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Class Rank Results, 2011 Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 22, 2011 in The 2L Life

Happy Almost-the-Weekend everybody! :D

There’s been a lot going on this past week and all sorts of news in the legal arena that I’ve been wanting to comment on but just haven’t had the time. The internship at I-Cubed has been a lot more enjoyable than I thought corporate work would be,1 grades for Summer Session I courses have all come in,2 it looks like I’ll be the CrimLaw tutor next Spring for the 1Ls and this Fall for the 2LEs,3 I was invited to give a leadership development presentation to the NCCU SGA earlier this week4 — there’s just been a lot going on in a very short amount of time!

Which brings me to the topic of this post: the 2011 class rank charts that we finished gathering data for over a week ago :beatup:

Before diving in to the data, I want to give a huge *THANK YOU* to everyone who participated! We had nearly two-dozen people submit their anonymous information, including folks from the upper and lower ends of the spectrum.  Coupling those with some data points provided by the Registrar we’ve got what should be fairly accurate models for each of the 3 classes submitting information.

Now for some charts…

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CLASS OF 2012 (Day Program):  ONE YEAR LATER
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We’ll start with my class, since it’s my blawg :P

Class of 2012 Rankings: the top is 2011 (after 2L) and the bottom is last year (after 1L)

The NCCU Law cohort that started in August 2009 began with 169 students, which had whittled away to 157 by the time our 1L year was finished.

Factor out the 18ish folks who fell below a 2.0 and another handful who enrolled in the 4-year JD-MBA program (pushing them into the Class of 2013), then add in folks who transferred in from the Evening Program or are from the August 2008 cohort who are now “in sync” with our class (either from being in a dual-degree program or being readmitted after falling below 2.0 in the 2008-09 year), and we’re down to 152 people.

You can see the impact of students being able to self-select their courses as each of the percentile cutoffs have climbed since last year.  The biggest jumps have come at the lower end of the ranking spectrum; for example, the 50th percentile cutoff is actually higher than my GPA last year when I was at the 40th percentile.

You can also tell from my class rank that there’s a decent amount of fluidity in the rankings. I jumped from #62 to #32 in the span of a year,5 with only a just-over-three-tenths-of-a-point bump in my GPA (e.g. a hair’s breadth greater than the difference between a B- and a B).

Not to continue beating the same dead horse, but that data point tends to reaffirm my argument that your 1L grades don’t matter. ;)

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CLASS OF 2013 (Day Program)
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Based on the incoming class profile, this year’s 1Ls were an interesting mix.

On the similarities side of the ledger, their class started out slightly larger than mine (174 for them compared to 169 for us) but had shrunk the same amount (-12 students apiece by the end of 1L year). The 75%ile/median/25%ile LSAT scores were also practically identical between the two cohorts.

Class of 2013 Rankings

But on the differences, the Class of 2013 was more polarized. The median age was almost the same (25 to our 24) but the Class of 2013 had more “really young” students in the 21-24 range and more “not as really young” students in the 40+ range. On the GPA side, they also had more students who did better than us in undergrad (75%ile GPA was +0.11) and more students who did worse (25%ile GPA was -0.12).

That polarity also shows up from two points in the 1L ranking data: (1) both their 15%ile and 25%ile GPAs are higher, meaning their high achievers racked up comparably more of the high grades than ours did; and (2) it looks they’ll have a lower number falling below a 2.0, meaning their low achievers soaked up comparably more of the low grades than ours did. Really high and really low grades were more broadly distributed in the Class of 2012.

You can also see the effect of the C-curve to an extent. Even with the low-ranked students taking up more of the bad grades, the median is still almost two-tenths of a point below a B-. And even with their higher-achieving high achievers, no one in the Class of 2013 scored above a 3.78.

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CLASS OF 2014 (Evening Program)
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When I started this data gathering operation I really didn’t expect anyone from the law school’s Evening Program to send me their information. They were extended the invitation of course, but I only know maybe 3-4 people in the entire program who I know have been to law:/dev/null at least once so I figured the odds of someone seeing the call for submissions were a bit low.

