Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quick Notes From Dean Edley 3L Town Hall

- Edley and Shelanski were unwilling to talk about the drop in bar passage rates, claiming it is due to "very unfortunate circumstances," and that they will tell the student body when they find out the reasons.

- Edley & Shelanski: Class registration times are NOT based on your student ID number despite anecdotal evidence to the opposite.

- Ortiz and BarBri have been passing the buck back and forth over morning BarBri classes at Boalt. Stay tuned.

- Shelanski: Professors have absolute discretion over whether or not they post their teaching evaluations. Take home message: if someone doesn't have his or her evals posted, assume that professor sucks and received terrible evaluations.

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Please add your observations and thoughts in the comments.

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58 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wrap-up for those of us who couldn't make it.

Obversation #1: "Shelanski," not "Shelansky."

Observation #2: The course/prof eval situation is reprehensible. We provide substantive comments on our feedback forms. Why aren't those shared? And it's true that the only reason profs won't share their teaching evals is because they were less than favorable. See, e.g., Volpp, Schwartz, and Talley

1/24/2008 2:00 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

Thanks! I fixed the spelling.

Shelanski explained that the evals weren't shared because of a state privacy law - not a Boalt policy. A possible solution would be for students to use their own evaluation system like ratemyprofessor.com or a perpetual thread here on N&B.

1/24/2008 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, thanks for the wrap-up.

Question: They know the bar passage drop was due to circumstances were "very unfortunate" but they don't know the reasons? How about telling us the circumstances? Is it because they hope the concern will go away later (like, after July when everybody passes?).

Or, how about y'all bar-takers '07 tell us bar-takers '08/'09/'10 what those mysterious "circumstances" are: why do YOU think the bar passage rate slumped? I realize this has been discussed a bit already, but I still don't understand what happened.

Has anybody ever emailed Schwartz/Talley/Volpp and asked why they don't post their evaluations? (I confess, I don't quite have the courage to do that with my professors.) Would a statement from the professor explaining his/her rationale in lieu of the evaluations be an appropriate compromise?

Finally, do you think the evaluations would actually IMPROVE if the narratives were made public? There is no incentive to pull punches with anonymous private communication.

Oh, and how do we know our evaluations ARE anonymous? They are undoubtedly tagged with our SID (that's how they know we completed them).

1/24/2008 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Observation #1: I'm awfully skeptical of their denying the student ID/class registration time connection. For six semesters now, every time I check in with the same 10 to 15 people, those with lower numbers have gone first. Without exception. Maybe that's "anecdotal," but it feels pretty compelling to me.

But maybe a more enterprising 1L or 2L with more invested in this now can figure out a way to take a larger sample. Or maybe DE or the registar could explain exactly how they DO assign reg times. Cuz it sure did suck having a lousy registration time EVERY semester.

1/24/2008 2:20 PM  
Blogger Isaac said...

The teaching evaluation issue is interesting. As I see it there are actually two problems here. The first is the absence of some data. More important, in my mind, is that the available data is close to meaningless because of sample size, self-selection among responders and non-responders, the lack of any standardizing criteria, self-selection among enrollees in each course, the anomalous times of year in which the data are collected, and the plain fact that teaching "quality" is not easily quantifiable.

Both problems could be fairly easily fixed by students, though probably not at all by the administration (which would face an uphill battle with the faculty to improve disclosure, on the remote chance that this was an issue it cared about). Here is what would be needed: a website like this one where people shared short, pithy, thoughtful reflections on the pedagogy of their professors. If these evaluations were tagged or sorted by year and course, then anyone considering an elective with a given professor could take a look at the recent evaluations, and decide how much to weigh them on the basis of whether the students who wrote them sounded reasonable.

I personally feel such evaluations should be signed, but I realize this might make it harder to solicit some thoughtful (and likely many un-thoughtful) evaluations.

1/24/2008 2:21 PM  
Blogger Isaac said...

Of course, when I say "fixed", I don't mean that this proposal would create reliable quantitative data, but that students could create a base of qualitative data that actually had some meaning. I don't think it would be feasible to create rubrics and control techniques to generate meaningful quantitative data on this subject.

1/24/2008 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another problem with the eval process is tha evals are due before final exams. A final exam is part of a course, and the reasonability of an exam and the professors behavior during the exam period are all factors that should be considered during an evaluation.

1/24/2008 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was the second time I had heard Edley speak in my three years here. My fault, I know. So that means I'm not really familiar with his style, but I was surprised at how everything was a joke with him. But he seemed like a nice guy. I have a new respect for the facilities upgrade plan after hearing him speak about it.

