Choosing The Law Career You Want

New York University School of Law

Another Law School Makes Switch To Pass/Fail

New York University School of Law is shifting to a mandatory pass or fail grading model for the remainder of its spring semester.

The decision, reported by NYU’s student newspaper Washington Square News, says the decision came following the overwhelming recommendation of law students.

“The administration looked to us,” Kevin Tupper, a student in his final year at NYU Law and the president of the Student Bar Association tells Washington Square News. “Recognizing that this is a divisive issue without a clear choice, they looked to us to find out what the student perspective was.”


In the absence of grades, many experts say there is fear around how a pass/fail model may influence a law grad’s chances of securing a legal job.

“Unless we change the timetable for hiring, you are hiring off of one semester of grades,” Gavin White, the global hiring partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, tells “That probably hurts the students who have a less-than-stellar first semester, but otherwise would have been able to show an improvement for the second semester. They are sort of being robbed of that opportunity.”

Many law schools that have implemented a pass/fail model have noted that transcripts from this semester will be annotated. The hope is that annotations will show future employers that pass/fail grades were a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and not out of student choice.

“Grades for spring 2020 will not figure in any student’s cumulative merit point ratio, nor will the law school calculate or distribute end-of-academic year rankings this academic year for first-year students,” a memo by Cornell Law reads.

A number of law schools have already shifted to a pass/fail model for their spring semesters. Schools including Stanford Law School; Harvard Law School; the University of Michigan Law School; the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and Cornell Law School have all adopted pass/fail systems, according to

Sources: Washington Square News,