K.G. Molina (Oklahoma 2L) & Lawprofblawg (Anonymous Professor, Top 100 Law School), Law Students In The Age Of Coronavirus:
Law students are facing a new and precarious danger: Coronavirus has not only quieted streets and shut down restaurants, it has thrust the economy into a deep recession, perhaps even depression. During the chaos and disquieting calm since we all retreated into quarantines, law students and law professors are faced with the situation of trying to carry on as normal to finish the semester, all the while knowing it isn’t normal at all.
Some schools have recognized the new normal, allowing students to finish pass/fail. Some have opted for an ignorance is bliss approach, preferring to continue with grades as if the world of law students hasn’t changed. Others, in a particularly callous effort, have requested that students write essays justifying pass/fail, as if COVID-19 were not justification enough. ...
Suddenly, class, grades, and rank feel less important — I’m not certain what the world will look and who will be there after the pandemic passes. Then again, even getting a job after law school seems unlikely. Let’s not forget that there’s also a recession. Law students from lower-ranked state schools cannot compete with the top-tier law schools whose graduates will be scrambling for anything they can find this and next year.
Enter the Great 2020 Law School Debate: Should law schools use pass/fail or keep the curve? The debate exposed a tension: pass/fail is the fairer option given the suddenness of the change, but some law schools prefer to use the curve to distinguish their “best” students and give some students a boost in hiring and a tool to dole out scholarships. Some law schools offered another choice: You can see your grades, and if you don’t like them, declare pass/fail. Already, law schools recognized that its method favors a certain type of (white, wealthy, and legal pedigree) student — usually dismissing the concern with the “but everyone knows how to do law school by the second semester.” ...
Perhaps prioritizing kindness will do more for law students right now than enforcing law school norms. As law schools scramble to create fair solutions, they must consider their diverse, and struggling, students. To promote normalcy in these extraordinary times will only reinforce inequalities.
For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.