Vote on Curricular Change Postponed

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ylsClinicStudent14
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Vote on Curricular Change Postponed

Postby ylsClinicStudent14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:55 pm

Hi YLS admits! Please see the below letter describing changes to the Yale Law curriculum that will make it more difficult for YOU to spend time in clinics if you enroll at YLS. The clinical experience here is, in my opinion, by FAR the best thing about YLS. The ability to build close bonds with clinical faculty members and to take a clinic starting in your second semester and to stay in that clinic for your entire time in law school is one of the things that sold me on Yale. It's the reason I've told my friends who were admitted to come here and I REALLY hope that this flexibility remains an option.

If you're thinking about coming to Yale and are excited about spending time in clinics, I'd recommend that you email Professor Markovits, chair of the Faculty Grading Committee at daniel.markovits@yale.edu and Dean Post at robert.c.post@yale.edu. I'd express your displeasure at this potential change and also ask them for reassurance that if you enroll you will be afforded the academic freedom that Yale promised you during admit weekend.

Also, please post your comments and questions on the Yale Law School Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/YaleLawSchool) or the YLS Class of 2016 page.

A few of us might be around here to answer questions.

Dear Class of 2016,

Some upsetting news about changes to the clinical program at YLS below. These proposed grading changes will make it significantly less attractive and logistically challenging for you to take on the clinics that you want. If you are interested in public interest work and/or clinics, you should consider this proposal carefully and express your concerns to the administration. There are many current students at YLS, who will not be affected by this proposal themselves but are deeply upset about these potential changes. For many of us, our clinics have been far and away the most valuable part of our YLS experience, and we think the faculty is making a huge decision at a terrible time—during finals period—when few students have the capacity or the energy to contest this proposal.

Some context as you read [the] summary of the proposal below—currently, YLS clinics only require that students enroll concurrently in a seminar component during the first 1 or 2 semesters that they are in the clinic. Students who stay on in the same clinic after that do not have to enroll in the seminar component again, but are still able to get graded credits for their clinic work.

The faculty's current proposal to make all clinic units credit/fail except those that have a seminar component is an attempt to shrink the clinical program. Clinical professors will not have the capacity to teach enough seminars for all clinical students to enroll every semester that they are in clinic, even if the students were willing to take seminar every semester (which some of us would, if that was the only way that we could continue working with our clients and getting practical training during law school). Without a graded option for clinic units, students will not be able to take as many clinic units as they currently can because they have to fulfill 51 graded units to graduate. This would inhibit the Class of 2016 and future classes' ability to form the kinds of strong and fulfilling relationships that we have formed with our clients, with our fellow clinic students, and with our clinical professors.

If you are coming to Yale even in part to participate in its clinical program, this change affects you! Let Yale Law School know that you support the clinical program as it is and don't want to see it shrink.

Love,
Current students at YLS

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: Student and admit activism worked!!

Hey everyone. In an amazing display of student activism working, the grading committee has agreed to postpone any votes on this issue. After meeting with some of the students who were most engaged on this issue, the chair of the grading committee recommended that the vote be postponed. The committee unanimously agreed. I cannot possibly thank admitted students enough for their support in this battle.

The fight is not over, though. This proposal, which I believe devalues and limits opportunities for clinical education and experiential learning, may be voted on again in the fall. Can't wait to organize and work with you all in the fall, when it does.
Last edited by ylsClinicStudent14 on Sat May 04, 2013 1:02 am, edited 4 times in total.

ylsClinicStudent14
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ylsClinicStudent14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:55 pm

Dear all,

As some of you have heard, including those at the State of the School meeting yesterday, the YLS grading committee (which includes both academic and clinical faculty) has come up with a proposal to change grading at YLS. Although the student reps have expressed strong reservations, the proposal will be presented for a vote to the full faculty on May 21st.

Until now, neither the student reps nor faculty members on the committee have been able to discuss the proposal with anyone beyond the full team of student reps and faculty members on the committee.

The committee is going to propose the following grading changes (to take effect beginning with the class of 2016):

1. All clinical grades would be awarded on a credit/fail basis unless the clinic has a seminar component, in which case that component and its respective credits will be subject to the usual H/P grading system

2. SAWs would be graded on a credit/fail basis.

Note: If these reforms are agreed upon, all current students will be grandfathered in under the existing grading plan.

