Tuesday, February 28, 2006

But Why Don't They Send Me the E-Mails

I ask because it's clear why Tom gets paid the big bucks. I just found out from some peeps what all this rankings hub hub is about. Well I didn't get any e-mail from Dean Ortiz or anyone else. I'm going to assume that if you're far enough below on said spreadsheet, they don't even send you the initial E-mail.

I have a feeling this has to do with the fact that I get e-mails directed at 1Ls. As I wrote before: "Am I the only 2L getting the mass e-mails to 1Ls. I mean the last one really pissed me off...it was from Petrine to the 1Ls telling them about the citation test, the one I took after downing beers with Fletcher." Well, how about getting some e-mails about 2L rankings huh? Who do I have to see to actually pass the First Grade?

UPDATE: I want to thank HP and the other staff here at Boalt for holding my hand and walking me out of kindergarten. Seriously, the CDO e-mails about 1L opportunities were getting annoying.

I have a few thoughts on the whole issue of wanting your rankings vs. competitiveness. A commenter wrote, "How does knowing your rank, which only takes into account how you did compared to other people in your classes, tell you about how you are doing from any other perspective than in comparison to your classmates? I have heard several Boalt professors complain that most of their students do very high level work (especially in the first year) but that the curve still requires them to hit many of these students who did good work with the P-stick."

I respectfully dissent. Any measure of performance is meaningless if it is not based on how well you do against your peers. If we were all HH students, then there wouldn't be any need for grades at all. That we are graded on a curve, that we are ranked against each other do not translate to a competitive mindset. I don't mean to be insulting but it almost sounds like this commenter is the type of person who will complain to a professor after getting a 92 on an exam but getting a B because of a curve. Again, the B is far more telling than the 92 and hence why it's not competitive per se to want a meaningful evaluation of one's performance. Will I be banging down Dean Ortiz's door any time soon and asking for my rankings? No.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Armen - I think everyone was supposed to have received the email. Why? Ortiz wrote in it that people have to be "patient" in receiving their ranks because "there are a couple of hundred of you." I doubt that she only will allow the top 200 to know their ranks, but not the bottom 100. That leads me to believe that she meant to inform everyone.

Another possibility is that she sent the boilerplate email to the top 10% or so of the class first without eliminating the boilerplate about "a couple hundred." Maybe she'll send the boilerplate email to the rest of the class later after the top get their ranks.

Alternatively, she only sent it to the top and has NO intention of sending it to the rest of the class right now. She just put in the line about "a couple hundred" to (a) create the crowd-pleasing impression that everyone got it, while (b) trying to lower expectations for those who got it that it's going to take a long time before they get their numbers.

2/28/2006 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright. The way to figure out the problem discussed above is to get testimony from someone with straight P's (or near straight P's). Did they get the email?

2/28/2006 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys do know this e-mail went out to 3Ls as well (I'd say the only ones with any legitimate use for their rankings, unless you are a 2L thinking of applying for one of the few remaining state supreme court clerkships and are thus able to send in a resume containing a rank prior to when current 2Ls can apply for federal clerkships under the hiring plan*), right? So there are as many as 600 e-mails sitting in Dean Ortiz's inbox. She has a spreadsheet, but that's a lot of e-mail, be patient.

*Which brings up an interesting point. The whole point of Boalt is that we don't have grades and don't rank students, the limited exception being for judges who require it. It's supposed to inhibit competitiveness and foster community spirit, what we all say we came to Boalt for, so why are you all now frothing all over yourselves to find out what your ranks are?

