Wednesday, July 20, 2022
You might be wondering, what do I do the week before the bar? First, a week 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 Friday or Saturday, 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 way 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 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. 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!
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
I hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer. I know many of you are helping prepare students for the bar exam. Good luck to your students. Rushing through the summer focused on bar prep and the upcoming academic year happens to most of us. The summer is almost over, so I encourage everyone to take some time before the year begins to refresh. We have lawyers to train who will change the world. We will also take a brief break on the blog to get ready for the semester. We will begin posting regularly again August 15th.
Have a great week!
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Renee Nicole Allen, Get Out: Structural Racism and Academic Terror, 29 William & Mary J. of Women & L. (2022).
From the abstract:
Released in 2017, Jordan Peele’s critically acclaimed film Get Out explores the horrors of racism. The film’s plot involves the murder and appropriation of Black bodies for the benefit of wealthy, white people. After luring Black people to their country home, a white family uses hypnosis to paralyze victims and send them to the Sunken Place where screams go unheard. Black bodies are auctioned off to the highest bidder; the winner’s brain is transplanted into the prized Black body. Black victims are rendered passengers in their own bodies so that white inhabitants can obtain physical advantages and immortality.
Like Get Out, this article reveals academic horrors that are far too familiar to people of color. In the legal academy, structural racism is the monster, and under the guise of academic freedom, faculty members inflict terror on marginalized people. Black bodies are objectified and colonized in the name of diversity and antiracism. No matter how loud we scream, it remains a Sunken Place. Only time will tell if the antiracism proclamations of 2020 are a beginning or a killer ending.
This article explores the relationship between structural racism and academic terror in the legal academy and articulates an effective framework for analyzing academic terrorism.
[Posted by Louis Schulze, FIU Law]
Monday, July 4, 2022
I am not celebrating today. I am not grilling, having a party, arranging fruit to make a flag, or planning to watch the fireworks (even on TV). I am just not doing it. And unlike other things, the government actually cannot make me....
As of last week though, I could be forced to carry a pregnancy to term over my objections and regardless of the fetus’ or my health. I could also be forced to send my kids to school knowing that someday a person with a concealed weapon could walk in and join them. When they opened the beautiful new STEM wing of our local high school, I went on a tour and saw that the classrooms are composed of two or three walls of glass-and all I could think of then (and this was during relatively safer times) was where would the children hide if an armed person was intent on shooting them? I hated to be the person whose mind immediately went there, but I was. And now this is not an irrational fear.
This week, the swearing-in of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made me so incredibly happy. It was a spot of intense light on a dark horizon. As attorneys, the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court should be our celebrities. The Justices I’ve met or even watched on the bench turned me into a babbling fangirl at the time. I once almost got escorted out of the U.S. Supreme Court building for standing on a marble bench under the portrait of Justice Brennan (I was too short to get me and the painting in the same shot without the extra foot and half boost). For all I know, the U.S. Marshals have that picture in the backroom captioned, “trouble!!!” Yet, now when I think of the U.S. Supreme Court, I just sigh--not the dreamy fangirl sigh, more the elderly “things used to be better back in the day” sigh. I bet you just sighed too. The current majority on the court does not seem to have any respect for the rule of law or stare decisis—unless it suits their purposes. A court that is arbitrary and capricious in this way should not have the power to determine the constitutionality of anything.
These Justices have not, as intended by the folks who created the Court, remained independent, “[t]his independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the influence of particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate among the people themselves, and which, though they speedily give place to better information, and more deliberate reflection, have a tendency, in the meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, and serious oppressions of the minor party in the community.”
I know there are arguments that would take this particular quote and use it to say the Court should not have made some decisions to begin with—but Hamilton went on to say, “[t]o avoid an arbitrary discretion in the courts, it is indispensable that they should be bound down by strict rules and precedents, which serve to define and point out their duty in every particular case that comes before them; and it will readily be conceived from the variety of controversies which grow out of the folly and wickedness of mankind, that the records of those precedents must unavoidably swell to a very considerable bulk, and must demand long and laborious study to acquire a competent knowledge of them.”
So, with thanks to the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus, today could be considered: Dependence Day, or Subjugation Day, or even Unfreedom Day. But I am not celebrating these either.
 I do live in Massachusetts where I am safe from that fear, and I am happy to help anyone who needs to come visit to go “camping” here in the Bay State.
