Back to School during COVID.

Monday kicks off my 2L year. There were obviously going to be changes because of COVID but I wasn’t expecting that the situation change constantly. Now that we are 5 days out, my hope is that the plan in now finalized and this is how we will be starting.

Precautions: We are all required to wear face masks and maintain 6 foot distances while in the law school. Students are also being asked to monitor symptoms, take their temperatures, and stay home if they feel unwell. This led to a daily check-in program for students. These are common sense provisions that unfortunately came wrapped in a patronizing hour-long online course. The highlight was the statement that the CDC was the correct place to look for information regarding COVID (a statement I wholeheartedly agree with), followed later by a question that contained incorrect information. Thanks for the clear illustration on exactly why companies and schools should not take it upon themselves to spread information.

Scheduling: When spring term ended, the undergraduate and law school had already decided we were going to end in person instruction at Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, after people signed up for classes, the school then shifted the schedule. Originally, I was scheduled to be at the law school most days from 9am to 5pm. That has now gotten longer and I will be at the law school from 7am to 6pm. I’m glad I don’t have kids to take care of but this has impacted my work schedule. I still am really bummed out and wondering how my weeks will go.

Cohorts: 3 of my 5 classes are now set up to be half online and half in person. This reduces my classes by 30%. I’m hopeful that the combination will lead to better results than the complete online schedule from the spring. Last spring, my class felt a huge blow to their education. Our confidence in Civil Procedure, Property, Constitutional Law, and Writing suffered.

Increased Incoming Classes: This was one really disappointing decision by the law school. The law school typically has 3 sections of around 60 incoming 1Ls. This year, class sizes were limited to 50 students. Instead of limiting the amount of students, the school decided to add a 4th section and have a historically large incoming class. This not only increases the risk to all of our health and safety, it adds attorneys to an already saturated market.

Testing: Currently, our Final Exams will be self administered at home. That’s right, at home. This will end up being the decision with the largest effect. There was an astonishing amount of people taking the test together in the spring. Assuming students will abide by the honor system is a naive take on the atmosphere the legal industry has created. The industry as a whole should continue to rethink ways to cultivate an industry of integrity.

WRAP UP

The Good:

MULS was proactive and obviously trying to get students back in class. The school has left the option for students to remain remote while actively trying to get us back to class. I’m glad they are somewhat concerned with the quality of its students education. It’s a tough balancing act.

The Bad:

Some of the changes being made don’t always use a lot common sense. I constantly remind myself and try to remind other people that the law school is a big place with a lot going on. The staff is doing their best to figure out how to manage the spread of COVID. While we’re all getting sick of the situation, it’s a great opportunity for growth and patience.

The Ugly:

The fleeting inconvenience of some of the changes is not going to have a lasting impact. Cheating will. Law school creates an incredible amount of competitive pressure among peers to get the best GPA. A good GPA leads to a good job that will quickly pay off debts. That drives people to do anything to come out ahead. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that student will use prohibited resources on exams and that will have a huge impact on those of us that don’t.

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