Law School Discussion

Law Students => Current Law Students => Topic started by: mason123 on January 22, 2009, 06:49:11 AM

Title: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 22, 2009, 06:49:11 AM
Hey everyone - I hope everyone is doing well.

Just got my first grade for the very first 'wonderful' semester here at law school.

I earned a grade of B in Contracts. What does this really mean? I know that every school has their own way of doing things; one grade can mean something totally different at another school. So, what does it all mean? Does this B mean that I am part of the riff-raff at my institution?

Link to our curve scheme:
http://law.shu.edu/administration/registrar_bursar/examinations_and_grading/grading_curves.htm

I feel like crap, particularly at the prospects that this B is really a C or a C- perhaps.

Thanks!
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Miss P on January 22, 2009, 07:02:07 AM
Hi OFFMason.  I hope you're doing well. :)

All you can really tell from the explanation of the curve is that you are somewhere in the middle 40% (below the top 30% and above the bottom 30%) in contracts.  Most first year professors are kind enough to max out the curve, so it is more likely that you are somewhere below the top 40% -- between 30% and 60%. Either way, I wouldn't let this one grade get you down too much.  Your test performance was solidly in the middle of the class.  If you really thought you aced contracts, it's probably worth going to the professor to find out how you can improve next semester.  Otherwise, just wait for your other grades and then make an assessment.  Good luck!
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: vap on January 22, 2009, 07:03:57 AM
Hi OFFMason.  I hope you're doing well. :)

All you can really tell from the explanation of the curve is that you are somewhere in the middle 40% (below the top 30% and above the bottom 30%) in contracts.  Most first year professors are kind enough to max out the curve, so it is more likely that you are somewhere below the top 40% -- between 30% and 60%. Either way, I wouldn't let this one grade get you down too much.  Your test performance was solidly in the middle of the class.  If you really thought you aced contracts, it's probably worth going to the professor to find out how you can improve next semester.  Otherwise, just wait for your other grades and then make an assessment.  Good luck!

TITCR.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 22, 2009, 07:15:02 AM
Yeah, that is what I surmised -- seems like there is a lot of room for these professors to grade as they please.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Miss P on January 22, 2009, 07:59:01 AM
Yeah, that is what I surmised -- seems like there is a lot of room for these professors to grade as they please.

Your professors do have a little more discretion than they would at some other schools.  While that's frustrating right now, it's probably ultimately a good thing in that they can adjust the curve to fit the quality of the exams.  (At some curves the curve is so tight that exams separated by only a few points on a numerical scale end up with grades two steps apart.)

Nonetheless, getting a B on a curve like that doesn't tell you much about how you are performing relative to the rest of the class -- both because it's smack in the middle and because up to 40% of the class can get the same grade.  You may very well have beaten the median, and you may be in the bottom third, and it's impossible to say unless you have the opportunity to go over your exam. 

I followed your tough cycle last year, and I am pulling for you, OFFMason.  Good luck with everything. :) 
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 23, 2009, 08:47:35 PM
Hey Miss P, I got an A- in civil procedure. I thought that was my worst subject, but it worked out for the best.

So where does this put me; within like top 50%?
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Tetris on January 23, 2009, 09:40:38 PM
Relax.  You're around the 50% mark with the B.

You're in the top third to top fourth with your A-.  So far it looks like you're doing pretty strong.  Keep in mind that some people who get A- and A's will get B- or C grades, so people who consistently score in the top half to top quarter will most likely "over perform" in the aggregate.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 23, 2009, 09:48:31 PM
Thanks. I guess my 152 doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to be a janitor or something of that ilk.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Miss P on January 23, 2009, 10:20:28 PM
Hey Miss P, I got an A- in civil procedure. I thought that was my worst subject, but it worked out for the best.

So where does this put me; within like top 50%?

