Saturday, December 29, 2007

Class is Money

Another term is over; for my fellow 2Ls and I, this marks the half way point of our law school career. This semester has highlighted for me the true value of regular class attendance. Aside from the obvious point – learning the material – attending class is worthwhile for reasons that last beyond the confines of the semester. Job opportunities depend upon class rank, class rank depends upon grades and grades are completely dependent upon exam performance. Professors give tips to enhance exam performance in class; regular class attendance improves the odds of picking up these tips. While enhanced exam performance should be incentive enough, the real benefits of class attendance last long beyond exams.

Law school is about learning how to think and act like a lawyer. Timeliness, preparedness and decorum are essential to professional life; class attendance and in-class performance simply reinforce these habits. This includes the ethical motivation: we owe ourselves and our future our best, and that obligation begins in class. Furthermore, our professors are lawyers. The more time spent listening to, emulating and interacting with our professor-lawyer-mentors, the better equipped we will be to handle issues we will likely encounter in practice. We can hope that the more successful we are in our practices, the more lucrative our careers will be.

For a less lofty and more pragmatic reason to attend class, consider this. Each class hour costs about $50 tuition dollars.* Some may consider this a sunk-cost. The price of admission has been paid in advance so the choice to attend class on a particular day ought not to be affected by a previous investment decision. This reasoning, while comforting for those who choose not to attend class, is flawed. The investment decisions (to pay tuition; to attend class) are not unrelated. Return on a student’s tuition investment is affected, positively or negatively, by the student’s decision to attend or not attend class. There’s really no way around it, attending class affects each student’s ultimate bottom line.

*Estimated using the following: $15K tuition per semester, 15 credit hours, 16 week semester, 80% of tuition.

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