What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

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What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:26 pm

Hello all,
While waiting for fall grades, I’d like to know, given the circumstances unique to my particular situation (explained in detail below), approximately what class ranking or GPA you think would make my law school experience financially justifiable. It might seem like an odd question before I’ve received my grades, but I really do not want to begin this process of choosing whether to call it quits after I get my grades. (Basically because by the time I receive my grades, I will have already lost ~25% of my tuition refund for the spring.) If I have a sense of what you all think would be a good GPA or class rank threshold for my personal situation, I would at least have some data points to revisit this decision in a few weeks’ time.
Assume a ~3.3 median, and a traditional college GPA metric (A = 4;0; B- = 2.7).

I know TLS likes to have as much relevant information about the OP in threads like these, so I’ve tried to provide everything I think is useful for assessment:

About Me: T10 1L (think bottom end), K-JD, liberal arts degree, lifelong resident of the state my LS is located in, but not the secondary market the school is in. No UG debt and no 1L debt, but $35-45K debt upon graduation (staggered scholarship + personal savings).

Career Assessment: Corporate BigLaw is ideal (NYC/LS secondary market), but not necessary. Honestly, in terms of salary, I’m willing to pursue anything legal > $60K. Given the distinctions between different tiers of law (midlaw, small law, public sector work, etc.), I don’t know what field such a salary corresponds with, so that’s why I say anything > $60K. (Although, truthfully, I wouldn’t even have a problem with working in a field that is only tangentially legal, such as compliance or HR.) Having never been in debt before, I’m naturally a bit averse, so anything beyond a ¾ debt to salary ratio is quite scary to me.

How I feel about law school: After finishing my first semester, I don’t feel particularly attached to law school, but I don’t think that would necessarily engender negative feelings about being a lawyer. I certainly don’t hate the experience. Generally, though, it takes some time for me to warm up to any major life change, so maybe this isn’t dispositive.

Why not just stay another semester to figure it out regardless of how you do? First, since personal savings are part of the financial mix, I really don’t want to squander that if I get grades back that don’t make law school a worthwhile investment despite improvement in the future, especially if that takes away funding from another potential graduate program (see below).

Alternative options: I’d apply to MS Accounting programs (prerequisites included), with a projected $0-10K debt (closer to 0 if I take a year off to work, which is very likely in this scenario) after graduation from that program with the aim of Big 4/regional accounting firms.

Thank you in advance for all of your help! This board has been such a tremendous aid to me in the past, and I'm grateful for any help it can provide me now.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby victortsoi » Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:03 pm

I'm going to commit some sacrilege here- legal hiring is really getting better. Below medians at my T2 are getting jobs (not the best jobs, but jobs) that they wouldn't have a few years ago. Medians and above are doing fine. Even if your grades are crap from a T10, Cravath and Skadden might not want you, but tons of smaller, less prestigious firms would be happy to hire you just based on your school's prestige alone, - provided, of course, that you aren't a weirdo, and can confidently make a case for yourself being a capable lawyer with interests in the firm's work. Grades are important, but school name recognition is as well. I'm sure you can be pulling over 70 in a few years, and far more than that when your earning capacity peaks.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:37 pm

If I'm reading this right, you're just speculating at this point? First, you need to chill, and not even worry about this scenario until it actually happens.

Regardless, the above poster is actually correct. I'm a 2L at a T10, and I know several below-median folks who got biglaw at OCI (including a couple at a V5, actually). Legal hiring really is picking up, and your debt load is relatively small.

Unless you're getting straight C's or something, you should really stick out 1L (unless you really don't want to be a lawyer, which doesn't seem to be the case).

But seriously, I can't stress the absurdity of you stressing over this before even getting any grades back.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Cobretti » Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:39 pm

You can't get grades that are bad enough to preclude you from a $60k/year job at a T14. No matter how bad your grades are, you should be able to find something that meets your very low criteria. If you don't, it will be because you either didn't hustle enough, you are a poor interviewer or you got completely screwed by bad circumstances.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:28 pm

victortsoi wrote:I'm going to commit some sacrilege here- legal hiring is really getting better. Below medians at my T2 are getting jobs (not the best jobs, but jobs) that they wouldn't have a few years ago. Medians and above are doing fine. Even if your grades are crap from a T10, Cravath and Skadden might not want you, but tons of smaller, less prestigious firms would be happy to hire you just based on your school's prestige alone, - provided, of course, that you aren't a weirdo, and can confidently make a case for yourself being a capable lawyer with interests in the firm's work. Grades are important, but school name recognition is as well. I'm sure you can be pulling over 70 in a few years, and far more than that when your earning capacity peaks.


