It’s an intriguing question. There are 11 ABA-accredited law schools in New York City and Long Island (I’m including Pace, even though the law school is in White Plains). Personally I love them all. Seriously, any one of them can produce a story about great idiocy that I can make fun of on the internet. That’s all I really care about.
But law students in New York argue over the strengths and weaknesses of their law schools all the time. Or at the very least they often mutter about the idiots across town under their breath.
While some students like to argue that they go to the “best” law school in New York, that’s a less interesting question. And there are so many Yale students running around town (New Haven is only 90 minutes away), so saying you go to the best law school in New York feels a little bit like saying you’re the tallest midget.
It’s a bit douchy to argue over who’s best, but it’s pretty fun to argue over which law school is the worst. Nobody thinks that they go to the absolute worst law school in the city. But that means one student body is dead wrong.
We get it, law students: the curve sucks. Because the law school curve affects important things like class rank, law review eligibility, and employment opportunities, it can make or break your life. And in a world where the legal market is still recovering from circling the drain, your grades mean more than they ever did in the past.
While the curve reflects some amount of fairness for larger classes, what happens to the students in smaller classes? You’d think that if everyone in a seminar class kicked ass on the final, the school would allow the professor some leeway with the mandatory curve. That seems like it would be fair, right? It’s a load of bull if the school refuses to step away from the curve in this kind of a situation.
And speaking of bull, apparently if you mess with one in Texas, you’ll get the horns (or at least be called a crybaby). A student at the University of Texas School of Law is trying — albeit unsuccessfully — to fight the powers that be….
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.
We’ve seen it in California; we’ve seen it in New York. Now it looks like Puff the Magic Grade-Inflating Dragon is heading for Washington, D.C.
Yes sir, a school in the D.C. market has decided that the reason its students can’t get jobs has nothing to do with the quality of education or services the school provides, and everything to do with how the school itself calculates student GPAs. And so we have another institution of legal education that is poised to randomly make its curve a third of a grade easier. And the school will also introduce the dreaded A+ — which is worth 4.33 points and should be written on construction paper in glitter, to emphasize how absurdly weak it is for a person over the age of 14 to receive an A+ on anything.
CORRECTION: As pointed out in the comments, the new grade is an A+*; the A+ already exists. I’m sorry, but my little brain could not comprehend such a thing as an A+*; I thought it was a typo.
And the school’s students — who should be embarrassed by this blatant inflation of their grades, in the same way that governments cringe when they are forced to devalue their currencies — are so hopeful that this little gimmick will work that all they can do is ask if the inflation will be applied retroactively to their previous grades.
So really, the only question left is whether this trend will catch on with other D.C.-area schools, rendering the efforts of the first inflator functionally moot….
You know, given the fact that most law school professors act like they are doing you a favor by grading your exams, it’s a wonder this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often. Of course, since it doesn’t happen more often, this is a noteworthy occurrence.
A criminal law professor out in California figured out there were grading errors from her fall semester course. She figured this out last week. But the errors were so significant that it changed the class rank of some students.
Yeah, so if you got dinged from a summer associate position because your first semester grades were too low, or if perhaps you didn’t even apply for some positions because you didn’t meet a percentile cut-off, whoops, your professor might have screwed up.
We are well into February, and there are still law students who haven’t received all of their grades from first semester.
Why? I have no earthly idea. We’ve talked about this problem before: we get that professors really hate spending the time it takes to grade a bunch of exams. It’s boring. It’s arbitrary. It’s annoying to know that no matter how “fairly” you grade, you’ll have at least a few students who can’t handle the truth, waiting in your office to ambush you.
But it’s also your job. It’s your duty, owed to the students who are ruining themselves financially to help pay your salary, to provide them with grades in timely fashion. This is especially true in law school. And it’s especially true in a crappy economy. Law school grades matter, and it’s just cruel to keep students in the dark about them.
Now, if I show you a hundred professors who handed in grades late, you’ll hear a hundred different excuses about why grades were delayed: “I was preparing for a conference,” “My Commodore 64 broke down,” “I was having personal problems” — whatever. We get it; sometimes life intervenes and prevents professors from doing their jobs.
But at NYU Law School, some students are alleging that professorial favoritism is allowing some professors to turn in their grades much later than others…
Whether or not you think that the LSAT should be important, we all know that it is important. Scoring well on the LSAT is absolutely crucial to getting into a good law school.
But usually the power of the LSAT fades after you matriculate to a law school. Usually people who are concerned about your LSAT score are the people who consider their own LSAT score their greatest achievement in life. Pathetic, I know, but I’ve met these people in real life. They really think that scoring well on a standardized test means something more than being able to score well on a standardized test.
We accept that law schools need to be focused on the LSAT — they need some way to compare people from different schools and programs. But should employers still care about your LSAT score? Should legal employers really be concerned about a test that you took years ago, before you had any legal training?
We have a message for law school deans and administrators everywhere. To paraphrase Chris Crocker, “Leave… the grades… alone!”
Stories about changes to law school grading schemes aren’t much fun for us to write. But every time you deans tinker ever so slightly with your law school’s curve, we here at Above the Law get flooded by angry emails from law student readers, demanding that we call attention to whatever completely inscrutable change (or non-change) you have made (or not made) to your grading policy. In order to save us from having to write these stories, please cease and desist immediately from further amendment of your grading schemes.
Notwithstanding the views of the guy who posted his grades on Facebook, law school grades aren’t very interesting (except to their recipients). We’d much rather immerse ourselves in the law firm bonus horse race, for example. Compared to law school grading stories, the associate bonus watch is as riveting as the Oscars competition (or the Super Bowl, if you’re into that sort of thing).
Honestly, and with all due respect to our law student readers, we don’t particularly care about law school grades — and neither will you, in just a few short years. Right now you might be obsessed with your grades. And yes, they matter more than before, thanks to the tough legal job market. But you will forget your law school GPA sooner than you think. In the words of Professor Orin Kerr, “[o]nce you’re out of school for a bit, people care whether you are a good attorney, not your law school GPA.”
Let’s close the loop on the latest changes to the Harvard Law School grading system. Last month, we reported on stealth grade reform at HLS. The school decided to attach numerical values to all of its grades — and place students numerical GPAs on their transcripts.
That was a big deal because Harvard made a big show of moving away from letter grading just last year. What’s the point of having no letter grades if your GPA can still be easily reduced to a four point scale?
Well, there is no point. And the latest changes confirm that the school’s experiment with no letter grades was just a useless and annoying show. The most recent changes will remove the GPA calculation from the students’ transcripts — but most employers should still be able to figure it out, provided they understand basic math…
Last year, Harvard Law School abandoned letter grading and went to a High Pass/Pass/Low Pass/Fail system. The news was greeted with much fanfare, as it seemed like HLS was trying to become a kinder, gentler academic environment — one that wouldn’t be dominated by cutthroat competition to beat the curve. You know, something like a mega-Yale.
But it appears that soft grading just didn’t appeal to the lords of HLS. This semester, a more traditional grading scale is back. The letter grades are still gone, but now the grading distinctions at Harvard Law will conform to the tyranny of numbers. The Harvard Law Record reports that students will receive a point value for each grading distinction — five points for each Dean’s Scholar Prize credit, four for each Honors credit, three for per Pass credit, two for a Low Pass credit, and zero for a Failing grade — and those numerical values will be transmitted to employers.
And unlike last year’s grade reform, which was wildly publicized and discussed both inside and outside HLS, students only learned of this new grading system if they bothered to read the student handbook….
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
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• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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