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Expelled Law Student Sues Law School For Failing Out Students With C+/B- Grades:
Via law.com:
  A former law student has filed a federal class action against St. Thomas University School of Law of Miami, claiming that it is illegally accepting and then expelling more than 25 percent of its first-year class to boost its flagging bar pass rates.
  Filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the complaint alleges that the private law school unlawfully dismissed Thomas Joseph Bentey and as many as 80 students from the incoming class of 2005 because they failed to maintain a 2.5 grade point average.
  The action further alleges that in 2003 the school began a scheme to accept large numbers of students — and their tuition dollars — only later to dismiss or pressure the withdrawal of almost 30 percent of its first- and second-year students. The case could include hundreds of former students as plaintiffs if the court grants class action status.
  * * *
  Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. The action asserts that the ABA failed to adequately oversee the school by not detecting the alleged scheme and by not taking the steps necessary to make sure the school was meeting its standards.
  Maybe on the first day of class the professor should say, "Look to your left, and now look to your right. By the end of the year, one of you will join a class action lawsuit."

  UPDATE: The complaint is here, via Overlawyered. I think my favorite parts are Count 8, in which the plaintiff seeks relief based on the civil cause of action known as "violation of ABA standards," and Count 11, in which the plaintiff seeks a regrade of his Contracts II final on the ground that his C grade was "unjustified" and that "he is entitled to a higher grade."
Federal Dog:
C+/B-? Damn! What grading standards does this school issue to its students?
9.3.2006 8:02pm
Jody (mail):
They say you learn best from experience...
9.3.2006 8:20pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Next year the same lawyer representing this case will help the law students sue the school and the American Bar Association bar on the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act; law schools must allow the mentally challenged to pass and the bar must allow the mentally challenged equal opportunity to hold a job as a lawyer.
9.3.2006 8:29pm
blog fiend (mail) (www):
So you didn't maintain the requisite grade point average. You should've studied harder, drank less, gone to class more, &c. Does the suit allege that grades were altered or assigned in a suspect fashion? Was the 2.5 GPA requirement spelled out in, say, a catalog or something? Or did the school just spring this on these poor non-studying law students?

Seriously, if the school is being underhanded and is accepting students only to expel them later on, then something should be done. It's hard enough to get into law school without getting expelled from one after your first year. Where are you supposed to go then?

But at first blush, this sounds like an old-fashioned case of "I didn't study so I better blame it on the school so my parents don't cut me off."
9.3.2006 8:36pm
Stephen F. (mail) (www):
Does the school grade on a curve? If so, are the same students consistently at the bottom of each subject? Or is the class curve set up to insure that 30% of the class is below a 2.5 GPA?
9.3.2006 8:43pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Wait, how are these students "out" - I don't see it mentioned that they are even queer?
9.3.2006 8:47pm
Ahmed (mail):
Blog fiend, others, these students didn't get c+'s because they didn't study. The curve is forced at these pnzy scheme schools. It is set knowing it will force a large number of students out of school. There are no variables involved (in the quantities). These schools admit a number of kids knowing that a large amount of them will be kicked out.

Even the number that graduate have a horrible low bar passage rate. These schools, if less then half of the ADMITTED class fail to graduate and pass the bar, should be de-accreditted. They are money making schemes where students are actually more likely to suffer failure than gain a law license.

At the Boston LSAC law school meet and greet, St. Thomas offered me a full-ride simply on the basis of my LSAT score (I just wanted their cool pencil). Thank good ness I went to a school with a 90%+ graduation rate and a 90%+ bar passage rate. It's sad that other students aren't so lucky. They shouldn't be victimized. Shut These Schools Down. Or at least take away their accredidation.
9.3.2006 8:49pm
therut:
Well my Medical school graded on a curve. There was as many A's as F's and B's as D's. But this was at a State University not a so called elite instution of higher learning with grade inflation or just pass/fail. By the end of 4 years I would say 25% of the class was gone.
9.3.2006 9:04pm
Jay:
There were as many A's as B's as F's? That's a pretty weird curve.
9.3.2006 9:10pm
James Lindgren (mail):
From the very limited data I've seen, the bar failure rate is high for those in the bottom quarter of most below average schools.