It's really impossible to say without knowing the number of credits and the distribution of the grades (like tetris said, some people with A- will get all A-, some will get Cs), but you definitely performed above the curve in civpro, which is great.  The NALP directory says that the median GPA at Seton Hall is a 3.06.  If that's true for first years -- and usually first-year grades are lower than upper-class grades since upper-class students take seminars and other classes that are off-curve or have more relaxed curves -- then you are definitely well above the median with your B and A- (assuming you don't have any lower grades that pull you down).  If these are your only two grades and they're weighed equally, you are in quite good shape.  NALP lists top 25% as 3.31. :)
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 23, 2009, 10:55:36 PM
Thanks a lot Miss P.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: nealric on January 24, 2009, 11:26:29 AM
Quote
I feel like crap, particularly at the prospects that this B is really a C or a C- perhaps.
 

How could it "really" be anything else than what it is?


Unlike a math test, there is no perfect answer out there to a question. Your grade means nothing on an absolute scale- it's just a comparison to the rest of the class and nothing more.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 24, 2009, 03:16:14 PM
In the sense that when I got a C+ in college, I knew that it was a C+ and I knew that I was NOT supposed to be happy about that grade.

In law school, I'm not sure how to feel about a B... should I feel the same as if it were that C+ in college?

I hope I'm making sense, if not... it is my loss I guess.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Big Time Lawyer on January 24, 2009, 03:44:19 PM
I took a quick look at the grading scheme.  Does 5-15% of the class have to fall within the D+/D/F category?  If so, wow.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Tetris on January 24, 2009, 06:55:02 PM
I took a quick look at the grading scheme.  Does 5-15% of the class have to fall within the D+/D/F category?  If so, wow.

That's what I was thinking.  Harsh.  Now if it was Harvard, then so what.  They'd still get a good job.  But man.  I think the bottom 15% end up with C+ or B- at Michigan.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: NYCLawTutor on January 26, 2009, 03:40:56 AM
The curve is a guideline, not a requirement.  Sometimes the admin will put a firm rule, like no more than 3% get A+.  But beyond that, they can't really enforce the %s as rules.

No matter what the curve says, very few students get Ds or Fs, assuming they show up and try to write something competent.  Where I went to school, there was a 5-10% guideline, and yet it was unheard of to get below a C.  One professor sometimes gave a few Ds or Fs and he was a mean SOB, definitely an exception.  Nobody else gave below a C.

A B in law school is very much like a C+ in college.  Maybe a C+/B-.  It's important to be realistic about your grades and what they mean, before it's too late.  One grade is never a disaster.  The A- in civ pro is encouraging.  By the way, most students think that civ pro is their worst subject first semester subject, when that can only be true for about 1/3 of them.

Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Miss P on January 26, 2009, 05:32:23 AM
The curve is a guideline, not a requirement.  Sometimes the admin will put a firm rule, like no more than 3% get A+.  But beyond that, they can't really enforce the %s as rules.

This is not true.  It is a a "mandatory" curve at SHU.  At my school, the registrar simply refuses to enter grades that do not line up with the curve.

No matter what the curve says, very few students get Ds or Fs, assuming they show up and try to write something competent.  Where I went to school, there was a 5-10% guideline, and yet it was unheard of to get below a C.  One professor sometimes gave a few Ds or Fs and he was a mean SOB, definitely an exception.  Nobody else gave below a C.

Yes, but you went to Columbia, right?  If you want to tutor law students, you need to understand that there is a big difference between grading schemes at elite schools and mandatory curves at lower-ranked schools.

A B in law school is very much like a C+ in college.  Maybe a C+/B-.  It's important to be realistic about your grades and what they mean, before it's too late.  One grade is never a disaster.  The A- in civ pro is encouraging.  By the way, most students think that civ pro is their worst subject first semester subject, when that can only be true for about 1/3 of them.

This is also not true.  Civpro can be everyone's worst subject.  A third of them will still get good grades due to the curve, but they may still understand it, enjoy it, and retain it much less than their other subjects.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: nealric on January 26, 2009, 07:00:05 AM
Quote
A B in law school is very much like a C+ in college.  Maybe a C+/B-.

