Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

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Mickey Quicknumbers
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Mickey Quicknumbers » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:55 pm

Ha, that's nice of you and all, but I've got this weird feeling that thesealocust, xeoh, talon, and arrow have more than enough excellent advice for anyone who reads these boards. So I respectfully decline.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby vanwinkle » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:55 pm

Okay, Dennis was actually following the rules until the arguing started. We permit people to put links to their own products/services in their profile, just not to advertise them in a thread. Those of you making this a discussion, you're actually helping him promote himself in a way he wasn't.

Let's not continue the discussion about Dennis anymore. Dennis, I removed the advertising part of your last post, and you can PM me if you have questions. People can get back on topic or they can find another thread. Thanks.

APimpNamedSlickback
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby APimpNamedSlickback » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:05 pm

not selling anything here, but just wanted to disagree with the idea that even very fine distinctions are arbitrary. in fact, standard issue spotters can often be graded with a degree of objective precision that approaches multiple choice.

fact patterns objectively raise a set number of issues, some obvious and others very subtle. resolving those issues requires one to draw on particular facts and make certain arguments. comparing exams against each other thus seems pretty easily - you either spotted an issue or you didnt, and profs are experts at assessing the quality of legal analysis.

knowing why exams are not arbitrary would probably help improve one's performance. thinking they are arbitrary seems like something of a cop-out.

lawgod
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby lawgod » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:06 pm

I would be selling something here, but I can't think of anything to sell.
(I guess if anyone wants to buy my LEEWS they can.)

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Dennis Tonsing
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Dennis Tonsing » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:18 pm

Thanks, VanWinkle. Mickey got it right. I did graduate from Southwestern nearly forty years ago (1973), and instead of serving on law review, I worked as a columnist for what was then California's leading legal newspaper (The Los Angeles Daily Journal), and as a law clerk. And Mickey's also right that TLS does a great job of offering free advice to law students. My advice? Take it or leave it, Mickey and others. But how 'bout we all take VanWinkle's advice: the topic is about achieving high grades in law school.

Dennis

Renzo
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Renzo » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:29 pm

APimpNamedSlickback wrote:not selling anything here, but just wanted to disagree with the idea that even very fine distinctions are arbitrary. in fact, standard issue spotters can often be graded with a degree of objective precision that approaches multiple choice.

fact patterns objectively raise a set number of issues, some obvious and others very subtle. resolving those issues requires one to draw on particular facts and make certain arguments. comparing exams against each other thus seems pretty easily - you either spotted an issue or you didnt, and profs are experts at assessing the quality of legal analysis.

knowing why exams are not arbitrary would probably help improve one's performance. thinking they are arbitrary seems like something of a cop-out.


I agree that on an issue spotter, it's at least theoretically possible for grading to be meaningful, but that's not really where the arbitrariness comes in. For example, I destroy exams with very tight word limits. I mean I really knock them out of the park. Take-home exams with word limits I also do well on. But, on timed exams with no word limits I generally don't do very well. So, if there was a clone of me that was identically prepared, and knew exactly as much as I did, how I performed relative to that person would be determined by how many words we're allowed to type on the exam. That's pretty arbitrary.

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YourCaptain
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby YourCaptain » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:33 pm

Talon wrote:Give me a break. You got a J.D. from Southwestern back in the 1970s (LinkRemoved), and you weren't even on law review there according to your CV (LinkRemoved). There are several current law students and recent grads who placed among the top ten students in their class at top fourteen law schools who post and give advice here for free. See, e.g., here, here, and here. I don't think your experience at law schools that admit everyone with a pulse who applies makes you an "expert" at advising people who attend top law schools. And your statement that "If you expect to get expert advice, you usually have to pay for it" is totally untrue when it comes to TLS. Go advertise your crap elsewhere.


Talon dropping church 'round these parts.

For the record, I used Talon's advice and ended up doing reasonably well. I could have done less or more work and honestly I couldn't tell you where I would end up.

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Bronte
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Bronte » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:44 pm

Renzo wrote:
APimpNamedSlickback wrote:not selling anything here, but just wanted to disagree with the idea that even very fine distinctions are arbitrary. in fact, standard issue spotters can often be graded with a degree of objective precision that approaches multiple choice.

fact patterns objectively raise a set number of issues, some obvious and others very subtle. resolving those issues requires one to draw on particular facts and make certain arguments. comparing exams against each other thus seems pretty easily - you either spotted an issue or you didnt, and profs are experts at assessing the quality of legal analysis.

knowing why exams are not arbitrary would probably help improve one's performance. thinking they are arbitrary seems like something of a cop-out.