The student reps feel strongly that this process of voting three weeks from now (May 21st -- the day after graduation) disenfranchises students from having the opportunity to express their concerns. With the stress of exams, SAWs, and graduation coming up, we feel that this is the wrong time for students to have to consider this proposal.

Nevertheless, the administration plans to move forward and place the proposal up to a faculty vote on May 21st. We expressed our concerns very clearly and strongly at a meeting with Dean Post and the chair of the committee, Daniel Markovits, yesterday. But they are committed to this timeline. Students, including some of the Student Reps, will be at the faculty meeting. We are allowed to reiterate any concerns we have with the proposal, but we do not have a vote.

For your information, the student reps are taking steps to have student voice heard loud and clear within this timeline:

- We have advised Dean Post and Professor Markovits that they should be having at least one large session to hear student concern in addition to their smaller sessions.
- We have advised Dean Post and Professor Markovits to make themselves available to hear concerns from any student at YLS.
- We have advised Dean Post and Professor Markovits to take notes of all the student sessions and convey the most important concerns to the faculty in some kind of report.

Here are some ways to get your voice heard in time for the faculty retreat:

(1) Dean Post and Professor Markovits will be holding small sessions with student groups and one for students without a student group affiliation. Please come out. The vote has not taken place yet so let them know how you feel.

(2) Talk to faculty. Per YLS by-laws, students do not have a vote at the meeting, but faculty do. Talk to them and see their views on the matter. We can’t vote, but we can talk to those who can.

(3) If you have any opinions on this proposal or the process of its presentation, please email Dean Post (robert.post at yale.edu) or Daniel Markovits (daniel.markovits at yale.edu), who is the chair of the grading committee.

(4) If you are concerned about this proposal, and would like to assist in organizing student responses, please email XXX XXX (XXX.XXX at yale.edu) to volunteer or offer suggestions.

We would also like to note that similar changes have been proposed next door at Yale College, who delayed their vote after significant student input. Whatever your feelings about the proposal, we hope that you will have the chance to weigh in before the proposal goes up to a vote.

Sincerely,

Your Student Reps
Last edited by ylsClinicStudent14 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ylsClinicStudent14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:56 pm

EDITED EDITED
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ph14
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ph14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:01 pm

What is the reasoning for this change? I read everything and I don't see the administration's side of the story. Before asking people to go advocate a position you should at least present the other side of the story.

ylsClinicStudent14
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ylsClinicStudent14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:10 pm

Good point! Unfortunately, the potential policy change was announced today and we haven't really been given a reason for the potential change. I'm posting the email we received from the faculty below. The only reason we've been given is "to maintain the ethos and structure of a Yale Law School education."

I entirely understand that our ask for support may seem rushed. Unfortunately, we were told about this change only a few weeks before it's being voted on and right as finals week approaches. We would love to have the time to have a longer dialogue with the administration but really weren't given that option.

Dear Students,

As many of you know, or may have heard at the State of the School yesterday, I am chair of a faculty committee that has been considering possible changes to the grading system at YLS.

The Committee broadly represented all major constituencies at Yale Law School. The members included:

***


The committee has been meeting and talking intensively all year. It has now fulfilled its charge to propose reforms in time for the faculty retreat. We will recommend changes concerning the grading of individualized instruction at the Law School. These changes are designed to maintain the ethos and structure of a Yale Law School education. As is our standard practice, the Committee deliberated internally prior to making its recommendation. Now that Committee has done its work, this recommendation will be discussed and decided upon by the Faculty. As part of this process, the faculty and students will have opportunities to react to and comment on the recommendation.


I would very much like to meet with any and all interested students to take up these matters. You will soon receive a more specific email giving precise times for meetings and the ways to notify me that you would like to join one of the meetings. These will take place (at least) on Thursday 2 May in the evening, Friday 3 May in the late morning or over lunch, Monday 6 May in the evening, and Tuesday 7 May over lunch. This process follows long discussions with the Student Representatives, whom I have also asked to communicate with you about how best to fill and participate in the meetings. I'd like to thank them, and especially the student members of the Committee, for their hard work and devotion.


I look forward to meeting with you.