I think that if St. Thomas DIDN'T flunk out a quarter of its students, it would open itself up to criticism for taking tuition under the false pretense that its graduates from the bottom quarter of its class would have more than a small chance of passing the FLA bar exam.

So long as St Thomas does not mislead anyone, this strikes me as a highly ethical business model for a lower tier law school.

Jim Lindgren
9.3.2006 9:11pm
TImur leng (mail):
I went to a bottom quartile law school. 13 years on I think about 50% of my class still practice law (but the numbers may be off because of the high percentage of women).
9.3.2006 9:21pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"There were as many A's as B's as F's? That's a pretty weird curve."

If they are taking the median grade and calling it a C, then a standard linear curve would find as many As as Fs, etc. Obviously, it would have to be an approximation.
9.3.2006 9:24pm
ReaderY:
The school may well be deliberately grading on a curve to lesson the graduating class. Schools in a number of fields do this -- in PhD programs, admitting a large class but letting only a few continue provides a pool of cheap TAs to run the large lecture classes and grade homework. One can certainly debate the wisdom of this model of education -- at the very least incoming students should be informed not only of bar passage and graduation rates but of attrition rates each year. But whether it is illegal or not -- or whether it is the business of judges to create common law about whether it should be illegal or not -- is another matter.
9.3.2006 9:41pm
NewSisyphus (mail) (www):
The lawsuit is a silly bit of business, but, at the same time, from my own practical experience and observation, I think a *lot* of students who objectively don't have any real chance of success are being admitted so that the schools can reap as much tuition from them as they can before they get the hint and drop out.
9.3.2006 9:50pm
Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat (mail):
I agree with Jim Lindgren. These people were afforded the opportunity to attend law school. The school disclosed the 2.5 gpa requirement. The school's historic fail out rate was available to anyone interested enough to request it. They knew their own LSAT scores. They knew their own undergrad grades. And, unlike the school, they knew better than anyone else how hard they were willing to work to make the necessary grades.

These people were studying to be lawyers for Christ's sake, and they are claiming they should be compensated because they were too lazy to do due diligence and/or too stupid to understand the risk they were assuming? Please!

These adults decided that they wanted to attend law school despite the fact that most or all of them doubtless had marginal qualifications. St. Thomas gave them what they wanted. Plenty of marginal students take advantage of such an opportunity, pass the bar and have careers as lawyers. These particular students, however, failed to make the grade and were cut. That's the risk they assumed.

Is a system that denies everyone such an opportunity because some will fail preferable? Is a system that takes such students' money for three years despite knowing (from historic information) that few of them will pass the bar, preferable?

And if a legal precedent is established saying that the admission of students unlikely to succeed is actionable, that should have some very interesting applications to law and medical school affirmative action programs.
9.3.2006 9:54pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
(Note: I am a returning student. I see the entire matter of "grading on the curve" as some wierd bastardization of statistical theory. I saw this in one of my potential Physics 180 courses (not the one I eventually took). The professor showed his grade distribution from the last class, and it was obvious sigma was quite large. As such, one might assume the sample size was too small to estamlish any sort of normal distribution. As such, "grading on the curve" was bunk.
9.3.2006 9:56pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Oops, that was Chem 180; I've aready had Physics.
9.3.2006 9:57pm
Ted Frank (www):
The complaint is on Overlawyered.
9.3.2006 9:58pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

There were as many A's as B's as F's? That's a pretty weird curve.


Nope, that's exactly what you'd get with a symmetric Gaussian distribution.

So it's a pretty normal curve.
9.3.2006 11:06pm
Edd:
I don't know whether it's actionable, but it's reasonable to expect law schools to (1) not admit students unlikely to benefit from law school and (2) not rip off and expel such students, leaving them in a worse position than when they entered.