Shelanski gave a really good view on the gymnastics that he goes through to make the class schedule happen - I appreciated his candor, especially on how we can end up with bad adjuncts or how we can end up being taught by an adjunct instead of a prized tenured professor. (and I LOVED the fact that he disclosed that he did not go to class his 3L year). He totally served one student when she complained about her late registration time semester after semester (along the lines of "how's the rest of life workin' out for ya?") - ye-owch!

I felt that people were being unfairly aggressive with Dean O. regarding Bar-Bri. Like she said, it's a private company and in my view, their responsibility to find a room for the $3500/person payees.

Overall, *relatively* straight talk, but I am skeptical that they will get back with us on anything, especially the bad bar numbers. They really didn't want to talk about that.

1/24/2008 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shelanski unwittingly gave what may be the best explanation for the school's abysmal bar-passage rate when he responsed to a student's question about why the rate has plummeted by saying (while practically physically recoiling from the question) "That's not an instructional issue."

Not an instructional issue? Excuse me? What, exactly, is the school teaching, if not how to jump the final hurdle before lawyerdom? It's precisely an "instructional issue."

It's exactly this attitude -- we are Elite Legal Institution, and therefore shall deign to actually teach the law -- that infuriates those of us who came her to. . I don't know, learn the law. It's also a prescription for terrible bar passage rates.

1/24/2008 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mean to thread-jack, but speaking of Dean O. and BarBri, she mentioned at the meeting this week that she recommends taking the PMBR course as well as BarBri. Is anyone planning on doing this (or for those who've graduated, did you do it?)? I hadn't planned on doing this before she said something, as I thought that course was just a BarBri competitor. Thanks.

1/24/2008 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of UCLA's prof evals (including substantive comments) are publicly available. If one UC can do it, I'm not sure why another couldn't.

I also agree that you shouldn't expect to learn the law you need to pass the bar in law school. Bar law = law that does not exist in any real jurisdiction (essentially, the majority rule for most issues, but in an overly simplified, inaccurate form). It's unfortunately something you have to learn for the test, but it sure as hell isn't something Boalt should be teaching, and it really isn't the role of a top law school to teach to the bar. Everyone here is smart enough to learn it in six weeks after they graduate. Spend your time here wrestling with more meaningful issues.

1/24/2008 9:36 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

9:36, I've been away from UCLA for a few years now, but when I was there, the students used www.uclaprofessors.com to rate the profs. It was fairly comprehensive. I mean we still filled out the course evals and all that bull shit, but everyone picked their classes based on the website, and even more, a lot of students provided their input on the website, so it was pretty reliable.

That said, the website was sponsored with USAC funds. BHSA, I'm looking in your direction. What's the matter? Not enough markup on textbooks? No techies at Boalt to do the programing?

1/24/2008 9:47 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

Where's Shawn Bayern when you need him???

1/24/2008 9:58 PM  
Blogger Callagy said...

8:08--
I did PMBR 3-day review in July. Big waste of time and money. They have written a practice exam which is the hardest thing in the world and scares everyone who takes it shitless. Then, they can claim that when your MBE raw score jumps from 95 on their practice exam to 130 in the actual MBE, they have taught you all kinds of things!

But on the other hand, this past July a lot of people thought the MBE was very, very difficult. I didn't. So maybe PMBR helps by raising your pain threshhold and reminding you that you can work your way through hard questions and finish in time.

Sorry to be equivocal, but are bigger lessons. (1) There is no silver bullet when it comes to passing the bar. (2) Everyone has different needs, strengths, etc. (3) If you want the benefit of PMBR without the absurd price, find an alum to, er, donate the materials--PMBR's seminar adds nothing substantive to what they give you in print. Try my blogger name at berkeley.

1/25/2008 6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as for failing the bar, which I did. i know a number of boalt people who just barely missed. which suggests that a lot of people just barely made it over the line. to me this says do everything to make up for the past three years you spent not studying the law.

how can usf beat us? well, they didn't spend the past three years being self congratulatory about how brilliant and privileged they were for being at Boalt Hall. they also didn't spend three years doing adminstrative tasks at school that most other schools have administrative staff to handle.