 Not today, luckily, because Massachusetts will wait until the litigation is over to change anything.
 I’ve met Justice Souter (briefly) and seen Justice Marshall on the bench.
 Hamilton, Federalist Papers no. 78.
Sunday, July 3, 2022
Saturday, July 2, 2022
The University of Oregon academic support program is growing. They are adding an associate director to the Academic Excellence Program. The associate director will teach bar studies classes and provide education programs to law students to prepare them to gain admission to the bar while assisting with other Academic Excellence Program projects and classes as necessary. The associate director will also work with the director to enrich and further develop the Academic Excellence Program.
You can find more information about the job and application instructions here.
Friday, July 1, 2022
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law seeks a Director of Academic Excellence. The posting is here. The Director has primary responsibility for providing support for bar exam success, for designing and perpetually refining the College’s systems for student academic excellence, and for providing academic support to our students.
The Director is responsible for running the comprehensive bar support program for students during their enrollment and after graduation during the bar study period. The bar support program presently includes a credit-bearing course for a segment of students during the second semester of the third year. Ohio State also has an institutional arrangement with Themis, through which all students have access to the full suite of bar preparation materials and support provided by Themis. The Director oversees and ensures student use of the Themis resources and provides additional support for bar study as needed; maintains frequent communications with students about bar exam requirements, beginning in the spring of 1L year; advises students on completing the character and fitness and bar licensure process in students’ chosen jurisdictions; advises students on the MPRE; assists students in navigating requests for testing accommodations; and tracks bar exam results for graduates, continually analyzing results to strategically improve student and institutional performance. As well, the Director provides support to graduates retaking the bar exam as needed. The Director has responsibility for maintaining familiarity with bar admissions requirements and issues and trends in bar exam administration.
During the academic year, the Director oversees the College’s support program for academic excellence. This includes assessing the programs to ensure they are adapted over time to student needs, licensure demands, and the contours of the changing profession.
Throughout the year, the Director presents formal programming (such as at orientation, lunchtime presentations, and recorded webinars), shares resources, and provides individual academic counseling.
Prepares and ensures adherence to the annual college budget for bar preparation and academic support related activities.
The Director works closely and collaboratively with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Students to identify students in need of academic support and other resources.
The successful candidate will have the opportunity to design additional academic support programming to occur throughout the academic year, including the possibility of credit-bearing courses. Depending on interest and need, the successful candidate may also teach additional courses.
Juris Doctor degree; member of a state bar; at least 2 years post-JD experience.
At least 4 years of experience working in a higher education setting in the areas of bar preparation, teaching, academic assistance, academic advisory or similar administrative, teaching or practice experience; experience in program planning and administration, detail oriented with good organizational, communication, and time management skills; ability to work effectively with a diverse range of people; familiarity and experience with current issues and trends in bar exam and attorney licensure.
Thursday, June 30, 2022
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.
Most bar takers are really concerned about memorization, particularly because most of their law school exams, unlike bar exams, were 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, to practice retrieval practice, and, 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 as you prepare for your bar exam this summer, focus on making memories (and lots of them). (Scott Johns)
I bumped into an article today suggesting that there's no time better than the present for asking for a pay raise. That especially seemed to hit hard when I slid by Wendy's tonight for a $12.96 combo on my way home. Ouch.
In the article, if I recall correctly, the author indicated that too often we don't give our employers the opportunity to say "no" because we say "no" by not even asking for a raise. Inflation Devouring Your Pay Check: How to Ask for a Raise (Jun. 29, 2022).
As I read that, I wonder if that might also be true for many of us with respect to our programs and resources in academic support. We don't ask so we don't give our administration, faculty, alumni, and the community a chance to partner up with us.
So, as you reflect on how you might improve your program for next fall, take some time to think about whether it might be time to ask for what you really need, or to put it more accurately, what your students really deserve. After all, they are counting on us, all of us, and that includes the entire law school community. (Scott Johns).
Sunday, June 26, 2022
The Legal Writing Prof. Blog advertised a conference some of you may be interested in. The Global Legal Skills Conference Committee is organizing a series of three virtual workshops to help raise awareness about how the war in Ukraine is impacting legal skills education in that country and to provide a platform to discuss ways we can help our Ukrainian colleagues through collaboration and networking.
Each session will be two hours long -- an hour of presentation followed by an hour of discussion in break out rooms.
