Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Happens When You Have Too Many Lawyers

What happens when there are too many law students and everyone is trying to be above average?  You lie, cheat, and do whatever you need to do to show your competency, that's what.  In an interesting NY Times article, Loyola Law School in Los Angeles will automatically add 0.333 to every law student's grade point average to bolster their transcripts.  Apparently it's a tough economy out there for lawyers.  New law grads are complaining that they aren't able to find jobs after graduation and are blaming their law schools.  In an effort to stand out in the jobs market, Loyola will supplement the students' GPAs to make them smarter than they really are.

This grade inflation seems to becoming more prevalent among law schools.  Grading curves have become more lenient all over the country, from UCLA and USC on the West Coast to NYU and Georgetown on the East Coast.  Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale have eliminated grades completely, relying on a pass/fail system.  Some schools are even paying law firms to hire their grads for a few months to "test drive" them and hopefully hire them after a couple of months of tryouts.  Says Stuart Rojstaczer, a former geophysics professor at Duke, “If somebody's paying $150,000 for a law school degree, you don't want to call them a loser at the end. So you artificially call every student a success.”

Now every law student will be like residents of Lake Wobegon, where everyone is above average.  But of course the averages move up when this is done.  So the schools and students will have to try even harder to deceive their new employers on their viability as legal "professionals".  Maybe they'll dumb down the bar exam so that there won't be as many "losers" and everybody will get their trophy JDcertificate for just showing up.

And why did Loyola choose 0.333 as the addition to their students' GPAs?  Their first year students' GPA's averaged 2.667 while other California law schools' students had GPAs of 3.0.  You can do the math.  Or maybe not if you're a law student.

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