Karen Sloan (Law.com), Why Does It Take So Damn Long to Grade Law School Finals?:
Lucky law students will find out their grades in a few weeks, but most will be on pins and needles for a month or more as they await their results. What’s more, they’ll return to campus for the start of the spring semester without knowing how they fared during the previous one.
So what gives? Why does it take so darn long for law professors to grade their final exams? We reached out to some professors to find out the truth. It turns out that—despite what some students may think—most law professors don’t jet off for a tropical vacation the minute finals wrap, leaving their exams behind. There’s a confluence of reasons, they say, for why it may take professors weeks to turn in final grades, ranging from the sheer length of law school finals and the meticulousness with which professors approach grading to the timing of the holidays at the end of the fall semester. They also say that the professors themselves—not teaching assistants—do all the grading. ...
[T]here’s only so much a school can do to motivate tenured professors, said Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law professor Derek Muller. Wrangling grades from adjuncts can also be tough given that they have jobs and other responsibilities, he said, recalling a story of an administrator who threatened to sit in an adjunct’s office until the that person submitted class grades.
Procrastination is a factor for plenty of law professors, Muller said. Some travel for the holidays, and the timing of the Association of American Law School’s annual meeting, which takes place right after New Years, can also cut into grading time. It doesn’t help that grading ranks as one of the least enjoyable aspects of the job. (Muller said pre-finals office hours are actually his least favorite part of his gig, but grading is a close second.)
“Grading is tough,” he said. “You’re reading versions of the same essay—for a first-year class it could be 60, 70, 80 times in the row. You’re trying to your best to differentiate between the Bs and the B+s, because a lot rides on this, especially during the first semester.”