First Session: WHAT THE GLS COMMUNITY CAN LEARN FROM OUR UKRAINIAN COLLEAGUES AND HOW WE CAN HELP THEM
DATE/TIME: Thursday, June 30, 2022, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CDT.
Plenary session will feature:
- Artem Shaipov, Legal Advisor/Team Lead for Legal Education Reform, USAID Justice for All Activity in Ukraine
- Serhiy Riznyk, Vice-Rector for Research, Teaching, and International Cooperation at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine
- Prof. Dmytro Boichuk, Head of the Center for Legal Education Quality Assurance at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Mariia Tsypiashchuk, Board Member of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine, Head of the Pro Bono Legal Clinic of the National University of Ostroh Academy,Ukraine
- Adil Abduramanov, President of the European Law Students’ Association in Ukraine.
Follow-up workshops will take place at the same time on:
- Thursday, July 28, 2022
- Friday, August 26, 2022
Attendance at each online session will be limited to 100 people, but a recording of the plenary presentations will be made available for those who cannot attend.
Saturday, June 25, 2022
The University of Cincinnati College of Law seeks a Director of Academic Success and Bar Programs. Reporting to the Assistant Dean of Academic Success and Bar Programs, the Director will work collaboratively to develop and deliver programming and individual coaching that enables law students to achieve their full potential during law school and on the bar exam. The position will focus primarily on first-year students, but the Director may be asked to help with other aspects of the academic and bar success programming as needed.
- Oversee the College of Law’s Structured Study Group Program. This includes the recruitment, training, and supervision of student employees to lead and deliver the program. The incumbent will engage in an annual review and revision of the program content to ensure responsiveness to student needs.
- Develop and implement a Spring Semester Academic Success Program, required for some 1L students based on their first semester academic performance. This includes individual and group meetings designed to assist students with self-assessment and study/time/technology management skills.
- Provide academic and skills counseling to College of Law students seeking to achieve their academic performance goals. Provide referrals as needed.
- Design and deliver a pre-orientation bridge program for incoming law students that identifies and develops the skills necessary for success in legal study.
- Collaborate with Faculty and Student Affairs staff to develop and deliver academic skills component of 1L Orientation.
- Track the academic performance and satisfactory completion of course and program requirements for students based on JD academic rules.
- Maintain effective communication with students, faculty, and academic personnel within the College and University.
- May provide direct and/or indirect supervision to exempt and non-exempt staff (i.e., hiring/firing, performance evaluations, disciplinary action, approve time off, etc.).
- Perform related duties based on departmental need. This job description can be changed at any time.
A Juris Doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school.
License to practice law, acquired by bar examination, in at least one U.S. jurisdiction.
- Prior academic or bar support teaching experience, or a suitable combination of one to three years of practice experience and adjunct teaching.
- Superior written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills.
- Commitment to working with a diverse population of students, faculty, and staff.
- Sensitivity to students with varied learning styles, disabilities, and diverse backgrounds.
Physical Requirements/Work Environment
- Office environment/no specific unusual physical or environmental demands.
Compensation and Benefits
UC offers a wide array of complementary and affordable benefit options, to meet the financial, educational, health, and wellness needs of you and your family. Eligibility varies by position and FTE.
- Competitive salary range dependent on the candidate's experience.
- Comprehensive insurance plans including medical, dental, vision, and prescription coverage.
- Flexible spending accounts and an award-winning employee wellness program, plus an employee assistance program.
- Financial security via our life and long-term disability insurance, accident and illness insurance, and retirement savings plans.
- Generous paid time off work options including vacation, sick leave, annual holidays, and winter season days in addition to paid parental leave.
- Tuition remission is available for employees and their eligible dependents.
- Enjoy discounts for on and off-campus activities and services.
The University of Cincinnati, as a multi-national and culturally diverse university, is committed to providing an inclusive, equitable and diverse place of learning and employment. As part of a complete job application you will be asked to include a Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion statement.
As a UC employee, and an employee of an Ohio public institution, if hired you will not contribute to the federal Social Security system, other than contributions to Medicare. Instead, UC employees have the option to contribute to a state retirement plan (OPERS, STRS) or an alternative retirement plan (ARP).
Friday, June 24, 2022
Assistant Director of Academic Support at Campbell Law School, Raleigh, North Carolina
Campbell is looking to expand the academic support department. Applications will be accepted until position is filled with priority given to those received by July 5, 2022.
