Law School Grading Curves Should Be Universal

Law School Grading Curves Should Be Universal

The curve can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Moments after I finished my final exam, a scary thought came to mind, “What if I just failed?”

In college, if you failed an exam you had a chance to redeem yourself throughout the semester. In law school, our grades are usually determined by one final exam. Sometimes, we have midterms. In most cases, the final exam makes or breaks your grade.

Let’s break this down. Law School grades are based on a curve. A certain portion of the class gets A’s, B’s, and so on. This typically isn’t the professor’s rules; the school sets the curve.

Depending on the class, the curve can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

If the entire class takes an exam and fails, the curve works in your favor. Unfortunately, when the exam is easier, one question could be the difference between a letter grade.

So far, my lowest grade in law school has been in Professional Responsibility. I was just as shocked as you are. I received a 100 percent on the midterm and a raw score of an 85 on the final. Both exams were comprised of multiple choice questions. No essays, no short answers. You either got the question right or you got the question wrong.

Naturally, I was furious. Under normal circumstances, I would have received somewhere between a B+ and an A- in the class. Under the curve, I received a C+. This was with my grade being raised half a letter for participation. In what world is an A average, a C? I quickly learned that this is the norm in law school.

The main problem with the law school curve is that it is not universal.

While in school, we learn that everything is a competition. Once we finish school, that statement becomes even truer. After we graduate and pass the bar, we are competing for jobs.

In the real world, we are not just being compared to our classmates, we are being compared to every other law school graduates. This would not be a problem if all law schools graded the same.

Although the premise of the curve is similar across the board, different grading curves are problematic. For example, the Ivy League schools follow a more liberal grading system. Specifically, Harvard Law School does not give out grades. Courses are evaluated using “passes” and “fails.” Not to mention, some of the Ivies do not even require an LSAT score for admission. I digress.

Currently, I attend law school in the state of Florida. If you were to look at the average GPA of Florida law schools, it falls within a 3.0 range. This is because most schools follow a B curve. My school follows a C curve. This means that the average GPA is around a 2.5-2.75. So, my C+ in Professional Responsibility was above the curve for my school, but still below the curve compared to other Florida law schools.

Looking at the big picture, Professional Responsibility prepares you for the MPRE, an exam that determines whether you are ethical enough to practice law. I mean, a lie detector test would work too, but that’s not up to me to decide. Statistically speaking, my grade in the class meant it was likely that I would pass the MPRE. So, I didn’t think too much of this.

Last summer, I attended my first career fair. I traveled to Georgia to interview for a summer internship at a large firm. This was my dream firm. My dreams were shattered when I was asked, “Why did you get a C+ in Professional Responsibility?”

Although I was screaming internally, I calmly explained the curve at my school and how I was challenging my grade. I kept my cool and the interviewers seemed emphatic. Unfortunately, I didn’t take enough classes to qualify for the internship, but it was a great learning experience. From that day on, I would not let my grades determine whether I got a job.

Ironically, after I left the interview, I received an email that my grade was being recalculated due to a “mathematical error.” I ended up with a B- in the class. Regardless of the class performing well on the exam, my professor was forced by the administration to lower our grades. Long story short, I did not get the grade that I earned.

I still strive to do well in school, but my grades do not define me. They do not define the lawyer that I will become.

I can’t control the curve, but I can control how the curve affects me.

Cover Image Credit: Mari Helin-Tuominen

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Being A Leader Can Be A Double-Edged Sword

Leadership experience is key, however, with it, you have to be able to roll with the punches.

“What kind of leadership experience do you have? Do you plan on taking on leadership roles in the future?” I feel like leadership is a word you cannot avoid anymore and these are just some of the questions that students face on a regular basis.

In this day and age, college students have faced an extreme pressure to get involved on campus, gain leadership experience and then translate those things onto a resume. In the last year, I have held different leadership roles within a couple different organizations and it has really opened my eyes to the positive and negative sides to them.

Gaining leadership skills is imperative in order to be successful in the workforce, hopefully, in writing this I will be able to shed light on the positive aspects while preparing readers for the possible hardships that can come.

