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The wait continues…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 8, 2010 in NotFail

No one’s really sure when the final grades will be posted for 1Ls at the N.C. Central University School of Law. Some 2Ls have told us not to expect anything until June at the earliest, while the professors point us toward the school’s academic calendar requiring grades to be in by May 11 — Tuesday.

Regardless of when those grades come out, I figure I’ll keep up the tradition of post-exam handicapping by giving y’all a rundown of how I think things went :) I’ve also included the final grade I’m hoping for in the course.

  • Civil Procedure II: This was our last final exam and I choked. Or “royally FUBAR’d” to borrow the phrase-ology of a colleague. I felt comfortable about the multiple choice questions, but inexplicably stopped paying attention to the clock and ran out of time before touching 60%ish of the essay… which itself was worth 60%ish of the final exam grade :beatup: My only hope is that there’s a sizable curve on the exam, because otherwise I may come perilously close to having to retake the course. Hoping for: C+.
  • Contracts II: Out of the 18 exams we’ve taken during the 1L year, I’ve never left an exam feeling intellectually drained except with this one. Not to anthropomorphize much, but I felt like I got physically beat by this exam. Summed up my thoughts on it here. I’ll genuinely be content if I just pass. Hoping for: C-.
  • Criminal Law I: This was our first exam, and even though we were given 3 hours I had wrapped up after just 1. Not sure if that meant I knew things really well or really didn’t know things at all, but since the midterm turned out well I’m hoping I replicated that performance on the final. Hoping for: A-.
  • Legal Research & Persuasion: Not sure what to think here. I had a solid A going into the final memo, which was worth 40% of the final grade. But then this happened. So that memo will likely be a lead weight on my final grade. We’ll see what happens… Hoping for: C.
  • Property II: Don’t have a sense for how this exam turned out. It focused on concurrent estates, landlord/tenant items, and easements & covenants. I wasn’t terribly comfortable with the material, but also didn’t feel terribly uncomfortable after the exam. So maybe that’s a good thing. Hoping for: B+.
  • Torts II: In talking with my classmates, there seems to be a consensus that the Torts exam wasn’t as difficult as it could have been. I felt the same way. Downside is that means there’s likely not much curve and it’ll be minor nit-picky things that separate the A’s from the B’s from the C’s. But hopefully I’ll be high enough that this class will be a GPA boost. Hoping for: A-.

So it’s looking like I’ll end my Spring semester with a 2.583 GPA… even lower than the 2.618 from last semester :beatup:

I’m kicking myself particularly because those CivPro and LRP grades were totally avoidable self-inflicted injuries. But at this point what can you do other than pray?

If you’re still taking final exams this coming week, GOOD LUCK!! :D And I hope all of you have a good night :)

—===—

Past grade entries:

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So much for secrecy

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 17, 2010 in The 1L Life

Welcome to the weekend everybody! :D

This is one of those post drafts I mentioned a couple days ago, the ones that were supposed to be done last week before I randomly disappeared. So this is old news for my colleagues at the N.C. Central University School of Law who happen to stop by, and to y’all I apologize.

But I love being right and just couldn’t resist :beatup:

Regular readers here at law:/dev/null know I’ve got a fairly dismissive view of grade secrecy in law school and the whole “omg we’re all competing with each other!” worldview. I’m candid with all of you about my grades (e.g. here and here and here) even though they’re not that great, simply because (1) it’s a better option than wasting time/energy trying to stay secretive, and (2) everyone knows I’m not a top student so I conveniently get excluded from the law school gossip mill ;)

Every 3.0+ student at NCCU

The folks who preferred the secretive approach found out I was right last week, albeit for totally unexpected reasons.

As part of its mission, N.C. Central University — not just the law school but the whole thing — intentionally serves students who otherwise might not be accepted to college elsewhere. Since it takes a “calculated risk” admitting those students, grade inflation is practically non-existent: the “curve” is set at 2.000 in nearly every course of study, and professors will promptly flunk you if your performance is not acceptable.

So it’s probably no surprise there are some Eagle alums in their first year at Harvard Law School, some current NCCU students scoring in the top percentile of all Praxis-takers statewide, and a massive poster touting every student with a GPA above 3.0 in every department.

Yes, you read that right :)

We have an annual Honors Convocation for everyone in honors range, but what many of the 1Ls didn’t know (myself included) is that the Convocation folks also print massive posters for each of the academic buildings on campus. These posters list out everyone currently at the cum laude (3.0-3.29), magna cum laude (3.3-3.49), and summa cum laude (3.5+) levels.

