City Desk

Why Did American University’s Law School Plunge in the Rankings?

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American University’s law school woos its students with a chance at the kind of international law jobs in which they might handle classified documents. In the spring of 2012, however, one graduate says his classmates got some practice being secretive about something decidedly less important to national security: their own job prospects.

In order to avoid offending classmates who faced unemployment after racking up more than $150,000 in student debt—nine months after graduation, just 42 percent of the class had jobs that required passing the bar—students who actually had offers had to engage in their own cover-ups. “Everything was sort of hush-hush,” says the graduate, who asked not to be named to avoid so as not to damage his new, nonlegal career.

Illustration by Robert Meganck

Lately, the prospects for American University’s Washington College of Law have looked just as grim. Since 2013, the school has plummeted down the U.S. News and World Report law-school rankings, dropping 23 positions from 49th in the country to 72nd. Thanks to its graduates’ dubious employment prospects, meanwhile, Washington College of Law has become a target for activists who see it as one of the worst examples of a law school that dupes students with unlikely legal ambitions, only to stick them with a mountain of inescapable debt when they graduate.

All the same, the school has started construction on a new campus in Tenleytown that the university expects will cost $130 million. As the Washington College of Law expands its goals in the face of its ratings collapse and a nationwide drop in law applications, it looks headed for a collision between its aspirations and the realities of what a mid-tier law school can realistically offer its students.

In AU recruitment videos, a juris doctor degree from the Washington College of Law looks like the first step toward a glamorous career like the one enjoyed by law school dean Claudio Grossman, a Chilean polyglot who moonlights as a United Nations human rights official. As students hold up meme-friendly signs in one video—“International Networks,” “Global Education”—Grossman intones about how world institutions based in the District offer his students a jump into international law.

University of Colorado Law School professor Paul Campos has his own, less-exalted idea of what Washington College of Law’s promotional materials should look like. Campos’ dream pamphlet for the school would show what he says even a moderately lucky AU law graduate faces: a career picking up drunk-driving and divorce cases in the suburbs, making a mid-five-figure salary to pay off more than $150,000 in debt.

Of course, Campos’ literature wouldn’t sell anyone on the cost of attending the Washington College of Law, which will run $73,002 a year for incoming students this fall according to a university estimate. Even among the country’s priciest law schools, that’s a lot to swallow, putting Washington College of Law third on U.S. News’ rankings of highest average debt. It’s also only a couple thousand dollars less than a year at Georgetown and George Washington University’s law schools, both of which offer nearly double what Washington College of Law promises for legal-employment prospects.

To critics like Campos and others bloggers who write about the so-called “law school scam”—one of whom illustrates a report on Washington College of Law with a picture of a urinal—AU’s law school has come to epitomize the “trap school” phenomenon. In their telling, Washington College of Law capitalizes on its international focus and the District’s attractiveness to lure in students who can’t get into similarly pricey but more competitive schools. At graduation, they allege, Washington College of Law dumps them into the city’s oversaturated legal market to compete with graduates from both higher-ranked District universities and top national schools.

That means students can’t discharge their federal student loans, and Washington College of Law can induct a new class of students, only around 3 percent of whom will receive half or more of their tuition in scholarships if recent trends hold.

“I really don’t know how the people who work there can keep a sense of sort of personal dignity,” says Campos, who’s covered the law school industry for publications including Salon and The Atlantic.

In an emailed statement, Washington College of Law spokeswoman Franki Fitterer declined to comment on Campos’ dim view of the school on the grounds that he’s not “authoritative.” Fitterer points to the figure of 60.55 percent employment for the class of 2013, including jobs where it’s helpful but not necessary to have a law degree—a mushy category that can include FBI special agents, but also paralegal jobs or legal temping. Even then, though, the Washington College of Law lags behind similarly expensive District schools in employment prospects.

The Washington College of Law’s problems might not be so obvious if it weren’t for the Great Recession. As law firm clients pushed their lawyers to cut back on hours for well-paid but underexperienced new law associates, the legal market for young lawyers spasmed. When even students from the prestigious “Top 14” highest-ranked law schools had trouble finding jobs, U.S. News buckled and started weighting employment prospects more heavily. With abysmal employment figures for its price, the ingredients for Washington College of Law to drop in the rankings were all there.

