Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

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Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:13 pm

I am a 1L at a T3 school that is not Yale and I'm trying to figure out if it would be better to have mediocre first year grades or to take a leave of absence for medical reasons and start school again next year. According to the Dean of Students, I can take a leave of absence without getting Ws on my transcript. I currently have 3 years of work experience that is not law related, so I was thinking that I could use this as an opportunity to get law related work experience in the region where I want to practice.

I am healthy now, but struggled with health problems earlier in the semester that caused me to miss lots of class and fall behind on my reading. Given that I've done less than 20% of the reading in my classes, I think I am looking at straight passes at best.

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gdane
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby gdane » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:27 pm

You cant assume that you're going to get bad grades. It's way too early for you to think that you can't catch up on your work. There is plenty of time for you to catch up.

Positive thinking friend. Stay in school.

BeachandRun23
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby BeachandRun23 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:16 pm

If you are in Stanford, you'd be in the quarter system so you'd have less time to study for finals. I am going to assume you are at Harvard because you didn't mention the uniqueness of your situation. If so, you still have 2 months until finals. That is plenty of time. Get reading and you'll be just fine.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby somewhatwayward » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:50 pm

Is there a date by which you have to withdraw to have no Ws on your transcript? If so, I would keep trying to catch up until that date draws near and then reevaluate although if you are at Harvard, which it sounds like based on your post, I think you have to withdraw by seven weeks into the semester. That's got to be pretty soon. If that date is drawing close now, I would probably withdraw and wait a year as long as it wouldn't be too hard for you to find something to do.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:51 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:Is there a date by which you have to withdraw to have no Ws on your transcript? If so, I would keep trying to catch up until that date draws near and then reevaluate although if you are at Harvard, which it sounds like based on your post, I think you have to withdraw by seven weeks into the semester. That's got to be pretty soon. If that date is drawing close now, I would probably withdraw and wait a year as long as it wouldn't be too hard for you to find something to do.


Thanks. I am at Harvard and had no idea the 7th week into the semester was the deadline for no Ws. Appreciate the info. Also appreciate the votes of confidence from the people that encouraged me to try to catch up. I think I could find something to do for the next 10 months, but hate the idea of the lost money and time.

The Dean of students seemed very concerned about my ability to catch up at this point. She kept stressing that the people at University Health Services don't appreciate the workload of the law school and give students false hope re:their ability to make up missed work. She said that first year grades are the most important and that getting a couple low passes could be a career killer. When I told her that I felt I would be able to avoid low passes, she told me that the workload keeps increasing as the semester wears on and that it would be hard for Superman to catch up...

Basically, I had no intention of taking a leave of absence until I talked to the Dean of Students about my situation. I thought that I'd be able to avoid LP territory (bottom 8-10%) with proper effort. I also am shocked that the LP has SUCH a stigma attached to it. Cramming+exams used to be my strength, but if law school is really such a different ballgame, maybe I shouldn't chance it.

I have gotten my hands on some old outlines and exams from my profs and feel like I should be able to do okay...but maybe I am underestimating the importance of reading+class attendance? In any case, I am healthy now and it's frustrating to entertain the notion of putting my professional development on hold for another year...

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IAFG
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby IAFG » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:58 pm

You should probably listen to the Dean. She has no reason to mislead you and has probably worked with people in similar situations before. Do you think anyone believes they're going to get LPs at this point in the semester? And yet, some of those people who think they won't are wrong.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:16 pm

How would withdrawing affect 2L OCI? Would you be allowed to do it with just one semester of grades or would you do it in Aug. 2014? (As opposed to when all the other current 1Ls would do it, Aug. 2013.)

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:25 pm

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:How would withdrawing affect 2L OCI? Would you be allowed to do it with just one semester of grades or would you do it in Aug. 2014? (As opposed to when all the other current 1Ls would do it, Aug. 2013.)


I would have to take a full year off and wait until August 2014 to do 2L OCI. I already have 3 years of work experience+experience working at a law firm, so I'm trying to think of something useful to do with the next 10 months...

It also kills me to borrow an extra $30K (amount burned on this semester), but I feel like I probably should take the advice of the dean.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby IAFG » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:How would withdrawing affect 2L OCI? Would you be allowed to do it with just one semester of grades or would you do it in Aug. 2014? (As opposed to when all the other current 1Ls would do it, Aug. 2013.)


I would have to take a full year off and wait until August 2014 to do 2L OCI. I already have 3 years of work experience+experience working at a law firm, so I'm trying to think of something useful to do with the next 10 months...

It also kills me to borrow an extra $30K (amount burned on this semester), but I feel like I probably should take the advice of the dean.

Will they really make you pay again?

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:37 pm

How can being behind at this point matter so much? If so, I am SCREWED (as a 2L).

