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Author Topic: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?  (Read 2619 times)

bigs5068

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2010, 01:25:03 PM »
I am not saying the system is terrible, and we can definetly agree that if you said you have two people to interview number #1 in the class or dead last I would choose number #1. The exams have some merit, but in OCI for example a lot of firms you could not even send your resume to unless you were in the top 20%. I was and it worked out for me, but I still don't think it is fair that someone who probably got 2 more MC questions wrong than me and finished in the top 24% does not even get a chance to apply.

In regards to your hypothetical candidates I would interview both of them. It seems like they are both fairly competent and I would probably just the choose the person I liked more in the interview. Generally speaking I would imagine anyone capable of passing the bar would be able to write or at least learn to write decent briefs etc. However, if I was employer I would want to know how they handle writing a memo, brief, working as a team, if they can litigate etc. An exam measures ability under pressure, which is important theoretical understanding of the law, and ability to bs and see both sides. All important things, but to be it those three things would not be in depth enough measure of someone to know if they were better than Bob or Sam. Particulalry, when you are dealing with 21% or 24% if the people in those percentiles took 10 tests against eachother it would come out differntly each time. Granted if it was bottom 75% student compared to top 10% I would put my money on the top 10% student everytime.

Morten Lund

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2010, 07:21:45 PM »
... I would imagine anyone capable of passing the bar would be able to write or at least learn to write decent briefs etc.

Allow me to completely disabuse you of that notion.  Sadly, this is far, far from true.

That said, I don't disagree with your overall point.

bigs5068

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2010, 06:41:41 PM »
That surprises me Morten. If that is true then it goes to my original point that the system is flawed. I really think law school should become more practical and so should the bar. Maybe you should have to win a case from intake to settlement jury to pass the bar. Some people might say that is to hard, but that would measure your ability to get clients and be competent in real life situations. I really jut do not see what bearing multiple choice questions have on your ability to be an attorney or regurgitating and analyzing some legal theories in three hours. From my limited working experience in the legal field the only thing that seems to have some merit is the Legal Writing and Research Courses. Obviously, the theories are important to understand, but how often do you pump out a 3 hour typo filled essay in the real world.

kenpostudent

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2010, 01:49:25 PM »
Winning a case is not necessarily a measure of a good attorney either. If the evidence is strong, you should win. In the South during the 1930s, a retarded prosecutor could have convicted any black defendant who was accused of a crime against any white victim. Sometimes attorneys get lucky. There is jury nullification, afterall. Besides, the Bar does address practical documents with the MPT.

bigs5068

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2010, 10:02:21 PM »
If institutional racism was still in effect then obviously it would not work.  It is only a thought and I still think there should be some more practical requirements.  In California for example you can be certified to appear in court for your first year and you should probably have to win a motion before being able to take on clients yourself. Of course it could be manipulated and I am sure in the real world first year associates get some easy cases, but they still have to perform competently in these situations.

The MPT tests a theoretical case, but again it is not REAL. The only way to really learn something is when it is REAL. I mean if I went into Afganistan and some guy had performed great on all of his training simulations, but never was in a real battle I would much rather be with the guy that performed terribly in the Simulations, but had managed to survive.

Honestly, after a year of school I feel detached by all the theories etc in school. I addressed it by working while in school, but many people do not take that path and some recommend against it. I really think a big part of the reason that law school in general is losing respect in America is that is not teaching practical skills.  The same thing can be said about a lot of undergraduate programs as well. Then people learn something theories that allowed them to answer some MC questions correctly, but who is really going to pay anyone for being good at multiple choice tests.

Morten Lund

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2010, 10:58:14 PM »
I really think a big part of the reason that law school in general is losing respect in America is that is not teaching practical skills. 

My question then for you:  Which practical skills should law school teach?  The practice of law is broad and varied.

bigs5068

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2010, 12:15:00 AM »
Argue in a real case through the certification process. Draft a motion or some document that goes into a real case. As far as I understand doctors/nurses interact with patients in real life situations before they are certified to go on their own. The whole residency system etc.  Medicine and Nursing  are varied professions, but they get REAL EXPOSURE before graduating and being certified as doctors/nurses. I really think you should have to be involved in a REAL CASE OR CASES in some capacity before being certified as an attorney. It could be in any form of case, but something REAL.