I agree that on an issue spotter, it's at least theoretically possible for grading to be meaningful, but that's not really where the arbitrariness comes in. For example, I destroy exams with very tight word limits. I mean I really knock them out of the park. Take-home exams with word limits I also do well on. But, on timed exams with no word limits I generally don't do very well. So, if there was a clone of me that was identically prepared, and knew exactly as much as I did, how I performed relative to that person would be determined by how many words we're allowed to type on the exam. That's pretty arbitrary.


I also performed better on tight word limit exams and take-home exams with word limits. Fortunately, all but one of my exams were this way. I think professors realize that arbitrariness is significantly diminished if they don't allow students to ramble on for pages and pages. It makes the papers harder to read, more disorganized, and allows fast typists to do better (a skill that is really not what the exams should test).

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vanwinkle
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby vanwinkle » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:51 pm

YourCaptain wrote:Talon dropping church 'round these parts.

Image

When a mod says to drop something, that means drop it, not quote the discussion all over again and proclaim your agreement.

Continue arguing about this (or about the resulting bans) at your own peril.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby BruceWayne » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:03 pm

Renzo wrote:I agree that on an issue spotter, it's at least theoretically possible for grading to be meaningful, but that's not really where the arbitrariness comes in. For example, I destroy exams with very tight word limits. I mean I really knock them out of the park. Take-home exams with word limits I also do well on. But, on timed exams with no word limits I generally don't do very well. So, if there was a clone of me that was identically prepared, and knew exactly as much as I did, how I performed relative to that person would be determined by how many words we're allowed to type on the exam. That's pretty arbitrary


I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree completely with Renzo. On the traditional law school exam, too many things come into play that aren't related to intelligence or knowledge of the material for the grading to be as meaningful as many on here like to make them out to be. Things like length of the fact pattern and a person's typing speed start taking on a massive level of significance on that type of exam, not intellect, "talent" (as people on here like to describe it) or knowledge of the material. Someone who types 100 wpm is going to destroy someone who types 40 wpm on a time limited exam with no word limit (the typical 1L exam style). That has nothing to do with intellect or knowledge of the material--what the test should be testing.

APimpNamedSlickback
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby APimpNamedSlickback » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:35 pm

i think people too easily confuse typing speed with thinking speed. the latter does in fact draw on your mastery of the material. maybe my profs were weird, but they generally hated exceedingly long exams that mentioned everything on the course syllabus and failed to distinguish important issues from minor ones. i never wrote more than 4,500 words on a three hour in class exam, and i did just fine. thus, i'm not sure that differences in peoples' typing ability really bear all that much on exam grades. its the time spent trying to spot issues and flesh out analysis that separates people in my view.

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Bronte
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Bronte » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:40 pm

APimpNamedSlickback wrote:i think people too easily confuse typing speed with thinking speed. the latter does in fact draw on your mastery of the material. maybe my profs were weird, but they generally hated exceedingly long exams that mentioned everything on the course syllabus and failed to distinguish important issues from minor ones. i never wrote more than 4,500 words on a three hour in class exam, and i did just fine. thus, i'm not sure that differences in peoples' typing ability really bear all that much on exam grades. its the time spent trying to spot issues and flesh out analysis that separates people in my view.


Yeah I agree, assuming the exam does not, like you said, consistent of nothing more than epically long issue spotters where you can see all the issues but simply can't bang them all out in the timeframe unless you're a really fast typist. That said, I know for a fact I don't think as fast as many people, but can usually beat out the faster thinkers if time pressure is taken out of the equation. So I guess I should have said exams with word limits or with plenty of time (or both) are to my advantage, not necessarily that they better test the material.

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sunynp
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby sunynp » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:11 pm

Perhaps typing speed is relevant to a job in biglaw, the faster you type the more work you can pound out?

I'm starting to wonder if grades mean anything much in the world of law firms, beyond what first job you are able to get after you graduate. I agree the first job is crucial, but many people do lateral into biglaw firms after a few years of working.