This would seem uncontroversial, except for the fact so many people apparently disagree. Yes, ideally students wouldn't get themselves in these situations, but it's the schools that really should (and do) know better. Entering students aren't that sophisticated and, while it's easy to fault them for not (e.g.) researching bar-pass rates, this criticism basically ignores human nature.

At the very least, schools shouldn't throw students out onto the (metaphorical) streets when alternatives exist. When such problems arise, a faculty member should schedule an appointment with the student, describe in a very, very clear (but compassionate) way the faculty's view of the student's situation, and direct the student to career-counseling resources provided by the school. Expulsion should be an absolute last resort.
9.3.2006 11:26pm
Lev:
While the law school business is a racket, I don't know that I would say it falls under RICO.

St. Thomas did this guy a favor. Now he can get a real job.
9.3.2006 11:28pm
DCP:
From an ethical standpoint, every law school should admit only students capable of meeting the minimum academic requirements and passing the bar exam. I'm sure by now law schools have come up with a decent statitical model to predict what levels are required of students before they enter.

When 30% of a class fails out, we are dealing with something far beyond bad study habits or honest mistakes by the admissions department. A rate that awful seems indicative of a conscious effort to collect as many tuition checks as possible and weed out the idiots, with no regard for how that policy might devastate the student's finances and emotions.

There's something implicit in an acceptance letter that says you are qualified to be a lawyer from an intellectual standpoint.
9.3.2006 11:41pm
anon atty:
I like how the plaintiff claims to have suffered embarassment (paragraph 32F), yet he files a lawsuit which lists his weak grades for all to see (paragraph 16) and also shows that his mommy called to see if the school would change its mind about kicking him out (paragraph 20).

Also, the plaintiff and his attorney are clearly living in a fantasy world when they claim that he lost $35,000 in earnings for the years he would have been in law school (paragraph 32C). I graduated from a top 40 law school 2 years ago and I bet I can count on both hands the students at my school that landed summer jobs that paid in that range.
9.3.2006 11:53pm
Richard Riley (mail):
I'm with Jim Lindgren. I think it's perfectly fair to run a law school on something close to an "open door" policy - let lots of people in, and let them sink or swim on their own. Now, I agree the school has an obligation to be very clear about that policy - the famous "look to your left, look to your right, one of you three won't be here next year" announcement should be made at the very beginning of the year, ideally in time for people to get their tuition money back. And they should be very up-front about their bar pass rate. But non-elite law schools are not morally obliged only to admit people they know can make the grade. As Lindgren says, that's not their business model and it shouldn't have to be.
9.4.2006 12:00am
Lev:
I guess St Thomas could have tried this http://volokh.com/posts/1157084296.shtml
9.4.2006 12:09am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Anon Attorney, you're obviously right about your first point (the part about his mother calling is really funny), but I think you misread on your second point. I think he's talking about the opportunity cost of attending law school, not the amount he would have made over the summers while in law school.
9.4.2006 12:13am
DNL (mail):
Probably has no right of action, but ethically, here's my problem w/the school's action:

They probably have a lot of merit scholarships that do not consider need whatsoever. These applicants are likely to graduate and pass the bar, obtained acceptance at a better school, and are essentially being bought as matriculates at St. Thomas.

That, alone, is not an issue. However, the charges incurred by offering the above students the education need to be countered by income; in this case, tuition. So, the school accepts a large number of underqualified students (as high, apparently, as 30% of the incoming class!) the next year.

In effect, the scholarship student is being used to attract this underqualified student. In doing so, the school is creating a trimodal class -- 30% scholarships, 40% lesser students, and 30% unqualifieds. (I'm making up some of the numbers, but I bet I'm close.)

Couldn't the school just forgo the scholarships and instead cater to the lesser students, by approaching a 15-70-15 distribution? I see the value of giving unqualifieds a shot, especially with full disclosure, but this outcome reeks.
9.4.2006 12:15am
liberty (mail) (www):
Edd: "(1) not admit students unlikely to benefit from law school and (2) not rip off and expel such students"

So you would like (1) for law schools to not give students a chance unless they meet certain very steep requirements that show that will be highly likely to "benefit" from law school and (2) for law schools to be compelled to set these requirements which you will determine ?

