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Author Topic: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?  (Read 7872 times)

Advocate

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2009, 02:22:22 PM »
I just can't imagine dropping out unless it were absolutely necessary.  And I can't believe it is absolutely necessary. Maybe we disagree.  But there is no way to intelligently debate this. We all know it's bad, but how bad?  Firms have cut hiring.  There are layoffs. New associates have been deferred for a year.  No one really knows how this will all sort out in a year or two. It's reasonable to conclude things will be much harder. But it is not possible to reasonably conclude that things will be so horrible that median tier 1 graduates will be unable to find jobs at all. That is apparently your opinion. I submit that it tells us more about your emotional reaction to these admittedly awful facts than it does about the OP's prospects in a year or two. Likewise, for me and my opinion (which follows).

There will always be a need for laywers.  People hurt each other, break laws and contracts, and get divorced. Maybe median tier 2 grads should be concerned and maybe the OP won't work in the city.  But is there really any basis for concluding that he won't be able to work at all (as a lawyer)?  And are you serious that your T14 classmates are afraid?  Do you really think even this weak-ass market can't find some modest use for ten thousand geniuses?  I doubt it.  But we'll see.  I think we both hope you're wrong.  And the OP should be absolutely certain before he dumps a year's investment on account of fear and rumors.  You know, "fear is the mind killer."


big - fat - box

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2009, 04:13:29 PM »
I never said the OP should definitely drop out. I tried to give advice on alternate courses of action. If the OP is really thinking about dropping out, they must have a good reason for it. Maybe the OP doesn't want to be a lawyer that bad, etc. He ultimately has to decide for himself.

Most people in law school are ignorant of what the real job market is like. For those who want to be lawyers no matter what, they will find a way to tough it out for a few years. I know a guy who graduated in the top 20% at a top 25 school in 2001. He actually had to resort to law clerk/paralegal work for 3 years before becoming an actual attorney. Also back in 2000-2001 firms did a deferral of sorts. I think they are using more PR this time around and trying to keep students hanging on in case they need them to do work should the economy improve. But if the economy doesn't improve, firms will rescind offers, plain and simple.

The job market downturn isn't just for big firms, everyone is moving a notch (or several notches down). What do you think will happen when the t14 or top 25 school students can't find jobs in biglaw or the govt jobs they originally wanted? The will look for any legal job they can find. DA/PD jobs, small firms, temp work, whatever they can find. $180K of student loans going into repayment means they will have to resort to work they might not normally consider. Even non-legal or quasi-legal work. That means people at the lower ranked schools will be competing with these people for jobs. I'm just putting the reality out there. I never said the OP can't find any job at all (even non-legal).

Here are some stories from the real world, all recent grads:

Top 25 school, passed bar first try in two states, cannot find work after 1 year. Waiting tables and doing volunteer legal aid work.

Top 25 school, passed bar in one state, cannot find work after many months. Volunteering at public interest law firm.

T14 school, took job in secondary market not affected by credit/finance crisis. Studying for bar exam. Had big regional firm offer but firm has started layoffs and was supposed to assign him to practice group awhile back but hasn't done it yet. Afraid offer will be rescinded.

Tier 3 school, 3/4 scholarship. Good grades b/c of strict scholarship requirements. Cannot find work over 1 year after graduating and passing two bar exams. Currently studying for 3rd bar exam. Volunteering at DA/PD office which has hiring freeze so no chance of getting hired there. Applying for non-legal jobs.

Tier 3 school, engineer before law school, admitted to patent bar, passed bar in 2 states. Could not find legal work after 1 year. Went back to engineering work.

T14 school, had offer at DA/PD office. Offer rescinded b/c of state budget cuts. Volunteering at DA/PD office and living off family.

Tier 2 school on cusp of tier 1, top 1/3 grades. Passed bar first try. After many months of searching, found $35K job at small firm.

Tier 2 school, median grades. Passed bar first try. Could not find work after almost 1 year. Ended up taking non-legal job.

Advocate

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2009, 05:15:55 PM »
A parade of horribles!  But anecdotal evidence only proves that those individuals had bad experiences.  It cannot be extrapolated.

