races to everything he could have done to prepare for that moment. He wonders, "did I do enough?" Moments before the gun sounds, the sprinter's mind wanders "did I prepare hard enough?" The list could be endless. Notable sports psychologists say one of the top fears of athletes is the fear of not doing enough and not being good enough. The fear permeates minds moments before an event and can distract from performance.
Athletes aren't alone. Law students fear the same thing every November/December and April/May. They wonder if they read enough, studied enough, or completed enough practice problems. Some wonder if they met with professors enough. Enough becomes the amorphous standard to measure past actions mere moments before performance.
The enough standard poses a few problems. The standard is too vague to reasonably measure, and it is different for every person. Students then proceed to say last semester's actions were or were not enough based on final grades. Grades are a poor measure of "enough." Enough connotes quantity, and sometimes, students do study enough. They just studied the wrong way or wrong material.
The more significant problem with enough is it breeds perfectionism. Athletes don't know whether they are training enough while training, and without that feedback, they could always do more. The golfer could practice 100 more 5 foot putts, and the 5 footer to win would be easier. The swimmer could stay in the pool an hour longer or lift weights 1 more time. One mistake and they didn't do enough. Perfectionism and drive produces elite athletes. Google athlete quotes and you will be inundated with statements about working harder than everyone else. I highly encourage working hard, but perfectionism significantly increases mental health problems. Britain's "Victoria Pendleton (Britain’s most successful female Olympian), middle-distance runner Kelly Holmes (double gold winner at the Athens Olympics), boxer Frank Bruno (heavyweight champion of the world) and cricketer Marcus Trescothick (hero of the 2005 Ashes)" all suffered from depression.1 Their mental health deteriorated from perfectionism.
The same phenomenon happens to law students. They worry about every mistake and whether the semester was enough. We can continue to help students worrying whether they did enough.
The same phenomenon happens to ASPers as well. Maybe it was just me, but my mind raced last week at the bar exam. Did I hold enough programs? Did I contact students enough? Did I do as much as I could in a virtual environment? Did I respond to email quickly enough? I cheered on students while worrying if I could have prepared them better.
Enough is a terrible standard for all of us. I want all of us to help both law students and each other overcome the worry of doing "enough." I tell my students that all I care about is whether they can walk out of the exam and say they did everything they could reasonably do in their circumstances. Everyone's circumstances are different, and I only want them to do what they reasonably can. I want to tell all ASPers the same thing during this trying time. Enough is doing what you reasonably can in your circumstances. Don't let it reach perfectionism.
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Western State College of Law (WSCL) at Westcliff University invites applications from candidates for a long-term contract-track position in the Academic Support Program beginning July 1, 2021. We seek candidates with prior experience in teaching academic support or bar preparation, strong academic backgrounds, a commitment to teaching excellence, and demonstrated potential for productive scholarship.
WSCL is located in the city of Irvine, California – close to miles of famous beaches, parks, recreation facilities and outdoor activities as well as the many museums, music venues, and diverse cultural and social experiences of greater Los Angeles.
Founded in 1966, WSCL is the oldest law school in Orange County, California, and is a fully ABA approved for-profit, private law school. Noted for small classes and personal attention from an accessible faculty focused on student success, WSCL is proud that our student body is among the most diverse in the nation. Our 11,000+ alumni are well represented across public and private sector legal practice areas, including 150 California judges and about 15% of Orange County’s Deputy Public Defenders and District Attorneys.
WSCL is committed to providing workplaces and learning environments free from discrimination on the basis of any protected classification including, but not limited to race, sex, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, veteran status, genetic marker or on any other basis protected by law.
Confidential review of applications will begin immediately. Applications (including a cover letter, complete CV, teaching evaluations (if available), a diversity statement addressing your contributions to our goal of creating a diverse faculty. and names/email addresses of three references) should be emailed to Professor Todd Brower, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about WSCL, visit: wsulaw.edu
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Sometimes I wonder if being a teacher is a bit of an act. If so, or at least if that's how I am playing my role in academic support, I might not be doing it quite right. I might not be really serving my students but myself instead.
You see, I love to be seen. In fact, when working with students, I find myself too often trying to mold them to think like me, to work through problems like me, to learn like me. In short, to watch me. But, that's a big problem because none of them - not one - is like me. We are all remarkably and marvelous and wonderfully different.