***
Last edited by ylsClinicStudent14 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby helix23 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:11 pm

ylsClinicStudent14 wrote:Dear Wall,


:lol:

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Elston Gunn
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:17 pm

Dude/dudette, I think you should be a little careful about coming on too strong. A TLS trollathon won't help anyone :-)

(fellow Yalie)

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Elston Gunn
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:19 pm

ph14 wrote:What is the reasoning for this change? I read everything and I don't see the administration's side of the story. Before asking people to go advocate a position you should at least present the other side of the story.

If I had to guess: 1) Clinical grades are almost always H's. I think some faculty members think this is unfair/bad for the school. I think this is what they would say. 2) is I think the main reason: more traditional faculty members think Yale students do too many clinics, and this is a way to limit how many people will do them.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby edamame » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:27 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:
ph14 wrote:What is the reasoning for this change? I read everything and I don't see the administration's side of the story. Before asking people to go advocate a position you should at least present the other side of the story.

If I had to guess: 1) Clinical grades are almost always H's. I think some faculty members think this is unfair/bad for the school. I think this is what they would say. 2) is I think the main reason: more traditional faculty members think Yale students do too many clinics, and this is a way to limit how many people will do them.


If there's enough student support against this, will faculty vote against the change?

I'm really worried -- the clinics were partially the reason I came to YLS, and they were touted all throughout ASW as the "best practical training you can get anywhere."

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Elston Gunn
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:31 pm

edamame wrote:
Elston Gunn wrote:
ph14 wrote:What is the reasoning for this change? I read everything and I don't see the administration's side of the story. Before asking people to go advocate a position you should at least present the other side of the story.

If I had to guess: 1) Clinical grades are almost always H's. I think some faculty members think this is unfair/bad for the school. I think this is what they would say. 2) is I think the main reason: more traditional faculty members think Yale students do too many clinics, and this is a way to limit how many people will do them.


If there's enough student support against this, will faculty vote against the change?

Well, they haven't voted on anything yet, and some faculty members definitely will care what students think. I'd recommend emailing any professors you've been in contact more than contacting Dean Post or Professor Markovits, neither of whom are likely to care much.

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ph14
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ph14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:32 pm

edamame wrote:
Elston Gunn wrote:
ph14 wrote:What is the reasoning for this change? I read everything and I don't see the administration's side of the story. Before asking people to go advocate a position you should at least present the other side of the story.

If I had to guess: 1) Clinical grades are almost always H's. I think some faculty members think this is unfair/bad for the school. I think this is what they would say. 2) is I think the main reason: more traditional faculty members think Yale students do too many clinics, and this is a way to limit how many people will do them.


If there's enough student support against this, will faculty vote against the change?

I'm really worried -- the clinics were partially the reason I came to YLS, and they were touted all throughout ASW as the "best practical training you can get anywhere."


Are you a current student? It looks like you are grandfathered in, if i'm reading this correctly:

Note: If these reforms are agreed upon, all current students will be grandfathered in under the existing grading plan.

edamame
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby edamame » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:33 pm

ph14 wrote:
edamame wrote:
Elston Gunn wrote:
ph14 wrote:What is the reasoning for this change? I read everything and I don't see the administration's side of the story. Before asking people to go advocate a position you should at least present the other side of the story.

If I had to guess: 1) Clinical grades are almost always H's. I think some faculty members think this is unfair/bad for the school. I think this is what they would say. 2) is I think the main reason: more traditional faculty members think Yale students do too many clinics, and this is a way to limit how many people will do them.


If there's enough student support against this, will faculty vote against the change?

I'm really worried -- the clinics were partially the reason I came to YLS, and they were touted all throughout ASW as the "best practical training you can get anywhere."


Are you a current student? It looks like you are grandfathered in, if i'm reading this correctly:

Note: If these reforms are agreed upon, all current students will be grandfathered in under the existing grading plan.


Nope, recent admit. Accepted my offer last week.

ylsClinicStudent14
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ylsClinicStudent14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:35 pm

I hope that with enough student outcry, faculty will vote against this. I also want to be perfectly clear that, even after this change, students will have the ability to take many clinics. There are 83 units required for graduation. 51 must be graded, so 32 of your required credits may be ungraded.

All students take 16 ungraded credits during first semester of 1L. So that leaves 16 ungraded credits for your final five semesters. Reading groups, journals, certain courses (e.g. trial practice), and supervised research also count towards ungraded credits.

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ph14
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ph14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:50 pm

ylsClinicStudent14 wrote:I hope that with enough student outcry, faculty will vote against this. I also want to be perfectly clear that, even after this change, students will have the ability to take many clinics. There are 83 units required for graduation. 51 must be graded, so 32 of your required credits may be ungraded.

