Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Student Sues Michigan Law School for Discriminating Against Slow Typists on Exams

Interesting post on the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog:  Slow Typist Sues His Law School:

Adrian Zachariasewycz filed suit against the ... University of Michigan Law School ... alleg[ing] that Michigan’s grading system discriminated against the likes of him because of his poor typing skills. Reads the complaint: “Certain exams taken by [plaintiff] that required students to be skilled touch-typists in order to produce a competitive response resulted in borderline failing grades by virtue of the low volume of prose [plaintiff] could type in the time allotted as compared with other students.” ...

Michigan Law School just sent the Law Blog the following statement: At Michigan Law, students generally choose for themselves whether to write examination answers by hand or whether to type on a keyboard (laptop or typewriter). Beyond the typing policy at issue in the lawsuit, every effort is made to ensure fairness and equitability in the grading and evaluation process.

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How about slow thinkers? Mike Livingston

Posted by: Michael A. Livingston | Jan 29, 2007 7:50:49 AM

"Slow thinkers" is another name for people with cognitive processing difficulties. They are fully covered by the ADA and I'm sure there were many lawsuits brought before they were granted accommodations. Look around your law school and see the vast number of people granted extra time on exams as evidence of the growing nature of this phenomenon (or diagnosis). Most of those people also received more time on the LSAT.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 29, 2007 9:10:44 AM

I typed a lot of U of Michigan Law School exams. The ordinary method when I was there (Class of '94).

The understanding at the time was that it was an accomodation for the non-medical problem of poor pensmanship, and the related issue of eye strain on not always young professors trying to discern the poor pensmanship of their students.

Given the less than optimal theory pleaded (an ADA claim perfected by a request for accomodation for CPD would have been stronger), I suspect that this suit will fail at an early stage, perhaps even on 10th Amendment grounds.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jan 29, 2007 4:04:12 PM

I wrote all my law school exams by hand, even though I can touch type up to 90 words per minute. Worrying about typing on unfamiliar hardware seemed like an unnecessary distraction at the time. The UMich Law plaintiff's real complaint seems to be that he hasn't yet picked up on the lawyer's art of sifting the relevant from the irrelevant, and putting whatever is left over on paper succinctly.

Posted by: Jake | Jan 29, 2007 6:47:11 PM