Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Bad First Semester, What Now?  (Read 2250 times)

ls2010

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Bad First Semester, What Now?
« on: March 15, 2008, 12:59:10 PM »
Well obviously, the first step is to do better this semester.  After going over my exams I don't think this will be hard to do.  My professors were impressed by my issue spotting and analysis but said that my organization is what really hurt my grades. Last semester my grades were C+, C+, and B-.

I go to a top tier school although it's currently ranked 31.  I thankfully already had a job for my 1L summer prior to receiving my grades so I am not worried about this summer but I am worried about 2L and beyond.

Seeing as how the job hunt will begin my 2L year, is there any constructive advice to be given?  I am very confident that my grades will be drastically higher this semester but I am just wondering how much first semester is going to hurt me.  I am interested in working at a mid-size-large sized firm although I'm not specifically trying to have Biglaw...(I'm not even positive I know what that means)

jalex519

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 469
    • View Profile
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2008, 01:00:54 PM »
You should post on the students and graduates section of this site - this post is in the pre-law section.

http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/students/
2L and counting...

ls2010

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2008, 01:01:56 PM »
Grrrr, thanks!  Still learning my way around....

jalex519

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 469
    • View Profile
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2008, 01:03:39 PM »
Grrrr, thanks!  Still learning my way around....

Not a problem, good luck to you. I think you will have make a different account for the students section, but I'm not sure.
2L and counting...

Ulty

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 45
    • View Profile
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2008, 03:05:59 PM »
There are two things that you can do to improve your grades.

First, understand that IRAC is much more formulaic than many students realize.  Not only is it important to write in IRAC, but each section of IRAC has its own structure.  For instance, in providing the law for IRAC it should be provided in three specific steps.

Second, once you really understand IRAC, you should look at your professors' practice exams so that you can learn how each professor expects his or her answer written and tailor your writing.  For instance a Torts professor I worked with wants every important fact in issue statements, while a Contracts professor I worked with wants answers that are three or four lines.  This means that one professor wants 60 word issue statements and another professor wants complete answers of about 100 words.  This puts tremendous pressure on students to adjust to what each professor desires, and the only way for students to do that is to understand IRAC well.  If you understand the sub-structure of IRAC then you can engage in a conversation with a professor regarding exactly how the professor wants things written. Otherwise, you are writing a general IRAC answer that puts you in the ball park, but does not give the professor exactly what the professor wants.  This results in a student not receiving an ďAĒ even if the studentís answer is correct because the quality of writing in the answer is not as strong as the writing performed by ten other students who also have the correct content.   

Hope this helps and good luck.

Ulty

philibusters

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1076
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2008, 10:33:30 PM »
Well obviously, the first step is to do better this semester.  After going over my exams I don't think this will be hard to do.  My professors were impressed by my issue spotting and analysis but said that my organization is what really hurt my grades. Last semester my grades were C+, C+, and B-.

I go to a top tier school although it's currently ranked 31.  I thankfully already had a job for my 1L summer prior to receiving my grades so I am not worried about this summer but I am worried about 2L and beyond.

Seeing as how the job hunt will begin my 2L year, is there any constructive advice to be given?  I am very confident that my grades will be drastically higher this semester but I am just wondering how much first semester is going to hurt me.  I am interested in working at a mid-size-large sized firm although I'm not specifically trying to have Biglaw...(I'm not even positive I know what that means)

Big law would be pretty tough.  Mid-law is hard to get because they don't hire that many people straight out of law school.  However, you should still do a lot of work this summer on your job hunt sending out lots of resumes and writing samples.   If you can bring you gpa up that will of course help, but no matter what you should be able to find a job if you put enough time into it.
2008 graduate of William and Mary Law School

ls2010

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2008, 01:05:41 PM »
OK worst possible spring semester ever imaginable....this makes me seriously wonder if I will be able to get a job.....or moreso, if I would be able to keep a job in the legal field...obviously this first year has showed me that maybe law just isn't my strong point.  I scored considerably high on the lsat and did well in UG and studied my ass off for finals and I still seem to be the dumbest in all my classes:

Property: C-
Con Law: B
Contracts: C+

Don't forget Fall Semester:
Torts: B-
Civil Procedure: C+
Criminal Law: C+

At this point I really don't know what I am doing wrong. I don't know if this is just the most I am capable of or what.

In terms of a job search, what would anyone suggest?  Are there any opportunities for me that OCI won't list?  I'm thinking that OCI will be too competitive for me since I will be bottom of class.  My school is ranked 30; where do Tier 3 and 4 students work?  I am wondering if I will find success in that area.

Please keep the taunting and rude comments to a minimum, as my feelings are already bruised enough and I am fragile at this point.

philibusters

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1076
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2008, 01:59:39 PM »
OK worst possible spring semester ever imaginable....this makes me seriously wonder if I will be able to get a job.....or moreso, if I would be able to keep a job in the legal field...obviously this first year has showed me that maybe law just isn't my strong point.  I scored considerably high on the lsat and did well in UG and studied my ass off for finals and I still seem to be the dumbest in all my classes:

Property: C-
Con Law: B
Contracts: C+

Don't forget Fall Semester:
Torts: B-
Civil Procedure: C+
Criminal Law: C+

At this point I really don't know what I am doing wrong. I don't know if this is just the most I am capable of or what.

In terms of a job search, what would anyone suggest?  Are there any opportunities for me that OCI won't list?  I'm thinking that OCI will be too competitive for me since I will be bottom of class.  My school is ranked 30; where do Tier 3 and 4 students work?  I am wondering if I will find success in that area.

