ambivalent imbroglio home

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January 25, 2005

Law Classes Pass/Fail

Dear law professors, hiring attorneys, fellow law students, and other knowledgeable types, I have a very busy semester, and I'm considering taking Fed Courts pass/fail. Do you have any thoughts on the pros or cons of such a plan? FYI: The class is small, and the professor has high expectations for our level of participation, so I will have to read and be prepared regardless of whether I'm concerned about my grade. This may mean that I will not really get much benefit from taking the class pass/fail, but it would also ensure that I will learn the material, despite decreased grade pressures. If I were going to, say, be a public defender, would taking fed courts pass/fail somehow be a red flag against me when potential employers looked at my transcript? How about if I wanted a judicial clerkship (federal or otherwise)—would this pass/fail thing be a red flag in that context? Can you think of any other contexts where taking Fed Courts pass/fail might be viewed negatively by people whose opinions I should credit? Any thoughts would certainly be appreciated. Sincerely, -ambimb

Posted January 25, 2005 07:32 AM | 2L advice

I'll just answer as a fellow law student (not to be confused with a 'knowledgeable type.' I don't think the public defender is going to care what non-required classes you take, much less whether you pass or fail. As for a clerkship, no idea.

I had a pass/fail class last semester and wish I could've taken one this semseter, my final one. Since the bulk of my grades are behind me, I'd rather play it safe and exchange the chance to raise my GPA for the security of knowing I can't hurt it. While I felt pressured to prepare for class, the tradeoff of no final was more than worth it.

Posted by: Kelly at January 25, 2005 12:04 PM

Don't do it! First of all, Fed Courts is one of the most interesting classes in law school. It's hard but worthwhile. Second, for clerkships, it might hurt you; some anal-retentive clerk who's screening applications might ding you for being a "wuss."

Posted by: Tung Yin at January 25, 2005 01:23 PM

If your GPA is much better than average, I'd recommend a Pass/Fail, but if otherwise, it might indicate your lagging confidence in your exam-taking abilities. Also, if you are really interested in the class, why not read for and be graded on something which grabs your fancy rather than something that doesn't (Of course, am assuming you have a choice of taking some other class Pass/Fail)?

Posted by: Res_Ipsa_Loquitur at January 25, 2005 05:10 PM

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