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Author Topic: Smack dab in the middle at T3 after 1L ... shall I overcome?  (Read 1548 times)

OConnorScribe

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So thanks to bad Civ Pro grades (yes, my school goofily divides it into two semesters), I finished right in the middle of the class (2.91; ranked three spots away from the statistical top half, but I have to think 2.91 is the median when rounded up -- or down). The curve here is B/B-, which explains the number. I feel like Jimmy Cagney: "Made it Ma! Top of the bell curve!."

Jokes and verbal elixir aside, this puts me in a genuine pickle moving forward. I have numerous positives I can sell -- a previous 10-year-career in print and online journalism; early internship (solo med mal attorney) and moot court experience (team witness and researcher in regional NTC competition); 3.35 average in my 4-credit courses (include A- in both Contracts and Con Law, which my peers seemed to think were the toughest classes); co-organized two animal law discussion events that packed the house (unheard of otherwise at my school); working plum patent research internship now at company owned by inventor of priceline.com and Synapse (while I can't prosecute, this will be invaluable in case I pursue IP litigation), have a Family Court externship lined up for the fall where I'll be representing DV victims in protection and emergency custody hearings; have a beat on being the IP guru's research assistant in fall (guy is ex-White & Case); scored 85% on my appellate brief (near tops in that class). Plus, I have some writing/research ideas I hope to pursue independently.

All of that being said, will respected law firms and/or corporations looking for in-house assistance give a crap about these positives. Or am I screwed by the numbers game purely? I realize I can pretty much forget fall OCI. Yet I also fear finishing below 3.0 and standing at mid-class, will close a lot of other doors, too, and that even if I score a 4.0 in the fall, I may not be able to land anything good with a February push with improved metrics. Or even if I solidify these potentially great references and contacts. I may just be a dude with C marks on his transcript and average metrics, even to a public interest hotbed like the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx, which I would consider an excellent opportunity.

So the past few weeks have been this odyssey of confusion, depression, hurt pride, dented confidence (I mean, I finished in bottom four in a 64-person Civ Pro II class. Ouch. Guess that's a long-term education), self-reflection, acceptance and strategizing -- and persistent anxiety. I'm looking at perhaps $170K worth of debt, which is a nightmare. But I'm not a quitter, and an $80K starting salary is still a goal (Insert laugh track here. Stranger things have happed though).

This question is for the lawyers who frequent the site and to older, wiser rising 3Ls: How to synthesize this and come out the other side in good shape? I need the dose of hope to balance out the dose of reality. T14s -- take it easy on me. I'm well aware I ain't you as a student. :-)

Thanks.

BTW -- School also splices Crim Law and Legal Research and Writing in the same two-semester suite, so that the appellate brief is under the umbrella of a mediocre overall grade because of a subpar Crim final. Yet another frustration -- class structure meant that we didn't learn Crim or LRW with any real focus or continuity, and one component was bizarrely and unfairly tied to the other. I get the desire to test the concept -- but it's better education model theory than actual practice.

*** A long-ass OP, I know, but a lot to share.***
Pace '10

Rajah

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Re: Smack dab in the middle at T3 after 1L ... shall I overcome?
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2008, 03:30:30 PM »
I'm only a rising 2L, but I AM old. I took 8 years off between undergrad and law school. If I were you, I would absolutely be sending out resumes, even to places where your grades don't really give you a good shot. Think about it: you have all this meaningful stuff on your resume and there are going to be 23-24 year olds literally with things like "Lifeguard" and "Camp Counselor" on their resume.

Now, it's still going to be an uphill battle because grades still matter most of all, but don't underestimate the power of a full resume. At this point, your main strength is your maturity and experience. Employers ARE interested in those qualities.

lawnecon

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Re: Smack dab in the middle at T3 after 1L ... shall I overcome?
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2008, 04:22:35 PM »
Like the last poster mentioned, having 10 years of work experience will likely be helpful, but it looks like you're somewhat ahead of the game in some other respects. You seem to have a lot of contacts at small firms, companies, a division of family court and potential contacts in a bunch of other areas you mentioned. You should get Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of your Dream for tips on how to leverage these contacts and emphasize your posiitve qualities. OCI and reume drops may not pan out, but working with your employers and others will probably help you find what you're looking for. The real trick for most law students is making those contacts and reaching out to potential employers in the first place. You've got that covered.

