UVA Law Students Taking Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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danitt
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby danitt » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:49 pm

I'm a 0L and I already feel like a slacker because I just don't give a fuck about grading curves and whatever yet. Damn! I haven't even gotten a syllabus, why should I be stressing about grades. Calm yo collective asses down 0Ls!

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RSterling
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby RSterling » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:04 pm

danitt wrote:I'm a 0L and I already feel like a slacker because I just don't give a fuck about grading curves and whatever yet. Damn! I haven't even gotten a syllabus, why should I be stressing about grades. Calm yo collective asses down 0Ls!


+1

Pro-tip from a fellow 0L: You're already (presumably) attending UVA. If you end up in the top 25% at the end of 1L, you can start worrying about inane things like grade distributions.

I'm really hoping that this type of talk is confined to TLS once school starts. If anyone actually tried to get me into a conversation during the first semester about grade distributions and how that might potentially hurt their GPA and SCOTUS opportunities, I would rip my ears off.

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UVAIce
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby UVAIce » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:12 pm

RSterling wrote:
danitt wrote:I'm a 0L and I already feel like a slacker because I just don't give a fuck about grading curves and whatever yet. Damn! I haven't even gotten a syllabus, why should I be stressing about grades. Calm yo collective asses down 0Ls!


+1

Pro-tip from a fellow 0L: You're already (presumably) attending UVA. If you end up in the top 25% at the end of 1L, you can start worrying about inane things like grade distributions.

I'm really hoping that this type of talk is confined to TLS once school starts. If anyone actually tried to get me into a conversation during the first semester about grade distributions and how that might potentially hurt their GPA and SCOTUS opportunities, I would rip my ears off.



Far and away the majority of times that students talk about this it is not in terms of their SCOTUS opportunities, but about getting a B+ so they don't end up below median. I have literally never heard a student talk about a B+ heavy curve in a way to insinuate that it would make it too difficult for them to get A's for law review, but I'm sure it's out there somewhere.
Last edited by UVAIce on Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

WalnutSurprise
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby WalnutSurprise » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:16 pm

RSterling wrote:I'm really hoping that this type of talk is confined to TLS once school starts. If anyone actually tried to get me into a conversation during the first semester about grade distributions and how that might potentially hurt their GPA and SCOTUS opportunities, I would rip my ears off.

This doesn't happen, ignore that awful poster.

Is Kevin Donovan the person to talk to about bid strategy? I'm not thrilled with the person I was assigned, but if they all give similarly good advice then I'll take an earlier slot with another staff member.

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UVAIce
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby UVAIce » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:26 pm

WalnutSurprise wrote:
RSterling wrote:I'm really hoping that this type of talk is confined to TLS once school starts. If anyone actually tried to get me into a conversation during the first semester about grade distributions and how that might potentially hurt their GPA and SCOTUS opportunities, I would rip my ears off.

This doesn't happen, ignore that awful poster.

Is Kevin Donovan the person to talk to about bid strategy? I'm not thrilled with the person I was assigned, but if they all give similarly good advice then I'll take an earlier slot with another staff member.


From what I've seen KD is the man, but I've worked with Patrice before and she is great. Also, feel free to PM me about bidding. Nothing like going crazy as a group.

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thesealocust
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:17 pm

They're all helpful, but Kevin Donovan is a machine and a former biglaw partner who still checks his blackerry every 10 minutes, even while asleep, just in case.

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5ky
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby 5ky » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:21 pm

thesealocust wrote:They're all helpful, but Kevin Donovan is a machine and a former biglaw partner who still checks his blackerry every 10 minutes, even while asleep, just in case.


Judging from the timestamps on his emails, he slept appx 1-2 hours/night the busiest few days of OGI planning my year in order to get everyone situated properly. What a guy.

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seahawk32
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby seahawk32 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:56 pm

To reiterate, Kevin Donovan is the man.

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Tom Joad
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby Tom Joad » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:36 pm

seahawk32 wrote:To reiterate, Kevin Donovan is the man.

+1

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Monochromatic Oeuvre
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:46 pm

RSterling wrote:I'm really hoping that this type of talk is confined to TLS once school starts. If anyone actually tried to get me into a conversation during the first semester about grade distributions and how that might potentially hurt their GPA and SCOTUS opportunities, I would rip my ears off.


But I'm that guy! Don't you know I'm destined for LR and SCOTUS despite the fact I got into the same school as 350 other students? I've never been below median in my life and I'm not going to start out now just because nobody in the incoming class has ever been below median and by definition half the class must end up so! I'm a special snowflake.

