Tuesday, May 1, 2018
I, along with about 40 other bar-exam professionals, attended the inaugural AccessLex Bar Exam Research Forum in Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2018.
The morning began with a keynote address entitled "The Bar Exam and the Future of Legal Education" presented by Patricia D. White, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law. Dean White outlined her role as the chair of a new 10-person Commission on the Future of Legal Education, an initiative of American Bar President Hilarie Bass. She explained that she and her fellow committee members intend to investigate: (1) the skill set needed to practice law, (2) access to justice issues, and (3) bar exam licensure requirements. Dean White then spoke about the potential causes for the "downturn" in nationwide MBE scores in 2014 and what it really means to be "minimally competent" to practice law. I found Dean White's presentation to be insightful, innovative, and inspiring. If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, I highly recommend it!
Rodney Fong, Associate Dean at The John Marshall Law School, spoke briefly about "Breaking Bar Pass Barriers Today" before we broke into our first of two working group sessions. Our task for the first working group session was to identify what research needs to be conducted to ensure that today's law students pass today's bar exams. The working groups suggested developing a database that includes detailed background information on each test taker, similar to the LSAC's handling of the LSAT; increasing collaboration between the ABA, NCBE, and the numerous state boards; and drawing upon other higher education disciplines and professional schools for guidance.
After lunch, Judith Welch Wegner, Professor Emerita and Dean Emerita of the University of North Carolina School of Law, discussed "The Future of the Bar Exam," focusing on what tomorrow's bar exam should look like and why. We then broken into our second working group session, with the goal of identifying what research needs to be conducted to produce the best new bar exam format by 2025. The working groups didn't hold back, offering suggestions ranging from administering sections of the bar exam after each year of law school to eliminating the exam entirely.
In short, AccessLex put together an extremely innovative and collaborative forum. With 40 key stakeholders in the same room (including representatives from the ABA and NCBE, law school deans, academic support professionals, statisticians, and higher education specialists), everyone was able to really dive deep into thoughtful discussions about how best to improve legal education generally, and the bar exam specifically. The program concluded with AccessLex inviting participants to apply for its inaugural Bar Success Research Grant. Initial letters of inquiry for the grant will be accepted during the month of May.
Monday, March 12, 2018
Last week's SWCASP workshop at UNT-Dallas was informative once again. I want to thank everyone who spent time putting the program together and presenting. I want to personally thank my colleague Jennifer Warren at OCU for taking the lead organizing the event this year. She worked diligently to put together the slate of speakers and organize the event. Preyal Shah did an amazing job at UNT Dallas hosting this year’s event. Lastly, I want to say thank you to all the speakers for preparing such amazing discussions. Here is my brief synopsis:
Scrapbooking for 1Ls: A Hands-On Approach to Legal Synthesis
Preyal Shah and Jessica Haseltine, UNT Dallas College of Law
Preyal and Jessica demonstrated an excellent exercise to help visual and kinesthetic learners. They provide students with different sizes of paper that are different colors. The sizes and color correspond to a hierarchy for outlining diversity jurisdiction. The exercise is setup like a puzzle. Students must take their Civ Pro class notes and fill in the rules and then piece together the hierarchy. After visualizing the structure and context, they transition students to writing essays about diversity. The exercise was outstanding. I can’t adequately describe the visual effect of seeing the rule structure. If you have struggling visual learners, definitely contact Preyal (or anyone attending) for information.
Rebecca Flanagan, University of Massachusetts School of Law
Rebecca was amazing, as always. She explained the characteristics of our new group of students. The semi-accurate quote that struck me was “Law School is based on students we used to have not the students we have now.” I definitely agree our students are different now than they were even when I first started in ASP. Rebecca explained how adulthood is defined by milestones, which can include getting a mortgage or having a full-time career. Previous generations of students met many of those milestones, but most of our students meet none of the adult milestones. Her discussion advocated for changing teaching to provide more context, scaffolding, and basic professional skills. Watch out for Rebecca’s articles as they are published because they will be a great resource for improving our teaching.
Emily Grant, Washburn University School of Law
Emily’s presentation was based on her law review article about Helicopter Professors. This is an interesting topic. I felt convicted after listening to her speak because I am probably (most likely) a helicopter professor. This is also interesting because the research says helicopter parenting is on the rise, and new parents are also our new generation of law professors. The idea that parenting styles would then enter the classroom makes sense to me. Helicopter parenting and teaching may not always be bad, but Emily does a great job of demonstrating some of the problems. I personally always worry that if I am not clearly structuring everything students should be doing on an hourly basis throughout the summer, then students won’t do what is necessary to succeed on the bar. My strategy may or may not really help students pass the bar, but it is definitely not helping them become an independently motivated attorney. I need to buy into her quote “Excessive Guidance that hinders learning.”