Thank you for your take on the situation. It's often very hard to assess just how things are doing for those under median at the t10 and t14. I read a lot of conflicting opinions on it. Hopefully the legal market continues on the trend that you've noticed.

Anonymous User wrote:If I'm reading this right, you're just speculating at this point? First, you need to chill, and not even worry about this scenario until it actually happens.

Regardless, the above poster is actually correct. I'm a 2L at a T10, and I know several below-median folks who got biglaw at OCI (including a couple at a V5, actually). Legal hiring really is picking up, and your debt load is relatively small.

Unless you're getting straight C's or something, you should really stick out 1L (unless you really don't want to be a lawyer, which doesn't seem to be the case).

But seriously, I can't stress the absurdity of you stressing over this before even getting any grades back.


I know my worrying is very absurd. I'm just very cautious when it comes to student loan debt. Really, I'd be much more comfortable discussing the question in greater detail when I have grades to show, but given the tuition refund policy at my LS, it was a question I wanted to explore now so I have a better sense of framing my options when I actually see my grades. Thank you for your advice, though. It has definitely put me more at ease.

Cobretti wrote:You can't get grades that are bad enough to preclude you from a $60k/year job at a T14. No matter how bad your grades are, you should be able to find something that meets your very low criteria. If you don't, it will be because you either didn't hustle enough, you are a poor interviewer or you got completely screwed by bad circumstances.


I wouldn't say "low" necessarily. It's my fault for not clarifying. I've read about the bimodal distribution of legal salaries, and I know a lot of people on this board point out that midlaw can be just as difficult to grab as biglaw, etc. So, I was looking to see if that ~$60K range could be seen as something of a floor for t10 students who, as you say, hustle and take additional steps to show their interests. Thank you for your help!

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:45 pm

I know you've been pretty detailed, but if you're willing to be more detailed, people can probably help you more. E.g., your chances if you're from Detroit and going to Michigan are probably different than your chances if you're from Traverse City and going to Michigan. Similarly, what it means to be bottom quarter of your class is probably different from Duke as it is from Michigan, if only due to the respective size of the two schools.

That said, it sounds like you'd be pretty happy in a wide range of jobs in a wide range of markets, and see law school as primarily a path to a healthy financial position and reasonably fulfilling job (rather than as a path to some specific dream, some specific job market, or riches). I also think it's important that it sounds like you don't particularly dislike law, and don't have some other dream waiting in the wings. If this is all true, and given your semi-arbitrary income floor, I would agree with the above poster that you should stay in law school: you'll have a decent (I'd say 75%) shot at some job like this just about anywhere in the class in a T10. I say "just about anywhere in the class" because if you end up with a bunch of Fs on your transcript, that might be a problem. Short of getting multiple (~3+) Fs at your T10, I think you can feel reasonably confident about your T10 law school as an investment to get you *some* >$60,000/year job somewhere in the country.

I would also add that if you truly end up being in the bottom quarter or bottom 10% of your class and/or have a GPA in the low/sub- 2.0 range, you will have to hustle a fair bit and probably not be terrible at interviewing to get a job like this. But, if you're not willing to do some hustling and if you truly have bad interview skills, you're not likely to be super successful at getting jobs in other fields either (e.g., accounting) -- so I would use this more as motivation to work on your hustling/interviewing than as a justification for dropping out of law school.


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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know you've been pretty detailed, but if you're willing to be more detailed, people can probably help you more. E.g., your chances if you're from Detroit and going to Michigan are probably different than your chances if you're from Traverse City and going to Michigan. Similarly, what it means to be bottom quarter of your class is probably different from Duke as it is from Michigan, if only due to the respective size of the two schools.


OP here. MVP range LS. Hometown is roughly 1.5-2 hours from LS.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:21 pm

Current 2L at MVP. I came close to dropping out after finishing in the bottom third of the class. Second semester wasn't much better. Ended up landing a V30 NYC summer gig. I know a few others in my peer group with even lower grades who landed V100 jobs in various markets.

Point is, with the right personality and hustle, landing a summer gig in NYC from MVP is possible (though, of course, not guaranteed) at all any spectrum of the curve.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby AReasonableMan » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Current 2L at MVP. I came close to dropping out after finishing in the bottom third of the class. Second semester wasn't much better. Ended up landing a V30 NYC summer gig. I know a few others in my peer group with even lower grades who landed V100 jobs in various markets.

Point is, with the right personality and hustle, landing a summer gig in NYC from MVP is possible (though, of course, not guaranteed) at all any spectrum of the curve.

