LurkerNoMore wrote:ITT: People who got good grades try to convince themselves that they actually mean something and people who got bad grades try to convince themselves that they don't.
It's not a question of whether grades mean anything; they may or may not. It's a question of whether grades are completely arbitrary (and they aren't). If the same students consistently get pretty much the same grades every semester, that's just not a coincidence. The consistent A students are doing something that the consistent C students aren't doing.
What does arbitrary mean? Dictionary.com says "founded on or subject to personal whims, prejudices, etc; capricious." Although individual exam grades are certainly subject to the personal whims and prejudices of the professor, those whims and prejudices are clearly related to something resembling student ability. Why? They are shared so widely by law professors that students find their grades and class ranks to be relatively consistent across professors and semesters. It's also why LSAT score and undergraduate GPA correlate with law school GPA.
I think most law students who claim grading is arbitrary really mean that it is random, and that's plainly false. If grading were really random (like the "stair method" so many swear exists), you would expect that everyone's grades would eventually end up really close to the median, but that's not what happens, especially in schools with lower medians. What we see is that some students consistently do very well and others consistently do very poorly. An individual student may have the occasional outlier grade, but on the whole, similar effort produces similar grades for the same student, and that's evidence against a truly random grading system.