Law School Discussion

Are some law schools "easier" than others?

t...

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2007, 01:56:40 AM »

This is true.  However, I strongly suspect that such cutoffs are themselves calcuated using class rank.  For example, top firms won't have the same GPA cutoff at Chicago, NU, and UIUC. The cutoff will vary, and it will presuambly be based on how deep the firms want to go into the class.

Yeah, I've seen both - top 1/3 of class, 3.3 GPA (for example).

I would say that grades are more relevant when applying to smaller non-OCI firms that don't take the time to figure out what the grades really mean at given schools. In that sense, the curve can potentially matter.  For most firms, however, especially in OCI, it probably doesn't mean much. Most firms recognize that what really matters are 1) the competitiveness of the school's student body, and 2) how each student did relative to their peers.

I would only suggest here that most firms are smaller non-OCI firms (or else more localized/regionalized firms). I could be wrong, but surely most firms do not consist of the Vault of Am firms, correct? Eh, just a quibbling point.

But I think in this case hiring is pretty much regional anyway, and said firms would have intimate knowledge of the local schools' grading tendencies. It would only be detrimental for those applying to firms out of region - the "grades" of a Northeastern grad would probably really confuse smaller firms in Cheyenne, Wyoming, whereas smaller Boston firms would know how to assess them.



Miss P

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2007, 02:01:58 AM »
Look, it's not that complicated.  You get points for spotting the issue, stating the rule, and correctly applying it to the fact pattern.  You may get a few extra points for organization and clarity, but that's about it.

The myth of subjective grading probably arose because people studied hard and didn't do well.  That, however, is inevitable in a competitive pool. 

It is, of course, possible to know the law very well and still not get an A, and this is probably the primary sources of this idea.  The thing about LS exams is that it's not enough to know the law, but you also have to be good at issue spotters.  If you can't spot the issues and apply the law properly to the facts (including stating the likely outcome), it won't matter if you know all the rules. 

People worried about this stuff should read some books on law school exams, and review some model answers for each course during the semester.  It's not that complicated, and it's not that random.  It's just tougher than undergrad because the competition level is (generally) higher.

Again, I think you're half-right.  I kind of buy the old maxim that you can study for a B+ but you can't predict whether you'll end up with a B+ or an A+ (but perhaps I'm still smarting over that B+ in torts...).  There are multiple reasons for this, e.g.: some exams are easier (or harder) than others so the results don't square well with a normal bell distribution; some professors aren't very careful or balanced graders or exam writers (e.g., they value spotting marginal concepts more than understanding the basic tenets of the law, they concentrate exams on one section of the course); professors like different amounts of analytic depth, factual detail, and case citation, and they don't always do a good job of communicating their criteria; some professors prefer that you explain why you are not addressing an issue and some would just like you to address the issues that are most salient...

Miss P

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2007, 02:02:59 AM »
I would only suggest here that most firms are smaller non-OCI firms (or else more localized/regionalized firms). I could be wrong, but surely most firms do not consist of the Vault of Am firms, correct? Eh, just a quibbling point.

But I think in this case hiring is pretty much regional anyway, and said firms would have intimate knowledge of the local schools' grading tendencies. It would only be detrimental for those applying to firms out of region - the "grades" of a Northeastern grad would probably really confuse smaller firms in Cheyenne, Wyoming, whereas smaller Boston firms would know how to assess them.

Yes.

t...

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2007, 02:18:57 AM »
Again, not necessarily. Some scholarships maintain a strict GPA cutoff.

Which would, ahem, suggest the curve does very much indeed matter.

:)

Miss P

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2007, 02:20:40 AM »
uggh, stop writing pages about grades and curves

All that matters is class rank and scholarships, neither of which are affected if the curve is set at A- or D+.

You will have to do better than X% of your class to get the job or keep the scholarship, no matter what your GPA is.

That's not always true.  At some schools, scholarship requirements are set according to GPA.  You can argue that this is based on class rank, but it isn't, technically, since different distributions of grades can produce very different class rankings.  Moreover, some outside scholarships and other decisions (such as eligibility for a job interview) can depend on maintaining or achieving a certain GPA.

ETA: what tj. said more succinctly.

