As we have extensively reported, the top-six schools (Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Berkeley) have all moved away from letter grading towards a modified pass/fail system, or are contemplating such a move (Yale and Berkeley have had pass/fail systems for some time).
The University of Chicago Law School, which currently has a grading system that defies rational understanding, is the next logical school to face the growing tide towards grade reform. On Friday, an all faculty meeting took place to discuss the matter.
According to tipsters, one professor discussed the meeting with his class. The professor suggested that the administration felt they had to consider the issue with an eye towards remaining competitive with their peer institutions. The professor then asked the class if they shared those concerns:
Interestingly enough, the professor who mentioned this to us did a straw poll of students (mostly 2Ls) and the vast majority were in favor of staying on our current system. It’s not like anyone knows what our system really is/means, so why change it?
We have a soft spot for Columbia Law School, especially after our excellent visit there on Wednesday (“our” = Lat + Kash). Thanks to the CLS Federalist Society, the sponsor of our talk, for the warm welcome.
Through some combination of gossip, online stalking, hounding their teaching assistants and perusing the Facebook group “Phillip [sic] Bobbitt is Our Hero,” students piece together the following:
Professor Bobbitt, who is 60, arrived at Columbia only 18 months ago, after three decades at the University of Texas. He is an eminent scholar of the Constitution and used to teach modern history at Oxford. He’s a former member of the Carter, Bush I and Clinton administrations and an adviser to foreign heads of state.
Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair blurbed his latest book on terrorism, which both current presidential candidates have reportedly read. He’s the nephew of Lyndon B. Johnson. He can blow smoke rings, and sponsors a national poetry prize in honor of his late mother. Also: He rotates seasonally among his homes, and can’t shake his habit of a nightly cigar and scotch-and-soda.
Read more, including words of wisdom from the worldly-wise professor, after the jump.
The new law school at the University of California, Irvine has dropped its original name, the Donald Bren School of Law, and plans to offer full tuition scholarships to students who enroll in the school’s first semester in fall 2009.
This is excellent, because what we need right now more than anything are additional law schools.
UC-Irvine intends to focus on public interest law. It makes sense that students won’t have any debt, since they are going to have a hard time earning money.
According to an assistant dean at the new law school, the full-ride offer should give Irvine a competitive advantage:
Originally, the school … had planned to offer full tuition scholarships to about half that class; but, in an effort to lure high-quality students and compete with other top 20 law schools, UC Irvine School of Law has expanded that program, he said. While the law school has not yet determined the cost of its tuition, each scholarship is anticipated to be about $100,000, given an estimated rate of about $33,000 per year,
Let’s play a little game: what is the highest ranked school you would turn down to go to UC-Irvine for free? Stanford? Boalt? Bangladesh?
Statistically insignificant evidence is sure to follow.
Perhaps one Pittsburgh School of Law student agrees with Obama and believes that wealth should be redistributed from the rich to the middle-class. Perhaps the student believes in McCain’s policy of redistributing wealth from the rich to the super-rich. Whatever is going on at Pittsburgh, we have another case of a dirty lunch stealer.
From the Pitt Law listserv:
Please allow me to set the scene: Yesterday afternoon, at approximately 4:25pm, I placed a white plastic bag in the farthest refrigerator from the entrance of the student kitchen in the law school basement. Within this bag were two items: 1) at the bottom was a $2.99 microwave dinner (ravioli with marinara sauce); and 2) on top was a $6.99 container of spicy tuna sushi. I then went to class.
When I returned to retrieve my bag at 6:30pm, a mere two hours later, I discovered that someone had opened the refrigerator, opened my bag, lifted up my sushi, and then borrowed my microwave dinner. I say “borrowed” because I assume that no one who managed to get accepted to law school would consider stealing a $2.99 frozen dinner from a classmate who just spent almost 10 hours in the Barco Law Building. I further assume that whoever decided they really needed to borrow my meal of ravioli and cheese goodness will be returning it to me post-haste. Although I would prefer that my dinner is replaced exactly, I will also accept the
Chicken Chow-Mein Dinner by Lean Cuisine.
I appreciate everyone’s full cooperation in this matter.
I thought this sort of thing only happened at Michigan. Now I’m thinking that it is a “battleground state” problem.
This close to the election, I expect Obama and McCain to weigh in shortly.
I had no idea that the Mr. Rogers’s shoe fiasco would turn into a three day story. I imagine that Stephen Griffin, Vice Dean of Tulane Law School, is a very nice man. He probably even helps his landlady take out her garbage.
But his handling of this issue has been nothing short of mystifying.
You might remember that when Vice Dean Griffin was begging for the shoe, he said:
Until close of business tomorrow (Wednesday) we are taking a “no questions asked” approach to this situation. Our primary goal is simply the return of the shoe. If you know anything about this incident, please report it to Dean Netherton or myself. You can also communicate with SBA President [redacted]. You can report anonymously if you wish. If the shoe is returned to Dean Netherton’s office by close of business tomorrow, the Museum will not turn over the matter to the NOPD. If it is not, the Museum will turn over the matter to the NOPD.
