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Author Topic: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades  (Read 3266 times)

whitearbiter

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Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« on: June 09, 2007, 08:14:25 PM »
Howdy all. I figure it wouldn't hurt to post my situation and see what others thought. Being the first kid to graduate undergrads this side of the Pacific, much less law school, offers me absolutely no context in regards to my employability, especially now that my 1L grades are shot. The original plan was just to skip town and go get a PhD but it's really tough to be out of the job market 6-10 years (after losing one year already because of 1L) just to get a degree that may ultimately be unemployable (political theory or foreign affairs). This is how my 1L year ended up:

William and Mary
2.8 (actually 2.77 but WM rounds to first decimal)
Downward trend (3.0 -> 2.6)
No ranking/percentile list yet, but WM curves to a B+ (3.3) which means my percentile is going to be bottom 25%, at best.
Submitted packet for journals but I REALLY screwed up my packet. I am assuming no journal invites come July. So let's, for the sake of argument, stipulate no journal.
Not in moot court or whathaveyou.

$8,000 scholarship per year, in-state. The scholarship is renewable with a C average or higher (2.0), but as seen by my 2L roommate, not all of his scholarship was renewed for his 3L year (and for no good reason than they ran out of money. He's in top 20%). This places me at $8,500 per year in government loans, and another $12,000 per year that my parents are keeping tabs on.

In terms of life goals, I'd like to be 'established' with my own house and respectable middle-class lifestyle in the markets I strongly desire to work in, by the time I'm 28-30, which is 3-5 years out of law school in my case. I would like enough money left over to possibly pursue getting a PhD anyway, but a lot more secure in my finances.

I think I'm over my existential crisis when my grades first came in after second semester, but I could use some advice as to where the hell I'm going to end up after completely screwing over my all important 1L year. My background should suggest very minimal networking so far. Just for reference, my UGPA was a 3.65 at a top-20 university in history and foreign affairs - probably more than enough to get a job in the State Department.

I am geographically fixed. I want to work in the DC metro area including N.Va (less so with MD... Baltimore's prolly too far out), Richmond, and everything in between. I'd prefer not to go more south than Richmond and I hesitate to go to, say, Baltimore.

1. What is my job potential regarding my 2L job? Do I have a snowball's chance in hell for private sector? My personality does not lend itself well to small firm positions in my opinion, but at this point in the game, I imagine I would take a job if offered, just for the experience.

2. Along the same lines, what is my future job potential as a whole, since there's strong indication that 1L year is vastly more important than my 2L/3L years...

3. What can I do to help mitigate the situation some in regards to question 1 and 2?

4. There's a very faint chance that a friend of mine has a very BIG connection in NY, but I have concerns that even if I do get my foot in the door regarding that possible opportunity, it might be difficult to migrate down to my ideal market. I imagine that if it's just a job for my 2L summer, as long as I get the experience, since I won't be making a biglaw firm anyway, it won't hurt to pursue and see where this ends up. Pursue?

5. And the big question, is it worth staying? Is a JD from a Tier 1 school and not bottom 10% going to open any new doors, in say, the Federal government, that my UGPA did not already? Am I just a lead weight sinking in a murky pond? Is my future flipping burgers at a Burger King Franchise and not being able to sue outside of Florida?

Thanks all.
Accepted: *W&M$$*, W&L, GWU, GMU, Richmond
Waitlisted: UVA
Rejected: Duke


3.59(3.65 final)/165

kernelgt

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2007, 05:41:48 PM »
I didn't read all of your post...too long  :o

Anyway, I was in a similar situation after 1L...who cares.  So you won't get hired at BIGLAW next summer (and neither will 90% of everyone else).  W&M is a good school and there has to be people at all percentile levels.  Just try to do better next year.  I did and went from bottom 25% to about 40th %ile this year and I'm doing fine with interviews and job prospects. 

Journal....Do you really want to be on a journal (aside from the law school machine making you think that you do)?  I didn't and didn't even petition.  Best decision I could have made. 