The U.S. News rankings are hardly perfect, of course. For one thing, the employment figures can be gamed by schools who hire their own graduates so they show up as having jobs when the school reports its employment figures. (American employed 11.8 percent of its 2013 graduating law class in school-funded jobs.)

Washington College of Law academic dean Anthony Varona has his own gripe with the rankings, which he says don’t account for the school’s diverse student body, roughly a third of whom were minorities in last year’s incoming class. By not factoring diversity into their overall rankings, according to Varona, U.S. News undervalues the different worldviews that students bring to Washington College of Law classes.

The rankings’ flaws don’t stop alumni, students, and even professors from panicking as their school plummets. A rankings slide can catch a school in a vicious cycle, with more qualified applicants ditching it for higher-ranked competitors and a corresponding drop in average class statistics. Alumni are more reluctant to give, while law firm recruiters are more skeptical of all but the highest ranked students in a graduating class.

“Students and alumni are almost inconsolable when your school goes in a big drop,” says Indiana University law professor William Henderson.

Between 2010 and 2013, the average Law School Admission Test score for incoming classes dropped by six points from 163 to 157, meaning that AU law’s bar for students fell from the top 12 percent of people taking the test to the top 29 percent.

Current students and alumni seem just as unenthused. After one drop in 2013 left the Washington College of Law at 52nd, students started a change.org petition calling for Grossman’s ouster. The school’s drive to raise $20 million for the new Tenleytown campus and more scholarships has brought in only $7.7 million so far.

Legal industry blog Above the Law had a sardonic take on the rankings collapse for Washington College of Law and Catholic University’s law school, which dropped from 80th to 107th in the latest U.S. News rankings. The lesson, according to the blog’s writer: “If you want to work in D.C., go to Georgetown or GTFO.”

The latest rankings drop last March, from 56th to 72nd, was so bad that Grossman, who made more than $500,000 in compensation in 2012, sent an email to Washington College of Law students explaining why the rankings shouldn’t worry them. In the email, obtained by Above the Law, Grossman says the school will “make no apologies” for its “unique environment of opportunity, diversity, and specialized knowledge.”

“Unique” is one way to describe the opportunity offered to AU law students after they graduate. With its focus on international and human rights positions, the Washington College of Law sets its students up to reach for jobs that are next to impossible to land even for graduates at the top handful of law schools. “It’s not a likely outcome if you go to Yale,” says Kyle McEntee, the co-founder of law school statistics site Law School Transparency.

While Washington College of Law doesn’t keep statistics on how many of its graduates make it into international law jobs, Fitterer says that “hundreds” of the schools graduates have gone into the field.

Campos isn’t optimistic. “It would be an enormous understatement to say that those kinds of positions—positions that involve, say, international human rights—are difficult to acquire,” he says.

Washington College of Law grads with aspirations in the District face only slightly better prospects, according the school’s own figures. Leaving Washington College of Law, students will face off not only against their former classmates, who in 2013 made up the sixth-largest law school enrollment in the country, but against the second- and fourth-largest law-school enrollments at Georgetown and George Washington, respectively. Add to that number students from Catholic, Howard, George Mason, and the University of the District of Columbia, the only D.C.-area law school that Law School Transparency calculates had worse legal employment prospects than Washington College of Law.

Mike Spivey, a former law school admissions dean who now helps prospective students get into schools, sees American grads squeezed out of lower-tier jobs as students at higher-ranked schools downsize their own expectations after the recession. Additionally, while lawyers who went to law school in less attractive locations at least won’t face many drop-ins from Harvard and Yale, AU students have no such luxury.

“Now, if American were in Boise, Idaho, they wouldn’t have local heavy-hitting law schools to do that to them,” Spivey says.

In the end, that’s the worst-case scenario as American puts $130 million more into its law school. The District location that once made Washington College of Law more attractive than similar midlevel schools elsewhere in the country could now be its graduates’ undoing.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Georgetown Law Professor

    American has its share of troubles, but this story is recycling a lot of web hysteria. And to rely on Campos is a joike. See Brian Leiter on Campos: https://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=Paul+Campos&domains=example.typepad.com&sitesearch=http%3A%2F%2Fleiterlawschool.typepad.com%2F

  • Sarah

    Excellent Article. American University is a fraud. Rising 1L's and current student should be very scared. The quiet calm of loan-drenched insulation is going to soon give way to economic turmoil.

