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Hiring decisions based on first-year grades miss ‘exceptional students,’ according to new paper

Selective opportunities for law students, including law review membership, judicial clerkships and large law firm association positions, are largely based on first-year grades. And the tradition leaves out many “exceptional students,” according to a March 22 working paper that studied classes between 1979 and 2019 at an unnamed top 20 law school.

Titled “Improving the Signal Quality of Grades,” it was written by Adam Chilton, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School; Peter Joy and Kyle Rozema, both of whom are professors at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis; and James Thomas, an economist in the Federal Trade Commission.

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