How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

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Anonymous User
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How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2015 7:29 pm

Rising 2L here. I have a good g.p.a., but my g.p.a. gets crushed each semester by Legal Writing. Like my grades go A, A, A+, A-, A+, C, C with the C's being in legal writing. I actually put a ton of work into both of my memos(probably more than I did for each of my real classes), so I don't have a good excuse why my LP grades are so low.

I'm worried in BL interviews how to answer a question regarding this discrepancy.

hiima3L
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby hiima3L » Wed May 27, 2015 8:05 pm

Well, what do you think the problem is? What is the kind of criticism/feedback you've gotten from your LRW prof(s)?

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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2015 8:09 pm

If you're concerned about OCI-type interviews at the end of summer, hopefully you're working somewhere legal related this summer. Your best bet is going to be making sure that you have a competent writing sample from your job. Many interviewers are going to be conscious of the fact that grading can be very idiosyncratic, and maybe the professor just didn't like your style. My 1L writing class was easily the worst grade I got in all 3 years, but my competent real-life work product and solid grades in doctrinal classes helped me do well at OCI and ultimately getting a job.

Also, I would heavily recommend talking to the professor about your grade(s). Maybe they didn't like your style, or maybe you have some fundamental issues with applying law to fact or supporting your arguments. Either way, you need good work product this summer, and have copies of it to give with your resume and transcript, even if the interviewer doesn't ask for it.

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swampman
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby swampman » Wed May 27, 2015 10:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Many interviewers are going to be conscious of the fact that grading can be very idiosyncratic, and maybe the professor just didn't like your style.

I think the rest of your post is spot-on, but I would avoid even suggesting this to an interviewer. You might be able to explain a B or B- with idiosyncratic grading, but a C indicates you missed something major. Plus idiosyncrasies in grading apply a lot more to exams than LRW. A 1L memo is pretty cookie-cutter. Even to the extent that there's some room for personal style, what happens when the partner you're working for doesn't like your writing style? If you had chances to adapt your style to what the professor was looking for, and didn't or couldn't, that's troubling.

I think the only acceptable explanation is "I figured out what I was doing wrong, it was X, and I fixed it. Here's my writing sample from this summer." And you better have a damn good writing sample.

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cookiejar1
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby cookiejar1 » Wed May 27, 2015 10:19 pm

Make law review?

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PvblivsScipio
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby PvblivsScipio » Wed May 27, 2015 10:50 pm

You don't.

I never got asked about it at any stage.

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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2015 9:34 am

swampman wrote:I think the only acceptable explanation is "I figured out what I was doing wrong, it was X, and I fixed it. Here's my writing sample from this summer." And you better have a damn good writing sample.

I'm the anon you quoted. I actually agree completely, I somehow skimmed over the C and assumed it was a B- or something. If it comes up, you'll need to own up and convince them you're better now. Contacting your professor is going to be even more important to make sure you're not missing something vital.

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POTUSorSCOTUS
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby POTUSorSCOTUS » Thu May 28, 2015 9:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:
swampman wrote:I think the only acceptable explanation is "I figured out what I was doing wrong, it was X, and I fixed it. Here's my writing sample from this summer." And you better have a damn good writing sample.

I'm the anon you quoted. I actually agree completely, I somehow skimmed over the C and assumed it was a B- or something. If it comes up, you'll need to own up and convince them you're better now. Contacting your professor is going to be even more important to make sure you're not missing something vital.


"i r dumb" or "prof r dumb"

CanadianWolf
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu May 28, 2015 9:54 am

There are several legal writing books available on Amazon. If your legal writing professor's comments & criticism aren't helping, then seek self-help.
I cannot offer a way to explain your legal writing grades without knowing the problems as expressed by your professor.

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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby lawschoolftw » Thu May 28, 2015 12:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Rising 2L here. I have a good g.p.a., but my g.p.a. gets crushed each semester by Legal Writing. Like my grades go A, A, A+, A-, A+, C, C with the C's being in legal writing. I actually put a ton of work into both of my memos(probably more than I did for each of my real classes), so I don't have a good excuse why my LP grades are so low.

I'm worried in BL interviews how to answer a question regarding this discrepancy.


The answer above is credited re: try and produce excellent work product this summer. If you do so, you can use the line that, while you certainly struggled adjusting to legal writing style, it clicked for you during your first summer when dealing with practical application and you believe that your writing sample is more reflective of your writing abilities than your LRW grade.

lawschoolftw
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby lawschoolftw » Thu May 28, 2015 12:31 pm

lawschoolftw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Rising 2L here. I have a good g.p.a., but my g.p.a. gets crushed each semester by Legal Writing. Like my grades go A, A, A+, A-, A+, C, C with the C's being in legal writing. I actually put a ton of work into both of my memos(probably more than I did for each of my real classes), so I don't have a good excuse why my LP grades are so low.

I'm worried in BL interviews how to answer a question regarding this discrepancy.


The answer above is credited re: try and produce excellent work product this summer. If you do so, you can use the line that, while you certainly struggled adjusting to legal writing style, it clicked for you during your first summer when dealing with practical application and you believe that your writing sample is more reflective of your writing abilities than your LRW grade.


Also, while this may not be an option for you, one thing that worked for me was having my LRW prof serve as a reference. He attested to my writing abilities and explained that the curve forced him to hand out lower grades.