Being a leader can be so fun! Within any organization, there are so many different leadership roles you can take on, and I highly suggest you do. Take on whichever role really speaks to you and your character. The more you feel you relate to the requirements of the position the better you will understand and value it. That’s the exciting part! You learn so much, get to grow as a person, doing something you’re passionate about, while also leading others and giving yourself to something bigger.

Some other really great aspects are the tools that the role can offer you. You all of a sudden gain access to people, technology, and opportunities you would not otherwise have had. You learn how to communicate with people that you may not have otherwise crossed paths with, you learn how to feel compassion for those same people, these things learned on top of basic organizational skills and public speaking skills. When given the title you automatically become the go-to person for that thing and over time, given the effort you put in, master it, which is truly an accomplishment.

Leadership, in general, can and will test most if not every aspect of you as a person.

The knowledge you have of your position will be tested, but even further it will test the strength you have as a human. Being the leader means owning up to your mistakes. Every. Single. Time. It means that you get to fulfill all of the fun parts of the job, but also the not-so-fun parts. Your leadership position can and will make you question yourself as a person and what you stand for. This is something I had no idea would happen, and frankly, I was not ready to have to do that.

However, just like with most things, I did it and learned more about who I am.

Something else that is important to remember about these roles, is that when things go wrong, you and the other leaders, will be the fall guy. When something happens that those in your organization do not agree with, whether it be organizationally sanctioned or not, those members will look for someone to blame. That in and of itself is something we as people will always do, and it may not always be the right way to approach the situation, however, it does happen.

Just like any good leader, when things don’t happen the way they were supposed to, that person not only takes the emotional hit that comes with it, but they also have to take the heat from those in the group that do not agree with what happened.

Experiences such as those are the ones that will make any leader question if they are truly fit for doing so. In the end, that leader will learn, grow, and hopefully change, in order to keep the best interests of the whole group in mind.

Taking on leadership roles, will for most people be inevitable.

There is so much a person can learn about themselves and others when doing so. In the last year, I have held several different leadership roles within different organizations and it has really opened my eyes to what leaders face every day whether it be on a small or large scale. Gaining leadership skills is key to being successful in the workforce, and hopefully, in putting my experiences into writing I have taught readers that you should pursue every opportunity afforded you in the realm of leadership, but that it takes a strong person willing to adapt and grow.

Cover Image Credit: Ian Schneider

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30 Thoughts You Probably Had During The First Day Of Classes

It's all fun and games until you have to go back to class

One of the greatest joys in life is finally heading back to college after break. While it is accompanied with some sadness of leaving your family, pets and bed, it is made up for with college friends, independence and just the general greatness of college life. However, actually going to classes is another story. Here are 30 thoughts you probably had while getting adjusted to the first day of class.

1. *Alarm goes off* Is it really time to get up?

2. I forgot how much it sucked to have community bathrooms

3. Should I dress nicely?

4. What is everyone else wearing?

5. I don't even know where my classes are

6. Am I in the right room?

7. I sorta know that person. Should I sit next to them or is that weird?

8. How are we already on lesson one?!!??!

9. What happened to syllabus week???

10. I already have homework??

11. This is not what I signed up for

12. Okay, it is but still! I wasn't ready for this

13. I wonder if anyone else has lunch right now

14. Why are all my friends in class

15. I guess I'll eat lunch alone

16. Oh good, people I know!!!

17. Why am I already sick of the food here it has only been one day

18. Time for my class! Yay!

19. *repeat thoughts six through 12*

20. Finally done for the day!!!

21. Should I go to the gym or nap?

22. Maybe I'll be productive

23. Or just hang out with friends and do nothing because I don't have that much work yet

24. It was only the first day and I'm exhausted

25. At least I get to pick what time to eat dinner!

26. Why are there so many club meetings

27. Back to the communal showers!

28. I miss my big bed

29. I wonder if my pet misses me yet

30. Can't wait to do this all again tomorrow!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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