  • Tbonebullets

    American has long placed graduates in quality non-legal jobs that require legal knowledge; but a heightened focus on "attorney placements" will pull American down the rankings. The majority of law schools are facing a similar problem: there aren't enough well-paying attorney jobs to go around. That is, if I wanted a rural attorney job, I wouldn't go to American, either -- but who ever did? (along with Catholic, Gtown, GW, you could say the same). But if the tuition went down, that would improve the prospects for legal training degrees significantly. Heck, graduate degrees cost too much across the board; it's just a worse situation for law schools due to over-saturation in that field.

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  • Not a “Georgetown Professor”

    Leiter's bizarre obsession with Campos is a sad thing to see, as is his increasingly disturbing trolling and sock puppetting. See: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/03/for-the-record-contains-brian-leiter-content

  • Charlie

    Lets ignore the comments made by the scammer Georgetown Law Professor and let's look at the facts. The facts are that law school transparency gives American a 44.6% LST employment score. This is the percentage of students who successfully start a career in law. The project debt for these students at repayment is 272,373 dollars, that's a whole lot of clams for less then 50% chance to be an attorney. Salaries for attorneys are trending down and remember the bi-modal distribution of salaries. Less then 3-4% of these students will attain salaries which make this type of debt easy to swallow. The tax-payers in this country are funding the lifestyles of overpaid, puffed out law professors, meanwhile the ABA sits on it's haunches watching the whole thing implode. Campos knows exactly what is going on.

  • Ben

    Quibble over the rankings criteria all you want, but $73,000 a year to attend WCoL is absolutely, utterly, insane. There's no defense or excuse for it.

  • Tbonebullets

    Ben, I don't think the price of ANY non-state-funded law school is worth it, including at the very top tier schools including Gtown and GW. There are simply not enough high-paying law jobs to go around; and the dirty secret has always been that the top jobs go to those with family ties to the industry or some other patronage. The rest of the jobs, for the most part, are simply middle or upper-middle class positions that cannot be justified by a $200,000+ price tag. It's an aspect of U.S. class disfunction that has worsened since the end of the Net-boom '90's.

  • Larry

    Seems like Verona/AU is saying, in code, that minorities can't cut it in law school or related workforce?? That needs a lot further clarification from AU!!!

  • J

    As an alumni, what disturbs me most about this piece is that WCL is being billed as a school with a "human rights focus." This means that Dean Grossman's personal crusade (which is obliterating the law school, both in terms of rankings and overall quality), is gaining traction.

    FWIW, I went to WCL and got a wonderful legal education, and it had NOTHING to do with human rights. Human rights is, of course, a laudable professional goal. But what I think is important to note about WCL is that it IS a quality school to receive a legal education. What's unfortunate is that the Dean's personal pet project has overtaken things, and the school's true quality and worth is lost.

  • Redline SOS

    No one should be in law school right now. There should be a five year law school freeze. There simply aren't enough jobs for the number of JDs that are out there. USAjobs is opening attorney positions for feds until they get 100 or 200 applications...typically in 24 to 48 hours. You cannot find qualified talent in that manner. The legal profession is in shambles for all but 1 or 2%. Prospective law students should really reconsider and go to med school.

  • abc

    The most significant aspect of the U.S. News rankings is that there are almost 200 law schools in the U.S., including 50 or so that are unranked, and they each have as many as 1700 full-time students. Middle-sized is 600+, and those numbers don't even include part-time students. Who needs all these lawyers?

    http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/sort%2Bc_rank_final_overall_display/sortdir%2Basc

  • JD

    This manipulation has been going on for years in almost every law school in America. At least the AU rankings are based on grads who have jobs that require the bar, discounting those who are working at Starbucks. Law schools are known to calculate their statistics using all types of employment. My law school alma mater created 6 week paid (by the law school) fellowships so they could include fellows in their stats.