Bottom line is there are tons of lawyers out there...Half of them graduated in the bottom half of their classes...it's not all about grades once you stop worrying about the biggest firms.  Just make connections and separate yourself from the pressures of what the law school machine makes you think you are supposed to want.  Once you do that, you can evaluate what's really out there and find the best fit anyway. 

bigfatbox

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2007, 06:38:26 PM »

William and Mary
2.8 (actually 2.77 but WM rounds to first decimal)
Downward trend (3.0 -> 2.6)
No ranking/percentile list yet, but WM curves to a B+ (3.3) which means my percentile is going to be bottom 25%, at best.
Submitted packet for journals but I REALLY screwed up my packet. I am assuming no journal invites come July. So let's, for the sake of argument, stipulate no journal.
Not in moot court or whathaveyou.


I doubt any journal other than law review is going to make a difference.


Quote
$8,000 scholarship per year, in-state. The scholarship is renewable with a C average or higher (2.0), but as seen by my 2L roommate, not all of his scholarship was renewed for his 3L year (and for no good reason than they ran out of money. He's in top 20%). This places me at $8,500 per year in government loans, and another $12,000 per year that my parents are keeping tabs on.

Are your parents paying for the 12K or not?

Quote
Just for reference, my UGPA was a 3.65 at a top-20 university in history and foreign affairs - probably more than enough to get a job in the State Department.

If your undergrad was so great, why did you go to law school? Maybe you could get a Fed Job with your UG credentials, maybe not. You won't know until you start looking and applying. Some of those types of jobs may be a lot more competitive than you think. If you're willing to branch out geographically, you might fair better at a Fed field office in another state, outside the hypercompetitive DC area.

Quote
I am geographically fixed. I want to work in the DC metro area including N.Va (less so with MD... Baltimore's prolly too far out), Richmond, and everything in between. I'd prefer not to go more south than Richmond and I hesitate to go to, say, Baltimore.

A little picky here considering your situation...you might have more luck if you branch out. Where is home? Have you thought about trying to make some connections and look for something there, legal or otherwise?

Quote
1. What is my job potential regarding my 2L job? Do I have a snowball's chance in hell for private sector? My personality does not lend itself well to small firm positions in my opinion, but at this point in the game, I imagine I would take a job if offered, just for the experience.

Talk to your career services office. They should be able to tell you something.

Again, I doubt you are in any position to be picky. You'll probably have to adjust your "personality" and start thinking about smaller firms. Also, realize many small firms do not have the resources to hire people until after they graduate. Some will not hire until after you get passing bar results for your jurisdiction.

Quote

3. What can I do to help mitigate the situation some in regards to question 1 and 2?



Get your grades up. Time for a new approach, whatever you were doing obviously wasn't working well. Assumming you are still looking for a job post-grad, which you may be, it is important to get the GPA up. What you've got right now is too low to even be listed on a resume.

Quote

4. There's a very faint chance that a friend of mine has a very BIG connection in NY, but I have concerns that even if I do get my foot in the door regarding that possible opportunity, it might be difficult to migrate down to my ideal market. I imagine that if it's just a job for my 2L summer, as long as I get the experience, since I won't be making a biglaw firm anyway, it won't hurt to pursue and see where this ends up. Pursue?


See where you are at...you might not have the option to turn it down, assuming your friend's "connection" comes through.

Quote
5. And the big question, is it worth staying? Is a JD from a Tier 1 school and not bottom 10% going to open any new doors, in say, the Federal government, that my UGPA did not already? Am I just a lead weight sinking in a murky pond? Is my future flipping burgers at a Burger King Franchise and not being able to sue outside of Florida?

You have to make that call after doing more research and evaluating your options. How do you feel about looking for permanent employment post-grad, for example?

As an anecdote, someone I know of dropped out of law school after one year because he got a Fed job in a state field office and didn't see the point in continuing.

bigfatbox

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2007, 06:46:07 PM »

There may be some danger in sticking with law school solely because you think it will help you get a leg up into the aforementioned fields/agencies; when deciding to go to law school, I read a lot about how the people who are least disillusioned by the law school experience are those who were satisfied with the idea of working as a lawyer, and not holding out hope that their J.D. could translate into all those positions (CEO; State official; diplomat; screenwriter) that laypeople think are open to law graduates because of their degree. In fact, that stats I've read say most people who go to law school become lawyers, because it is a trade school like any other (i.e. mechanic school) that is geared toward one profession.




You have a point. There are so many clueless, naive people in law school or people who are just plain misdirected. As an extreme example, one guy told me he wanted a law degree so he could be a sports agent and another has aspirations of being an "entertainment lawyer".

