Law School Exams

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….

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Man, final exams week is just a bonanza for law schools screwing up.

First, we had the Villanova debacle. Now we have another law school that should get an “F” in test giving (and we may well have more, similar stories coming later this week).

Keep reading to see which law school had a professor who reportedly gave students an “exam” cribbed straight from a commercial outline…

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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.

That was an unpopular decision.

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….

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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…

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Last fall, we shared the evidence exam of Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson. His fall exam didn’t seem to require a lot of evidence knowledge.

This semester, Professor Nesson is teaching an “American Jury” class. We received a copy of the spring take-home exam.

How do you ace a class at Harvard? You better play a lot of attention to cases your professor is currently involved in, and you better not fall asleep during the screening of 12 Angry Men….

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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.

Or should I say: “Yes, Durham”???

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Looking to rock your law school exams without even trying? Good luck with that. Unless you are a part of the small minority that can take an exam with little preparation and a couple shots of tequila, you will have to do some work to do well throughout your law school career. While reading all your assignments, briefing all relevant cases, and kissing up to all your law professors may help your grades a little, there is still no guarantee that all that extra work will earn you the top grades you are gunning for.

There is a strategy to doing well in law school. Most importantly, know that there is no one strategy that works for everybody. You know how you like to study, and you know what works best for you. That being said, the recruiting professionals at Lateral Link have compiled a list of tips below that worked for them and the attorneys they have placed at top firms around the world….

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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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Am I happy, or in misery? Whatever it is that exam, put a spell on me.

If this were any other school, if this were any other professor, I’d probably be screaming about this in my sleep. But I can’t get mad at Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School. He’s old. He’s kooky. He’s got a personality and tenure. What’s not to like?

A tipster forwarded a copy of the 2011 Evidence exam Professor Nesson just issued. I think it’s great. Some people are going to go all nuts about how their school is “just as good as HLS if this is the kind of crap exam they give to students.” Some Harvard students, especially the ones who spent all semester reading and making their own case briefs, are going to scream about how they’re paying nearly $50K a year “for this.”

But whatever. You’ve got all these people running around, mainly deans at lower-ranked law schools, screaming about how legal education confers some kind of intangible, experiential benefit that cannot be codified in simple job placement statistics. Well, Professor Nesson is all about the existential experience of thinking deeply (or casually) about law — and he’s doing it at a school that confers the very tangible benefit of high-paying, prestigious jobs to all who want them.

So, strap yourselves in: two questions, 500-word limit per answer. Have fun, kids….

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A little while back, we asked how many of you had tried Adderall, the ADHD drug that some students use to get a boost around study time. A whopping 30% of you said you had tried the drug and 70% of you are lying.

It’s a figure that should make law school deans sit up and take notice. You know, if they weren’t busy figuring out how to charge the students more money for an education that isn’t getting more valuable in any way.

But now let’s ask the fun question. Is using Adderall that big of a deal?

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