Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 8, 2010 in NotFail | Subscribe

Pretty much ever since I started law:/dev/null — back when I decided to take a quantity-over-quality approach to these posts ;) — it’s been a challenge thinking of something to write about each night that at least a handful or so of you will actually enjoy reading.

Then this week happened. And I had three (three!) separate topics enqueued. Three! Topics that, I concede, got briefly postponed so I could rant about my missing grades. But topics that I fully intended to resume writing about tonight. (Three of them!)

And then the missing grades materialized. And the bodies started piling up… :beatup:

So in deference to the requests I’ve already gotten,1 I figured I’d spill the beans on my grades now rather than knock out those other entries and post grade info on Friday.

That’s how much I :heart: y’all ;)

We haven’t actually gotten any of the physical exams back yet so I’m not sure how my performance broke down in terms of multiples-vs-essays, but I’ll share my guesses where I can.

Without further ado, here’s the rundown for Spring 2010:

====================
CIVIL PROCEDURE II
====================

MDG switched things up from the usual final, giving us a set of multiples but then providing documents from a mock court case for the essay. Our objective was to review the documents and craft a letter to the client discussing the numerous FRCP-related concerns that existed.

It was during that portion of the exam that I stopped watching the clock and had time called before I got anywhere near finishing it :beatup:

CivPro II Final Exam Grades

The multiples were a challenge, with MDG describing them as “nuanced” and mentioning that even a fellow CivPro instructor missed a couple. The highest correct was 15 out of 20 multiples (75%) with the class average at 12 (60%) — high enough to pass the Bar, which is definitely a good thing given the difficulty.

The chart to the right shows how the final exam grades broke down. There was a +19-point curve.

My final grade for the course turned out slightly higher than anticipated, so my guess is I did well on the multiples. But I’m kicking myself for choosing a UNC Board of Governors meeting over an extra credit assignment we were given shortly after midterms though — the extra 5 points would have bumped the final grade to a B, bumping my 1L GPA above a 2.7 (eligible for some NCCU merit scholarships).

Lesson learned :headdesk:

Midterm exam grade: A-
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: C+
Actual final grade for class: B-

Synopsis: Worse performance than last semester, but given how gratuitously I choked on the essay I’m satisfied with how it turned out. And now I know to do all available extra credit in the future :beatup:

====================
CONTRACTS II
====================

Not a whole lot to say here: Contracts clearly isn’t my thing.

The downside is that I now have to explain to future employers how I barely passed a core class two semesters in a row.

The upside? I never have to take Contracts again until the bar exam ;)

Midterm exam grade: C-
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: C-
Actual final grade for class: C

Synopsis: I passed :surprised:

====================
CRIMINAL LAW
====================

If my perpetual flailing in Ks killed any briefly-nurtured dreams I had of going the intellectual property route, CrimLaw coupled with 1L Trial Team have convinced me to follow my heart and go the criminal prosecution route professionally. It’s something I had wanted to do for years, but never seriously considered since public employees don’t make much salary-wise.

But based on my grades it seems like the only thing I’ll be qualified to do :beatup:

The really crazy part? This was my best grade all year, and it was in the one class where I didn’t study for the final exam because I had a UNCASG meeting that weekend :crack:

Professor CrimLaw sent me an email making sure I knew that (i) I earned the grade I got but (ii) I shouldn’t make any professional decisions based on one course. He’s got a valid point but I don’t feel like I’m doing that here — I really, truly, and deeply hate Contracts too so technically it’s based on three courses :spin:

Midterm exam grade: A-
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: A-

Synopsis: I’m 90% sure Professor CrimLaw isn’t a TDot fan, but I still enjoyed the course. And I’m glad I finally have something other than B’s and C’s populating my transcript ;)

====================
LEGAL RESEARCH & PERSUASION
====================

Along with not watching the clock in the CivPro final, this was my other instance of taking a strong starting grade and pissing it away through truly stunning incompetence.

Note to the pre-Ls: read directions!

Then when you’re done: re-read directions!

Then after that: re-re-read directions!

Trust me :beatup:

Cumulative grade after midterm: A-
Final memo grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: C
Actual final grade for class: C

Synopsis: It could have been worse I guess. At least the research skills we learned actually turned out to be useful. ::headdesk::

====================
PROPERTY II
====================

This was the only final exam where I didn’t have a gut feeling one way or the other on how it turned out. I’m not sure if it was from the stress of the looming Contracts final two days later or what.

My performance was worse than the midterm, but high enough that I ended up with the exact same grade I got in the Fall.

And I don’t remember any of it already :beatup:

Midterm exam grade: A- (and in Top 3)
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: B+
Actual final grade for class: B+

Synopsis: At least I’m consistent :beatup:

====================
TORTS II
====================

Professor Torts is currently in Costa Rica with our Study Abroad folks, so I won’t know how the final exam turned out for a long while.

But I know enough to know I blew it :(

Back on the midterms I ended up with the #1 score out of the class on the multiples-only exam, so to end up with a final grade below even last semester’s I must have quite thoroughly FUBAR’d the final. And I feel fairly certain I did well on the essay, meaning I can only assume I botched the multiples.

Meh. Was never a fan of this class either…

Midterm exam grade: A (and in Top 3)
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: B-

Synopsis: This was the only bona fide disappointment for the semester, but at least it’s over. I will most definitely not be taking Advanced Torts ;)

====================
FINAL SCORE: SPRING 2010 FINALS
====================

Expected End-of-Semester GPA: 2.756
Actual End-of-Semester GPA: 2.733

Actual End-of-1L GPA: 2.678 (Law school median: 2.000)

*****

So that’s the rundown on the 1L grades.