In reality, a law degree has much less cache for other fields than people think. When you see people with law degrees who managed to get those plum non-legal jobs, that usually means they had work experience or inside connections. For most people fresh out of law school, or even with a few years experience, sans those connections, the only think you're good for is practicing law.

To whitearbiter, if you really don't want to be a lawyer, I'd urge you to get out of law school while you can.

1LMan

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2007, 08:05:36 PM »
OP: I am about to start 1L, so I can't speak to summer interviews or job opportunities, but I think there may be another issue at play. In your post, you made it sound like your real interests lie in either working in foreign/international affairs or getting a PhD in a related field or possibly doing both (in either order). I know people at State and DOD who got in (non-legal jobs) with nothing but B.A.s, but they had done internships there first, so they knew people on the "inside" who could recommend them. ( I also know someone who got a non-legal job at State after starting her J.D. part-time at a D.C. school).

There may be some danger in sticking with law school solely because you think it will help you get a leg up into the aforementioned fields/agencies; when deciding to go to law school, I read a lot about how the people who are least disillusioned by the law school experience are those who were satisfied with the idea of working as a lawyer, and not holding out hope that their J.D. could translate into all those positions (CEO; State official; diplomat; screenwriter) that laypeople think are open to law graduates because of their degree. In fact, that stats I've read say most people who go to law school become lawyers, because it is a trade school like any other (i.e. mechanic school) that is geared toward one profession.

Still, if you are honest with yourself and think you can abide being a lawyer, and if you can tolerate or come to terms with the options available to you based on your less-than-stellar academic record (for example, small firm or solo practitioner), then I think it is worth your while to finish your remaining two years.

By the way, what did you find the most academically challenging at W&M (professors? the curve? oblique grading?)




WHY OH WHY DO 0L's post answers to questions from law students?  It amazes me.  Do you REALLY think you know jack about jobs or anything else?  Go out and enjoy your freedom summer and quit posting crap advice......

unlvcrjchick

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2007, 08:16:47 PM »
OP: I am about to start 1L, so I can't speak to summer interviews or job opportunities, but I think there may be another issue at play. In your post, you made it sound like your real interests lie in either working in foreign/international affairs or getting a PhD in a related field or possibly doing both (in either order). I know people at State and DOD who got in (non-legal jobs) with nothing but B.A.s, but they had done internships there first, so they knew people on the "inside" who could recommend them. ( I also know someone who got a non-legal job at State after starting her J.D. part-time at a D.C. school).

There may be some danger in sticking with law school solely because you think it will help you get a leg up into the aforementioned fields/agencies; when deciding to go to law school, I read a lot about how the people who are least disillusioned by the law school experience are those who were satisfied with the idea of working as a lawyer, and not holding out hope that their J.D. could translate into all those positions (CEO; State official; diplomat; screenwriter) that laypeople think are open to law graduates because of their degree. In fact, that stats I've read say most people who go to law school become lawyers, because it is a trade school like any other (i.e. mechanic school) that is geared toward one profession.

Still, if you are honest with yourself and think you can abide being a lawyer, and if you can tolerate or come to terms with the options available to you based on your less-than-stellar academic record (for example, small firm or solo practitioner), then I think it is worth your while to finish your remaining two years.

By the way, what did you find the most academically challenging at W&M (professors? the curve? oblique grading?)




WHY OH WHY DO 0L's post answers to questions from law students?  It amazes me.  Do you REALLY think you know jack about jobs or anything else?  Go out and enjoy your freedom summer and quit posting crap advice......

Agreed.  The very fact that this 0L has stated that law school is a "trade school" is absolutely absurd.  First, attend law school, and then you'll see how wrong this assertion is.  Law school teaches one how to think critically, whereas a trade school teaches one how to practice in a certain field. 

Any law-school student (or graduate) will tell you that law school does NOT teach one how to practice law.  If this were so, it wouldn't be so important to obtain summer employment:  summer employment is necessary because it is on the JOB where you learn how to practice law.

So, if you're going to give advice, please make sure that you know what you're talking about.  If you read statistics about law-school students' chosen fields after law school, then why didn't you read a book about the whole law-school experience (i.e. Planet Law School) to make sure that what you said about the experience is true?

whitearbiter

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2007, 09:24:04 PM »
I doubt any journal other than law review is going to make a difference.
Well, at this point, I figure a journal is going to be better than no journal.
Quote

Are your parents paying for the 12K or not?

