As the unemployment crisis drags on, at least ten law schools, including New York University and Georgetown, have started inflating graduates' grades to make them more competitive in the tight job market. The boost can be a lifesaver for students, especially those burdened with massive loans. But it also helps the schools protect their own reputations and rankings. Is it ethical to inflate grades to help students get jobs?
This just isn't right: Top students make a lot of sacrifices over three years of law school to finish with good grades, says Mark Cohen at MinnLawyer Blog. It's unfair to them, and to graduates from other schools, to rob them of the fruits of their labor by buffing up everybody else's grades. It's hard luck to get through law school and then be unable to find a job — but making all graduates "virtually indistinguishable" only rewards low-achievers at the expense of those who worked hardest.
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This only gives good lawyers with bad grades a fair shot: "Personally, I'm all for grade inflation," says Vivia Chen at The Am Law Daily. Grades aren't everything, yet they can "define careers," or at least "define who gets their foot into the door of a prestigious practice." This will just give qualified people who would otherwise be "shut out" a chance to prove themselves in an interview.
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Law schools are only delaying the reckoning: Inflating graduates' grades might fool a few law firms, temporarily, says John Hinderaker at Power Line. But eventually reality will sink in. Like any society, the U.S. "has a limited need for lawyers." And as long as our law schools are cranking out too many of them, some of them will graduate with huge loans to pay but no job to show for it. And giving everybody straight "A"s won't change that.
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