Personally, I would prefer that law schools give the unconventional student a chance let in those at the margins who would like a chance to prove themselves, and not be too strict on conventional LSAT and GPA requirements; and I would be in favor of letting each law school determine these standards on their own, not have them enforced by law or by your mandate.

anon atty,

That $35k wasn't opportunity cost of the poor bastard being let in to law school where he was forced to waste his time rather than hold a job elsewhere since he was doomed to failure anyway by their ridiculous standards (that he maintain a reasonable GPA).
9.4.2006 12:27am
liberty (mail) (www):
oops, that was a question, should have ended with a "?"
9.4.2006 12:28am
liberty (mail) (www):
DNL: "Couldn't the school just forgo the scholarships and instead cater to the lesser students, by approaching a 15-70-15 distribution?"

-- So, you think it is morally preferable to A) run your law school not to maximize top scholarship by attracting top students, but to maximize the chance of everyone passing by setting the bar at a good middle place - not too low, not too high, just right for GoldiLaw and B) to leave very intelligent but poor students in the cold, even though your school could afford to offer them a scholarship, because allowing more students in than will manage to pull through is terribly wrong and C) leave those marginal students who believe they can make it and want to try and can afford to do so in the cold because you are afraid of hurting some people's feelings by letting them in and then giving them their grades at the end of the year ... ?
9.4.2006 12:35am
Brian G (mail) (www):
Law school isn't hard at all if you doing the reading and take the time to learn. Basically, in my view, you shoulde know by midway through your first semester if you can do the work. Anything later than that is denial.
9.4.2006 1:04am
Avatar (mail):
Well, the question is, what's the effect on the classes? If you're taking a disproportionate amount of "slower" students, and your professors are going a bit slower to keep them in the game, then that's DEFINITELY bad for your top students... they're not getting the best education they could get. (Naturally, there's a limit to how hard you can push before you're weeding out the perfectly adequate.)

The determining factor is how well these failing students would be doing at another institution. If they just can't get in anywhere else, well then, what can you say? A school with a really liberal admissions policy will attract a disproportionate share of marginal cases, and if you're teaching to a high standard, you'll cull out a disproportionate number of those marginal cases.

At the same time, you should never assign a failing grade to adequate work, just to keep a mathematical curve. If you're admitting students and then failing a certain percentage of them regardless of the quality of their work, you'd better be DAMNED sure that percentage is much smaller than the number of students who are really inadequate for the task, or you're doing the entire academic community a huge disservice.

I do say, though, that if you're working on -law school-, isn't there a certain question of exactly how long you're supposed to have your hand held? I mean, it's post-graduate university work. Aren't you supposed to be able to do research and read the fine print by then?
9.4.2006 1:24am
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
As I wrote several years ago, this sort of incident can actually be treated as a golden pedagogical opportunity. From now on, every law student in every law school in the country should be given an automatic failing grade in torts--unless he or she can, by dint of his or her own efforts, legally compel the school (either by injunction or by threat of a financial ruinous settlement) to give the student a passing grade.

If a student can't figure out a way to sue his or her way to a passing grade, then he or she clearly doesn't have what it takes to be a lawyer in this day and age.
9.4.2006 4:59am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Law school isn't hard at all if you doing the reading and take the time to learn.

Is that all it took to maintain a B- at STUSLM? If that was the expectation, but the reality is that it took more than that, I see the point that the school should have been more clear about it. I don't think there's anything wrong with a law school for those who don't qualify for better law schools (the equivalent of foreign medical schools, which can work for those folks who messed up as undergraduates, but are now motivated enough to work twice as hard), but it ought to be made clear.

There were as many A's as B's as F's? That's a pretty weird curve.

I read |A| = |F| and |B| = |D|, not |A| = |B| = |D| = |F|.