For Technical Assistance, Please Press 9
Kirsha Trychta, West Virginia University College of Law
Kirsha is definitely more tech savvy than I am. She provided resources to make ASP work more efficient and fun. The highlight for me was definitely how to make a lightboard. If you make videos for students, the lightboard is a fun way to make it more interactive. Here is the youtube video explaining lightboards. She was able to make the lightboard for approximately $2,500. If you want to build one, contact her about her experience. I plan to setup a meeting with our IT department as soon as I get back to see if this is possible. She also talked about making her outlook calendar public so students can see whether she is available. This decreases the number of students emailing or calling asking when she is available. They can look at her calendar and email for specific appointments. The aspect I enjoyed was students can’t see the specific appointments, but they can see when she is busy or available.
Law Success after Year One: Using a Mandatory Skills Curriculum to Tackle Bar Passage Rates
Zoe Niesel and Mike Barry, St. Mary’s University School of Law
Zoe and Mike built a comprehensive ASP program focusing on law school success, bar exam passage, and practice ready skills. First, I would applaud St. Mary’s for committing the resources to allow Zoe and Mike the ability to build such an extensive program. They have classes virtually every semester of law school with over 10 faculty and staff in their program. I loved their 2nd semester 1L course focused on professionalism and practice ready skills. They teach client interviewing and business communications among other skills. Students are grouped in law firms and must interview a simulated client played by a drama school student. Students then meet with a volunteer local attorney to present a strategy for the simulated client. I think students interacting with senior attorneys helps build professional skills students will need in the summer after first year. The contextual learning will also deepen student learning.
Great job by all the presenters. If you are interested in slides, Jennifer Warren from OCU will have all the slides.
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Join your ASP colleagues on Friday, March 9, 2018 at UNT Dallas College of Law for a one-day conference focused on innovative ideas for supporting the current generation of law students. The conference theme is "Assisting the Modern Law Student: Academic Support in Changing Times."
The conference will kick off on Thursday evening with a welcome dinner at 6:30 p.m. at Wild Salsa, sponsored by BarBri. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hampton Inn and Suites at 1700 Commerce Street, directly across from the street from the conference. Rooms can be reserved using the link included in the registration form. The tentative schedule for Friday, March 9 is below.
8:45 a.m. Registration and Breakfast at UNT Dallas College of Law
9:00 a.m. Scrapbooking for 1Ls: A Hands-On Approach to Legal Synthesis with Preyal Shah and Jessica Haseltine, UNT Dallas College of Law
10:00 a.m. Emerging Adults with Rebecca Flanagan, University of Massachusetts School of Law
11:00 a.m. Helicopter Professors with Emily Grant, Washburn University School of Law
12:00 p.m. Lunch at UNT Dallas College of Law
1:00 p.m. For Technical Assistance, Please Press 9 with Kirsha Trychta, West Virginia University College of Law
2:00 p.m. Law Success after Year One: Using a Mandatory Skills Curriculum to Tackle Bar Passage Rates with Zoe Niesel and Mike Barry, St. Mary’s University School of Law
Friday, January 26, 2018
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law teachers are utilizing technology in their classrooms across the curriculum. With the rising demands for teachers who are educated on active learning techniques and with technology changing so rapidly, this topic has taken on increased urgency in recent years. The Institute is interested in proposals that deal with all types of technology, and the technology demonstrated should be focused on helping students learn actively in areas such as legal theory and knowledge, practice skills, and guided reflection, etc. Accordingly, we welcome proposals for workshops on incorporating technology in the classrooms of doctrinal, clinical, externship, writing, seminar, hybrid, and interdisciplinary courses.
The Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. The workshops can address the use of technology in first-year courses, upper-level courses, required courses, electives, or academic support roles. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.
To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:
- The title of the workshop;
- The name, address, telephone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
- A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods.
The Institute must receive proposals by February 15, 2018. Submit proposals via email to Professor Sandra Simpson, Co-Director, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The conference is self-supporting. The conference fee for participants is $450, which includes materials, meals during the conference (two breakfasts and two lunches), and a welcome reception on Monday evening, June 18, 2018. The conference fee for presenters is $350. The conference workshops will take place all day on Tuesday, June 19, and until the early afternoon on Wednesday, June 20. Gonzaga University School of Law is hosting a welcome reception on the evening of June 18, 2018, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barrister Winery, located in the downtown area.
Presenters and participants must cover their own travel and accommodation expenses. Local hotel accommodations and additional information can be viewed here: Download Call for Proposals Gonzaga Summer 2018. (Kirsha Trychta)
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Happy New Year! Can you believe that it is 2018?! Here is a list of upcoming events for your 2018 calendar.
