Matthew's Foray into Blogging

Monday, July 04, 2005

More on Law School Grading

In a previous post, I expressed some of my opinions on grading in law school. A South Texas Law Professor provides a law school professor’s perspective on grading law school exams.

Law firms and government employers rely heavily on law school class rankings in hiring graduates. This is folly, in my opinion. As the grades are, for the most part, arbitrarily and subjectively assigned, class rank is not the best indicator of a student’s ability to perform lawyerly tasks. The lawyers at firms, however, are largely concerned with appearances, and they believe it reflects positively on their organization if they can say that they draw students from the upper percentiles of graduating classes.

Law firms are also foolish in their recruiting and clerkship programs. Many of the supposed top-notch students that the law firms pay ridiculous sums for summer clerkships do not ultimately join the law firm, or, if they do join the law firm, stay only a short while. Law firms pay outlandish amounts to law clerks for reasons of prestige, for the bragging rights of being able to boast that they pay $2,100 per week to students.

In all fairness to the law schools and the law firms that utilize the largely arbitrary and subjective grades, there are a number of students who cause me to wonder why they are in law school. If one is paying $6,600 or $9,900 per semester in tuition, one’s heart had better be in it. Law school is no place to skate by while putting forth minimal effort. I did not look with admiration on students who sold back their books upon learning that recitation was assigned, with the intent of borrowing a casebook when the time came to cover their assigned cases. I was equally unimpressed by students who only read if they thought there was a chance they would be called upon to recite in class.

I would not want these slackers representing me as my lawyer, but I know plenty of bright, diligent workers who happened not to have the good fortune of placing at the top of the class.

As an aside, perhaps I am bitter because, although my résumé is “impressive” (no, it is not), no law firms currently have positions for me. Perhaps I look with disdain on the grading of exams in law school because, despite my efforts, I did not place in the top 1/16th percentile.

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