That means that my job is really not to be seen but to see, to observe, to listen, and to respond to my students. In short, I'm not the star; they are. And that makes a world of difference in how I approach academic support as a teacher, a coach, a facilitator, a mentor, and an encourager.
To put an emphasis on it, if I am only wanting to be seen, then I'm falling up short in my obligations to my students as an academic support professional. But if I am seeing them, like much in life, that's the beginning of understanding, learning, and growth, for my students and for myself.
Let's make this honest. Too often I do all of the talking, teaching, and coaching that I end up crowding out much of the learning.
To be frank, that's because I have "relationship" issues. I'm not confident enough in my abilities to actually help them, to listen to them, to respond with them.
But, as many have pointed out, the best solutions for overcoming learning difficulties come from within not without. So, as I move forward in my role as an academic support professional, I find myself trying to move a little out of the way so that my students can take center stage.
After all, it's for them that I serve. It's for them that we serve. (Scott Johns).
This week the Association for Academic Support Educators ("AASE") published Best Practices for Online Bar Exam Administration. AASE President, DeShun Harris, says that the best practices advocate for "procedures that ensure a fairer test for online test takers." The organization, established in 2014, urges state high courts and bar examiners to adopt these procedures. The AASE Bar Advocacy Chair, Marsha Griggs, says "many of the best practices that we identified are things that bar examiners are already doing." Yolonda Sewell, Vice President for Diversity, adds that in addition to the great strides that bar examiners have made in deploying an online exam, we seek to make sure that the online administration does not unfairly disadvantage any bar applicant on the basis of skin tone, race, gender orientation, biophysical conditions, disability, need for test accommodations, or socio-economic resources. The Best Practices are aimed to level the playing field, both among applicants of varied backgrounds, and between the online and in-person versions of the exam."
One of several effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, was that bar examiners and bar applicants questioned the wisdom and feasibility of administering in-person exams in the traditional large group format. In response to COVID-19 limitations, the first online bar examinations in the United States were administered between July and October 2020.
With but a few exceptions, the online exams were remotely proctored using artificial intelligence technology provided by a commercial vendor. As the exam dates approached many issues surfaced surrounding the use of facial recognition software and remote proctoring. One prominent issue was the number of complaints voiced from students who are people of color, asserting that the software did not recognize them. During and after the exam, other complaints sounded, ranging from data breaches, and poor technical support, to "flagging" hundreds or thousands of applicants for alleged cheating or "testing irregularities." At the extreme, some applicants reported having to sit in their own waste—as the exam instructions warned applicants about being out of view of the camera except during scheduled breaks—for fear of failing the exam. Additionally, there were reported issues with the technical delivery, submission, and scoring of the Multistate Performance Test, and jurisdictional scoring errors that wrongly identified applicants who earned passing scores as exam failures, and falsely notifying others who failed the exam that they had passed.
AASE lauds the efforts of bar examiners at the local and national levels for their flexibility and willingness to provide options for remote administration. While we defer to the proven expertise of the test-makers in determining matters related to exam content, scoring, accommodations and character and fitness eligibility, we add our collective expertise in assessment delivery, performance application, and enhancement pedagogies for non-traditional test takers. We recognize that online bar exam delivery will outlive the pandemic and current circumstances. We also believe all who play roles in the process of creating and delivering a bar exam, want the exam to be fair and effective. In light of those dual goals, we think the time is ripe for adoption of additional policies that are more than performative gestures toward a more diverse legal profession.
(Association of Academic Support Educators)
Monday, February 22, 2021
Building on the overwhelming success of the 2019 conference, the biannual Online & Hybrid Learning Conference returns in 2021. The COVID-19 crisis proved a powerful accelerant of the trends that were identified at the 2019 conference, and much has been learned in the process. This conference seeks to bring together research derived from the Emergency Remote Teaching phase (Mid-March to June, 2020) and the more measured and planned Academic Year 2020-21, and use the data to identify emerging best practices.
Distance education and other modern learning tools are at work in legal education and have now been applied across a broad sampling of schools. Outcomes-oriented design, integrated formative and summative assessment, online simulations, asynchronous learning, and other hallmarks of distance education have demonstrated efficacy in law teaching for 20 years (though a robust empirical research agenda has yet to develop). The interesting questions continue to center around how and where these modern learning tools and disciplines can be used to best advantage in the law school curriculum. Expertise now abounds among the academy, and this conference aims to collect and share it.
Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):
- Evidence-Based Pedagogy in Online or Hybrid Teaching Environments
- Pedagogy in Practice
- Instructional Design – What We’ve Learned by Working with ID
- Achieving Professional Identity Formation Outcomes via Online and Hybrid Teaching
- Using Assessment Data in Evolving Online and Hybrid Teaching Environments
- Making our Hybrid and Online learning Environments Inclusive and Supportive of all Students
- Which Parts Go Where: Design Thinking Applied to Hybrid Legal Education
- Micro-credentials and Stacking of Credentials - Developing Program Outcomes
- Permeability of the Bricks and Mortar Building; Beyond Traditional Thinking
- What Student Can Tell Us -- Now
If you’re interested in presenting, please send a one-to-two-page proposal to David Thomson, John C. Dwan Professor for Online Learning, University of Denver, 2255 E. Evans Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80208 (David.Thomson@du.edu) in Microsoft Word (or the equivalent). The deadline for proposals is Monday, March 22, 2021.
Brooklyn Law School’s legal writing and academic success programs are hiring a Visiting Assistant Professor for the 2021-2022 academic year. A professor in this position likely would teach one section of students in our year-long 1L legal writing program (approximately 20 students) and a combination of 1L and upper-division academic success intervention courses. The position will report to the Director of Legal Writing, Professor Heidi Brown, and to the Director of Academic Success, Professor Shane Dizon.
To provide applicants with background about our legal writing program, last year, Brooklyn Law School launched our new seven-credit 1L legal writing curriculum, a change from our prior four-credit program. Our fall semester course (which increased from two to three credits) introduces students to the fundamentals of legal research and writing, focusing on objective legal analysis.
Last spring, we launched our brand new 1L legal writing course called Gateway to Lawyering. We offer four subject-matter “Gateways”: (1) Law and Business, (2) Law and Information, (3) Law and Social Justice, and (4) Law and Individual Life. We endeavor to place incoming students in their subject-matter area of preference. Each legal writing professor teaches one of the four Gateway courses. All four “Gateways” follow a similar syllabus progression and assignment/grading model, and offer consistent learning objectives. Teams of legal writing professors within each Gateway choose a statutory framework within the particular subject matter area that students work with throughout the semester. In the spring course, students produce three written works (descriptive, transactional, and persuasive) to advance a client’s interests. Students also learn and develop oral communication skills, including persuasive advocacy.
Brooklyn Law School’s academic success program is one of the oldest at any U.S. law school. It encompasses a pre-orientation program, Summer Legal Process (specifically geared towards students traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession), as well as orientation sessions, voluntary weekly skills workshops, one-on-one meetings, and guided final exam practice. Academic success professors also teach intervention courses required in the spring of 1L year, the fall of 2L year, and both semesters of 3L year for students below certain GPA cutoffs. Finally, the office provides skills workshops and individual assistance for graduates taking the February and July bar exams.
We welcome entry-level and experienced teachers to apply. Applicants must have a J.D., at least three years of legal practice experience, and experience reviewing and providing written and oral feedback on the legal work of students or junior attorneys. We are looking for innovative, collaborative, and creative educators to join our legal writing and academic success teams. As this is a newly created position, we welcome questions!
To apply, please submit a cover letter, résumé, and a list of three professional references to Professor Shane Dizon at email@example.com by Friday, March 5, 2021.
Friday, February 19, 2021
SOUTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL
ACADEMIC SUCCESS AND BAR PREPARATION
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW
Southwestern Law School invites applicants for an associate professor position for administration, counseling and teaching in the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Office to commence immediately. In this position, the chosen applicant will work closely with Assistant Dean for Academic Success, Natalie Rodriguez and Assistant Dean for Bar Preparation, Mary Basick primarily in the creation, administration, implementation and teaching of programs and courses as part of the academic support and bar preparation course curriculum.
Duties and responsibilities may include but are not limited to any of the following:
-Working with the Faculty of Academic Success and Bar Preparation Office to research, design, implement and manage academic and bar support programs, including pre-matriculation programs, first-year programs and pre and post-graduation bar preparation programs
-Teaching in the academic and bar support programs and courses
-Meeting with students individually and in small groups regarding academic and bar performance issues. This includes identifying and/or creating additional materials that would support a student’s individualized academic or bar improvement plan.