Class of 2014 (Evening) Rankings

You can imagine my shock when I ended up getting just as many submissions from the Class of 2014 evening students as I did from the Class of 2012 day students :surprised:

The Class of 2014 Evening Program started out with 34 students in Fall 2010, which has since shrunk to 32.

They’re also ranked separate and apart from their Day Program colleagues so the data isn’t quite as useful for analysis except on a year-over-year basis. For example, on a percentage basis the 1LE 15%ile and 25%ile cutoffs are markedly higher than the corresponding 1L cutoffs.

But there are also only 8 1LE’s at a 3.1 GPA and above, when there are twice as many 1L’s at 3.2+. In other words, to borrow an over-used cliché, comparing the Evening Program to the Day Program is akin to comparing apples and oranges.

One commonality that can be culled from the data is that the Evening Program is obviously bound by the same curving process since their median GPA (even with fewer students) is similar to the median for the day program.

***

So that’s the class ranking data for the academic year ending May 2011! And it concludes what I can now officially designate as my first successful use of this blawg as a crowd-sourcing app :spin:

Hope all of you have a good night and a great weekend ahead! :D

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From the grade-related archives:

  1. :surprised: []
  2. :D []
  3. :spin: []
  4. B-) []
  5. Roughly 19%, going from the 40th percentile cutoff to a smidge over the 21st percentile. []

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Billing by the word (or, “Redundant Redundancy FTL”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 17, 2011 in Fail

Hey everybody! :D

I hope all of you have had an amazing weekend!  The crush of work I mentioned in my last entry is finally finished, so I’ve spent the past couple days reflecting on life,1 relaxing,2 and now working on a leadership development presentation for my undergraduate colleagues in the N.C. Central University Student Government.

And of course taking a break to throw one of these posts together ;)

It’s no secret that I’m generally not a fan of Contracts (see here and here and here if you don’t know why). The concepts aren’t exactly difficult, I’m just not aware of any field of law where people have gone to greater lengths to defile the meaning of perfectly functional English words.

Not even Capt. Picard approves of these Ks

Now most legal documents seem to have taken the old adage of “Don’t use a 10-cent word when a 5-cent word will do” and replaced it with “Don’t use a 10-cent word when an identical or substantially similar conveyance of meaning is articulable through the concurrent deployment of at least, but not limited to, a half-dozen or more $2 locutions.” :beatup:

So this entry is dedicated to those documents and to the lawyers billing by the word who wrote them.3

I’ve picked a quartet of clauses from actual contracts that have crossed my desk over the past few months for your reading pleasure, and underlined the language that irks me…

Honorable Mention:

This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of [RandomState], without reference to its conflict of laws principles.

Now I realize that this underlined snippet is actually designed to serve a purpose. Those of you who paid attention in CivPro might recognize this entire clause as a “choice of law” provision, indicating which state’s laws the parties want to use in enforcing the contract. And some of those states have enacted statutes — their “conflict of laws principles” — that say if a cause of action arises in another state, that other state’s laws should govern the conflict.

So, hypothetically, if a contract between a buyer in North Carolina and a seller in Virginia is construed under North Carolina law, but something happens in Virginia such that the seller defaults and the buyer files suit, a judge interpreting the contract might say “Construing this contract under North Carolina law, since this default happened in Virginia and North Carolina’s conflict of laws provisions say a contract must be governed by the law of the state giving rise to the cause of action, the Virginia law applies to this suit.” The underlined text would, theoretically at least, prevent that from happening.

[Note that I don’t actually know if what would actually happen in that particular hypothetical, I’m just trying to come up with a rational explanation for the underlined verbiage :beatup: ]

Then why, assuming this language really does serve a purpose, did it get included in my list?

Because one of the cardinal principles of contract interpretation is construing the contract in a way that effects the intent of the parties. It’s evident from including a choice of law provision in the first place that the parties wanted it governed by the law of the chosen state. For either party to then use the chosen state’s conflict of laws principles to wedge their way under the aegis of a different state’s laws would seem (to my feeble mind at least) to frustrate the signatories’ intent.

***

Third Place:

Notwithstanding any provision of this Agreement to the contrary, if any confidential information is required to be disclosed pursuant to an order of a governmental agency or by operation of law, the receiving party shall be permitted to disclose such confidential information in accordance with the order or law. Prior to the disclosure the receiving party shall, unless prohibited by law, give the disclosing party reasonable advance notice to contest the disclosure.

