Law in Contemporary Society
Regardless of how much we collaborate and help each other, only so many people can "succeed" in the way that law school measures success. Personally, I think that's fucked up. I think we could best attain what you are suggesting if we had no grades whatsoever, and thus really did work for knowledge's sake alone.

-- AmandaHungerford - 19 Feb 2008

But the flexibility of the curve can work to our advantage in. If each student does better--as they hopefully would in a collaborative environment--then the professors can work with the upper ranges allowed for the better grades. Columbia students would fare better when competing for jobs against students from other law schools, since we would have better grades overall. -- MinaNasseri 19 Feb 2008 * Some schools are known to hyper-inflate their grades; they round out the curve at A-/B+. If Columbia professors are also known to do this there may be no net benefit. -- ChristinaYoun - 19 Feb 2008

I can't help but allow the "Is this going to be on the test? If not, I'm just going to skip this" thought creep into my head more often than I would like to admit. I think this really hinders my ability to learn anything significant or anything that may help me in life. I think it especially hinders my ability to think "outside of the box" and apply my newly learned ideas to life as I had hoped law school would allow me to do.

I personally would work more efficiently if there were no grades. If we were on a P/F system, then I would still learn the basics that the professors would what us to take from class, but focus more on the areas of law that pique my interest. I would endeavor to become an expert in the areas I'm most interested in, rather than drudge over boring material that I will never use again in my life just so that I could survive in the competition for grades.

-- ChristinaYoun - 19 Feb 2008

I don't think normalized grades are the problem. Rather, it is our own warped view of what a successful lawyer looks like. We are in a very fortunate position. Over 99% of CLS graduates are employed upon graduation. We won't have trouble finding work. But it seems we're more concerned with WHO we are working for than WHAT we are working for.

There is important work to be done by lawyers. All we have to do is not look too disappointed when we get the chance to do it.

-- ChristopherBuerger - 19 Feb 2008

The curve normalizes things. Instead of one teacher giving half the class an A, and another teacher giving only one A, we have all teachers giving the same amount. If we got rid of the curve, our lives might be easier, but depending on who we got for teachers, maybe not.

-- OluwafemiMorohunfola - 19 Feb 2008

We are being trained to practice in an adversary system that holds out big rewards for total cooperation within one's group, limited cooperation with those outside of one's group (disclosure, discovery, maintaining a good reputation in the community, etc.), and ultimately beating the other side. Isn't that akin to what Claire and Theo suggest that we're doing in law school? Maybe law school is teaching us how to strike a good balance between cooperation and competition with our classmates.

-- VishalA - 19 Feb 2008

-- AdamCarlis - 19 Feb 2008

Most of us miss that the curve has two functions: to get a good grade, you either have to convince the PROFESSOR that you're right, or you have to convince AS MANY OF YOUR CLASSMATES AS POSSIBLE that you're right AND fail to convince the professor.

I think this second route is intended to encourage the student to practice his grassroots mobilization skills. The advocate doesn’t need to persuade the judge if he can rally the voters.

A side effect is encouraging sabotage (e.g. I convince my classmates that grades don’t matter), but this is also intentional as it is a valuable skill in an advocate.

-- AndrewGradman - 20 Feb 2008

I haven't encountered any of the negative behavior described in these grades threads. My experience both during the semester and at finals has been that people are happy to help each other out.

Most professions involve competition to one degree or another. Some are more cut throat than others. What I have found is that the personal relationships you build within that profession are critical. Anyone burning bridges at school in order to push himself from a B+ to an A- is making a colossal error. People don't forget that sort of selfish behavior.

-- SandorMarton - 20 Feb 2008

I understand that the argument for curve-grading rests heavily on the issue raised here of providing employers with a clear means with which to evaluate students. I agree that non-curve based grades would not drastically interfere with this objective - if anything it would give employers a more accurate assessment of a student's work. Additionally, since the majority of Columbia graduates work for firms, it can be inferred that the curve-grading system has firm's specifically in mind. The sense I get is that whether a Columbia student has Bs or As, he or she can still get a job at a "top" firm. So why such an emphasis on the curve?

The comment that the curve itself does not create competition, but rather it is how the students internalize the curve that creates the environment, is important to keep in mind. It stresses the control that we as students have over the environment in which we learn. However, as long as student attitudes don't change - this distinction becomes irrelevant.

-- CarinaWallance - 20 Feb 2008

 

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r6 - 20 Feb 2008 - 17:43:11 - CarinaWallance
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