Law School Discussion

Advice on My Situation?

Advice on My Situation?
« on: April 29, 2008, 09:01:21 AM »
Hey All,

I'm a 1L at a T2 school, and my first semester grades were terrible. Like, bottom 10% terrible. This semester I've really changed my study habits, and have applied myself a great deal more (getting outlines done really early, doing lots of practice exam/hypo stuff), and I've already taken two exams which (while probably not great) I feel confident were at least better than last semester's tests. And the brief I wrote for RWA was at least decent, I expect, as I spent a *&^%-ton of time on it and later got to compare it with others' briefs and really thought mine was even better than theirs. And I've still got three more on the way. But I don't know any of my 2nd semester grades as of yet, of course.

My major flaws from last semester were (a) not working hard enough, and (b) not studying right and not taking practice exams. And not knowing to argue both sides on every issue. I know I'm smart enough to handle the material, I just had to really buckle down this semester and apply myself to all of my potential, which I feel I've done.

My question is, given that I feel confident that I'll at least not have such a low GPA as to be on Academic Probation (I'm right on the cusp of it now but w/ the way things are going I don't think it's crazy to project that I'll bring my status up to at least bottom 20%), CAN I AT LEAST HOLD OUT HOPE THAT I'LL EVENTUALLY FIND A JOB?

I'm not picky. The thing is, I really really enjoy the law and I really want to be a lawyer. I don't like taking law school exams, but I'm enthusiastic about eventually practicing law. Ideally I'd like to create a Public Interest career, as I'm interested in working for social justice and money means surprisingly little to me. I'm a single guy living in a cheap apartment, and I'll have relatively little debt (like $45 k) after graduation, which my dad said he'd even help me out w/ eventually if it got to that point. I would be perfectly happy to work for $40,000 a year, AS LONG AS I'm not stuck in some bull clerical job and am out there fighting battles, getting my hands dirty in the real world. That's what I'm in this whole shindig for.

So, can y'all talk to me about what it means to go into either Public Sector or Public Interest careers in a big metropolitan area w/ 1L grades in the bottom 20%? Is it possible? Because if it's not I'll think about withdrawing and teaching at a public school or something.

If I seem woefully naive about everything law-related, that's because I am.

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2008, 09:09:59 AM »
Where do you go to school and where do you want to practice?

Are you networking at all?

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2008, 09:12:07 AM »
Is it kosher to say what school you attend? I'm new here. Oh well, I'll just say: I go to Georgia State, in  Atlanta.

I haven't networked at all. Like, zip.

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2008, 09:13:40 AM »
Oh yeah, and I'd like to practice in Atlanta if at all possible.

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2008, 09:32:03 AM »
I think you should be okay wanting to work in Atlanta with a degree from Georgia State.

START NETWORKING NOW!!!  If your grades don't buy your ticket, you need your personality and networking skills to.

Buy this book and get cracking:

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2008, 09:33:05 AM »
you could always work for a personal injury lawyer. there are literally thousands of them and the money can actually be better sometimes. it's not complex at all and you have very flexible hrs. i am currenlty a case manager at a PI firm and all we do is settle car wreck cases. they only go to court about 5% of the time and even when they do they're just arguing negligence. depending on the firm's case load you could make 80,000.00 in your first year.


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Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2008, 09:45:42 AM »
I know it's bad, but it was just one semester. Just one! Don't let anyone tell you your life is over or that you should drop out. It might be a little harder to get that 1st job, but as long as you pass the bar, nobody cares about your LS grades a few years out.

Things that will help you: an upswing in the grades, networking, and probably demonstrating an interest in a particular area of law-or doing anything that makes you look a little different from your peers. You are not your grades, and to the extent that you can show the *other things you're about* to potential employers, it'll help a lot.

I was in a similar situation--T2 with disappointing grades, knowing I'm smarter than my grades reflect, etc. I was able to get my 1L job through OCI because I could demonstrate that I was the right person for the job b/c of other things on my resume [or this ER didn't care about grades, whatever].

Not to commandeer the thread and talk about myself, just sharing what worked for me.

Oh, also: you clearly want to be a lawyer–you've spent a year in LS and know what the practice of law is all about. If you can convey that in an interview, you'll be able to get A job...

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2008, 09:46:27 AM »
You need to start networking and meet people in the public interest world in the city. 

Volunteer your time with a public interest group even if it is not anything legally related (of course, a legal internship is ideal, but you need to start somewhere if you can't get such an internship.)  You will meet people through this that may be able to help you make other contacts, and you will demonstrate your commitment to public interest type work.  Get in contact with the local legal aid office and ask them if you can volunteer time there.

Can you try an get an externship during the school year with a public interest group?  Your school ought to have some information on field placement for credit and how to go about it. 

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 11:39:57 PM »
Can you do any clinical programs with local organizations? That would be good experience to have and might provide networking options, especially if you do a really fantastic job (which could lead to a permanent position there or them recommending you to another group in need of help.)

Re: Advice on My Situation?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2008, 12:30:31 AM »
One bad semester isn't the end all - as is having one awesome semester followed by mediocre grades. There are tons of public interest jobs out there that are in need of people with decent grades. As a 1L this summer, try and do some volunteer work - if you like employment law, work at the EEOC; if you like family law, try the CPA; or if you want a wide variety, go for the ACLU. You will probably work for free, but you will get the experience AND demonstrate your interest in public interest.

If your school has a Clinic Program, try to participate. Atlanta should have a Young Lawyer's Association of some time or an ABA Committee on public interests you can join. They will give you the leads for public interest groups, better than anything you can find on LSD. Finally, talk to your Career Services Office and see what they have. I can guarantee that they have notebooks or online postings filled with public interest jobs with less stringent GPA requirements (but getting out of the bottom 10% will help a lot). BTW, consider taking summer classes - typically it is easier to make higher grades and you will free up time during the school year to work or volunteer part-time.