SLU LAW Welcomes Law School Survey of Student Engagement

October 28, 2014

On Thursday and Friday, Nov. 6-7, SLU LAW is playing host to the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE)’s “Data and Assessment in Legal Education: The Necessities, The Possibilities” symposium. 

LSSSE is a national study that seeks to measure the effects of legal education on students. The goal of 

the symposium is to provide attendees with concrete insight into how data can be used as an assessment and strategic planning tool. A full schedule of the days’ events is listed below.

SLU LAW Assistant Professor Aaron Taylor serves as the director of LSSSE. When he began his tenure in January 2014, he often heard that there needed to be an opportunity for law schools to get together to discuss the importance of assessment and share methods and best practices.  It was through these discussions that the idea of the symposium came forth. 

“The timing is fitting,” said Taylor. “We are commemorating our 10th anniversary, and we are in the midst of a culture change within legal education where assessment is being embraced more than ever as a standard practice.

“The content of the symposium is the product of many conversations. There was much interest expressed in learning about how data could be used to develop and assess curricular reforms, enrollment management and student selection strategies, and student services. The panelists and presenters will share insights on how data can be made tangible and useful as an assessment and strategic planning tool.”

As co-host of the two-day event, not only is SLU LAW able to put the new beauty of Scott Hall on display for more than 100 professors and administrators from more than 60 law schools, but it is also able to showcase the school’s own work on the subject matter. Dean Emeritus and Professor Jeff Lewis, who will provide Friday’s keynote address, has been very involved in the drafting of new ABA Standards that require, for the first time, law schools to engage in assessment activities. Additionally, according to Taylor, “Our own efforts at SLU LAW to develop learning outcomes and assessments ensure that the symposium will take place in an environment where the importance of assessment is understood and embraced.”

Professor Taylor gave The Sidebar some additional insight into the importance of LSSSE’s work and his role with the organization.

Why is this topic so important?
Law schools are in the midst of a stubborn readjustment that has seen student enrollments plummet and calls for accountability grow louder.  The value and utility of legal education are being questioned, and assumptions and anecdotes are no longer accepted answers.  Law schools need data. 

How are you enjoying your time with LSSSE? What are you working on?
LSSSE is the perfect role for me.  It is part manager, part researcher. The role has given me a bird’s eye view of legal education, particularly the student experience. I have had the privilege of interacting and collaborating with people whose work I have long admired. The interdisciplinary nature of LSSSE has allowed me to work closely with some of the best education researchers and social scientists in the country. My colleagues at Indiana University are exceptional.

We are currently drafting our 2014 annual results, which will be released at the symposium. We will be sharing some very interesting insights about the law student experience, with particular focus on first-generation law students.

How did you get involved with LSSSE?
I have long been interested in data-driven decision making in higher education as well as the study of the student experience.  My educational and professional experiences prepared me for this opportunity.  Good timing and great colleagues, like Carole Silver, my predecessor at LSSSE, helped make the opportunity possible.  Needless to say, I am enjoying this ride.


Schedule of Events and Speakers

Thursday, November 6 (3-7:30 p.m.)

3:00-7:30:            Registration

3:00-3:15:            Welcome

·         Aaron N. Taylor, Assistant Professor, Saint Louis University School of Law; Director, Law School Survey of Student Engagement

·         Chris Chapman, Chief Executive Officer, Access Group


3:15-4:30:            Using Data to Demonstrate and Improve the Value of Legal Education

·         David A. Bergeron, Vice President for Postsecondary Education, Center for American Progress

·         Carin Crain, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Iowa College of Law

·         Alli Gerkman, Director, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers

·         Robert Gonyea, Associate Director, Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research

·         Elise Miller (moderator), Vice President of Research Programs, Access Group

4:35-6:00:            Using Data to Predict Enrollment

·         Michael Dean, Associate Dean and Chief Operating Officer, Mercer School of Law

·         Abby Fitzgerald, Founder and Principal, Yellow Arrows, LLC

·         Michelle Mason, Senior Associate Dean for Enrollment Management, Student Development and Outreach, Florida International University School of Law

·         Michael States (moderator), Assistant Dean of Admissions, University of North Carolina School of Law

6:00-7:30:            Opening Reception


Friday, November 7 (8 a.m.- 4:15 p.m.)

8:00-4:15:            Registration

8:00-9:20:            Breakfast welcome and opening keynote:

·         Mike Wolff, Dean, Saint Louis University School of Law

·         Jeffrey E. Lewis, Dean Emeritus and Professor, Saint Louis University School of Law; Chair, ABA Standards Committee

9:30-11:00:          Using Data to Reform the Curriculum

·         Catherine Carpenter, Vice Dean and Professor, Southwestern Law School; Member, ABA Standards Review Committee

·         Barry Currier, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education, American Bar Association; Member, LSSSE Advisory Board

·         Bryant Garth, Professor, UC Irvine School of Law; Chair, LSSSE Advisory Board

·         Cassandra Hill, Associate Professor and Director of Legal Writing, Thurgood Marshall School of Law

·         Elizabeth Pendo (moderator), Vice Dean and Professor, Saint Louis University School of Law

11:10-12:30:        Data as an Assessment Tool:

·         “Learning From—and About—the Numbers, ” Carole Silver, Professor, Northwestern University Law School

·         “A Long-Overdue Medicine for What Ails Legal Education: The Washington & Lee Reformed Third Year,” James E. Moliterno, Professor, Washington and Lee University School of Law

·         “Northeastern University Outcomes Assessment Project, ” Evan Parker, Director of Analytics, Lawyer Metrics

12:40-2:00:          Lunch Presentation of 2014 LSSSE annual report and longitudinal study

·         Chad Christiansen, LSSSE Project Manager

·         Stephen Daniels, Senior Research Professor, American Bar Foundation

2:10-3:30:            Using Data to Devise Admission Criteria

·         Deirdre Bowen, Professor, Seattle University School of Law

·         Ann Gallagher, Assistant Director of Social Science Research, Law School Admission Council

·         Vinay Harpalani, Associate Professor, Savannah Law School

·         Lisa S. Taylor (moderator), Director of Diversity Services and Instructor, Saint Louis University School of Law

3:40-4:15:            Closing Keynote

·         Marjorie M. Shultz, Professor of Law (Emerita), UC Berkeley School of Law



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