Author Archives: Pam Robinson

End of the semester… words!

This article from NY Magazine titled “Wait! But Weren’t His Parents Law Professors? has an extremely poignant paragraph:

“Barbara Fried, too, made a deliberate practice of being emotionally generous and warm with her students. She wanted to guide them toward being whole people, not just cogs in the legal machine. “At the end of the semester, my torts professor literally went,Okay, that’s torts!’ and left the room,” another former student told me. Fried, on the other hand, “gave this beautiful speech that we’ve all talked about for literally years.” She started by telling her students about her own personal reckoning: “sitting in a Chinese restaurant one day, realizing that “the goal of life is not to die with all of your options still on the table.” She closed with a poem, “Sometimes,” by Sheenagh Pugh. It’s about life defeating us often but not all of the time. “Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well,” the first stanza ends. “Sometimes our best intentions do not go / amiss.” Fried received a standing ovation.”

The entire story can be found here:

End of semester advice

 You are encouraged to take this advice or completely ignore it. 35 years of shepherding law students through law school gives me some perspective so here are a few observations:

  • everyone will tell you to not get stressed!  You are still going to get stressed but it how you shake it off, push it away, decompress that matters.  Sometimes just running around the block will clear your head and gain focus. Bottom line: channel your stress to your benefit.
  • don’t listen to everyone. Not everyone knows what they are talking about. Listen to people you trust and have respect for.  Consider their point of view and level of experience of those you listen to. Those of us who have been where you are now can empathize as we have stood in your shoes.
  • totally ignore the downers! Oh “woe is me” is not what you need to hear right now. In the immortal words of Monty Python ” RUN AWAY”. 
  • Set up a reward for yourself for the end of exams, something you really want to do so you have a positive goal post. It might be getting your nails done or eating at a favorite BBQ joint, just put it on the calendar for Dec. 10th. It will help you look forward and not lament what has passed.
  • Reach out when you need to but don’t expect magic beans. Sometimes it is too late to catch up.. Nothing beats knuckling down and putting in the work. Set up an exam preparation schedule and STICK TO IT!  No distractions, no delays and no excuses. 

A very smart student once said “ You know a lot but you don’t know everything”. And that is ok. Doing your best is all that is asked.

Best of luck and know that the Pro Bono office is open if you just need a positive thought, a cup of coffee or a space to yell!

Pam Robinson

Canned Food Drive with SOUP!

The Annual Canned Food Drive will take place from Oct. 31st to Nov. 4th It is all about the pounds! Which class can donate the most cans of food in a week? All proceeds will be donated to Harvest Hope Food Bank. For more information about their amazing distribution, needs and how to make a donation check out the website at:

Bring your donations to Room 134 and drop in the box for your class. Daily the donations will be weighed and tally announced on the SBA social media outlets.

If hauling in bags of cans is not your thing, feel free to make a monetary donation to help fight food insecurity in our town.  You can go old school and write a check to: Harvest Hope Food Bank and drop it by the Pro Bono Office or go to their website, donate and make sure you notify the Canned Food Drive Coordinator Michael Lindsay:

But what about the SOUP? TO kick off our amazing generosity we will have fun on Monday, Oct. 31st from 12_30-2 in the Perrin Lobby with “Hunger is NOT a Crock(po).  For just $5 you can taste as many soups as you want. Seeking Chefs or just plain cooks who have a crockpot and a recipe!  You can represent your class, a group of friends or enemies or just yourself All crockpots welcome. Just notify Pam Robinson

We need to plan for enough table space and extension cords. Need a crockpot, we have extra so no excuses.

Success Demands A Willingness to Fail

I thought we could all learn from this article. None of us are perfect but that is OK

Pam Robinson

Our whole society has been gravitating toward an objective that is built less around finding success and more around avoiding failure. The challenge is that when the focus is around not failing, success becomes more difficult to attain.

A good example of this is when a football team is trying to protect a second-half lead by playing overly cautious. The net effect is that the trailing team is empowered, and often ends up winning. Recall the 2017 Super Bowl LI when the New England Patriots overcame a 25-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.

As a university professor, I teach my students that failure is the best predictor of future success. When I was a graduate student, my two lowest grades were in the two subjects in which I have made the most significant career contributions. Coincidence? Hardly. The subjects that presented the greatest challenges were also the ones that required the hardest work and most effort. This eventually gave me skills and insights that yielded the most substantive results.

Young people must be taught that failure is an acceptable outcome, and how to use failure to build toward future success. This means teaching them how to embrace risk in a meaningful way.

It is far riskier to take no risks than to assume an appropriate level of risk commensurate with the rewards that are available. Think of the person who puts their money in a bank account earning a pittance of interest while inflation erodes its buying power. By unknowingly believing they are taking no risk, they are assuming risks that will cost them far more over time.

While young people need courses that teach them life skills to earn a living and manage their finances, teaching them the benefits of risk-taking and how to use failure as stepping-stones for future success should be staples in our education system at every level. The challenge may be finding people with the necessary competencies to instruct on such topics.

Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a professor in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. A data scientist, he applies his expertise in data-driven risk-based decision-making to evaluate and inform public policy.