Rather, USF students were learning the law, and how to take exams, as well as they could to try and finish at the top of their class. They were not simply trying to P-out. Further, they were taking classes on how to take the bar exam. While Boalt may be worlds away from our sister Bay Area schools in terms of USNWR, a few LSAT points doesn't actually make us a different breed of human beings. The bar exam is a beast that should be respected.

so, take the pmbr class at the beginning of the summer. its sort of a waste, but its good to get started. plus the more mbes you see, the better you get. the pmbr class at the end of the summer is a waste that you probably won't go to even if you paid - you'll have better uses of your time at that point.

do practice taking the PT's under timed conditions. it's the timing that makes it hard.

it's probably too late now to sign up for a class this semester that is tested on the bar, but if you can, do it. also, if you can't do that, if might be worth picking up a nutshell on a class you haven't and won't take to familiarize yourself with an area of the law that will be on the bar. Bar Review is supposed to be exactly that. You should be refreshing yourself on law you already know and learning how to take the test. yup, that's right, just like you had to learn how to take the LSAT, you need to learn how to take the bar exam. you should not betrying to learn a bunch of law too.

and most of all, stay sane over the summer. you can't pass the exam if instead you should be locked up at the funny farm because your so stressed out. plus health studies show that while some stress contributes to learning, too much inhibits it. science.

lots of people passed the bar with out doing all of this. if you did brilliantly in law school, you'll probably do brilliantly on the bar. as for the rest of us . .

1/25/2008 7:18 AM  
Blogger Disco Stu said...

1/24 -- 9:36 PM: I agree that Boalt shouldn't teach to the Bar, exclusively. But what's the point of going to law school to learn meaningful issues if, once you graduate, you have to pass a test to get paid for working on meaningful issues. It's a fine line, but if you can't pass the Bar, you can't apply what you learned in law school.

Thus, while I don't think all bar subjects be taught at Boalt (especially because this year's Bar only asked about six subjects anyway), something should be done to teach us about what the bar examiners are looking for. A semester-long elective split between the performance test and how to write a bar-perfect essay would be extremely useful. No need to include the MBE, it's just memorization.

In summary, wait until you've studied for and taken the bar then tell us alumni you were completely satisfied with Boalt's legal education.

1/25/2008 9:25 AM  
Anonymous VoR said...

Regarding the bar passage rates, the bottom line is the Boalt needs to get its act together. The statistics do not show a fluke- our numbers are consistently decreasing. Not only are individuals struggling, but the falling rates will hammer the school in terms of national “ranking,” thereby decreasing the value of a Boalt degree for everyone. This situation is unacceptable.

Shelanski did recoil when asked about the issue. His “that’s not an instructional issue” excuse is ridiculous. I was certain we would hear something about a new emphasis on legal rules, or bar courses, etc. But Shelanski passed the buck, “to be addressed in a later meeting, maybe.”

The truth behind his reaction is that the faculty and administration are up-in-arms about what is going on here. When Shelanski says it is not an instructional issue, he is echoing the words of many other profs- it’s an admissions issue.

The truth is that it’s both. Dean Edley’s de-emphasis on LSAT scores is noble; he wants to open the gates of a T10 school to students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Statistically, these groups have slightly lower LSATs, arguably because a lack of private education, special LSAT classes, etc. The trouble is that statistics show LSAT scores correlate directly to bar passage rates (and, by the way, law school grades). Hence Boalt’s faculty point to the admissions process and the falling passage rates and see the problem as one of admissions. Did you guys here Dean Edley’s response to this point? “I don’t understand it; the faculty are also saying we have the best student body in years.” And he’s probably right.

So can Boalt have its cake and eat it too? Probably, but they need to create institutional structures to prepare people for the bar. I don’t know if that means special classes, or a mandatory seminar on essay writing, etc. But for the sake of the students struggling here, for the sake of the schools reputation, they better get it together, asap.

1/25/2008 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience students who fail the bar are students who either (1) have test anxiety and don't know how to overcome that or (2) don't take it seriously enough. Of course, some students fail for other reasons.

The one thing that I think Boalt contributes to having a lower passage rate is simply the relaxed nature of the school-- that leads many people to then take the bar with that same approach. Bad idea.

1/25/2008 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank god Boalt doesn't spend 3 years preparing us for the bar! How boring.

Sometimes a school like Boalt needs a year or two with a lower pass rate to remind everyone the bar isn't a gimme. Hell, I'm a 3L, and I guarantee I'll study harder this summer than if Boalt had a pass rate of 95 percent this past summer. So thanks for the wake-up call. Hopefully the pass rate will make a turn-around now, not because the current 3Ls are smarter (we're certainly not) but because we all need to be reminded that the bar is HARD!

1/25/2008 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a summer '07 bar taker, I agree w/ 2:02.

There are plenty of other schools for those of you who want "bar law" spelled out to you during what might otherwise be a more meaningful three years of learning more relevant material and addressing more realistic legal problems.

I don't think boalt does a good job with the MBE sujbects, not because they don't teach enough bar law (which they don't) but because they just don't teach enough anyway - they digress into philosophical debates between the prof and 1-3 gunners.

