Law students’ grades late, prof blames flu

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February 25, 2010

8:36 PM

Some students at the College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law have not yet received their grades, law blog Above the Law reports.

ATL reportedly received “a torrent” of e-mails from frustrated students in law professor William Van Alstyne’s First Amendment class complaining that their fall semester grades were more than two months late, leading to possible problems with transcripts and job interviews.

“I understand that law professors would rather drink wine straight from the box than grade a paper. It’s an onerous responsibility. But, it is a responsibility,” blogger Elie Mystal wrote. “Especially in this economy, where students are scrambling for scarce job opportunities. If a student has an incomplete transcript, or can’t produce a class rank upon request, a prospective employer might well go with one of the other hundreds of resumes flooding his or her inbox.”

Van Alstyne defended himself.

“I was suffering from the flu, running daily temperatures frequently above 102, with additional delay because of scheduled out-of-state speaking engagements (concluding just last weekend at the University of North Carolina Law School),” Van Alstyne wrote to ATL. “Consistent with the law school rules, with the delay occasioned by these excusing circumstances, I am even now working to complete the raw scoring of the many essay exams from this fall semester course, expecting to be able to forward final letter grades by this weekend… all consistent with our established rules and procedures.”

Mystal was sympathetic but unforgiving.

“Grades and class rank are important. In this economy, they might be more important than ever. Pedagogical excellence and academic collegiality are all well and good, but at some point these law schools have to start understanding that their students are competing for jobs in a ridiculously difficult environment,” he wrote. “Law school is a trade school, and right now there just aren’t enough career opportunities to go around. You just can’t screw around with people’s transcripts right now, and the entire community — from the deans to the professors to the person that files requests in the registrar’s office — has to be on the same page with this.”

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