All students take 16 ungraded credits during first semester of 1L. So that leaves 16 ungraded credits for your final five semesters. Reading groups, journals, certain courses (e.g. trial practice), and supervised research also count towards ungraded credits.


How many credits is a typical clinical? I think HLS caps clinics at 16 credits per student.

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Elston Gunn
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:59 pm

ph14 wrote:
ylsClinicStudent14 wrote:I hope that with enough student outcry, faculty will vote against this. I also want to be perfectly clear that, even after this change, students will have the ability to take many clinics. There are 83 units required for graduation. 51 must be graded, so 32 of your required credits may be ungraded.

All students take 16 ungraded credits during first semester of 1L. So that leaves 16 ungraded credits for your final five semesters. Reading groups, journals, certain courses (e.g. trial practice), and supervised research also count towards ungraded credits.


How many credits is a typical clinical? I think HLS caps clinics at 16 credits per student.

Usually depends on hours. Can be 2-4, but I'd say 3 is average. To my mind, it's not so much that students won't be able to do enough clinical work (you can still do four semesters this way--though plenty of people do more like 8 semesters worth, doing more than one at once, and I think that's awesome), but that it's being made much less attractive. Our transcripts are already bizarre, and judges to some degree seem to just count H's, and this means every clinic you take is one less shot at an H. Obviously, the way things are now is amazing, and I'm sure more lax than any other school in the country. But that's the thing that makes Yale so great--the faculty seems to want us to be more like a "real" law school again, but the students really don't. Real law school sucks.

Do clinics get graded at H?

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ph14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:03 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:
ph14 wrote:
ylsClinicStudent14 wrote:I hope that with enough student outcry, faculty will vote against this. I also want to be perfectly clear that, even after this change, students will have the ability to take many clinics. There are 83 units required for graduation. 51 must be graded, so 32 of your required credits may be ungraded.

All students take 16 ungraded credits during first semester of 1L. So that leaves 16 ungraded credits for your final five semesters. Reading groups, journals, certain courses (e.g. trial practice), and supervised research also count towards ungraded credits.


How many credits is a typical clinical? I think HLS caps clinics at 16 credits per student.

Usually depends on hours. Can be 2-4, but I'd say 3 is average. To my mind, it's not so much that students won't be able to do enough clinical work (you can still do four semesters this way--though plenty of people do more like 8 semesters worth, doing more than one at once, and I think that's awesome), but that it's being made much less attractive. Our transcripts are already bizarre, and judges to some degree seem to just count H's, and this means every clinic you take is one less shot at an H. Obviously, the way things are now is amazing, and I'm sure more lax than any other school in the country. But that's the thing that makes Yale so great--the faculty seems to want us to be more like a "real" law school again, but the students really don't. Real law school sucks.

Do clinics get graded at H?


As far as i'm aware they do. Not sure too much about them though.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ylsClinicStudent14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:20 pm

In my experience, clinics are usually 3-4 credits.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:39 pm

FTR, faculty chair sent around his own email wich said nothing about their reasons except that they were trying "to maintain the ethos and structure of a Yale Law School education," whatever that means.
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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby benewagain » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:45 pm

Because the proposed policy would also make a 3-credit writing requirement ungraded, that drops the total number of ungraded clinic credits that could be counted toward the degree to 13. You could take additional ungraded clinic credits on top of that, but the new policy places clinic work more directly in competition with academic work because you need an average of 10-11 graded credits per semester and can no longer fulfill that requirement with clinic work (apart from clinical seminars, which are graded, but students usually only take those the first year they're in a clinic). 10-11 graded credits translates to 3-4 academic classes, and doing a clinic on top of all that is difficult.

ylsClinicStudent14 wrote:I hope that with enough student outcry, faculty will vote against this. I also want to be perfectly clear that, even after this change, students will have the ability to take many clinics. There are 83 units required for graduation. 51 must be graded, so 32 of your required credits may be ungraded.

All students take 16 ungraded credits during first semester of 1L. So that leaves 16 ungraded credits for your final five semesters. Reading groups, journals, certain courses (e.g. trial practice), and supervised research also count towards ungraded credits.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby ylsClinicStudent14 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:13 pm

A student has suggested further clarification:

1) Some clinics are already ungraded. Some clinics are ungraded first semester and graded in other semesters. I believe it is up to the professor.

