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.”
What kind of world are we living in where people post their 1L grades on Facebook? I guess that after years of status updates about your latest biological function, you can fool yourself into thinking that people actually care about your Civ Pro grade. The world is full of navel-gazers.
Companion question: What kind of world are we living in where people get “offended” because somebody posted his 1L grades on Facebook? I know law schools are hyper-competitive places, but at the end of the day, the only thing you can control is your own academic performance. Getting mad because somebody is boasting about his grades is a colossal waste of energy — energy better spent studying for the current semester (or at least trying to steal his girlfriend). Don’t get mad, get even.
I’m not really on either side of the current ridiculousness going down at Boston University School of Law over one guy’s Facebook page. You see, I live in a world where it’s perfectly acceptable to kind of hate everybody….
I don’t know how I missed this last week, but a study reported in the WSJ Law Blog claims that law school prestige is overrated. Significantly overrated. The ABA Journal — which picked up the story this morning — summarizes the work of a professor from UCLA and a professor from Brooklyn Law:
[UCLA law professor Richard Sander and Brooklyn Law School visiting professor Jane Yakowitz] studied data from more than 40 public law schools across the country, and found that applicants tend to go to the most elite law school that will have them. But is that a good idea?
Not according to data collected in the American Bar Foundation’s After the JD study of lawyers who entered the bar in 2000, they write. It indicates that the salary boost for achieving high grades more than makes up for the salary depreciation associated with attending a lower‐ranked school. The study also found that lawyers who left law school with the lowest grades felt the least secure about their jobs.
I’m sorry, did anybody’s worldview just get blown up?
It’s nearly August. But at Harvard Law School, administrators are still trying to sort out what happened with Professor Bruce Hay’s spring Evidence course.
Not that grades matter all that much at HLS. The most important part of an HLS student’s transcript is the part at the top that says “Harvard Law School.” Heck, the school recently reformed its grading procedures, making the actual grades even less important.
But appearances must be maintained. It’s important that students feel their “super, gold-star, yay pass” grades are well-earned and fairly distributed.
Apparently students felt that Professor Hay did not adequately communicate how they would be graded. And now the administration has to step in…
Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) hoped to quietly jump on the grade-inflation bandwagon in order to help make its students more competitive in the legal marketplace. The school bumped letter grades up a notch, so that a C- became a C, a B became a B+, and an A+ became an A+you’reasuperamazinggunnerrockstar.
And last night, Loyola had its big moment on the Colbert Report:
The upside is that Loyola-L.A. just broke through to a whole new audience of potential applicants. The downside is that we can hear the deflation of the hopes of all the Loyola law school grads who planned to wow employers with their amazing GPAs.
We reached out to Loyola about being mocked by one of America’s most influential people. A response from Dean Victor Gold, after the jump.
New Jersey is taking over the world of reality television programming. Though it would surely be sheer torture to be locked in a room with a bunch of Jersey folk, their ridiculous antics and outsized attitudes make for great entertainment when confined to the small screen.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey is by far the most popular of the Housewives series. It’s now in its second season, and it appears that many of our Above the Law readers are fans. We received a landfill’s worth of emails about the legal hook in last night’s episode. One of the Real Sons of the Housewives of New Jerseys — Albie Manzo, son of Caroline Manzo — was in law school. As he said in an interview on the Bravo website, in response to a question about his love life: “School makes the likelihood of any relationship working slim. I always tell my friends, sometimes I feel like I’m dating law school.”
Alas, Albie just got dumped by Lady Justice — he failed out of law school after only one semester, as viewers learned last night. Here’s a clip of Albie breaking the news to his mom. The reality TV hottie claims to have a learning disability that causes him to take three times as long as normal people to absorb information, resulting in a shameful GPA in his fall semester.
While the LD sounds like it could help Albie rack up some serious billable hours, the school wasn’t supportive. A tipster reports:
Albie said the administration told him that if he couldn’t cut it with his learning disability, lawyering probably isn’t for him.
Which law school had such harsh words for the learning-impaired Jersey boy?
A) Law school experiences embarrassing employment outcomes.
B) Administration refuses to admit legal education is ridiculously overpriced given the soft job market.
C) Students demand immediate administrative action to help students find work.
D) Administration has precisely zero ideas on how to help students get jobs.
E) Administration blames its own “tough grading curve” that allegedly “disadvantages” its students.
F) Administration enacts “grade reform.”
G) Students feel momentarily appeased.
H) Employers ask for class ranking and go back to putting 90% of the transcripts they receive from the school in question into the shredder.
Next year, Tulane Law School will make grading easier. Getting a good job with a Tulane Law degree will remain just as difficult as ever…
The law school perspective on grading is wrong. At many law schools, professors look at grades as the least important part of their job. Sadly, it’s actually the most important part of their job. Grades are the only thing law students can’t get from an outline. Grades are VASTLY more important to a student’s earning potential than any professorial pontification about black letter law.
Grades should be produced immediately or as soon as is physically possible.
Law school administrations don’t seem to get that. UCLA Law is just the latest example. A tipster reports:
I’m a rising 2L at UCLA Law — we got this email last night saying that our grades weren’t going to be posted until next week. The fact that we won’t know our grades until then seems like something a low-ranked school would do to discourage transfers, but what struck me right away was the rather condescending tone.
The tipster is right. The tone of this email is kind of ridiculous…
For many law students, the path to Biglaw riches looks something like this:
Step 1: Get into cheap law school.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit.
A lot of kids fill in “Step 2″ with the idea of trading up to a “better” law school after a successful 1L year. Now that finals have wrapped up at most law schools (and the law schools still conducting finals are generally places nobody wants to transfer from), many students will set their sights on the goal of transferring out of their current law school.
Of course, just because students want to transfer doesn’t mean they can. And unfortunately many students will find that their current law school actively tries to make it difficult for kids to get out and into a better law school.
Is your school cock-blocking you from scoring a better legal education?
How long should students have to wait for fall semester grades? Two weeks? A month? Some students at William and Mary School of Law are still waiting for fall semester grades — and they might not be alone.
I understand that law professors would rather drink wine straight from the box than grade a paper. It’s an onerous responsibility. But, it is a responsibility. Especially in this economy, where students are scrambling for scarce job opportunities. If a student has an incomplete transcript, or can’t produce a class rank upon request, a prospective employer might well go with one of the other hundreds of resumes flooding his or her inbox.
Last month, a student at the University of Texas School of Law complained that he lost out on a judicial clerkship because of one professor’s grading delay. Above the Law received this email on January 25th:
Texas Law’s Student Affairs Office said over the phone this afternoon that Prof. [Redacted] hasn’t submitted grades yet or filed for an extension. UT’s deadline was Tuesday of last week (which is already hilariously late compared to the University’s undergraduate policies). Supposedly, the Law School will dock [the professor's] pay until the grades are in or until he requests an extension, but he’s big pals with Dean Sager.
I’ve already missed out on at least one internship this summer because I didn’t have grades yet. A judge’s office called me to schedule an interview and asked that I bring a transcript. When I mentioned that, as late as Jan 16th, I still hadn’t received a single grade, they went ahead and hired someone else.
We emailed the professor to see if the grades were still outstanding, or why they were delayed in the first place, but he did not respond.
At William and Mary, the situation is such that the class rank of the entire school has been delayed….
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: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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.
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