My guess would be that lower ranked schools in the top 100 might do better than you think.  Those schools are regional and have strong alumni networks in their regions. I would suppose that a hiring partner at a small/medium size firm in a secondary market is not going to favor "prestige schools" over his Alma Mater and similar schools. Ditto for DA's offices.  In some sense, this economic downturn could hurt the bottom half at "prestige schools" much more than the top students at regional schools. The big markets have suffered the most in this downturn, and that's where top schools have their strongest alumni network. As the annoying 0L's at TLS might say: "T14 doesn't have a deep alumni network in "crap law!" The culture of prestige whoring is probably more established at Cravath than at the friendly neighborhood Public Defender's office. :P

PS: I realize that will not help the OP very much, as his school is in the most crowded primary market!

M_Cool

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2009, 05:32:49 PM »
Does PI put as much emphasis on first-year grades as big law?  I don't know much about it but I was under the impression that a lot of them hire later on so the OP would still have a chance to pull his/her grades up.  Is this false? 

Matthies

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2009, 05:39:44 PM »
For as many horror stories as BFB can post about grads not having jobs I can post about grads from my T2 school having jobs. The economy is bad right now, no doubt, but there are jobs out there and there are good jobs out there. The thing is, and this becomes a huge issue in a down economy like this, and the one everyone ignores, is that most law students are really, really bad at making opportunities happen for themselves.

The old model, OCI/mass mailing/want ads is how 90% of law students go about their job search. Regardless of the fact that OCI is statistically the worst way to find a job, mass mailing is like throwing darts blindfolded and as anyone will tell you who has had to hire and fire folks, want ads are a last resort (your job either sucks and no one wants it, or no one is willing to recommend anyone to work for you they like).

Universally the law students I know with jobs are two types (A0 those that got jobs that ther school provided the opportunity for (in other words they did not do much seeking out) or the type that that make things happen for themselves, and if one avenue does not work they immediately try another. Universally the law students I know without jobs keep trying the same things that have not worked yet over and over without ever, and this is the part I find the scariest, realizing maybe they should try something new ( I cringe when I hear one of my friends says I set out another 30 resumes today with no response! Well why not try something DIFFERENT then? Oh god no thatís too hard!).

Its hard out there no doubt, things are tight, and there are 100+ lawyers applying for every advertised opening. So what do you do? Keep applying for all those jobs that never even give you a call in for an interview and blame the economy? If you do then you likely remain unemployed until finally something gets handed to you, because you not making things happen replying to want adds, your just responding to the path of least resistance. The simple fact is that most people suck at job searching (lawyers or otherwise) but they donít educate themselves about what they could do to make the odds better, they keep trying the same old thing until its finally works. Unfortunately it most often works when the job you got into was the one no one else wanted.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

dischord

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2009, 07:07:07 PM »
This thread seriously has me about to cry.  I made top 20% and a secondary journal at at T25 and instead of feeling like celebrating my 1L successes, I have never felt like more of a failure in my life.  And Matthies, I understand the importance of networking, and obviously you and your friends have been successful.  But for anyone interested in public interest or government, I don't think that's going to help much.  It might give you a tiny leg up over a similar candidate but it's not like going on a bunch of lunches and informational interviews with people is going to get them to overturn hiring freezes just for me, especially when ITE they could probably get themselves an HLS grad if they did need anyone.  I know that if I were making hiring decisions, I'd probably hire the kid from the higher-ranked school even over someone I know well.
At least I can f-ing think.

Advocate

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2009, 07:29:07 PM »
I know that if I were making hiring decisions, I'd probably hire the kid from the higher-ranked school even over someone I know well.

In the immortal words of TLC: "free your mind, don't be so shallow!" You'd hire someone essentially on the basis of one test he took before ever going to law school. No doubt, many graduates of top schools are quite smart.  But so is most everyone else.  Are you more stupid than most T14 students because you're a mere T25 kid?  The system is what it is.  And I understand that you need to play by its rules.  But here you're saying that you would perpetuate prestige whoring propagated by some third tier magazine. 

Let me tell you how I will make hiring decisions.  I will invite applicants over for interviews on the basis of class rank, publications, experience etc.  That's normal so far.  Then I'll give them an assignment that a partner at the firm has already just completed.  I will give the applicants 24 hours to finish the memo.  Then compare results to the model answer provided by the partner, and make cuts.  Then I'll have the survivors come in again, and I'll tell them they have to do some group project.  I won't assign groups.  I'll let them work it out.  Then I grade the group work.

