Thursday, January 03, 2008

And, we're back

The theme of law student blogs at this time of the year all seem to be about grades (or the lack thereof). I offer below my explanation and the explanation that has been given to me by many professors. You can choose which makes more sense.

My explanation:
The root of the problem lies in the kind of people who become law professors. It should be of no surprise that the vast majority of people who have law degrees practice law [law school»law firm]. With the practice of law comes deadlines requiring promptness (e.g. deal closings for corporate types and motions and briefs for litigators). If you don't get them in by the deadline, [client loses case»client loses a lot of $»lawyer is out of a job--see here]. Therefore, experienced lawyers learn to get things done quickly and efficiently.

But law professors are a different breed. The standard trajectory of law professors is [law school»clerk»firm/govt for 2 years (optional)»academia]. Professors thus either have practiced law and hated the billable hour expectations or have never practiced law altogether (if you don't believe me, there are several professors at every law school who are not even admitted to the bar). How professors really earn their paychecks is not by teaching 4 hours a week but by thinking of ideas and putting them on paper. And they all claim that you can't set deadlines on geniousness. Also, while firms expect associates to work during the winter holidays, professors feel that they need a break because thinking of ideas and putting them on paper is taxing on their brains.

Professor's explanation:
Objective and careful grading takes a lot of time. You have to (1) read each answer carefully, (2) reread, (3) assign points, (4) count up points, (5) make curve, (6) submit to records office. [N.B.: at most schools steps 4-6 are done by professor's assistants]. And because teaching is a small part of their job, they have to balance grading with their other academic (e.g. committee work) and family commitments .


Blogger Strange Bird said...

Given that other commitments usually don't have deadlines around New Year's, I'm inclined to go with your explanation. :)

I also think it has something to do just with the nature of academia. People go into it because they want the school year schedule, even if they are researching/doing whatever else over the summer. If I were a professor, I'd not bother grading over the holidays, either. Doesn't mean it's not annoying to check grades and still not have any.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Law Student Hot Mama said...

I want to know why it is that all the grades are due at the same time. I mean, I have more sympathy for professors who are teaching some huge class full of essay exams than I do for some geezer teaching 10 people. I had one professor (a class of about 10 people) who LOST half the class's papers. He admitted he never found them and randomly assigned people a B+. At least the grade wasn't so bad.

For more law comiseration, check out my blog that I'm trying to get off the ground:

6:20 PM  

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