2/28/2006 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part 1
Thief!!! Something happened today that I think demands posting. An older man who has been wandering our halls recently stole from a friend of mine. (It’s the old guy who walks stooped over with a twist to his back, and wears an obvious back brace). He removed my friend’s umbrella from his locker. The umbrella was incredibly distinctive. It has a distinctive color pattern, distinctive wear marks, and is a Deloitte & Touche umbrella. When confronted, the old man flat out lied and said that he brought the umbrella from home, but could provide no explanation for why he would own an accounting firm’s umbrella. Moral of the story is beware of this old man. He is a fucking klepto and a liar. Whenever I see him, I am going to have him removed from Boalt.
Part 2 (The More appalling part)
Two Boalt students witnessed the exchange between my friend and the geriatric criminal. These assholes actually had the nerve to criticize my friend for retrieving his umbrella. One suggested that the old fart might have needed it more, not considering the fact that the old guy probably doesn’t have 6 figures of debt. Moreover, having something stolen, whatever its value, is demeaning and creates a deep sense of violation. How dare these self righteous pricks deny my friend the right to make himself whole. One of the pricks actually gave the criminal her own umbrella. Of course she had the right to do it, but it was also a pretentious attempt to shame my friend, the victim, from restoring the status quo. How dare she!!! I submit that Boalt students like these are the caricatures that people use to make fun of Berkeley liberals. These are the people who sue homeowners for negligence when a burglar injures himself. Shame on you.
Since we are law students, I believe this event provides an interesting perspective on notions of justice. Would the pinko assholes have acted differently if they knew my friend had several items stolen from him recently? What if the man had a textbook that belonged to my friend? An iPod? A laptop? To borrow from class: Where is your “bright line rule”?
Many of us have experienced the rage that accompanies having your stuff stolen - on more than one occasion perhaps. Now imagine you are in the exquisitely rare situation where you actually catch the thief red handed – would you not feel obligated to stick up for yourself and demand restitution? Where is the liberal sympathy for a victim who demands justice?
Part 3
If one of the self-righteous slop jockeys above reads this, I want you to know that I am going to spit on the old guy the next 2 times I see him before having him removed. Once for each of you. Cosmic justice I say.
Sorry Armen if this is too long, but it needed to be said.

2/28/2006 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy sh$#. The above post is one of the most inane and insecure self caricatures I have ever seen. How can people like this be allowed free speech - is there no idiot clause?

2/28/2006 10:40 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

I love it. I agree with Part 2 wholeheartedly. Fuck the old man, I was wearing a shirt today as the sky opened up on me while line 51 drivers were in a circle jerk somewhere on university. If anyone needed a D&T umbrella it was me.

Please don't spit on me.

2/28/2006 11:32 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Correction, please don't martinize me.

2/28/2006 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6:21:

As a 2L I have a legitimate interest in knowing my ranking, as it helps me to decide whether to begin going through the motions to apply this fall for clerkships. I want to have a sense of how I compare grade-wise in the eyes of judges.

While I agree that too much competition is bad, you're wrong to assume that "what we all say we came to Boalt for" is cooperation, hand-holding and bla bla bla. I say, and not just sotto voce, that I also came to learn the law, distinguish myself, and get a job. I think some of the people studying in the library late on Friday nights might just concede I've got a point.

We're now past the half-way mark and through the crucible of the 1L year; by this time we should be able to get some sense of our progress, even at the cost of a modicum of touchy-feely Boaltiness.

Seriously, can one person post and say he/she has gotten his/her ranking? Just one?

3/01/2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger Mad.J.D. said...

Can't speak to having gotten my ranking, but I got the email and I am *damn sure* not anywhere near the top 10% of this class.

3/01/2006 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Technically, spitting on someone is a battery right?

How funny would it be if you actually did spit on the man and then these "pinko students" helped prosecute you for assault and battery?

3/01/2006 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has nothing to do with either Armen being held back in first grade or the old, umbrella-stealing bum.
If were not in class around 11:30 today, you missed a bunch of future lawyers diving under their desks like scared little McCarthy era first-graders (yes, Armen, I know you're not *really* a fisrt-grader -- you were just held back).

I was in ALR, and as soon as the second tremor hit, Kathleen Vanden Heuvel ran out of the class room. Why? She went to find out the magnitude and epicenter. Librarians...

USGS reported the earthquake as a whopping 3.6!! WOW! sarcasm

It strikes me as strange that people who can walk around Berkeley after sunset without a Marine Recon squad for protection are so frightened by the ground shaking. Like most people, I dont want chunk of masonry to crush my nogin, but my ego (and my frame) wont allow me to fit under the "tables" in 105.

But, hey, why am I surprised? How can I expect Pattonesque courage from the same pinkos who are too frightened to protect their own property against marauding bums?
Oh, wait, is that a heavy truck rolling down Bancroft? Everybody hide!

3/01/2006 12:05 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

People ducked for that carnival ride? I just reached for the remote to make sure it didn't fall off my bed. Must be the LA thing. Same reason I don't need the Marines (or 18th Street) to protect me at night.