-Supervising student teaching and research assistants
-Assisting with additional services to enhance the academic and bar success of students
-Identify additional opportunities to support or enhance the Office’s offerings and/or developing materials
-J.D. from an ABA accredited law school
-Bar admission, admission to the California Bar preferred
-Experience in academic support and bar preparation preferred. Other teaching experience such as legal writing instruction will be considered
-Ability to work with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, including students, staff and faculty
-Ability to counsel, critique and guide students to self-improvement through a professional, rigorous, respectful, supportive and reliable commitment to them, including creating individualized materials
-Ability to work as part of a collaborative team of faculty in the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Office while having the ability to be a self-starter and self-manage individual work product
-Availability to teach and/or meet with students in the evening and occasional weekend, especially during bar preparation seasons
-Imagination, innovation and desire to grow into responsibilities in areas of mutual interest and need
-Understanding of, and ability to work for, the mission and goals of Southwestern Law School
-Professionalism and ability to work with confidential information
This is a full-time, year-round position with faculty voting rights. The salary is competitive. The successful applicant will also receive a competitive benefits package provided by Southwestern Law School.
Applicants should submit the following:
-A one page statement describing (a) prior teaching experience; (b) other relevant experience; and (c) aspirations for future legal education work
-Contact information for three professional references
Applications should be addressed to Assistant Dean Natalie Rodriguez and Assistant Dean Mary Basick and emailed to AcademicSuccess@swlaw.edu.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Like many of you, this week's been hectic, filled with chats and jam sessions to help graduates finish strong in preparation for next week's bar exam.
Most look tired, really tired. Me too.
So we took a break from consideration and equal protection and secured transactions to talk about steps we might take to provide refreshment to rejuvenate our battle-worn minds.
I don't know what possessed me, but I asked our students if they had time to take a break, a walk, or a little excursion from bar prep. But before they could answer "no", I answered for them. Simply put, I blurted out - like an excited utterance - that "you can't afford NOT to take a break!"
As reporter Betsy Morris explains:
"Spending times in the woods - a practice the Japanese call 'forest bathing' - is strongly linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue." Morris, B., "For Better Health, Just Head Outdoors," Wall Street Journal (Feb. 16, 2021). And, with respect to cognition, as Dr. Gretchen Daily observes based on research at Stanford University, "A 45-minute walk in nature can make a world of difference to mood, creativity, [and] the ability to use your working memory." Id.
In short, all work and no play is a recipe for disaster not success. Simply put, it doesn't work.
So, as you meet with bar takers for last moment tune-ups and encouragement, let them know that it's okay to take breaks, to put on a cap and gloves and hit a local park for a wintry walk. Along the way, they'll be not just feeding their spirits but also strengthening their minds. Now that's a great way to prepare for success, whether it's on the bar exam or in life. (Scott Johns).
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Lisa M. Blasser, Nine Steps to Law School Success: A Scientifically Proven Study Process for Success in Law School (Carolina Academic Press, 2021).
From the publisher's description:
Nine Steps to Law School Success is the first scientifically proven study process for success in law school. Synthesized from the study processes of other successful law students, this book provides a straightforward, linear, and chronological study process for students to follow from the beginning of the semester up to their final examination. Students will learn how to complete each step, how each step leads to a deep understanding of course material, and how each step ultimately leads to success in their courses. Students will also learn how to incorporate Nine Steps into their weekly schedules during the semester.
Foundational ASP Scholarship:
Michael Hunter Schwartz, Teaching Law Students to Be Self-Regulated Learners, 2003 Mich. St. DCL L. Rev. 447 (2003).
From the abstract:
This article articulates a model of self-regulated learning for law students and lawyers, explains why law schools should aspire to teach their students to be self-regulated learners and details a curriculum designed to accomplish that goal.
The first section of the article explains self-regulated learning. Self-regulated learning is a cyclical model of the learning process. In fact, all learners self-regulate, although many new law students are novice self-regulated learners. Self-regulation involves three phases. In the planning phase, learners decide what they want to learn and how they will learn it. Expert self-regulated learners are more likely to strive for mastery, to consciously make strategic choices in deciding how to study, and to consciously plan when and where they will study. In the second phase, expert learners implement their adopted strategies while monitoring whether they are learning and maintaining attention, and they quickly act to rectify confusion or distraction. In the reflection phase, expert learners evaluate their learning process to determine whether it was as effective and efficient as possible, attribute successes to personal competence and effort and failures to specific strategic choice errors, and plan how they will approach similar tasks in the future.
