Law School Discussion

Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring

Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« on: June 03, 2015, 08:48:24 AM »
Please solve the following fact pattern:

Got in to a lower level tier 1 school in Florida, and slaved away my 1L year just like everyone else (2014-2015). Grueling hours in the library, studying on weekends, hoarding outlines, etc. In fall, I got a D in Civ Pro although it was the class that I studied the most for. I told myself that I would make adjustments in Spring and get a better GPA. I made HUGE adjustments: stopped working out, ate out a lot more to accommodate the hectic study schedule, hoarded more outlines, and even found a paying job during Spring. As it turns out, when Spring grades came out I got two Ds in Contracts and Legislation Regulation (a BS class that no one should really have to take, the teacher did not even teach). However, I got my highest grade in 1L year with a B in Con Law, a class I actually enjoyed and ACTUALLY MADE SENSE. After the tremendous relief from completion of 1L year I partied my butt off because I had not done that all semester. In the summer I planned on taking Tax I, Con Law II, and to continue working with the attorney who hired me. Despite the two Ds in Spring, my GPA was still higher than it was in fall (thanks to Con Law) although only marginally so.

Fast forward to halfway through the summer semester (present day). I have already began looking at my Tax and Con Law II E & Es, taking notes, keeping up with the readings, paying attention in lectures, etc. I am minding my own business when Tuesday, June 2, 2015, comes along. It was a particularly difficult day at work, the attorney who once was kind of nice to me as a fledgling 1L when he hired me during Spring, screams at me for fudging up a simple legal research assignment despite the fact I made an honest mistake. I mean really screamed at me like dropping F bombs and such. Whatever, I sucked it up (like always) and finished up my work day. As soon as I get off at 5 PM I got a call from the Academic Deans office at my school asking for me to come in for an impromptu meeting. I ask what it could possibly be about and the secretary responds with, "Your classes next year." Hurriedly I arrive on campus, disregarding the Bar Association event I was supposed to attend because as we all know SCHOOL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING! I sit in the Dean's office and she does not hesitate to sit me down and tell me that I have been academically dismissed for not having my GPA at a 69 after completion of my 1L year. With my eyes glazed over and shell shocked I stare at her in bewilderment feeling myself die slowly inside as the words kept creeping out of her mouth. She continues to inform me that I have been dropped from my summer courses, which I have been faithfully participating in and attending for half of the summer semester along with my fall courses. She also informs me that my scholarships had been revoked. When she asks if I have any questions, I could only come up with the stock questions of: when is my financial aid reimbursement coming in? How does the appeal process work? Has anyone ever been readmitted in time for fall? In regards to the second question, she says that the readmission process is not guaranteed and may take some time to reach a decision. Like always, I remained courteous and composed on the outside but mentally flustered as I left her office.

The kicker here is that I have a 68.6667 GPA, .3333 away from being a "good" student in "solid" academic standing. For all of you prospective law students, let that sink in, the "curve's" margin is definitely that razor sharp. The Dean advised that I meet with some of my professor's to go over my final. I cannot do that right now because I for once feel directionless, helpless, and like an utter failure for the first time in my short life.

MAJOR ISSUES

Issue (1): I enjoy my school. Its great, despite my "lackluster" grades I do enjoy learning the law and most of the teachers are bearable. The practice of law does interest me and I think I would make a decent lawyer. I was a popular kid in my 1L class and I enjoyed the company of my classmates. Does anyone have a general idea on how the academic dismissal appeal process works and how long should I expect to be out of school? The Dean told me that I would need to draft a statement which would be submitted to a review committee; she strongly hinted that I should meet with my professors regarding my final grades (can they change my grades this late in the game?) and she strongly hinted if there were any medical conditions which "limited" my performance during my 1L year (am I supposed to admit I have ADD or some other BS disease so I can grovel a lame excuse to the committee?)

Issue (2): I am tired of having my soul crushed,  and swallowing my pride. Although my school is in the same state it is kind of far from the city where I want to practice.  The kids here are all way too smart and competitive. I have never been a "try hard" and I do not intend on starting now. I know the legal profession is rife with "try hards" and the unnecessary antagonism that they bring but I do think that some genuine, helpful, and reasonable people can still succeed in the legal profession today. Additionally, I think that I put in a lot more effort than some of the kids at the top of the class. I am tired of feeling like Forrest Gump in a classroom full of Einsteins. What are my chances of transferring to a lower tier II/ high tier III school after academic dismissal from my tier I in the city that I want to practice in and would that be advisable?

