NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273088
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:09 am

Lawyerhead wrote:
rayiner wrote:First, legal practice is substantively different than law school. Even in litigation, the closest thing you do in law school to practice is legal writing (which very often people with lower GPAs do well in) not exams. You don't do much "issue spotting" in legal practice, at least not in the sense where you try and wring dozens of issues out of a fact pattern. And in corporate it's completely different.

Second, legal practice operates at a very different pace than law school. In practice you have to work quickly and diligently, but you don't have to think particularly quickly. You research every point thoroughly, because not doing so would amount to malpractice. The single thing that tends to separate exams in law school, being able to think through things very quickly, is largely absent in legal practice.

Based on a summer's worth of work, I'd rather be one of those LRW gunners with a mediocre GPA but the ability to focus on a task for 10 hours straight than someone whose good at exams.


No issue spotting in legal practice? Uh... I don't even know what to say.

Have time to research your point thoroughly? Have you ever engaged in a negotiation? Or practiced law in a fast pace environment at all? You absolutely do not research every point thoroughly. You think your clients are going to put up with you billing 10 hours for every little question they ask?

I want to work in this slow paced mythical field :)
Anyway, OP, you have your work cut out for you. The advantage of being a URM and getting into law school isn't nearly what it is when it comes to law firms.


LOL by mythical do you mean biglaw? Because that's exactly what he described. And LOL at a biglaw associate "engaging in a negotiation". And "you do not research every point thouroughly" are you serious? That's called malpractice.

Lawyerhead
Posts: 40
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby Lawyerhead » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:22 am

Ah yes, the slow-paced, research-filled world of biglaw corporate attorney life :) How I've loved it these last few years.

timbs4339
Posts: 2733
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:19 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Lawyerhead wrote:
rayiner wrote:First, legal practice is substantively different than law school. Even in litigation, the closest thing you do in law school to practice is legal writing (which very often people with lower GPAs do well in) not exams. You don't do much "issue spotting" in legal practice, at least not in the sense where you try and wring dozens of issues out of a fact pattern. And in corporate it's completely different.

Second, legal practice operates at a very different pace than law school. In practice you have to work quickly and diligently, but you don't have to think particularly quickly. You research every point thoroughly, because not doing so would amount to malpractice. The single thing that tends to separate exams in law school, being able to think through things very quickly, is largely absent in legal practice.

Based on a summer's worth of work, I'd rather be one of those LRW gunners with a mediocre GPA but the ability to focus on a task for 10 hours straight than someone whose good at exams.


No issue spotting in legal practice? Uh... I don't even know what to say.

Have time to research your point thoroughly? Have you ever engaged in a negotiation? Or practiced law in a fast pace environment at all? You absolutely do not research every point thoroughly. You think your clients are going to put up with you billing 10 hours for every little question they ask?

I want to work in this slow paced mythical field :)
Anyway, OP, you have your work cut out for you. The advantage of being a URM and getting into law school isn't nearly what it is when it comes to law firms.


LOL by mythical do you mean biglaw? Because that's exactly what he described. And LOL at a biglaw associate "engaging in a negotiation". And "you do not research every point thouroughly" are you serious? That's called malpractice.


Plus it's not even accurate from a business standpoint. The biglaw model depends on filing every motion, researching every point, doing the maximum discovery or diligence and billing the client for every minute. That's what the client wants- he'll pay a few extra million to a biglaw firm run down every last detail to make sure he wins the billion dollar case or the deal goes through. If the partner wants to write off your time that's his decision. But they'd rather you give them time to write off by doing comprehensive work.

User avatar
thecilent
Posts: 2506
Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:55 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby thecilent » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:31 am

Um, pretty sure lawyerhead is IN biglaw. Just wanted to point that out

Lawyerhead
Posts: 40
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby Lawyerhead » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:40 am

Timbs, maybe in litigation that is how it works. I do corporate deal work, and what you described is simply inaccurate. I don't know what else to say. To say that clients will pay a few million extra in legal fees to run down every little detail is just ridiculous. Clients want to keep bills down and earn more money, not throw money at the lawyers. Perhaps your corporate experience has been different. Different clients want different things.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby rayiner » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:46 am

I never said corporate work is slow paced. I said it's slower than exams. It's more like an 8 hour take home than a 3 you're issue spotter in terms of density. And while I'm just and SA, having done this for 3 months I'd trade my issue spotting skills for a longer attention span and more attention to detail any day.