But now i digress.

My advice is similar to that above - people, suck it up. Study for the bar. Freaking out doesn't help, just do the material in bar review. 82% is not that dismal. But it does demonstrate that some effort is required.

1/25/2008 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is 2:28 again. I forgot to weigh in on the prof evals. I agree that there is serious bias in these things but the profs that won't even post results just blows me over.

How can they, in good conscience direct and encourage students to fill them out? And then not post them? We do these not just for the profs but for generations of boalties to come. Don't be selfish.

If the answer is that the profs truly believe the evals are for their own professional development and that they are justified in picking and choosing which are valid and which are not, then to them I say - that is some serious denial.

If any profs are out there that have made the decision not to post evals, i'd love to hear the reason.

1/25/2008 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:36 here - re: the bar, I am an alum, I took the bar two years ago, that's why I know that the "law" they teach you for the bar is not real law, and you shouldn't learn it for any purpose but the bar. It was a frustrating summer having to sit through classes on subjects I had learned all the nuances of and being taught totally incorrect oversimplifications to apply on the exam. I honestly wish what little I retained from all my classes wasn't tainted by that experience, the last thing I think you'd want is to have that kind of law taught in class at Boalt. Also, Yale, Stanford, NYU, Virginia, Michigan, etc. all manage to do fine without having bar prep courses as part of their curriculum (Yale, in particular, is notorious for not teaching any black letter law). I really don't think that's the answer here, and I think it would be a detriment to the educational experience. If you really think having more time to study would be helpful, you can always pick up your Bar/Bri materials early and start the last semester of your third year (because you certainly won't have time to get through them all over the summer). But I really think the trick is just to take it seriously, and work hard over the summer, but not to let it take over your life or get stressed out about it, because that can cause more harm than good.

Re: prof evals, I went to UCLA undergrad even before the website Armen mentions, but I know that the law school currently has all of the evals done in class available to anyone, though I'm not sure if they're posted online or you have to physically go to the registrar's office and look through them.

1/25/2008 3:37 PM  
Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

I'm a little late to the Bar passage rate freakout party, but fortunately for you mere mortals, as an alumnus and a deep thinker, I have a plethora of knowledge to drop.

1. The difference between a passage rate of 82% (what Boalt got) and 87% (a less frightening rate) is 10 people. That's not a trend, or a call for major change, that's ten individuals. Who may have gotten food poisoning together or something.

2. The speed with which some commenters raced to blame "minorities" for the problem was nauseating. But racist logic is impressive like that. Of course, it doesn't explain why other schools, even private ones with higher minority representation, did better than Boalt.

3. The snobs matched the racists for strained logic. Again, if Boalt's admission standards are too generous, why did so many schools that are even easier to get into than Boalt do better?

4. Like most of the people I graduated with, I took Bar Bri and the 3 day PMBR class and I passed. The latter may or may not help, but I don't think it hurt, and the price is worth it if it makes you even slightly more confident.

5. Of the small number of my classmates who didn't pass the first time, none were minorities. We're talking about U.S.-born, mayonnaise-eating, full on caucasians. Deal with it, racists.

1/25/2008 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we have a discussion about minorities and affirmative action without calling people who don't agree with you "racist"?

Thanks.

1/25/2008 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in other news, any 1Ls out there totally demoralized by today's results from spring OCIP?

1/25/2008 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:17 STFU you apologist racist!!! why don't you go write another op-ed for john yoo, you torturer!!

1/25/2008 5:26 PM  
Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

4:17 Probably not. Since there were commenters on the original bar passage thread who brought up minorities as the problem, without any indication that there was a correlation between the people who failed the test and minority status, I think the term "racist" applies. Even overused words have meaning. But what do I know, I'm just a humble motherfucker with a bar membership.

1/25/2008 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:17--Come on, lets tell the truth. Nobody on here knows what the LSAT scores of the people of color at Boalt are. Likewise, no one knows if the people of color with high scores failed or passed. Therefore, to say affirmative action (which is illegal at Boalt) is responsible for the bar pass rates to slip is racist. It's racist because it is an assumption which is not based on actual facts.

1/25/2008 5:52 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

1/25/2008 5:00 PM: I have no idea how on earth I should feel! I've never done this before . . .

1/25/2008 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WARNING TO 1L'S DOING SPRING OCIP:

It is demoralizing for everyone. It is in many ways a big hoax. CDO has, yet again, failed to give you a reality check about this process.