Oh man, this is gonna be awkward.

Now before I start discussions about how the narrow distribution is gifting B+'s to all the plebs and poisoning my 3.8 GPA, I'm going to have to ask the other person if they're a TLSer. It's kind of like asking your dealer if he's a cop, because you can't lie or I'll ship you off to the Honor Committee so I'll have one less prole to breathe the air that's rightfully mine.

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Tom Joad
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby Tom Joad » Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:46 pm

This is just my opinion, and other current students may disagree and be right in their own way.

The GPA distribution data doesn't matter, at least during 1L (which is most important for most people).

You can't chose your fall professors. You choose your spring classes during the fall. You have no grades before you chose your classes. Before you get your first grades, you have absolutely no way of knowing if you are a 3.75 student or a 2.90 student. When you are signing up for spring classes, you might feel like you get the material, but that doesn't really tell you much because what matters is test taking.

And I am in favor of removing the distributions in the case of choosing 2L and 3L classes anyway. Hopefully it will discourage people from gaming the system and instead take classes they think will be interesting or useful for practicing. Which is probably good for lots of people and the classroom culture.

Regardless of the curve, my strategy for each class is to try hard and see what happens when Cary Bennett awakes from his biannual slumber. Others may do different things, but I can't speak for them.

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thesealocust
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:15 pm

Tom Joad wrote:Regardless of the curve, my strategy for each class is to try hard and see what happens when Cary Bennett awakes from his biannual slumber.


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cary Bennet R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

Iä! Iä! Cary Bennet Fhtagn!

Iä! Iä! Cary Bennet Fhtagn!

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digifly
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby digifly » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:41 am

Dear God I hope that person on the last page isn't my new roommate.

canoe
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby canoe » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:15 am

thesealocust wrote:...too much discretion to the people responsible for teaching you material then evaluating your performance on an exam based on that material?

...screwed because there might not be enough A grades, which clearly you deserve, and are in a position to know how many should be up for grabs?

OK.


No one clearly deserves and/or is entitled to a particular grade. Neither does any student deserve and/or is entitled to a certain grading distribution or curve. I just have preferences toward certain grading policies and am trying to seek more information on UVA's.

Regarding your part about discretion, I think this comes down to a difference in one's philosophy towards grading. When I was taking graduate maths, I had a couple professors who would give 1 A and give Bs or Cs to the rest because to those professors, who in your own words are "responsible for teaching you material then evaluating your performance on an exam based on that material", only the top student in the class was deserving of an A based on their evaluation standards. This is an extreme (yet nonfictional) example yet I give this example to give you an idea of why I believe a grading policy with at least a "suggested grading distribution", like the ones in NYU and GULC, might be a bit more fair (although fairness is subjective). You see, different professors have different standards for what constitutes a A, B, C, D, or F grade. A professor may have high standards such that in any given semester, on average only around 2-4 papers out of 100 papers usually qualify for an A in his or her mind. A professor with lower standards may consider the top 15% of papers (based on some objective/subjective scale determined by the professor him/herself) to be deserving of an A. Now your argument might be that this difference in standards is offset by the safeguard that they have to adhere to a 3.3 mean. However I believe this safeguard doesn't do enough to control for professors' difference in standards for what constitutes a certain grade. The best way to control for this, imo, is to employ a suggested (not strict) grading distribution with for example, 10% A's, 10% A-s, 60% B+s, and so forth, that also maintains a 3.3 mean. I feel this is a good middle-ground approach that should satisfy all parties.

All in all, I know this won't make much of a difference in the grades I get, especially for 1L. Sorry for venting, but despite whatever minuscule effect different grading policies may have, I do not like it when people derisively sneer at an honest inquiry about grades esp. when they are an important part of law school.

blahblewblah
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby blahblewblah » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:41 am

canoe wrote:
thesealocust wrote:...too much discretion to the people responsible for teaching you material then evaluating your performance on an exam based on that material?

...screwed because there might not be enough A grades, which clearly you deserve, and are in a position to know how many should be up for grabs?

OK.


No one clearly deserves and/or is entitled to a particular grade. Neither does any student deserve and/or is entitled to a certain grading distribution or curve. I just have preferences toward certain grading policies and am trying to seek more information on UVA's.