It's important to note your year was very fortunate. The market did really well, but you can't overvalue one year. Below a 3.0 is probably drop out territory. A 3.1-3.4 fluctuates based on one exam so some luck factors in, and you can easily wind up back above median.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Current 2L at MVP. I came close to dropping out after finishing in the bottom third of the class. Second semester wasn't much better. Ended up landing a V30 NYC summer gig. I know a few others in my peer group with even lower grades who landed V100 jobs in various markets.

Point is, with the right personality and hustle, landing a summer gig in NYC from MVP is possible (though, of course, not guaranteed) at all any spectrum of the curve.


:shock: It's kind of crazy, because there were people in my t10 in the top 10% with law review who got shut out at OCI in 2009. Firms were really selective then, and simply not meeting a firms "personality fit" (despite being a pretty normal person otherwise) was enough to get you shut out of biglaw back then. It's really shocking how much things have turned around where people who are in the bottom 1/3 on a t10 are able to get any kind of job offer. There were a ton of people in the top half of my class who literally couldn't find any legal paying job anywhere in the country for a year or more after graduation when I graduated in 2011. It's amazing how much time to market impacts your career prospects--even for most people who got biglaw in 2011, it was at lower tier firms than they might have gotten as a 2016 grad with the same grades, etc.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:01 pm

AReasonableMan wrote:Below a 3.0 is probably drop out territory. A 3.1-3.4 fluctuates based on one exam so some luck factors in, and you can easily wind up back above median.


OP here. Before I began this thread, I had this hesitation about what to do with a possible GPA under 3.0. Is it fair to say that this 3.0 is a cutoff to all legal employment from a t10 or specifically BigLaw?

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:
AReasonableMan wrote:Below a 3.0 is probably drop out territory. A 3.1-3.4 fluctuates based on one exam so some luck factors in, and you can easily wind up back above median.


OP here. Before I began this thread, I had this hesitation about what to do with a possible GPA under 3.0. Is it fair to say that this 3.0 is a cutoff to all legal employment from a t10 or specifically BigLaw?
Anonymous User wrote:
AReasonableMan wrote:Below a 3.0 is probably drop out territory. A 3.1-3.4 fluctuates based on one exam so some luck factors in, and you can easily wind up back above median.


OP here. Before I began this thread, I had this hesitation about what to do with a possible GPA under 3.0. Is it fair to say that this 3.0 is a cutoff to all legal employment from a t10 or specifically BigLaw?


Current MVP 2L here. No grade range (with the except of being at the absolute bottom - which I can almost guarantee you are not there) will shut you out from NYC BigLaw if you fit the "BigLaw Mold". Above median BigLaw tends to hire all across the board - nerds, aspie, bros, etc etc but below median you really need to fit the BigLaw mold. Honest questions you need to ask yourself (these all matter - from my experience they seemed to really matter for below-medianers at OCI this year): [in no particular order]
1. Are you attractive?
2. Do you have interests that someone would enjoy talking about over a beer with you? (professional sports, outdoorsy person, world traveler etc. etc)
3. Do you have work experience? (law firm/i-banker/consulting - going to really give you a boost as a below-medianer)
4. Are you sociable? [can you get the interviewer talking about something completely unrelated to law and feel comfortable doing so? In my OCI experience, the best interviews I had were where the interviewer at the end said "Oh shit, we didn't even really get to talk about XYZ firm much, oh well. Boom. Callback every time)
5. Are you confident - but only so confident as you do not appear overconfident? Can you walk into an interview room and give the interviewer the impression that you want the job, but it would not destroy you not to get it because you know you will land somewhere, leaving them wanting you just a little bit more?

If you can honestly answer yes to all five questions - don't drop out, you will LIKELY end up somewhere even if you are in the 2.9-3.1 range

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:03 am

I'm going to disagree with some of the people in this thread and say that anything below a 3.0 just looks bad. My experience may be skewed by the selectivity of my firm, however. I really don't know who other law firms are hiring.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:10 am

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:I'm going to disagree with some of the people in this thread and say that anything below a 3.0 just looks bad. My experience may be skewed by the selectivity of my firm, however. I really don't know who other law firms are hiring.


Does this also hold true for URM law students after just one semester worth of grades?

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby daleearnhardt123 » Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:31 am

OP you need to knock off this ridiculous tea leaf reading. As another poster indicated, with your low debt load and modest goals, there is basically NO set of grades that should compel you to drop out. That's plain as fucking day.

Your real concern should be your neuroticism and lack of self esteem. If I sensed you were anything like this in an interview I'd end it immediately and proceed to the next person.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:I'm going to disagree with some of the people in this thread and say that anything below a 3.0 just looks bad. My experience may be skewed by the selectivity of my firm, however. I really don't know who other law firms are hiring.


