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Author Topic: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review  (Read 4290 times)

Haz

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Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« on: March 14, 2006, 01:03:42 AM »
Hi everyone,

Like many, I did not do so hot my first semester.  I am in the bottom half of the class and it seems my goal of Big Law is slipping, despite the fact I am at a T1.

My question is, how much do employers like to see moot court or law review OR BOTH on your resume vs. great grades.  If anyone has any input on this it would be greatly appreciated.  I do have an internship set for this summer. Thanks.

-Haz
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unlvcrjchick

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2006, 01:24:38 AM »
After having spoken with my boss (who is an attorney), my cousin (also an attorney), and various members of my law-school's faculty, Law Review is THE credential to have, with Moot Court (here known as the Society of Advocates) coming in 2nd.  Basically, if you make it onto Law Review, whether it be via grades or the write-on competition (if your school has one, that is), that is your golden ticket to Big Law.  I'm not saying that grades aren't significant, I'm just saying that they aren't as important as they would be if you didn't make it onto Law Review.

Hope this helps.

Bored 3L

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2006, 01:29:39 AM »
Of course employers are impressed by law review and moot court, and most would prefer both, though law review is clearly the more valuable credential.  

I am assuming you're asking about large law firms b/c you mentioned biglaw is your goal.  Depending on your school, you may need to improve your grades in order to get interviews in teh first place.  Most big firms will have grade cut-offs for your school, and if you're just under, or at least relatively close to the cut-off, law review can put you over the edge.  If you're not even close, I don't think it will be enough.  I'm afraid to say that, especially at schools in the bottom of the top 50 (and below), grades are paramount.

I have to respectfully disagree with unlvcrjchick.  Especially for schools outside of the top 14, grades are THE credential to have, and law review is not the golden ticket to big law, though it can certainly help.  I can think of at least three people who are on the law review at my school with grades barely in the top half, and none of them ended up with big law jobs. My school is in the top 30. 

unlvcrjchick

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2006, 02:08:53 AM »
The reason I feel that Law Review is the Golden Ticket is because of what many legal employers have told me.  Many of them have said that the very first thing they look for on the resume are the magic words "Law Review."  In fact, if they don't see them, many times they simply throw the resume in the trash can, sight unseen forevermore...and I've heard this time and time again.

I think it's simply awful that Law Review is considered that important to most firm jobs, since the type of writing that is done on Law Review is scholarly in nature and not of a practical nature (writing motions, trial briefs, etc.:  the type of writing that is useful in the real world of practicing law.  In other words, the type of writing you do as a member of the Moot Court team).

In fact, I'm only trying out for Law Review this summer BECAUSE of how employers lap this credential up.  Otherwise, I wouldn't be interested in being on the journal (a position as a perpetual cite-checker/editor doesn't exactly excite me).

Burning Sands

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2006, 10:13:41 AM »
I have to chime in here and agree with what both unlv and bored3L have said.

20 years after we all graduate from law school, even when we're all dead and gone, people in the legal profession will only have 2 questions:

1. What law school did you go to?
2. Did you make Law Review?

That's it.  Not what was your GPA coming out of law school.  Not were you involved in moot court.  Not did you do a clinic while you were there.  Not how involved you were with the SBA.  All of those things are virtually collateral to the primary 2 factors that they always seem to ask about. Especially in Big Law.

I had the unique opportunity to one of a few students to sit in on the hiring committee of 2 new faculty members at my law school, and it never failed, after each candidate left the room question #2 always came up.  In academia, making Law Review is as essential as your graduation.  I heard the committee say things like, well, he IS from Harvard, but he didn't make law review though...NEXT.  I thought they were crazy to be honest, I mean the guy's from Harvard Law, what else do you want?  But that's the mentality.