And that includes the law school.

The good students @ NCCU Law

I can’t accurately convey to you in words a week later how much buzz and consternation and gnashing of teeth this poster caused for the 2-3 weeks it was up :crack:

Some folks were upset their names were listed, others were upset that other people’s names were listed, etc etc etc.

Personally I found it all eminently amusing, no doubt partly because everyone knew my name wasn’t going to be on there… but mostly because a number of people who’ve talked big game about their grades have been exposed as frauds by their absence :roll:

So to any pre-Ls looking forward to attending NCCU Law next Fall, let this be a lesson to you: listen to TDot ;) I won’t steer you wrong :D

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Spring ’10 Midterm Grades (or, “@#$% Ks”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 23, 2010 in NotFail

I promised y’all yesterday to post a review of midterms “some time this week,” so I’m getting it knocked out now — with the March UNCASG meeting this Friday-Sunday, I don’t want to risk getting caught up with something and then find people telling me I can’t keep my promises :P

Given my uninspiring performance last semester — seriously botching the final exam in Ks and doing poorly on the finals in both CivPro and Property after acing their respective midterms — I changed my study habits going into the midterm exams this semester.

Gone were the hours and hours and hours of studying with outlines as long as Congressional bills.  Instead I’d study for no more than 1-2 hours the night before, first skimming through the textbook pages we covered on the syllabus and then my class notes; after that, anything I read that was suitable for flash cards got written down and gone over on the drive to class (or in between exams).

As absolutely bass-ackwards as it probably sounds, that process appears to have been far more effective for me learning the material despite spending less time studying :beatup: Not sure if it’s a fluke or not; we’ll see in about a month.

Here’s the class-by-class rundown, alphabetically by subject…

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

Last semester in CivPro was focused predominantly on jurisdiction, notice, etc and this semester is covering the Erie Doctrine and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Most of the class (myself included) seemed to be of the opinion that the midterm could have been much harder… but even so, it was sufficiently difficult that the raw class average was 9 of 20 (e.g. a 45/F).

I missed 1 of the multiple choice questions because I apparently misread one of the cases in the textbook1 but I got the rest, and did fairly well on the essay despite running out of time on part of my Erie analysis.

Expected midterm grade: A-
Actual midterm grade: D+ (raw) / A- (curved)

Synopsis: Can’t complain about the grade, but now there’s so much material to be covered on the final that wasn’t on the midterm that I’m a little worried. We’ll see how it turns out…

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

This was the last grade to get returned to us, we got it late on Friday afternoon, and there was no feedback written anywhere on it — just the essay score on the essay, and our overall score on an index card.

And I did the exact same @#$%ing thing I did on the finals last semester :cry:

After freaking out all weekend over my worst grade to-date in this class, I met with Professor Ks on Monday to go over it. Turns out I only missed 3 multiples (safely above the class average)… the real torpedo to my grade was the essay.

The subject was a breach of contract relating to express and constructive conditions, substantial performance, damages, etc. I hand my essay to Professor Ks to review, and he barely gets past the first paragraph when he goes “I remember this essay, I don’t even have to read the rest. You did a phenomenal job on everything you wrote — you just didn’t talk about constructive conditions at all!”

I take my essay back, certain I had talked about constructive conditions somewhere, and sure enough… nothing. I don’t know if I was just in a zone or what, because unlike last time I even looked back through my essay before turning it in. Constructive conditions were nowhere to be found.

Expected midterm grade: B+
Actual midterm grade: D (raw) / C- (curved)

Synopsis: ::headdesk:: x2

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

The key issue I knew I missed on the essay cost me half a letter grade, but surprisingly I got all the multiples right. w00t.

Someone in the section also got a near-perfect score, so there was essentially no curve to the grades using Professor CrimLaw’s formula.

Expected midterm grade: B
Actual midterm grade: A- (raw) / A- (curved)

Synopsis: Nothing to really say here. Bring on the final exam :)

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

This class replaced Legal Reasoning & Analysis from last semester, and just like LRA the grade is made up from a bunch of assignments throughout the semester (culminating in a legal memo) instead of just a midterm and a final.