I like how the plaintiff claims to have suffered embarassment (paragraph 32F), yet he files a lawsuit which lists his weak grades for all to see

Is there any claim for embarassment which is immune from this criticism?

His cumulative GPA was 2.397, according to the complaint. It doesn't take much favorable light to consider this and the efforts he made and that were made on his behalf (Point 20, Mom) and note, as in Point 18, that he was close. I suppose this makes him more sympathetic than someone who didn't stand a chance.

These people were studying to be lawyers for Christ's sake, and they are claiming they should be compensated because they were too lazy to do due diligence and/or too stupid to understand the risk they were assuming? Please!

Points 22 and 23 claim that there is incorrect information published by STUSLM about the curves actually used and the procedures actually used, reiterated in the points summarized at Point 29. The change in policy is recent (since 2003, according to Point 25A et seq) so external research beyond the information published by STUSLM would not have been available at the time Bentey applied, given that he was admitted to the class entering in 2004.

As for laziness, see again about his mother and the ungranted request for review: we don't know if he took extra efforts before the exams, but he certainly did after the grades.

As for the ABA being named, I don't see the frivolity there either, if accreditation is to have any meaning to would-be students.

Some schools are easier to fail out of, once admitted, than others. I don't know if the difficulty of getting in should be positively or negatively correlated with the difficulty of graduating, but as a consumer, one deserves not to be deceived about the risk one is assuming.
9.4.2006 5:05am
PersonFromPorlock:
Ming:

...they are claiming they should be compensated because they were too lazy to do due diligence and/or too stupid to understand the risk they were assuming? Please!

Where've you been? The courts have already moved on from smokers to fat people, why shouldn't law students be next?
9.4.2006 8:32am
Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat (mail):
As for laziness, see again about his mother and the ungranted request for review: we don't know if he took extra efforts before the exams, but he certainly did after the grades.


So having Mommy call seeking special dispensation counts as 'extra effort'? And when be botches a brief as a practicing lawyer, no doubt she'll be happy to call the judge ex parte to plead his client's case.

When such problems arise, a faculty member should schedule an appointment with the student, describe in a very, very clear (but compassionate) way the faculty's view of the student's situation, and direct the student to career-counseling resources provided by the school.


Followed by a group hug and a big bowl of ice cream.

In fact, St. Thomas did describe, in the clearest way possible, the faculty's view of the student's situation (i.e., that further study would be like trying to teach a pig to sing) and they compassionately declined to take any more of the lug-head's money. As for career counseling, I think the school pretty effectively counseled that he should be finding another one.
9.4.2006 12:17pm
Proud to be a liberal :
Perhaps one substantial problem is the amazing amount of grade inflation at undergraduate schools. Many law students, even at fourth tier law schools, have grade averages of B or better. Thus, a prospective law student with experience of a B average in college might think it unlikely that he or she would get a grade of C+ or lower.
Also, many schools don't use a mandatory curve. At my school we use a mean; that means no one has to get either an A or an F. And there are many law students who could do much better in law school if they would only work harder and more effectively. For example, they could pay attention to their professor rather than surf the net in class!
9.4.2006 1:11pm
MDJD2B (mail):
There's something implicit in an acceptance letter that says you are qualified to be a lawyer from an intellectual standpoint.

You have too high a view of the ability of admission officers to tell who can do the job.

Assume you have a pool of students of whom you can predect that each of them has a 70% chance to succeed in school, but your model isn't any more precise. Isn't it reasonable to admit them all and drop the 30% who don't cut the mustard?

As long as entering students know what they are getting into, and as long as the weeding out is done in the first year, I don't have a problem. I have a problem wigh a school that takes tuition money for 2 or 3 years before failing out the student. I also have a problem with schools that take money from students who are not performing to standard, pass them, and let them fail certificatin exams, or let them poorly serve clients/patients/customers.
9.4.2006 1:23pm
ksd:
I am astonished and appalled at the people who think the school has done some wrong for which it should be liable. You're arguing that it is actionable for the school to admit students that it should know don't have a very good chance of passing the bar exam. In effect, you're arguing that the school, and not the state bar or supreme court, should decide who gets to be a lawyer. In your world, real test of bar admission becomes the LSAT, because a high score on the LSAT provides entrance to law school, which in turn carries with it vitual assurance of passage of the bar exam.

