: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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What Happens if a Law Professor Loses Your Exam?

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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‘Tis the Season… law students return, fattened on turkey and swelled with holiday cheer… well, at least to the extent they weren’t holed up outlining the whole time. This is about the time when law students can lose it – develop nervous tics and strange analogies, attack armed robbers, lay the smackdown on home invaders, sometimes just disappear. David Lat at Above the Law hosted Anonymous Law Professor for a even-keeled, calming All You Ever Wanted To Know About Law School Exams post that is generally calculated to make already manic 1Ls feel a little bit more self-assured, at least until it got to this part -

I’m always terrified that I will lose exams. Bill Clinton, when he was a young adjunct law professor at the University of Arkansas, lost all of his Con Law finals.

I’m sorry, I must have misread that….so not only did Arkansas Law have an adjunct teaching Con Law (albeit a future President)… he LOST the finals? all of them? This is an event so horrifying that the internet dares not contemplate it, at least not in quotation marks. It’s also the point in the story where non-law-students will have a hard time empathizing – Why not just retake it? Why not give everyone an A? or change the course to pass/fail? That may sound rational to the normals, but this is law school. The curve must have its sacrifice.

There are precious few verifiable statements of fact out there on the internets to back this up, but a commenter on the Volokh conspiracy relates:

I can’t speak to Obama, but I do know people who were taught by the Clintons (as well as professors that worked with them) when they taught at The University of Arkansas Law School in the 70′s.

Bill Clinton rather infamously “lost” an entire classes finals at one point, allegedly resulting in everyone in the class being given a B- for the semester.

THAT is the solution?!?! give everyone a B minus? because a B would be too good for students who foolishly entrusted their own professor with their exams? I would like to tell myself this would never happen today – the exam software keeps a copy on your laptop, the professor’s secretary might run off a quick copy before sending it home with the absent-minded con law professor and yet…. My sole consolation is that Bill the Con Law Prof finally got his comeuppance. According to the Anonymous Law Professor, God heard the cries and lamentations of his Arkansas law students:

One of his students was Susan Webber, who went on to become Judge Susan Webber Wright, the judge assigned to the Paula Jones case. That’s a situation I want to avoid in its entirety.

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Category: advice to law students


3 Responses

  1. idwsj says:

    Wow…I would be livid if the profs awarded everyone a B- AFTER losing the exams (of course, I don’t know what the curve is at Arkansas).

    Q: I tried to decipher this myself, but I’m slow…are you a …2L/3L?

  2. Luke Gilman says:

    I’m a fourth-year 3L, waiting out my last year in the part-time program.

  3. Carson says:

    I’m an undergrad student in mathematics at Cal, and while I will never deal with law school, I did indeed have my math professor lose my final exam this past semester. She didn’t lose all of them…. just mine and one other person’s (out of a class of less than 20 people). I’m not sure how that kind of thing happens, but she is now asking the two of us who are in this situation to do an extra project in order to prove our knowledge. We shouldn’t have to do extra work, but I much prefer this situation to my professor doing what Bill Clinton did.

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