How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

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Anonymous User
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How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:02 am

I'm at a lower T1 in a strong local market with some good OCI opportunities. My school grades on a B curve. My first semester my grades were in the A-/B+ range and good enough to land me in the top 10%. Second semester grades were in the B+/B range, and I'm now in the top 25%.

I assume every employer who asked for a transcript will see the disparity and ask me what happened. The true answer is that my brother-in-law chose the weekend before finals started to get married, so I had to drive 200 miles to play best man. Additionally, my wife & kids were living about 200 miles away during the school year because our house wouldn't sell. It finally sold - three weeks before finals. Which meant the weekend in the middle of our two-week finals period involved me driving back 200 miles to pack our house.

I understand these are excuses and no one wants to hear them in an interview, so I'm not going to discuss them. My question for this group: what's a good way to dance around this topic? I'm thinking that I will skirt around the issue and talk about doing my best both semesters and how I felt like I knew the material just as well in the spring. Hopefully employers will remember the arbitrary/subjective nature of law school exams and move on. Any ideas?

rando
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Re: How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby rando » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:10 am

I don't think any employer will bring it up. It's not like you got a few C's.

If they do bring it up, you should just briefly mention what you listed. Not so much as an excuse, but move it to an area you think you learned from.

"Yes, my 2nd semester grades dropped. I had a couple events in my life that I couldn't reschedule, wedding, house closing . . . and I didn't manage my time as well as I could have. I think it helped teach me time management etc. . . "

270910
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Re: How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby 270910 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:07 am

rando wrote:I don't think any employer will bring it up.


+1. It's a bad sign if grades come up in an interview. They see hundreds of transcripts, and law school grades are notoriously inconsistent. Don't worry about it too much.

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Jarndyce
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Re: How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby Jarndyce » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:39 am

disco_barred wrote:
rando wrote:I don't think any employer will bring it up.


+1. It's a bad sign if grades come up in an interview. They see hundreds of transcripts, and law school grades are notoriously inconsistent. Don't worry about it too much.


I will have to, respectfully, disagree. Going from 10% to 25% is not catastrophic, but there is no arguing that it is not a substantial drop. If I were an employer, I would be concerned that you had perhaps rested on your laurels, so to speak, and not put forth the effort that you should have. It is not the issue that 25% is bad (it is not)- rather, it is the issue that a 15% drop is large.

I would be ready to say that you put forth the same effort, and that you had some bad luck in a couple of classes. Mention the things that distracted you, but don't use them as a crutch- after all, things like that will be around when you are working, and you do not want them to think that they would drop your work performance. I think that most legal employers realize that sometimes bad luck happens- focus on your good grades and talk about what you learned/ how you plan on improving. You'll be fine.

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Re: How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:46 am

Jarndyce wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
rando wrote:I don't think any employer will bring it up.


+1. It's a bad sign if grades come up in an interview. They see hundreds of transcripts, and law school grades are notoriously inconsistent. Don't worry about it too much.


I will have to, respectfully, disagree. Going from 10% to 25% is not catastrophic, but there is no arguing that it is not a substantial drop. If I were an employer, I would be concerned that you had perhaps rested on your laurels, so to speak, and not put forth the effort that you should have. It is not the issue that 25% is bad (it is not)- rather, it is the issue that a 15% drop is large.

I would be ready to say that you put forth the same effort, and that you had some bad luck in a couple of classes. Mention the things that distracted you, but don't use them as a crutch- after all, things like that will be around when you are working, and you do not want them to think that they would drop your work performance. I think that most legal employers realize that sometimes bad luck happens- focus on your good grades and talk about what you learned/ how you plan on improving. You'll be fine.


Ehh. doubtful. Friend of mine was concerned about this very thing. Went from top 1% to just outside top 20% after 2nd semester. No one asked about it.

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TommyK
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Re: How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby TommyK » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:05 am

You were able to juggle major life challenges while still managing to pull grades that landed you in the top quartile of your class? I would welcome questions about it.

"I see that your grades fluctuated substantially from your first semester to your second semester. Can you comment on the disparity?"

"Gladly - I was pleased that my first semester grades were strong enough to land me in the top 10% of my competitive cohort. The second semester, while not as strong, I think speaks even more strongly the my level of commitment, time-management skills, and ability to juggle competing demands. During the final three weeks of my second semester, there were several non curricular demands - my house was going through closing, for which I had to pack and travel 200+ miles several times; a family member for which I was the best man got married. I was able to successfully balance the extracurricular demands with my preparing for studies to maintain a strong class ranking. I was able to accomplish this by prior planning, steel resolve, and more than a few sleepless nights (throw in chuckle if you want)"

I think people are sometimes too afraid of coming off as providing excuses, but I think in this situation, you're not providing an excuse - you're providing context.

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ZXCVBNM
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Re: How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby ZXCVBNM » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:09 am

The real issue is that landing a job in BigLaw right now when you're just outside the top 25% will be hard. But you can't really talk about it unless they bring it up and even then stay POSITIVE. Don't you think when you're working in a law firm family issues will come up? They want the people that can handle that situation. I'm not sure an interview is the time to make excuses. Maybe say you worked just as hard and knew the material just as well and was surprised with the grade drop. Possibly that you went to meet the professor and they said you did well but the curves were extremely tight and the grades difference were miniscule point wise. Or just sell yourself and avoid all these negative excuse types of conversations and hope for the best. Firms are not looking for excuses.

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Re: How to explain a drop in 1L grades during OCI

Postby 270910 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:21 am

Again, if an interviewer asks, it's not like I'm suggesting that OP throw a smoke bomb and jump out of the interview room window. My point is that it is very unlikely to come up, and if it does, it's a bad sign. These interviews just aren't about grades. Everyone knows law school grading is bizarre. Consistency is probably more rare than wild fluctuation. As others have pointed out, it's just flat unlikely that it will come up in the interview, and OP should definitely not bring it up on his or her own.

If asked, yeah, mention the family thing but move on as fast as possible.




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