The Assistant Director supports the Director of Academic Support and Bar Success to train law students for the rigor of law school, the bar exam, and the practice of law with academic workshops, courses, and individual coaching. The Assistant Director will primarily design and implement workshops for students from pre-matriculation through the second year, supervise Teaching Scholars, and provide individual tutoring throughout law school and preparation for the bar exam.
The Assistant Director reports to the Director of Academic Support and Bar Success and collaborates with other law school departments. The Assistant Director is a member of the School of Law staff.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
· Collaborate with the Director of Academic Support and Bar Success to refine, improve, coordinate and direct the program of academic support including the academic support program, and the bar success program.
· Design and implement academic support programming for first-year students, including skills workshops, the teaching scholar’s program, and outreach to at-risk students.
· Collaborates as a member of the law school staff to provide programming and support for the overall goal of improving student success.
· Work with the faculty to integrate academic support programming into first-year classes.
· Coordinate and provide tutoring to students in one-on-one and group settings.
· Develop, coordinate, evaluate, and monitor remediation/study plans and activities for individual students.
· Develop, evaluate, and administer the Teaching Scholars program, including supervising the teaching scholars.
· Coordinate with faculty on student success initiatives, including implementing individual student success plans.
· Coordinate and assist with the Bar Success program.
· Assist the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs with matters related to academic success, character & fitness, and/or Bar success issues.
· Engage in other duties as assigned.
· As requested, assist with training and delegating work to student staff.
· This position demands accuracy, honesty, integrity, and the ability to work within the Christian mission of Campbell University.
· Maintain a professional appearance and demeanor at all times.
· Other duties, responsibilities and activities may change or be assigned at any time with or without notice by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs or Director of Academic Support and Bar Support.
· Juris Doctorate from an ABA-accredited law school is required.
· A minimum of one year of experience is required. Experience should be in the areas of academic advising, academic support, teaching (adjunct instruction accepted), and/or tutoring within an ABA-accredited law school.
· A suitable combination of education and experience may be substituted for minimum requirements.
· Bar preparation experience is a plus.
· Comprehensive knowledge and skills in Microsoft Office Suite required.
· Demonstrated ability to maintain confidentiality.
· Ability to deal effectively with a wide range of people.
· Excellent communication skills.
· Ability to effectively prioritize, coordinate, and manage multiple tasks, projects, and responsibilities.
· Knowledge of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) preferred.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
· Excellent academic record (transcripts will be submitted with application materials)
· Superior written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills
· Excellent organizational skills
· Demonstrated proficiency with technology including MS Office Suite, Internet, common software/applications, and the ability to acquire new technology quickly
· Commitment to working with a diverse population of students, faculty and staff
· Sensitivity to students with varied learning styles, disabilities, backgrounds, etc.
· Ability to work under pressure
· Ability to build and maintain a rapport with students
· Skill in presenting information, presentations and delivering instruction
· Ability to collaborate effectively with School of Law faculty and administrators
· Proficiency at project management, planning, and developing goals.
· Excellent written communication and proofreading skills for preparing correspondence, documents and reports, utilizing correct spelling, grammar and punctuation
· Superior verbal and interpersonal communication skills for effectively interacting with individuals at various levels within the organization
· Ability to exercise good judgement in sensitive, complex and/or new situations
· Ability to maintain confidentiality at all times
· Demonstrate tact, a positive attitude, courtesy and discretion in dealing with faculty, staff, and students
· Manage multiple, concurrent projects, and meet strict deadlines
· Work independently as well as function effectively in a team within a diverse group of people
· This position demands accuracy, honesty, integrity and the ability to work within the Christian mission of Campbell University
Monday, June 20, 2022
“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.” — Barack Obama
“Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.” — John Lewis, “Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change”
Happy Juneteenth. May we all soon celebrate progress that ends the struggle.
Sunday, June 19, 2022
The LSAC is offering a new program to help students transition to law school. The first conference I attended was funded by the LSAC, and I am glad they are still trying to help law students succeed. I don't know much about their new offering, but I encourage everyone to go to their Q&A to hear about it. The information is below.
On Wednesday, June 22, from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET, join us for a Q&A about Legal Analysis Boot Camp, a LawHub educational program coming in July. The Legal Analysis Boot Camp is the inaugural offering of Law School Success, a one-year subscription priced at $59 that offers academic skills programming to support students throughout their first year of law school. Specifically, there will be a fall semester academic skills program entitled Law School, What You Really Need to Know, and spring semester programming entitled Becoming an Expert Learner.
