Ed. note: This is the eighth installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Alison Monahan demystifies the law school exam.
The secret to doing well on law school exams is actually pretty simple: Deconstruct what you’re being asked to do, and then relentlessly focus on learning how to do it well.
No problem, right? So why does law school have such a ferocious reputation?
1. Everything’s graded on a curve. Even if you do well, someone else might do better. You’re competing against all of your very smart and accomplished classmates, not just displaying your personal knowledge.
2. The pedagogy is weird. Unlike most undergrad classes, law professors won’t spoon-feed you what you need to know. You essentially have to teach yourself, and what you discuss in class often bears little resemblance to what you’re expected to do on the exam.
3. You don’t get any practice. Most law school classes only have one exam, so you don’t get the chance to practice before game time. There’s a lot of pressure, and not everyone can handle it.
I’ve repeatedly said that law school faculty members need to do a better job of taking exams as seriously as their students. Every semester, we have a spate of stories about law professors who are too lazy to write novel exams for their students. And then, weeks later, we have to start doing stories about professors who are too lazy to grade their exams in a timely manner.
And you’ll note that I don’t think we’ve done a story on a law school giving anybody a refund because it couldn’t get its act together to provide deliverables to students.
Well, one law school seems to be willing to hold their faculty to a standard of basic competence. And they’re doing it the only way that it can be done. The school is willing to punish faculty — publicly — for late submission of grades….
With all the freak-outs that happen during finals week, one might get a cynical view of how law students (and professors) handle stress. But despair not!
There is still this thing that exists called integrity — and sometimes, when people screw up, they acknowledge their mistakes, then try to fix the situation the best they can.
Today we have two examples, one from a frazzled SBA representative trying to manage peers suffering from caffeine withdrawal, and the other from a professor who spaced out when creating his employment law exam.
Keep reading for the details of the blunders, plus the (seriously) classy apologies issued by both individuals….
You know how they say that if a kid tortures animals, then it’s a pretty good bet that the kid will grow to be a danger to people? I feel like a similar thing can be said of law students. If you see a law student who picks on law librarians, administrative staff, and others in the law school community who don’t have the power and respect of the academic faculty, it’s a pretty good bet that you’re looking at a future lawyer who is going to yell and scream and bully his secretary and people who are junior to him.
It’s. Really. Pathetic. Throwing a hissy fit at those who have no power is the mark of a coward.
Of course, the ultimate law school pressure-cooker is final exams. And when the pressure is on, you can find out who keeps their cool, and who is a d-bag…
Yesterday, we told you about how Villanova Law, a school still feeling the effects of a censure from the ABA for misrepresenting their class statistics to the organization, was having difficulties administering a 1L contracts exam.
Some people in Professor Joseph Dellapenna’s 1L Contracts class received the wrong exam, other students allegedly consulted their notes while the first mistake was being corrected, and it turned into a big mess. Villanova’s response was to void the essay portion of the exam for everybody, while preserving the multiple choice section, and making everybody “self-schedule” a retake of the essay section.
Today, we have news that Villanova changed course. Now the dean is involved. But one wonders if the right solution might have been for everybody to suck it up and grade the original exam as it was taken, warts and all….
We can argue about whether law schools should be prepared to help people get jobs. I mean, it’s not much of an argument, but some educators insist that helping students make good on their investment in legal education isn’t a primary responsibility of law school administration.
But surely we can all agree that administering exams is a huge part of running a law school. So why can so few schools do it properly? Honestly, why do we live in a world where people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for legal education, but when it comes time to take exams that will determine the job prospects of students, law schools routinely screw it up? Why is this even acceptable? Every freaking semester we have stories about schools that can’t get their acts together.
And today, we have another story. A story of an exam issue that seems so incompetent that it’s hard to fathom. A solution that manages the rare feat of punishing everybody, while not fixing the problem.
But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given that this school can’t even get its act together when reporting data to the ABA…
It’s finals period at many law schools around the country. Here at Above the Law, that means we can expect our inbox to get very entertaining. Pressure + law students + internet = loads of fun.
Well, it’s not just “pressure” that makes some law students wilt during finals period. There is no accounting for plumb stupid.
But today, we’ve got a story that is both stupid and unethical. A student at a top 14 law school reportedly posted a question from his Constitutional Law exam on a message board. He apparently posted it during the take home.
Yes, Virginia, it’s still cheating even if you do it online.
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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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