3/01/2006 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to be quick, quick like a puma, to survive in the Bay Area. Given the obvious physical disrepair of our beloved law school, diving under a desk doesn't seem ridiculous at all. See, e.g., Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989).

3/01/2006 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the class rankings: has anyone even gotten word back from Ortiz yet?

3/01/2006 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No class ranking yet here.

And since apparently its okay today to comment on random, unrelated topics, I point to this post about The Simpsons and the First Amendment. http://volokh.com/posts/1141231770.shtml

Armen, this is the ultimate coming together of your two favorite topics (unless there is Simpsons porn, of course). How can you not have blogged on it yet?

3/01/2006 3:05 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Yeah I want to teach a decal on the topic of Simpsons and the Law. Any co-counsel who want to join are welcome to do so. As to why I didn't blog? Well let's just say I'm too busy reading EV's Academic Legal Writing...it's a great gift for Int'l Women's Day.

3/01/2006 3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the old man in the main table are by the locker about 20 minutes ago.

Check your umbrellas folks!

3/01/2006 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a lurking around with a D&T umbrella too. And I've seen him walking past the lockers or wandering the halls at all hours. I'm pretty sure he's the guy you're looking for. I'd go yell at him and accuse him of stealing your stuff if I were you. If he's not the one, no big deal. I'm sure he's stolen something else lately. I think he's a homeless guy who's been hanging around for the last year or two. I'm sure it's the right guy. Oh, and did I mention that he's old. And poor. He also doesn't have a job. He's black too, so he must be guilty of something. Freeloading bastard was limping past Zeb earlier today. I think he's faking it though, like Eddie Murphy did in Trading Places. But he's not funny like Eddie, so there's no point in giving him a taste of the good life. I bet he has just as many sleazy friends as Eddie's character did, though. Vermin. Kick the bastard for me if you see him around. America doesn't have room for people like that.

3/01/2006 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen 6:41 we don't need trash at boalt, and we don't need it in this country.


3/01/2006 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No rank yet. Ortiz, what's the big deal? Send it already. Ask Ed Tom how to train an assistant to send out the emails. : )

This is quite a sexy thread, I must say. It's got class rankings, it's got the umbrella/homeless story, it's got earthquakes. Who could ask for anything more?

BTW, 10:21 AM - nice defense of people who want to know their rank. Boalt has lots of different kinds of people and plenty of competitive types. Boalt doesn't have such a high avarage college GPA for no reason.

3/01/2006 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see why wanting to know your rank makes you "competitive." There's externally competitive, meaning that you want to do well at the expense of other people (e.g., Hastings). And then there's internally competitive, meaning you want to do well for your own sake. I think most people at Boalt are the latter--they want to do well, but it's all internal.

I want to know grades and rank, but only because I want to gauge myself, not becuase I want to know if I'm better or worse than anyone else. What's the problem with that?

And kick poor, old men when you see them. Definitely.

3/02/2006 2:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:31 am:
How does knowing your rank, which only takes into account how you did compared to other people in your classes, tell you about how you are doing from any other perspective than in comparison to your classmates? I have heard several Boalt professors complain that most of their students do very high level work (especially in the first year) but that the curve still requires them to hit many of these students who did good work with the P-stick.
It is very possible that many of your Ps and Hs represent performances that just a sliver better or worse than the performances of classmates who got the opposite grade. Since the sample size of an individual transcript is small, this type of luck could significantly impact your class rank. It would also make your rank a very poor measure of anything about your performance beyond the fact that you have done better/worse than many of your classmates. This is doubly true if you have not yet figured out the trick to taking law school exams or you are one of those people who is a whiz with the peculiar skills needed for exams.
If you want to know if you are doing well or poorly with the material of a particular class, I think it makes more sense to disregard class rank and to ask your professor how you did on your exams and papers. Especially in an environment like Boalt where most people are very smart and hard-working, grades (and thus class rank) mean very little. I think it is safe to say that most people do pretty well, at least in their first year before many people get discouraged by getting a bunch of Ps and/or quit caring once they get a high-paying job lined up.

3/02/2006 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:22, Professors often say that almost everyone does high quality work, and that the curve artificially forces their hand. One must wonder however how much of this sentiment is true, and how much of it is merely for placating their students.