Is there any kind of notice “[p]rior to the disclosure” that would not be “advance notice”?

Is there any kind of “advance notice” to contest a disclosure that could happen after “[p]rior to the disclosure”?

Unless the meaning of those basic words has changed since I last took an English class, the answer to both questions is “no.” The redundancy is unnecessary surplusage.4

***

Second Place:

In the event of a breach of this Agreement, [OurCo] may demand from [YourCo] the sum of One-Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars ($100,000.00) as liquidated damages and as reimbursement for expenses incurred and estimated to be incurred by [OurCo], which [YourCo] agrees to pay to [OurCo] within five (5) business days of the demand by [OurCo].

This one evidently originated in the Legal Department of a company that really likes seeing its name in print :roll:

This type of “break fee” provision is common in many contracts, designed to incentivize a party to avoid breaching the agreement. It’s obvious from the first sentence that the ability to demand payment in this clause belongs to OurCo, so the recitation of the rationale (“reimbursement for expenses…” blah blah blah) doesn’t need the “by OurCo” reference. Neither does the last line, since nothing in this clause gives YourCo the ability to make such a demand; we’re only talking about OurCo’s demand here.

And if OurCo is making the demand, why require in the contract that YourCo must “pay [it] to OurCo”? Maybe OurCo’s finance guys want YourCo to pay the money to some random charity so it’s not reflected as income on OurCo’s balance sheet.

Lots of redundancy all around… ::smh::

***

Before getting into our First Place winner, I have to confess up front that I bear some responsibility for any continued longevity this provision now has — I alphabetized the original and removed some of its duplicate listings.5 :beatup:

First Place:

“Document” means a physical embodiment of information or ideas of any kind or nature, including items that are handwritten, printed, mimeographed, lithographed, duplicated, typed, or contained in a graphic, photographic, film, video, tape or other electronic recording. Examples of documents include, but are not limited to: accounts, affidavits, analyses, answers to questionnaires, appointment books, balance sheets, bills, blueprints, book entries, books, cables, calculations, catalogs, charts, checks, computer files, computer logs, computer printouts, computer programs, contracts, correspondence, data, deeds, deposit slips, desk calendars, diagrams, diaries, drafts, drawings, emails, evaluations, expense reports, films, forms, formulas, graphs, income and/or investment statements, indexes, instructions, invoices, journals, ledgers, letters, license agreements, lists, logs, magnetic tapes and cards, manuals, maps, memoranda, microfilms, minutes, money orders, newspaper articles or clippings, notations, notes, offers, opinions, pamphlets, papers, periodicals, photographs, plans, publications, punch cards, purchase orders, questionnaires, receipts, records, renderings, reports, schedules, sheets, specifications, statements, statistical records, studies, summaries, surveys, tabulations, tax returns, telegrams, telex messages, text messages of any kind (including AIM, ICQ, MMS and SMS), transcripts, vouchers, warranties, web pages, websites, work papers, and worksheets. Documents also include, but are not limited to, reports and recordings of (i) telephone or other conversations, (ii) interviews or personal conversations, (iii) conferences, or (iv) committee meetings or other meetings, in addition to all other records or information kept by electronic, photographic, mechanical or other means, and things similar to any of the foregoing, however denominated.

This one actually takes up an entire page once it’s put in 12pt Times New Roman and doubled-spaced :crack:

For comparison, Black’s Law Dictionary defines a “document” as “Something tangible on which words, symbols, or marks are recorded.”

And Merriam-Webster’s goes with “a piece of written, printed, or electronic matter that provides information or evidence or that serves as an official record.”

Neither apparently feels it necessary to provide a page’s worth of examples.