Whatever happened to the concept of opportunity? So what if someone did miserably on the LSAT, or had poor undergrad grades, or both? If he thinks that he has what it takes to be a lawyer, and is willing to work at it, why not give him an equal opportunity?
9.4.2006 1:35pm
tab (mail):
Am I the only person who is curious to know what the guy's LSAT and undergraduate GPA are?
9.4.2006 2:48pm
lem:
Clearly Bentey would have done well to run a test suite on his causes of action. Many of you have made valid points about the implications of this suit-- affirmative action programs in particular. As a law student I am sympathetic to Bentey, and definitely relieved to attend a school which lost just one first-year student due to poor academic performance. Still, he is not alone in his situation; the business model is not limited to small private schools such as St. Thomass. Many other schools, including large state universities, have law programs that admit anyone and just flunk a third.
9.4.2006 3:28pm
Lively:
Many of these posts have the following in them:
1. St. Thomas University School of Law of Miami
2. under qualified students

I'd be interested in knowing how their fall recruitment season goes for the next couple of years, given their recent claim to fame.
9.4.2006 3:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
In fact, St. Thomas did describe, in the clearest way possible, the faculty's view of the student's situation (i.e., that further study would be like trying to teach a pig to sing) and they compassionately declined to take any more of the lug-head's money.
Exactly. Indeed, let's take that thought further.

The underlying premise of his suit is that the school is fraudulently undergrading this guy because the school doesn't think he'll pass the bar exam, and they want to inflate their pass numbers. If the school did think he'd pass the bar, they'd have no reason to kick him out, since it's just costing them his future tuition. But clearly, he's not really disputing their assessment; after all, he is is not contesting any of his grades other than his Contracts grade, so he's not arguing that he's really a 3.5 GPA student who the school is fraudulently treasting as a 2.4 GPA student. He's arguing that he's really a 2.5 or 2.6 GPA student who the school is fraudulently treating as a 2.4 GPA student. Basically, we -- the school, this guy, and us here at Volokh -- are all in agreement that he almost certainly is not going to pass the bar.

So, while he still asks for injunctive relief, asking them to raise his Contracts grade, the real theory of his case is, "They shouldn't have admitted me at all." IOW, he's suing to be (retroactively) rejected from law school.
9.4.2006 7:06pm
Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat (mail):
the real theory of his case is, "They shouldn't have admitted me at all." IOW, he's suing to be (retroactively) rejected from law school.


Actually, he's seeking a far better deal than mere retroactive rejection. If he prevails, he gets to keep the benefit of admission (the chance to achieve a 2.5 gpa and become a lawyer). However, having flunked that, he seeks the additional benefits of retroactive rejection (refunded tuition and lost income) and, in not finished there, he also wants treble damages under RICO and money for the embarrassment he suffered as the result of the exposure of his idiocy.
9.4.2006 9:19pm
hey (mail):
Nearly all forced curves are a bad idea, especially at a school such as St Thomas. Use an absolute grade, rather than a forced curve. So is this guys "really" substandard or is he just (barely) in the lower fraction of his course but qualified otherwise? With a forced curve IT DOESN"T MATTER HOW HARD YOU WORK. It matters how hard you work as compared to your cohort. So if somehow ST T had a class of 4.0 and 180 LSATs, they'd still fail 30% of the clas... hmmm.
9.4.2006 9:30pm
Proud to be a liberal :
But I hear that the top 20 law schools have B+ curves, by and large. Thus, it appears that schools which have students most likely to pass the bar have curves that do not flunk 30% of the students. Presuamably, St. Thomas would reconsider its curve if its students did better (or were better to begin with).
9.4.2006 9:53pm
Conor (mail):
Hey writes.