Please keep the taunting and rude comments to a minimum, as my feelings are already bruised enough and I am fragile at this point.

Yeah there are a ton of opportunities OCI won't list.  Spring went poorly but you have to fight on.  You should talk to career services this summer.  I assume you probably already left school but you can email or call your career services people and formulate a plan with them.  If you are a minority you should take advantage of any minority job fairs.

For future semesters you need to get your grades up.  That probably means changing how you approach to exams.  I would recommend doing a study group, usually study groups go over old tests and practice problems.  There are also a lot of exams and model answers online, though probably not for your particular professor.  You need to look those for the classes you take.  Since you know the material your biggest problem must be execution on exams.  The only way to do that is practice and ideally if you are in a study group you can see how other people approach the questions.
2008 graduate of William and Mary Law School

Burning Sands, Esq.

  • Global Moderator
  • LSD Obsessed
  • ****
  • Posts: 7072
  • Yes We Kan-sas!!!
    • View Profile
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2008, 06:10:43 PM »
OK worst possible spring semester ever imaginable....this makes me seriously wonder if I will be able to get a job.....or moreso, if I would be able to keep a job in the legal field...obviously this first year has showed me that maybe law just isn't my strong point.  I scored considerably high on the lsat and did well in UG and studied my ass off for finals and I still seem to be the dumbest in all my classes:

Property: C-
Con Law: B
Contracts: C+

Don't forget Fall Semester:
Torts: B-
Civil Procedure: C+
Criminal Law: C+

At this point I really don't know what I am doing wrong. I don't know if this is just the most I am capable of or what.

In terms of a job search, what would anyone suggest?  Are there any opportunities for me that OCI won't list?  I'm thinking that OCI will be too competitive for me since I will be bottom of class.  My school is ranked 30; where do Tier 3 and 4 students work?  I am wondering if I will find success in that area.

Please keep the taunting and rude comments to a minimum, as my feelings are already bruised enough and I am fragile at this point.


I feel your pain. I didn't like my first semester grades either.  I felt (i) they did not reflect the 1000's of hours that I put into studying the law (ii) they didn't reflect me and as a result (iii) I was aggravated and frustrated and started to doubt my path in the law.

Fortunately I waged an all out war campaign the next semester with the help of a few of my classmates who refused to sit on the sidelines and watch me sink like the Titanic.  So I'm 100% on board with the advice of study groups and study partners.  It worked for me in both law school and on the bar exam.  Plus in the practice, we often bounce ideas off of each other all the time.

So you may be down but you are by no means out.  2L grades matter.  Take a few soft pitch classes and boost the GPA.  Get an externship with a judge, preferably federal, and make that connection (plus you get class credit and no final exam!).  I know of at least 3 people in my class who had worse grades than you who managed to talk their way into a federal externship with a judge.  Plus a judge is a good ace to have up your sleeve when looking for employment later on. 

If your law school offers them, do a clinic.  They're usually a lot of credit hours and not very difficult to get an A in.

Most Mid-sized law firms operate on a different hiring schedule than Biglaw.  There are several "e-attorney" and "simplicity" sites where these jobs are posted and where you can apply. 

OCI will not be much help to you until you raise the GPA up.  They like to showcase only the high GPA's to the employers. 

The important thing is to get the grades up 2L year, both semesters, so you can show a positive trend.  The only real substantive class I would take if I were you would be Evidence, just because most 2L summer employers like to see it on the transcript.  I messed around and took Evidence, Crim Pro and Conflicts of Laws all during 2L (not ideal), and I didn't get hip to the 5 and 6 hour "easy A" clinics until my 3L year.  If I had to do it all over, I definitely would have packed in the "easy A" courses during 2L year, and put everything else off until 3L year, placing the hard classes during 3L Fall, and placing the mad easy classes during the spring 3L semester so that you can fully enjoy your senioritis that will be in full effect at that point.  This line of attack, although unable to help during the upcoming Fall OCI, will be able to help next year when interviewing as a 3L.  Folks often forget that you can still interview as a 3L.  That's why 2L grades matter just like 1L.

Its not over yet.  There's still time to turn it around.  The "traditional" path may be closed to you at this point, but that doesn't mean you can't still get employment in whatever field you're interested in.   You just have to go the non-traditional route.


Also, I agree with re-evaluating your exam writing techniques.  There is a HUGE difference between knowing the law, and knowing how to write a law school exam.




"A lawyer's either a social engineer or a parasite on society. A social engineer is a highly skilled...lawyer who understands the Constitution of the U.S. and knows how to explore its uses in the solving of problems of local communities and in bettering [our] conditions."
Charles H. Houston

intent06

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1629
  • "All hail the Chief!"
    • View Profile
Re: Bad First Semester, What Now?
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2008, 11:39:53 AM »
So that this thread doesn't sound like a broken record, I am going to co-sign everything that Sands just wrote.  I definitely did not do well my 1L year like I wanted to, but through perseverance and tenacity I got a very good firm clerkship after my 1L year.  So it is definitely possible, but your powers of persuasion have to be on point.

2L year is most definitely important because before you begin, you should re-evaluate EVERYTHING.  I mean study habits, course selection, how to write an exam, etc.  I did very well my 2L year fall semester and jumped 62 people in my class.  So buckle down and be on the law like nobody's business.  I am still not at the very top of my class but I managed to get another clerkship working with a General Counsel so you can still find employment.  OCI is NOT the beginning and end to a job search since everyone at any law school cannot possibly be in the top of their class.

Keep pushing forward, but remember to re-evaluate the things that you did or thought you did right your 1L year.
Damn...it's the third year already!!