  • bob pence

    So, Mr. Campos, ever heard of Alison Grimes, candidate for Senator McConnell's seat in Kentucky? WCL grad and I'm not even a Democrat! Yes, we have many grads who are Federal and state trial and appellate court judges, to say nothing of very successful practicing lawyers. We even have our share of multimillionaires (and a couple of real billionaires) who also support the arts, hospitals, and even other universities. So, what's better than a WCL degree? Not your MA in literature from Michigan. And certainly not, in the case of some kids I know, a B.A. in philosophy from Pepperdine (which costs more than a law degree from AU). By the way, it looks like you lasted less than a year in a law firm after law school: were you employed there as a lawyer (assuming you passed the bar) or as a temporary gofer? And, yes, I am a WCL graduate.

  • http://OutsideTheLawSchoolScam antiro

    Bob Pence:

    The problem with WCL is it charges Cadillac prices for a beater with a less than 50% chance to get you around the block.

    To focus on the uber-successful like Grimes and politically-connected grads who went to WCL ignores the vast majority of graduates who could incur well over six figures of nondischargeable, high interest student loans for the terrible employment numbers of your alma mater.

    I went to a low-ranked, expensive, dumpster, trash school like you did. The people who are most successful are those who are connected, who got top 10% and law review, and who were on big scholarships. The correct response is to not deflect blame, but to figure out how we can improve our alma mater's.

    In both our cases, the correct response is either to shut the doors or radically decrease tuition and enrollment.

  • http://www.studentloanjustice.org Alan Collinge

    There is no structural difference between what is described in this story and what is happening at all other colleges. The law school students need to recognize this, and start fighting the larger fight To continue to insist that the "Law school scam" is any different from what happens to students of all strips is to segregate students needlessly.

    see studentloanjustice.org

  • Michelle W

    There are loads of successful WCL grads in the DC area, including me. I am a recent alum and I got a terrific legal education at WCL. This post presents a very skewed and limited view of the school. My field - not international human rights - is chalk full of WCL grads and the school is highly regarded for how it trains students to practice law, not just think about the law. I also hear many favorable comments about how WCL students and grads are hard-workers and unlike their counterparts from Gtown, won't turn up their noses at doing tough but necessary legal work. Taking on $150k+ of debt is a huge gamble no matter which law school - even a Harvard law grad is hobbled by that debt and is limited to high-paying job prospects to have that make any kind of financial sense. WCL is no different in that way from any other private law school (heck, even state law schools aren't exactly cheap).

  • Charlie

    Michelle, I know attorneys are not very good at math so I'll cut you some slack on the numbers. First of all $150,000 dollars is way off from the expected $272,000 dollars due at repayment. 80+ % of the students who attend this school are debt financing their education. Only 46% will get a law job, an extremely small percentage will get jobs which will allow them to pay off these debts in a timely fashion. Of those that get big law and make good salaries many won't be around for more than 4-6 years, big law will just spit them out the other side to bring in some more lemmings ready to take their places. It's easy to just throw words out that there are "loads" of successful graduates, but wishing it won't make it so.

  • Corky

    Redline said it best--no one should go to law school. The market is completely saturated and the cost of law school is artificially inflated and it is just not worth the time and money. The ABA has accredited too many law schools (because they make millions doing so) and the result has been a flood of law school graduates struggling to find employment and to find a way to pay off their debt. The "LA Law" lifestyle for lawyers, if it ever existed, is surely a thing of the past. Unless, by LA you mean Louisiana.

  • Michelle W

    Charlie - No need to get snarky. I'm actually good at math. My $150,000 is about what tuition cost when I attended. I haven't kept count but I can easily rattle off dozens and dozens of WCL grads I know who have good jobs in all sectors - big law, government, small firms. They may not make as much money, but I also know many who are successful in the non-profit and public interest sector, which is where they chose to work. And I know of former classmates who chose non-lawyer jobs after school and have done well there. I'm always encountering successful lawyers I didn't know previously were AU grads. I don't think everyone should haul-off and take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to attend law school, but that's not a problem unique to AU. The author viciously singles out AU here and misrepresents the school. My education there was worth every penny. I had to finance my education, and even though I'm not a big firm lawyer, I've already paid-off my loans in under 10 years. I don't know Mr. Sommers' beef with the school, but there's so much more to it than what he wrote here. I mean, it's no secret that the US News rankings favor certain schools over others and use a controversial methodology, but he doesn't note that at all and it's a story about rankings!