I don't see why you can't cobble together a good outline using old outlines and what you do know, learning the material, and preparing for exams. If it's a good outline, it's probably better than attending class and going from scratch, especially if you have someone to study with. An old outline is good because professors don't often change that much from year to year (most are old as shit), and an old outline will have the professor's take on the material (that's what's most important, readings be damned).

Most of the stuff 1L's do to study is wasted time anyway. There are people who go out 4 nights a week and make A's at T14's. But maybe everyone is just smarter at Harvard.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby IAFG » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:48 pm

Maybe it would turn out fine, maybe it wouldn't, but who wants to be in the position of realizing they made the wrong choice in a couple months when grades are posted.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby smittytron3k » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:27 pm

If you decide to stay, make sure you go to each of your professors' office hours at least once. Besides giving you an opportunity to hash out any questions you might have about the material, it can only help for them to know who you are and what your situation is. LP's are totally discretionary at HLS, and your professors are less likely (not clear how much, but certainly not *more* likely) to exercise that discretion if they know that you are busting your ass to overcome an unfortunate medical situation rather than simply slacking off.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How can being behind at this point matter so much? If so, I am SCREWED (as a 2L).

I don't see why you can't cobble together a good outline using old outlines and what you do know, learning the material, and preparing for exams. If it's a good outline, it's probably better than attending class and going from scratch, especially if you have someone to study with. An old outline is good because professors don't often change that much from year to year (most are old as shit), and an old outline will have the professor's take on the material (that's what's most important, readings be damned).

Most of the stuff 1L's do to study is wasted time anyway. There are people who go out 4 nights a week and make A's at T14's. But maybe everyone is just smarter at Harvard.


The outlines I have are fabulous and I am able to answer the questions the profs pose without doing the reading. Of course, being able to survive cold calls =/= knowing the material. I'm going to see if my profs have midterms I can take or any suggestions on how to assess myself at this point in the semester. Maybe I should talk to my profs about my situation and ask for their advice/feedback?

I'm pretty sure everyone isn't smarter at Harvard. However, very few 1Ls here seem to miss class or go out 4 nights a week. It could be that I ended up in the "gunner" section, but it seems that everyone here works hard. Justice Kagan came to speak at the beginning of the semester and half of my section missed the talk because they "didn't want to get behind on reading".

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:39 pm

smittytron3k wrote:If you decide to stay, make sure you go to each of your professors' office hours at least once. Besides giving you an opportunity to hash out any questions you might have about the material, it can only help for them to know who you are and what your situation is. LP's are totally discretionary at HLS, and your professors are less likely (not clear how much, but certainly not *more* likely) to exercise that discretion if they know that you are busting your ass to overcome an unfortunate medical situation rather than simply slacking off.


Perhaps, but I know for a fact that 2 of my profs regularly give LPs. If I earn a LP grade, I can't imagine that they will cut me slack simply because I had medical issues early in the semester. It seems like everyone tries here.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby mr.hands » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:11 am

gdane wrote:You cant assume that you're going to get bad grades. It's way too early for you to think that you can't catch up on your work. There is plenty of time for you to catch up.

Positive thinking friend. Stay in school.


Is 7 weeks too late to catch up??? (I'm asking for myself, not suggesting that OP should take time off)

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby northwood » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:25 am

If you have a serious medical issue and you take a medical leave of absence, then there is a way that you can withdraw for the rest of the semester (year since you are a 1L) and start over fresh next year without having it notated on your official transcript. Your first year grades are very important, and even though you are at a T3, you still want to do as well as you can. Its always best to fully recover and can figure out how to control the triggers( if possible/ applicable) and learn how to manage the flareups.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby minnbills » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:33 am

Life > School.

If you have an issue to take care of, better to devote yourself to that. You can come back to school.

You want to give this your all, if you honestly feel that you won't be able to then come back next year.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby PDaddy » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:50 am

Anonymous User wrote:I am a 1L at a T3 school that is not Yale and I'm trying to figure out if it would be better to have mediocre first year grades or to take a leave of absence for medical reasons and start school again next year. According to the Dean of Students, I can take a leave of absence without getting Ws on my transcript. I currently have 3 years of work experience that is not law related, so I was thinking that I could use this as an opportunity to get law related work experience in the region where I want to practice.

I am healthy now, but struggled with health problems earlier in the semester that caused me to miss lots of class and fall behind on my reading. Given that I've done less than 20% of the reading in my classes, I think I am looking at straight passes at best.


Relax...you're at Harvard! (Stanford's grading system is similar to Yale's) Employers still slobber over Harvard students. Just explain what happened and try to improve.
Last edited by PDaddy on Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby IAFG » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:52 am

PDaddy wrote:
Relax...you're at Harvard! (Stanford's grading system is similar to Yale's) Employers still slobber over Harvard students. Just explain what happened and try to improve.

