Wednesday, July 30, 2008

J'accuse! Problems With LawReg

We've blogged about the fun that is LawReg before, but not exactly at length.  So, here it is.

For those who don't know, LawReg is the course registration system at UVA Law.  It's quite complicated, but it basically involves a series of lotteries, wherein students, in order of seniority "rank" classes, with each lottery (or "stage") determining some portion of the student's schedule for the next year.   This is in contrast to how the rest of the University signs up for classes, through a blitz on ISIS. The actual process is about as complicated as selecting which teams goto bowl games. The reason, according to the administration:

LawReg was created because the University’s course enrollment function on ISIS is unsatisfactory for the law school. It does not check for prerequisites, time conflicts, etc., and creates an “Oklahoma land rush” environment that nearly everyone disliked, particularly students located outside the eastern time zone. Worst of all, it allows some students to get many of the “good” courses and others only the leftovers. The lottery system was created with three goals in mind:

-all students would be enrolled in 1-2 of their highly desired courses
-all students would be treated equitably
-there is no time pressure, i.e., students have several days to participate on an equal basis

That’s it, nothing more. Given that approximately 1200 students consistently get their first and/or second course choices, we believe the lottery system works.

That's all well and good, and we appreciate the reference to the Sooners (come on, somebody from OU must read this), but none of this really address the problem that many students are now encountering - that, in the last round (for 2Ls to finish filling out their schedule) there are *n0* course that they can take in the Fall semester that fit their schedule and/or remotely fit their interests.  Indeed, even after an email sent Wednesday afternoon opened up helped some what (expanding the enrollment in some popular ones like Trusts and Estates, M & A, PR, Criminal Investigations, and Corporations), but many students we talked to are still upset about the process, complaining courses that will be invaluable (or, worse, absolutely necessary) for their employment goals this summer and their future careers as a lawyer are not available to them, either because of the registration system or because of the limited number of courses that UVA Law is offering.  

One student gripes about not being able to get Evidence with Collins to get his third-year practice certificate (We point out: take it with Brown - but then that would mess up his schedule to much).  Another points out that he was locked out a lot of the classes that would be useful for somebody wanting to be a transaction attorney (Securities, Corporate Finance, etc.).  And we've also got this gem:

Admin and FedTax.  Admin and FedTax.  Now, I don't care about Administrative Law and I sure as heck don't care about FedTax - why am I taking them?  Because it's either that, take two courses on weekends, sign up for the "Islamic and Middle Eastern Law" short course so I can sit around for an hour and a half everyday talking about just how much skin a women has to show before Sharia mandates she has to be stoned (a matter about which I have little interest), OR scrap the two classes I'm already registered for and take my chances on getting lucky with add-drop.  Hrmmmmmmmm.

FFJ was a little bit more macroscopic in his analysis: 

It's disappointing that at a school that considers itself to be one of the top law schools in the nation, students are so severely limited as to what classes are available for them to choose from.
He also wants to assure everyone that, despite his summer hiatus, he is not dead. Well, he brings up a decent point.  The problems with the LawReg system aside - if there are problems with it (some would say it's overly beneficial to 3Ls, especially if you want to get one of them CASEFILE classes), is there really just a paucity of classes to choose from?  Looking at the opens currently (as of Wednesday afternoon, that is, before the last lottery deadline) still open, it seems like this is a concern.  

Which begs the question - with tuition being inexplicably raised (or at least we're still waiting for an explanation) over $3,000, where is that money going, if students can't get the classes they want?


Anonymous said...

i got every class i wanted last year and this year. ha.

Anonymous said...

We had a 1L lunch with Dean Jeffries two years ago, and he casually remarked that the law school had stopped taking public funds several years ago, and that the plan was to continue raising tuition sharply each year until UVA cost the same as peer schools. It would be nice if UVA had been a little more upfront about this, but I guess I wouldn't expect it to lead off their admissions brochure.