Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

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Anonymous User
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Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:38 am

How have you guys found is a successful way to talk about your GPA if it is around but below median? How does one show that your grades are not indicative of the work that you can do?

Has anyone had any success getting a foot in the door for a screener interview with a GPA that is below a firm's claimed cut-off? Obviously networking is probably the most effective means of doing so, but is there anything else?

timbs4339
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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:54 am

Ways to get a callback being under over the grade cutoff:

Have really good, relevant work experience

Have absolutely baller interviewing skills. You have to be the best person they've seen that day and probably the best person they can remember. This isn't something that can really be learned though (especially not in the time span of law school) and has a lot to do with looks, personal charisma, nonverbal communication, ability to read people, etc.

Anonymous User
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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:45 am

It comes down to interviewing. If you go to a preselect school or managed to get an interview outside of lottery, such as mail or something, and they know your GPA is below median, you have to do a good job at the interview. Don't sell yourself but get your key points across. Don't force it but convey what you need to about job experience etc.

If you get interviews via lottery the same advice applies, but you may be SOL as somefirms are going to throw away your resume immediately after the interview.

TooOld4This
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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby TooOld4This » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:48 am

Don't bring up the grades. Your job is to sell yourself. You don't do that by drawing attention to a negative. Only address it if an interviewer brings it up. At that point be straightforward and don't make excuses. If your GPA is the result of high and low grades, you can address that point. If it is the result of across the board sub-median grades, then you will want to take responsibility for not adapting to the law school writing format as quickly as your peers and express confidence that next year you hope to see and improvement, since in your summer job you had experience doing XYZ which you believe will translate not only to better skills when you eventually practice, but also will allow you to approach your classes more efficiently. (Notice the segue away from the grades into experience.)

I don't know too many interviewers who ask about grades and expect any sort of excuse or explanation that will "make up for" the number. Your grades are what they are. The purpose of the question is usually to see how you handle an uncomfortable question and how you react to your weakness being pointed out. Therefore, watch your tone and demeanor when you answer.

As for getting interviews, it appears that your OCI is preselect only? If it is a lottery instead, then you should have bid on firms that were in range and a bit above range. If the OCI ship has already sailed for you, you are in an uphill climb. Networking, to be really effective, should have started at the beginning of second semester, at the latest. At this point the clock is working against you. Reach out to alumni of your law school and alumni of your UG that ended up becoming lawyers. Ask to speak to them about their firm/practice area/market. Depending on how things go in the conversation, make a judgment call about whether you should ask them about apply to their firm, or ask them for candid advice of how they think you should approach getting a job.

Besides networking with alumni, see about joining bar groups in the area you want to practice in. Attend functions. Network there. Again, remember, not everyone you meet is going to be a lead to a job. You need to start figuring out if the person you are talking to is more likely to be someone who can pass your resume on within their firm, or someone who is more likely to be someone who can give you advice/introduce you to others. A lot of law students approach networking with ADD. They introduce themselves, awkwardly feel out if this person knows of job/will pass their resume on to the right person in their firm, and then move on. Networking is about developing relationships. As a student you don't have much to offer up, so you are looking for people who will help/mentor you. Ask for help, not a job. Try to learn about what the person does, how they got there, what their practice area is like, etc. Once you have demonstrated a genuine interest in who they are/what they do, you will find that people are more receptive to actually helping you out.

Short of networking, start mass mailing ASAP. And by mass mailing, I mean tailoring your letters. Your first paragraph needs to give the person reading the letter a reason to keep reading. Keep your letters brief. If you are looking at multiple markets (and you probably should be), try to get out for a visit if you are able to and mention the dates in the letter. Again, don't mention grades. Sell yourself.

Good luck.

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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:52 pm

OP poster here: How would one get that initial screener then? Only by networking and mass mailing anyone that would consider you?
Furthermore, how would one determine which firms might consider a marginally below median student from a top 20-25 school? Office size? Firm size?

Anonymous User
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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:00 pm

One way that works is going to a school that has ridiculous grading and doesn't rank, like Chicago or WUSTL.

$$$$$$
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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby $$$$$$ » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:16 pm

I haven't gotten an offer yet, but I go to a t-14 and I am pretty far below median and have had success so take this for what its worth. I've gotten 7 callbacks before going back to school and a few screeners as well. Honestly, its never too late to network, but you should have been doing this all summer. The minute I got my grades I began talking to people in person and on the phone, I took days off from work to go to the city and meet 3-4 different attorneys on the same day. If all they have is a resume and transcript, you are nothing more than an applicant to them, but if you meet people and they like you, I think that it is fairly easy to get your foot in the door for at least a screener.