Parents are paying the 12k, but it is essentially a loan because my parents want me to pay it off with interest. They paid for undergrads completely, so this time around, it's more of an investment.
Quote

If your undergrad was so great, why did you go to law school? Maybe you could get a Fed Job with your UG credentials, maybe not. You won't know until you start looking and applying. Some of those types of jobs may be a lot more competitive than you think. If you're willing to branch out geographically, you might fair better at a Fed field office in another state, outside the hypercompetitive DC area.

At the time, I was unsatisfied with going straight out of college and finding starting salary work. Ideally, law school would've helped with my starting salary and salary potential, but I'm questioning if a 2.8 GPA is going to be worth it.
Quote

A little picky here considering your situation...you might have more luck if you branch out. Where is home? Have you thought about trying to make some connections and look for something there, legal or otherwise?

Home is Northern Virginia. I have no interest in going more than three hours away and certainly not outside VA-DC-MD... possibly PA if I really get desperate. My parents live there, my friends all live in that area for the most part... I mean, if I do get desperate, the cut off is really nothing south of Richmond, and I'd be willing to work northwards.
Quote

Talk to your career services office. They should be able to tell you something.

Again, I doubt you are in any position to be picky. You'll probably have to adjust your "personality" and start thinking about smaller firms. Also, realize many small firms do not have the resources to hire people until after they graduate. Some will not hire until after you get passing bar results for your jurisdiction.

I am fully aware of the small firm situation, and at this point, I've more or less resigned myself to the fact I will not be getting into a mid-sized, if such a creature really does exist outside of statistical numbers, if ever, and that I will most likely be scraping off a small firm after I graduate or trying to find something in the government. Career services has been incredibly and unsatisfactorily dodgy, explaining that as a graduate of W&M, I will get *a* job... but I don't really consider uncontracted document review at a firm basement to be *a* job. Sure, I'm being picky to some extent, but I think that paying 60k for a piece of paper, that I should at least be able to voice out my situation, desires, and concerns.
Quote

Get your grades up. Time for a new approach, whatever you were doing obviously wasn't working well. Assumming you are still looking for a job post-grad, which you may be, it is important to get the GPA up. What you've got right now is too low to even be listed on a resume.

I know. I am quite aware of that. I'm just extremely frustrated that I've done what my professors from first semester told me to do and my grades plummeted for the most part.
Quote

(in regards to possible connection in NY)

See where you are at...you might not have the option to turn it down, assuming your friend's "connection" comes through.

Let's hope for the best I guess. Snowball's chance in hell, but if it pans out, I'd be more than thankful for it.
Quote

(in regards to leaving LS)

You have to make that call after doing more research and evaluating your options. How do you feel about looking for permanent employment post-grad, for example?

As an anecdote, someone I know of dropped out of law school after one year because he got a Fed job in a state field office and didn't see the point in continuing.

My father wants me to stay as long as I keep my scholarship. Mother wants me to go ahead and pursue whatever I really want (i.e. grad school). The idea of trying to find employment post-grad is terrifying. The whole purpose of law school was for me to avoid that sort of panic right off of undergrad, and it looks like I might be screwed anyway in that regard.

Thanks for the replies. Not sure if it cleared my thoughts but right now, I just want to assess how badly screwed I really am.

In general, the idea of working for a small firm does not particularly appeal to me. I really want a certain degree of stability in life and to be honest, doing a little busywork for long hours a day is far less stressful in my mind than long hours with someone's really important insurance claim petition or tort claim and trying to out-gun large firm lawyers with vastly superior resources than me - perhaps some who I've went to school with. And then hoping at the end of the day, I'm going to be paid. One avenue my friend suggested was going into something that everyone needs like tax or immigration law, but I'm hoping at the end of two more years, I can avoid that.
Accepted: *W&M$$*, W&L, GWU, GMU, Richmond
Waitlisted: UVA
Rejected: Duke


3.59(3.65 final)/165

brightline

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2007, 09:43:17 PM »

Well, at this point, I figure a journal is going to be better than no journal.

