Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

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Anonymous User
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:38 pm

Thanks for all the input. Academia is my dream career, but I realize the odds are stacked against me there. I will try to see if there is any way for me to avoid paying for first semester twice. Maybe the fact that I have a huge need-based aid package will somehow work in my favor...but I'm not holding my breath. Harvard seems pretty wedded to official policies and it is unlikely that the administration will make an exception for me.

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okinawa
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby okinawa » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:23 pm

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Last edited by okinawa on Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:54 am

okinawa wrote:Just buckling down and craming based on outlines is probably fine for a 2L or 3L but for someone who has never taken a law school exam or course before, it's going to be hard. Maybe you'll avoid LPs, maybe you won't, but don't you want to have a chance to excel, not just get by?

Drop out. Find a low stress job if you can for a year, like tutoring the LSAT or going back to your former career. You might even be able to save money to put toward tuition if you don't get a refund. Spend a few weeks before the fall semester of your new 1L year getting back into law school mode and then kill it on your 1L exams. It's worth it to be healthy and less stressed and to not shut doors this early in your career.


Would one semester of mediocre to low grades at Harvard really shut doors?

lolwat
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby lolwat » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:37 am

Personally, if there's one single thing I'd do in law school given the chance, it'd be to NOT BOMB FIRST SEMESTER 1L. Seriously. I was outside the top 1/3 at my school and it felt like the next 2.5 years was playing catch-up so that I could land clerkships/biglaw. However, I honestly wouldn't know about Harvard because I wasn't fortunate enough to get in there; I was at a T20. I think if you stay and end up with poor grades, you'll still be able to get interviews by virtue of being at Harvard, and if it comes up, you're able to explain why your first semester kinda sucked.

I would probably still take the safest route to the highest grades, though. Less stress. And you can still explain why you opted to withdraw for a year and then go back.

AllTheLawz
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby AllTheLawz » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:49 am

You are fine. Definitely no need to dropout. Just put in a few weekends and you can catch up on most readings no problem. Get an old outline and read through the cases fairly quickly. You just need to know the holding and application of the rule. Most hardcore studying is done the last 4-5 weeks before finals and most students are just starting to figure out what they are doing right now. Honestly, slacking the first 5-6 weeks of 1L at H should not have the significant of an effect on your grades. If it does, you weren't going to get the top grades anyway. Also, 8-10% LPs is not what the actual curve is. Very few professors actually adhere to that and a ton give out zero, even to 1Ls (some e-mail grade distributions so this is a fact, not speculation).

Basically, $20k+ in tuition is worth way more than the first 6 weeks of law school. Calm down, if you get an LP it definitely wasn't because you only did 20% of the reading on time for the first six weeks.

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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:39 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:You are fine. Definitely no need to dropout. Just put in a few weekends and you can catch up on most readings no problem. Get an old outline and read through the cases fairly quickly. You just need to know the holding and application of the rule. Most hardcore studying is done the last 4-5 weeks before finals and most students are just starting to figure out what they are doing right now. Honestly, slacking the first 5-6 weeks of 1L at H should not have the significant of an effect on your grades. If it does, you weren't going to get the top grades anyway. Also, 8-10% LPs is not what the actual curve is. Very few professors actually adhere to that and a ton give out zero, even to 1Ls (some e-mail grade distributions so this is a fact, not speculation).

Basically, $20k+ in tuition is worth way more than the first 6 weeks of law school. Calm down, if you get an LP it definitely wasn't because you only did 20% of the reading on time for the first six weeks.

My inclination is to agree with you here, except (1)Why would the Dean of Students stress that I am putting myself at a serious disadvantage and at risk for ruining my career by earning LPs if there isn't a legitimate cause for concern? Of course, she probably wants to cover herself/HLS, but her words of caution were extreme enough to give me pause. (2) I know for a fact that 2 of my profs give LPs every year.

It seems that people in my section try really hard. If people would start to slack or have breakdowns or somehow indicate that they and not I are likely to earn LPs, I would feel a lot more confident about staying. Although I have no way of knowing how people will perform on exams, everyone gives the impression of being smart and well prepared.