This presentation is intended for academic support educators and admission professionals.
During the program, we’ll preview some of the course content and answer questions about the curriculum of Legal Analysis Boot Camp, which is designed to:
- Equip incoming law students with the basic tools of logical reasoning (including IRAC) that they will use in their law school classes
- Walk students through solving a legal analysis problem, from extracting rules of law from cases, to synthesizing those rules, to dissecting a fact pattern, to drafting an exam answer using IRAC
Our presenters — Susannah Pollvogt, LSAC’s senior director of legal education solutions, and Melissa A. Hale, LSAC’s director of learning for legal education — will tell you all about the Legal Analysis Boot Camp curriculum and other Law School Success offerings to come so you can encourage 1L students to participate. A portion of the presentation will be devoted to answering your questions.
Friday, June 17, 2022
Cleveland Marshall College of Law seeks applicants for the position of Director, Bar Exam Preparation. The Director, Bar Exam Preparation is responsible for developing, coordinating, and implementing plans and initiatives that support the College of Law’s goal of improving graduates’ bar passage rates and performs other functionally related duties as assigned.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs)
Thursday, June 16, 2022
I'm not sure what else to call it, other than swamp. But, for many bar takers finding themselves behind in their bar prep, at least according to their bar prep companies, it seems like there's always too much to impossibly do. Watch lectures, take notes, read outlines, take quizzes, and finally, at last, practice essay, multiple-choice, and performance test questions. That's a lot, and, if truth be told, there's a lot of swamp to gets us stuck in the muck, so to speak.
For example, take lecture assignments, Or reading outlines, Or taking notes.
Too often, bar takers turn these pre-learning exercises into well swamps, often because we don't feel like we know enough to move onto where the learning really takes place - in the midst of practice bar exam problems. So a 4 hour lecture becomes a 5 to 7 hour lecture because we stop the lecture repeatedly, trying to make sure that we carefully recorded each jot and jingle. Or, we read the outlines, as though they were meant to be read, with nothing soaking in because it's just words that don't produce action. Or, after the lectures, we feel like we need to create gigantic megaton study tools so that we have something to meaningfully say, anything at all, when we finally get to practicing bar exam problems.
But, if we wait until we feel confident enough about the law to practice problems, we will run out of time to actually learn the law because learning takes place in experiences of creative courageous activity. In short, learning is growing and growing only happens when we push ourselves to try and try hard and to fail and to fail often. It's hard on the psyche but learning only happens when, well, we have something to learn. And that only happens when we find out what we don't know and they figure out a way to know that in the future by practicing it again until we get it correct. And, that's a perfect time to dive into the bar review outlines to help you learn, with a specific bar exam problem in mind.
So, as you prepare for your bar exam this summer, face your fears upfront and dive into practicing bar exam problems, lots of problems, courageously and creatively. And, when you miss something, count that as a positive, an opportunity to learn something new. It's hard work but the pay off is big - you'll be licensed as a practicing attorney and, more than that, you will have accomplished something which, for many of us right now, we aren't sure we can do. So, as the slogan goes, just do it, a little bit, step by step, everyday. That's learning in a nutshell. And that's something you can do.. (Scott Johns).
P.S. In the words of a recent successful bar taker, here's tips from one who has just been through the process that you are doing right now and came out the other end as a licensed attorney:
Practice way more than you think! If you are wondering whether you should watch a lecture or do a practice question, do the practice question.
Let go of memorizing everything. It is impossible. Learn what your weak areas are and spend more time with those subjects.
You will feel like you know nothing until approximately the last week of bar prep. Somehow, magically, it does come together. I promise.
Do all the practice tests.
Think really hard about who you want to study with. This is not the time to do something different from how you handled law school.
Come up with a plan and stick to it. Decide how many practice questions you want to do everyday and do it. But if you are starting to burn out, be OK with taking breaks. It's a marathon!
Log your progress. Be intentional about compiling lists of rules I kept missing on MBE questions. This helped me to keep track of weak areas so I could spend more time learning the law in specific subjects.
Spend timing thinking about any testing anxiety you might have. Adding mindfulness meditations to my study plan helped a ton!
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Occasionally, I focus on articles generally considered to be "must-read" scholarship in the field. Here are two:
1. Elizabeth M. Bloom (Northeastern), Teaching Law Students to Teach Themselves: Using Lessons from Educational Psychology to Shape Self-Regulated Learners, 59 Wayne L. Rev. 311 (2013).