Think of it this way: All of these firms just spent a lot of time and money on 2L's all over the country trying to fill up summer classes. Now, they have a few slots left - maybe because they planned for it, maybe because they ended up with a low yield. And so now out they go again to law schools all over the place mining to fill 1 or 2 more slots. So they'll interview 30 Boalties, 30 Stanford kids, and 30 Hastings kids. Then, they may invite 3 or 4 in for more interviews. And 1 or 2 will land a gig.

But fear not: Life changes DRAMATICALLY next fall. I promise.

Now I don't mean to say it's impossible to get a firm gig this summer. Some people will. They will be PhD's, or undergrad engineers, or people who made a couple HH's in their first semester.

It's demoralizing. It might make you think you'll never get a job. But it's not that way. Only for a *very* short time. To CDO's credit, that's at least partly why they encourage you to look away from firms your first summer.

1/25/2008 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to second 6:14PM.

1Ls, please try your best not to worry. When I was a 1L, I did not land a fancy summer job and instead went to a good, but not glamorous placement. It really didn't matter in the end. I ended up in the same 2L summer job at a firm with people who worked for 9th circuit judges, district court judges, fancy law firms. (These folks went to Stanford, Harvard, Hastings, etc.) It certainly didn't affect my offer at the end of the summer.

Also, keep in mind that some people's grades go way up the second semester:)

As for the bar discussion, does anyone have any thoughts on the 3 day PMBR versus the 6 day class? I don't think I can handle the unavoidable overlap w/ barbri at the start of the summer. But is the 3 day class enough?

1/25/2008 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pointing out that a disproportionate number of minorities failed the bar is not racist.

1/25/2008 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:57 and anyone else interested in PMBR....

Here's my take - and it seems consistent w/ others in this thread.

Take the 6-day course, do NOT take the 3-day.

The six day will get you started, it's a crash course on the big 6 MBE subjects and will get you in the habit of long hours of sitting and thinking of nothing but useless crap that happens to be crucially important for two months of your summer). It's good exposure to the subjects, test questions, study habits, tips & tricks, etc.

By the time the three-day rolls around, it will seem like a waste of time and money (I know, I paid for it and didn't take it. And I'm one of many). You will have already done a ka-billion MBE questions of all varieties, and you will have random holes in your knowledge that you could use those three days to eliminate. Think of all the acronyms you could memorize in three days! Or you could lock in the CA/Fed civ-pro distinctions! DON'T USE THESE THREE DAYS TO DO MORE MBEs. The MBE is a crapshoot in any case. Doing 1-2 hundred more won't help you at that point. It will only hurt you. And make you more anxious if your score doesn't improve (mine seemed to decrease steadily throughout the summer and I passed).

In any case, the PMBR folk will remind you of used car salesmen & women. They are shameless. They are bitter and deluded, they run a racket. No joke. But Take it all with a grain of salt because the material you get for signing up for the 6-day is useful and the structure provided at the begining of the summer is, IMHO, necessary.

As for first year jobs. God I do not miss law school. Don't worry about it. Work hard, do something you're at least remotely interested in, work on grades, interview skills, and on the job skills during the next year, you will be ok. I was the person that sent out 250 letters to firms and got one response. And I got the job, but I had 3 offers from non profits lined up. And in retrospect, it really didn't matter which I chose. I'd be in the same place had i done the nonprofit route. Or perhaps even the camp-counselor route. Truly.

1/25/2008 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Diz said...

7:29--it is a racist thing to "point out" if it isn't true. Do you have any support for your assumption?

1/25/2008 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard the same advice regarding 1L firm jobs - CDO and 2Ls saying it's an extreme long shot and you shouldn't bother... and yet everyone I know who tried for a summer firm job got one. Maybe my sample's biased, maybe the economy's tanked, my only advice is to be skeptical of other's advice. Including mine. Don't believe the hype.

1/25/2008 10:17 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/25/2008 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm shocked that people are advocating the 6 day PMBR course. Instead of spending 6 days doing MBE questions I took a week off, took a little trip, came back refreshed for Barbri. Everyone I know who did the 6-day thought it was pointless because you don't know nearly enough "bar law" at that point to actually answer the questions. So basically you just get everything wrong and get discouraged. I suppose there's some value to seeing what questions are like--but you will do thousands of questions during the summer anyway, and PMBR questions look NOTHING like real Bar questions.

As for the 3-day, all they do is give you a test and then read the answers to you from the back of the book. Plus they give you a couple of "strategies," but you can just read those on the "Strategies" page of the PMBR book. Barely anyone even stays for these answer sessions. And the questions are ridiculous and look nothing like real MBE questions.

Here's what you should do: get your hands on PMBR books and take a couple practice tests, and answer questions in those areas where you feel you need more work. That will be a way better use of your time.