It is far easier for professors to shift the blame from themselves on to the vagaries of a curve. Contrastingly it is very difficult for many of them to look you in the face and tell you that you are just plain incompetent.

3/02/2006 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the post mocking people for getting under desks during yesterday's two small earthquakes during ALR (there was one later, last night, as well): Anyone who lived through the Northridge or Loma Prieta quakes (i.e. most Californians) know that the first couple seconds of a small quake and a big quake feel the same. So you might as well get under the desk. If the quakes kept going for thirty seconds instead of stopping after two, at least you would have had the comfort of feeling superior to the scaredy-cats under the desks while the ceiling tiles fell on your head.

3/02/2006 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't believe the hype. The bottom half of Boalt is okay and the H/P dividing line may be thin, but there's a qualitative difference between the excellence in academic performance of the top and bottom halves of this school. Get professors to talk frankly, and you'll hear that. Other law schools (Yale, Stanford, maybe Harvard) can boast a relatively solid lineup in the class from top-to-bottom. Not here folks. A lot of Boalt students distinguished themselves at Tampa Bay Devil Ray-equivalent colleges before getting here.

Yeah, there's more to being a lawyer and life than academic performance, but don't delude yourself into thinking that Boalt is a school of total rock stars.

3/02/2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger Mad.J.D. said...

3:18 implies that there is a directly proportional relationship between what school one attended as an undergrad and one's rock-star-ness, which seems just a tad overgeneralized. I would ask 3:18 what he/she is even doing here slumming it with a student body comprised of so many academic Devil Rays. All my friends here that went to Ivy League schools report pretty much the same cake walk as any school with the name of a state attached to it. You think going to a name brand undergrad is the chief indicator of being qualified as a law student? Talk about believing the hype! George Bush went to some pretty "good" schools and that guy can barely speak English. Conversely, there are a lot of very talented students here and everywhere else that may have reasons other than plain old inferiority for not having gone to Brown as an undergrad. Your point about there being a legitimate difference bewteen the top of our class and the bottom is well-taken, but have you got any evidence other than where everyone's degrees are from? Anecdotally, I know a few people at Harvard Law School who went to *gasp* public universities. Further, I have worked with some of these people and their relative solidity seems no greater than the relative solidity of people at Boalt. Of course that could be due to their undergraduate educations, and they may have merely fooled Harvard's admissions committee.

Anyone got a ranking yet? As a little experiment for the benefit of 3:18, I propose that people start anonymously posting their rankings alongside their alma maters. Or if that threatens exposure, they could give a false school of roughly equivalent prestige. What do you say? I'm fine with being proven wrong here--I'm just not going to take 3:18's word for it.

3/02/2006 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Talk about believing the hype! The main difference between students at Boalt and Harvard is a few points on the LSAT (and 10k per year). A few points on the LSAT has virtually no impact on class rank. Even the people who make the test will admit it only has a 25% predictive value for first-year grades alone.

I know a lot of people at a lot of top law schools and Boalt students are as smart as students anywhere. Everyone has done very well academically, most (i.e. a much higher proportion than at most other top law schools) have also done extremely well in other areas, and everyone has a pretty good LSAT score to boot (since that seems to be important to you).

I won't even address your assumption that the best people at state schools aren't as good as people at Ivy League schools.

By the way, it is quite funny that you speak so authoritatively about the "top half" and the "bottom half" when you don't have any way of knowing who is in the top half and who is in the bottom half! Your comments are so silly that I am wondering if you are even a Boalt student.

3/02/2006 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to a "name-brand" school and go to Boalt (although I'm not sure what's considered a name-brand school in these parts anymore). I seriously doubt 3:18 is a Boalt student. And I don't think that he/she knows what he/she's talking about -- just stirring up trouble and full of crap. I don't think anyone needs to get so worked up about the silly comments.

Anyway, the top ten students at Boalt will include a bunch of transfer students who went to who-knows-what-law-school last year and kicked ass here this year. Of course, it's nice for the transfer students that they didn't have to deal with the 1L curve. And that they get to choose their own courses. And that they're only judged on one semester. And that lots and lots of 2L's checked out of the race at the start of the year. The point is that the top ten will include folks who not only likely did not go to a "name-brand" undergrad college, but also attended a lower-tier law school last year. And they're totally kicking ass! So take that.

