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Author Topic: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?  (Read 8001 times)

mzing12

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Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« on: July 03, 2009, 10:22:09 AM »
Hello all,

Facts: Private NYC school (the one in between Fordham and Brooklyn). Already in debt from one year. Bs and B+ grades only (below median - 3.04 GPA, median = 3.16). Public interest/government future.

Should I drop out? I'm below median. I want a public interest/government career, but the economy is horrible right now. I have plenty of family connections, but my grades are kinda poo. Is there any way to get them up during the next two years?

Please, any advice would be great. I have no idea what to do right now. I mean, I'm really good at actual law ... I received an A on my appellate brief, and in my internship I keep getting compliments on my briefs and research. But still, grades are everything in this career.

Thanks in advance. I'm kinda bugging out about my future here.



ExpLo

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2009, 11:24:44 AM »
The economy is something that we all wish we have a magic crystal ball and predict what it will do in the future.  With that said, you have 2 more years before you graduate so there's no guarantee the economy will be at the level that it is now.  From my understanding government positions are, generally speaking, not as concerned about your grades and school reputation when compared with private firms. The exception would be the high legal positions with the government like the US Attorney's office.  Your grades can't be horrible but if they are decent, which seems like they are, you'll be fine.  I say the worst year is already over with, don't give up now.   

mzing12

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2009, 11:38:21 AM »
OK, that's encouraging. Gov't positions seem to want clerkships after law school (local, state, federal, doesn't matter), but I can probably get my grades up to at least local/state clerkship level.

Thanks.

jillibean

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2009, 12:52:59 PM »
Your grades are fine. I would suggest that you intern with government agency that you are interested in- most only hire from a pool of former interns anyway, and keep your grades up going into the future.

I'm assuming since you mentioned clerkships that you are going for DOJ or something along those lines. Your grades do have to be higher to get those kinds of jobs, but if you have something else going for you like Moot Court or law review it will even itself out.
UMiami c/o 2010

vap

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2009, 02:36:40 PM »
I'm assuming since you mentioned clerkships that you are going for DOJ or something along those lines. Your grades do have to be higher to get those kinds of jobs, but if you have something else going for you like Moot Court or law review it will even itself out.

I disagree that DOJ is an option for anyone with sub-median grades from Cardozo, even with law review or generic moot court experience.  Although, stellar moot court performance and increasing grades to top 25% could make a difference.

From my understanding government positions are, generally speaking, not as concerned about your grades and school reputation when compared with private firms. The exception would be the high legal positions with the government like the US Attorney's office.

All employers care about grades and school reputation.  The difference is that government pays much less, so typically students with top grades and top reputation do not work at government jobs.  The self-selection involved with students' decisions does not necessarily mean government employers care less about these factors.  But government employers typically have to be less picky because most of the high-grade and high-school reputation students prefer to find work elsewhere.  But all else being equal, government litigation departments generally look to those who already have some litigation skills (as evidence by courses, externships, clinical, moot court, etc.).

big - fat - box

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2009, 02:03:38 PM »
DOJ jobs are very tough to get. The DOJ is full of T14 grads and top students who did federal clerkships. Why does everyone seem to think jobs at the DOJ and fed agencies are easy to get? Even in a good economy these jobs are highly competitive. Many even moreso than jobs at big firms. Jobs at NY area DA offices, NYC Law Dept., etc aren't falling into everyone's lap either. Apply if you want but don't count on landing these types of jobs. Keep in mind that the economy is going to make these jobs even tougher to get. Lot of students at top schools who didn't make the cut for biglaw (b/c recruiting is down) but had solid grades are going to be applying for these jobs too. Also keep in mind many govt agencies do not hire fresh law grads. One agency I worked at only hired lawyers with several years of work experience.

Whether or not to drop out is a personal decision. Consider your debt load and ability to pay it back and how badly you want to be a lawyer? Are you prepared to do bottom of the barrel legal work for a few years if it comes to that? These are questions to ask yourself.

One thing you might consider as a alternative to quitting is to take a 1 year leave of absence from school. Ask your school if they will allow it - many schools will. You could get a job as a law clerk or paralegal in the interim, or work somewhere for $ and do an unpaid public sector internship part-time.

How hard it is to get grades up depends on your school's grading system. Some loosen up the curve significantly during 2L and 3L. Others do not. Others only loosen it up slightly. Talk to 2Ls and 3Ls and see what they say about that. Another thing is that some people find it easier to get higher grades in seminars...but that will largely depend on how good you write papers and how generous the profs make the curve in those classes.

linquest

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2009, 11:06:42 PM »
Please, any advice would be great. I have no idea what to do right now. I mean, I'm really good at actual law ... I received an A on my appellate brief, and in my internship I keep getting compliments on my briefs and research. But still, grades are everything in this career.

Actually, if you want to do PI, grades AREN'T everything.  PI employers tend to focus less on grades.  Considering the lower pay, many tend to look more for evidence of commitment to the field/cause, so they have better assurance you won't jump ship for that BigLaw job.  Practical experience can make up for a lot as well. 

Law school exams aren't much like the actual practice of law.  If you perform well and enjoy your work on your internships, that may be much more indicative of your ability in the profession than how you perform on some artificial, 3-4 hour, closed book test.  And yes, you can definitely bring up your grades over the next 2 years, especially since you'll be able to choose most of your classes from then on, pick what's interesting to you and you'll likely do better.

Ditto everything else big - fat - box said.
Fed gov't atty

big - fat - box

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2009, 11:51:29 AM »
One big problem here is that you are at Cardozo, which isn't going to carry you very far outside of NY. It will be all but impossible to stand out in NY no matter what you do given the flood of JDs there and the stiff competition for jobs even in a good economy. And while a lot of PI employers want to see commitment and experience, there are enough people on the market applying for those jobs that they can be a lot pickier than you think.

Where are you from originally? Is there an in-state law school there? If so, I might try to ask admissions if it is possible to transfer there, either now or after a 1 year leave of absence from school.

Advocate

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2009, 01:21:08 PM »
This thread is over the top. The sky isn't falling. It isn't 1929.  You are around the median at a low Tier 1.  Okay, so you probably won't get Biglaw.  I'm sure you can find some fufilling job elsewhere (maye in a boutique, federal/state/local government, or some sort of public interest group). Seriously, there are tens of thousands of law students who go to lower ranked schools and have lower class ranks. Just work hard, get involved with meaningful activites/internships/publications, and network.

Note: I might have very different advice if you were at a Tier 3/4.

big - fat - box

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2009, 01:42:39 PM »
It isn't over the top. The OP is right to ask these questions. Cardozo vs. t3/t4 makes no difference, especially in a city like NYC.

It isn't about finding a job in biglaw, it's about finding any decent job at all. The job market for attorneys is the worst it has been in 25 years. That is a FACT. Just b/c things aren't as bad as 1929 doesn't mean students shouldn't be concerned.

Note that I'm at a t14 with one year left and had basically planned to work in public interest/govt from the get go. A lot of people I know who have similar plans (at schools of varying ranks) are very nervous about job prospects now and rightly so.

If the OP wants to get a good picture of how things are right now, I suggest he talk to alums and attorneys he knows that graduated in 2000-2001, during the last economic downturn. It wasn't as bad as things are right now, but it will give him a fair idea of what to expect.