The end of each semester in law school brings a flood of emotions. We expect the relief and even glee that comes with selling, shelving, or destroying casebooks and bidding the classrooms farewell.
What is not so expected is what I half-jokingly call decompression sickness: the stress that comes from a great decrease (or shift in focus) of stress.
On top of the anxiety of filling the void now that frantic outlining, flash-carding, and memorization is done comes the fear of getting back final grades.
Time and again during my first year, there was one instructor who warned us about the letdown that is most law students’ first report card. She reminded us that most students in law school were able to succeed in undergrad with relatively minimal effort. Law school is, of course, a different ball game.
At many schools that have a mandatory curve, students who flew through college with straight As will likely be facing a lineup of solid Bs. Others will receive grades that just don’t seem fair in relation to the amount of effort poured into a given course. A lucky few will scratch their heads at the high A in a class they had written off as their worst. So, if you find yourself in any of these positions, take a deep breath, know you are anything but alone, and consider the following perspectives on the fundamental importance (or lack thereof) of law school grades as a measure of your worth as a human being.
- A tongue-in-cheek but sincere post from the Law School Academic Support Blog (2007)
- FindLaw’s article on the importance of grades, class rank, and the status of your school
- Advice for faculty as well as for students, from a law professor’s perspective
- A dated but very helpful professor’s perspective on first-year grades from The Volokh Conspiracy