Booya (a/k/a I Kicked-Butt 1st Semester and I’m breathing a sigh of relief)

February 9, 2012 at 12:20 am (Law School Grades) ()

Sorry for leaving everybody hanging. My break completely dissipated in front of my eyes and the first three weeks of law school have completely consumed my life (plus, I’ve been suffering from total exhaustion – it’s all I can do to keep up with the bare minimum requirements of my life).

Anyway  . . . I wanted to wait to post the results of my first semester hard work (or, slavery) until I had all of my grades. One professor kept us all in suspense and I ended up starting the semester not completely knowing where I stood. In other words, it wasn’t until just last week that I got my last/final grade!

So, without further delay . . . I’m quite happy with my above-the-curve 3.5 GPA. Not too shabby. Sure, given the amount of work and effort I put in my first semester, I personally think I deserve a 4.0, but hey, that’s just not how law school works. Plus, I am competing with a ton of extremely brilliant people!

In all seriousness, this was extremely validating. Just two years ago I was questioning whether I was capable of even getting in to law school, much less succeeding (and thriving). Granted, I had to work harder (maybe harder than most of my classmates) than the average law student to earn my reward, but it was worth it – even though I have to do it for another 5 semesters. A friend of mine told me that law school is like a pie eating contest. The reward is . . .more pie. Sadly, this is a pretty good analogy for what law school is like.

Now that I have my results and have a better idea of whether my approach to law school was worthwhile, I feel qualified to reflect on what I did and share some advice. . . . soon.

I know, I know, I’ve already been slacking.

But please understand that law school is the busiest time in anyone’s life and it is already hard enough just to find time to eat and shower every day (well, sort of every day).

I promise I will write a stupendous post on exam prep and success in law school very soon. In fact, I have a draft started now and I will slooooowly work on it over the next several days (weeks?)

But it’s back to 1800’s property cases for now.

Thanks for your patience and support!

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Grades . . . where are you!?

January 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm (Law School Grades, Law School Life)

It’s been 3 weeks since my last final exam and I’m a little over a week away from starting my spring semester – so where the heck are my grades!?

I was warned the wait for grades would be even more painful than waiting for my LSAT results and for the first 2 weeks of waiting, I was patient and kept my mind occupied.

I’m done waiting.

Give me my grades!!!

I get that this isn’t like undergrad where professors enter in their own grades as soon as they are available. What is the hold up? I assume it is because all law school exams are graded anonymously – the professor only has access to a code for each student (the student, in lieu of using their name, used a code given to them by the school’s registrar). Then, the professors have to turn in the exam grades which correspond only to the anonymous codes and another person matches up the codes with the law student’s true identity and then plugs them in to whatever arcane system they use. At my law school, only one person matches up the codes and inputs grades – and it takes FOREVER.

Meanwhile, I’m passing the time cleaning my house, getting organized for next semester, and checking – yum.

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Law School Grading Curves

May 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm (Choosing a law school, Financing Law School, Law School Grades)

Grading curves. It’s been a term I’ve heard thrown around but paid little attention to until now (since the fact I will be a law student in less than three months is suddenly dawning upon me!)  Admittedly, I should have paid closer attention to law school grading policies during the decision making process. It may not have swayed my decision from one school to another, but comparing curves could potentially help in analyzing the differences and similarities between schools. It is also possible that the curve could yield insight on the student body competitiveness of a given law school.  There is a very helpful and comprehensive list of Law School Grading Curves on this wikipedia page.  It really wasn’t until I visited this page earlier today that I saw the differences between schools. Fortunately, “Dreamer School of Law” has a terrific grading policy (no mandatory curve) and my scholarship is contingent on maintaining “good standing” and a 2.0 GPA. But some of the schools I was considering are very harsh. Interestingly, the admissions officer at one particular law school claimed there was no grading policy, mandatory curve, or ranking. Yet, according to the wikipedia list (and cited source) their policy is among the most steep.

A current law student could probably comment more heavily on this than I, but my understanding is that the law school’s grading policy is very important. It can make the environment more or less competitive (or even incite competition), it can make it more difficult to maintain a merit scholarship, and (for those schools who have a mandatory flunk out curve) it may mean a discontinuation of law studies even if the student maintained relatively decent pre-curve grades but managed to fall in the bottom 10% of the class.

The wikipedia article warns of the following:

“The main source of this competition is the mandatory curve you will likely encounter once you enter law school. The curve affects the class rank, affects the chances of making law review, affects the chances of scoring that big job/externship.”[1] Some law schools set their curve lower to retain scholarship funding.

Photo Credit: NYT

An enlightening NYT article has created a lot of buzz among prospective and current law students.  It turns out, a lot of law schools award far more merit-based scholarships to attract prospective students than they actually intend to pay.  (Scam artists, I say!)

For what its worth, I received a total of 5 full tuition-scholarships. Of those, two had very low stipulations (maintain a 2.0 gpa and remain in “good standing”). Of these two, one was offered from a T4 (but locally respected) law school and the other is the Top-25 I am attending this fall (a/k/a “Dreamer School of Law”) – I demonstrate this to reflect the fact the law school’s USN&WR or tier does not automatically correlate with grading policy (so make no assumptions).  The other three had strict requirements and were nonrenewable if I were to fall below the mandatory status: One scholarship, to a T4 law school in a big city required I remain in the top-third of my part-time class (!), the remaining two (at T2 schools) required I maintain a minimum 3.0 gpa (which computes to roughly top-half of the law school class). I, like everyone else entering law school, assume that I will find law school challenging but still be able to hold my own (and certainly not fall below the top-half). But the truth is, not everyone can be in the top-half, top 1/3, etc. thus the scholarshiped half, 3/4, etc. risk losing their merit-based scholarships.  This is detailed in the article, which is a must read for any prospective law student. A summary of articles recently written on this topic can be found at the Tax Law Prof Blog.

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