Dear Law Students:
We hope this email finds you well. We know that it has been a trying week for all of us as we grapple with what is temporarily our new normal.
Given the University’s decision to cancel all live classes for the remainder of the semester and to move those classes online, the Arizona Law faculty voted on Tuesday to adopt a mandatory Pass/No Pass policy for all JD Spring 2020 grades, regardless of how they were originally designated.
As you know from Dean Miller’s email, these decisions were not made lightly. Given the disruption to the semester and the continued disruption that will occur for many students continuing their studies from home while taking care of themselves and their families, and navigating the many rapid changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the faculty thought that this was the most equitable system to use to complete the semester.
We know that you might have many questions about this decision. We tried to think of those questions and provide answers below.
Q: The College of Law’s policies require that I take 37 graded units after the 1L classes. Will Spring 2020 classes count towards the requirement?
A: Yes. If you are taking a class that would have been graded normally, it will count towards the 37 post-1L graded units required to graduate. If the class was normally pass/fail (such as independent studies, externships, journal, etc.), it will still not count towards that requirement.
Q: I am taking a substantial paper or upper-level writing class this semester. Will this change affect my ability to complete that requirement?
A: No. The same general standards that apply to award substantial paper or upper-level writing credit will continue to apply to those projects this semester. This includes the oral-presentation requirement, which can be conducted on Zoom.
Q: Do I need to receive a grade of “C” or better to obtain a pass and credit for the course?
A: No. Students will be awarded credit based on any work that would be the equivalent of a passing grade. Grades of “No Pass” will be given only where student work would have received a grade of “F” under ordinary grading policies.
Q: Will the University of Arizona Law grading curve or mandatory median require a certain number of students in a class receive a grade of “No Pass”?
A: No. The grading curve and median never required that a certain number of students receive failing grades. Therefore, it is possible for all students in a class to receive a grade of “pass.”
Q: I am an AJD student. Does this mandatory pass/no pass policy apply to me or can I get an exception because I am not at the College of Law for three full years?
A: The mandatory pass/no pass grading policy applies to all JD students, including AJD students. There are no exceptions.
Q: I was hoping to use this spring to improve my grades. This policy is going to hurt me in that regard. Is there anything Arizona Law can do to help me?
A: The Arizona Law faculty fully appreciates that no single policy could address all student needs. The faculty have discussed the importance of supporting students individually and providing detailed letters of support and recommendation that highlight individual student strengths. These letters will serve to supplement the passing grade. In addition, we are reaching out to all employers and judges to explain our decision. Because nearly every law school in the country is taking similar action, employers will understand that the typical law school grading systems do not apply to this spring.
Q: I am currently on academic probation and I was counting on my Spring 2020 grades to raise my cumulative GPA. Will I be academically dismissed at the end of the semester because my GPA is below a 2.00?
A: No. The academic probation period of all Arizona Law students has been extended to the end of the Fall 2020 semester. Your academic good standing will be evaluated based on your cumulative GPA after Fall 2020 grades are submitted.
Q: Order of the Coif has specific requirements regarding graded and pass/no pass credits. Will the pass/no pass policy mess up my chances to be in Order of the Coif?
A: No. Order of the Coif has announced that it is suspending the normal rule on this point; therefore, we are ignoring deficiencies in this semester's graded units’ requirements for Coif purposes.
Q: Will employers understand why I received “Pass/No Pass” grades?
A: Yes, most law schools in the country are reporting a shift in grading policy to a binary grading format like we have adopted. Thus, Arizona Law students will not be alone. Moreover, the law school will work with the main campus Registrar to add a notation to your transcript that will help employers understand that the grading scheme changed due to COVID-19.
Q: The Provost's email mentioned more than just the pass/fail policy. Will the other policies apply to me?
A: See Dean Brooks if you need to withdraw from a class to see if it's possible to do it without getting a W on your transcript. See your professor if you are concerned about meeting hours requirements for variable-unit classes such as clinics and externships. The updated Grade Replacement Option (GRO) is inapplicable because it does not apply to pass/fail classes. The other policy applies to undergraduates only.
Q: Will there be new rankings at the end of this semester?
A: No. The next rankings will be at the conclusion of the next full semester where usual grading rules apply.
Q: I took a class and completed all my work prior to Spring Break. Does the new policy change that?
A: No. If that class was completed in person, and was graded, such as a course in the January in Tucson program, you will keep a letter grade for that.
We are sure that we have not anticipated all of your questions. If there are questions that remain, please do not hesitate to contact either one of us.
Deans O'Grady and Brooks