Anonymous User wrote:
Why are grades the most important factor in firm recruiting? Law exams test a very narrow subset of skills that are only questionably related to the work environment at a law firm, and are mitigated very much by things like typing speed and subjective grading methods. One ridiculous and inexperienced professor can ruin your entire GPA.
Can people with demonstrated leadership experience and work experience for Biglaw clients in the field of law they want to work in overcome grade cutoffs?
It seems to me from my experience so far that only average performance (median grades) on typing race exams completly overrides everything else you've ever done in your life, even if you go to an upper-level T1 school, i.e. firms won't even look at other attributes on your resume that would eventually help out at a law firm (sales skills, leadership positions, corporate work team experience, knowing exactly what field you want to practice in, knowing you want to do biglaw for as long as you can and not just bounce after three years, etc.). I know that's the way things often work, but I would think real-world experience is more predictive of future success than "performance" in the bubble of academia.
But, speaking from my personal experience, I want (and often get) both
. The fact is that I get two things out of an interview that I can judge "fairly" based upon my (and my firm's) experiences - your grades and how you come across in my 20 minute snapshot of you. How do I know what skills you really have in your past lives? If your skills were so great and you were so successful, why are you taking 3 years off to go to school instead of sticking with it? How do I know how you got your impressive-sounding past job anyway? How do I know that you're telling the truth about what you want to do at a law firm? You bounced from your prior job to go to law school, how do I know you're not going to bounce from mine?
We hire the best of the best. That's our goal. Are we perfect with our standards? Of course not - there are plenty of extraordinarily successful people (in law firms and otherwise) who didn't do well enough to get hired by us. I saw a former Supreme Court clerk who wouldn't have made our grade cut first year (shocking, I know). But standards help us ensure that, of the pool we're choosing from, we're more likely to choose a better group.
It's possible to wow me and get me to try to seek an exception. But it's not easy. And having been on the other side of the law school exam paper as a TA I'll say this - there were substantial differences that I saw in people's exams. Maybe not every one every time in every class falls into that category (I'm proof of that given my own grades) but I was not surprised about where some of my former students ended up (good and bad).
Thanks. I figure a V15 firm would get the privilege of asking for both. What kinds of exceptions are we talking about here? Getting a note published? Moot court success? Raw persistence (is maintaining contact with the firm after not getting an interview stalker behavior, or does it show true interest)? Reference from your 1L job? Asking for informational interviews?
I am fairly sure I will never get top grades on a law exam simply because I think at a steady, methodical pace. I studied with people both below median and in the top 5%. Just from daily discussions and going through the results of joint practice tests, I understood and applied the material as well as anyone. I spotted all the same issues. The only difference was that I had half as many words. I knew it way better than the other people at median when going over practice problems...basically helping others understand the tough concepts. I was at school 15 hours a day between class and studying. I got an LSAT scholarship. I had my professors review practice exams during office hours and they all basically told me I was in great shape and that I would do great. Maybe they were just blowing smoke up my ass, but law schools and firms like yours make it very hard for people to stand out if you can't type fast under artificially severe time constraints. I seems it would be mutually beneficial for your firm and for students if firms like yours would start requesting that law schools assess their students' abilities through a more diverse and valid set of exams. Grades could definitely be made more meaningful. I keep hearing that associate turnover is a problem, so it makes me think the current system isn't working. But maybe law firms' business model is to just hire a bunch of people quickly and let the situation sort itself out.