From the abstract:
Amidst current concerns about the value of a legal education, this article seeks to identify ways in which law schools and law professors can take steps to maximize the learning experience for their students. The article focuses on cutting-edge strategies that will help a diverse population of law students become self-regulated learners. Drawing on the work of educational psychologists, it describes ways to help students adapt to the demands of the law school learning experience and then outlines specific strategies for teaching students to regulate their motivational beliefs, their resource management practices, and their approaches to mastering the material. Throughout, the article emphasizes the importance of these skills for success both as law students and as lawyers. Finally, checklists are provided to help law professors build a culture of self-regulated learning in their schools.
2. DeShun Harris (Memphis), Office Hours Are Not Obsolete: Fostering Learning Through One-on-One Student Meetings, 57 Duquesne L. Rev. 43 (2018).
From the abstract:
Office hours, whether it is the traditional notion of an office hour whereby the professor has designated times for students to visit, office hours by appointment, or an open-door policy, are a great learning opportunity for students. In the law school context, the American Bar Association (ABA) requires full-time faculty members to “[be] available for student consultation about those classes” they teach. In addition to office hours, students meet one-on-one with faculty in a variety of ways: mentoring, advocacy coaching, answering substantive questions, legal writing conferences, law review note advising, career/academic support counseling, and for so many other purposes. Indeed, law students reported on the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), that most students have worked with faculty on activities other than coursework.
In evaluating the literature on teaching and learning, a great deal is written about the classroom, but what about the teaching and learning that can, and does, occur during office hours? Given the many instances during which students and faculty interact on a one-on-one basis, the limited literature on office hours in law school should be expanded to ensure we create the best learning from these instances. This article expands the research by discussing the impediments to students’ use of office hours and how to overcome them, discussing the office setting and how to make sure an office setting communicates to students a welcoming environment, exploring how to effectively navigate through an office hour by using the latest research on the office hour, and exploring how to create an environment that is best for learning.
[Louis Schulze, FIU Law]
Monday, June 13, 2022
My Law School course evaluations arrived without warning or fanfare in my inbox Saturday afternoon. The subject line, “spring 2022 course evaluations” popped up on my phone while I was sitting at the optometrist’s office picking out a new pair of glasses that would (ironically) make reading things on my phone easier. I had received my course evals for my undergraduate course a few weeks back and they had come, pre-read by the department chair, with her encouraging words that slowed my heartbeat a bit before diving in. But the law school ones just showed up as an attachment: unannounced, and to be honest, panic inducing. I wasn’t ready. We tell students when the grades will be released, so perhaps a similar warning may be warranted. As it was, I held my breath and clicked.
To be fair, I had thought the semester had gone well (there are always a few students who are unreadable, but they didn’t seem hostile), so I should not have started to sweat when this email appeared. But I was grateful for the air conditioning at the eyeglass shop, nonetheless. Although the literature is a bit all over the place, there seems to be a grudging consensus that, “… student evaluations as currently constructed are strewn with gender and racial biases. Instructor attire and weight has impacts on student evaluations, too. In short, there is a lot of noise in student evaluations that have nothing to do with teaching and everything to do with student biases.” I also think that the anonymous on-line iteration of course evaluations has made students a little more, um, blunt.
I have had evaluations that commented negatively on my snacking (I was pregnant, and it seemed better to eat my baggie of Cheerios rather than puke on students), my sense of humor, and my clothing choices (which honestly felt more like body shaming). It all feels a little middle school-ish to me because this is the documentation of what people might be saying behind your back. I also remember my favorite comment of all time, “Condragulations Professor Stillman, you are a winner.” Using a RuPaul’s Drag race reference made me feel really seen and I treasured it.
Are some evaluations biased or just plain mean? Probably. But discounting them entirely also negates the good ones (luckily far outnumbering the bad, I’m sure). I also need to read them to know if I am connecting with students. I want to be sure that I am respectful of opposing viewpoints (not my strong suit, really). If I don’t care what the students think (about some fundamental things, not my wardrobe per se), then I am not teaching for the right reasons. If the evaluations can legitimately assess my teaching, then this is information I need. If not, they give students power over non-tenured faculty that they do not deserve.
Evaluations are truly a double-edged sword. Make no mistake though, they may still be a weapon.