Better find out if the secondary journals really mean anything or not at your school. Find out from career services or upperclassmen who have done the job search. If it doesn't mean much, you'd probably be better off trying to bring up your GPA and trying to build a network for post grad employment during whatever "free time" you have.


Quote
I am fully aware of the small firm situation, and at this point, I've more or less resigned myself to the fact I will not be getting into a mid-sized, if such a creature really does exist outside of statistical numbers, if ever, and that I will most likely be scraping off a small firm after I graduate or trying to find something in the government. Career services has been incredibly and unsatisfactorily dodgy, explaining that as a graduate of W&M, I will get *a* job... but I don't really consider uncontracted document review at a firm basement to be *a* job. Sure, I'm being picky to some extent, but I think that paying 60k for a piece of paper, that I should at least be able to voice out my situation, desires, and concerns.

Doc review is scary stuff. You're right to not want to do it. If career services isn't helping you, you're going to have to get more proactive. Network with alums, do informational interviews, talk to upperclassmen or recent graduates in your position.

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I know. I am quite aware of that. I'm just extremely frustrated that I've done what my professors from first semester told me to do and my grades plummeted for the most part.

If you haven't figured it out yet, you're going to have to face up to the fact that the profs are not on your side. If you want to talk more about what you can do re: an alternative approach, send me a personal message.


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My father wants me to stay as long as I keep my scholarship. Mother wants me to go ahead and pursue whatever I really want (i.e. grad school). The idea of trying to find employment post-grad is terrifying. The whole purpose of law school was for me to avoid that sort of panic right off of undergrad, and it looks like I might be screwed anyway in that regard.

I really think you need to figure out what's best for you and go for it whether that means staying or leaving. At this point you shouldn't feel obligated to do what your Dad wants, as you're an adult.

Unfortunately, enrolling in law school to avoid the real world is a terrible idea for anyone, and it looks like as a result of bad luck re: your adaptability for law school exams you're having to face the real world a lot sooner than you thought.

whitearbiter

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2007, 09:58:27 PM »
It's not the same when pops has control over the purse still. Keep in mind I have never really ever been 'independent' and I'm largely still dependent on my parents' whims despite a college degree that should say otherwise.

As for the profs, I'm basically mirroring my answers to reflect their model answers and it worked for one prof (Con Law) and failed miserably in Contracts where I got basically one of the bottom 5 grades in the class. Property I just screwed up on completely. I admit, I am not only not adjusting to law school, but I seem to have made things a lot worse. It's frustrating when your best effort coughs up a B+ (where our curve is) and second best effort results in a C. I think that I deserved my C+ in Property, but right now, I'm going through a huge crisis because that C sort of came out of the blue.

As for law school being a delay into the real world, sure, it was probably a bad idea in hindsight, but I'm already effectively $20k in debt after my 1L year and it's going to be hard trying to make that up if I'm in a starting G-11 gov't position. The question is, in two more years, am I going to be stuck in the same gov't job that I would've gotten if I just looked for employment out of college?

Right now, as to the question of whether I'm staying or not, my friends have all advised me to give law school at least one more semester and see if I improve or not. There are a lot of soft factors (2hr commute to school due to some spectacularly crappy luck on my part) that affected my 1L year that should not affect my 2L year. I'm just afraid that with a 2.8 this semester, I won't be ABLE to recover even if I do reasonably well the next two years, due to the nature of the hiring process for law school grads.
Accepted: *W&M$$*, W&L, GWU, GMU, Richmond
Waitlisted: UVA
Rejected: Duke


3.59(3.65 final)/165

brightline

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Re: Requesting Opinions - craptacular 1L grades
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2007, 09:58:35 PM »
In general, the idea of working for a small firm does not particularly appeal to me. I really want a certain degree of stability in life and to be honest, doing a little busywork for long hours a day is far less stressful in my mind than long hours with someone's really important insurance claim petition or tort claim and trying to out-gun large firm lawyers with vastly superior resources than me - perhaps some who I've went to school with. And then hoping at the end of the day, I'm going to be paid. One avenue my friend suggested was going into something that everyone needs like tax or immigration law, but I'm hoping at the end of two more years, I can avoid that.

First, small firms do all kinds of work. Find alums who work at different kinds of small firms and talk to them re: your potential options.

Second, to be blunt, if you're not ready for real responsibility then perhaps you should quit law school and find something else that will help you avoid the real world.