APimpNamedSlickback
Posts: 1126
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:33 am

.

Postby APimpNamedSlickback » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:55 am

.
Last edited by APimpNamedSlickback on Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:46 am, edited 2 times in total.

Rule11
Posts: 160
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:25 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby Rule11 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:03 pm

Yes, there are some folks who don't excel at law school who nonetheless excel in practice (usually transactional practices). Yes, you rarely receive an exam fact pattern and issue-spot for three hours in biglaw practice. And yes, attention to detail and ability to focus for long periods of time are very useful traits to have in biglaw.

But in my experience, those who understood that law school exams weren't just a "typing race" to see who could transcribe their outlines the fastest generally also come across as the brightest associates. First, just because you're thorough doesn't mean that quickly narrowing down the issues doesn't provide an enormous advantage. And if a partner asks you a question, the partner wants the answer as soon as possible, and with as much analytical detail as possible. That means spotting potential additional issues and addressing them.

As between issue-spotting and attention to detail, the fact of that matter is that an effective associate needs both, but issue-spotting ability is the more important of the two, not the less.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby rayiner » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:25 pm

APimpNamedSlickback wrote:
rayiner wrote:I never said corporate work is slow paced. I said it's slower than exams. It's more like an 8 hour take home than a 3 you're issue spotter in terms of density. And while I'm just and SA, having done this for 3 months I'd trade my issue spotting skills for a longer attention span and more attention to detail any day.


do you think grades are at least a useful proxy for the diligence, work ethic, and ability to think clearly that one probably needs to do well in practice?

if corporate law is anything like banking, then it is about as conceptually challenging as 9th grade algebra. however, one still has to be able to think quickly under pressure, work really hard, focus and demonstrate lots of stamina. so people with top undergrad records (generally speaking) tend to make the best analysts and associates because they tend to have more of those traits than people with more modest academic backgrounds. i'm sure law isnt all that different, no?


I think the difference between the two examples is that it takes a lot of diligence, work ethic, organization, etc, to get top grades at a top undergrad. Doing well in law school just requires a minimum threshold of work ethic to be able to hunker down for the last month before finals, plus being able to think really quickly.

So I think in terms of being a proxy it's a weak one. I think all else being equal you can assume someone with a 3.8 isn't totally lazy (meets the minimum threshold for diligence) while you can't assume that for someone with a 3.0, but beyond that I don't think it tells you much. If I was hiring, I'd personally take the 3.3 who wrote onto law review and aced LRW over either of the others.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby rayiner » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:29 pm

Rule11 wrote:Yes, there are some folks who don't excel at law school who nonetheless excel in practice (usually transactional practices). Yes, you rarely receive an exam fact pattern and issue-spot for three hours in biglaw practice. And yes, attention to detail and ability to focus for long periods of time are very useful traits to have in biglaw.

But in my experience, those who understood that law school exams weren't just a "typing race" to see who could transcribe their outlines the fastest generally also come across as the brightest associates. First, just because you're thorough doesn't mean that quickly narrowing down the issues doesn't provide an enormous advantage. And if a partner asks you a question, the partner wants the answer as soon as possible, and with as much analytical detail as possible. That means spotting potential additional issues and addressing them.

As between issue-spotting and attention to detail, the fact of that matter is that an effective associate needs both, but issue-spotting ability is the more important of the two, not the less.


I think the issue here is that we're not talking about vastly different levels of issue spotting abilities here. Given that its not an uncommon occurrence for someone at the top of the class to get the occasional random below median grade, it'd conclude that overall the level of ability is pretty tightly clustured. I don't think variation within that range has major ramifications to ones' performance as an associate.

ToTransferOrNot
Posts: 1928
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:45 am

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:50 pm

With respect to actual practice, I would also trade my exam-taking abilities for a longer attention span. 24/7/365.

