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Author Topic: law school grades  (Read 15921 times)

bigs5068

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #70 on: October 10, 2010, 05:31:13 AM »
Then how will you grant interviews. You will be inundated there are a lot of law school graduates out there and you will need some type of filter. Everyone at every law school is pretty smart and will put together a competent resume. Will you have the time to interview 100 people and even if you do they will all generally be pretty smart. You will need to do something to differentiate them. I don't think it is a perfect system, but it is something. Class ranking is another way. I don't think any of it is necessarily fair, but everybody is a decent candidate so I can why they go with it. I mean even in OCI I see people before me and when I come out of it and I know the people. The ones that get the interviews are pretty smart themselves and all trying to get one position. I imagine most people are not absolutely awful in an interview so they either need to use the school prestige or class ranking to make a decision. Or if there is some special skill or work experience involved that can also set you apart.

kenpostudent

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #71 on: October 11, 2010, 12:31:19 PM »
Well, because I won't run a large national firm, I will be able to evaluate candidates more holistically. I will argue that my proposed approach could be adapted by big firms; however, we all know that they never will. I would use a performance approach, similar to what Big suggests. First, I would select candidates for further review by class rank and GPA, regardless of school. So, a candidate with a 3.8 from Cooley gets the same consideration as a Harvard grad (maybe more because Harvard does not issue grades). Because my firm will be local to Nevada (mostly likely, and for argument's sake), I would give the most weight to manifest and objective ties to NV. Therefore, graduates of Boyd, and graduates from other law schools who have lived in Las Vegas or in NV for a significant period of time get preference. The reasons for this are manifold: Las Vegas has peculiar climate (nearly an 80-degree temperature change from Summer to Winter); Las Vegas is a 24-hour town that exploits those with predisposition to addictions or lack of self control; Las Vegas is generally a transient town. So, naturally, I want people who are likely to stay in Nevada long-term.

My second factor would be manifest evidence of relevant legal experience or superior academic performance (which tends to show capacity to learn). The types of things that would embody this requirement are too numerous to list. However, I prefer real experience to academic potential. That real world experience must involve some form of demonstrable success in real life, but not necessarily law (it could be accounting, business, teaching, nursing, ect.) Real world success (that involves or approximates the representation of real clients or embodies equivalent skills) trumps academic success without experience.

So, in selecting a pool of people to interview, I would also randomly select a few "underdogs". Then, I would interview the pool on a purely subjective standard (likeability). Those who I don't like lose, regardless of qualifications. Once I get a pool of 5, I would subject those five to a battery of objective tests. I would use performance on the tests (both academic and practical) to wittle the pool down to two. Those two would compete against one another in some objective trial by ordeal (moot court or mock trial or writing competition or some combination thereof). The best candidate would win.

This is a time-consuming and costly approach. It also is worth its weight in gold to me. It will ensure the best candidates get hired. Because I don't take shortcuts, I usually create better mousetraps. I learned this from the USMC. Afterall, only the few and the proud can be Marines.

jack24

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #72 on: October 11, 2010, 12:53:57 PM »
kenpostudent:

Your idealism is commendable.

Do you really think you can just disregard all of the factors that got someone into Harvard in the first place?  Would you consider a 3.8 at Cooley and a Harvard grad equally if the Cooley grad got a 2.7 ugpa and a 151 on the LSAT when the Harvard grad got a 3.85 and a 176 on the LSAT?

Your approach relies on the assumption that your interviewing ability will give you more information than a student's academic record.  Previous Job performance is usually subjective and can be easily manipulated, and how can you tell if their experience would translate well into your law firm?  What if someone excelled in their sales job and broke a bunch of sales records?  How would you know if they can meet deadlines well, handle the structure and stress of a law firm, and deal with mounds of paperwork every day?   What if someone had a lot of management experience and received many promotions?  How would you know if they would be a good associate and do well with taking assignments?

