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What’s What Law Student Handbook

The law school uses a grading system ranging from A+ to F. For the purpose of determining grade point averages, grades have been assigned the following numerical equivalents:

A+ 4.3
A 4.0
A– 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B– 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C– 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
D– 0.7
F 0.5 or 0

The semester, yearly and cumulative average of each student will be computed according to the number of semester hours in each graded subject. Individual grades are not rounded; cumulative grade point averages are rounded to the second decimal place only.

The standards for the various grades are as follows:

A+, A, A– Excellent
B+, B, B– Good
C+, C, C– Satisfactory
D+, D, D– Unsatisfactory
F Failing

F’s will be treated as a .5 for the purposes of grade averages, unless specifically designated as a “0” by the professor.

The law school also uses grades that have no grade points assigned. These grades are not used when figuring the semester, yearly or cumulative average of each student.

INC Course work not completed
CR Credit earned
NC No credit earned
NP No Pass; No Credit Earned; Used in Lawyering and Externship Class Component
P Pass; Credit earned; Used in Lawyering and Externship Class Component
HP High Pass; Credit earned; Used in Lawyering and Externship Class Component
HRP Honors Pass; Credit earned; Used in Lawyering and Externship Class Component
W A designation meaning the student withdrew from the course after the end of the semester due to special circumstances
XT Extended grading. This indicates a student is registered for and working on a course in one semester but is not required to complete the course and have a grade entered until a subsequent semester (i.e., externships and graduate environmental thesis)
YL Prior to Fall 2003, year long classes had the grade YL assigned first semester indicating that the credit and grade would have appeared on the transcript for the final semester of the course and would have applied to the total number of hours for which the course was offered

Ungraded Courses

Courses are designated as graded or ungraded by the curriculum committee. There is no option for J.D. students to individually request a graded course be ungraded.

Maximum Grade Averages (curve)

Effective Summer 2005, the following regulation regarding the maximum grade averages for courses has been introduced and will replace previous expected grade averages.

  1. The maximum grade average will be 3.0. in
    • a) each first-year class and
    • b) in upperclass courses having an enrollment of over 20 students, and in which students are assessed solely by means of examination.

      For the purposes of this rule, students in a course are assessed solely by means of an examination if the written examination is the primary component of the grade, even if other factors such as class participation are taken into account in determining the final grade.
  2. The expected maximum grade average in classes in which a paper satisfying the Capstone writing requirement is used as the sole means of assessment will be 3.30. It is expected that this average will only be exceeded in exceptional circumstances, where papers submitted by the majority of students in the class are remarkably strong.
  3. In classes having an enrollment of 20 students or less, in which the Capstone writing requirement paper is not used as the sole means of assessment, and in classes having an enrollment of over 20 students, not evaluated solely by means of an examination, the faculty member will have the discretion to determine the appropriate grade average, subject to the following rules:
    • a) the grade average may exceed 3.00 if the faculty member determines, in the exercise of reasonable discretion, that the nature of the class and overall student performance justifies a higher average.
    • b) in exercising this discretion, the faculty member will take into account factors such as the advanced or specialized nature of the class, the method of assessment used, and the fairness of increasing the grade average beyond 3.00.
    • c) the expected maximum grade average in these classes will not exceed 3.30.
  4. By its nature, independent research is not subject to this rule.
  5. This rule prescribes maximum grade averages. It is not intended to limit the discretion of a faculty member to determine a grade average below the maximum.
  6. Compliance with this rule:
    • a) All members of the full-time faculty and adjunct faculty are required to comply with this rule.
    • b) At the beginning of each semester, the Registrar will report to the faculty on the grade averages of all courses taught in the previous semester to enable faculty members to monitor compliance with this requirement and to be informed of the manner in which discretion has been exercised. A faculty member who has submitted grades on the high end of the discretionary scale may provide the Registrar with a written explanation and justification to be circulated with the Registrar’s report.
    • c) At the time of appointing adjunct faculty, the Dean will ensure that this rule is specifically brought to the attention of and explained to the adjunct faculty member, and that the importance of compliance with the rule is stressed.

The Dean will monitor grades submitted by adjunct professors, and, where appropriate, will call for justification of a high grade average.