3/02/2006 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok. So I don't go to Boalt. Never said I did. I'm glad I don't.

3/02/2006 8:39 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Here's a representation that I'll firmly stand behind: you're a douche...from top to bottom.

3/02/2006 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is too funny! Who the hell reads a blog about a law school they don't go to and then feels compelled to comment on it?!

3/02/2006 9:14 PM  
Blogger Jungle Cat said...

Excellant burn Armen. I give that a double "z" snap with a whip back.


3/02/2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Internet is full of some strange people. Law students go on weird tirades on random law-related message boards. It's not surprising that some lurk here too. This has happened before.

Way to go Armen with your snap back!

And, now Armen, can you get Ortiz to deliver?

3/02/2006 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Received my ranking notification from Ortiz this morning - it's in percentage format, not numerical rank. That was nice, and perhaps it won't offend those who fear rankings too much. I am glad to receive my ranking and to get a sense of how I am doing in order to prepare to apply for jobs in which that matters. And I feel no shame in being curious about a statistic that virtually every other law student in the United States gets after every semester of their law school expereience.

3/03/2006 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone else get their rank today?

3/03/2006 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the update, I can't follow your logic, Armen. If excellent work is defined as work that is above a certain baseline that marks the beginning of excellentness, I think it is fair to say that any work that is above the baseline (and thus in the realm of excellentness) is excellent.
Forcing profs to slap a P on some of the people who did excellent work is just silly unless you have a hierarchy fetish (see firms like Cravath). Many of the distinctions on law school exams do not represent meaningful differences in peoples' competence with the material but instead come down to who had good luck on test day (i.e. who didn't stay up all night stressed-out about the exam, wh ohad spent some time before the exam thinking about an issue that came up on the exam because of past life experience, etc.) or perhaps, gasp, who was on adderall.
By the way, how is a B more telling than a 92? If the 92 marks excellent work and the B merely marks good work and the person actually got a 92, why not say the person did excellent work? Isn't it possible that more than 10% of the class did excellent work? Especially in law school, where the classes have little relation to practice, this process is just perverse and it is really sad to see the toll it takes on many students, especially the 1Ls. It's hard to comprehend why we want to rank everyone against each other just for the sake of doing it.

3/05/2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

I'm going to let your arguments and mine speak for themselves. I will reiterate that I respectfully dissent. And in my experience with the psych major at ucla, where every class was graded on a curve, the grades almost always corresponded to relative effort. Let me ask you this: if a significant number of your classmates do better work than you, why shouldn't that be noted? Phrased differently, what's the point of noting excellence if excellence is the average?

3/05/2006 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:54. Many people can do excellent work without detracting from each other. The continuum is excellent-good-adequate-acceptable-poor, not excellent-above average-average-below average-poor. I think the curve has gone to Armen's head.

3/06/2006 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you get right down to it, the ranks don't mean much more than people read into them. (Immediate disclosure: I'm an '03 alum who stumbled across this page. I got mostly Ps, but a couple Hs and even an AmJur. Still, I was probably in the lower 50. (I never asked for, nor recieved my rank.))

Here's my experience: school name, grades, and rankings (and other factors) can help get you hired. But for most firms, your 1L grades are what really matter. (It's all that's on your transcript at OCIP.)

Once you actually get out into the legal world, it's about output. Law school is generally not very good preparation for actual practice. In my day job, I don't care what the minority rule is, or the majority rule, for that matter. I just care what the rule is in California (the only state I practice in.) To the extent that Federal law applies, I take that into consideration as well. No matter how interesting a decision of the Supreme Court of New Jersey may be, I can't cite it as authority. In real court, we don't use the Model Penal Code.

That isn't to say that law school is useless - you're learning some skills, like issue-spotting and case reading. But the exam essays are very little like law practice, and moot court is not much like having to stand up in real court and argue on your feet.

While I'm certainly not encouraging anyone to slack off, and I'm not trying to tell you that grades don't matter, in the long run, they aren't that important. You will get a job somewhere, and that job is where you'll learn how to *practice* law. And at that point, you'll dump three-quarters (or more) of law school from your brain, and fill it with new and relevant material (e.g. what real laws say, how to write and file a real brief, how to get up in front of a real judge and argue with a real opponent, etc.)

3/07/2006 7:59 PM  

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