A Case for Grade Inflation in Legal Education

84 Pages Posted: 7 May 2013 Last revised: 8 Dec 2013

See all articles by Joshua M. Silverstein

Joshua M. Silverstein

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - William H. Bowen School of Law

Date Written: May 6, 2013


This article contends that every American law school ought to substantially eliminate C grades by settings its good academic standing grade point average at the B- level. Grading systems that require or encourage law professors to award a significant number of C marks are flawed for two reasons. First, low grades damage students’ placement prospects. Employers frequently consider a job candidate’s absolute GPA in making hiring decisions. If a school systematically assigns inferior grades, its students are at an unfair disadvantage when competing for employment with students from institutions that award mostly A’s and B’s. Second, marks in the C range injure students psychologically. Students perceive C’s as a sign of failure. Accordingly, when they receive such grades, their stress level is exacerbated in unhealthy ways. This psychological harm is both intrinsically problematic and compromises the educational process. Substantially eliminating C grades will bring about critical improvements in both the fairness of the job market and the mental well-being of our students. These benefits outweigh any problems that might be caused or aggravated by inflated grades. C marks virtually always denote unsatisfactory work in American graduate education. Law schools are the primary exception to this convention. It is time we adopted the practice followed by the rest of the academy.

Suggested Citation

Silverstein, Joshua M., A Case for Grade Inflation in Legal Education (May 6, 2013). University of San Francisco Law Review, Vol. 47, p. 487, Winter 2013, UALR Bowen School Research Paper No. 13-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2261393

Joshua M. Silverstein (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - William H. Bowen School of Law ( email )

1201 McMath Street
Little Rock, AR 72202
United States

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