Law school just isn't what it used to be. According to The New York Times
schools across the country are inflating students' grades to increase
their job prospects after graduation. In one case, a school
retroactively tacked on 0.333 to every grade recorded over the past few
years. The Times counts at least 10 law schools, including New York
University, Georgetown and Tulane, that have adjusted their grading
systems "to make them more lenient." In the blogosphere, the story
piqued the interested of these pundits (each of whom has a law degree):
Demand for Lawyers Is Finally Declining, reasons John Hinderaker at Powerline: "The
reality is that any society--even ours--has a limited need for lawyers.
I'm reminded of a cartoon in the New Yorker from several decades ago.
Two people are talking at a cocktail party; one of them says to the
other: 'How did I know you're a lawyer? Simple: everyone is a lawyer.'
That was how things seemed to be going during the 1970s, but like all
trends, this one couldn't continue forever."
- Perhaps Law Firms
Should Adjust, writes Howard Wasserman, a law
professor writing at PrawfsBlawg: "Jon Siegel suggests that employers opposed to
this sort of grade inflation could fight back by ignoring GPA and
focusing on class rank. I agree it would be great if firms would shift
their focus. The problem is an (anecdotal) strong resistance in the
legal market to do so. Part of the push to change here came because our
dean's conversations with people in the hiring market convinced him that
GPA was the be-all-end-all and class rank did not matter. As a
relatively new, lower-tiered school, firms are interested only in our
very top students. But many firms seemed to say that a 3.3 GPA was not
high enough for them to look at, even if that person was # 3 in the
- It Seems Like They Are, writes Nathan Koppel at The Wall Street
Journal: "Law firms, for their part, are wise to the ways of law
schools. In assessing a job prospect, firms appear to be relying less on
possibly-inflated GPAs and instead are paying more attention to other
criteria, such as class rank and law-journal experience."
Is Poorly Reported, writes Ann Althouse, a law professor: "I
consider this news a huge bore in light of the fact that law students'
grades are always adjusted on a curve. It's not as if the students
previously got the grades they deserved and now the grades are phony.
When lawprofs grade law school exams, we may start with raw scores that
represent what we really think of them, but the final grades are
determined by the school's predetermined goals for averages and
percentages at the various grade levels. If the school thinks those
averages and percentages are set in the wrong place it can reset them."
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