1/25/2008 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't take the PMBR classes. I bought the books off Craigslist and the CDs off eBay. I listened to the CDs once, some twice, and I did maybe 500 of the thousands of questions in the books. I thought the CDs were helpful, and I liked seeing the PMBR MBE questions--they "felt" different from the BarBri MBE questions, and I think it was good to not get too used to one method. I am very, very glad I didn't waste even 1 day, let alone 9 days sitting in a classroom having the awful PMBR people make me feel stupid.

I think there's another common reason for failing the bar besides the test anxiety and not taking it seriously reasons mentioned above. BarBri developed their "be a sheep" mantra for a reason--their methods work for a LOT of people. I do not like to fit into educational molds, but after a week of struggling and fighting against BarBri and their ridiculous schedule and the amazingly dull lectures (at least some of them) I finally gave in and just made myself cooperate with BarBri. Go along to get along, so to speak. No way did I keep up with the paced program (did anyone?? I don't believe you.), but I stopped trying to write stuff "my way" and just turned off the "question everything" mentality that had served me well in law school. I'm sure there are people who can successfully study for and pass the bar using their own personal schedule and methods, but I don't think I would have and I'm glad I didn't try.

1/25/2008 11:28 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

I generally have a rule against posting comments while angry, and I probably should heed that rule right now but I've had it up to here with the BS accusations of racism. If ANYONE is ignorant it's those posters who scream racisms anytime race is mentioned. You DO realize you're part of the problem right? And I'm looking squarely at Maxwell and Christine above. Let's take each of your points in turn.

While Maxwell accuses posters of using "racist logic" he simply doesn't use any logic at all. So when you graduated the people that you knew who didn't pass were may loving Caucasian. Great. What does that prove? Not every mayo loving Caucasian passed? Congratulations for stating the obvious. But if you had taken two seconds to look at the bar passage rate for the state overall, you'd see some shocking numbers: (80%, 48%, and 68% bar passage rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics respectively). So while your anecdotal evidence is, well I don't know what it is, but it's certainly not useful.

Next we have Christine. You don't have to prove that your friends are inferior. I'm almost tempted to quote Apu on this one "I don't know which part of that sentence to correct first." Who said anyone is inferior? If you think that an overall lower bar passage rate is a sign of inferiority, that's your prerogative, not mine. You know what I really care about? It's that even the most cursory glance through the bar passage list reveals a GLARING absence of people of color. You can try to dance around it. You can scream loudly that anyone who dares raise the issue is racist. But that really doesn't solve anything. All you're doing is chilling discussion. There are those of us out there, including me, who are disturbed by what we see. You know why? Because they're my classmates and my friends too. I don't give a shit about anyone's skin color. But if that skin color correlates to low bar passage rates, then I start caring. I start caring b/c I actually WANT everyone to be on an equal footing, rather than pretending that everyone is. I don't know what explains discrepancy. But I sure as hell want to find out. The sooner we do, the sooner we can address it. You can't have your cake (have D.O., Shelanski or Edley address the issue) and eat it too (RACISTS!!!!).

Anyone who calls this post racist is a douche. How's that for maturity?

1/26/2008 12:22 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

As long as I'm pissed off, anyone who will be working with a certain firm that rhymes with Ibson Funn, they pay for PMBR. You just have to ask because they won't tell you. I assumed they didn't pay for it and didn't take it. I think I got the better end of the bargain b/c I spent that time doing a crapload of essays. 10:45 has it right. Do the practice questions, and get some sanity.

Also angry comments tend to relieve stress too.

1/26/2008 12:30 AM  
Anonymous maxwelldemon said...

OK, Armen, take a deep breath and read this--several commenters on this blog took the numbers that started the discussion, a lower passage rate FOR BOALT, and decided that minorities were to blame. I haven't seen the racial breakdown of bar passers statewide, and nobody on this blog has provided a link to it. Nor should they, since the discussion centers on how to address the increase in bar failures AMONG BOALT GRADUATES, irrespective of demographics. If you want to start a separate blog positing that "skin color correlates to low bar passage rates" (do freckles help or hurt? Open minds want to know!), then go ahead, and god help anyone who calls you a racist.

1/26/2008 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the comments it seems like some people posting have evidence that a higher percentage of Boalt minorities failed the bar than did non-minority students. If this is the case, then it's something that needs to be discussed. Why is this happening? (if, in fact, it is). Is it something about Boalt? About the UC system?

