More Law School Grade Controversy

Stephen Colbert Defends Law SchoolLast summer Loyola Law School – Los Angeles, grabbed the national spotlight (with a little help from Stephen Colbert) when it decided to raise the grading curve and award all law students a .333 GPA boost.  It claimed to be keeping pace with UCLA and other California Law Schools, who had previously raised their curve. 

This week at the University of Chicago Law School rumors began to circulate that its grading policy for seminars was being changed retroactively.  Apparently, the law students thought that the curve would become enforceable on seminar classes.  It turns out though, that nothing has changed.  It seems that many students are generally unpleased with the university’s commitment to maintaining its curve, even if nothing has changed.  

Meanwhile, at Cornell Law School, students are upset because law professors now have the discretion to move set the curve from 3.2 to 3.5.  Before, there was a 3.35 curve.  It looks like most of the classes are moving to the 3.5 and 3L’s are not happy.  They think that the lower classmen now have an unfair GPA advantage. 

University at Buffalo Law School is also part of this week’s controversy.  Apparently, they have recently begun to report on law school class rank.  You would think this would be very beneficial, considering that all the law school grading changes have left employers with no other option than to compare class rank.  (For example which candidate is more impressive:  GPA = 3.78; Rank = 30%; or GPA = 3.63; Rank = 5%) .  The problem is that the 3L’s didn’t expect to have to reveal their class standing, which some argue influenced their choice of classes. 

Most of the controversy going forward could be minimized if all law schools were required to reveal their class rank.  It is the only way that employers can measure the competitveness of an applicant’s grades.  The curve at any given law school should not matter in the least. 

As far as the Buffalo law student’s complaints – I don’t sympathize.  Granted, some law students may have taken harder classes because class rank was undisclosed.  But, so what?  Law students are achievers.  Revealing Buffalo’s class rank does not penalize anyone who took a harder class and worked harder.  In fact, given the curve, you should have the same opportunity for mediocrity in hard law school classes as you do the easier classes.  The real people who are upset are those law students who thought they would be able to camouflage their mediocre performance.  To those students I say: Welcome to the Real World. 

As promised, here is Stephen Colbert’s take on law school grade inflation:

Colbert on Law School