In basketball for example you can nail 20 free throws in a row at PRACTICE. However, when you are in a state championship game having worked a whole season and your teammates are counting you to knock one shot down you need to be able to handle the pressure of the REAL game. The war example I gave before only a REAL battle could prepare you to be a good soldier. Practice is good, but you don't know how you will handle a REAL situation until you are in it. If you snap under the pressure when it gets real then you should not be an attorney. I would imagine a med student could read all kinds of books, but if he/she freaks out at the sight of blood they should not be a doctor. If a person cannot handle the pressure of being on a REAL CASE then they should not be lawyers. As it stands now you can read some cases and pass the bar, it is hard no doubt, but when REAL PEOPLE and REAL PROBLEMS are involved it changes a lot.

I bring this up because I am baffled that people in law school are terrified to be called on. I mean if you cannot handle the pressure of discussing a case you were assigned to read on an organized outlined syllabus when the worst thing that will happen to you if you screw up is some disapproval with no other consequence, then what do you think is going to happen if you are D.A. in a murder case?  You are going to need a lot more than a few cases assigned to you. You will need to do all kinds of independent research since the defense attorney is not going to give you a detailed syllabus about what you should know before the trial. The consequences in a real case are also a lot more severe than some people in your class thinking your an idiot for a week. You might let a murder go free or let an innocent guy get convicted.  The bottom line is when things go to actual litigation it is SERIOUS SH**, but I do not think many law students realize that, and schools and the bar do not seem to prepare you very well for it. Maybe I would choke in this system I don't know, but I would much rather have to overcome it to become an attorney.  Opposed to being certified and then screwing someone's life up because I choked as a result of the law school system and the bar never preparing or requiring  me to deal with REAL SH**. 

I just think law school is to easy. It is obviously difficult and takes time, but there is no requirement to deal with anything REAL. For a profession that is so important you should be required to do REAL stuff before being able to actually practice law.

Morten Lund

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2010, 01:26:38 AM »
Argue in a real case through the certification process. Draft a motion or some document that goes into a real case.

... For a profession that is so important you should be required to do REAL stuff before being able to actually practice law.

I don't necessarily disagree with your main conclusion, but here's the follow-up question/observation:

I have been practicing law for a reasonable amount of time.  Total number of cases of I have argued: 0*. Total number of motions I have argued: 0.  Total number of briefs I have drafted: 0.  You may notice a pattern here...

Bottom line is that many attorneys in the US never go anywhere near courts or cases.  Litigators like to make fun of us for that and say we aren't real lawyers**, but until the US goes to a bifurcated system like the UK has, a law school curriculum that focuses on the practicalities of a litigation practice would for many be even less useful than it is now.

Even within litigation practice you can subdivide.  Cross-examining a prosecution witness is qualitatively different from arguing a case on appeals, and many litigators focus on one to the complete exclusion of the other.

I too would like to see some practical training required for the practice of law, but I think law school is the wrong place for it.  Instead I would favor adopting the medical model, and only allow admission to bar after a couple of years of supervised practice.

*Excluding pro se representation in traffic court and/or small claims court.
**That's ok.  We transactional types laugh all the way to the bank while the litigators pretend to be fighter pilots.

bigs5068

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2010, 02:08:41 AM »
Well you obviously do not need to go to court to be a lawyer, but the contracts you draft etc are REAL. So as long as you are required be in something REAL I have no problem. I think the supervisor period that med school has should be established. Your first year maybe two should be treated like a residency in the medical field. Then once you complete that and pass the test you can be certified by the bar. Until you have been involved in REAL litigation or real transactional work you should not be able to call yourself a lawyer. It will be more rigorous standard, but that is what the profession needs. There are so many people on this blogs I see complaining about how nobody is helping them etc and how UNFAIR everything is. I imagine they are probably the kids in school that studied abroad for both summers, took contemplative lawyering and third world refuge law. They pass the bar and have had no practical requirements imposed on them and are shocked that client's are hard to deal with or are astonished that their boss expects them to show up etc.

I do think the law school should give you the practical training. No school from Harvard to Cooley should charge as much as they do. The prices are outrageous and I would love to see where the money actually goes. At the bay area schools of which I have seen everyone no student is getting 100K worth of services from their faculty, facilities, or administration. I think they owe you practical training if they are going to charge that much, that is just my two cents. However, I am going to write the ABA and throw my ideas out there. I am sure it will be shot down, but I just think the law school system is failing their students with the current setup.

Morten Lund

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Re: Does anyone think class rankings are the wrong way to measure students?
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2010, 11:46:14 AM »
Then I think we are more or less in agreement.  I feel rather strongly that law school does not prepare anyone for the practice of law - perhaps unlike you, I also do not believe that law school could EVER prepare anyone for the practice of law.  This realization, coupled with my own sad-sack experiences as a junior associate, is actually what drove me to write my books.  Working with junior associates is exhausting under the best of circumstances.

Frankly, I shudder every time I hear of a fresh JD hanging a shingle.