In Big Law its not much different.  If you're at a T-14 then it really doesn't matter too much for Big Law whether you're on a journal or not.  I have several friends at Columbia and NYU currently who are no where near making Law Review but have jobs lined up at Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Wachtell, etc.  Making Law Review at a T-14 is just icing on the cake for Big Law.  It only becomes critical if you plan to teach later. [trust me on that one]

I don't attend a "T-14".  My school is, per US News, a T2, so making Law Review here is a little more important for Big Law purposes.  As far as Law Review/No Law Review I have seen both types of students here secure jobs with Big Law.  But just about everybody on our Law Review has a job with Big Law.  I can name about 7 or 8 going to Shearman & Sterling off the top of my head.  Now as far as those students not on Law Review, grades are crucial, as both of you have pointed out.  Big Law is very picky.  And they do have GPA cut offs.  If you're not on Law Review they're going STRAIGHT to your GPA.  Conversely, for many on Law Review, grades are not even discussed in the interview.  Its just presumed that if you've made it onto Law Review then you must be ok.

So for the OP, Haz, if your grades are so-so and you're at a decent school from the sounds of it, I would highly encourage you to make Law Review.  It can only help.
Burning Sands

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2006, 11:38:11 AM »
No doubt law review is great to have.  I refrained from mentioning this in my first post b/c I don't come here to brag, but I am a member of my school's law review and I have no doubt it helped me in the job search. Also, the vast majority of the people on law review at my school have big law jobs or clerkships, but this is also due to the fact that grades are part of the law review selection process at my school.  So, most of the students on law review also have great grades.

The thing is, at schools below the top 14, to be seriously considered by most big law firms you must have great (or at the very least above average) grades AND law review.  I discussed this with members of teh hiring committee at my summer firm, and although they didn't give me hard numbers, they said they have grade cut-offs for the various schools where they interview.  If you're significantly below it, nothing is going to get you a second look.  These are just the credentials needed to get you in the door.  Neither my grades nor law review came up at the vast majority of my big law interviews, and when they did, it was just something casual, like inquiring about my note topic.  This isn't because employers don't care about law review and grades, no doubt they do.  It's because everyone they're considering has these credentials (or goes to a top school and doesn't need them).

It's true that 20 years out your grades won't matter and law review may still matter to some degree, but the market for jobs right out of school is different.

skeletor

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2006, 11:43:29 AM »
you need good grades to get on law review, even for write-on.

Burning Sands

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2006, 11:52:54 AM »
you need good grades to get on law review, even for write-on.

That is correct.

I have to differ in observation with Bored3L in one regard.  For the other 36 schools in the Tier 1, and for the 50 of us in Tier 2, its not a necessity to have good grades AND law review to get into Big Law.  Good grades alone will do the trick.  A couple of my classmates immediately come to mind who I know for a fact are not on law review but are still going to the top NYC law firms this summer and after graduation.
Burning Sands

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2006, 11:58:42 AM »
you need good grades to get on law review, even for write-on.

That is correct.

I have to differ in observation with Bored3L in one regard.  For the other 36 schools in the Tier 1, and for the 50 of us in Tier 2, its not a necessity to have good grades AND law review to get into Big Law.  Good grades alone will do the trick.  A couple of my classmates immediately come to mind who I know for a fact are not on law review but are still going to the top NYC law firms this summer and after graduation.

Good point.  Now that I think about it, I know a few people like that too. 

As to grades and the write-on, some schools base their decisions entirely on the write-on, with grades having no impact.  I think most schools, however, use a formula that incorporates grades and the quality of the write-on submission.

To the OP, sorry if I"ve gotten a little off the point.  In any case, just focus on improving your grades and of course also try out for moot court and the law review.  Those credentials can only help.  Whether they'll get you into biglaw right out of school is hard to tell, but they'll certainly improve your prospects, and may help you lateral down the line.

Burning Sands

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Re: Grades v. Moot Court/Law Review
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2006, 12:35:58 PM »
I agree.

And also a jedi recognizes another fellow jedi - I'm also on my school's law review as well.  ;)
Burning Sands