Everything has been straightforward so far… it just also hasn’t counted for much of anything :beatup:

Expected grade to-date: A
Actual grades to-date: A (exercises), A (BlueBook quiz #1), A- (BlueBook quiz #2)

Synopsis: Still have ~70% of this class to go… ::sigh::

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

Property II midterm raw grade distribution

This was our first exam, and honestly I can’t remember what was on it :beatup: Apparently no one else in the class did either because the grades were pretty bad. I put together a chart of raw scores at the right.

The Traveling Professor historically never curves, but I know at least 1 classmate who also got a grade in the A/A- range so my guess is grades were so bad she had to curve at least a little bit.

Expected midterm grade: A-
Actual midterm grade: A- (curved?)

Synopsis: Love the professor. Love the TAs. Hate the material :beatup:

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

Torts is proof that lucky guessing can pay off :spin:

I knew I got at least 1 multiple wrong right after I turned in the exam, but amazingly I didn’t miss much beyond that. The class average was 7 out of 15 — we had 6 A’s after the curve, 6 B’s, 24 C’s, and 18 in the D/F range. Somehow by the grace of God I had the top score and got to ride the curve.

Expected midterm grade: B-
Actual midterm grade: B- (raw) / A (curved)

Synopsis: This exam was intense. Hopefully the final will be at least somewhat easier.

====================
FINAL SCORE: SPRING 2010 MIDTERMS
====================

Expected Semester GPA to-date: 3.311
Actual Semester GPA to-date: 3.511 (Law school median: 2.000)

*****

So that’s the rundown through the first half of 1L Spring :) Need to avoid a repeat of last semester — doing well midway through and screwing up at the end — but so far I’m feeling pretty good :D

Heading back to the law school to give a speech for my SBA Treasurer candidacy, then to the gym for a 1L/3L basketball game! :) Forgot to mention that yesterday — the 1Ls beat the 2Ls in the annual 1L/2L game, on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Wish us luck, and have a great night!! :D

—===—

From the archives:

  1. Relating to pay discrimination against women and what minimum contents were needed in the complaint to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss — apparently I read a dissent thinking it was the Court’s opinion instead :beatup: []

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Fall ’09 Grades: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugh-ly

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 26, 2010 in NotFail

An anthropomorphic analysis of 1L Fall

::headdesk::

If I had to pick 1 word to describe my 1L Fall semester, that’d be the one :beatup:

Even though NCCU Law takes pride in sticking with its strict-C curve, I figured things couldn’t get that bad.  Between midterms going well and studying my socks off for finals, surely the 3.0 GPA I want wasn’t unrealistic, right?

::headdesk::

So with several of my law school colleagues last week posting their own tales of joy, not-quite-joy, and not-quite-anything-yet, here’s my own report card for the 1L fall semester.

====================
LEGAL REASONING & ANALYSIS
====================

My grades were erratic, my distaste emphatic, and my mood post-completion? Ecstatic.

The only positive thing I can say about this class is that it’s over.

Grade at midterm: C+
Expected grade pre-memo: C
Actual grade post-memo: C

Synopsis: No surprises here. I hated this class and thought the material we were taught was completely useless… a point publicly echoed by at least one of the other professors. Hopefully Legal Research & Persuasion will be better.

====================
CIVIL PROCEDURE I
====================

This was hands-down my best class of the semester, and the grade still hurt.

After thinking I nearly failed the final, the curve boosted my exam grade by 22 points. Combining that with the midterm grade I ended up with a B+ overall… an unfortunate (and painful) 0.5 points away from an A- :mad:

I jokingly emailed MDG asking if I could successfully argue for that half-point. His 2-word response: “LOL. no.”

Midterm exam: A
Final exam: B
Expected grade pre-final: A
Actual grade post-final: B+ (0.5 points away from an A- :beatup: )

Synopsis: Still kicking myself a month later for being so close and blowing it. This is still my favorite class, and I’m determined to do better this semester.

====================
CONTRACTS I
====================

Ever heard the phrase “like an albatross around your neck”? Instead of thinking about the Mariner and an actual albatross, think more like my GPA and good ol’ Contracts :beatup:

I got the grade for this class a few days before the final exams were returned, and even though I figured I got thoroughly mauled minutes after finishing… I didn’t think it would turn out as bad as it did. I went to talk with the Professor about the exam, and the conversation went something like this:

TDot: Professor Ks, I was wondering if I could talk with you about my exam.
Prof. Ks: Sure TDot. What’s your exam number?
TDot: [####]
Prof. Ks: ::flipping through Scantron report:: Hmmm. You did better than the class average on the multiples, so that must mean your essay…
TDot: (in unison) …must have been really bad…
Prof. Ks: (in unison) …must have been really bad.