But before we get to that, it seems people want numbers. Armen, do you have actual percentages for Boalt (for example, the percentage of non-minority Boalties who passed and percentage of minority Boalties who passed)? Did the school or the Cal Bar release them? And are they drastically different? Because if there really is a trend then I'm sure people would be willing to discuss it. People probably feel offended because they don't have access to these numbers, and so they think it's a blind assault. Anyway, real numbers would spark an informed debate, rather than name-calling.

1/26/2008 3:19 PM  
Blogger Tacitus said...

i'm not sure that real numbers would spark an informed debate. armen likes to talk about confirmation bias (or, at least, he's mentioned it in the past), and i suspect if someone put hard numbers on bar passage rate, you'd get a lot more of the same comments as have already been aired. just sayin'.

1/26/2008 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally second Armen's "chilled discussion" take. Everyone's so afraid of being labelled a racist by our Center for Social Justice wackos, that no one says anything about race at all, in public, at least. This suppression of speech undoubtedly (and ironically) leads to racism.

1/26/2008 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Infesticon said...

3:19pm makes a good point--more real numbers would definitely help. As it stands, the real numbers that this site has linked to show that the number of Boalt grads who passed fell, while there was no similar drop at demographically-similar schools.

1/27/2008 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to get back quickly to the 3L town hall meeting, one of the things that I found especially telling about it was how clueless DE was. I think part of the problem is that we've only had one class town hall, and therefore one opportunity to air out some of these issues that have been potentially stewing for 2.5 years. Maybe that's why it felt so hostile.

The registration times, for example. For those of us who have been frustrated by late registration times semester after semester, Shelanski's "it's not our fault" attitude was yet another blow-off that we've heard from the registrar time and again. The point is, it is a problem, and we're just looking for someone to say, "I understand. That is frustrating. Here is what we can do about it." When all we hear is "It's not my fault (and moreover, it's not true!)" I think that just adds to the resentment.

But if I were to compile our chief issues into a take-home point, I would say that it seemed that the major theme of the afternoon was that in our dealings with Boalt administration, many students feel undervalued. We're working hard here, and paying more and more $ for the privilege to do so, and in the end, whenever we have a suggestion of something that might be improved, we get a defensive administrative body that wants to give excuses instead of support.

I know I sound ungrateful; I don't mean to. I have loved my 2.5 years here, and I think I've received a great education. I try to stay positive. But I walked out of the town hall meeting feeling like DE is so busy looking ahead that he stopped giving any consideration to those of us here now. And that Dean O is so busy being defensive that she doesn't care if we do get a daytime BarBri class. I know it's "not her fault" that there isn't a room at Boalt. But it isn't our fault either, and all we're asking for is some help. I imagine that for most 3Ls, passing the bar is pretty high on the list of priorities. Is it too much to ask that our administration goes to bat for us in enabling us to have the optimum study environment? But when Dean O says "call BarBri" and BarBri says "talk to your dean," it makes me wonder who is more likely to get results - students or admin?

So that's my take with the Town Hall. I was sorry that we collectively sounded as negative as we did. At the same time, I think that it was sort of inevitable. I just hope that DE, Dean S and Dean O didn't walk away thinking "good riddance to those complainers" and will instead take our issues seriously. It's important to me to leave Boalt feeling good about my time here. Anyone else?

1/27/2008 5:58 PM  
Anonymous Infesticon said...

5:58--how is there "not a room" at Boalt for Barbri? What are they using the rooms for in the off-season?

1/27/2008 6:29 PM  
Anonymous confused 1L said...

I'm confused by this registration time issue. You mean to tell me that I'm stuck with the same, late registration time every semester? Don't they reward you for busting your ass and either getting good grades or taking more units? I thought it would be based on at least one of those two criteria...

1/27/2008 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

confused 1L,

Please tell me you didn't think that those with better grades would get earlier registration times. Dear god, please tell me you're joking.

But to answer your question, it's not that you are "stuck" with the same registration time, it's that those of us who have had late registration times in the past feel like everytime we get our "new" registration times for the next semester, it's still a late time. The time isn't the exact same, but it's also never one of the early ones. Or at least that's how it's been for me--always 3 pm or later.

1/27/2008 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:58 - I could have written that myself. I too feel that DE is so busy concentrating upon his vision for the school that the actual real live students are irrelevant, an annoyance. Maybe we are irrelevant...perhaps the important thing is that at the end of three years we will have a Boalt degree, a high paying job, become big alum contributors, and the cycle goes on. But he'll be gone by December, so it doesn't matter anyway.

Speaking of which, EW, could you please comment on the NYTimes sudden full out attack on Hillary? Thanks to Bill, it seems, things are looking up for Obama.

