Nandita Mohan / Sun Staff Photographer

Cornell Law School hallways remain empty, as law students have already started online classes under a mandatory pass/fail grading system.

March 27, 2020

Law School Implements Mandatory Pass/Fail Grading System

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While Cornell undergraduates await the beginning of their online classes in April, Cornell Law students already resumed their semester on Monday with a mandatory pass/fail grading system.

According to Eduardo Peñalver ’94, the Cornell Law School dean, classes started earlier for the law school students partly “to comply as much as possible with the specific regulatory restrictions that apply to law schools,” while also trying to avoid interfering with summer jobs and bar-exam preparation.

Cornell joined other law schools in implementing a mandatory pass/fail grading system. Alongside Columbia University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and Boston College, Cornell’s pass/fail grading will not affect students’ abilities to receive honors or other awards based on academics.

“At this point, virtually all the top law schools have also gone to mandatory pass-fail grading,” Peñalver said.

It is unclear how these changes will affect students’ internship opportunities. Peñalver said the Law School is monitoring how major law firms respond to the pandemic. So far, none of them have made considerable changes to their summer programs.

The August law school recruiting fair, which is Cornell Law’s “largest off-site interviewing program,” according to its website, will likely be postponed until January, according to Peñalver.

While the school has yet to announce a concrete decision regarding the fair, Peñalver said faculty and administrators are working to minimize the impact the pandemic is having on students’ educational and professional goals.

“The Law School community has really come together in a beautiful way in the face of this tremendously disruptive pandemic,” Peñalver said. “I am so proud of how our students have responded with grit and grace to an obstacle that none of us saw coming even two months ago.”