  • Jacob Schmidt

    "law school dean Claudio Grossman, a Chilean polyglot who moonlights as a United Nations human rights official"

    The accurate phrasing would have been "United Nations human rights official Claudio Grossman, a Chilean polyglot, who moonlights as a law school dean..."

  • CSN

    I am so done with law students complaining about their lack of employment prospects like they deserve a job handed to them just because they have a JD. You actually have to put effort in. Get good grades, do internships, work hard (and consider taking a first position that is not 100% your dream). These things, in combination with a WCL degree, will get you a job. Build from there. If you don't want to do that, don't go to law school. I fully understand that it is not as easy to get a job out of WCL as it is out of Harvard or Gtown. I am a WCL grad, and I have lamented this myself. (Honestly, if you graduate in the bottom 20% of your class anywhere and have no work experience, it should be hard for you to get a job). I feel that I got a great legal education at WCL. I graduated in the midst of the great recession and have still managed good jobs.

  • Jennifer

    Proof that WCL is in the Financial Toilet is that their Financial Aid office and Office of Career Advance try to sell their students upfront that idea of Public Service Loan Forgiveness as a way to get out of debt. And when that is capped for graduate students/law students as with undergrad loans, what will the graduates do then. All of your defenders can't argue with the fact that 60% of the graduate NEVER get legal jobs. That is a joke that I challenge any of you to try and go defend. I highly doubt that 60% of the graduated decided to simply get a JD for the fun of it so that they could meander into what is claimed to be a related profession.

  • Chris J

    There are plenty of other overpriced, crummy law schools out there that admit a lot of people that shouldn't be going to law school in the first place. I went to one of them, and it wasn't AU. Fortunately, I did all right when I was there got a decent paying job, networked where I could, did all the internships where I could and found ways to distinguish myself from the thousands of other law school graduates that are just a dime a dozen in the job market. I didn't get that glamourous $ 160,000 plus bonus a year job at some fancy law firm on K Street or Wall Street, but I make enough to live a middle class lifestyle, paid off my loans in less than 10 years (8 years, 3 months - heh) and save for retirement.

    You have to make law school and the degree work for you and know from the start what you're going to do with it - too many people go into law school because they didn't like their undergrad major or just don't know what else to do, and most of those peoples' careers are doomed from the start. I also knew that, despite the huge amount of money I paid, nobody owed me a damn thing, not even the law school I went to, especially since I wasn't fooled by their manipulated job-placement statistics.

    For most universities, law schools (even the top tier ones) are just cash cows that turn a profit for the rest of the university to use. Never mind the 35+ law schools out there that aren't accredited by the ABA - how are those allowed to exist? Can you imagine the uproar there was an unaccredited medical or dental school operating? So many law schools have opened in recent years and nobody blinked an eye. Can't wait for University of Phoenix or Strayer to open theirs.

    A full third of law schools could close down tomorrow and there would still be an oversupply of lawyers.

  • Teets

    Can someone please translate the second paragraph of this article? It is so vague and poorly put together.

  • Joe

    Bob Pence - your comment reveals a lack of analytical ability and critical thought that really doesn't help the cause of AU students.

  • nonlawyer

    Chris 3:
    "Can't wait for University of Phoenix or Strayer to open theirs."

    Actually, there already ARE online law schools. They're not ABA-accredited, but they let you sit for the bar and practice in California.
    http://www.nwculaw.edu/
    http://www.concordlawschool.edu/Homepage.aspx
    http://www.stfrancislaw.com/

  • WCL Grad

    I went to WCL and have a well paying job, but primarily because I was in this industry before I started school.
    I also went to Georgetown for a graduate law degree and to be honest, I think the professors and students at WCL were of a better caliber. Especially the students. We had gunners, but mostly I went to school with normal people who worked hard and didn't cheat or do anything to make their classmates look bad, when they shined, it was because they worked hard and were smart. Some of the barely legal 1L's at Georgetown hid books, misdirected classmates who needed help understanding cases, and were exactly the people that give lawyers a bad reputation.