1/27/2008 10:44 PM  
Blogger Earl Warren said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure what full-throated attack you're referring to, insofar as they endorsed Hillary just 48 hours ago. But it's true Bill has been shooting off his mouth to ill-effect the past few days. I had a date with a Hillary supporter over the weekend, and her take seemed pretty much right: "This would be great in the general if Bill were tearing apart McCain or Romney. But against another Dem, it's just not cool."

And I think a lot of Obama's stunning win in SC was do to a late backlash against that. (And it WAS a stunning. win The media isn't giving Obama his credit on this one: the polls had him winning by 10-13 points, and stuck in SINGLE DIGITS for the white vote. He ended up winning by almost THIRTY and took almost a quarter of the white vote.)

But the Hillary people aren't stupid. They're going to lock Bill in the closet for the next 10 days and make this a paid media and money game, which are her natural strengths. Prepare for a blizzard of TV ads. If you're sick and tired of hearing about the damn evil/greatness of Indian gambling, you ain't seen nothing yet. If you're a Hillary supporter, you have to like the game moving onto this territory. And if you're an Obama supporter, you better hope to hell David Axelrod knows what he's doing, cause it 's hard to can post-racial bipartisan hope-mongering coalition-building uplift into a 30-second spot.

1/27/2008 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:40 - Care to cite to these statistics that show that the LSAT correlates directly to Bar passage?

\

1/28/2008 5:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:04,
http://www.unc.edu/edp/pdf/NLBPS.pdf

Go to p. viii and look at the last bullet point: "Both law school grade point average (LGPA) and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score were the strongest predictors of bar examination passage for all groups studied."

1/28/2008 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:29 - there is "not a room" at Boalt this summer due to the construction project in the basement. While there will technically be unused rooms, they will all be highly disturbed by the drilling and stuff. So Boalt cannot accomodate BarBri for a daytime class. As it stands, there will be a class at Boalt from 5-9pm, which is not exactly ideal.

Dean O said to call BarBri to find out whether they are looking for rooms at UC generally or anywhere around Berkeley/East Bay, but one student pointed out that when he called BarBri, they said to ask Dean O whether she had found another location. Fingers crossed that we get a daytime class! Maybe a BarBri phone campaign is in order . . .?

1/28/2008 9:46 AM  
Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

9:46--thanks for the explanation. Damn, what a hassle. Maybe the business school can hook you up?

8am--this is a helpful link. Bonus points for finding a study on minority issues written by a Wightman. I would note two things, bearing in mind that I haven't read the whole report:

1) it deals with median LSAT scores over a large number of students--they don't seem to have fine-tuned the correlation to typical scores of Boalt students (like, there doesn't seem to be a finding that, say, 95th percentile scorers failed the bar more often than 97th percentile scorers)

2) because the study focussed on the class of 1994, you may note that they look at a median LSAT score of 36.5. Note that the scoring of the LSAT changed completely in the early 90's--unclear whether the findings are still accurate.

1/28/2008 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This does not have the racial breakdown for individual schools, but it has Boalt's overall breakdown and an overall racial breakdown.

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Statistics/JULY2007STATS.pdf

For those who don't feel like following the link, it is:
California ABA Approved schools First timers pass rate:
80.4% white (out of 2292 people)
48.4% black (out of 93 people)
63.7% hispanic (out of 295 people)
74.9% asian (out of 561 people)

Granted, the sample sizes vary enormously, but I can't believe MaxwellDemon would rather call me a racist than admit that these numbers are very, very troubling. I care about Boalt's numbers, but I don't think this is a Boalt-unique problem.

For the 3Ls--I hope you'll get your room somewhere on campus for daytime BarBri. It seems doubly unfair if your class gets screwed out of both 1. the new rooms the construction will create AND 2. convenient BarBri.

1/28/2008 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:46 here - as a sidenote, I think that 2Ls and 1Ls might be concerned also with the admin's lack of support re: BarBri day classes because there will be more construction next summer and probably the summer following. DE plans to break ground on the new building in the Darling courtyard in Sept '08 and expects construction to last 2 years or so. This is an issue that may very well plague Boalties for a few years to come. Ugh.

1/28/2008 11:28 AM  
Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

11:19--I still don't understand how, or why, a discussion about the drop in Boalt's bar passage numbers turned into an exploration of race in our time. Not that taking this narrow issue and interjecting the statewide racial breakdown could ever, possibly, in a million years make you a racist. But I don't see how the passage rate for, say 93 African Americans in the entire state, explains why the Boalt class of '07 did worse on the bar than Stanford, UCLA, USF, UC Davis, and USC--schools that seem to have as many minority students as Boalt, if not more. What else you got?

1/28/2008 12:16 PM  

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