The Legal Beat
How To Artificially Boost Your Law School GPA
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019
Pretty much everyone knows that grades in law school are extremely important. Indeed, a law student’s grades are perhaps the biggest indicator of where that individual will work after graduating from law school. For this reason, many law students read books or advice online about how they can succeed in law school. Of course, everyone understands that hard work and dedication to one’s studies are the biggest ways to impact one’s law school GPA. However, there are certain things that law students can do to artificially boost their GPAs that have little to do with hitting the books.
Taking Summer or Evening Classes
I discussed in a previous article how law students can increase their GPAs by taking summer classes. At many law schools, the required curve does not apply to smaller classes, since it is difficult to apportion a curve with a small sample size. As a result, students in these classes are more likely to receive higher grades. Law schools typically offer many such classes during the summer when fewer students are on campus. Enrolling in such courses can be a great way to boost your GPA, since you are more likely to receive a higher grade. In addition, taking some classes during the summer lessens the amount of credits that you need to fulfill during the academic year. As a result, taking summer courses can relieve pressure during the academic year so that more time can be spent on the remaining courses a student takes. Of course, enrolling in summer classes might not be a viable option for many students, but summer classes can be an extremely effective way to boost your GPA.
Also, taking evening classes with part-time students can also help you boost your GPA. I don’t want to offend part-time students, and I met some amazing evening students while in law school. However, it is undeniable that part-time students usually have a job or other responsibilities that full-time students typically do not. As a result, if your law school offers a part-time program, and you take evening classes as a full-time student, you might have an advantage that can translate into higher grades (more on this below).
Transferring Law Schools
It should first be noted that transferring law schools is not easy. Depending on the school you currently attend, and the school to which you want to transfer, you typically need to be in the top quarter of your class or better to transfer law schools. However, if you are eligible to transfer law schools, this could be an effective way to boost your GPA. When a student transfers to a new law school, their GPA usually starts from scratch as a 2L. Most of the time, 1L courses are the most difficult for law students. This is when people are “gunning” their hardest, and it takes a while for many students to become acclimated to the law school environment. In addition, some law schools even loosen up their curves after the first year. As a result, transferring schools allows you to start fresh, and compete against people at your new school for jobs who might have had lower GPAs because of the tribulations of 1L. Of course, your GPA at a better law school may be lower, since it is more difficult to earn better grades at higher-ranked schools. However, the prestige of a higher-ranked school can make up for it.
Most people understand that you can take courses pass/fail in college, but many do not realize that some law schools also allow you to take courses pass/fall. In fact, many students at the law school I attended did not even know that the law school allowed students to take 7 credit hours pass/fail. If you carefully choose which courses you take pass/fail, you could minimize the chances that receiving low marks in a course trashes your GPA. Of course, some law schools place restrictions on pass/fail options, and my alma mater required students to score better than a “C” in the course to get a pass, otherwise the student would get their letter grade. However, with some strategizing, this could be another solid way to artificially boost your GPA.
Attend Law School Full-Time as a Part-Time Student
Another rarely used, but effective tactic at artificially boosting your GPA, is to attend school as a part-time student without having a job. Many people enroll in part-time programs so that they can work or satisfy other responsibilities while attending law school. These individuals might have less time to study, and this could impact how well these students perform in law school. Since most law school classes are graded on a curve, someone who studies full-time as a part-time student will likely compete against people who are limited in how much they can study. I personally know a few students who attended law school as part-time students but devoted themselves to studying full-time, and these people had nearly perfect GPAs after their first year of law school. They were then able to transfer schools and start fresh at these new law schools. At least one of these students was able to attend law school full-time at his new law school and graduate in three years. If you have the means to attend law school full-time as a part-time student, this could be an effective way to boost your GPA.
Of course, the best way to boost your GPA in law school is through hard work and dedication. Don’t let this article convince anyone that law school can be completely gamed with the right strategy. However, by keeping a few strategies in mind, there are several ways that students can artificially boost their GPAs while in law school.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at [email protected].