At this point Prof. Ks starts flipping through a stack of essays.

He goes through the 70s… and keeps going.

Goes through 60s… and keeps going.

Goes through 50s… and keeps going.

Finally he pulls one from a stack of 40s, flips through it, pulls up his Excel gradesheet, and goes “Ohhhhh yeah I remember this one”… not a good sign

Prof. Ks: So this spreadsheet is my rubric where I break everything down, so we’re going to go through it section by section and hopefully you’ll see what you missed.
TDot: OK.
Prof. Ks: ::points at essay:: You mention here that you’re going to talk about promissory estoppel. Show me where you actually talked about promissory estoppel.
TDot: ::flips pages::   ::blank stare::
Prof. Ks: Exactly. OK so here ::points:: you mention that you’re going to talk about fraud in the inducement of the contract. Show me where you actually talked about fraud in the inducement.
TDot: ::flips pages::  ::blank stare::
Prof. Ks: Yep. And then ::points:: here you mention needing to analyze which meaning of [term in contract] should apply. Show me where…
TDot: [expletive]

The conversation shifted to ways I could improve this upcoming semester, but basically I totally FUBAR’d the essay by not re-reading my material closer before turning it in. Maybe it’s time I start overanalyzing after all…

Midterm exam: B
Final exam: D+
Expected grade pre-final: B
Actual grade post-final: C-

Synopsis: ::headdesk::

====================
TORTS I
====================

Nothing much to say here. I came in needing a strong final exam to counteract a disastrous midterm and I got it.

Torts Final Exam Scores

Just like the Contracts final though, there were some really obvious blunders that I should have noticed — for example, detailing the differences between the local, same-or-similar, and national standards of care without ever discussing which standard would apply in the jurisdiction contained in the hypo :beatup:

But after coming off that C+ on the midterm, I’m more than happy with what I got.

On an unrelated note, one of the cool things about Professor Torts is that she provides statistics for her exam scores. Her essays are “auto-curved” (she picks the best one and grades all the others against that top essay) but the multiples are raw, so graphing the final scores you can tell by the trendline that folks really stepped up their studying between midterms and finals — compare the chart at the right to the graph from midterms.

Midterm exam: C+
Final exam: B+
Expected grade pre-final: B
Actual grade post-final: B

Synopsis: Recovered nicely from the midterm, now getting ready to (hopefully) breeze through Round 2.

====================
PROPERTY I
====================

Basically the same thing that happened with Civil Procedure happened with Property.

Same issues on the essay too, e.g. detailing the factors affecting a Statute of Limitations calculation without actually analyzing what the SOL would ultimately be for that particular segment of the hypo.

So after nailing the midterm, I ended up with a mid-range B on the final — and keeping the A’s out of reach as a final grade.

Midterm exam: A (and in Top 3)
Final exam: B
Expected grade pre-final: A-
Actual grade post-final: B+

Synopsis: This one hurt, though not as bad as CivPro. I’m already lost in Property II with all the concurrent estates discussion but hopefully I’ll be back on track by midterms.

====================
FINAL SCORE: FALL 2009
====================
Expected Fall GPA: 3.071
Actual Fall GPA: 2.619
T1-inflation-adjusted Fall GPA1: 3.833

—===—

So that’s the rundown :beatup:

I know it could be much worse and I’m not in a position to complain — after all, I already know at least 1 classmate who’s dropped out as a result of their midterm grades, and another 3 who are on their way out at the end of the year without a miraculous turnaround.

But even with my good fortune, it’s frustrating having to explain to Nan that even though my undergraduate and professional GPAs are only a few hundredths of a point apart, the former meant I was in the bottom third of my class while the latter means I’m safely in the top third.

And it’s almost equally difficult to accept that I can’t really freak out about my grades and overhaul my study habits, because I objectively learned+recalled the material. Yet at the same time I can’t not freak out about them, because had I done comparably sloppy work in actual practice I’d likely be facing a malpractice claim and a grievance filed with my former employer.

Sooooo… yeah.