That begin said, you should begin networking NOW and you should make sure you have stuff you can talk about. I want corporate really badly, so going in and being able to articulate why I want transactional work has been a huge selling point of mine because a lot of people have no clue what they want. Dont be on the fence, and make sure you show you are more than 8 letters on a page

TooOld4This
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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby TooOld4This » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP poster here: How would one get that initial screener then? Only by networking and mass mailing anyone that would consider you?
Furthermore, how would one determine which firms might consider a marginally below median student from a top 20-25 school? Office size? Firm size?


I don't understand what you mean by the bolded. Yes, if you did not get interviews through OCI, you need to pound the pavement and network and mass mail (though, to be effective, you really should put the legwork into making your mailings as targeted as possible and not just a generic letter where you switch out the name of the firm). You also should have been networking last term, especially after you got your first term grades back. Now you have to play catch-up.

If you are interested in government work, then start looking for internship positions. Same with corporations. There are no short cuts here. Ask your career services for leads. Go to employer's websites and get contact info and start calling people.

You should not be narrowing your field to firms that "might consider a marginally below median" student. Let them screen you. You can try talking to your career services office to see if they have any statistics, but really that information is only (marginally) useful for OCI bidding. You have 0% chance of getting hired to firms you don't apply to. Your odds can only go up if you apply.

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20121109
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Re: Discussing a Sub-Median GPA

Postby 20121109 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:43 pm

TooOld4This wrote:Don't bring up the grades. Your job is to sell yourself. You don't do that by drawing attention to a negative. Only address it if an interviewer brings it up. At that point be straightforward and don't make excuses. If your GPA is the result of high and low grades, you can address that point. If it is the result of across the board sub-median grades, then you will want to take responsibility for not adapting to the law school writing format as quickly as your peers and express confidence that next year you hope to see and improvement, since in your summer job you had experience doing XYZ which you believe will translate not only to better skills when you eventually practice, but also will allow you to approach your classes more efficiently. (Notice the segue away from the grades into experience.)

I don't know too many interviewers who ask about grades and expect any sort of excuse or explanation that will "make up for" the number. Your grades are what they are. The purpose of the question is usually to see how you handle an uncomfortable question and how you react to your weakness being pointed out. Therefore, watch your tone and demeanor when you answer.

As for getting interviews, it appears that your OCI is preselect only? If it is a lottery instead, then you should have bid on firms that were in range and a bit above range. If the OCI ship has already sailed for you, you are in an uphill climb. Networking, to be really effective, should have started at the beginning of second semester, at the latest. At this point the clock is working against you. Reach out to alumni of your law school and alumni of your UG that ended up becoming lawyers. Ask to speak to them about their firm/practice area/market. Depending on how things go in the conversation, make a judgment call about whether you should ask them about apply to their firm, or ask them for candid advice of how they think you should approach getting a job.

Besides networking with alumni, see about joining bar groups in the area you want to practice in. Attend functions. Network there. Again, remember, not everyone you meet is going to be a lead to a job. You need to start figuring out if the person you are talking to is more likely to be someone who can pass your resume on within their firm, or someone who is more likely to be someone who can give you advice/introduce you to others. A lot of law students approach networking with ADD. They introduce themselves, awkwardly feel out if this person knows of job/will pass their resume on to the right person in their firm, and then move on. Networking is about developing relationships. As a student you don't have much to offer up, so you are looking for people who will help/mentor you. Ask for help, not a job. Try to learn about what the person does, how they got there, what their practice area is like, etc. Once you have demonstrated a genuine interest in who they are/what they do, you will find that people are more receptive to actually helping you out.

Short of networking, start mass mailing ASAP. And by mass mailing, I mean tailoring your letters. Your first paragraph needs to give the person reading the letter a reason to keep reading. Keep your letters brief. If you are looking at multiple markets (and you probably should be), try to get out for a visit if you are able to and mention the dates in the letter. Again, don't mention grades. Sell yourself.

Good luck.


Pretty excellent advice.




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