Does this also hold true for URM law students after just one semester worth of grades?

Would love to know this as well.
T10. Was offered at V20 pre-grades. Now freaking out about ending up below median.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:I'm going to disagree with some of the people in this thread and say that anything below a 3.0 just looks bad. My experience may be skewed by the selectivity of my firm, however. I really don't know who other law firms are hiring.


Does this also hold true for URM law students after just one semester worth of grades?


At my firm, I believe we bend the rules somewhat for URMs, but GPAs that start with a "2" (assuming these reflect grades that are well below median) are non-starters for anyone.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:24 pm

OP - I feel your pain. Median-pwned non-trad.

On a named scholarship at T14. I worked outrageously hard first semester. I should have gone to B-school, I guess - maybe I'l do a joint degree now.

99th percentile LSAT, 4.0, W/E. I just work too slowly and carefully for law exams, and my typing is average. Of course, my classmates probably under-performed on LSAT/UG, and I probably over-performed. But law school just isn't a great place for plodding and deliberative minds: if I'm Brahms, LS is Mozart.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby AreJay711 » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
AReasonableMan wrote:Below a 3.0 is probably drop out territory. A 3.1-3.4 fluctuates based on one exam so some luck factors in, and you can easily wind up back above median.


OP here. Before I began this thread, I had this hesitation about what to do with a possible GPA under 3.0. Is it fair to say that this 3.0 is a cutoff to all legal employment from a t10 or specifically BigLaw?


I had a bro get a 2.7 and end up with a biglaw job from M. A few others with under 3.1's get legal jobs that paid over 60k.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby xiao_long » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:43 pm

Dear OP:

Since you are at a T10 and your debt load is manageable, I would think twice before letting go of the opportunity to earn a prestigious law degree. Simply put, people (i.e. clients) bestow more respect to someone with a law degree (especially a T10 for those in the know!) than someone with a master's in accounting.

Have you ever considered working at a Big4 as a JD degree holder? My impression is that even with a master's in accounting, you will still be starting out as an associate, the same entry level position as those with only a bachelor's. With a JD from a T10, you possibly have a shot at one of those 70K quasi-legal jobs at a Big4.

Whatever you choose to do, best of luck to you in your journey.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:58 pm

xiao_long wrote:Dear OP:

Since you are at a T10 and your debt load is manageable, I would think twice before letting go of the opportunity to earn a prestigious law degree. Simply put, people (i.e. clients) bestow more respect to someone with a law degree (especially a T10 for those in the know!) than someone with a master's in accounting.

Have you ever considered working at a Big4 as a JD degree holder? My impression is that even with a master's in accounting, you will still be starting out as an associate, the same entry level position as those with only a bachelor's. With a JD from a T10, you possibly have a shot at one of those 70K quasi-legal jobs at a Big4.

Whatever you choose to do, best of luck to you in your journey.


This is the basic reformulation of what I've been debating about this whole time. I would definitely be interested in a JD position with a Big4. I didn't even know they were open to those without undergrad accounting experience.

Thanks everyone for sharing their thoughts. I now definitely have a better (and perhaps healthier) sense of figuring out where I stand when grades come in.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby AReasonableMan » Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:
AReasonableMan wrote:Below a 3.0 is probably drop out territory. A 3.1-3.4 fluctuates based on one exam so some luck factors in, and you can easily wind up back above median.


OP here. Before I began this thread, I had this hesitation about what to do with a possible GPA under 3.0. Is it fair to say that this 3.0 is a cutoff to all legal employment from a t10 or specifically BigLaw?

Even if someone said at this point big law was under 50%, you've already paid half. If you really want that then it's always going to be worth while because you'll know before it's too late to get a refund by fall of next year.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby AReasonableMan » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:I'm going to disagree with some of the people in this thread and say that anything below a 3.0 just looks bad. My experience may be skewed by the selectivity of my firm, however. I really don't know who other law firms are hiring.


Does this also hold true for URM law students after just one semester worth of grades?

Would love to know this as well.
T10. Was offered at V20 pre-grades. Now freaking out about ending up below median.

This sounds like a pretty awesome spot to be in. I would rather be in your position than be a 4.0 who strikes out next year. Assuming you miss out on prestige markers (cum laude, law review, etc.), grades are really only relevant in how they predict work product. Just do good work. You have an opportunity where short of terrible luck you can dictate your end result.

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Re: What 1L GPA/Class Rank to Withdraw from T10?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:48 am

Big4 accountant here. 4th year senior.. If you like billing 2200 hours a year while making 70-80k in sf/NYC then big4 accounting is great for you.




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