June 19, 2024

Letters: Law Schools, Grades and Scholarships

To the Editor:

Re “Behind the Curve: How Law Students Lose the Grant Game, and How Their Schools Win” (May 1):

The article described how a grade curve can keep first-year law students from having their scholarships renewed for the second year. But grading on the curve doesn’t necessarily mean that professors give low grades to scholarship students who really deserve higher ones. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

The study of law is still a meritocracy. Students compete against one another, just as they will in court someday. There is a direct correlation between hard work, good grades and success at trial. Those who diligently prepare and delay gratification are at the top of the curve. Those who don’t, aren’t. Rod Sullivan

Jacksonville, Fla., May 2

The writer is an assistant professor of law at the Florida Coastal School of Law.


To the Editor:

The article correctly identifies so-called “merit” scholarships — tuition discounts given to students with high LSAT or grades in order to induce them to attend a particular law school — as a serious problem for students.

In fact, this market makes everyone worse off. When U.S. News World Report rankings are the key factor for law school success, any school that dares to ignore them risks a death spiral of rapidly departing employers, students and faculty. But the effects of competing for rank in a zero-sum game are disastrous.

First, no admissions department would place as much weight on grades and LSATs as the rankings do. Grades and scores don’t measure students’ actual desire to become a lawyer, or the personality traits that are likely to predict success or happiness in the field. They also don’t measure commitment to justice or the desire to practice in an essential underserved area of the law, or the interests and learning style best fitted to a particular school’s strengths.

Second, the threat of losing grants leads students to focus on grades rather than education, and competition rather than cooperation. Colleagues are seen as competitive threats, to everyone’s detriment.

Third, the ranking system means that students who do well are tempted to transfer to higher-ranked schools. Mid-ranked schools replace them with similar students, but the loss of community, relationships and cooperation hurts everyone.

Daniel J. H. Greenwood

Brooklyn, May 1

The writer is a professor of law at the Hofstra Law School.

Letters for Sunday Business may be sent to sunbiz@nytimes.com.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b16369cece30b8fc8d28c33fd1139248

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