Regarding your part about discretion, I think this comes down to a difference in one's philosophy towards grading. When I was taking graduate maths, I had a couple professors who would give 1 A and give Bs or Cs to the rest because to those professors, who in your own words are "responsible for teaching you material then evaluating your performance on an exam based on that material", only the top student in the class was deserving of an A based on their evaluation standards. This is an extreme (yet nonfictional) example yet I give this example to give you an idea of why I believe a grading policy with at least a "suggested grading distribution", like the ones in NYU and GULC, might be a bit more fair (although fairness is subjective). You see, different professors have different standards for what constitutes a A, B, C, D, or F grade. A professor may have high standards such that in any given semester, on average only around 2-4 papers out of 100 papers usually qualify for an A in his or her mind. A professor with lower standards may consider the top 15% of papers (based on some objective/subjective scale determined by the professor him/herself) to be deserving of an A. Now your argument might be that this difference in standards is offset by the safeguard that they have to adhere to a 3.3 mean. However I believe this safeguard doesn't do enough to control for professors' difference in standards for what constitutes a certain grade. The best way to control for this, imo, is to employ a suggested (not strict) grading distribution with for example, 10% A's, 10% A-s, 60% B+s, and so forth, that also maintains a 3.3 mean. I feel this is a good middle-ground approach that should satisfy all parties.

All in all, I know this won't make much of a difference in the grades I get, especially for 1L. Sorry for venting, but despite whatever minuscule effect different grading policies may have, I do not like it when people derisively sneer at an honest inquiry about grades esp. when they are an important part of law school.


The bottom line is that there is not THAT much difference between professor to professor. People are acting like some professors just give wildly crazy curves with with like 8 A+s and 8 C's and a couple of grades in between. Or all B+s. The bottom line is that most professors have a fairly normal grade distribution, especially 1L year. Is it that substantial? Probably not. Even a professor such as Abraham, who is notorious for giving "all B+s" gives a reasonable number of grades below and above. Is it as many as other professors? Maybe not. But his class is far from all B+s, and if you work hard you can get a good grade. Additionally, most professors are not trying to screw students over (especially 1L year). If you get a really bad grade, there was probably something severely lacking about your exam.

After 1L year, when you can pick your classes, I DO think it is useful to have access to the grade distributions, but I still don't think it makes THAT much of a difference. There is just not that much variation, especially as far as exam classes go. There might be a few exceptions, but not many.

Additionally, your "suggested distribution" wouldn't change anything. Professors would still be able to do whatever they want. I don't think Cohen is going to stop giving A+s just because they come out with a suggested curve. And, as I said earlier, most professors would probably fall somewhere close to the suggested curve already.

I know 0Ls want to freak out, but it doesn't do any good freaking out about things you have ZERO control over (as well as things that countless previous classes have put up with and ended up just fine). The bottom line is that if you write a good exam you will get a good grade, if you write a bad exam you won't, or you will end up somewhere in the middle, regardless of small differences between professor's curves.

jacksonmead
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby jacksonmead » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:14 am

are other people still working with zero grades!?

WalnutSurprise
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby WalnutSurprise » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:29 am

jacksonmead wrote:are other people still working with zero grades!?


Yup. I think I won't check until I know all of them are in now that I've come this far

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5ky
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby 5ky » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:32 am

More than anything, a professor's distribution of grades is determined by the kind of exam they like to give, not because he or she is an asshole bent on fucking students over.

Abraham ends up with a lot of B+s because his exams are fairly straightforward, short, and policy-ish. It's hard to do exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly -- and getting an A+ or C+ requires an exam so extreme that it is nearly impossible to get. Nobody on this site is going to get a C+.

On the other hand, somebody like Cohen makes his tests impossibly difficult, which yields a wider spread, since it's easier to distinguish yourself as much better than the rest on a hard exam.

But in the end, these differences seem like a big deal to you guys, but they aren't. I've spent so much time poring over the GPA books, and in the end, the vast majority of big classes end up with 25-35% A level grades (maybe one A+), 30-40% B+, and 25-35% B/B- grades (maybe 1 or 2 C+, depending on how little good faith a student attempted to get away with). And professors don't stand by the same distributions. Maybe they'll often be similar (because of their preferred test style), but they adjust based on the quality of exams or lack thereof.

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seahawk32
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby seahawk32 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:15 pm

jacksonmead wrote:are other people still working with zero grades!?


This guy.

005618502
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby 005618502 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:01 pm

seahawk32 wrote:
jacksonmead wrote:are other people still working with zero grades!?


This guy.


I have 1. I am guessing that Monday will be a big grade release day since its the deadline

StanleyF
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby StanleyF » Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:28 pm

Miraculously, I've had all my grades since Wednesday. Without a doubt the earliest they have ever appeared.