Rule11
Posts: 160
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:25 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby Rule11 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:02 pm

So Rayiner, what do you think is a good proxy? Performance in LRW? Writing onto law review? Both/either? I'm just guessing based on your other recent post about your imagined hiring preferences.

I don't really see why you would think either is a good proxy for associate value. At many schools, LRW isn't even a graded class, or one's grade can be determined in part by the performance of a randomly-selected partner. Its value is limited to introducing students to an unfamiliar style--while I would be frightened of a student who managed to tank LRW (suggestive of deeper issues), I wouldn't be particularly impressed by someone who got an A in it while floundering to median elsewhere. Those credentials suggest to me that someone is able to crank out simplistic, derivative work product, but won't be able to bring anything new or insightful to a conversation, or to think creatively under pressure. (n.b., performance on timed issue-spotter exams signal both).

Writing onto law review can sometimes be a good proxy for aptitude for certain types of transactional work (and, to a lesser extent, some aspects of litigation), but it's primarily evidence of grinding ability. Now, grinding has its place in biglaw, and if you can grind you can keep yourself in the game for a while. But ultimately, grinding has a low value-add, as many people can do it. Moreover, top grades are at least as strong a proxy for grinding ability as law review write-on (it's no coincidence, after all, that many law reviews even at top schools offer automatic membership to a certain percentage of the class based solely on grades).

Perhaps your experience at law school was just different from mine. While students at the top of the class can always get unlucky with a grade, in general the same cadre of students gets the top grades most of the time. By the end of 1L, the difference between a 3.8 and a 3.3 can be staggering--one of these candidates outperformed his or her classmates on almost every intellectual challenge put before them, while the other was either consistently average, or matched each success with an equal measure of failure. The real danger with the 3.8 is not that the grades won't correspond to better ability and sharper thinking, it's that the 3.8 will come with serious personality deficiencies, such as an inability to work effectively with others.

I recognize that there are exceptions to my general rule that grades correspond to associate value. I know several exceptions personally--they didn't shine in the law school environment, but they are highly-valued associates. But they are definitely exceptions.

User avatar
JCougar
Posts: 3175
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:47 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby JCougar » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:33 pm

rayiner wrote:
Rule11 wrote:Yes, there are some folks who don't excel at law school who nonetheless excel in practice (usually transactional practices). Yes, you rarely receive an exam fact pattern and issue-spot for three hours in biglaw practice. And yes, attention to detail and ability to focus for long periods of time are very useful traits to have in biglaw.

But in my experience, those who understood that law school exams weren't just a "typing race" to see who could transcribe their outlines the fastest generally also come across as the brightest associates. First, just because you're thorough doesn't mean that quickly narrowing down the issues doesn't provide an enormous advantage. And if a partner asks you a question, the partner wants the answer as soon as possible, and with as much analytical detail as possible. That means spotting potential additional issues and addressing them.

As between issue-spotting and attention to detail, the fact of that matter is that an effective associate needs both, but issue-spotting ability is the more important of the two, not the less.


I think the issue here is that we're not talking about vastly different levels of issue spotting abilities here. Given that its not an uncommon occurrence for someone at the top of the class to get the occasional random below median grade, it'd conclude that overall the level of ability is pretty tightly clustured. I don't think variation within that range has major ramifications to ones' performance as an associate.


This is a really god post. If law exams were really a reliable measure of anything, the same people would routinely be getting similar grades in every class, so long as they prepared sufficiently for all their classes. Any given subject doesn't really require a different set of reasoning/writing skills from the others.

I know it doens't happen to everyone, but my grades were all over the map. Preparation had nothing to do with whether I did good or bad, how many practice tests I did, how often I met for office hours, etc. I was ahead of the curve with outline preparation, reading treatises, etc. in all my classes. So I really don't know what the difference was between my top 10% grades and those below median. My highest grades were often the classes I prepared least for and hated the most.

