Just when it looked like there couldn’t possibly any more reasons to lock up a spot at a good law school, something else pops up. At many lower ranked law schools, the grading system is harsh. At the fourth-tier school that Shannon Achimalde attended, most students had GPAs in the 2.0 to 2.9 range. Achimalbe’s school was ranked outside of the top 200, according to her latest article for Above the Law.
Her law school wasn’t alone. Most all law schools grade on a curve. At many lower ranked law schools the GPA of the class at 50 percent is, again, between 2.0 and 2.9. And mid-tier schools, the 50 percent GPA is 3.0. Top schools have a 50 percent GPA of 3.3. Achimalbe, who is a corporate attorney, believes the main reason for this is to make top students at the lower ranked schools work extra hard to get high GPAs and, therefore, be attractive to the most prestigious law firms.
Achimalbe also believes there are some covert reasons for the cruel grading. One is keeping students from transferring. It is no secret that some students will spend the first year at a lower ranked school fully planning on transferring to a higher-ranked school. It’s also no secret law schools have a GPA requirement for accepting transfers. By keeping the GPAs low, it makes it very difficult for students to transfer.
Next, Achimalbe argues that the harsh grading often leads to students losing scholarships by not hitting the minimum GPA needed to keep them. What’s more, some of these lower-ranked schools are known for putting all of the scholarship recipients in the same course—ensuring many lose their money.
Of course lower grades have more implications than just lost scholarships and difficulty in transferring. It makes it even more difficult to land a job. This reality, however, is that by making it difficult for the majority of their graduates to land jobs, the law schools are shooting themselves in the foot. If their graduates are not getting jobs, they will continue to be ranked towards the bottom of any respectable ranking.
Nevertheless, if a law student is going to get an average grade anyway, it would be wise to devote less time to studying and more time to practical experience. This is a way graduates can move past a low GPA and become more attractive to employers.
Source: Above The Law