DS went to his firm's Christmas/Holiday party Saturday night at a very nice hotel in the City. As he was the only summer there, he was repeatedly asked the same question: What's up with the hair and beard? After the answer of "Exam time beard, like the playoffs in hockey," the replied question was, "Exams?? You have an offer. What do you care? Just don't fail." DS must admit, he didn't really have an answer for that. All the attorneys freely admitted they did nothing their 3L year. Most of them don't really know why there is a 3L year. DS is not going to propose getting rid of that.
So, he proposes no exams should be required for 3Ls who have attended a large percentage of classes (you can't not go to class and expect not to take a final). If you are a 3L and want to take an exam (grades might still matter to some), that's cool, take one. But if you are like DS, and just want to "P-out" the remainder of law school, study your ass off for the bar, and work, why should you need to take an exam?
Everyone knows law school is more like high school than college. And DS's high school offers seniors the opportunity to skip exams, and take the grade they have on the books, if they have come to a certain amount of classes. The obvious problem with the high school to law school analogy is that in high school you get grades the whole term, or 6-weeks, or whatever. We don't get that in law school. Which is why DS proposes a simple "P" to any 3L that attends 90-95% of classes and has good excuses when not attending. Would professors have to take attendance? No, it's all the honor code. If we can be trusted not to access the hard-drive on our computers during an exam with no one monitoring, we should be able to say we've come to 95% of classes and be believed. The theory is that if you come to class, you are going to pay attention and learn something along the way. Class attendance should be enough to guarantee a 3L a P.
This doesn't mean that you can't take exams. DS is in a class this semester that he thinks is somewhat interesting. If his policy were implemented, he would still take this exam. DS has, like most Boalties, blown off classes he doesn't like or finds useless -- Criminal Law, DS is looking in your direction -- so he can study and try to do well in other classes. As a 3L, he would still study for the classes he finds interesting, and try to do well in those. Thus, his overall exam approach wouldn't change much: Study hard for classes he enjoys, study just enough to get a P in other classes (as a 3L, that "study just enough" would just mean zero studying).
The one big problem with this is the whole Boalt curve thing. 2Ls and 3Ls are graded on the same curve, and if a majority of 3Ls decided not to take the final, this would give a huge advantage to 2Ls, as a large percentage of P's would already be taken up. Two replies: (1) 3Ls don't care now anyway, so perhaps a large percentage of course P's go to 3Ls now, (2) grade 2Ls and 3Ls on a separate curve. He really thinks he's on to something here.
Alternatively, just to show we're not complete slackers here, instead of requiring no exams, require a mimimum of one or two. Meaning, you can't opt out of every final. Maybe you can only opt out of half your finals. So, if you have 4, you have to take two - but you still have to attend 90-95% of classes in the courses in which you opt of their finals.
Another problem is with courses in which the final is a paper. Maybe you'd still have to do those. Papers are important, and they wrap up classes nicely. But they would count toward the "have to take finals in half your courses." So, if you have two paper finals, and two exam finals, you would be required to do the papers, and would get a free P on the exams - as long as you came to the required number of classes. If you had 1 paper final and 3 exam finals, you would be required to do the paper and 1 of the 3 exams.
Labels: Exams, Law School