Law school classes are already clustered together by LSAT score, which is a fairly decent measure of reasoning ability, which is probably closely related to issue spotting skills. Issue spotting seems to have two different main components to me: 1) preparation and knowing the materal, and 2) recognizing an analogous set of facts, which is similar to a lot of questions on the LSAT. But you can spot most of the issues and still get a median grade because you didn't do enough "analysys." In looking at model answers, there's a lot of what I would call irrelevant analysis that gives you points, such as saying stuff about a subject just to prove that you know it even though it has almost zero value in assessing the legal problem. There's also a lot of points awarded for simply saying things the way the professor wants you to say them. It may be that the harder workers that are constantly meeting for office hours pick up on these nuances more. But that's not really testing a legal analysis skill.

The bottom line is that any good test of skills is going to be somewhat reliable, in that people generally score the same every time they take it. If you're getting top 10% one time and bottom 25% another time despite equal preparation, there's either 1) a lot of noise in the system in that the test is measuring a lot of random, unstable factors, or 2) what the test is really assessing is severely muted by restriction of range in the testing population, so that the difference between top 10% and bottom 25% in any given administration of the test is random error.

I don't think it's all random noise, as I know some people who were able to continually able to ace every exam thrown their way. But in any test, there's always some measurement error. I also think restriction of range is a huge factor, especially at the top schools. I think some people are just able to pick up on what things on top of legal analysis get you points. Whatever that is, I haven't figured it out enough to be consistent.

$$$$$$
Posts: 221
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:08 pm

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby $$$$$$ » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:40 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
$$$$$$ wrote:
traydeuce wrote:Could I ask an obnoxious question? How do these people who struggle so badly at law school expect to be able to do biglaw work well? Actual, you know, cases, or actual transactions, are wayyyyy more complicated than some fact pattern about a slip and fall, or some race-based government hiring plan, or subject matter jurisdiction. Unless you're someone who really gets it but is just lousy in time crunches, I don't get why someone bad at law school would even want to go out into a biglaw job. If I had a 2.9, I'd be terrified of legal work. People always say that working at a firm is so different than law school; yeah, it's so much harder. That's the difference. Law doesn't magically get easier once you're practicing, or clerking, or whatevering. It just gets harder, because in practice you're not writing 3 page answers to 1-page hypos in 45 minutes, relying on two or three cases of which you read tiny excerpts in a textbook, after which you got tons of explanation and hand-holding as to what the cases meant from an expert in the field.


As someone with bad grades that wants to do transactional work, I can tell you that law school is NOTHING like the work I want to be doing. First of all, I am actually interested in in the work ill (hopefully) be doing and business makes a lot more sense to me than torts or con law. Also, you understand that you are basing hiring on 8 exams? 8 exams is not even a 1/3 of a representative sample size if we are really trying to figure out who is the "best" at law school. I had one bad semester and now im too dumb to do the work and should be afraid? Also, some people don't try that hard at school, but once they have their 160K check on the line will do anything to get the job done. Should I go on as to why your statement is stupid?


Edit: Also, on transactions, your client comes to you to get the job done the way they want it. They aren't giving 50 law firms the same project and then grading them on a curve to see who's debt offering is the best structured. At a T-10 school, a few mistakes can mean a huge gpa drop because everyone is smart (mostly) and extremely hard working (mostly).



I just want to go ahead and say that "as someone with bad grades" you probably, unfortunately, won't be doing the type of transactional work you seem to be interested in...


Tell that to the numerous firms I have CB's with before I go back to school

Edit: I also said ill hopefully be doing the that type of transactional work, oh and thanks for that really useful information

Anonymous User
Posts: 273088
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:09 am

How is the OP doing?

Aqualibrium
Posts: 2011
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:57 am

Re: NYU rising 2L, bottom of the class. What do I do?

Postby Aqualibrium » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:16 am

$$$$$$ wrote:
I also said ill hopefully be doing the that type of transactional work, oh and thanks for that really useful information



I think you took my post the wrong way. It is a FACT that most major business transactions and major M & A deals happen at large law firms, it is a FACT that most large law firms focus primarily (or largely) on grades during the recruiting process. I said it was unfortunate for you that this was the case. Funny enough, I think we really said the same thing...you lamented the fact that large firms base hiring decisions mostly on grades, I pointed out that large firms do major transactional work and, unfortunately, base most of their hiring decisions on grades.

I'm happy for you and your callbacks. You shouldn't count your chickens before they've hatched, but I wish you the best of luck.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.