::headdesk::

Here’s hoping 1L Spring brings some improvement… along with warmer weather ;)

Off to bed so I can be up for Ks on time in the morning. Have a great night folks! :D

  1. JUST KIDDING! I don’t seriously inflation-adjust my grades, and I know the academic environment is different, “the students here are better” (allegedly), blah blah blah — I just put this in to antagonize my friends at UNCCH Law :* []

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TDot’s Mailbag v4.0

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 21, 2010 in Mail

After Torts today I let myself get convinced by Rico to stick with my exercise routine for the New Year and go for a run outside… even though it’s only around 37ºF and raining. I couldn’t feel my fingers after the first mile :beatup: They’re still defrosting, so I figure today’s as good a day as any to answer some mail since there’s plenty of point-click-copy-paste involved ;)

And yes I know it’s literally been months since I answered reader mail here at law:/dev/null… but that’s mostly due to the fact it’s literally been months since I got any reader mail :P

A few of the recent entries must have triggered some latent inquisitiveness from a handful of folks though, because the inbox got e-bombed over the last week :) I figured I need to answer them before folks lose faith in my responsiveness ;)

So here are your questions… well… answered :D

***

Q: Liz asks in response to a post I linked off the Kilpatrick-Stockton update, where I mentioned disliking BigLaw:

What really made you dislike BigLaw? You seem to be a workaholic, so the workload argument seems like an excuse.

A: It’s no excuse, I promise you that :)  Am I a workaholic? Maybe. But there’s 1 key difference between when I was a BigLaw paralegal and what I do now: I actually enjoy it ;)

Law school has been an adventure and I’ve been privileged to meet some amazing people, and running UNCASG gives me an opportunity to improve the lives of 215K+ students here in North Carolina. Compare that to law firm life, which consisted mostly of attorneys giving me things a couple hours/days before deadline or the partner I worked for deciding he needed yet another weeklong vacation and wanted me chained to my desk in case anything happened in his absence.

With law school and ASG, working during a holiday is something I do by choice; with BigLaw, it was a mandated part of my job. I’ll take the former over the latter 7 days a week :D

***

Q: Clarence wants insight into the Kilpatrick-Stockton post itself:

I thought it was interesting 2 of the top 4 K-S finalists were T4 schools. Any theories on that?

A: I’ve got plenty of theories, I just can’t guarantee any of them are valid ;)

The first thing that comes to mind is the fact it’s a North Carolina-based competition, and a majority of the state’s law schools are in the lower ranks.  In the latest edition of the US News rankings, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest are all now in Tier 1; Campbell and NCCU Law are both Tier 4; while Elon and Charlotte both only have provisional accreditation and can therefore functionally be treated as Tier 4. So even though the bulk of teams came from UNCCH and Duke, the natural odds of the 4 finalists including a pair of T4 schools are non-trivial.

There’s probably a cultural aspect to it as well. At least here in North Carolina, NCCU Law and Campbell Law both have well-earned reputations for producing high-quality trial attorneys and judges, and that legacy is worked into things like the aggressiveness of the Socratic method in 1L classes. The T1s by contrast have a reputation geared more toward BigLaw, international affairs, research and teaching; anecdotal evidence from friends at those neighboring schools is that classes are a challenge, but not intensely so.

Running with the cultural theme — and at the risk of getting shot by my T1 colleagues — I wouldn’t be surprised if the curve plays an impact too. Both Duke’s median and UNCCH’s median are set at 3.33 (B+), while Wake Forest sets theirs at 3.00 (B).  The T4 schools set their medians far lower, with Campbell’s median around 75 (C+) on their numeric system, and NCCU Law standing by its strict-C curve at 2.00 (and capping a course grade at A versus A+ elsewhere).

Most employers know that curves are set all over the place at different schools, which is why class rank is so important to landing a job rather than GPA. But for the chronic overachievers who go to law school, there is a fundamental shock to the psyche when a “good” semester is full of B-‘s or B’s compared to your fellow 1Ls at neighboring schools banking straight A’s.

Combine those latter two points — reputation and curves — and what you get are 1Ls who feel like underdogs compared to their peers, with a hunger to “show up and show out.”  That’s basically what happened at the Kilpatrick-Stockton competition this year IMO (at least I know that’s what we did :D )

***

Q: Courtney expresses faux concern over the lack of structure we’ve had here since 1L Fall came to an end:

What happened to Tweet-sized Tuesdays and the Friday Drive-by??

