How do you explain bad grades?

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Anonymous User
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How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:13 pm

Hi,

How do you explain poor grades in an interview? Do you deflect? I'm struggling to see how to address them and OCI starts tomorrow! Eeek!

Thanks

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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:16 pm

Look, it is what it is.
If you have an upward progression, mention that. If you have a good grade in LRW, mention that.

I don't imagine they will rake you over the coals on this. They know there isn't much to say, and they'll consider it however they do. Law school is on a curve, and this just happens.

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IAFG
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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby IAFG » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:22 pm

I haven't heard of anyone getting asked about this, but maybe people just don't mention it?

ResIpsa21
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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby ResIpsa21 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:31 pm

You're most likely to be asked about a grade if you have a low outlier (mostly A-'s and one C) or if you indicate preference for a particular area of law and you got a bad grade in the corresponding class (your cover letter is about how much you want to be a real estate lawyer and you got a B- in Property).

In these cases, I would recommend that you find out why you got the grade you did and make sure that you can explain it in detail. Hopefully you went to your professors and talked to them about your exam and learned where you went wrong and why. For example, let's say you got a C in Criminal Law. Maybe it's because you misunderstood the difference between a general intent and a specific intent crime, and that issue formed a major part of the exam. BUT, you went back, learned where you went wrong, and now you understand the difference perfectly and can explain it in detail all day long. If you can state that briefly when asked about the grade, then you can at least show that you understand the law and that you are proactive, hard-working and driven.

If you just have all-around bad grades, then my guess is no level of "explaining" will save you -- you better have some great work experience / other qualities to make up for it. If someone asks "why did you get B's in all of your classes" then I suppose the best answer is "it took me a while to figure out the law school exam format," but honestly, that's B.S. and everyone will know it.

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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:58 pm

good answers (I am OP)

I have blurb but have two poor grades. Is it worse to say you spotted but didn't explain enough issues OR you ran out of time?

ResIpsa21
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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby ResIpsa21 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:14 pm

I think either one of those sounds fine, or better yet, both. You can say something like "I thought the professor wanted us to spot as many issues as possible, but she actually wanted in-depth analysis of each issue. So, I did a lot of issue spotting but ran out of time before I could finish my thorough analysis." I think that's a reasonable answer. That way, you acknowledge that you are responsible for the low grades, but it's not because you're unintelligent. Obviously it's still not good, but I agree with the poster above that they probably won't rake you over the coals for two low grades.
Last edited by ResIpsa21 on Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JDClassof3013
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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby JDClassof3013 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:16 pm

thanks - I basically screwed up 2x unfortunately - both in the classic issue spotter exams.

Your help is v much appreciated.

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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:29 pm

If one has two outlier C+ grades from the first semester and the rest of the person's grades are around or just below median, with improvement in the second semester, what would be the best way to address that if asked in an interview? Other grades aren't great but certainly aren't terrible, GPA just rocked by two horrific first semester grades

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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:48 pm

It is highly unlikely you'll be asked about grades in an OCI screening interview. Big reason for this (at schools with bidding/lottery systems) is that many interviewers do not ask for transcripts until the end of the screening. If your grades are a problem, you simply won't get a callback.

Now, if you do get a callback and have a low GPA, that doesn't mean you are out of hot water. Sometimes an OCI screener will just recommend a student for a callback based on general likability or common interests...usually this happens when a young associate is your screener. At the callback stage, your candidacy can and will be shot down by the partners if your GPA deviates from what they deem acceptable. If this is the case, odds are you won't be asked about grades because nothing you say would get you hired anyway.

On the flipside, if you have one or two grades that are low relative to the rest of your transcript and are asked about them, just have a short answer ready that basically says whatever caused you to get the low grade is no longer an issue.

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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If one has two outlier C+ grades from the first semester and the rest of the person's grades are around or just below median, with improvement in the second semester, what would be the best way to address that if asked in an interview? Other grades aren't great but certainly aren't terrible, GPA just rocked by two horrific first semester grades


they probably won't address it. going from C+ to right below median isn't something noteworthy and would just lead to an uncomfortable situation for everyone in the conversation.

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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:29 pm

Now, if you do get a callback and have a low GPA, that doesn't mean you are out of hot water. Sometimes an OCI screener will just recommend a student for a callback based on general likability or common interests...usually this happens when a young associate is your screener. At the callback stage, your candidacy can and will be shot down by the partners if your GPA deviates from what they deem acceptable. If this is the case, odds are you won't be asked about grades because nothing you say would get you hired anyway.


This seems to not be the credited response. Associates don't get to willy nilly select someone for a callback. My understanding is at most firms, interviewers make their recommendations but they may or may not be accepted by a higher up. If your GPA is completely below the firms standards, you won't get a callback. This is also why most screeners are partners. Not to say your grades don't count, but CBs are offered with grades already in mind.

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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:16 pm

^When I did OCI in Fall 2008, screeners were definitely a mix of partners and associates, with more associates than partners. I had around 30 screenings that were split between large firms in NYC and a couple secondary markets. I definitely experienced the phenomenon described above and so did other people I know. It would not surprise me if most firms have changed up their screening strategies since then nor would it surprise if this still happens occasionally.

The main point I wanted to make is that just because career services tells you that once you have a callback the offer is in the bag doesn't mean it's true. If your career office keeps track of the ratio of CBs to offers, that data is worth looking at. Bottom line, you can do everything "right" at the CB stage and still not get an offer.

goodolgil
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Re: How do you explain bad grades?

Postby goodolgil » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:58 pm

So I gather it would be pretty hard for someone with top grades at a top school not to receive a lot of callbacks (understanding getting an offer out of the CBs is not guaranteed)?




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