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2007, 07:31:27 AM »
http://www.nalplawschoolsonline.org/ndlsdir_search_results.asp

ohio state has an a- avg?

a- at asu too  and a c is failing?!?!?   

I think you are slightly misreading these scales, as the numerical systems are listed next to A-F but described as alternative grading methods.

But beyond the psychological impact of getting a lot of As or a lot of Cs, I don't really know why the placement of the median along the A-F scale matters.  Unless employers are really unfamiliar with the school, they will know what an A or a C from the school means and how common it is.  And if they are unfamiliar with a school, they usually evaluate applicants by (or attempt to gauge) class rank.  Only a small number of schools -- most elite, and a handful alternative -- do not provide class rank or the data necessary to reverse-engineer it.

Also, btw, your links to search results don't work for us because they're cookie-dependent, I think. :)

TC.  The curve is essentially irrelevant in law school, as most employers go by class rank, and this eliminates the curve as a factor. 

The only time it matters is when a school drops people below a certain GPA (or cuts scholarships at that point.)


thats the points im concerned with

if you need to keep a B to keep a scholarship, and the curve is a c...  :(

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2007, 08:54:47 AM »
To the extent different profs grade differently, one can (and should) usually review model exams / answers from that prof. 

We don't get model answers for our practice exams, sadly.  I think it makes a big difference.  The tradeoff is that professors make themselves available to evaluate students' practice answers sometimes, but this is not as useful as a model answer (or the highest graded answer) would be since it is not comparative and professors still have difficulty communicating their criteria.  Or so my friends who have done this tell me.

Quote from: Lindbergh
There is in fact so much to know and spot that it's difficult to ever guarantee straight A's, even if you study hard.  On the other hand, some people still manage this, and I doubt that's completely random.

I really think it's less about the volume or difficulty of the material than it is about the other "randomizing" factors I listed above.  Nonetheless, you're right about this last bit in that the people who have made their straight As known are, near uniformly, people who have failed to distinguish themselves in class and who have very few social skills.  So no, not completely random -- or it is random, and it's something that really causes some people to act like boobs.

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2007, 09:19:52 AM »
It's definitely not (primarily) random -- for one thing, we know that GPA+LSAT predicts a significant degree of law school performance.  If one controls for easy majors and UG's, obstacles during college, etc., predictive value is probably even higher.  Ultimately, grades probably tend to reflect 1) how "law-school" bright you are, 2) how well you do on issue-spotters and 3) how hard/smart you study. 

I again acknowledge there is probably some degree of subjectivity in how different profs grade exams, and maybe even in how they might grade the same exam at different times.  This is perhaps something that can be worked on by schools.  (One reason I like the LSAT and other standardized tests is because they are in fact so much less subjective.) 

As to your last point, I would simply point out that not all people who get straight A's publicize that fact.  In fact, I don't think most do.  So to the extent such people are boobs, it may relate more to their crassness in bragging about such sensitive topis than to their ability to consistently excel on LS exams.  Most people with social skills would know better than to do so, and I definitely know some folks who did very well, and yet both contributed in class and also had social skills.


lol, Lindbergh, I was kidding about that last bit.  I referred to people "who have made their straight As known" -- not people who have good grades in general.  As an aside, though, at least at a school with a B or lower curve, there aren't usually very many of these people.  A dean told a group of us recently that there were only four or five people in our class (of approx. 450) who didn't have at least one grade lower than A-.  I don't know where you're meeting all these straight-A students, but at a school with a lower curve, I think it would be hard to make generalizations from their experience given their tiny numbers.

Also, I know you're bright enough to get this, so I wish you would stop inserting the "GPA+LSAT is predictive" bit into every conversation no matter the relevance.  I take it you had both a high GPA and a high LSAT score, and I hope that the same qualities that got you there also will allow you to do well in law school.  Nonetheless, you and I both know that GPA+LSAT are not predictive at the level of precision you imply.   

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #28 on: September 16, 2007, 09:27:57 AM »
arent most scholarships conditional on maintaining a certain gpa?

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Re: Are some law schools "easier" than others?
« Reply #29 on: September 16, 2007, 09:35:11 AM »
arent most scholarships conditional on maintaining a certain gpa?

It depends on the school.  Some scholarships are conditional only on maintaining good standing; some are conditional on class rank; and some are conditional on GPA.