Distinction in academic standards between CLS and NYU?


"Columbia Law School has lower curves compared to neighboring law schools. For example, at NYU, 31 percent of an average class will receive A-range grades, and only six percent will receive below a B-. Columbias figures, meanwhile, are 24 percent and 10 percent, respectively."

(as reproduced from http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2009/02/16/law-school-considers-new-grade-scale)

What do you guys make of this distinction. Esp since it appears to be general consensus on this board, subject to a few dissenting voices, that CLS is considerably more selective about its students, unsurprising given its much smaller class?
"Columbia Law School has lower curves compared to neighboring law schools. For example, at NYU, 31 percent of an average class will receive A-range grades, and only six percent will receive below a B-. Columbia’s figures, meanwhile, are 24 percent and 10 percent, respectively."

(as reproduced from http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2009/02/16/law-school-considers-new-grade-scale)

What do you guys make of this distinction. Esp since it appears to be general consensus on this board, subject to a few dissenting voices, that CLS is considerably more selective about its students, unsurprising given its much smaller class?
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Hedek
Grades mean little in absolute terms. Recruiters (and where applicable SJD selection committees) are more interested in your ranking compared to the rest of your class than in your grades per se.

ie. it's better to have mostly B's and be in the top 5% than have mostly A's and be in the top 10-25%. And I'd rather be a low pass at Yale or Stanford over a 4.0 GPA at a T3 school, any day.

If you're an "achiever" and/or have a "competition thirsty" personality, class rank is what you should aim for, not grades.

For example, in my country, with 15/20 GPA, although that's only 3.0 GPA by American standards, you'll receive the magna cum laude distinction, and will rank among the top 1%.

Therefore, I don't think any useful conclusion can be drawn from the data you've pulled.

Yes Columbia has a smaller class, and is considered more selective. But there is little correlation between size of class and selectivity.

Anyone saying "Columbia has a smaller class than NYU, therefore it is more selective" deserves to be a student at neither.

University of Pittsburgh has one of the smallest LLM class in the US. Is it more selective?
Some T3 schools have a lower admitted/applicants rate than many top 14 schools, are they more selective? I don't think so.

If GULC suddenly decided to only accept the best 100 applicants rather than the best 300, the value of these best 100 wouldn't change: top NY firms would still only recruit the 30 best, the only difference is that in the first case top 30 represent 30% whereas in the second case they represent 10%
Grades mean little in absolute terms. Recruiters (and where applicable SJD selection committees) are more interested in your ranking compared to the rest of your class than in your grades per se.

ie. it's better to have mostly B's and be in the top 5% than have mostly A's and be in the top 10-25%. And I'd rather be a low pass at Yale or Stanford over a 4.0 GPA at a T3 school, any day.

If you're an "achiever" and/or have a "competition thirsty" personality, class rank is what you should aim for, not grades.

For example, in my country, with 15/20 GPA, although that's only 3.0 GPA by American standards, you'll receive the magna cum laude distinction, and will rank among the top 1%.

Therefore, I don't think any useful conclusion can be drawn from the data you've pulled.

Yes Columbia has a smaller class, and is considered more selective. But there is little correlation between size of class and selectivity.

Anyone saying "Columbia has a smaller class than NYU, therefore it is more selective" deserves to be a student at neither.

University of Pittsburgh has one of the smallest LLM class in the US. Is it more selective?
Some T3 schools have a lower admitted/applicants rate than many top 14 schools, are they more selective? I don't think so.

If GULC suddenly decided to only accept the best 100 applicants rather than the best 300, the value of these best 100 wouldn't change: top NY firms would still only recruit the 30 best, the only difference is that in the first case top 30 represent 30% whereas in the second case they represent 10%
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yasminm
I wouldn't go as far as to say "Anyone saying "Columbia has a smaller class than NYU, therefore it is more selective" deserves to be a student at neither", but I tend to agree with most of what Hedek is saying - though I am surprised at the different curves in the schools, firms would, in general, be looking more for class rank than actual grades.

I wonder how that plays out in an LLM class though - as far as I'm aware, neither school ranks their LLM students - how would firms be able to differentiate between them then? Is there a general understanding that the grades in CLS are (at least from the data provided) harder to get and therefore would be given more weight than equivalent grades at NYU? And on the assumption we accept the proposition than CLS is "considered more selective", which is something both posters above alluded to, is that something that recruiters would give weight to as well? If the answer to both questions is in the negative, between two schools that are considered to be close in prestige, wouldn't it than be true that I might as well go to the school where high grades are given out most frequently, wherever that might be, so that I can get as many distinctions as possible to impress my prospective employer?

