It is time to turn our attention to the professors seeking future bar examiners jobs.
As a student, I was the subject of some of these draconian measures. If you're late, don't show up. No, you will not be given a toilet break for a four-hour lesson. Yeah, I'll stare at you when you go out.
When one of my co-authors tweeted that her criminal law professor wouldn't let the students go to the bathroom, complaints followed. And I have to say that these measures do not put some professionals in a good light. You can't go to the bathroom during class! The judges won't let you pee. You have to keep it simple. Soak it up if you want to be a good lawyer. I am not a current release at all!
Yeah, that's pretty awful. But the trials are worse. Much worse.
Some professors give short, timed exams while watching their students to make sure they aren't cheating. That means a lot can go wrong for some students. The shorter the time window, the greater the likelihood of problems. Wider and larger windows (more time to work, more flexibility in performing the exam) go a long way towards reducing problems. But even that doesn't remove some of the challenges associated with taking exams in a pandemic.
Some students do not have rooms in which to work, concentrate, or think. You live with parents, family and roommates. You may not have access to reliable internet. But yes, you see the zoom, prof.
Schools are closing for Thanksgiving break and after that in anticipation of a (now safe) COVID-19 surge. Great! But where do you take this incredibly short-term finale with a particular internet? How do you find childcare for these three hours? See Law Students in the Age of the Coronavirus. It's not that these problems haven't been foreseen in a long time. Amazing that there are still discussions about what a finale should look like now.
But it's getting better. Some professors will take part in the REAL-TIME EXAM MONITORING! You know the bar exam with all of these problems. Let's just ignore that many law schools have codes of ethics that law schools expect to make sure people are honest. Hey, can you use the toilet? What if you see her talking online? Looking down? Open the door? What about people with anxiety disorders? Did you clarify this with a general counsel? Are some students afraid to apply for ADA exemptions? Which students are more likely to be flagged for violating the Code of Ethics? Does your law school even keep such data?
I am deeply concerned about all of this. And it's funny because I wonder how many of these professors screamed bloody murder over the bar exam. Okay no It's not funny. It's damn it.
I'm a little tired of hearing stories about students suffering the hard blows of this year, only to be hit by professors saying things like, Sorry. Suck it up. You should have talked to me. Sure, I wouldn't show you anything but contempt, but now you failed class. There are too many of these stories. Pull yourself up on those bootstraps like me. It's amazing how short-sighted this train of thought is. It's amazing how much some professors care about fraud than about the mental health of their students. And it's amazing how much more some professors care about students giving these professors godlike powers over their damned lives than professors care about the lives of students.
I really hope that when you signed letters that read "The bar exam is nasty" or late-tenure letters acknowledging dramatic changes in people's lives due to COVID-19, you didn't do all of this.
If you haven't thought through these considerations before, now is the time to do it. If you already have compassion on your final exams, that's great. If you're doing something more draconian, I have to ask why. What is the profit to be made? And against what damage? If it's all about recycling audits, I'll be disappointed.
LawProfBlawg is an anonymous professor in one of the top 100 law schools. You can see more of his reflections here. He's a lot funnier on social media, he claims. Please follow him on Twitter (@lawprofblawg) or Facebook. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.