Cut 1 = normal GPA etc
Cut 2 = individual legal skill
Cut 3 = interpersonal and teamwork skills

My way is better than your way.  If Harvard is really better, the Harvard kids get hired.  If not, whatever.

Matthies

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2009, 08:20:16 PM »
This thread seriously has me about to cry.  I made top 20% and a secondary journal at at T25 and instead of feeling like celebrating my 1L successes, I have never felt like more of a failure in my life.  And Matthies, I understand the importance of networking, and obviously you and your friends have been successful.  But for anyone interested in public interest or government, I don't think that's going to help much.  It might give you a tiny leg up over a similar candidate but it's not like going on a bunch of lunches and informational interviews with people is going to get them to overturn hiring freezes just for me, especially when ITE they could probably get themselves an HLS grad if they did need anyone.  I know that if I were making hiring decisions, I'd probably hire the kid from the higher-ranked school even over someone I know well.

What kind of PI, thatís what Iím doing environmental public interest. And while I have good grades and rank, that never came up in the interview, they did not even ask. I start Aug 1st and they have yet to ask to see either my rťsumť or my transcripts. We talk at last once a week about what cases I want to start with, but so far they have no idea of my rank or anything else. They do know about all the classes I have taken in EL law because we have spoken about that, and it was my mentor from the environmental law clinic who recommended me for the job. At least from what I have seen in the last two years doing envrio law clerking here for different groups is its almost always who you know. If they canít find someone in the network to fill the position, then last shot is to actually put out a request for resumes.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

big - fat - box

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2009, 12:52:35 PM »
Matthies is right about mass mailing. It doesn't work. I've never massed mailed resumes and don't plan to in the future.

The job I have right now I got by cold calling the employer and said I was available to interview immediately. Same thing with my last summer job. There is no way to know for sure, but I have a strong hunch the name of the school I attend helped me get the jobs.

Advocate does have a point. The students at big name schools who had offers pulled or were SOL on OCI/big firm jobs at the last minute are probably going to be hit the worst. They might have a tough time showing commitment or interest in public sector or small firm legal work if everything they done (classes, jobs) is geared towards big firm work. But not everyone falls into this category. As for alumni, you'd be surprised how wide reaching alumni are at big name schools. Not everyone is working at a big firm in a major city. For the lower ranked schools, I think the students who will do best are those with high grades that have or have made connections to the legal community closest to the school. Low ranked schools in big cities are going to be hit hardest.

Make no mistake though, the job market is bad. Even senior attorneys with lots of experience and connections will tell you that they have to stay put rather than move to a new job because of the economy.

Another issue, especially, w/r/t public interest work is the biglaw deferrals. You've got people who are willing to work for free for a year at these places so they might take the place (at least temporarily) of people who would normally be hired for permanent positions. Some firms who did not do deferrals are also reassigning associates to pro-bono work at public interest orgs until the firm has "real work" for them to do.
Even if that isn't the case, as anyone who has worked for a non-profit will tell you, when the economy is down, fund raising and contributions from big corporations are down. And when money is not coming into the non-profit, hiring will be down or non-existent.

linquest

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Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2009, 06:27:23 PM »
This thread seriously has me about to cry.  I made top 20% and a secondary journal at at T25 and instead of feeling like celebrating my 1L successes, I have never felt like more of a failure in my life.  And Matthies, I understand the importance of networking, and obviously you and your friends have been successful.  But for anyone interested in public interest or government, I don't think that's going to help much.  It might give you a tiny leg up over a similar candidate but it's not like going on a bunch of lunches and informational interviews with people is going to get them to overturn hiring freezes just for me, especially when ITE they could probably get themselves an HLS grad if they did need anyone.  I know that if I were making hiring decisions, I'd probably hire the kid from the higher-ranked school even over someone I know well.

Hey, I have NO grades, NO class rank, NO law journal, and NO moot court experience.  I was hired for a PI job (fed gov't) over some friends from traditional law schools ranked 30-50 spots higher than mine.  What I did have was a shitload of contacts and experience in my legal specialty-both before and during law school-that showed commitment to the field and the agency that I'm going to be working for.  My entire interview was about my work experience and my thoughts on the agency's role--it helped that I'd interned with the agency in undergrad even though that was 8 years ago.  The only question that came up about school was whether or not I'd taken a trial skills course.  Fortunately, not everyone with hiring authority has the same viewpoint as you do.  There are other ways to stand out than just the numbers.
Fed gov't atty