Once you start practicing, your school and school rank seem to matter much less than how well you perform at your actual job. The same way as once you finish a year of law school, transfer schools no longer really care about your LSAT or GPA, they only care about your law school GPA.

Back to the question of why it is a lottery - I agree that it is difficult or impossible to predict where most students will end up in the class. It is not the case that just being smart and studying hard will get you good grades, unlike undergrad. I also think that 0Ls will rarely completely grasp this concept until they experience law school.

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thesealocust
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:22 pm

sunynp wrote:Perhaps typing speed is relevant to a job in biglaw, the faster you type the more work you can pound out?

I'm starting to wonder if grades mean anything much in the world of law firms, beyond what first job you are able to get after you graduate. I agree the first job is crucial, but many people do lateral into biglaw firms after a few years of working.

Once you start practicing, your school and school rank seem to matter much less than how well you perform at your actual job. The same way as once you finish a year of law school, transfer schools no longer really care about your LSAT or GPA, they only care about your law school GPA.

Back to the question of why it is a lottery - I agree that it is difficult or impossible to predict where most students will end up in the class. It is not the case that just being smart and studying hard will get you good grades, unlike undergrad. I also think that 0Ls will rarely completely grasp this concept until they experience law school.


lol, typing speed is totally irrelevant in practice. Lawyers write a lot, but it is careful and slow and heavily edited. Your school and school rank matter nearly not at all once you have any kind of job.

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sunynp
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby sunynp » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:24 pm

Yeah, I meant the first line as a joke. I guess I should have used an emoticon.

My main point is that law school grades end up being not much more than a sorting process for jobs right out of school.

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Bronte
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Bronte » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:33 pm

sunynp wrote:Yeah, I meant the first line as a joke. I guess I should have used an emoticon.

My main point is that law school grades end up being not much more than a sorting process for jobs right out of school.


The grades and school rank of the lawyers at a firm undoubtedly correlate to the quality of work the firm puts out. Comparing the briefs of big DC and NY firms to the briefs written by lawyers in the small town I'm summering in is like night and day. However, grades on school rank probably only explain a small portion of work quality, and many other factors come into play, allowing that a lot of students from lesser schools or with lesser grades still produce very high quality work in some cases.

Further, the point that, once you're in practice, your school and class rank cease to significantly matter is a related but separate point. Obviously, career advancement is primarily dictated by quality of work product and your contribution to the bottom line (and the whims of your superiors). Your school and class rank will at that point no longer factor directly into your advancement prospects.

My ultimate point, as relates to the topic being discussed, is that it is important that law school grading criteria attempt to assess legal practice competency as accurately as possible. Tests that end up being determined based on ability to slam out all the issues in a short period of time do not as accurately assess those skills as tests that allow students to develop more careful and detail-oriented responses, which better correlates to what legal practice entails.

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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Renzo » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:48 pm

APimpNamedSlickback wrote:i think people too easily confuse typing speed with thinking speed. the latter does in fact draw on your mastery of the material. maybe my profs were weird, but they generally hated exceedingly long exams that mentioned everything on the course syllabus and failed to distinguish important issues from minor ones. i never wrote more than 4,500 words on a three hour in class exam, and i did just fine. thus, i'm not sure that differences in peoples' typing ability really bear all that much on exam grades. its the time spent trying to spot issues and flesh out analysis that separates people in my view.


I'm not confused about either. You are actually making my point: long issue spotters don't really measure how fast you think, nor whether you can tell important issues from petty ones. The professor goes through and makes a little check when you hit an issue, and moves on to look for the next one. It's not like they are going to go back and make sure you spent at least two times as many column-inches discussing the issue that was exactly twice as important.

I have had very time pressured exams (one was 4 issues spotters, 2 hours), and that doesn't seem to matter. I would rather take a 3 hour exam with a 500 word limit than a take-home exam where I had 8 hours to finish 4,500 words.
Typing speed is a small part of the problem. But another part is that professors often write exams with an impossible number of issues to spot as a common tool to create a curve, and I'd rather treat a few difficult issues carefully than try and hit 'points' checkboxes with poorly written drivel.

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kwais
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby kwais » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:59 pm

Bronte wrote:
sunynp wrote:Yeah, I meant the first line as a joke. I guess I should have used an emoticon.

My main point is that law school grades end up being not much more than a sorting process for jobs right out of school.


