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Weekly Academic Success Tip - Take Action for Optimal Learning

We are already 6 weeks into the spring semester!  Deadlines may be starting to pile up.  Your beginning-of-the-semester optimism may have worn off.  And, the weather bouncing between winter and spring does not help.  Consider the following tips to obtain optimal learning:
  • Keep a positive attitude to affect your learning positively.  It is hard to keep your focus and perform at your best if a cloud is hovering over your head.  Negative thoughts, grumpiness, and sniping at others all expend energy in unproductive avenues.  Not only do other people want to avoid you when you exude negativity, but you waste your own time by moaning, groaning, and whining. 
  • Focus on manageable tasks to increase motivation.  It is easier to get motivated to do small tasks rather than large projects.  Decide to read one case when you do not feel like reading any of your contracts cases.  Decide to write two paragraphs when you do not feel like writing an entire paper draft.  Decide to outline one sub-topic when you do not want to outline an entire topic.  Decide to do 5 multiple-choice questions when you do not feel like doing practice questions at all.  After you get started and finish one small task, you are likely to be ready to do another small task.
  • Focus on what you can control rather than what is controlled by others.  Reality is that you do not determine whether you will be called on in class, whether you will have a mid-term exam, whether your paper will have one or six draft deadlines, or whether you will have a multiple-choice or essay final exam.  So, stop stewing about things you cannot control.  Instead, focus on what you can control and take control of those things: your time management; your stress management; your timetable for review; your outlining schedule; your reading schedule; your schedule for practice questions; your asking the professor questions and more.
  • Use the many services that are available to you to improve your situation.  Ask questions during the professor’s office hours.  If you are a 1L, talk to your Academic Fellow.  Meet with the University writing center to improve your grammar and punctuation skills.  Meet with a University counselor if you have test anxiety, personal problems or other issues that are making it hard for you to concentrate on your studies.  Go to the doctor if you are sick rather than self-treating and not getting better.  Getting assistance keeps you from feeling so alone in your situation and begins the work of solving problems.
  • Do not focus on your bad choices last semester, last week, or yesterday.  If you have procrastinated or studied inefficiently and ineffectively or fallen into any of the other common student difficulties in studying, accept responsibility for those bad choices; but then, focus on today.  You cannot change what has already happened, but you can change how you study today and tomorrow.  
  • Take advantage of your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.  Evaluate the areas within a course: what areas do you understand and what areas are you confused about still.  Then, spend additional time on the weak areas to improve your understanding while you review material that you know well.  
  • Do not blame someone else for your difficulties.  It is not the professor's fault that you cannot do the practice problems if you did not study the material thoroughly.  It is not the professor’s fault that you got a low grade when other students did better on the same exam.  It is not your study group’s fault that you do not understand the material if you have not taken the initiative to attempt learning it yourself before study group.  It is not your spouse’s problem that you are behind in your reading if you have not set up a structured study schedule that allows sufficient study time as well as family time.
  • Stop resisting positive change.  Ask yourself whether you are having problems because you are clinging to ineffective and inefficient ways of studying.  You need to realize that nothing will change for the better if you refuse to make changes.  Knowing that you need to change something and still not changing it will accomplish nothing positive in your life. 
  • Remember that you begin to earn your reputation as an attorney while you are in law school.  Ask yourself whether how you are acting today will place you in a positive light with your classmates and professors.  If not, then reconsider the behavior BEFORE you act that way again.  Being difficult to work with on an assignment may translate into a reputation that you will be considered difficult to work with as an attorney later.  Being lazy in law school may translate into a lack of referrals as an attorney because your former classmates will not be able to trust you to do a thorough job.  Being mean-spirited or gossipy or arrogant in law school may translate into personal characteristics that mar your reputation later as a new attorney. 

Mandatory Bar Program for Students Graduating 2011and 2012

On Tuesday, February 8, at 12:15 p.m, the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, with a member of the Character and Fitness Committee, will present a mandatory bar program on financial responsibility.  The Board of Bar Examiners’ Character and Fitness Committee must certify graduating law students before they are allowed to sit for the bar.  One fact the committee members look at closely is the applicant’s record of financial responsibility. 

David Sloan, Character and Fitness Committee member, and Bonnie Kittinger, Director and General Counsel, will discuss how financial debt can evidence a lack of responsibility and further, how debt can lead to financial pressures and interfere with a lawyer’s duties to his or her clients. 

Attendance at the February 8 program is required for all students graduating at the times noted.  If you have an absolute conflict that will prohibit you from attending the February 8 program, you must notify Dean Bean, kathybean@louisville.edu, and provide documentation concerning your conflict. 

Questions?  Please email Kimberly Ballard at kimberly.ballard@louisville.edu.

14th Annual Student Bar Foundation Charity Auction

Class Ranks

When class ranks are available, Ms. Barbara Thompson will post a note in the Daily Docket.

Law Library Extends Loan Period

The loan period for most borrowers has been extended from 14 to 28 days. This applies only to circulating materials.

Get Your Public Service Hours - Be a Witness

The Law School is hosting the Region 7 National Trial Competition in three weeks.  Fifteen law schools and thirty teams will compete in Louisville to advance to the National Finals in Houston, Texas.  We need more law students to volunteer to be a witness on Friday, February 18, and Saturday, February 19.  This is a great opportunity.  You can earn public service credit.  You can observe some of the best student competitors in action and see the differnt aspects of trial - pretrial motions, opening statements, direct exams, cross exams, closing arguments, and making and responding to objections. 