On the other hand, $20K is an awful lot of money...more than half of what I earned last year...i wish i could come up with some equation to give me probabilities of various grades-->probabilities of various career outcomes. I'm really struggling to make a decision because there is so much uncertainty.

KidStuddi
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby KidStuddi » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:You are fine. Definitely no need to dropout. Just put in a few weekends and you can catch up on most readings no problem. Get an old outline and read through the cases fairly quickly. You just need to know the holding and application of the rule. Most hardcore studying is done the last 4-5 weeks before finals and most students are just starting to figure out what they are doing right now. Honestly, slacking the first 5-6 weeks of 1L at H should not have the significant of an effect on your grades. If it does, you weren't going to get the top grades anyway. Also, 8-10% LPs is not what the actual curve is. Very few professors actually adhere to that and a ton give out zero, even to 1Ls (some e-mail grade distributions so this is a fact, not speculation).

Basically, $20k+ in tuition is worth way more than the first 6 weeks of law school. Calm down, if you get an LP it definitely wasn't because you only did 20% of the reading on time for the first six weeks.

My inclination is to agree with you here, except (1)Why would the Dean of Students stress that I am putting myself at a serious disadvantage and at risk for ruining my career by earning LPs if there isn't a legitimate cause for concern? Of course, she probably wants to cover herself/HLS, but her words of caution were extreme enough to give me pause. (2) I know for a fact that 2 of my profs give LPs every year.

It seems that people in my section try really hard. If people would start to slack or have breakdowns or somehow indicate that they and not I are likely to earn LPs, I would feel a lot more confident about staying. Although I have no way of knowing how people will perform on exams, everyone gives the impression of being smart and well prepared.

On the other hand, $20K is an awful lot of money...more than half of what I earned last year...i wish i could come up with some equation to give me probabilities of various grades-->probabilities of various career outcomes. I'm really struggling to make a decision because there is so much uncertainty.


The dean probably sees the abject fear in your eyes and can tell you've psyched yourself out. There may be something to that notion if you're seriously looking around class expecting (or hoping) to see other students having "breakdowns." (Google "psychological projection").

There will always be uncertainty about grades. Dropping an extra 20k on law school will not change that.

I think you're putting way too much emphasis on the importance of reading cases and appearing "prepared for class." I know people who got through HLS well above median without buying books for half their classes. Doing all of the assigned reading is simply is not that important there or anywhere else. I think you might be being a bit naive if you don't think a substantial portion of your class is getting by on canned briefs googled 10 minutes before class. Do you really think you could tell by outward appearances if people were starting to "slack" by doing this? In the end, all that is going to matter is whether you understand the material by the day of the exam (obviously) and there are a myriad of ways to do that. It may sound trite now, but you will soon realize, as all 1Ls do, that it is rarely the students who worry about appearing smart and well prepared in class who do the best on exams. If you sit down now and make a concerted effort to understand the material contained in a commercial outline or hornbook, you will have missed nothing. In fact, you may well end up way ahead of your classmates who are tediously briefing and rainbow highlighting every case and doing nothing to prepare themselves for the exam, which will have fuck all to do with anything contained in your briefs.

In short, stop worrying about class and start preparing for the exam. The sooner you get into this mindset the better you will do.
If you're not someone who can teach yourself from books, pre-register for Barbri and get access to the 1L course review lectures and/or go get audio supplements. You'll see that the 1L courses can effectively be distilled down to 8-12 hours of lectures when the sorcratic bullshit and wrangling with the facts is stripped away. Spend a couple of weekends going through those and you'll be caught up for a lot less than $20k.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:12 am

OP, you should definitely start over next year. As other posters have stated, first year grades are (almost) all that matters. Given that you have already missed so much class, it would be difficult for you to catch up this year (things would be different if this was during 2L and you were used to law school).