I'm not sure where you went to college, but where I went a C+ was reserved for very few people. Most professors never ever gave them unless the person in question was actively trying not to  do well. Someone with a C+ average would have been in the bottom 10% of the class easily. From what I understand this is becoming par for the course in most lib-arts type  majors.


A "B" at many law schools is at or above the median.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: NYCLawTutor on January 26, 2009, 09:48:15 AM
I am in contact with several friends and former colleagues who are on law faculty at various schools.  All of them report that mandatory curves are far less than they are made out to be.  It's possible they all teach at schools that are not as rigid about their grading systems.  Only one of them is at a top 10 type school yet.

It's mostly a discussion point as far as I am concerned.  The important thing is to get the best grades you are capable of getting.  My students almost always improve their grades when they work with me.  We don't talk about the grading curve.

Few students like Civ Pro, that's true.  I was merely talking about grade expectations, that students fear they will get bad grades in Civ Pro more than their other classes.  I sure did. 
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 26, 2009, 11:38:29 AM
Summer Job Prospects:

Alright, taking into consideration our "mandatory" curve, what summer job prospects are not out of reach with my A-, B?

Can I still be a janitor?
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Miss P on January 26, 2009, 05:22:44 PM
Summer Job Prospects:

Alright, taking into consideration our "mandatory" curve, what summer job prospects are not out of reach with my A-, B?

Can I still be a janitor?

You're very likely going to work in a non-profit or government job this summer, regardless of how good (or bad) your grades are, unless you have a strong connection at a small firm that will pay you or you have previous work experience that locks you into a particular internship (e.g., librarian). It has nothing to do with your grades; this is just the reality for most 1Ls and certainly for 1Ls at schools like ours.  The question is, what do you want to do?
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: mason123 on January 26, 2009, 07:59:29 PM
Well, not sure how realistic this is, but I really want to do something pertaining to federal law enforcement work (like the FBI, USSS, DEA, and what have you). Maybe even a local DA office?

I really do NOT want to be writing briefs, if I can circumvent that little gift of legal practice, I'll consider those options first.

Your thoughts?
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Miss P on January 26, 2009, 09:03:44 PM
Well, not sure how realistic this is, but I really want to do something pertaining to federal law enforcement work (like the FBI, USSS, DEA, and what have you). Maybe even a local DA office?

I really do NOT want to be writing briefs, if I can circumvent that little gift of legal practice, I'll consider those options first.

Your thoughts?

Most federal jobs are pretty competitive and hire early, but there are a number of local offices (of federal agencies) that may be hiring and you should contact them to find out.  Local DAs in Jersey should definitely be doable and would give you great experience if this is the kind of work you'd like to do.  Start contacting offices ASAP!  If you are open to doing non-criminal work, you may want to look at state government civil enforcement agencies (like at the attorney general's office or public advocate) and municipal law departments.  In all of those jobs, you'll learn a lot about trials or administrative hearings, and you will not be stuck writing briefs.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: NeverTrustKlingons on January 27, 2009, 03:02:28 PM
My serious advice is that if you don't enjoy writing about issues you're interested in, you should leave law school.  Even the most flamboyant trial lawyer will be asked to write a good motion and so on.  If you're talking about using the JD to get into law enforcement jobs, that can work but it's a whole lot of over-kill when you could just get MA Criminal Justice for the same result (bonus pay for an advanced degree).

I have seen people struggle with this and the reality is that writing, as a lawyer, is not going to go away.
Title: Re: What does my B mean DAMNIT!?
Post by: Miss P on January 27, 2009, 09:26:07 PM
My serious advice is that if you don't enjoy writing about issues you're interested in, you should leave law school.  Even the most flamboyant trial lawyer will be asked to write a good motion and so on.  If you're talking about using the JD to get into law enforcement jobs, that can work but it's a whole lot of over-kill when you could just get MA Criminal Justice for the same result (bonus pay for an advanced degree).

I have seen people struggle with this and the reality is that writing, as a lawyer, is not going to go away.

I understand where you're coming from, but brief-writing and motion-writing are different beasts, especially on the state level.  OFFMason may dislike brief-writing and be fine with writing in general.