Well, today he sent around another email to Tulane Law students:
Because the item was returned, the museum will not file a criminal complaint with NOPD. At the request of the Law School administration, TUPD is investigating the incident under the University Code of Student Conduct.
Vice Dean Griffin
Not surprisingly, Tulane students are a little pissed:
According to another Vice Dean, the thief will likely be kicked out of school. Seems a little unfair given the “no questions asked” terminology of the last email.
Honestly, what are you doing Dean Griffin? I get that you only “promised” not to turn the thief over to the police, but “no questions asked” doesn’t really comport with “you’re getting expelled.” Don’t try to pull clever legal jujitsu on a community full of soon-to-be lawyers.
And don’t try to pass the buck to the “law school administration.” You are part of the law school administration. If you spoke out of turn initially, you’ve got to own up to that and probably apologize.
Why would anybody trust you after this? Sure, you got the shoe back and maybe it’s good to expel a “bad-apple,” but you’re hurting the community that you are supposed to represent.
Students, we need your help with a theft that occurred at Barrister’s Ball. As you know, the event was held in the Children’s Museum. There was a display devoted to “Mr. Rogers” (Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”) at the top of a staircase. The display contained shoes actually worn by Mr. Rogers, on loan from a private collection. These shoes are therefore unique and irreplaceable.
During the ball one of the shoes was stolen, most likely by a student. The theft was noticed Sunday morning by the museum staff but not reported to us until today. I’m afraid I cannot overemphasize the gravity of this incident. It appears that one of the students of this Law School committed theft, a serious crime. It is also a violation of the Tulane University Code of Student Conduct. Moreover, what was stolen was of very high value. The stolen item must be returned immediately. Otherwise, the Law School may be forced to pay for the item and future SBA events held in venues off campus will be in serious jeopardy.
Until close of business tomorrow (Wednesday) we are taking a “no questions asked” approach to this situation. Our primary goal is simply the return of the shoe. If you know anything about this incident, please report it to Dean Netherton or myself. You can also communicate with SBA President [redacted]. You can report anonymously if you wish. If the shoe is returned to Dean Netherton’s office by close of business tomorrow, the Museum will not turn over the matter to the NOPD. If it is not, the Museum will turn over the matter to the NOPD. I hope it is obvious that being under suspicion or arrested in connection with this incident would have the most serious negative implications for your future career as a lawyer.
Remember the barely watchable movie Major League II? Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn arrives at spring training with an assortment of off-speed curveballs and change-ups, abandoning his 100-mph-plus fastball essentially because he’s gone soft.
That (terrible) plot is being carried out by the nation’s top law schools. We’ve reported on HLS and SLS moving away from letter grades. We scuttled a poll by Columbia Law School trying to ascertain whether students there wanted to move to a modified pass/fail system. Now, despite earlier protestation from some members of the student body, NYU Law is now moving towards their own version of grade reform. The hope, apparently, is sterling transcripts for all, academic competition for none:
In Fall 2007, the Executive Committee of the faculty re-evaluated the NYU grade curve as part of a broader charge. The Committee concluded that the curve appears to be somewhat out of line with peer schools, and expressed concern that an unintended effect could be that it systematically disadvantages our students applying for clerkships and some other jobs.
Is there no end to this madness? In essence, that letter represents a bunch of students saying:
Whaaaa. Law school is hard. I want my clerky-ships. How come Johnny gets all the good grades? Whaaaa!
And NYU is caving. They’re throwing a curveball in a 3-1 count instead of having the guts to throw a hard strike.
Getting good grades is not a right. And it shouldn’t be a gift. Some people have the talent and focus to get good grades, other people have the social skills to get laid. What precisely was wrong with that system?
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the economy is bad. People are losing their jobs, firms are cutting back on summer programs, and some firms are dissolving.
If you are a 2L sitting on multiple offers, could you please — for the love of God — accept one of them already, so the spots you don’t want can be filled by other candidates? At this point, in this market, it is just common courtesy.
And it might be in your best interest as well. The career services office at U. Penn Law School sent around a letter to students today, urging them to make a decision:
We recommend that you do not wait until the expiration of the offer to render a decision. Additionally, in this market, we advise that you seek an extension for an outstanding offer only if you fall under the public interest exception or have truly extenuating circumstances that justify your need for more time. Indecision does not qualify as a legitimate reason for an extension. …
Wednesday, we learned that one of your 2L colleagues had their offer for employment rescinded before the expiration of the offer because the firm experienced a higher than usual acceptances from outstanding offers and had to close their class immediately to prevent over subscription thereto.
If you are sitting on an offer, you might find that your offer has been rescinded by the time you’ve made up your mind. We’re getting (unconfirmed and highly speculative) reports to ATL that multiple firms have extended more offers than they intend to honor and that slots will be given on a first come, first employed basis.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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