The second section argues that law schools should include self-regulated learning skills among the skills they teach. This section details education studies from within and outside of legal education that show that expert self-regulated learners learn more, learn it better and enjoy the learning process more than their novice peers.
The final section describes a curriculum designed to teach law students to be self-regulated learners. The curriculum, designed to replace law schools' traditional orientation programs, provides concrete ideas for teaching these skills and for reinforcing that instruction in students' first-year courses.
(Louis N. Schulze, Jr., FIU Law)
Friday, February 12, 2021
The New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) will be holding its annual conference virtually on March 26, 2021 at 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM EST. They are currently seeking presentation proposals from our larger community for this conference!
This year's conference theme is "'A Year in the Life:' Delivering ASP and Bar Support in our Ever Evolving Circumstances." It's hard to believe we have been remote for about a year now, and this conference will be centered on what worked, what didn't, and any related topic regarding this new normal.
Please submit a proposal by February 26.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Wow; do I ever get distracted...with emails...incoming snapchats....Facebook posts....and just the overall buzz of the omnipresent internet. There is so much NOISE that takes up so much of my TIME that I seem to get so LITTLE done. That's particularly true for me in preparing for big exams because, to be honest, I am a big-time procrastinator...with a CAPITAL P!
In fact, I was just fretting about how much I had to do (which, of course, is related to my procrastination issues) when I came across an article by Lucette Lugando describing how surgeons stay focused during organ transplants.
Hum...That's what I need. To Focus. To Stay on Task. To Just Get Something Meaningful Done Today! http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-surgeons-stay-focused-for-hours-1479310052
So, here are a few thoughts that I gleaned from Lugando's article that might be especially handy for law graduates preparing for the Feb 2021 bar exam (and for people like me who live to procrastinate):
First, put away my cellphone. Turn it off. Hide it. Ditch it.
As detailed in Lugando's article, "Transplant surgeons, whose work includes stitching minuscule blood vessels together, minimize their distractions. No one checks cellphones in the operating room during surgery."
No one checks their phones? Really? Are you kidding? Of course not, at least not during surgery. And, bar exam preparation requires us to do surgery, so to speak, on our study tools and on loads of practice exams.
Thus, as I create study tools or as I learn by taking practice exams, I can help myself mightily by placing my focus on my work at hand... rather than the cellphone that is so often in my hand...by removing the "cellphone temptation" out of my grasp. Who knows? It might even lower my anxiety to stop looking at it constantly.
Second, sharpen my field of vision to just the essentials (working on my study tools, practicing lots of exam questions, and looping the lessons learned from my practice problems back into my study tools) by creating an environment that is free of my own personal distractions...so that I focus on learning rather than the noise that is so often around me.
As Lugando points out, "The surgeons often wear loupes mounted on eye glasses to magnify their work, which limits their field of vision to a few inches."
In other words, with respect to bar exam preparation, maybe I need to limit my field of vision to the "few" essentials, namely, creating study tools, testing my study tools out through practice exams, and then editing my study tools to incorporate what I learned about problem-solving through the practice exams.
There's a saying, apparently by Winston Churchill, that says: "You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks." Or, as Bruce Lee put it, "The successful warrior is the average [person] with a laser-like focus."
So, instead of having the cellphone bark at you constantly, you might just try out what surgeons do...and turn your focus into a laser by getting rid of distractions during the final two weeks of bar prep as you create your study tools and practice lots and lots of bar exam problems.
In the process, you'll become, to paraphrase Bruce Lee, a bar exam champion. (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
I’ve had multiple students ask me this week “What should I do with the remaining 12 days before the Bar Exam?” so I thought I’d share my advice with anyone else that may be wondering.
First, 12 days is more than you think. I promise.
Second, remember that the goal is NOT to memorize everything. It’s not possible. So, if you don’t feel like you know every last piece of law ever that can possibly be tested on the exam, you are not alone. It’s a normal feeling!
So, what CAN you do?
