Grade Reform, Law Schools

Notre Dame Goes for Two

It’s been a rough year in South Bend. A promising new head football coach led the Fighting Irish to a disappointing 7-5 regular season. The #5-ranked basketball team forgot to show up during March Madness (but at least the women’s team exceeded expectations). It was a year that many Irish fans would like to rewrite.

And now a few 1Ls at Notre Dame Law School would like to do some rewriting of their own. A tipster informs us that controversy has been brewing for a while regarding NDLS’s first year legal writing program. It appears that some students believe that they work too darn hard to only receive one measly credit for their second semester legal research and writing course.

So, what do angry law students do when they feel that they are not being properly credited for their writing efforts? They write more — a petition, to be exact. Find out what these future lawyers are demanding, after the jump.

You can read the entire petition below, but the gist of the complaint is that students in the legal writing course at issue, which includes a moot court component, are finding that they have to put in a lot more time than they expected for a one-credit course. It appears that more credits were given for this course in the past, and there is a fair amount of work involved. And, like good little law students, they all spend time doing additional outside work that is merely “suggested” by their professor.

All these students want, in their own words, is to prevent the perpetration of an “injustice” they see in the world. Not to seem unreasonable (or be screwed over by their own credit loads), they are magnanimous enough to allow the university some leeway in issuing the second credit:

While it would be best to issue this pass/fail credit this year, if this extra grade or credit must come to us next year because of the Law School’s issues with credit maximums for this semester, we would accept that addition next semester.

At least their first semester of legal education has equipped these students to write a clean, cohesive argument (maybe Elie should have gone to Notre Dame rather than Harvard). What it has not done, apparently, is prepare these kids for the realities of the job market. Perhaps the saddest part of the petition is that these 1Ls still think they’re going to find jobs:

It is a staple course that will be invaluable to us in our careers and is one employers readily rely on in hiring.

What do you think? Should the administration give in to the whining demands of its students? Or should these kids have to suck it up and get used to the fact that sometimes life requires way too much work for way too little reward? This might be the only thing these kids learn in law school that will prepare them for what life in Biglaw is really like.


NOTRE DAME LAW SCHOOL — STUDENT PETITION

PURPOSE: CHANGE THIS SEMESTER’S 1L LEGAL WRITING CLASS CREDIT FROM ONE TO TWO CREDITS

TARGET: DEAN NEWTON AND THE LAW SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION

ISSUES:

This semester’s Legal Research and Writing II (Moot Court), course number 60707, should be allocated two credits to the students enrolled in it for three reasons:

First, in keeping with the fairness of the school and credit allocation, the requirements, class time commitment and demands of this course are the equivalent of other 2 -3 credit courses and twice the amount of class time and work required as the one credit 1L Research Course and vital GALILEE Program. The computation of class time for Legal Writing II should include the added classes and additional class time required for practice arguments by students, for rehearsal time with other students that was at our professor’s instruction, and the required Moot Court Exhibition. Professors’ suggestions to listen to Supreme Court oral arguments were also followed and should be added. Thus, by factoring in the additional class time, both in and out of the classroom, as accepted by the ABA standards, it is only just to award two credits for this course.

Second, this was the first year that only one credit was given yet the work was sufficiently challenging and equally demanding as many, if not all, two or three credit courses. In addition, the writing of an Appellate Brief, research for that brief and the oral argument, and preparation for the oral argument were substantially more than half of the demands as the past years when two or three credits were allotted to this course. (We can provide our time sheets to the administration to prove the amount of time spent for this class by each student.) Programs like directed readings, law review and GALILEE are not given credits based on class time but on work demands. The same should hold true for Legal Writing II. The ABA standards, while not controlling, support this finding.

Third, this was an experimental curriculum and can be afforded changes at this time in the semester because the administration and teachers were unaware of the time, preparation and results of such change.

PROPOSAL: EACH STUDENT WOULD BE GIVEN ONE GRADE PLUS ONE PASS/FAIL CREDIT.

While it would be best to issue this pass/fail credit this year, if this extra grade or credit must come to us next year because of the Law School’s issues with credit maximums for this semester, we would accept that addition next semester.

We do want to make it clear that we believe this course is an essential part of the curriculum. It is a staple course that will be invaluable to us in our careers and is one employers readily rely on in hiring. However, we do believe it would be an injustice to not honor the amount of time devoted to this course in the preparation of an Appellate Brief and an oral argument.

Thank you for your consideration.

We petition you to please reward us with our just credit/ grades.

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