    Even though I have my rose colored glasses on now, I spent the first 9 years out of law school as a slave to debt. It was a miserable existence. My $99k in federal loans were locked in at 2.75% and manageable but agree with Charlie - private loans are convoluted and the money you repay bears no resemblance to the money you thought you borrowed. I honestly may have done better if I charged tuition to a 24.99% credit card. Interest accrued and capitalized during school and then when it came time to pay the private loans I was faced with a 12% addition to principal as a "capitalization fee" (what?) and the $75k required about $130k pay off, even though I paid it off 11 years early. I think anyone who can't afford school without resorting to private loans just can't afford to go.I also don't think forgiving the debt is the answer. Pull on your grown up pants and pay off the debts you signed up for. And if you dragged your parents or grandparents in as cosigners, shame on you for being so selfish.

    Finally, the best advice in this thread is to not go. If you have a free ride, have at it, but the practice of law is a $200k gamble that just isn't going to pay for most of you.

  • Kevin

    AU WCL is just one law school with issues today –- you could write a similar piece about many of them -- but this piece is so vitriolic I must question Will Sommer's judgement.

    To include this is just beyond the pale: "I really don’t know how the people who work there can keep a sense of sort of personal dignity."

    Really? So EVERYONE there is of low character? Every single professor? Even the ones in the legal clinics offering free services to the poor? What about the secretaries? The janitors?

    It doesn't get much meaner than that.

    Many law schools have these kinds of issues now. A similar piece could have been written about many of them.

    I have no connection to AU and am not even a lawyer, but this article is a hatchet job and I think less of Sommer for writing it the way he did.

  • AutumnBanter

    I am not a lawyer but work in the DC office of a large international law firm. As appealing as it may seem to earn upwards of $150k a year after law school - those jobs are getting harder to come by. If you are fortunate to get one, you will have to work very hard to keep it. There are simply too many lawyers out there as others have said. The legal market is continuing to constrict and firms are having to take work from other firms to stay on top. Unless you plan to specialize in a very niche area that will remain fertile for 40 years, it's going to be a challenge and some of those non-law firm jobs may look more appealing.

  • wahoo

    As someone who has tried to get the attention of the placement office to employ AU students and grads, who has met total lack of interest, it is easy to see why the employment stats are so bad.

  • writewhatsright

    One striking difference between WCL and Georgetown Law, which is NOT discussed in this article but has a large impact on the quality of the graduates, is the fact that WCL grades on a curve and Georgetown Law does not, rather it retains the actual grades. That means that A/B students at Georgetown Law actually earned A's and B's whereas A/B students at WCL probably earned C's and D's. You see the problem. Moreover, grading on a curve conceals poor performing professors. Why? Because, the only way one knows if a professor is indeed teaching the subject matter correctly or incorrectly is by looking at the students' actual grades. Therefore, if, for example, 80-60 percent of a class's actual grades are C's and D's then such a poor grade distribution would illustrate that the professor is not doing his or her job correctly, and should be removed. At WCL, such a poor performing professor would be retained and at Georgetown Law, he or she would be removed. You see the problem. It's no wonder that at Georgetown Law the majority of the grades are B's.

    My personal experience with this was to cringe when I assisted a WCL professor in changing C's and D's into A's and B's, D's and F's into C's and arbitrarily retaining certain F's as F's while changing others into D's. So, it's no wonder that WCL graduates can't seem to get a job over Georgetown Law graduates, and that, unlike Georgetown Law, WCL's ranking is plummeting.

    WCL needs to stop grading on a curve, and if Claudio Grossman won't do this then the school needs a Dean that will. If WCL is to be saved, quality must become the priority, and never mind all this claptrap about environment, specialized knowledge, yata, yata, yata.

  • Steve

    Hi, Prof. Gelpern!

  • anon

    In case you aren't aware, grading curves are determined by the faculty, not the dean.

    (I have no connection whatsoever to WCL; just correcting a mistaken factual premise above).

  • anon

    To be clear: I meant that principles of faculty governance *at all law schools* are such that grading curves are determined by the faculty rather than the dean.

