Predicting EIP is not like predicting law school admissions. The interview counts for a lot, and employers don't really know what grades mean either. The Vault rankings are also not really selectivity rankings. They skew towards New York firms, even though it's much tougher to get jobs in DC, Chicago, or SF.
As far as the randomness goes, I'll offer my own, somewhat unsettling experience as an anecdote. I had 2 Hs first semester and I worked my tail off. Last semester, I had 5 Hs, and I worked literally less than half as much as I did first semester.
From the EIP website:
How do you know who is most selective with regard to grades? Consider the following:
* Vault Guides: As a general rule, the most selective firms are those that are listed in the top 10 to 15 in the Vault Regional Guides. For the most competitive markets such as Washington, D.C. or San Francisco, consider firms even beyond the top 10 to 15 as being the most competitive based on grades for those regions.
* American Lawyer: You can also get a ballpark sense of firm selectivity by viewing the American Lawyer rankings by Profits per Partner. These firms are known to be most profitable and therefore more popular with candidates. Consider the top 50 to be most selective with regard to grades, again, noting regional variances.
* Chambers and Partners: Consider firms listed under Bands One and Two to be most selective.
* EIP Statistics: Some firms also tend to be very popular with HLS students and therefore receive many bids. Review the 2009 EIP statistics to find out how many bids those employers received last year.
We cite these resources to provide you with general guidelines when formulating your bid list. You should note that there are outliers in each of these rankings but taken together, they should provide you with a good start.
When bidding, keep an open mind about all firms as we do not recommend bidding exclusively on top ranked firms. Recognize that each employer that comes to campus is worthy of your attention and may be an excellent place to work and gain experience in your chosen practice area. Ranking is not necessarily the most accurate gauge of these factors.
Grades No. of selective Firms on Your Bid List
1 or more LPs and mostly Ps No more than 5 highly selective firms on your bid list of 25-35 firms. Make an appointment with an OCS advisor.
Mostly Ps No more than 7-8 highly selective firms on your bid list of 25-35 firms.
Mix of Ps and Hs More evenly split your bids between highly selective and other firms on your bid list of 20-30 firms.
More than 5 - 6 Hs and no LPs Bid list can be focused on more highly selective firms but have a few safety firms on your bid list of 15-25 firms
Another method to unlocking the selectivity mystery is to consider what other qualities might make you more marketable in the process. Firms consider much more than grades in determining whether to invite a candidate for a callback interview.
If you have one or more of the following characteristics, you can add a virtual “H” to your transcript:
* Relevant work experience
* Advanced degrees
* Geographic ties to the area
* Language abilities
* Strength of your undergraduate institution and relevant course of study. For example, if you majored in business or economics, you might have a slight edge in the process. Similarly, those with a background in one of the hard sciences, may more easily market themselves to EIP employers
* Strength of your interviewing skills
Conversely, if you are bidding in regions known to be particularly competitive, such as Washington, D.C. or San Francisco, subtract a virtual “H” from your transcript.