Confessions of a Law School Marker

Posted on June 3, 2013 by Marie No Comments

Let’s be honest, I’ve worked really hard to be at the bottom of the law school food chain. 

I have sent hundreds of emails to different academics over the years, hoping, just hoping, that they have research funding and so can outsource their marking to someone like me – a permanent student in need of a hit of cash before semester break.

Marking is treated with disdain by anyone with a permanent contract. It is awful, annoying work. But for us sessional lecturers, tutors and PhD students, it is the holy grail – it is what keeps us afloat. It is what puts off the inevitable – becoming a *shudder* practicing lawyer.

Income perks aside, marking is an intense and repetitious exercise. From the get-go, you sit, poised at your desk, waiting for the first hit of papers from the Course Convener. When they arrive BOOM! You’re in action! You quickly read through the first five, get confused how all five missed the key issue and forgot to capitalise ‘High Court,’ then talk moderation.  And then the fun really begins….. Observing all the ways in which students try to cheat the word count!

There is no denying it that law students are quite amazing problem solvers. A goodly number of you lie on your cover sheet (you have no idea how many papers I’ve seen over the years that are 1497, 1997, or 2497 words!), some “forget” to answer this question, and the most creative of you prefer to fiddle with the formatting. I’ve seen it all. From margin reductions, to 11.5 font instead of 12, to Garamond instead of Times New Roman. But my very favourite students are those that pepper their paper with a smattering of Latin because it uses less words than the English translation. This has the additional benefit of making you seem smart! But I have access to Google Translate too… so adopt this trick at your peril.

Truthfully, I find these word count contortions pretty amusing. But what I don’t enjoy is laziness – the dreaded papers that put argument in their footnotes. To muddy the waters of your citations with a sentence of content once is bad enough. But to have slabs of information below the little line on nearly every page – makes me MAD. You just shouldn’t mess with the AGLC.

Make your marker happy. Keep your footnotes pure. But don’t think for a second that they don’t know you’re over the word limit.


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© Marie Katherine Hadley 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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