Sky's point about grades being tied to the type of exam is a good one. Also, people should remember that professors are mostly just calling it like they see it when they grade exams. Those that use the checkmark system (which, as far as I know, is basically everyone) are just adding up the check marks and then trying to shape a B+ curve they feel is fair. Like all human tasks, it is still somewhat subjective,but professors account for this by erring on the side of protecting poor performers; I've never heard of a professor who gave more than a couple C+'s, demonstrating that you really need to fuck up--or just not understand the material-- to get a bad grade.

I sympathize with 0L's who are feeling pre-school stress. You are living in a vacuum right now, where there is no information to indicate whether you will do well or poorly in law school. Sadly, that vacuum will persist until you get your fall grades. This is unavoidable. But since it's unavoidable, you are free to not worry about it. These few weeks before school starts are the last weeks you have to not be stressed about law school. Take advantage of them.

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pjo
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby pjo » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:14 pm

AssumptionRequired wrote:
seahawk32 wrote:
jacksonmead wrote:are other people still working with zero grades!?


This guy.


I have 1. I am guessing that Monday will be a big grade release day since its the deadline


Maybe... SR has three days to post the grades for a class once they receive them and they're always sure to remind students of that. So technically you may not get any grades until like Wednesday, although that is unlikely.

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BruceWayne
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby BruceWayne » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:51 pm

Wow a lot of misinformation is starting to pop up in this thread about grading.

1. Professor's often vary wildly in how they grade (just as an example Jeffries, Johnson, and Harmon are all professors that hand out a ton of B- and below grades in their courses. While professors like Kordana and Walt don't give out many sub B grades at all--sometimes literally none in the former's case. And the idea that it's "hard" to get that sort of grade is just wrong). That's one of the reasons schools like NYU, Columbia, NU etc. have enough sense to mandate exactly how professors are to distribute grades. There's a reason UVA is in the minority in the top 14 on this topic. Another thing people need to consider is that this is UVA law--not a run of the mill law school. The competition is high and everyone knows how grade focused firms are. You can quickly get a B- just for doing something like typing up an exam that is only 10 pages. Fall below that and getting a C+ is not hard at all.

2. Knowing which professors give out those kinds of grades is obviously unimportant first semester when you don't have a choice in your professors. But second semester that info is critical. You do not want to put yourself in a position where you end up getting a B- or worse spring of 1L from an elective. If you're a student who is right at a 3.3 after first semester, or below, that could instantly mean no firm job and suddenly being at risk for no job at all. On the other hand if your'e aware of a class that gives out a lot of B+s you could take that with the assurance that it won't hurt your GPA, and then focus harder on a more difficult class that you have trouble with.

3. Working "hard" means literally nothing--probably less than nothing. The way law school grades are given out that just doesn't have much of an impact. Making matters worse is that everyone works extremely hard so that essentially neutralizes that as an advantage for most people (I say most because some people do things like study 14 hours a day--maybe for them you can say that working hard is giving them an advantage. I don't know).

4. Although there are some nice professors who are concerned with not hurting a student's employment prospects--that's not the majority. If they don't agree with your exam, it's too short, or they are especially impressed by a few select student's exams, etc. etc. most will not think twice about giving out B- or below grades. This is especially true of the older professors.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:13 pm

BruceWayne wrote: 2. Knowing which professors give out those kinds of grades is obviously unimportant first semester when you don't have a choice in your professors. But second semester that info is critical. You do not want to put yourself in a position where you end up getting a B- or worse spring of 1L from an elective. If you're a student who is right at a 3.3 after first semester, or below, that could instantly mean no firm job and suddenly being at risk for no job at all. On the other hand if your'e aware of a class that gives out a lot of B+s you could take that with the assurance that it won't hurt your GPA, and then focus harder on a more difficult class that you have trouble with.


I don't understand. You choose second semester electives in November, no? At that point you have no idea if you're above median or below median, so you have no way of knowing which distributions are beneficial. Isn't that effectively the same as not having a choice which distribution you get?

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Br3v
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Re: UVA Law Students Taking Questions

Postby Br3v » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:34 pm

thesealocust wrote:They're all helpful, but Kevin Donovan is a machine and a former biglaw partner who still checks his blackerry every 10 minutes, even while asleep, just in case.


Met him at ASD. The man like instantly earns respect because it becomes obvious within seconds that he knows exactly what he is doing. Made me feel really good about the quality of faculty at the school.




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