Coming Soon: Your New and Improved Law School Transcript - Articles

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Posted by: William Haltom on Aug 25, 2010

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2010

Journal Name: September 2010 - Vol. 46, No. 9

Thirty-two years ago, I graduated from the Big Orange College of Law. I honestly don't recall my class standing or my GPA. I have conveniently forgotten both. Suffice to say I did not graduate summa cum laude. I did not graduate magna cum laude. In fact, I graduated thank you laude or laude have mercy.

I may have been the only student in the history of the University of Tennessee to socially pass law school.

Well, my brother and sister legal scholars, I have some good news! Our law school GPAs may actually soon increase. In fact, you and I may soon have a new and improved law school grade transcript!

Believe it or not, according to recent reports in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Loyola University Law School in Los Angeles recently tacked on 0.333 to every law school grade recorded in the last few years. It was part of a nationwide trend to curve law school grades upward in an effort to help make law school graduates more attractive in the legal job market.

While Loyola is the first law school to retroactively raise grades, numerous other law schools across the country are now moving to prospectively raise grades. Georgetown, NYU and Tulane law schools have all recently changed their grading systems to make them more lenient.

Yes, it's grade inflation, and soon every law school grad in America may have a grade transcript that makes them look like Benjamin Cardozo!

Going one step further, Harvard and Stanford (which, I understand, are both accredited law schools) have recently come up with the ultimate curve, eliminating traditional A thru F or numerical grades altogether, instituting in their place a "modified pass/fail system." The next logical step, of course, will be to eliminate "fail" and move exclusively to a "pass" system. Let's face it, folks. If you are smart enough to get into Harvard and automatically destined to be a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, you really shouldn't have to study or take tests. You should be treated like a star football player used to be treated at the University of Tennessee, back in the days when University of Tennessee had star football players. (Thanks to the Congressman Steve Cohen Lottery Scholarships, the admission standards at the University of Tennessee have now been raised to the point that the UT football team is no better than Vanderbilt's.)

I sure wish the Big Orange College of Law had had a "modified pass/fail" grading system back during the Carter Administration. On graduation day 1978, I would have been named class co-valedictorian along with Sharon Lee, Fran Ansley, and everybody else in my class. But then again, that probably would not have happened, since Professors Joe Cook and John Sobieski would no doubt have flunked me in Contracts and Civil Procedure under a "modified pass/fail" grading system.

But while I can't go back and take Professor E. O. Overton's Property Law class "pass/fail," I still have hope that the law school will change my "Gentleman's C" grade to a "Scholar's B" even an "Elite Snob's A."

So here's an open appeal to Big Orange College of Law Dean Doug Blaze. Please don't be like Dean Wormer in Animal House. Be more like Dean Martin or Dizzy Dean. Give all Big Orange law grads a GPA that would make Antonin Scalia green with envy! All you have to do is grant my class action motion to amend the transcripts of all graduates of the Big Orange College of Law by raising our grades.

Just don't tell Professor Cook or Professor Sobieski what you are doing.

Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a partner with the Memphis firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. He is past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association.