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Have a good night y’all! :)

  1. Son of TDot turned 13 yesterday :surprised: []
  2. Saw Harry Potter 7.2 with 雅雅… and, the storyline notwithstanding, thought it was the worst film in the series :beatup: []
  3. Hat tip to Peter Romary of The True Verdict blawg for inadvertently suggesting the title of this entry :) []
  4. And yes, I realize “unnecessary surplusage” is redundant — that’s the point :P []
  5. Meaning the original was even worse, if you can imagine that… []

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Crunch Time

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 9, 2011 in The 3L Life

If I’ve learned anything from law school, it’s that school-related work tends to ebb and flow instead of coming in a steady stream.  Case in point:  nothing at all for the latter part of the coming week, but 2 papers and ~100 pages of reading all due Monday :crack:

New blog material coming soon… once I make it through this weekend :beatup:

Have a good night y’all :) And if you’re a Legal Eagle who hasn’t done so yet please consider sending us your (anonymous) class rank and GPA data for the 2011 pie charts!

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Legal Eagles: I need your help plz :)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 7, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening folks! :)

I hope all of you had an amazing Independence Day weekend — the 235th celebration of my favorite holiday evah — and a solid start to the abbreviated-and-soon-to-end workweek :D

On my end I made my annual trip with 雅雅 up to Virginia Beach to see Nan and Pops, though the festivities this year were somewhat dampened (literally and figuratively) by thunderstorms that spanned Virginia and North Carolina… and the start of Summer Session II classes this past Tuesday :beatup:

Class this week plus that trip plus the preceding week helping with NCCU Law‘s Legal Eagle Law Camp was the reason for my most recent extended hiatus from the blawgosphere.1 The Law Camp in particular was an interesting experience that I’ll hopefully have time to write about in a later entry — it included everything from sitting in on an actual arson trial (featuring extensive vulgarity and sexual innuendo) with ~35 7th-10th graders, to witnessing the Durham PD’s drug interdiction unit arrest two people for trafficking in cocaine2 in the parking lot of a Burger King where I happened to be getting lunch with about 20 of those same campers, to watching my group successfully put on a full mock trial even after the group’s star witness was a no-show on trial day, to a bunch of other randomness in between :crack:

But that’s not the reason for tonight’s entry ;)

Those of you who have been reading law:/dev/null for awhile3 might recall the pie chart of class ranks I put together last year for the Class of 2012 day program.  I’m hoping to create new ones this year for all the classes, so we can (i) gauge how much the average GPAs have climbed between 1L and 2L year now that students can self-select their electives, and (ii) compare the GPAs across classes / programs / years. Did this year’s 1Ls perform significantly better or worse compared to last year’s?  Does the evening program really have higher median GPAs as rumored?  What are the odds of a now-3L reaching #.## GPA based on the curve and colleagues’ grades? Those are the types of questions I’d like answered.

However I’ve got two problems: my source for grade info last year is no longer around, and my new class rank doesn’t have the serendipitous function of being a cutoff for a round-number percentile like it was when I was the 40% guy last year.

And that’s where you come in…  :angel:

I know folks are über-secretive about law school grades, even though we all find out something anyway.  Taking that preference for discretion into account, I’ve created a temporary page on the blog (linked at the top) called “2011 Data4 that includes a comment field where you can anonymously enter your own GPA and class rank.  By entering in a fake name and using a fake email address, your comment will go into the WordPress “moderation queue” we have here behind the scenes, I can then harvest your GPA/rank without ever knowing who you are, and then delete your comment without it ever appearing to the outside world.

As of this entry I’ve got 14 people who’ve already shared their data — 4 from the class of 2012, 6 from 2013, and 4 from 2014.  That’s a solid start, but most of the folks who have commented are in a fairly narrow band rank-wise and I need folks across the spectrum to get accurate charts. So if you don’t mind taking a few seconds to shoot me your info I’d really really really appreciate :)

Once I’ve got enough data points to put the charts together, I’ll delete the 2011 Data page and put up a new entry with the approximate grade distributions.

Thanks in advance for your help, and feel free to recommend that a classmate send in their info too ;) Have a great night! :D

  1. And yes I realize I’ve had roughly the same excuse for randomly disappearing for most of the past two semesters now. Cut me some slack! :beatup: []
  2. One of whom made the unwise decision to resist arrest and was restrained with force as a result. []
  3. *THANK YOU* btw! :* []
  4. UPDATE on 07/13/2011:  Got all the data we needed so the page has been modified to remove the comment form and all the comments that were submitted have been deleted. Thanks for your help! :D []

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