Also, everyone knows that Harvard does not equal automatic NLJ placement anymore. While the overwhelming majority of the class gets good jobs, how would you feel if you struck out due to bad grades when you knew in advance that you could have done something to prevent that situation form happening?

sarahh
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby sarahh » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:You are fine. Definitely no need to dropout. Just put in a few weekends and you can catch up on most readings no problem. Get an old outline and read through the cases fairly quickly. You just need to know the holding and application of the rule. Most hardcore studying is done the last 4-5 weeks before finals and most students are just starting to figure out what they are doing right now. Honestly, slacking the first 5-6 weeks of 1L at H should not have the significant of an effect on your grades. If it does, you weren't going to get the top grades anyway. Also, 8-10% LPs is not what the actual curve is. Very few professors actually adhere to that and a ton give out zero, even to 1Ls (some e-mail grade distributions so this is a fact, not speculation).

Basically, $20k+ in tuition is worth way more than the first 6 weeks of law school. Calm down, if you get an LP it definitely wasn't because you only did 20% of the reading on time for the first six weeks.

My inclination is to agree with you here, except (1)Why would the Dean of Students stress that I am putting myself at a serious disadvantage and at risk for ruining my career by earning LPs if there isn't a legitimate cause for concern? Of course, she probably wants to cover herself/HLS, but her words of caution were extreme enough to give me pause. (2) I know for a fact that 2 of my profs give LPs every year.

It seems that people in my section try really hard. If people would start to slack or have breakdowns or somehow indicate that they and not I are likely to earn LPs, I would feel a lot more confident about staying. Although I have no way of knowing how people will perform on exams, everyone gives the impression of being smart and well prepared.

On the other hand, $20K is an awful lot of money...more than half of what I earned last year...i wish i could come up with some equation to give me probabilities of various grades-->probabilities of various career outcomes. I'm really struggling to make a decision because there is so much uncertainty.


I am a 2L but in a somewhat similar situation as you and talked to the dean as well. PM me if you want more info.

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englawyer
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby englawyer » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for all the input. Academia is my dream career, but I realize the odds are stacked against me there. I will try to see if there is any way for me to avoid paying for first semester twice. Maybe the fact that I have a huge need-based aid package will somehow work in my favor...but I'm not holding my breath. Harvard seems pretty wedded to official policies and it is unlikely that the administration will make an exception for me.


if academia is really your goal then you should probably restart next year. you will need awesome grades for that.

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yuzu
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Re: Leave of absence or mediocre grades?

Postby yuzu » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:22 pm

I don't want to discourage the OP's proposed absence, given OP's interest in academia - indeed, I've known a few HLS students who've taken leaves of absence, and it seems to have gone OK. However, I do want to point out a few things:

  • It is possible to do well in a class having completely ignored it for 6 weeks. It is a bit harder to do this for all your classes, in the competitive environment of 1L, but you are not doomed to get an LP. It is possible to get an H (or even a DS) in a 1L class from little more than an outline.
  • The commenters so far have not considered the opportunity cost of delaying law school. Taking a leave of absence does not merely mean losing $20k in tuition. It means losing the $160k you might have made as a first-year associate in 2016; you'll instead spend that time in law school. That is not necessarily a bad tradeoff, but if you take the leave of absence please value this time and do something you enjoy - rarely will you again have the opportunity for this kind of time off.
  • You will likely keep your @jd15 email address, and 1Ls next year (@jd16) may ask about it, and you will probably end up explaining the medical leave of absence to them. Not necessarily a bad thing but you should be aware.
  • While 1L grades are undoubtedly important to firms, there is more to a legal career than what your 1L grades are and where you summer at. If you want a biglaw job, you will probably get one, absence or not.
  • Academic hiring is not based solely on 1L grades; you will have time to improve, although poor 1L grades would make it harder to get on law review.
  • Many of your classmates are busy with extracurriculars, journals, etc., and by not doing those you can gain back some extra time.

I think a leave of absence is safest (wearing my risk-averse lawyer hat), but I also think there are good arguments for staying. Keep in mind the Dean of Students is risk-averse as well, and a leave of absence is the safest option for them.




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