Practice. Between now and the 19th or so, this is the last big push where you can practice. Make sure you’ve practice MBE sets in 100, and timed. Make sure you’ve written more than one essay at a time. Now might be the time two take 90 minutes and write 3 essays, or take 3 hours and write 2 MPTs! It’s one thing to write one essay in 30 minutes, it’s an entirely different thing to get through 6 at a time! It’s hard, it’s tiring, and it’s easy to lose focus. So, the only want to work on your stamina and timing is to practice. This upcoming weekend and week is the perfect time to get that in, and really make sure you are practicing in test like conditions, or as close as possible.
Start to work on memory and recall. Yes, there are things you just NEED to remember. This week, and until the day of the exam, take 5-10 minute chunks to work on memory. See this post for more on memory: https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2021/02/memorization-v-understanding.html
Finally the days leading up to the exam, the weekend before, take some time to relax. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s important.
Here is a little timeline to help:
Four Days Before the Bar Exam
This should be your last day of “heavy lifting” activities. Complete a set of 50 timed MBE questions. Complete a set of three MEE questions, timed. Complete a full-length timed MPT. Do not pick and choose between these – do all of them. This is the last day you will do practice that improves your stamina and timing. Remember, you should be doing these things all week, but four days before the exam is your cut off point.
Three Days Before the Bar Exam
In terms of bar exam preparation, today you should complete 15 to 20 MBE questions, complete one timed MEE question, outline three to five additional MEE questions, and complete one full-length timed MPT. You are tapering off. This isn’t an exact science – the point is that you are practicing, so you will feel prepared, but you aren’t tiring yourself out.
This is also the day to do something relaxing for yourself – watch a movie, go on a run. Do something that is going to make you feel less stressed. You should also be sure to go to bed early and eat well. Yes, that sounds like “mothering” but it’s good advice. On the days of the exam you will NEED to be well rested and refreshed.
Two Days Before the Bar Exam
Rinse and repeat yesterday. Today you should complete 15 to 20 MBE questions, complete one timed MEE question, outline three to five additional MEE questions, and complete one full-length timed MPT.
Take some more time to do something relaxing for yourself to help relieve some of that bar exam stress. And again - you should be sure to go to bed early and eat well.
Also, when I say do something relaxing for yourself, that can be almost anything that makes you happy. The point is to get out of your head a bit, and give yourself a break. I realize it might seem like the worst time to take a break, but it’s not. Your brain needs to feel “fresh” on exam days. Think of it like running a marathon – you don’t run 26.2 miles, or even 13 miles, the day before the marathon. You’d be exhausted. The days leading up to the actual marathon you might run 1-5 miles and stretch, and relax, and eat pasta. This is your mental marathon, so treat your brain accordingly.
One Day Before the Bar Exam
Today you should lighten the mental lift even more. Review your flashcards and other memory devices. Outline three to five MEE questions. Do five MBE questions to keep your brain in the practice of thinking through MBE questions without overly taxing it.
You also want to make sure you have everything ready for tomorrow. What types of ID do you need? What are you allowed to bring in with you to the exam? Make sure to have all those items pulled together and ready to go. Make sure your laptop is fully charged. And as silly as it sounds, map out how you will get to the exam location (if you are going to a location). Do you need to worry about parking? Are you taking a train? Do not leave anything to chance. Most of you, but not all, are currently looking at virtual exams. So do you have a good space to take the exam? Do you know how you will log in? What the timing is? Etc?
Finally, relax. You’ve put in so many hours, weeks, months of preparation – you’ve got this. Take some time to relax and unwind before bed. Eat a simple meal that will sit well with your potentially uneasy stomach. Lastly, head to bed a bit earlier than usual to account for nerves keeping you awake.
Day One of the Bar Exam
Today is the day. Make sure you are on time for check in and have everything with you. Today is filled with the MPT and MEE. At the lunch break and after the day of testing ends, do not talk with others about the contents of the exam. Invariably, one of you will think you saw a subject the other did not spot – and you won’t know who was right or wrong until you get your final bar results, so there is no benefit to discussing such matters now. Doing so will only freak you out and add to your anxiety.
After the testing day is complete, eat dinner and mentally decompress. If you must, review a few flashcards – perhaps the ones you still struggle with and want just one more run at. But this is not the time to do any serious review or learning because your brain is tired from today and needs to rest up for tomorrow. What is there is there. Have confidence that your hard work will pay off tomorrow!
Day Two of the Bar Exam
It is almost over! Today you will tackle the MBE and then – be done! After the testing day is over, just like yesterday – do not talk about the exam! Instead, relax, take a nap, celebrate!