MINOR ISSUES

Issue (1): I officially hate my job. Without school there is really no point in working for $8 an hour for an ancient PI lawyer who has little to no patience and is not very friendly. What are my alternatives? I have done a lot of work for him and learned a lot although I don't know if quitting would be a good idea because he may give me a good reference. Mind you this man might be the very reason I flunked out because most 1Ls are not supposed to begin working until after their first year. In accepting the job, I may have let my greed get the best of me and I do have a tendency to take on way too much responsibilities on at once.

Issue (2): I have put in a lot of work at the local Bar Association. They seem to appreciate me and my volunteer work, and have even gone as far to nominate me as a student representative on their event committee. The head of the local bar association even reached out to me and asked that I attend the Voluntary Bar Association conference on July 11th and 12th so she can have a student representative. The obvious problem with this being that I am phony if I attend the conference and sit on the committee, because I am no longer "officially" a law student.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, for now assume that I am sticking to law school because I truly did enjoy the experience (as masochistic as that sounds) but please keep your answers related to the four issues stated above. Right now I am the most helpless I have ever felt so any sagacious wisdom on lawschooldiscussion.org is welcomed!


loki13

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Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 09:15:42 AM »
I'll see what I can do with that fact patter, functional drunk.

First, I think I know which school you're attending. I don't know if you want me to name it (since you didn't), but AFAIK, there is exactly one law school in Florida that has the 1L class requirements and semester timing that you just recited. I knew that the 69 was a requirement to graduate, but I didn't know that they'd yank you after one year!

Second, since I'm pretty sure it is the school I think it is, don't transfer. Really. There are two schools (I believe?) that have in-state tuition for Florida- I think you're at one of them. The Tier III schools are wicked expensive, and you'll never get a scholarship now. In addition, and I don't mean to be harsh, but it doesn't sound like you're going to be a superstar at one of the lower ranked schools (IME, a superstar at a Tier III school would often have been a superstar at a higher ranked school). That means you'll finish, at best, middle of the pack. The market isn't good enough for that, with the debt.

So I'd recommend an appeal. It's hard to get a read on your situation, but it sounds like all you need to do is successfully appeal a single grade upwards and you'll be okay. Yes, this is exceptionally rare. But it can be done. Look through the procedures, and get with your professors immediately (from the Spring, first). If you're that close, a very minor change could make a huge deal. Did you look over your old exams? Right now, you should have a single priority- figuring out the process, and understanding how to get back in. You seem to have made great contacts in the community- use them. Seriously. That's what they are there for.

Once you do that, resolve your other issues. You made a poor choice taking employment your 1L year with your grades so low. But you can't go back in time on that one.

Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 10:51:55 AM »
There's a lot to address here, so I'm going to be pretty general.

First, in order to have a shot at readmission to your current school or transferring to another school you're going to have to convince them that your 1L problems won't be repeated. Simply reapplying without a clear plan for future success will be a problem.

They're going to want to see (at least) that you've identified the problems and have a plan to deal with them. Incidentally, you should want this too. It's necessary for success.

Second, it sounds like you haven't really done that yet. You stated that you changed things after the first semester but still had low grades. Clearly, something else needs to change. Until you figure that out, reapplying is putting the cart before the horse. I completely understand how anxious you must be to get back in the game, but unless you figure this out you're likely to have a repeat.

Lastly, this is a concern:

Issue (2): I am tired of having my soul crushed,  and swallowing my pride. Although my school is in the same state it is kind of far from the city where I want to practice.  The kids here are all way too smart and competitive. I have never been a "try hard" and I do not intend on starting now.

I'm not exactly sure what a "try hard" is, but if you mean that you are not willing to absolutely work your butt off then you need to seriously consider whether or not this is the right profession for you. It's not going to get easier. Not when you take the bar, and not as an attorney. Law school success is only partly based on intellectual prowess. Hard work (as cliché as this may sound) really is the key ingredient.

Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 11:17:17 AM »
Honestly, THIS

http://www.cooley.edu/tampabay/


They will let you in and keep most of your credits too. They take 140 LSAT's with 2.0 GPA's. They will take you. And its in your state.

loki13

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Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 12:17:05 PM »
Anyone who is seriously suggesting Cooley-Tampa Bay, is, well not serious.

Cooley is the worst school. Well, is it the worst? Eh... let's say one of the very very worst.

