Paul L. Caron

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Krauss: Should Law Schools Grade Pass-Fail This Semester?

Following up on my previous posts on law school grading policies for the Spring 2020 semester in the wake of the coronavirus (links below):

Michael Krauss (George Mason), Should Law Schools Grade Pass-Fail This Semester?:

CoronavirusQuite a few top law schools have chosen to grade students on a pass-fail basis during this coronavirus-infected semester. ... I am extremely disappointed to have to teach the second half of this semester remotely. ... [O]ur class sessions are less rich when students only see each other as postage-stamp-size photos on the screen. For this I am truly sorry. But should this loss impact the type of grading that takes place? ...

Lawyers must confront many problems in their practice. Court dates conflict. Children are ill and must be cared for despite constant pressures of practice. Deadlines constantly loom, and witnesses occasionally vanish. Conflicts of interest counsel against taking cases, yet payrolls of assistants and paralegals must be met.

Yes, the coronavirus pandemic has imposed costs on law students, as it has on us all. No, throwing out the grading structure and denying excellent law students the opportunity to demonstrate their excellence is not the appropriate response to these costs. Law students should be allowed to demonstrate excellence, not merely pass. True, elite schools and median students will not be impacted by the change to a pass-fail structure, while excellent students at non-elite schools will be the biggest losers. Is that the redistribution we want to encourage?

TaxProf Blog coverage of law school grading policies in Spring 2020:

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

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