Archive for October, 2007

How to Cheat in Law School

I’m considering posting a list of ways to cheat in law school, and would appreciate your feedback on whether this would be a good idea.

During law school, you often hear rumors about cheating. It’s only natural to think about how law students cheat. What methods did they use? I’ve talked with law school friends a number of times about how frustrating it is when a law school professor designs a law school exam in such a way that cheating can more easily occur.

Incentives to Cheat

It goes without saying that law school is very competitive. Good grades go a long way when job hunting. Good grades also affect eligibility for law school scholarships, law review, graduating with academic honors, and more. Thus, the incentive to cheat in law school can be high.

Why Do Cheating Loopholes Exist?

I doubt that law professors leave open loopholes in their law school exams. They are probably focused more on delivering a good exam and their other responsibilities. As a result, creative law students can find a number of ways to cheat.

Is Posting Ways to Cheat in Law School Ethical?

I struggle with whether posting a list of ways to cheat in law school ethical. Would such a list be used by law professors to close the loopholes that allow law students to cheat or would it provide law students additional ideas.

First, I realize few law professors will read this post, and website traffic tends to come from law students, since that is the focus of this blog.

However, I think most law students already know a number of ways to cheat in law school, and such an article may serve primarily to enlighten professors who had not considered these methods.

That is, a list of ways to cheat in law school would reveal little to law students, but could serve to assist professors. Of course, this assumes that law school professors would (1) read this list, and (2) alter their testing methods.

It may help if each cheating method had a suggestion for law professors regarding how to close that particular loophole. All of the loopholes I think of could be closed entirely or closely observed to substantially reduce cheating.

The benefits of reducing cheating in law school are (1) a level playing field for law students, (2) students are less tempted to cheat because they don’t fear others are cheating and cheating is needed just to keep up.

Take Home Exams

One example of a loophole in law school exam procedures is the take-home exam.

Take-home exams are the worst. Professors often tell students that their only resource can be the class textbook and class notes.

But what student isn’t tempted to look at their purchased study aid? Some students work at law firms or have family members who are attorneys, so they have attorneys with whom they can casually discuss the issues on their exam without anyone at law school ever knowing.

This “loophole,” if you will, can be closed merely by law professors requiring that the exam be taken as an in-classroom open-note exam for an extended period of time. That is, law professors can still give students the entire day to work on the exam, but by ensuring that students do the exam in the classroom, law professors can ensure that students only used approved resources and cannot talk to attorneys.

Serial Cheaters

It is possible that law students who cheat actually shop for professors who have a certain type of exam that makes cheating more convenient.

What Do You Think?

If you are a law student or law professor, would you add a comment here regarding whether you think a list of ways to cheat in law school would serve to improve the practice of law school exams? Your feedback will be the primary basis for determining whether to publish such a list. Thank you in advance for your input.

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