Elite Law Schools Can Do What They Want
It’s my final year of law school and I had just finished my last final exam for the fall semester. Four exams filled with utter misery, confusing hypotheticals and might I add, law- professor- created exams with typos (and they say how important exams are). It was Friday night and I felt like I just got paid but I didn’t. I was completely exhausted from studying and working and working and studying.
So naturally, after exams I went out for celebratory drinks with a fellow law student as we bitched and complained and drank whiskey until about 4 am on Saturday morning. I crashed and woke up at 11:00 am and looked over at the alarm clock and realized that I had missed the bus heading to the Justice for All March on Washington calling for justice for Mike Brown, Eric Garner and the countless other Black men who had been killed at the hands of police officers-of which has lead to zero indictments returned by State grand juries. As I opened my eyes, the first thought that came to my mind was: “ I really wish I would have gotten accepted to Harvard!”
For those of you who have been under a rock for the last several weeks, let me set the stage.
Columbia University Law School has allowed its students to reschedule their exams if they feel traumatized by the recent grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. According to the school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott
“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” Mr. Scott’s letter said. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”
Once Harvard and Georgetown got a whiff of the news, they too, allowed their students to take exam extensions and the news sparked a rage among legal scholars, law students and legal social media went amok.
CONTROVERSIAL ALERT: THE ARGUMENTS PROCEED AS FOLLOWS!
Opponents of this policy say: Who do these students think they are by requesting an exam extension because they were so-called traumatized? I went to law school during heavy political tensions and I still took exams! And how does one measure “traumatization” in this matter? Is it based on race- Participation in protests? This is not fair!
Proponents say: Law School is (allegedly) designed to promote justice and create notions of fairness in grey areas of the law that are tainted with injustice. Law Schools have a duty to create social engineers and pioneers who have a primary goal of making the legal system operate more effectively and more efficiently. So why not?
So here is my humble opinion.
Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Cheers to Harvard and Columbia and Georgetown law schools who are attempting to make a legal education worth it again because 99% of law schools, like 99% of laws are not adjusting to the changing climate and people are getting pissed off!
Which Reminds Me.
Law School Exams are No Longer Relevant
The hardest part about law school is getting in. The 2nd hardest part about law school is the first year. After that, law schools really need to relax the role of the final exam because it adds nothing greater to a law student’s life. It doesn’t make a better lawyer or even prepare students for the bar exam. It is set in place because law schools are not willing to transform their curriculum in a real and practical way so they continue to apply the same old traditional norms that are no longer applicable to modern day society.
Harvard and some of the other Elite schools have already taken a stance on the one exam grade issue and has eliminated grades altogether giving students a High Pass (HP); Pass (P); Low Pass (P) and Fail (F). Now, of course everyone wants the HP-but the message is clear that if you get into Harvard Law- Harvard Law has your back! Once a student is accepted to these Ivy League schools-there is a rebuttable presumption that the school’s name alone will carry them where they need to go-not how well they did on a Torts Exam.
Exams, arguably are for first year students and should be revisited after graduation but before the BAR exam. One does not NEED exam after exam to become an effective lawyer (or advocate or CEO or whatever other reasons people go to law school). But one NEEDS to advocate and stand for something-particularly justice.
Now, do I think that some students will totally exploit this opportunity arguing that they are apart of the so-called traumatized group, meanwhile are home buying more time to study? Of Course I do. But who cares-its Harvard-Its Columbia and-Its Georgetown! These are the students that will be the next Supreme Court Justices and heads of government anyway. They need to understand how the political climate changes the law and they need to be apart of the process. The future Obamas of the country will not remember exam questions when they are sitting in office but they will undoubtedly remember the day Darren Wilson was not indicted and the country proceeded in uproar. Exams, in such cases, are superfluous. They really don’t matter. I’m just jealous that I didn’t have that same opoportunity to postpone my exams but the applause remains. The Elite law schools just keep winning.