Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Thursday, December 01, 2005

De-effeminization of UM Law?

Many seasoned lawyers comment that law school has become too "soft" on students. They point out that professors once not only called on students randomly, but they ridiculed them for incorrect answers. If a student had a panic attack, or better yet started to cry, so much the better.

Today things have changed, and keeping with leftist notions of entitlement and accomodation, law schools bend over backwards to make everyone "comfortable". Professors are encouraged to allow students to "pass" when called on, and to be given advance notice of when they will be called on and what will be asked. The result? Its not uncommon for four or five consecutively called-on students to "pass", or for students given notice they will be "on call" to simply not show up for the session. It makes a mockery of a time honored tradition that also serves as very practical training for communicating in court with impatient and demanding judges.

The Socratic method is constantly written about and discussed in literature directed towards law students, such as the ABA's Student Jouranal and the National Jurist. Although I don't have the cite handy, within the past few years the UM Law Review published a student authored "comment" filled with the usual liberal blather about how law school should treat every student's shortcomings as a "disability" and make special accomodations, i.e. if being called on causes the student undue stress then that student has a learning challenge to be accomodated by the school no less than if that student were blind.

On a slightly different but related issue, I was pleasantly surprised by the email we all received from Assistant Dean Fajer, wherein he politely gives the finger to all the nancy law students whining about the possiblity that laptop and bluebook users will (gasp!) share the same exam rooms. I can just imagine the torture it put him through to read all the lengthy emails from students sobbing about their "learning disabilities" verified by psychologists and insisting that the clickity-clack of a laptop, as opposed to the scratching and shuffling of papers, would doom their law school careers. Now, of course, Dean Fajer couched his sentiment in feigned concern. But coming from him, that response is good enough for me.

I've made my criticisms of law school exams known on this blog, but one thing I do like is their tendancy to test a student's ability to think under time pressure. Do these complaining students think that when they are pressed for time a law office is going to hush-up for them? Will co-workers turn off their laptops and whisper with their clients while the whiner works on that assignment for the senior partner due in two hours?

I suppose the lingering question is whether or not Fajer's stated reasons for denying the request for separate exam rooms (lack of rooms) is legitimate, or if his real reasons are because he feels students ought to tough it out. Interestingly, Professor Fajer is an old-school practioner of the Socratic method, and while he'll stop short of pushing a student to tears, he's not afraid to embarass someone who obviously isn't prepared. I find it hard to believe that it is literally impossible to accomodate the whiners, so I think Fajer just doesn't want to. Good for him.


  • At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I had two professors my first semester that just reamed students. One prof got super angry and nearly walked out of class when a student wasn't prepared. Another insulted students constantly for reading an answer from a page in their notes. Once, when a random student tried to pass, he made him turn in a brief of every case we'd cover that day, before class, for the rest of the semester.

    Guess it must vary with professors - they weren't all that crazy! Maybe our class complained and got things changed?

  • At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While I recognize that there are individuals who do suffer from legitimate learning disabilities, I believe that things have gotten out of control. When I was at UM, I had a real problem with the fact that several of my classmates received some kind of "accomodation" for their exams, such as double time or an untimed exam, and then their blue books were put in the same pile with everyone else's! In my first year, one of the top ten students in my class had untimed tests; this person transferred to a top tier school after the first year. Of course, I never made an issue of this, as I certainly would have been vilified for discriminating against those with "disabilities."

    Now the whiners want to do away with the Socratic method. Instead of demanding "accommodation," these people should question their decision to become attorneys in the first place.

  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Bricklayer said…

    Stop the presses....

    What is this about untimed exams? Are you sure about this? Can you say what year this was?

  • At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd rather not say the be fair, I did not personally know the untimed may have been a vicious rumor. However, some of my ADD/ADHD friends were given double time, and one of these friends was told by the administration that some people were eligible to take untimed exams, depending on their diagnosis. I am sure about that.

  • At 5:30 PM, Blogger Bricklayer said…

    Hmmm... I knew that students alleging ADHD (a phony disease) were allowed to take the exam in a special quiet room, but I had no idea they were given more time.

    If true, this policy sickens me. I still find it hard to believe, and want to seek out more verification before I lambast the administration.

    Don't get me wrong, I believe in reasonable accomodations. But how can a law school overlook mental handicaps and still serve the public? To the extent that a timed exam is necessary, what justifies excusing anyone from the requirement? If timing is not necessary, then ALL students need to be given the option. So if a retard (or whatever the current PC term is) wants to go to law school, his grades should be curved differently?

    Again, I'm skeptical that the administration here is that insane.

  • At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, if it's not true, then people were lying to me about getting double time or time-plus-one-half...I'm pretty clear on that it really burned me up that they got extra time and one person even talked of going to a psych who would aid in a phony diagnosis. I've always wondered what these people expected to do when faced with a court deadline or judge who got up on the wrong side of the bed. If you verify this and find otherwise, then I stand corrected, but I'm pretty sure that's what I was told.

  • At 6:50 PM, Blogger some guy said…

    It is true. I don't think it's a secret at all. I assume the registrar or your favorite Dean will tell you this.

    The school accomodates students with documented disabilities and gives them nearly untimed exams.

    I say nearly untimed because you can't sit there forever but I think you have seven or eight hours. It's definitely more time than the rest of us get.

  • At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah, I noticed the "untimers" taking their exam in Room A110 each time. It kindof/sortof made me angry. The fact that one of them transfered to a top tier school just makes me turn red.

    There should be a note on their transcript - "untimed exams".


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