Monday, June 21, 2010

“If somebody’s paying $150,000 for a law school degree, you don’t want to call them a loser at the end"

Within a New York Times article about grade inflation at law schools, one has the text:

“If somebody’s paying $150,000 for a law school degree, you don’t want to call them a loser at the end,” says Stuart Rojstaczer, a former physics professor at Duke who now studies grade inflation. “So you artificially call every student a success.”

The issue was about Loyola Law School Los Angeles:

The school is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.

As a general matter, many law schools are getting complaints from recent, unemployed graduates.

Loyola LA is not the only culprit: In the last two years, at least 10 law schools have deliberately changed their grading systems to make them more lenient. These include law schools like New York University and Georgetown, as well as Golden Gate University and Tulane University

The University of Chicago Law School had a numeric grading system, with a median grade around 77. The NYT article notes:
law schools have long employed clean, crisp, bell-shaped grading curves. While at UofC, LBE wrote an article for the Phoenix noting that applying a Gaussian distribution to students whose skill set was not distributed in a Gaussian mode would produce grading irregularities. The UofC entering class of 1993, coming in after US News rated UofC #2 to Yale, was very peculiar, and the median LSAT was 48 (highest score possible then). The correlation factor of LSAT to first year grades for the previous class was R2= 0.4, and LBE suspects the class of 93's was worse. Another statistical anomaly concerned the number of women who made law review in the second year (1992), which result produced some changes in "journals at Chicago."

Of course, adding some number to everyone's grade is not the solution.


Rick Frenkel, (former) Director, Intellectual Property at Cisco Systems, Inc. and law school grad of Loyola Marymount and registered patent attorney 47578, is the "patent troll tracker."

from wikipedia: U.S. News & World Report ranked Loyola Law School 56th[5] in its "America's Best Graduate Schools 2011" feature.


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