  • writewhatsright

    Grading curves a AUWCL are determined by WCL policy, and that is determined by the leadership. Georgetown Law does not allow it, so no professor has the option to choose it or not. WCL should do the same and Claudio Grossman should lead the charge to end all grading an a curve at WCL.

  • writewhatsright

    Because of the grading on a curve policy at WCL each student is pitted agains the other. The hiding of the books is rampant at WCL, misdirecting classmates who need to help is also rampant. This is a sour issue at WCL and is discussed often.

    Georgetown Law does not allow grading on a curve and so the students are not competing against each other. This means no one is affected by the high grade of anyone, as there is no competitive cut off. So, it rarely happens that books are hiden and students are misdirected, and this too is often an issue that is discussed at WCL.

  • writewhatsright

    Because of the grading on a curve policy at WCL each student is pitted agains the other. The hiding of the books is rampant at WCL, misdirecting classmates who need to help is also rampant. This is a sour issue at WCL and is discussed often.

    Georgetown Law does not allow grading on a curve and so the students are not competing against each other. This means no one is affected by the high grade of anyone, as there is no competitive cut off. So, it rarely happens that books are hiden and students are misdirected, and this too is often an issue that is discussed at WCL.

    Grading curves at WCL are determined by WCL policy, and that is determined by the leadership. Georgetown Law does not allow it, so no professor has the option to choose it or not. WCL should do the same and Claudio Grossman should lead the charge to end all grading an a curve at WCL.

  • Anon

    My point is not about the merits of a grading curve. My point is that, in any system of faculty governance, the existence and content of grading curves is decided by the faculty. The faculty as a whole makes and votes upon academic policy, not the dean. Apparently, American's faculty has decided to have a curve (like the overwhelming majority of law schools, by the way), while Georgetown's faculty has decided not to. Either choice is debatable, but they are faculty decisions. You're misdirecting your ire on this issue.

    Again, I have no dog in this fight. If you think the dean is doing a poor job, that's fair enough, but it is not accurate to say that he is responsible for the issue you appear to be upset about (the grading curve). The "[administrative] leadership" does not, repeat, does not, determine academic policy at a law school. The faculty does.

  • x8h

    The "sale" of education is big business. Almost everyone needs to obtain a decent degree in order to get a decent paying job. Law is no exception. Many schools simply herd people in, take as much money as allowed by law, give them a piece of paper (diploma) and wish good luck to the graduates. All the money flows to the top and you, as a student, get stuck with high debt and on your own to find a "job" that will pay you enough to get rid of your huge student debt. The system is set up to stick it to you and the tax payer.
    Only 2% or so of graduates will end up with the dream lawyer job, working for some big corporation as an in-house legal counsel or medical/insurance malpractice, where the money is. Good luck since top companies that pay well tend to pick the best from the best. On the positive side, a law degree helps you get a better job where only a 4-year College degree is required. Having a law degree also tells an employer that you know the law and that you can sue him without incurring typical attorney fees. So, to the employer, you are a legal liability.
    If all fails, start your own business, like law schools did. Good luck.

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  • Underpromise&Overdeliver

    "On the positive side, a law degree helps you get a better job where only a 4-year College degree is required." - If I were a lawyer I would argue this is severely flawed logic.

  • Jake

    I think he's saying, "Yeah, you'll be in massive debt and have difficulty finding a job, but look!... You get to spend three years with minorities! Which is worth paying $75,000 per year for the privilege!"

  • Jake

    "International law" is a figment of the imagination.

  • Jake

    Defeated by McConnell; 59% of voters voted for someone else... Maybe they read this article.

  • Reason

    I graduated from WCL nearly 20 years ago and we had the same issues then. Very few members of the faculty or staff care about the practical side of being a lawyer or earning a living after law school. Grossman's administration placed so much focus on issues like human rights, diversity, etc. that it failed to produce sufficient alumni in traditional law firm careers. It is now unable to "reproduce" by raising money from a financially successful alumni progeny as evidenced by the lack of funds for their new building. Academics have their place, but they shouldn't be running the law school. Just as law firms have gone to professional non-lawyer management teams, so too should WCL. It's the only way to make the school accountable to students, alumni and the real world that most profs and deans could care less about.

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