Emphasis on Grades, Law Review, and the Curve

We are now about a month and a half into the first semester. Anyone above the 1L level, and even 1Ls, talk about grades, law review, grades, law review, and grades. The only thing that is talked about with almost the same frequency is the curve. I have a scholarship that requires I stay in the top 66% of my class (pretty generous). So, grades are clearly important to me since it means paying $25,000 a year out of my pocket or getting it in a scholarship. I prefer to get it in a scholarship. I only have one mid-term exam and it is in my lawyering class.

The substantive law professors I have decided against having mid-terms. You can tell many of the folks that had mid-terms, they were walking around slightly panicked and massively stressed all last week. I did have an ungraded Civil Procedure mid-term, but with it being ungraded it was more of a practice run. It was very helpful to see how I function under the pressures of time and knowledge during the exam.

The pressure to “beat” others and get a better grade has hit some of my classmates. Our lawyering professor was very angry this past week. He showed us a picture of two of our required research books, hidden behind a re-shelving cart on the lower floor of the library. He found them there just before the library opened on the day the project was due. He said he took the books our of circulation and whomever had hid them won’t be getting their project done. I have attended several career center events. The larger, higher paying employers seem to only look at the top 10-15% of the class and want to see law review as well. This reinforces the idea that grades are hugely important.

We have a few people in our class that are on a 4-year program so they do not take Torts with us. Some of them are doing this with the idea of taking Torts during the first summer and “catching” up to our class and continuing on the 3 year plan with all of us. I asked why they would do that and they pointed out they can spend more time of their classes than we can and then “catch” up the one class in the summer. I get it, but at the same time it is almost artificially inflating their grades, if it works.

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