And you say you'd use a bit of a likeability approach in your interviewing.   It's very possible that you will have several of likeable candidates if you interview enough of them.  And how can you really know whether or not you will like them in a workplace environment?  You'd have to hire them to clerk for your firm first so you could get a summer-long interview, and then undergrad performance would come even more strongly into play because you'd have less law school performance to go on.

I honestly don't know what the best way is, but I do know that I've never heard decision makers at an actual firm say something like, "Man, I'm getting so tired of all these T-14 law grads... we really need to start mining the T4 more often."

People assume that the lower ranked schools produce candidates that have qualities the top schools don't, and I think that's a faulty assumption.  The top schools have plenty of hard working people with great personalities and a lot of experience.  They aren't completely full of spoiled intellectuals.

   

bigs5068

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #73 on: October 11, 2010, 02:53:04 PM »
That is true Jack. I do like Kens idea though. One thing that does boggle my mind is people at my school have the idea that they are so much more practically trained and would do better in an interview than the Stanford Grads. I feel like the sterotype of Stanford kids as spoiled and unadapted to social situations is ridiculous and perpetuated by the people at lower ranked schools that are just bitter. Honestly, most Stanford students I have met and have been really well rounded awesome people. A lot of people at my school are cool to, but I always hear people say I WILL NAIL THE INTERVIEW. Once they look past my resume and meet me I will nail it. However, everyone says that. In general most people intelligent enough to get into any school will put on a decent enough personality to be likeable for twenty or thirty minutes. So a lot of times it does come down to grades or school prestige. The law is COMPETITIVE! Sometimes things will not be fair and you will need to get used to it. All you can do is keep working your ass off and hope for the best.

kenpostudent

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #74 on: October 11, 2010, 02:59:13 PM »
kenpostudent:

Do you really think you can just disregard all of the factors that got someone into Harvard in the first place?  Would you consider a 3.8 at Cooley and a Harvard grad equally if the Cooley grad got a 2.7 ugpa and a 151 on the LSAT when the Harvard grad got a 3.85 and a 176 on the LSAT?

Short answer: I would give them both a shot at passing a series of objective and measurable performance-based tests, assuming that I like both of them enough to want to hire them.

I'm not saying the Cooley grad will win. Maybe the Harvard grads win the vast majority of the time. If so, great... then I get the best candidates. I don't want to leave good candidates at the interview table simply because of an assumption of their potential based on the school they happened to attend. Even if the Cooley grad was a total screw up in undergrad and failed to do well on the LSAT, there is a small possibility that if he pulled a 3.8, he's learned some real skills. I would give him a chance to prove that in open competition.

Thane Messinger

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #75 on: October 11, 2010, 03:54:29 PM »
kenpostudent:

Do you really think you can just disregard all of the factors that got someone into Harvard in the first place?  Would you consider a 3.8 at Cooley and a Harvard grad equally if the Cooley grad got a 2.7 ugpa and a 151 on the LSAT when the Harvard grad got a 3.85 and a 176 on the LSAT?

Short answer: I would give them both a shot at passing a series of objective and measurable performance-based tests, assuming that I like both of them enough to want to hire them.

I'm not saying the Cooley grad will win. Maybe the Harvard grads win the vast majority of the time. If so, great... then I get the best candidates. I don't want to leave good candidates at the interview table simply because of an assumption of their potential based on the school they happened to attend. Even if the Cooley grad was a total screw up in undergrad and failed to do well on the LSAT, there is a small possibility that if he pulled a 3.8, he's learned some real skills. I would give him a chance to prove that in open competition.


This is indeed a commendable (if unworkable) idea. 