If you volunteer to be a witness, you will have a copy of your deposition emailed to you in advance.  The preparation to play the witness during the competition should not take longer than 1 hour.  You must simply review your deposition (4 to 9 pages, depending on the witness) and know the facts in your deposition.  The student attorney will prep you before you testify.  It's easy and fun.

If you can volunteer, please complete the sign-up sheet attached.  If you have questions, please ask Brian Bennett or Kimberly Ballard.

Please sign up to participate by this FRIDAY.  This opportunity is open to 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls, and 4Ls.

*NOTE:  If you volunteer to play a witness role at the competition, you cannot also volunteer as a witness during the Law School's team practices before the competition.

Witnesses Needed for Trial Competition!

We need a minimum of thirty more witnesses for Rounds 1, 2, and 3 of the Region 7 National Trial Competition on Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19.  Can you help?

If you volunteer to be a witness, you will have a copy of your deposition emailed to you in advance.  The preparation to play the witness during the competition should not take longer than 1 hour.  You must simply review your deposition (4 to 9 pages, depending on the witness) and know the facts in your deposition.

If you can help, please complete the sign-up sheet attached.  If you have questions, please ask Brian Bennett or Kimberly Ballard.

The deadline to sign up to participate is FRIDAY, FEB 4.  This opportunity is open to 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls, and 4Ls.

*NOTE:  If you volunteer to play a witness role at the competition, you cannot also volunteer as a witness during the Law School's team practices before the competition.

 

Mandatory Bar Program for Students Graduating in December 2011, May 2012, or August 2012

On Tuesday, February 8, at 12:15 p.m, the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, with a member of the Character and Fitness Committee, will present a mandatory bar program for second year law students.  The Board of Bar Examiners’ Character and Fitness Committee must certify graduating law students before they are allowed to sit for the bar.  One fact the committee members look at closely is the applicant’s record of financial responsibility. 

Judge Gary Payne, Character and Fitness Committee member, and Bonnie Kittinger, Director and General Counsel, will discuss financial responsibility in the context of professionalism and a lawyer’s obligation to uphold the values of the profession.  Judge Payne will discuss how financial debt can evidence a lack of responsibility and further, how debt can lead to financial pressures and interfere with a lawyer’s duties to his or her clients. 

ABA Standard 302(a)(5) requires that each student receive substantial instruction in “the history, goals, structure, values, rules and responsibilities of the legal profession and its members.”  In addition, Interpretation 302-6 requires that the School of Law “involve members of the bench and bar in the instruction required by Standard 302(a)(5).”  This program is designed to provide instruction on professionalism issues concerning law students and lawyers and also to satisfy the ABA’s requirement in Standard 302(a)(5).

Attendance at the February 8 program is required for all students graduating at the times noted (primarily this is 2Ls).  Please mark your calendars now and plan to attend.  If you have an absolute conflict that will prohibit you from attending the February 8 program, you must notify Dean Bean, kathybean@louisville.edu, and provide documentation concerning your conflict. 

Questions?  Please email Kimberly Ballard at kimberly.ballard@louisville.edu.

Black History Month Celebration

The LBA invites you to celebrate Black History Month at the Bar Center on Thursday, February 24.  This year's celebration will begin at 3:30 p.m. with a screening of the film "Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin," followed by a Q&A session with critically acclaimed filmmaker, Morgan Atkinson.

The celebration continues at 5 p.m. with a reception and awards ceremony honoring the winners of Central High School's Justice William E. McAnulty Jr. Essay Contest and presentation of the LBA Diversity Scholarship and Justice William E. McAnulty Jr. Trailblazer Award.

Both the program and reception are free and open to the public. Click here for more information or contact Marisa Motley by calling (502) 583-5314 or email mmotley@loubar.org
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Weekly Academic Success Tip - Have YOU Started Outlining Yet?

When created correctly, an outline will become your primary, and possibly only, study aid for exams.  While law students create outlines in order to have an aid from which to study, it is through the process of creating an outline that you actually learn the law.  Because outlining is a process that continues throughout the year, you need to begin at some point during the first month of classes.  Why?  If you wait to work on your outlines until the end of the semester, it is unlikely that you will have enough time to complete them prior to exams. Listen to your professors and to your colleagues that received A’s and B’s last semester - start your outlines now!  Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work on your outlines for each course.

  • View your outline as your master document for studying.  Your notes and briefs go “on the shelf” once you have outlined a section.  Your casebook is no longer your focus for completed sections.
  • Make sure your outline takes a “top down” approach.  The outline should encompass the overview of the course rather than “everything said or read” during the semester.  Main essentials include:  rules, definitions of elements, hypos of when the rule/element is met and not met, policy, arguments that can be used, and/or reasoning that courts use. 
  • Cases are usually mere vehicles for information unless they are “big” cases.  Cases generally convey the main essentials that you need for your outline and are not the focus. 
  • Condense before you outline.  If you include “everything said or read” in your outline, you will need to condense in stages to get to the main essentials that you actually need for the exam.  If you condense before you outline a section, you will save time later.
  • Use visuals when appropriate.  If you learn visually, then avoid a thousand words by using a diagram, table, flowchart, or other visual presentation for the same information. 
  • Review your outline regularly.  You want to be learning your outline as well as writing it.  The world’s best outline will not help you if you do not have time to learn it before the exam.
  • Condense your outline to one piece of paper as a checklist.  A checklist includes only the topics and sub-topics.  Use acronyms tied to funny stories to help you remember the checklist.  Write the checklist on scrap paper once the exam begins.  For an open-book exam, the checklist should start your outline.
  • If you read and prepare for your classes one or two days in advance, your Thursdays and Fridays should be open to work on your outlines – no excuses!