Incompletes

A grade of “incomplete” will not be given in a course except in extraordinarily compelling circumstances. Where the grade in a course is based on a final examination, such circumstances must be demonstrated in a petition to the Dean who will rule on such petition after consultation with the professor involved.

Where the grade in a course is based on work other than a final examination, such circumstances must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the professor involved.

A student who receives permission to receive a grade of “incomplete” in a course must complete substantially the same requirements which the other students in the course fulfilled, to the satisfaction of the professor involved, by the end of the next full semester, or the grade of F may be entered for the course. Students who need to complete an “incomplete” in order to graduate will be listed as graduating at the next available graduation date. If, however, the “incomplete” is not made up in time for this graduation date, the student will be removed from the list of potential graduates and only reinstated when the required work to finish the incomplete course has been submitted to the professor for a final grade.

Failure to Take a Final Exam

Failure to take a final examination without either prior permission or the existence of exceptional, extenuating circumstances, making it impossible to obtain such permission, will result in a grade of F for such course work.

Grade Changes

Once a grade has been recorded, it will not be changed except on the basis of a clerical or computational error.

Legal Analysis & Writing Grade of F

Although Legal Analysis and Writing (LAW) grades normally are not included in the calculation of grade averages, they are recorded on student transcripts. Students who are required to repeat the course will receive a separately recorded grade of “no credit” in addition to the passing grade ultimately earned. Where students have fundamentally refused or failed to comply with the requirements of the course, the instructor will enter an F on the transcript which will be averaged in with other grades.

Class Rank and Academic Honors

Effective Spring 2004 student ranking will be redefined. Both day and evening students will be in the same class based on the level of completion of the JD program. The levels will be 1L, students who started the JD program effective fall of the academic year; 2L, students who are not 1L or 3L, and 3L students who will be graduating during the current academic year or following summer and are completing their degrees. For the purpose of class level identification, the academic year begins fall semester each year.

Beginning with grades for Spring 2004 all students will be ranked each semester in the class level that applies to them, except for first year students who will not be ranked in fall semester their first year. The class ranking is done approximately 20 days after the semester grades have been finalized.

Only students in the top 25% of each class level will be individually ranked based on the cumulative g.p.a.

Each semester we will publish a data sheet showing what g.p.a. would qualify a person to be in the top 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 33-1/3%, and 50% of class level. The data sheet will show these levels for both the cumulative g.p.a. and the yearly g.p.a.

Class rank will not appear on student transcripts, but will be maintained by the Registrar and will be provided to the student or to third parties only at the written request of the student. An email will notify you rank is available.

Starting with graduation of 2005, there will be a special graduation award for the top student who was an evening/part-time student for the entire law school career.

Transfer students who were evening/part-time students in their previous school will be included if they complete their education as an evening/part-time student at Lewis & Clark Law School. Please visit our class rank information.

The granting of academic honors will be done on the basis of final cumulative grade point average at the time of graduation. The grade point averages necessary to receive honors are as follows:

  • 3.85 and above Summa Cum Laude
  • 3.65 to 3.84 Magna Cum Laude
  • 3.30 to 3.64 Cum Laude

At commencement the May or December graduate(s) with the highest G.P.A. may be asked to present the “Reflection of the Graduates” speech.

Scholar List

The “Scholar List” is an honor based on the semester grade point average. It appears on the transcript and is granted according to the following rules:

  1. Any student who attains a semester grade point average of 3.20 or higher will have the designation of “Scholar List” noted on the transcript along with the semester to which the honor applies. Students will be eligible for the honor each semester.
  2. A student must have a minimum of 9 hours of graded credits in any one semester to be eligible for the list.
  3. A student with an incomplete is not eligible for the Scholar List until the grade for the incomplete is received even if the student has a 3.20 semester grade point average without the incomplete. Once the grade for the incomplete is received, the student is eligible for the Scholar List and the honor will be listed on the transcript if the student has attained the required 3.20 semester grade point average.

Attendance

The American Bar Association accreditation standards require students to regularly attend the courses in which they are registered. Lewis & Clark expects students to attend classes regularly and to prepare for classes conscientiously. Specific attendance requirements may vary from course to course. Any attendance guidelines for a given class must be provided to students in a syllabus or other written document at the start of the semester. Sanctions (e.g., required withdrawal from the course, grade adjustment, and/or a failing grade) will be imposed for poor attendance.

