Now that we’re done yelling at all the law professors in America who couldn’t bother to submit grades for their classes in a timely manner, it’s time for our other semi-annual tradition of covering total grading screw-ups by esteemed legal academics. Exam period isn’t truly over until at least one professor adds to the misery of current law students in some odd way.
The screw-up in this instant case is a doozy. We’re looking at a large 1L class, a massive administrative failure, and a loss of privacy for the students.
You know your screw-up is noteworthy when the official administrative “solution” to the problem is “wait, don’t read that email…”
Would you like to go to law school, receive your grades, be sad, and then have your administration turn around and “recall” them because maybe they weren’t high enough? I mean, sure, you’d be annoyed that grades were late and that they teased you with something and then took it away… but if the end result was that your professors were not fully aware of opportunities to inflate your grades, you’d be willing to wait for everybody to take another look.
That’s what seems to be happening at a law school out west. The 2Ls and 3Ls received their grades over the long weekend. But almost immediately, the administration sent out word to disregard the grades because not all of the professors were aware of the opportunity to adjust the curve upwards. Would that make you happy?
In a way, I’m surprised we don’t have more stories about people posting their grades on social media sites. The kids are already using Facebook and Twitter as a running diary of their lives, so you’d expect there to be more instances where people throw their law school transcripts up on the internet.
In fact, let me ask the question this way: why wouldn’t you post your grades on Facebook? They’re clearly important to you. If you did well, you can brag about them just as surely as one of your friends is bragging about the exploits of their kids or dogs. If you did poorly, you can seek the solace of friends who you don’t actually like well enough to have a beer with. Why wouldn’t you post them?
The obvious answers seem painfully old-timey. “It’s in poor taste to brag about your grades.” “Your transcript should be private.” “You got an ‘A’? Go f**k yourself.” These are the thoughts of a previous generation. For the Facebook generation… I mean, have you seen what people post? This is nothing.
A law student decided to post his solid grades on Facebook. I bet you can guess what school we’re talking about. Let’s just say that it’s a school that seems to admit students who like to draw attention to themselves when things are going well by subtly upturning their collars….
We talk about this twice a year. Sorry, I should say we are forced to talk about this twice a year. Every year. Because every semester, there are law professors out there who refuse to submit grades in a timely fashion.
I don’t know why. Professors have to work like nine or 12 hours a week, maybe eight months a year, and write a final exam and grade it. That’s what the students are paying them for. The rest, the research, scholarship, whatever glad handing they do on their path to tenure, is something they can do on their own time. On the student’s dime, they have to lecture, write exams, and grade them.
WHY DO SO MANY OF THEM FAIL TO DO THIS?
I don’t know the answer to that question. I may never know. Last semester, Columbia Law School threatened to fine professors who handed in late grades.
Columbia’s plan seems to be working, so maybe other New York area schools should give it a try….
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….
Every year, heck, every semester, we have to run a story about professors being unforgivably late in performing one of their few job requirements: transmitting grades to students. I simply don’t understand why so many professors won’t perform this basic function. But it probably has something to do with the fact that law school administrators don’t make it clear that it’s important for professors to provide student services.
At most schools, exams were two months ago. The “grade deadline” at schools that have them has already passed. If you don’t have your grades by now, your law school should be offering you a refund for the outstanding classes.
Oh, I’m sorry, there goes me thinking that law schools are providing a competitive service in an open market. Actually, the 200 of them of have a monopoly on accredited legal education, and they seem to have collectively decided that they don’t give a crap about this issue.
Well, students might not be able to do anything about late grades, but they don’t have to be happy about it…
Law students are starting to get a little loopy about receiving their first semester grades. It’s still too early to feel like grades are “late,” but competitive law students are starting to get antsy.
Speaking of competition, we’ve now seen a couple of examples of top law schools trying to reassure students who might receive less than stellar grades. The Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Law School sent around an important safety tip earlier this month. And you’ll remember that Columbia Law went so far as to share the unimpressive grades of Columbia faculty in an attempt to calm students.
Now another top law school is getting into the “dear God these millennials are made of porcelain” game. Note: people at low-ranked law schools, do not try this at home. Your grades actually matter, A LOT.
But even when you are being soothed by the Student Bar Association at your great law school, you should beware of the classmate that is willing to out-compete you for treats….
Continuing our discussion of “elite law school problems,” let’s talk about grades. If your law school is ranked poorly, waiting for your grades has made you stressed all January. But if you go to a top-ranked law school, it really shouldn’t be that stressful, right?
Hell, if you are going to a truly elite law school, you don’t even have grades. Sure, if you are gunning for the Supreme Court clerkship down the road, your transcript is important. But if you’ve made it all the way to one of the best institutions of higher learning, and all you care about it whether you get an A and a pat on the head at the end of the semester, you’re doing it wrong.
Sadly, there are a lot of people at top law schools who are doing it wrong.
At the University of Chicago, Dean of Students Amy Gardner decided to send a reassuring note to students about their grades. Most importantly, she told students not to believe each other if they try to brag about their grades.
It’s a lesson even non-Chicago students might need to hear….
* Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Attorney General, wants Rick Perry’s election law suit to be dismissed, because really, what’s the point? Standing or not, Perry got completely hosed in Iowa. [Bloomberg]
* What’s next for Stephen Glass? When all else fails, hire a high-profile appellate team to do your dirty work for you. He could write a book about this and he wouldn’t even have to lie. [Am Law Daily]
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