The grades and school rank of the lawyers at a firm undoubtedly correlate to the quality of work the firm puts out. Comparing the briefs of big DC and NY firms to the briefs written by lawyers in the small town I'm summering in is like night and day. However, grades on school rank probably only explain a small portion of work quality, and many other factors come into play, allowing that a lot of students from lesser schools or with lesser grades still produce very high quality work in some cases.

Further, the point that, once you're in practice, your school and class rank cease to significantly matter is a related but separate point. Obviously, career advancement is primarily dictated by quality of work product and your contribution to the bottom line (and the whims of your superiors). Your school and class rank will at that point no longer factor directly into your advancement prospects.

My ultimate point, as relates to the topic being discussed, is that it is important that law school grading criteria attempt to assess legal practice competency as accurately as possible. Tests that end up being determined based on ability to slam out all the issues in a short period of time do not as accurately assess those skills as tests that allow students to develop more careful and detail-oriented responses, which better correlates to what legal practice entails.


It's amazing how quickly the use of one verb can place you firmly in a specific socioeconomic group.

Renzo
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Renzo » Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:02 pm

kwais wrote:It's amazing how quickly the use of one verb can place you firmly in a specific socioeconomic group.


:lol:

Although, to be fair, there's a small chance s/he may have meant Summering (as in Summer Associate), not summering.

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kwais
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby kwais » Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:04 pm

Renzo wrote:
kwais wrote:It's amazing how quickly the use of one verb can place you firmly in a specific socioeconomic group.


:lol:

Although, to be fair, there's a small chance s/he may have meant Summering (as in Summer Associate), not summering.


true. but "summering" as in spending my summer, is funnier and therefore I hope it was the intended meaning

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Bronte
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Bronte » Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:10 pm

kwais wrote:
Renzo wrote:
kwais wrote:It's amazing how quickly the use of one verb can place you firmly in a specific socioeconomic group.


:lol:

Although, to be fair, there's a small chance s/he may have meant Summering (as in Summer Associate), not summering.


true. but "summering" as in spending my summer, is funnier and therefore I hope it was the intended meaning


:lol:

I definitely meant "summering" as in "my 1L summer job." I have never in my life nor has anyone in my family ever "summered" anywhere, in the sense of drinking martinis in a Hampton summer house. My summer job is in an extremely ghetto tertiary market in a flyover state, so there's no living it up going on.

09042014
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby 09042014 » Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:14 pm

I've never heard of a professor grading purely issue spotting and zero analysis.

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kwais
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby kwais » Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:14 pm

Bronte wrote:
kwais wrote:
Renzo wrote:
kwais wrote:It's amazing how quickly the use of one verb can place you firmly in a specific socioeconomic group.


:lol:

Although, to be fair, there's a small chance s/he may have meant Summering (as in Summer Associate), not summering.


true. but "summering" as in spending my summer, is funnier and therefore I hope it was the intended meaning


:lol:

I definitely meant "summering" as in "my 1L summer job." I have never in my life nor has anyone in my family ever "summered" anywhere, in the sense of drinking martinis in a Hampton summer house. My summer job is in an extremely ghetto tertiary market in a flyover state, so there's no living it up going on.


Damn, I can no longer picture you complaining about "how hard it is to find good help these days"

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Bronte
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby Bronte » Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:02 pm

kwais wrote:Damn, I can no longer picture you complaining about "how hard it is to find good help these days"


Oh but please do picture me rollin. I'm working on it.

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drylo
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Re: Why does TLS generalize law school grades as a lottery?

Postby drylo » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:38 am

Borhas wrote:difference between A- and B+ can be attributed to randomness, the difference between A+ and B probably not

ask yourself how hard your professor really works to split hairs. He has to give the same proportion of grades no matter what. Why would he give a shit? How could he? People find different issues and talk about them more or less detail. There's no objective way to grade any of these exams other than multiple choice... at least not to the level of precision students want. A prof could probably reliably differentiate A students from B students from C students... but A to A- to B+? Hell no, they are incapable of such precision... but the difference between A- average and a B+ average could be that chance at a shiny new 2L SA.

You also have no way of knowing before hand whether you are an A, B, or C student

as far as 0L's are concerned, you may as well bet on randomness...


Totally agree with this. I felt this way before, but I have a new appreciation for it after grading 1L write-ons. I also generally agree with Glock.




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