Since I don’t have time lately to post anything of my own, I thought I might provide a link to the blog “The War on Bullshit” which has, in my humble opinion, posted an accurate and eloquently written article summing up how I feel about law school grading. Law school is an engine powered by a large amount of arbitrariness and subjectivity along with massive egos of academics (easily developed when one has only had to live in one’s own head for the majority of one’s life). Couple this with a professor’s inability to teach law in a coherent and logical manner, and voila, you have a recipe for a law student’s living nightmare.
Some profs and some administrators* will say things like, “law is a self-regulating profession so self-teaching is critical” or, “law professors are not trained as teachers” or, “you should spend more time learning from your classmates”. Well, sorry, but that doesn’t give a law school a valid defense for providing sub-par service (let’s not forget that legal education has become prohibitively expensive). These are only thinly veiled tu quoque arguments: “your marks stink, student A, because you’re not working hard enough / you didn’t learn the concepts thoroughly on your own.” (but these profs and university administrators know this argument all too well). If I’m learning on my own, then why don’t I just attend law school online?
I will also argue that there is a great deal of special pleading, or goal post shifting, occurring on a regular basis: “We don’t want the smart students to transfer out of our law school, else we’ll lose our jobs. Let’s make our marking extra arbitrary and our exams beyond difficult, so we’ll be sure to remove as many marks as possible, and while we’re at it, we’ll lower our grading curve average.”
Thanks. Make sure that I can’t have good enough marks to transfer out so I can float tuition at your institution for another two years. But this is all just speculation without evidence. I wouldn’t want to be accused of making a false cause argument. My bad. It’s my fault for not understanding the highly sophisticated legal concepts being taught to me.
Despite all of this, we are still left wondering why law students have high rates of depression and substance abuse problems. Hmm, I wonder why. But again, that’s just causal speculation.
* I say some, because I don’t want to be accountable for making the composition/division fallacy, where I think ALL profs and administrators are the same. They’re not, but I often hear similar messages from them.