San Diego Law Review


Grant H. Morris

Library of Congress Authority File


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It is a statistical fact of life that two-thirds of the law students who enter law school will not graduate in the upper one-third of their law school class. Typically, those students are disappointed in their examination grade results and in their class standing. Nowhere does this disappointment manifest itself more than in their attitude toward their classes. In the fall semester of their first year, students are eager, excited, and willing to participate in class discussion. But after they receive their first semester grade results, many students withdraw from the learning process-they are depressed and disengaged. They suffer a significant loss of self-esteem. This article considers whether law professors should prepare their students for the disappointing results-the poor grades-that many are certain to receive. I assert that professors do indeed have a role to play-in fact, a duty to their students-to confront this problem. I offer a strategy by which professors can acknowledge students' pre-examination anxiety and deal constructively with their impending disappointment. There are lessons to be learned from Casey at the Bat, Ernest Lawrence Thayer's immortal poem about failure. To encourage students to maintain their enthusiasm for law study regardless of their examination results, I hypothesize on how Casey would respond to his failure. There are lessons to be learned–about baseball, about law school exams, and about life itself–from an analysis of this poem.

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