Thoughts anyone?
I wouldn't go as far as to say "Anyone saying "Columbia has a smaller class than NYU, therefore it is more selective" deserves to be a student at neither", but I tend to agree with most of what Hedek is saying - though I am surprised at the different curves in the schools, firms would, in general, be looking more for class rank than actual grades.

I wonder how that plays out in an LLM class though - as far as I'm aware, neither school ranks their LLM students - how would firms be able to differentiate between them then? Is there a general understanding that the grades in CLS are (at least from the data provided) harder to get and therefore would be given more weight than equivalent grades at NYU? And on the assumption we accept the proposition than CLS is "considered more selective", which is something both posters above alluded to, is that something that recruiters would give weight to as well? If the answer to both questions is in the negative, between two schools that are considered to be close in prestige, wouldn't it than be true that I might as well go to the school where high grades are given out most frequently, wherever that might be, so that I can get as many distinctions as possible to impress my prospective employer?

Thoughts anyone?
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Hedek
Thoughts anyone?


My opinion is you're very diplomat and cautious about not hurting anyone's feeling :p Because if you weren't, provided you agree there's no direct correlation between size and selectivity, you would find no objection to saying someone who's convinced otherwise doesn't meet the level of logic that should be expected from a CLS or NYU student.

Anyways, are you certain LLM students aren't ranked?

In that case, I agree, the likeliness of getting higher grades could be an incentive. But of all the reasons that people should consider in choosing a law school, I honestly believe grading should be the last parameter.

That said, I heard Harvard was changing their grading system (to something similar to YLS and SLS) to evade accusations of grade inflation. So perhaps I'm underestimating the importance of this question?
<blockquote>Thoughts anyone?</blockquote>

My opinion is you're very diplomat and cautious about not hurting anyone's feeling :p Because if you weren't, provided you agree there's no direct correlation between size and selectivity, you would find no objection to saying someone who's convinced otherwise doesn't meet the level of logic that should be expected from a CLS or NYU student.

Anyways, are you certain LLM students aren't ranked?

In that case, I agree, the likeliness of getting higher grades could be an incentive. But of all the reasons that people should consider in choosing a law school, I honestly believe grading should be the last parameter.

That said, I heard Harvard was changing their grading system (to something similar to YLS and SLS) to evade accusations of grade inflation. So perhaps I'm underestimating the importance of this question?
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nicolas_a
as far as my field (taxation) is concerned, I've read that most of the recruiters are well informed on how much a grade is worth depending on the program and the professor/lecturer
I guess it can't be the case for every program in any field but given the us system I'm pretty sure recruiters know what's worth interest and what isn't
as far as my field (taxation) is concerned, I've read that most of the recruiters are well informed on how much a grade is worth depending on the program and the professor/lecturer
I guess it can't be the case for every program in any field but given the us system I'm pretty sure recruiters know what's worth interest and what isn't
quote
A few thoughts from a current NYU LLM student:
1. NYU doesn't rank LLMs (from what I've been told). Further, as I believe that someone alluded to earlier, the grades are given out pretty easy. You would have to fight to get below a B.
2. If you are a non-tax domestic LLM, your grades don't matter at all. I've been to >5 interviews in the last few months and not one of them wanted to see my LLM transcripts. For an international candidate, I've heard the opposite (grades are important). I don't know much about tax candidates.
3. With regards to what "recruiters know," I would expect that if you walk out with a B+ average from any T14 school, you are probably going to be OK. Most of those schools don't rank, so you aren't going to be expected to give a %.
A few thoughts from a current NYU LLM student:
1. NYU doesn't rank LLMs (from what I've been told). Further, as I believe that someone alluded to earlier, the grades are given out pretty easy. You would have to fight to get below a B.
2. If you are a non-tax domestic LLM, your grades don't matter at all. I've been to >5 interviews in the last few months and not one of them wanted to see my LLM transcripts. For an international candidate, I've heard the opposite (grades are important). I don't know much about tax candidates.
3. With regards to what "recruiters know," I would expect that if you walk out with a B+ average from any T14 school, you are probably going to be OK. Most of those schools don't rank, so you aren't going to be expected to give a %.
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phantomlaw
I'm curious about your experience with recruiters - you said that none of them were interested in your LL.M. transcript. Does this mean that your NYU LL.M. carried so much weight that they weren't worried about grades, or that it carried so little weight that even great grades would not have impressed them?
I'm curious about your experience with recruiters - you said that none of them were interested in your LL.M. transcript. Does this mean that your NYU LL.M. carried so much weight that they weren't worried about grades, or that it carried so little weight that even great grades would not have impressed them?
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yasminm
I think (though mschuster43, since you have primary knowledge of this, please correct me if I'm mistaken) the reason why they overlook the LLM is because for JD students, the JD qualification is always seen as the most important qualification, which is why most JDs don't bother doing an LLM unless they want to enter academia (for which, if you did not go to a high-ranked school, employment in the competitive academic market might be difficult, so you go to the high-ranked school for an LLM if your results as a JD student were good so that you can be affiliated to the LLM institution), or to explore a specialized field (e.g. tax).
I think (though mschuster43, since you have primary knowledge of this, please correct me if I'm mistaken) the reason why they overlook the LLM is because for JD students, the JD qualification is always seen as the most important qualification, which is why most JDs don't bother doing an LLM unless they want to enter academia (for which, if you did not go to a high-ranked school, employment in the competitive academic market might be difficult, so you go to the high-ranked school for an LLM if your results as a JD student were good so that you can be affiliated to the LLM institution), or to explore a specialized field (e.g. tax).
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mnementh
I don't think the numbers are true. First of all, NYU llm's without americans (who go to TAX llm but also to trade regulation llm and others) should be the same size like CLS I believe. As for the curve, until this year NYU's curve was the hardest in the country I think and much less than CLS and now i think they're balancing it a little.