But one wrinkle added to the mix over the past 24 hours has been NCCU Law‘s strong adherence to the strict-C grading model: we have a policy that any 1Ls who have fallen below a 2.000 at the end of their first year are academically dismissed from the school (hence my reference at the start of this post to “the bodies piling up” once grades came out).

The policy is essentially a trade-off in exchange for the school giving a shot to folks who might not be academically qualified to get into other law schools, providing a level of access that I personally think does wonders for the legal profession (at least in North Carolina) because many of the best lawyers I crossed paths with when I worked for the State Bar were less-than-stellar students as undergraduates.

The 2.0 model forces students to perform. It produces good attorneys. It’s why so many judges in North Carolina are NCCU graduates. And it’s why many of my classmates and I have a huge chip on our shoulder when we listen to trash-talk from students at other law schools.

But the dark side of that 2.0-cutoff is that NCCU Law ranks #2 in the nation for 1L attrition at a public law school (we’re edged out by FIU Law). We’re around #7 among both public and private law schools combined.

1L attrition is the red bar on the right-hand side

Take a look at this PDF chart from NLJ if you need a visual. The picture to the left is North Carolina’s section of the report.2)

That means roughly 1-in-5 of my colleagues will not be returning this coming August, and I’ve already gotten messages that a couple very close friends who’ve been mentioned here at law:/dev/null are among the casualties :cry: It kinda kills the buzz from being able to officially declare myself a 2L…

I’m not sure where those folks will end up down the road, but if they happen to read this entry I’m hoping they’ll keep in touch and let me know if I can help. We might not all be destined to be lawyers, but I’m a firm believer we’ll all end up where we’re supposed to end up.

*****

I completely and totally *hate* ending posts on a sour note, so I do want to formally say *CONGRATULATIONS!!* to everyone in the Class of 2012 — both at NCCU Law and elsewhere — who can officially call themselves 2Ls! :) Good luck to all of you in your summer endeavors, and I hope you’ll keep coming back to law:/dev/null next year now that I get to officially keep chronicling this experience :D

Have a great night everybody!

—===—

From the grade-related archives:

  1. Including from classmates who said they were looking forward to tonight’s blog entry — that inflated my ego at least two-fold apiece ;) :D []
  2. To my Duke Law readers, I assure you its absence from the pic isn’t a sign of ill will — since Duke Law is a T14, they’re on the NY page of the report and I didn’t have time to do a Photoshop splicing of the pages together. If you want to know about Duke Law just download the PDF ; []

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6 Comments

idwsj
Jun 9, 2010 at 6:25 PM

That is a terrifying curve. Although I don’t know why the median grade in a curve ever influences people. When you get a “bottom of the curve” grade, it is no more inspiring than if it is dressed up as a D, C, or B. But, alas, psychology works on small scales too, I guess.


 
TDot
Jun 10, 2010 at 2:54 AM

I agree idwsj. The whole median thing reminds me of when countries started abandoning the gold standard — the first one or two to switch to fiat currency got a temporary economic boost, until everyone else did it too. Now the currency itself is essentially meaningless, it’s only the comparative GDP that matters.

I’d be perfectly fine with our strict-C median if it didn’t entail people getting thrown out for falling below the 2.0 :beatup:


 
Va.
Jun 10, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Wow — knew the median was low but didn’t know it was THAT low. How do you think it impacts NCCU grads who are applying for jobs? I know in at least some positions there’s a mental “adjustment” along the basic lines of school rankings typically correlate with lower medians, but I imagine the “adjustment” doesn’t always occur and that it would actually be less generous than the medians would in reality dictate. Plus, there seem to be firm GPA cut-offs for a lot of jobs or programs. I can see how a 3.1 “below-median” student at school A would almost always still beat out a 2.3 “above-median” student at school B based solely on GPA policy, even if the schools and students admitted were comparable. I know some schools don’t want to engage in the inflation-race (and some schools are ridiculously chasing it by offering 4.5s and 4.6s retroactively, as ATL noted about Loyola-LA), but the desire/responsibility for competitive job placement should weigh heavily in the discussion…

Also, how does the mandatory median & academic dismissal policy affect attrition in 2L year or post-3L? It would suck to get booted after a 1-year investment (both in foregone income in another job + student loans + foregone seniority/experience in another job or career disruption) … but after a 2 or 3-year investment? Brutal in all but the most egregious cases.


 

[…] NCCU ‘12 TDot received his final spring grades and reminded all future lawyers to read the directions and then read them again. […]


 
TDot
Jun 11, 2010 at 5:20 PM

@Va: I’m sure there’s at least some impact, but I think it’s diluted a bit by NCCU alums helping new NCCU grads get jobs. It’s that whole “bonding b/c a rough shared experience” thing. We’ve got a decent chunk of our folks ending up in the NLJ250 and clerkships and such, and from what I’ve been told a good number of those were the results of existing NCCU alums in the firms setting a good example and referring new grads for vacancies.

And then of course there are the people like me who will promptly be replacing their GPA with their class rank :beatup:

I know the 2.0 mandatory median is in effect for all required 2L+3L courses (ConLaw, Evidence, DE, etc) but not sure about electives. The dismissal policy is still in effect too — I know at least 1 would-have-been-3L who just got booted.

My assumption is that since 2L/3L years are both completely flexible in terms of scheduling, there’s enough variance in terms of people taking a given course at a given time that few fall below the 2.0 even with the mandatory median in place


 

[…] certain students will not pass certain classes, some will flunk out their first year of law school, and some will not be allowed to continue their legal education. For those students who flunk out, they are left with a year of debt to repay with no increase in […]


 

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