To make matters worse, interviews are perhaps the single least-reliable way of determining quality.  And any skills-based approach would have to test either pre-skills (very much what law school tests) or real skills, which most graduates will not yet have.


kenpostudent

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #76 on: October 11, 2010, 04:46:21 PM »
I'm not sure I agree, but I am also not yet an attorney, graduate, hiring partner, nor employer. So, I'll defer to the wisdom of those who are in a legal context. However, I have interviewed and hired accountants. I share your concern with interviews. I would use an interview only to determine whether I like a candidate. However, the process could go one of two ways:

Option 1:

1. Pre-screening of Resumes

2. Preliminary Interview

3. Preliminary battery of aptitude tests

4. Interview with "Most Qualified Applicants"

5. Face-off between top 2  to 4 candidates.

Option 2:

1. Pre-screening of Resumes

2. Preliminary Interviews of Selected Resumes

3. Objective testing applied to most likeable candidates

4. Second interviews

5. Face-off of top 2-4 candidates

I'm not sure which way is best. I would have to experiment. BTW, many multi-national companies use similar models for screening employees. Why is such a model workable in business but not in law?

Morten Lund

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #77 on: October 11, 2010, 05:51:05 PM »
Option 1 is more or less how it works now, except that we don't to step 5 (unless you consider a summer clerkship a "face-off").

For the "battery of aptitude tests" we use writing samples if available - otherwise we use (you guessed it) grades as a proxy, which is part of the pre-screening.

I wouldn't be opposed to your battery of tests, I just can't figure out what it would look like.  Actually, I can take a guess:  it would look a lot like a summer clerkship.  If there were a series of aptitude tests that could predict workplace success I would be greatly in favor, but what would these tests test that isn't already tested by high school, college, and law school exams, or the LSAT?  Those various tests cover a variety of relevant subject matters, and I am not sure what I could add to that with another test.

kenpostudent

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #78 on: October 11, 2010, 06:12:16 PM »
Is an LSAT score taken 3-5 years ago still relevant today? Is that score still relevant after law school, the bar and professional experience? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Morten Lund

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Re: law school grades
« Reply #79 on: October 11, 2010, 07:22:54 PM »
Is an LSAT score taken 3-5 years ago still relevant today? Is that score still relevant after law school, the bar and professional experience? Maybe, but I doubt it.

In my opinion, without a doubt.  And LSAT is, in essence, an IQ test.  Like the ACT, the GRE, and - to a lesser extent - the SAT, the LSAT doesn't test knowledge of any specific subject (other than gamesmanship, sadly), and from a test design perspective bears a significant relationship to the WAIS-R, Stanford-Binet, and other "official" IQ tests.

Of course, the LSAT/ACT/GRE are more susceptible to preparation bias than the WAIS and S-B, but preparation bias isn't necessarily a bad thing from an employment perspective.

That said, I don't particularly want to see your LSAT score when looking at your resume.  Putting your LSAT score on your resume is distinctly crude and will count against you.  But I don't need to see your LSAT score, because I rely instead on a proxy measure that incorporates your LSAT score and your undergraduate GPA.  That proxy measure is the ranking of your law school.  Most people tend to attend the highest-ranked school they can, so employers can and will use school ranking as a convenient proxy for initial estimates of intelligence and academic ability. 

This proxy is obviously a blunt instrument, but has the significant advantage that employers don't have to spend time or money doing any testing of their own.  The law schools do it for us.  This initial estimate is then modified by class rank/GPA in law school.  This is why most large employers have cutoff hiring criteria that read something like this:  Call-backs only for:  All YHS; top 50% class rank at top ten schools, top 25% at top 25 schools; top 5% at tier 2 schools.  For instance.  The lower ranked your school, the better your law school performance has to be to modify the initial assumption.

Could we devise a better system?  Absolutely.  But the employers have little motivation to do so.  The current system works well enough from their perspective.  Yes, lots of good candidates are overlooked, but that isn't the employers' problem so long as they get their fill of good candidates. 

Most of the posts in this thread suggesting alternate systems appear to be motivated by a desire to reward the worthy candidate who doesn't get identified in today's system.  That's certainly a laudable goal, but it is not the purpose of the hiring system.  The hiring system exists to meet the need of employers, not to meet the needs of candidates.

"Fair" is not an applicable concept.