A: The lack of structure that comes with winter break :P

Not sure what the future of Tweet-sized Tuesdays will be.  They were created last semester because the schedule for my section looked like a camel hump, with 5 classes on Wednesdays — that meant Tuesday nights spent studying instead of blogging.  This semester has the pain spread throughout the week. I’ll have a better idea as we get closer to midterms if I need to curtail the time spent writing here and bring Tweet-sized Tuesdays back ;)

As for the Friday Drive-by, that’ll be resuming at some point here in the next few weeks :)

***

Q: Michelle wants the rest of this story:

How did that CivPro exam turn out?

A: There was a 22-point curve, so even though I almost failed I didn’t do too badly :)  I’ll post a full rundown of my 1L Fall grades at some point over the next couple days.

—===—

That’s it for this edition :) If you have a question you want me to answer, send an email to tdot [at] lawdevnull.com or hit me up on Facebook!

Have a great night everybody! :D

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The beginning of the end of the beginning :)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 30, 2009 in The 1L Life

You don’t have to look very far in the blawgosphere to know it’s final exam time. My first foray into the last exams of my first semester at the N.C. Central School of Law starts in just under 36 hours with Property I.

I’ll try to keep posting regularly throughout finals, but the classmates are studying hard to master the material and I need to do the same so I don’t end up too far down the curve.

To all the fellow 1Ls across the country: remember what things were like during orientation and all the stuff we didn’t know? Now imagine what it’ll be like 2.5 years from now when we’re studying for the bar exam :beatup:

Good luck to all of you! :D

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Midterm postmortem

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 28, 2009 in NotFail

Given the lengthy class schedule on Wednesdays, blogging on law:/dev/null usually takes a back seat to reading for LRA, CivPro, Property and Torts — hence the birth of Tweet-sized Tuesdays.  But Property was canceled yesterday so the Traveling Professor could evaluate some of the lower-ranking faculty members, giving me an extra hour and 15 minutes to give y’all something more than 140 characters to read…

…which instead morphed into an opportunity to watch a L&O:SVU marathon instead of blogging :D  So you’re getting yesterday’s post today :beatup:

Since the last two midterm grades got returned to 1Ls on Monday, several of my former colleagues at NCSU and a couple fellow 1L blawgers wanted a quick rundown on how things went.

====================
TDOT’S STANDARDS OF GRADE REVIEW
====================

But before getting into those results, I figured I should clue y’all in on the 3 basic standards I’m using for evaluating my grades in law school — which in turn determine how much stress I’m willing to tolerate in getting future grades ;)

  • The Nan Standard: This is the highest standard, applied by a minority of jurisdictions — namely my grandparents. Nan & Pops remember that I actually used to be a good student back in elementary / middle / high school, so they expect nothing less than perfection in law school.  Getting a B is unacceptable when you could get an A — and getting an A is unacceptable when you could get an A+.
  • The Teachers-Who-Know-TDot Standard: This is the opposite of the Nan Standard, applied by the (predominantly Computer Science) faculty who helped push me across the undergraduate finish line. While a few may have convinced themselves I’m a good student, these folks are realists — they’re happy as long as my grades are high enough for me to graduate.
  • The TDot Standard: The TDot Standard is a hybrid applied by the only jurisdiction that matters (me). Setting C- as a minimum and striving for an A+, this is an expectations-based standard — any grade in between the floor and ceiling is acceptable, as long as I’m fairly certain my grade is going to be around that range when I leave a test ;)

So keeping these standards in mind, how did midterms turn out? The professors are happy, the grandparents aren’t, and despite performing marginally better than I expected I’m kicking myself for missing easy points.

On to the actual classes…

====================
LEGAL REASONING & ANALYSIS
====================

Even though we didn’t have an exam in LRA, I didn’t want you loyal readers to feel cheated by me leaving out any mention of the class I loathe the most. LRA is the single most-useless class offered at the N.C. Central University School of Law, in large measure because the grading is gratuitously arbitrary and the concepts taught are of minimal utility. Every single 2L and 3L I’ve talked to has said essentially the same thing — they hated LRA, it was their worst grade in 1L year, LRP will be much better next semester, etc.

At least I know I’ll be in good company, because my grades in LRA thus far are all over the map.  LRA grades aren’t exam-based; instead, 5 assignments worth 10% each occur at roughly 1.5 week intervals, and the remaining 50% is based on drafting a legal memorandum at the end of the semester. So I’ve gone from a B one week to a D the next, on assignments that aren’t so substantially different as to merit the huge grade swings.