If it goes poorly, he may close doors he wishes later were still open. I am not saying he can't catch up, or that he's guaranteed better grades by holding off, but who would want to wonder forever what might have been if they'd just taken good advice when it was offered?

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby PDaddy » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:57 am

IAFG wrote:
PDaddy wrote:
Relax...you're at Harvard! (Stanford's grading system is similar to Yale's) Employers still slobber over Harvard students. Just explain what happened and try to improve.


If it goes poorly, he may close doors he wishes later were still open. I am not saying he can't catch up, or that he's guaranteed better grades by holding off, but who would want to wonder forever what might have been if they'd just taken good advice when it was offered?


I can appreciate that. OP is really going to have to decide whether or not a strong push can be made. But my response doesn't assume staying or leaving. If OP stays, works hard and get the outlines done he can still succeed. It's all about the practice exams and outlines. If you can get the practice tests and outlines done, you're still in the game.

The purpose of having outlines is to enable you to spot issues more quickly without relying on written materials. Practice exams help you learn to use the information you synthesize in an efficient manner and write to each professor's preferences. That is, each prof will have certain things he/she wants you to "get" by the time the course has ended. Your job on the exam is to show that you get it. The entire first semester (or quarter) should be focused on that! Get old exams, take practice exams and study your materials and tighten your outlines. Do not brief....it's a waste of time.

However, if OP leaves, nobody will question his judgment; employers will still give him a shot if he recovered well upon return.
Last edited by PDaddy on Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:12 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby northwood » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:03 am

if you think you shouldtake a medical leave of absence, and your doctors think you shoud take a year off, as does the dean, then reagardless of how it looks on your transcript you should consider taking the year off and get healthy.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:19 am

northwood wrote:if you think you shouldtake a medical leave of absence, and your doctors think you shoud take a year off, as does the dean, then reagardless of how it looks on your transcript you should consider taking the year off and get healthy.


I am healthy now and do not need to take time off for medical reasons. However, I was seriously ill for the first month of the semester and spent very little time doing work (finished less than 20% of my reading assignments). My doctor told me that I shouldn't worry about being behind because I have 2 months to catch up. The Dean of Students told me to disregard the doctor's advice because it doesn't apply to law students. According to the dean, the workload increases over the course of first semester (think continuously compounding interest) and I simply do not have time to catch up. She said that if I were a 3L, she would advise me to stay, but 1L year is brutal and low grades could be a "career killer".

I hate the idea of earning low grades, but I also hate the idea of my illness costing over $20K in sunk tuition. It seems that it is too late in the semester for me to receive any tuition reimbursement. I wonder if better grades are worth $20,000K+...

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IAFG
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby IAFG » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:
northwood wrote:if you think you shouldtake a medical leave of absence, and your doctors think you shoud take a year off, as does the dean, then reagardless of how it looks on your transcript you should consider taking the year off and get healthy.


I am healthy now and do not need to take time off for medical reasons. However, I was seriously ill for the first month of the semester and spent very little time doing work (finished less than 20% of my reading assignments). My doctor told me that I shouldn't worry about being behind because I have 2 months to catch up. The Dean of Students told me to disregard the doctor's advice because it doesn't apply to law students. According to the dean, the workload increases over the course of first semester (think continuously compounding interest) and I simply do not have time to catch up. She said that if I were a 3L, she would advise me to stay, but 1L year is brutal and low grades could be a "career killer".

I hate the idea of earning low grades, but I also hate the idea of my illness costing over $20K in sunk tuition. It seems that it is too late in the semester for me to receive any tuition reimbursement. I wonder if better grades are worth $20,000K+...

Well at least get clarity on the tuition issue before letting it force your hand. I don't believe most top schools would charge you twice. At NU, they say the price is for the degree and not for the semester, so you're not charged again once you've paid and also not credited for finishing early.

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englawyer
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby englawyer » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:09 am

you should be able to reasonably catch up, but there is a chance you will not do as well as you could have potentially done. you have to weigh that yourself.

EX:

get 1-2 H, 3 P . end up at a good firm , but not top of the line. maybe hurt clerkship chances.

VS

getting 4-5 H. end up at top firm, clerkships, academia, etc. are open to you.

is the chance for the latter really worth 1 year of your life and a semester of tuition? you have to make that call.


i don't think you have to fear LP anymore than if had started working hard from the beginning.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby aces » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:24 pm

If you really hustle, I think you can catch up. But you'll really have to hustle-- go to every class, go to office hours, talk to your TAs, do all the reading, set aside nights/weekends to catch up, et cetera. But only you'll know if you have the work ethic to be able to do so sufficiently. Honestly, I think 1L requires less work than many make it out to-- I find that supplements are generally unnecessary unless you have a bad professor or you just don't get a certain bit of doctrine, and you can even get away with not reading some/many of the cases since you won't be expected/need to remember the details anyways. But I seem to very much be in the minority here.




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