Of course, this depends on what you mean by "respectable" firm. The big firms are probably still off limits, and $80k is pretty optimistic (though you do have significant work experience).

The debt is pretty bad, but the new IBR plan should make the payments reasonable (even if the compounding interest isn't) until you can make it big. (As long as it's public debt.)

Good luck
Villanova Law School Class of '09

"I don't believe in nothing, no more - I'm going to law school!" Jimbo Jones (The Simpsons)

AssaultAndBattery

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Re: Smack dab in the middle at T3 after 1L ... shall I overcome?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2008, 04:15:17 AM »
Like the last poster mentioned, having 10 years of work experience will likely be helpful, but it looks like you're somewhat ahead of the game in some other respects. You seem to have a lot of contacts at small firms, companies, a division of family court and potential contacts in a bunch of other areas you mentioned. You should get Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of your Dream for tips on how to leverage these contacts and emphasize your posiitve qualities. OCI and reume drops may not pan out, but working with your employers and others will probably help you find what you're looking for. The real trick for most law students is making those contacts and reaching out to potential employers in the first place. You've got that covered.

Of course, this depends on what you mean by "respectable" firm. The big firms are probably still off limits, and $80k is pretty optimistic (though you do have significant work experience).

The debt is pretty bad, but the new IBR plan should make the payments reasonable (even if the compounding interest isn't) until you can make it big. (As long as it's public debt.)

Good luck

Can you elaborate on this IBR plan you speak of?

OP, goodluck to you brother.

I feel you're pain. As I am smack dab in the middle at a T4. The positive however, is the T4 has a good regional rep. I heard try picking classes that are setup in a way for you to succeed according to you're study habits and try to avoid professors known to be G.P.A killers.

In 1L, I got screwed. I got 3 professors known to be the hardest graders at the school. I was one of 7 students who was screwed having all three of these professors while most students had only one of them.

jacy85

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Re: Smack dab in the middle at T3 after 1L ... shall I overcome?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2008, 06:44:42 AM »
I think you have a whole lot going for you, and have the goods to sell yourself well via networking.

But for in house counsel?  I think it would depend on the corporation/company, and what your networking can land you.  It may be hard to break into any of the big corporations without BIGLAW (since they seem to get most of their attys from those firms - it's low risk for the corp b/c they've already worked with this attorney, and while the firm looses someone, they gain a close contact w/ the corp to help ensure that business keeps flowing).

But many other companies and smaller corporations may well remain a "real" possibility (I put "real" in quotes b/c even though the trend is to say "big corps hire from biglaw" you may in fact be able to create a niche for yourself somewhere, or make some really great contacts, or whatever and buck the trend).

Biggest thing to do is continue networking; it sounds like you're off to a good start, but do more (like going to bar events and meetings for local attorneys, etc.).

lawnecon

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Re: Smack dab in the middle at T3 after 1L ... shall I overcome?
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2008, 02:53:57 AM »


The debt is pretty bad, but the new IBR plan should make the payments reasonable (even if the compounding interest isn't) until you can make it big. (As long as it's public debt.)

Good luck

Can you elaborate on this IBR plan you speak of?


Congress passed legislation last year that was designed to reduce the burden of repaying student loans for graduates who borrowed from the federal government. One of the provisions was an "Income Based Repayment" or "IBR" program. This allows graduates to pay back their federal students loans (Stafford and Gradplus) based on their annual earnings. It takes full effect next July. The forumula is 15% of your AGI less 150% of the poverty level. This usally works out to somewhere around 10% of your gross income. If you work for 10 years for a not for profit (and consolidate directly with the federal government), your debt will be forgiven. For everyone else, the debt is forgiven at 25 years out.

There are some other details. There are a bunch of pages/articles on the web that discuss the legislation. I think Equal Justice Works has a good explantion, IIRC. Some of the finer points are also still being hammered out by the Department of Education.
Villanova Law School Class of '09

"I don't believe in nothing, no more - I'm going to law school!" Jimbo Jones (The Simpsons)