2) None of us are sure how clinics are currently defined under this proposal.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby cgbroncos113 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:45 pm

Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention. Having just sent in my deposit today, I really wish we were aware of this proposed change earlier, but I guess things don't always work out so nicely. I appreciate all the comments clarifying what the ramifications of this are, but I guess I had a couple of other questions:

1) What do you anticipate the full consequences of this decision will be? Will students no longer be able to take clinics each semester? It would seem to me that if each clinic was 4 units, you would only be able to take four ungraded semesters of the clinic (and that's assuming that you do no other ungraded activities, which I would assume is not necessarily a safe assumption). Is taking a seminar along with the clinic common and do you envision this becoming more common under the proposed changes? What exactly is the difference between a clinic with a seminar and without?

2) Second how can we best help advocate for the existing policy or at least more time for discussion? On the one hand, as the class that would be affected by this decision it seems like we deserve to have our voice heard. However, on the other hand, I feel a bit uneasy advocating against the change having never taken a class or really been part of the law school in an official capacity.

Again, thank you very much for bringing this to our attention!

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:54 pm

cgbroncos113 wrote:Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention. Having just sent in my deposit today, I really wish we were aware of this proposed change earlier, but I guess things don't always work out so nicely. I appreciate all the comments clarifying what the ramifications of this are, but I guess I had a couple of other questions:

1) What do you anticipate the full consequences of this decision will be? Will students no longer be able to take clinics each semester? It would seem to me that if each clinic was 4 units, you would only be able to take four ungraded semesters of the clinic (and that's assuming that you do no other ungraded activities, which I would assume is not necessarily a safe assumption). Is taking a seminar along with the clinic common and do you envision this becoming more common under the proposed changes? What exactly is the difference between a clinic with a seminar and without?

Most clinics have a seminar for the first semester you're in it, and not after. Weirdly, I think right now there are several clinics that are ungraded only during the semester you have a seminar, and this proposal would make only the opposite possible.
The math works out that you can take 4 ungraded credits a semester.

2) Second how can we best help advocate for the existing policy or at least more time for discussion? On the one hand, as the class that would be affected by this decision it seems like we deserve to have our voice heard. However, on the other hand, I feel a bit uneasy advocating against the change having never taken a class or really been part of the law school in an official capacity.

I'd send an email to a faculty member you met, and just see if he or she would be willing to chat. Then if you talk, you can express your concerns. You can also try to let other 0Ls know and have them do something similar. From my experience of YLS so far, a grassroots effort/petition may not have that big of an effect, but there are plenty of professors that care about the students, and if lots of people let them know how we feel, they might change their minds.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby hdivine » Wed May 01, 2013 9:19 am

Surely I'm not the only one who thinks, on the surface, this is probably good. I attended the clinical panel at the Yale ASW. The impression I got was that some students take far too many clinics and miss out on a more traditional legal education. This proposal still allows students to take plenty of clinics.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby Elston Gunn » Wed May 01, 2013 9:46 am

hdivine wrote:Surely I'm not the only one who thinks, on the surface, this is probably good. I attended the clinical panel at the Yale ASW. The impression I got was that some students take far too many clinics and miss out on a more traditional legal education. This proposal still allows students to take plenty of clinics.

The whole idea is you get to choose whether or not you want a "traditional legal education." Traditional legal educations are highly flawed, and everyone knows it. Read either the 2L or 3LOL thread and tell me that students are better off when they're forced to take more black letter classes.

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Re: YLS Admits: Curricular change that will affect YOU!!!!

Postby timbs4339 » Wed May 01, 2013 10:41 am

Elston Gunn wrote:
hdivine wrote:Surely I'm not the only one who thinks, on the surface, this is probably good. I attended the clinical panel at the Yale ASW. The impression I got was that some students take far too many clinics and miss out on a more traditional legal education. This proposal still allows students to take plenty of clinics.

The whole idea is you get to choose whether or not you want a "traditional legal education." Traditional legal educations are highly flawed, and everyone knows it. Read either the 2L or 3LOL thread and tell me that students are better off when they're forced to take more black letter classes.


Not a Yale student, but this is credited. Part of the attraction of going to an elite school like Yale is that you don't have to get a traditional legal education if you don't want it.




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