DeShun Harris


Talking about grades and grading in law school can feel as taboo, if not more, than talking about sex. Among law faculty, there is often no training and no discussions about how to grade other than being asked to moderate final grades to meet a curve. Students often seek information from each other or online sources where numerous blogs provide them with advice on how to talk to professors about grades, how not to disclose grades to others, and other advice about dealing with grades. What is not as forthcoming for many students is how exactly their professors evaluate their work product. But without discussions about grading practices among faculty and students, are law schools missing an opportunity to use grading discussions as part of their assessment efforts?

Much like the hit song Let’s Talk About Sex encourages its audiences to talk about sex as a means of emotional intelligence, law schools can talk about grading as an educational tool. This Article will discuss the history and meaning of grades to demonstrate how grading has evolved and can evolve. It will also discuss the processes professors use to grade and how to guide faculty to develop a shared understanding of grading standards. Finally, it will discuss how professors can engage students in grading conversations so that they can learn how to self-regulate and engage in the professional standards of the legal profession more effectively.