As for the current % at NYU , there is inaccuracy as well, in the first post/blog article.

The 31% is the maximum above B+, it can get as low as 23%.
The 6% is the target number for B-. There is an up to additional 5% for BELOW B-. B- and lower together can be up to 13%.
I don't think the numbers are true. First of all, NYU llm's without americans (who go to TAX llm but also to trade regulation llm and others) should be the same size like CLS I believe. As for the curve, until this year NYU's curve was the hardest in the country I think and much less than CLS and now i think they're balancing it a little.

As for the current % at NYU , there is inaccuracy as well, in the first post/blog article.

The 31% is the maximum above B+, it can get as low as 23%.
The 6% is the target number for B-. There is an up to additional 5% for BELOW B-. B- and lower together can be up to 13%.
quote
I don't think the numbers are true.


As for the curve, until this year NYU's curve was the hardest in the country I think and much less than CLS and now i think they're balancing it a little.


I'm going to hazard a guess that given how much of an exaggeration your statement is when contrasted with the information in the website I posted above and the statement above by mschuster43 that grades are relatively easy to get there that you're an NYU student?
<blockquote>I don't think the numbers are true.</blockquote>

<blockquote>As for the curve, until this year NYU's curve was the hardest in the country I think and much less than CLS and now i think they're balancing it a little. </blockquote>

I'm going to hazard a guess that given how much of an exaggeration your statement is when contrasted with the information in the website I posted above and the statement above by mschuster43 that grades are relatively easy to get there that you're an NYU student?
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mnementh
The information only provided the current curve. Check historically. The reason for the chance was that NYU were at a disadvantage when employers didn't know how bad the curve was. So it's not an exaggeration. The current figures are accurate straight from NYU. And as for the question if it's easy or not to get "grades"? He only said that getting B or more is easy... well you can see the numbers. I wouldn't say it's easy but it's not immensely difficult. It depends on your classmates too.
The information only provided the current curve. Check historically. The reason for the chance was that NYU were at a disadvantage when employers didn't know how bad the curve was. So it's not an exaggeration. The current figures are accurate straight from NYU. And as for the question if it's easy or not to get "grades"? He only said that getting B or more is easy... well you can see the numbers. I wouldn't say it's easy but it's not immensely difficult. It depends on your classmates too.
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mnementh
btw, you can find the NYU curve and what i meant about maximum/possible amount of grades and why it can be misleading here:
http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2008/12/nyus-new-grading-curve.html and a discussion about the previous curve here http://volokh.com/posts/1228419065.shtml, the result of which it was difficult to get above a B.
btw, you can find the NYU curve and what i meant about maximum/possible amount of grades and why it can be misleading here:
http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2008/12/nyus-new-grading-curve.html and a discussion about the previous curve here http://volokh.com/posts/1228419065.shtml, the result of which it was difficult to get above a B.
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