The Tampa Bay campus is too new to have employment stats. But it is bottom of the barrel for the state of Florida. You'd have better connections coming out of Florida Coastal. Which also sucks. And the tuition is almost 50k a year.

Tampa already has a "local" school (Stetson- decent litigation, not much else, and yes, I know it's Gulfport- same damn thing). It also has UF and FSU* and, to a lesser extent, all the other schools in Florida feeding into that market.

Anyone who recommends Cooley has no idea what the Florida market is like.

*These two state schools do not have much of a natural legal market, so their grads go to the "major" markets- Tampa, Orlando, Jax, Miami.

Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2015, 04:39:59 PM »
The guys looking for options, I gave him an option. If he has better options, take those. But if his goal is just to stay local and get licensed, THERE YOU GO.
Plus he mentions a need to work. Cooley does nights/weekends. Plus if law school is hard for him go 5 year plan. Spread it out not just for work but also so you can take less classes per semester and focus on each one at a time. Do you what you need to do for YOU op.
....or you could worry about what people might think about you if you do it and remain as you are scared to move due to fear of opinions.......... most pick the later. Its up to you OP. Explore whatever options you can, I just gave you a sure bet default for if those others options cave in and you don't want to not be lawyer (again, out of fear of opinions). Think of it as a safety school. It is FREE to apply to it. Its your life brother.

Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2015, 07:51:35 PM »
I would like to thank all of you for your prompt responses. The feedback is a lot better than whatever those cretins at TLS would come up with.

Firstly, I would like to thank you loki13. You have given me the best advice here. You may or may not be right about the school I am attending, but I am just staying anonymous because I do not want my fellow 2Ls figure out my identity in the case that the appeals committee does re-accept me. For the record there is a school in Miami which is ranked in the low 100s that offers competitive in state tuition at around $20k a year. That would probably be my transfer destination, but I am definitely going to try the appeal process first. As for your contention that I will not finish at the top of the class at any school that I would transfer to, you are probably right. At this point I know I can never be a law school professor. Its slightly sad to think that you start this whole law school quest, with such high hopes, only to get crushed when your grades come around.

You are also spot on about appealing one grade upwards. Contracts in Spring was a four credit class whereas all four of my other classes were three credits. Much like in Civ Pro, I put in my best effort for the semester in that class with only a D for disappointment to show for it. However I went to my teacher's office hours three times during the semester for two of our assignments. The teacher knows me by name and we were awkwardly conversational. I reviewed his final and he posted the answers so I can show what my (flawed) logic was and compare it to his flawless logic and knowledge of the law. If I can get him to budge a few points with a heartfelt analysis on what I thought went wrong then I can probably surpass the .3333 GPA deficit so that I can be in good academic standing. I would need a three point increase in that class to meet the threshold. That is a substantial boost and I don't know if the curve would allow it. Would it be a better approach to contact multiple teachers so that they can all give me a one point boost?

Secondly, Maintain FL 350 I appreciate your counseling as well. You are giving me sobering advice which is definitely what the appeals committee wants to see. I learned after receiving my first semester grades that reading does not really do anything. Knowing the cases is not enough. The problem that I had during my second semester was that I took on way more than I could handle. I started working, which as loki13 pointed out, was a terrible idea. I also became more involved in the local Bar association which also distracted me from my studies. Would that be an acceptable reason? They made us sign a waiver saying that we would not pursue employment in our first year, so I would have to come clean on that too. I would propose that I would never work during school again, but I don't know if they would trust that because I knowingly breached the waiver during my first year. I have a doctor that would happily sign me off as having ADD. I could give them a whole spiel about how I have un-diagnosed ADD and a doctor's note to prove it. That would sit poorly with me because its a bad reason, and I don't have ADD, but I would do just about anything to get back in.

As for that quote you sampled, I apologize but I wrote my whole post without thinking about what was implied. I'm just complaining about everyone else being able to grasp the material quicker than I am. I used "try hard" as a term of art, I did not intend to use it literally. A better substitution for "try hard" would be gunner, you know, the kid who does well at the expense of others. I literally did try the hardest I ever had in this first year, its just disappointing that it ended so poorly. As a matter of fact, my work ethic is probably the only reason I got into school in the first place. Clearly I am not the most academically gifted kid in school. The first time I took the LSAT, I scored in the unranked school range, the second time I took it I increased 10 points and got accepted into pretty good schools with scholarships. This improvement happened while I worked full time so I studied after work and on weekends. The work ethic is not the question. My legal writing teacher even noted, after tearing into every single one of my writing assignments, that I am a hard worker. Additionally, The TAs in that class can attest that I met with them frequently for tips on my assignments. Personally, I think that the difference between the highest grade and the lowest grade in the class is not that big. Actually both may be right, but the one that is more in line with the teacher's views is the "better" one.