AALS Annual Meeting is happening right now! The Academic Support Business Meeting is Friday, January 5, 2018 from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time in Temecula Room 4, North Tower/Ground Level. This year, the committee will be providing the option of calling (or video chatting) into the Business Meeting via a Zoom Meeting, so that members who are not in attendance can still participate. The instructions for calling into the meeting are below.
Topic: AALS Business Meeting - Academic Support. Time: Jan 5, 2018 7:30 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada).
- Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/4693069357
- Join from iPhone one-tap: US: +16699006833,,4693069357# or +14086380968,,4693069357#
- Join by telephone: dial +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 638 0968 or +1 646 876 9923. For higher quality, dial a number based on your current location.
- Meeting ID: 469 306 9357
The Academic Support Section Program is Saturday, January 6, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon Pacific Time in the Pacific Ballroom Salon 15, North Tower/Ground Level.
Sharing Scholarship & Building Teachers Conference hosted by the Albany Law School. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule and the upcoming conference is not posted anywhere. However, this conference is typically held in February. The focus of this conference is on junior faculty who teach a wide variety of subjects. Click here for last year’s announcement.
6th Annual Southwestern Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Workshop hosted by UNT Dallas College of Law in Dallas, Texas on March 9, 2018. The theme is “Assisting the Modern Law Student: Academic Support in Changing Times.” The save-the-date announcement, including a list of presenters, is available here.
Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Externships 9 Conference hosted by the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, Georgia from March 9–11, 2018. A full schedule of events is currently available online.
Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference hosted by the University of Denver Sturm College Of Law in Denver, Colorado from March 23–24, 2018. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule. This conference is free but advance registration is required.
Southeastern Legal Writing Conference co-hosted by Emory University College of Law and Georgia State University College of Law at Georgia State College of Law in Atlanta, Georgia from April 21–22, 2018. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule.
AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Chicago, Illinois from April 29—May 2, 2018. The schedule is available to view online.
Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) Conference, hosted by the St. Louis University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri from May 22–24, 2018. Proposals are currently being accepted. The save-the-date announcement and rules for submitting a proposal can be found here.
Empire State Legal Writing Conference. Location and date to be announced. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule.
Law and Society Association’s Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada from June 7–10, 2018. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule.
AALS Workshop for New Law School Teachers in Washington, D.C. from June 7–9, 2018. The schedule for this conference is not yet published, but the primary focus is on helping new law teachers with teaching.
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Conference hosted by Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington from June 18 – 20, 2018. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule. Presentation proposals are still being accepted through February 1, 2018. For my blogpost review of the 2017 conference, click here.
Legal Writing Institute (LWI) Biennial Conference hosted by the Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 11–14, 2018. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule.
Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from August 5–11, 2018. A tentative proposal is available online, and, among the various teaching topics, it includes a presentation entitled “Bar Preparation Strategies for Law Professors and Academic Support Programs.” For my blogpost review of the 2017 conference, click here.
Western Regional Legal Writing Conference. The location and date for 2018 have not been announced. To view the 2017 announcement, click here.
Central States Legal Writing Conference. The location and date for 2018 have not been announced. To view the 2017 announcement, click here.
Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) Teaching Conference & LatCrit Junior Faculty Development Workshop hosted by Penn State Law at University Park, Pennsylvania from October 4 – 6, 2018. The conference committee has not yet released the schedule.
October/November Regional Conferences. The following conferences typically occur in October, but specific details are not yet available:
- New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers Annual Conference
- Capital Area Legal Writing Conference
- Annual Southern Clinical Conference
- Annual New England Clinical Conference
- Midwest Clinical Legal Education Conference
- West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals
LWI One-Day Workshops in various locations across the country during the first two weeks of December. The details are not yet available, but you can check the LWI webpage here periodically for updates.
Global Legal Skills Conference hosted by Melbourne Law School in Melbourne, Australia from December 10–12, 2018. A tentative schedule is available to view online.
Coming in 2019
Applied Legal Storytelling. The location and date for 2019 have not been announced.
Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) Biennial Conference. The location and date for 2019 have not been announced.
Kudos and Attributions
Professor Cathren Page of Barry University School of Law (with the help of Sue Liemer, Lurene Contento, Terry Pollman, Renee Allen, Sandra Simpson, and Kate Aschenbrenner) complied a non-exhaustive list of conferences that include presentations on teaching, legal writing, and academic support related topics and graciously shared their list with the legal writing listserv. Their listserv posting serves as the basis for this blog post. I added a few events, updated some of the details, and provided hyperlinks to the conference webpages when possible. I owe a big "thank you" to Professor Page and her colleagues. (Kirsha Trychta)
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
I went to the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) conference for the first time. SEALS is different than most (all?) other conferences that I have attended as an academic support professor. Although the conference is not specifically academic support focused, SEALS has a variety of sessions that will interest any ASPer, including legal writing topics, effective teaching strategies, formative assessment techniques, balancing dual administrative and faculty appointments, and the like. Plus, if you also focus on a doctrinal area, SEALS has numerous sessions for that too. (You can view the full 2017 schedule here.)
