For example, let's say your class has multiple sections of a required 1L course. Some professors are naturally going to grade more harshly than others. If professors are not held to a mandatory curve, students who have the misfortune of ending up in the hard-graded section will be at a disadvantage vis-a-vis those in the easy graded section. A mandatory curve provides at least some protection from the capricious whims of a professor who might otherwise be inclined to grade very harshly. Is the variable of the exam-taking skills of the people who happen to be in your class a nice variable with which to contend? Probably not, but is the one I've just described any better?
This still doesn't stop one of our crim professors from refusing to follow the curve and give Fs/Ds to 1/3 of the class (my pathetic C+ is actually viewed a sa good grade using his system)
Secondly and similarly, the curve provides at least some insulation from the effects on grades of a bad teacher. Bad teaching, mistaken teaching, or poor materials affect all students' grades equally, and don't place students in the problem section at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the students in more effectively-taught sections.Same as first point I made
Third, without the curve, the pressure for grade inflation would be intense. None of us needs to be reminded of the importance of law school grades to our career prospects and futures. It's not hard to understand why schools would face constant pressure to drive the average GPAs up.
This assumes though that the curve is at a good level--- my school's for instance is set pretty low thus making our educational background look even worse as we try to seek employment
Fourth, I have seen the argument on this board that law schools should grade based on the comprehension of the material rather than the quality of the final exam answers of the other students. The problem with this is that legal employers' behavior makes it reasonable to believe that they don't particularly care about students' comprehension of the material. Virtually everyone with whom I've discussed summer and post-graduation employment has been astonished to discover that, with the exception of certain basic rudimentary concepts, very little of what they learned in law school was necessary for them to function in their employment. The vast amount of the knowledge that they actually use in their work, they claim, comes from their on-the-job training. Moreover, I don't believe that legal employers place so much emphasis on school pedigree because they think that higher-ranked schools teach better, nor do I believe that they place so much emphasis on grades because they believe that students with better grades understand the Rule Against Perpetuities better. If they cared about your comprehension of the material or the quality of the curriculum at a given school, a written test would be a more effective means of selecting employees. I think that legal employers use these as proxies for intelligence and analytical skills.
I agree with you....Why not a huge curriculum overhaul then in all law schools so that the things you learn are practically important? I find it odd how, for instance, the things you are tested on for the bars is the same material you learn your first year; years before actually taking the test
I am not arguing the curve causes problems etc. but just that either my school is messed up when it comes to these issues, or that the situation is more complex and cannot be answered by merely the existence of a curve, even though the curve might help overall