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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2015 9:14 pm

OP here. I have a strong writing sample, at least on an academic level. I took my writing sample after 1st semester grades came out to my non LRW professors(ones who have practiced) to go over and tips to fix things. My sample wasn't at least egregiously bad since I got a couple strong offers. It was easy first semester to say, I made X mistake and I have fixed it, but I'm worried since now I have a historic trend.


I tried to go to my LRW professor and he simply pointed at things and told me I would have to fix that and that without specifics.

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pancakes3
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby pancakes3 » Fri May 29, 2015 9:20 am

You got offers because of all the A's on your transcript and not because of how sick your writing sample is. If your legal writing professor isn't helpful, you should go to a different legal writing prof rather than a doctrinal prof

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littlepuff
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby littlepuff » Fri May 29, 2015 9:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:Rising 2L here. I have a good g.p.a., but my g.p.a. gets crushed each semester by Legal Writing. Like my grades go A, A, A+, A-, A+, C, C with the C's being in legal writing. I actually put a ton of work into both of my memos(probably more than I did for each of my real classes), so I don't have a good excuse why my LP grades are so low.

I'm worried in BL interviews how to answer a question regarding this discrepancy.


Without being helpful at all, I'd just like to congratulate you on the terrific grades for all other classes!

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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2015 2:05 am

Don't bring it up unless specifically asked about it. Generally speaking, I would not make it seem like you are whining or making excuses whatsoever. Talk about how you used the bad grade as a way to grow and improve as a legal writer and maybe give some concrete steps on how you've improved (wrote on law review, assisting professor on article, competed in moot court, etc.).

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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:04 pm

Bump. Same problem. Any thoughts on a doctrinal gpa distinction on resume(including my actual gpa as well, just parentheses stating what doctrinal gpa is)? Only want transactional.

jphiggo
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby jphiggo » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Bump. Same problem. Any thoughts on a doctrinal gpa distinction on resume(including my actual gpa as well, just parentheses stating what doctrinal gpa is)? Only want transactional.


Uh, I wouldn't do this.

fxb3
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby fxb3 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:23 pm

Bump. Same problem. Any thoughts on a doctrinal gpa distinction on resume(including my actual gpa as well, just parentheses stating what doctrinal gpa is)? Only want transactional.


Do NOT do this. I'm a V20 interviewer and I've seen law student resumes before that try to do this, and it just highlights the problem. (At least a "doctrinal"/non-doctrinal split is at least mildly rational. I've seen one before that had a carve-out GPA for specific classes. It was something like "GPA 3.2 overall/3.6 excluding Torts and Contracts." That was painful.)

To respond to OP, like everyone else said, make sure you have a great writing sample and be ready with an explanation along the lines of, "legal writing took a lot to get used to, and I think it finally clicked this summer when I had to write a memo every week instead of one every semester." (Note that that's an explanation you give if asked. It's very hard, almost impossible, to explain grades away by being proactive about it.)

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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:30 pm

fxb3 wrote:
Bump. Same problem. Any thoughts on a doctrinal gpa distinction on resume(including my actual gpa as well, just parentheses stating what doctrinal gpa is)? Only want transactional.


Do NOT do this. I'm a V20 interviewer and I've seen law student resumes before that try to do this, and it just highlights the problem. (At least a "doctrinal"/non-doctrinal split is at least mildly rational. I've seen one before that had a carve-out GPA for specific classes. It was something like "GPA 3.2 overall/3.6 excluding Torts and Contracts." That was painful.)

To respond to OP, like everyone else said, make sure you have a great writing sample and be ready with an explanation along the lines of, "legal writing took a lot to get used to, and I think it finally clicked this summer when I had to write a memo every week instead of one every semester." (Note that that's an explanation you give if asked. It's very hard, almost impossible, to explain grades away by being proactive about it.)


Off topic but interested. What are your thoughts on a finance/business based internship summer of 1L? (I am currently working in a deal heavy position with legal exposure but on the finance side at a f500/ibank/mezzanine shop).

fxb3
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Re: How do you explain low Legal writing grades?

Postby fxb3 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
fxb3 wrote:
Bump. Same problem. Any thoughts on a doctrinal gpa distinction on resume(including my actual gpa as well, just parentheses stating what doctrinal gpa is)? Only want transactional.


Do NOT do this. I'm a V20 interviewer and I've seen law student resumes before that try to do this, and it just highlights the problem. (At least a "doctrinal"/non-doctrinal split is at least mildly rational. I've seen one before that had a carve-out GPA for specific classes. It was something like "GPA 3.2 overall/3.6 excluding Torts and Contracts." That was painful.)

To respond to OP, like everyone else said, make sure you have a great writing sample and be ready with an explanation along the lines of, "legal writing took a lot to get used to, and I think it finally clicked this summer when I had to write a memo every week instead of one every semester." (Note that that's an explanation you give if asked. It's very hard, almost impossible, to explain grades away by being proactive about it.)


Off topic but interested. What are your thoughts on a finance/business based internship summer of 1L? (I am currently working in a deal heavy position with legal exposure but on the finance side at a f500/ibank/mezzanine shop).


Litigator but I like it. Should give you good exposure to the business and a way to credibly articulate why you're interested in a particular area. I wouldn't be too worried about it not being "legal." Even litigators but especially transactional people in BigLaw want to see themselves as trusted advisers who "understand the client's business needs." Maybe just prepare yourself for a couple of questions about, "did it make you want to be on the business side instead of law? Is that what you're really interested in?" But that's pretty simple to prepare for. The key is expressing an interest in the substance of the practice and you'll have that nailed with the finance/business internship.




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