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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What matters more in this market: student GPA or favorite baseball team?

The opening lines to this N.Y. Times article tell the story: "One day next month every student at Loyola Law School Los Angeles will awake to higher grade point average. But it's not because they are all working harder." We have discussed this issue around my school too, where we have a fairly tough grade range. Does this kind of grade elevation actually help law students in a tough job market? Or, as the article suggests, do employers just look to Above the Law for the real scoop? And what of the law student who, on principle, can't falsely profess loyalty to another baseball team?

Posted by Brooks Holland on June 22, 2010 at 02:33 AM in Current Affairs, Life of Law Schools, Teaching Law | Permalink


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Anon is right. Law schools make it difficult for students to distinguish themselves. It's also annoying talking to people who don't normally hire from your school. A lot of people ask for GPA and class rank, neither of which was issued by NYU. Sure, you can calculate your GPA on your own, but it's not official. Not telling students their own class rank is hurtful. Since grading is all relative, knowing your class rank gives you a better idea of how well you're performing, and lets you better gauge your job prospects (the people interviewing you will have a good idea of where you fall in the class because they're looking at dozens of transcripts from the same school).

Posted by: BL1Y | Jun 22, 2010 6:54:07 PM

Writing as a graduate of LLS, I think a different, possibly more contentious reform is necessary to eliminate a disparity in job market competition, though it won't help everyone: Fix the honors at graduation.
To graduate with honors at LLS you need to be Top 10% or better, which is 1) redundant with being order of the coif, 2) eliminates an important kind of cachet for resumes and future firm bios that is more lasting and valuable than class ranking or GPA.
The part that makes it contentious is that you can't really retroactively give honors at graduation, which would miff some alums--but I think it's for the good of the school. Incidentally, as a top 30%er myself, I would not have graduated with honors at Pepperdine (cuts off 25%; though who knows? I might have worked harder, seeing it to be attainable), but a top 30%, even a top 50% ranking, can earn honors at graduation at many other schools, e.g., Texas, Harvard, and frankly I don't care to track down how it works at the mid-tier schools. All I can say is that the narrow application of honors at graduation has probably hurt the prestige of LLS and the market prospects of its alums in recent history and the long run. In Loyola's case, I guess it's some strange vestige of less competitive times, but I just think it's funny that law schools are competing over grades but dedicating such little attention to all the disparities that actually persist, as I said, on the ordinary firm bio. Maybe above the law should give the scoop on how that whole situation works.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 22, 2010 11:03:07 AM

You know what would give your students an even bigger leg up in a tough employment market? Graduating students with better research and writing skills, and more substantive legal knowledge.

Posted by: BL1Y | Jun 22, 2010 10:52:28 AM

the sad part is that schools are so out of touch with the students that they think they can fool students-into thinking they can fool employers-into not looking at all that really matters in a resume cover letter transcript writing sample, recommendation, package (i.e. class rank-since for all those other things everyone has something to offer in internships, a 1L rhetoric brief, and a professor who liked them).

schools if you cant do anything in the way of real connections to your employers or paying to test drive etc..then dont pretend-it just makes us think you are even more dishonest than before-you know-when you told us law school was a good idea...

Posted by: agreed | Jun 22, 2010 6:51:04 AM

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