Grades thus far: A-, B+, D, B-, D+
Current average: C+ (raw)

Synopsis: I’ve pretty much given up hope in this class, though crossing my fingers there will be a curve of some kind. I just want to get this legal memorandum assigned so I can finish it, wash my hands of this class, and focus on the other courses.

====================
CIVIL PROCEDURE I
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CivPro was the first midterm in the series, and the night before the test Madame Prosecutor was kind enough to smack me upside the head with the sheer breadth of stuff I still didn’t know.  Between arguing with her and going through flashcards with Q.T. for a couple hours, the post-exam expectations ranged from supreme confidence that I knocked it out of the park to abject horror that I failed.

Luckily the former expectation was more accurate. I was 7 for 7 on the multiple choice questions and did fairly well on the essay — an analysis of supplemental jurisdiction, pendant claims, and (what I thought was a minor point) a couple motions to dismiss. I lost a boatload of points for not distinguishing the types of motions (12(b)(1) on lack of subject matter jurisdiction versus a 12(b)(6) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted), which led to bleeding more points throughout the essay in various sections.  But I wasn’t alone: the class average was 4.3 out of 7 multiple choice questions, and 4.9 from 13 points on the essay.

Expected grade: B+
Actual grade: C (raw), A (curved)

Synopsis: I love this class. It’s not easy, but it’s cool and the debates about jurisdiction have been engaging. Hoping I can keep up for the last 5 weeks.

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CONTRACTS I
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Contracts is our only class on Thursdays, so naturally it was our only Thursday midterm. Although I’ve kept up with the readings and felt like I understood the material, I had a sinking feeling when I left that I botched the test. How did I know? We’re allowed to use our supplement containing the UCC on the midterm, and I spent far more time than I should have reading through it (to the point where I almost ran out of time on the essay).

My misgivings were right, but for the wrong reasons. Turns out I only got 7 of the 10 multiples — but the multiples I missed were the first 3 (aka the easiest ones). In reviewing them in class yesterday, I misread the answer I picked for Question #1… and the answer you provide on Q1 was the basis for the answers on Q2 and Q3. So I basically gave away 15 raw points for not paying enough attention.

Expected grade: C
Actual grade: C- (raw), B (curved)

Synopsis: Need to work harder here. I wouldn’t care as much if I had fumbled the harder multiple choice questions, but knowing I gave away the equivalent of a full letter grade on a totally incompetent mistake really frosts my Wheaties…

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TORTS I
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After CivPro, Torts is my 2nd favorite class so far. We had midterms here and in Property on the same day and there was a lot of material to study, but Torts seems particularly well-suited to studying via flashcards (intentional torts, elements, defenses, etc).

Percentage and trendline of Torts midterm grades

Percentage and trendline of Torts midterm grades

I knew this stuff backwards and forwards.

But then I made a rookie mistake of not watching the clock during the midterm, running out of time before I touched 2/3 of the essay (which was worth 50% of the grade)… and that 2/3 happened to have more points per element than the 1/3 I covered.

Sure enough, this was by far my most dismal grade and the overwhelming bulk of points lost were on the essay. I consider it a blessing that Professor Torts gave me the grade she did.

Expected grade: D-
Actual grade: C+ (multiples raw + essay curved)

Synopsis: The clock is my enemy in this class. Hopefully with the 3 hours we’re given for the final everything will be fine.

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PROPERTY I
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This was our last midterm for the week, and we were given a last-minute surprise — no multiple choice questions. Turns out a professor in another section had accidentally posted the exam multiples on TWEN instead of the set of practice multiples they intended, so to keep things fair 100% of the midterm grade was on the essay results.

And it just so happened the essay topic was on adverse possession, the one area I had studied incessantly to make sure I got it right. After leaving the midterm I knew I had destroyed it so thoroughly that I was worried the essay would file suit for conversion :D

I snagged the A that I wanted, and was given the unexpected bonus of having one of the top 3 “model” responses in the section. w00t.

Expected grade: A
Actual grade: A (and in Top 3)

Synopsis: If I can keep track of all the defeasible estates terminology we’re going through now, I should be able to totally dominate the final.

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Current GPA so far through midterms: 3.07

About 5 weeks to go until finals, and a lot more work to do until then. We’ll see how it goes :)

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