Standard for Continuation

In order to continue law school a student must be in good standing or on probation. In order to graduate, a student must be in good standing.

Good Standing (Students entering in Fall 2005 and later)
First Year Students

Good standing for a student at the end of the first year is a minimum yearly and cumulative grade point average at the end of the first academic year of 1.80. Students whose cumulative or yearly grade point average at the end of the first year is at or above 1.60 but below 1.80, will have one semester to get the grade point average(s) to the required minimum. Those who do not reach the required minimum will be academically dismissed.

Any first year student with a yearly or cumulative grade point average below 1.60 at the end of the first year will be academically dismissed.

Upper Division Students

Good standing for upper division students, any student other than a first year student, is a cumulative and yearly grade point average at the end of any academic year of 2.00. Any student, other than a first year student, whose cumulative or yearly grade point average at the end of any academic year falls at or above 1.80 but is less than 2.00, will have one probationary semester to raise the grade point average(s) to the required minimum. Any student who does not reach the required minimum will be academically dismissed.

Any upper-division student with a cumulative or yearly grade point average below 1.80 at the end of an academic year will be dismissed.

All Students

For the purpose of applying the rules relating to continuation, dismissal, or probation, averages will only be rounded to the second decimal place.

ABA Standard for Completion

Students must complete the work for the J.D. degree within 84 months of the date they start law school.

Probation Rules

General Rules

The determination of whether or not a student is to be placed on academic probation will be made at the end of the academic year.  The academic year starts with the first summer school semester, and ends at the end of the spring semester.

A J.D. student must attain the required GPA both cumulatively and for the current academic year. If either is below the required minimum, a student may be dismissed or placed on probation.

Every student on probation must have a mandatory counseling session with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and obtain schedule approval from her/him prior to registering for any probationary semester. In planning and approving such schedules, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall provide to the extent possible for the student to take any required courses in which the student has received a failing grade. Students on probation are also encouraged to avail themselves of services through the Academic Enhancement Program.  The Associate Dean will not generally approve a student to take “credit/no credit” classes during a probationary semester.

Students who receive financial aid must petition through the financial aid office for a continuation of financial aid while on probation.  Details on this process are available at the financial aid office, Diana Meyer, Assistant Director, meyer@lclark.edu.  Financial Aid web site — https://www.lclark.edu/offices/financial_aid/law/policies/

Incompletes and Probation or Dismissal

Any student on probation should make every effort to avoid receiving an incomplete in a course during the probationary semester. The Registrar’s Office will make every reasonable effort to obtain the grade for any incompletes before calculating grade averages which may have the effect of placing a person on probation or of dismissing a person.

However, when an incomplete cannot be eliminated by the time necessary to calculate the grade averages, all incompletes for the probationary semester will be included in the calculation as a grade of either 1.80 C-), in the case of students completing the requirements for first year probation, or 2.00 C, in the case of students completing the requirements for upper division probation. This rule applies only to the calculation to determine probation or dismissal; if the student continues in school, either on probation or off, then the final grade entered on the transcript will be the actual grade for the work once it is completed and graded.

Once the Registrar’s Office has made a reasonable attempt to get a grade for the outstanding incomplete(s) and made the dismissal or probation determination using the formula above, a student will not be readmitted, removed from probation, dismissed, or placed on probation as a result of completing the incompletes and having the grade point average re-calculated. For the purpose of calculating grades for students on probation, each professor must determine the individual grade of the probationary student at the end of the probationary semester notwithstanding the fact that a course continues for a full year.

Summer School Enrollment in the Case of Probationary Students

Probationary students who have completed their second year of law school may choose to have summer school count as a probationary semester.

Although students may take summer school classes at the end of the first year, summer school will not be treated as a probationary semester for those students placed on probation at the end of the first year.

Unless a student chooses to have summer school count as the probationary semester, grades earned in summer school will not be computed in the student’s cumulative or yearly grade average until the student is removed from probation. Students who have enrolled in summer school after the first year of law school may remain enrolled in summer school even though they have been placed on probation at the end of the first year.

Following successful completion of the probationary period, grades earned in the summer school session will be computed in the student’s cumulative grade average.