So if somehow ST T had a class of 4.0 and 180 LSATs, they'd still fail 30% of the clas... hmmm.


No, they wouldn't, because if ST attracted highly qualified students they wouldn't have a 30% flunk-out policy. ST's policy is in response to statistics showing that the bottom 30% of the students who actually end up attending ST had very little chance of passing the bar exam.

In the unlikely event that the quality of ST's admittees should dramatically improve, ST could maintain its mandatory grade curve while dropping its expulsion policy.
9.4.2006 9:56pm
Eugene G. Bernat (mail):
Mr. Bentey,

Perhaps, as relief you would like admission to the bar or may be the next seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Only rarely are grades given they are usually earned. You earned low grades! Your lawsuit should be tossed and you should be tossed from law school.

We all probably earned grades we thought should be higher, but we do not make federal cases out of it. You should try what I have and work harder!
9.4.2006 10:46pm
Houston Lawyer:
Back in the early 80's, I worked with a Harvard MBA student. He stated that Harvard had a "screen" and kicked out the bottom 20% of the class. I find that to be amazing considering how hard it is to get in.

When a school is easy to get into, the only way to ensure quality graduates is to screen out the worst students.
9.4.2006 10:48pm
Ben Barros (mail):
Some startlingly uninformed commenters have suggested that the law schools are letting people in knowing that they will fail. This is nonsense. It is very hard to predict how students with the fourth-tier admissions profile will perform once they are in school. (I teach at a fourth-tier school, so I know what I'm talking about). Among other things, the predictive value of the LSAT breaks down a lot in the 147-155 range. The schools know at the outset that a certain percentage of students will flunk out, they just don't know which ones. Some of my best students have had LSATs below 148 and got in through a trial admissions program that we offer over the summer. I have a very hard time believing that any student enters a fourth-tier school without knowledge of that school's attrition rates.
9.4.2006 11:08pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
When I began a math PhD program at Berkeley, the attrition rate was about 75%. Three out of every four would leave, many forced out by the first-year "prelim" exam, and others running out of time or encouragement. And we did indeed form a cohort of low-paid TAs, which they needed.

Nevertheless, I did see method in their madness: it looked as if they accepted students who could supply at least one of good GREs or good grades/recommendations. The latter were of unknown value for undergraduates from Podunk, some of whom turned out to be near-brilliant and others clueless. The former were either late bloomers, lazy, or any number of other possibilities. Many Berkeley PhDs weren't accepted at any other top-five department (I am one such).
9.5.2006 12:11am
Daryl Herbert (www):
I vote: the JUDGE should grade his Contracts II Exam. With a big fat red pen.

If he can get at least a "B" from the Judge, the rest of his lawsuit should be allowed to continue. If not, he goes home with nothing.

---

Scratch that, the judge would probably go easy on him. The CLERKS should do the grading... I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

---

Nope, that's exactly what you'd get with a symmetric Gaussian distribution.

So it's a pretty normal curve.


If it's a normal curve, what's it perpendicular to?
9.5.2006 3:27am
DJR:
"Plaintiff verily believes that his grade in Contracts II was higher than a C." Aye! 'Tis so, verily!

I'm not sure who is worse, the plaintiff or the lawyers, Michael Lombardi of Lombardi &Lombardi, who represent him.
9.5.2006 9:28am
Suzy (mail):
If the school is honest about its policies and standards, then I see no problem. The only concern is that the school is not accurately representing its practices. If it misleads incoming students about its retention rates and bar passage rates, then I'd say there's a problem.
9.5.2006 2:18pm
happylee (mail):
I'm with Jim Lindgren and ksd. In fact, this sort of ruthless filtering should take place at all levels of education, beginning in first grade. This way, by the time junior gets to law school he will not have this ridiculous inflated sense of his true ability, and he will thus be less likely to make bad decisions. What's life without challenge and the very real prospect of failure?
I hope southpark finds a way to work something in about this case. (Kartman: You will respect mai inferiority!)
9.5.2006 8:47pm