Grades

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….

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My 1L grades were this big.

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….

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Rick Perry: 'It's this big.'

* 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]

* 1Ls who hope for good grades have better chances of getting them. Everyone else is screwed unless they buy that Secret book housewives raved about on Oprah. [National Law Journal]

* An Illinois police officer tracked a woman down after giving her a speeding ticket, wrote her a love note, and now she’s suing him. Harsh. Why not throw him a rejection hotline number? [Daily Mail]

* You thought Touro was the worst law school in New York by a landslide, but our second-place finisher is earning its medal. CUNY Law’s bar passage rates plummeted in 2011. [New York Post]

* Johnny Weir, the most fabulous figure skater in all the land, has married a Georgetown Law grad. His Twitter profile says he’s taking the New Jersey bar exam soon. Good luck! [Washington Post]

* Robert L. Carter, S.D.N.Y. Senior Judge and desegregation strategist, RIP. [New York Times]

How hard is it to write an exam for a course you’ve taught all semester? Seriously, tell me, how hard is it? On a scale of one to ten — ten involving programing a rocket ship, one somewhere around putting on pants in the morning — where does formulating a law school exam rate? A two? Maybe three if you are teaching the course for the first time?

It cannot possibly be so hard that you have to use the same exam over and over again, in the digital age. We’re not talking about something as complicated as the wheel. A law school exam can be reinvented, every year, with subtle and simple changes.

Using the exact same exam is just lazy. There’s no other word for it. LAZY. The high cost of law school is largely attributed to the hefty salaries of law school faculty. The least these people can do is write a novel exam each and every semester that they teach.

And yet during this finals period alone, we’ve got students from three law schools, including two law schools in the top ten, alleging that their professors couldn’t be bothered to come up with fresh exams for this year’s students….

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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….

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Yesterday, we brought you a story about the plight of UGA Law students who were still jonesing for their grades. After having received a number of comments, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages, it seems like the moral of the story for rising 2Ls and 3Ls at UGA Law (and at every other law school) is this: “Quit bitching, gunners.”

I guess everyone will get their grades sooner or later, but to be honest, it will probably be later.

But, in particular, we noted that graduates from the school’s class of 2011 had not yet received their transcripts. The transcripts in question were due to the Georgia Bar yesterday, but as commenters and tipsters alike responded, this really, really isn’t a big deal. Really.

Apparently, UGA Law has some sort of secret agreement with the Georgia Bar that negates the deadline in question…

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Uga, did you eat the grades?

Well, it’s the middle of June, and it seems that some law students are still waiting for their grades. As we know from past discussion of the issue, this is a fairly common practice. The only problem with it is that it keeps law students fiending for their last grade like a crack addict searching frantically for his last rock.

The worst part of this situation is the fact that the grade delay may be keeping these law students from becoming gainfully employed. The legal job market may allegedly be on the rise, but when law students can’t do more than offer two-fifths of their updated transcripts to prospective employers, you can take a wild guess as to where their résumés will be headed.

So, while the professors are taking their sweet time grading their exams and possibly costing you a job, your classmates are banding together to try to figure out how to resolve the problem. First, they go to the Student Bar Assocation. Then, when they don’t like the answer they get from the SBA (“there’s a grading deadline, I’m sure we’ll get our grades soon”), they go straight to the source, the administration. Finally, when the administration’s response isn’t good enough (“it’ll be okay, you’ll get your grades when you get your grades”), they come to Above the Law. And we’re happy to help.

Hey, University of Georgia School of Law, we’re looking at you. Where are your grades?

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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.

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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….

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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.

Which law school needs to examine its motives?

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