Effect of Medical or Distress Withdrawal on a Probationary Student

A probationary student who qualifies may apply for a medical or distress withdrawal with the permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  The student may apply to the Associate Dean to return and to the probationary semester at a later date. If the request is granted, such probation will be subject to the provisions contained in this rule, as well as to any other terms and conditions which the Associate Dean may impose.

Failing Grades and Repeating Classes

A student who receives an F in any course will not receive semester hours of credit toward graduation for such failed course, but the failing grade will be included in the student’s record and grade averages for all other purposes.

A student who receives an F in any required course must repeat and pass the course.

  1. The failed course must be repeated by the student during the next academic year, during the first semester in which it is offered.
  2. A student who does not pass a required course after repeating it will be academically dismissed even if the student otherwise qualifies for continuation or probation.
  3. A student who repeats a required course may take the course from a different professor if it is being taught by a different professor during the next semester.

A student who receives an F in a non-required course may, with the permission of the professor, elect to repeat the course.

If a student repeats a failed course both the failing grade and the repeat grade will be used in computing the student’s cumulative (and, if appropriate, yearly) grade average and class rank.

A student who receives a grade of D–, D or D+ may repeat a course only under the following conditions:

  1. There are available seats after all other students have registered;
  2. The credit hours from the repeated course will be included for the purpose of determining the amount of tuition the student will owe;
  3. The grade received the second time will appear on the transcript, but will not be included in the calculation of either cumulative or yearly grade point average.

A student who passes a course with a grade of C- or better may not repeat the course.

Academic Dismissal

The “start date” of a student will determine what standard is applied for probation and dismissal. Students who start in Fall 2005 and after, will be under the new standard for probation and dismissal. Student’s starting prior to Fall 2005 will be on the old standard since their grade point averages will have been earned partially under the old curve and partially under the new one.

Students starting school in Fall 2005 are subject to the following grade point requirements in regard to academic dismissal:

  1. Any first year student who does not obtain a cumulative and yearly grade average of at least 1.60 at the end of the first academic year will be dismissed.
  2. Any upper division J.D. student who does not obtain a cumulative and yearly grade average of at least 1.80 at the end of any academic year will be dismissed.
  3. Any upper division J.D. student who, upon completion of a probationary semester granted at the end of the first academic year, does not obtain a cumulative and yearly grade point average of 1.80 will be dismissed.
  4. Any upper division J.D. student who, upon completion of a probationary semester granted at the end of any upper division academic year, does not obtain a cumulative and yearly grade point average of 2.00 will be dismissed.
  5. Any J.D. student who fails to pass a required course and again fails it after repeating it will be dismissed.

Students starting school prior to Fall 2005 are subject to the following grade point requirements in regard to academic dismissal:

  1. Any J.D. student who does not obtain a cumulative and yearly grade average of at least 1.70 at the end of any academic year will be dismissed.
  2. Any J.D. student who does not obtain a cumulative and yearly grade point average of 2.00 upon completion of a probationary semester will be dismissed.
  3. Any J.D. student who fails to pass a required course and again fails it after repeating it will be dismissed.

Tuition policies in regard to academic dismissal can be found in the Section on Tuition Policy: Withdrawals and Dismissals.

Reapplication after Dismissal

A student dismissed under these rules will not be permitted to continue at the law school. The faculty will not hear petitions to waive dismissal rules. This rule shall not be suspended. The Dean may, at his/her discretion, consider an application for reinstatement from a student who is academically dismissed. The fact of dismissal presumptively indicates that a student does not have the potential to perform well in law school.

Therefore the student petitioning for readmission should not expect favorable consideration unless he or she can convincingly demonstrate a change in circumstances which strongly indicates a substantial prospect of success upon readmission. The student shall provide the Dean with appropriate written material designed to demonstrate such a change in circumstances. If the Dean determines readmission is appropriate, he/she may impose academic requirements including, but not limited to, specific course work and progressive grade point average requirements, as he/she deems appropriate.

After a one year wait from the date of dismissal, a student denied reinstatement after petition to the Dean may apply to the law school to begin as a first year student. Such application will go to the admissions committee with the same presumption that dismissal indicates the student does not have the potential to perform well in law school.

The student has the burden to overcome that presumption. A written statement describing the reasons for readmission after dismissal will be kept in the student’s file as required under ABA standards.