Thirdly, i VII I appreciate the input but I don't think I'm going to do that. Even a curb bottom feeder, like myself, knew that getting into a decent school was important if you wanted to land a decent job out of law school. The whole reason I took the LSAT a second time was so that I can avoid going to a diploma mill like that. Unfortunately, it may be my only option if the appeals committee does not look at my application favorably. The Florida Bar should be more concerned with regulating the absurd amount of schools in the state, but hey what do I know? I pretty much flunked out of law school!

Finally, Minor issue (1) is off the table. Figured that I may as well suck it up because most people hate their boss anyway. I can salvage something out of this train wreck if my appeal is successful and if I keep this job so that I can show employers next summer.

Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2015, 10:06:00 PM »
There is so much talk about going to a "good school", but at the end of the day in the legal world at least in California it doesn't matter that much. You are at Tier 1 working for a solo PI attorney that cusses at you making $8.00 an hour would Tampa Cooley or Steston or any of the schools do much better than that?  The truth is that is not uncommon for tier 1 to tier 4 law students when you start out. You are struggling at this tier 1, but if you attended a school with a little less competitive students you might have a better GPA and more confidence.

I think everyone gave good advice, but don't get to wrapped up in the rankings etc this is why I always preach about finding the right school for you. The reality is once you graduate from a law school you take the bar, which is extremely difficult if you pass your a lawyer.  Your first job out of law school you will be overworked and underpaid, but as you put time in you will gain experience a reputation etc.

Loki does make a good point about in-state tuition and I know there are three schools in Florida that offer in-state tuition and I assuming Florida International University is not the school you are attending as it is not Tier 1, but since it offers in-state tuition on top of an awesome location in Miami it might be a good option.

If your not set on Florida there a number of other schools out there. I know for my California school a few people got dismissed after 1L, but they had the option to take the Baby Bar Exam and if they passed that they could be readmitted. Perhaps you could propose taking the Baby Bar Exam to your current school. It is California's exam, but from my understanding it is really just the MBE subjects and I think if you pass that you can show a commitment to your school or another school that you have what it takes.






Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2015, 02:39:37 PM »
Hey guys sorry for the inactivity. I would like to bring a little closure to this thread.

So, as it turns out my whole meeting with the Dean of Academic Affairs and the Dean of Student Affairs was kind of a farce. They gave me the impression that very few students actually get "academically dismissed" and that you are normally required to take time off from school (at least a semester) if you are, in fact, "academically dismissed." After meeting with them, I spent the next few weeks trying to meet with ALL of my teachers from 1L year. Only three of my teachers were actually in town and willing to meet. I met with them and the consensus was that our school does not really flunk people out. If you put forth a reasonable effort by reading and going to class, the administration, in most cases, will not kick you out. They also reassured me that I am not required to take time off after "academic dismissal."

After meeting with my teachers, I emailed Student Affairs and inquired about the re-admission process. They promptly responded saying that I need to fill out a form and write a personal statement on why I should get readmitted. If you complete this two step process by July 1st then the re-admission committee will "consider" your application for the upcoming fall semester. Surely enough, around July 12th I get a letter from the re-admission committee saying: Congratulations, you have been readmitted for the upcoming fall semester! The only catch is that I have to maintain my GPA above a 69 for the remainder of law school or else I will be permanently dismissed.

Let me just say that I am truly humbled by the re-admissions committee decision to re-accept me. Not many people get second chances, and I know that I am lucky. I am going to spend this upcoming fall 24/7 in the library and visiting my teacher's office hours. Although I am currently a curb bottom feeder, I am going to strive to work my way back up to the median. There are no excuses for how poorly I did my 1L year. Classes begin August 24th but I am still currently working at this PI lawyer's office. The guy is a complete a**hole even though I have steadily improved under his tutelage and have successfully completed many projects for him. It has been a good experience nonetheless, and I have learned a lot about how litigation works and how much I do not want to be a PI lawyer. I am thoroughly looking forward to handing in my two weeks notice right before classes start.

Re: Academic Dismissal from a tier 1 considering transferring
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2015, 03:56:44 PM »
Glad to hear you are not living under a bridge brother.
Got faith in you.