SEALS is primarily comprised of three presentation formats: (1) panel presentations, (2) roundtables, and (3) moderated discussion groups. The panels consist of three of four structured job talk-esque presentations followed by a question-and-answer session. While intriguing and thoughtfully presented, the panels are not what makes SEALS a draw for attendees. Meanwhile, the roundtables function similar to a typical “What I Wish I Would Have Known” event during a law school’s orientation week. For example, I attended a roundtable discussion where a dozen new professors were able to chat with current and former law school deans about what a typical dean expects of newer professors.
The most interesting format, however, is the moderated discussion group. The moderator of the discussion group invites roughly 10 different individuals to pitch their projects or ideas, all of which are at varying stages of development. Each pre-selected "discussant" talks for 5-10 minutes and then the other attendees ask questions and provide feedback, in a very low stakes supportive environment. This continues for two or three hours. Most discussion groups encourage discussants to focus on a pre-selected theme, but the conference rules tend to be loosely enforced in a way that encourages innovation and brainstorming. Anyone can attend a discussion session and participate in the responsive comment period, but if you want to guarantee yourself a few spotlight minutes to pitch your idea, then you should get on the discussant list by reaching out to the moderator. I attended several discussion groups and even got to pitch an idea at one session, despite not being on the pre-selected list by simply reaching out to the moderator via email a few days before the event. A pre-selected discussant could not make the conference at the last-minute and I was permitted to use their designated slot. I was told my email strategy (which was suggested to me by a seasoned SEALS participant) is somewhat common at SEALS. Thus, I encourage you to consider the same approach if you find yourself at SEALS without a specific invitation to speak.
Another feature which makes SEALS unique is the family-friendly atmosphere. Likely because SEALS is hosted in a warm-weather, beachy environment, many attendees opt to bring their friends and families. In fact, SEALS actually encourages guests by providing each person with an official conference name tag and invitation to numerous receptions throughout the week.
Lastly, if I were asked to describe SEALS in a word, I would say “relaxed.” Few attendees attend all of the sessions; rather most attendees balance work-and-play very nicely at SEALS. There is no pressure to attend the entire event. The conference is long enough (10 days) that you can pick the few days that interest you most. SEALS planners even send all participants a special link to a Crowd Compass App to encourage everyone to create their own personal conference itinerary. The App allows you to set session reminders, prompts you with presenters’ names, and lets you search for other attendees. All in all, SEALS was a nice break from the more traditional academic conference. (Kirsha Trychta)
Saturday, March 25, 2017
I had the privilege of presenting at the Global Legal Skills XII Conference in Monterrey, Mexico last week. It was a wonderful conference. Presenters and participants came from around the world to discuss issues in international legal education. This conference specifically addressed international L.L.M and exchange student populations as well as teaching, legal research and writing, and technology issues for global legal education. I met legal educators from Australia, Canada, Estonia, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Qatar, United Kingdom to just name a few of the countries represented. Law schools throughout the United States were represented at the conference in large numbers as well.
All of us work with international or L.L.M. students in our ASP and bar preparation work. We are familiar with their adjustments to U.S. legal education, their struggles, and their successes. It was a pleasure to spend a week with others who are dedicated to providing support to these students. The participants at the conference are as friendly and ready to share ideas and materials as our fellow ASP'ers here in the U.S.
Here is a very brief sample of a few ASPish presentation topics:
- Beyond IRAC: Introducing LLM Students to Problem Solving - Lurene Cotento, John Marshall Law School, Chicago
- Teaching Common Law Skills to Civil Law Students - Amrita Bahri, ITAM, Mexico
- Teaching and Diversity: How MBTI Might Assist an Inclusive Approach to Individual Consultations, Chantal Morton, Melbourne Law School, Australia
- Put It To Practice: Role-Play Exercises in the International Graduate Classroom - Kathryn Edwards Piper and Sarah Kelly, St. Johns School of Law
- Facilitating Online, Peer Support Student Study Networks Using a Number of Social Media Solutions - Matthew Homewood, Nottingham Law School, UK
- LLM Orientation Design for Cohort-Building and Academic Success: Two Models - Miki Pike Hamstra and Cathy Beck, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
- Using Film to Teach about Foreign Legal Systems - Lauren Fielder, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
The next Global Legal Skills Conference (XIII) will be held in Melbourne, Australia in December 2018. (Amy Jarmon)