“In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That”

Just like magic! Loyola Law School-Los Angeles “is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.” At least ten law schools, including Georgetown and NYU, have deliberately made their grading systems more lenient in recent years, the Times reports. [NYT]

In my forthcoming book Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered Americadue out next spring from Encounter — I collect some examples of the tactics law schools use in search of a competitive edge for themselves and their graduates, which might sometimes land them in hot water were they conventional businesses.


  • Why don’t they just change the name of their law school to the Lake Wobegon School of Law?

  • One of the more reliable currencies of law schools, at least where I was, in New York, was grades. I suppose at top-tier schools grades are less important, but at places like humble Brooklyn Law School, they’re desperately important. And the understanding seemed to be that an “A” was something special. By the distribution, it certainly was — I think A’s only took up a single-digit part of the class. It’s harsh, but an “A” student at Brooklyn Law could demonstrate himself to be on a par with higher-ranked schools.

    Employers knew this.

    With inflation, however, you end up hurting high-performing students at middle and lower-tier law schools.

  • If the logic were but valid, we could ease or addiction to oil by measuring fuel economy in kilometers per gallon. Any takers?

  • I went to Carnegie-Mellon University engineering a few years back. I would have loved an arbitrary “let’s inflate the grades.” The average GPA from C-MU even with that extra boost was still well below the standard university average. But we all know how well GPA correlates with success. Just look at FedEx. “Leveling the playing field,” never quite works.

  • Next time my Alma Mater (IANAL) calls and asks for a donation, I’ll ask them to make me a summa cum laude in return….

  • And prospective employers won’t know that the grades have been inflated because…?

    Funny, when I was in nursing schools there was a kind of reverse inflation: an A was 94% or better, etc. I had an impressive GPA, it’s over ten years out, and I’m still waiting for somebody to ask me about it.

  • Sheesh, and I used to be proud of my Loyola Law School J.D. …