networking is pretty useless without good grades

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networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:54 am

below median at T-13. Went to a bunch of networking events and met contacts that followed up with lunches? etc. None of them could do anything for me because of my grades. My time would have been better spent doing extra studying. It can only help if you are median or above, but there shouldn't be so much emphasis on networking because you're fucked without grades either way.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:27 am

This is not entirely true. I got a job from a talk at a conference and I have a 3.1 GPA from a T-14. But I specialized in a particular subject area. If you're just a general focus or litigation, you're a dime a dozen, but if you specialize, even a low GPA is marketable.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby albanach » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:50 am

If you're networking for a job, remember you have to come across as different and better than everyone else they're meeting. Somehow you need a different skillset like the poster above, or to be more engaging and likable or just bring something else to the table. If all you present as is an average person with below average grades, it won't make a difference.

In law school admissions terms, you need to turn yourself into a splitter - low gpa but high something else. Work with career services to figure out what your unique skills are and make sure you're selling those while still being interesting and engaging. Then make sure you're targeting the correct markets and, finally, realize that you might have to do this a lot to uncover opportunities. Don't give up.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:08 am

albanach wrote:In law school admissions terms, you need to turn yourself into a splitter - low gpa but high something else.


Consider this stolen! I really like this.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby thebasedgod » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:10 am

ime networking with associates was completely useless outside of being able to name drop them during a screener

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:11 am

Networking pays off when you don't expect that. Below median, T10 here. I received a callback interview invitation yesterday from an associate with whom I did an informational phone interview a few weeks ago. It's the market I have a zero tie.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:16 am

I am below median at a T13 and I also did a lot of networking before OCI. I went to receptions, set up informational calls, followed up with the firms that I am interested in. During the screeners, I feel like name dropping associates almost NEVER help! Sometimes, name dropping partners also did not help me. Lots of the interviewers took a look at my grades and just lost interest.

The firms that I did get callbacks and offers were the firms that I did not think I get a chance. I did 0 networking with them. I feel like I got lucky and the OCI process is a fucked up process. You just never know.

However, the only advantage of heavy networking is that I learned what kind of topics are interesting to associates vs. partners, what kind of pitfalls to avoid during face-to-face interviews. Because if you do a lot of informational calls and try to sell yourself within 10-20 minutes, it is like doing a lot of mock screeners.

That being side, I do think my grades hold me back for a lot of firms that I think would be less grades sensitive. Maybe lots of firms have implicit GPA cut off. The interviewers cannot justify a below median GPA with not stellar experiences. FYI, I do not have work experiences. Hence, I really do not have a reason for the interviewers to put less weight on the grades. I did go into every interview, forgetting how bad my grades are, and just tried to have a conversation. It is traumatizing for me to see a lot of twisted eyebrows, cold faces, uninterested tones, etc. But I also know that, If I stop being an advocate for myself, no one else could be.

In sum, I feel deeply the same with the anons here. If you have not got anything yet, do not lose faith in yourself. Keep looking.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:21 am

Posting for posterity as someone who just graduated (OCI is not so far in the past for me, and I’ve helped two classes of students at my school navigate it since).

OP is flat out wrong. I got multiple callbacks simply by networking. I know others who have done the same. Worst case scenario you schedule a conversation with an associate, learn more about the firm, and have somebody to name drop in the interview - it will ensure that you come across as more informed and interested than your competition. It will also help you learn how to talk to attorneys, and You will learn a lot about the profession along the way.

Make sure you are networking with firms that hire your GPA at your school, otherwise you’re wasting time. Take a shot at a couple reach firms, sure, but don’t waste time talking to Wachtell attorneys if you’re a median student.

Also, while I believe the 1L spring firm events are great if you have the time, I will say that if you think you need that time to study then spend the time studying. Try to get to a few of these events to practice schmoozing attorneys so you’re ready for the summer (more below), learn more about the profession, and get a few business cards from firms you’re interested in, try to get back in touch with those people closer to recruiting.

Make an effort to be in your desired market for the summer after 1L. The summer firm events that take place in the market you are targeting are the best places to pick up extra interviews. Go to the events for firms you are targeting for OCI. Make sure you talk to people who can make hiring decisions. You can find out who you should speak to by starting with a summer associate or junior associate from your school, talk to them for a while (they’re good connections in their own right) and then ask “is there anyone I should make sure I speak to while I’m here?” They’ll usually bring you right to the hiring partner or head of recruiting and introduce you. Even if you’re not in your desired market 2L summer, it might be worth it to travel for some of these, depending on what you’re doing that summer, how far away you are, etc. One recruiter was so pleased to hear that I had come from out of town for their event that they offered to reimburse my travel and offered me a callback. This was with no knowledge of my grades. I’ve heard multiple similar stories from people who have done the same. I’m not recommending you fly from NY you CA betting on being reimbursed and getting a callback, but an Amtrak train from NY to Boston or DC is a different story.

Keep in mind any interview you are offered prior to OCI is not just an interview, but also a firm you can take off your bid list, leaving room for more firms. This is one of the reasons that networking doesn’t add opportunities, it multiplies them. We all know that grades are probably the most important predictor of OCI outcomes, but that does not mean you should focus on grades to the exclusion of networking (nor should you do the opposite). Use every tool in your toolbox to ensure yourself the best outcome.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:43 am

I don't know how much my connections with my company got me my current job, but I knew one of the guys who interviewed me during OCI from extracurriculars at law school. It turns out that he was one of the people who went to bat for me when it came time to narrow the list of candidates from 100+ to 5.

When I went back and did OCI from the other side of the table, I interviewed one student who had a connection with the company and vaguely knew one or two of the attorneys. That really wasn't much of a boost for him, given his marginal GPA and his mediocre interview. Not all networking is the same, and I wish I had better guidance than to say that close, genuine relationships are better than superficial, recruiting-focused relationships.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby nixy » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:05 pm

Yeah, I was going to say that if you view networking as a box that you can tick so you can drop names in the interview, it’s not going to help you much - the more you can create a genuine connection, the more it will actually have any effect (though I know that’s easier said than done).

Also I disagree with the premise that networking is pointless without the grades, *unless* (which is possible) you’re talking only about biglaw. There, maybe. But there are lots of employers who are more interested in who you know and what you can do (which goes back to the splitter idea, with which I absolutely agree - you have to be able to offer something else to counterbalance the grades).

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:49 pm

I have worse stats than you and have an offer. Some advice from an older student:

1. You need to get used to hearing no and moving on. That is the heart of networking - on to the next one. Its a numbers game where you will be disappointed most of the time. Yes, its time consuming - no one said it isn't. I have to say, a lot of students (mostly KJD's) can't play the game. This is why they rest on school rank and grades. The cruel reality is that, if you have lower stats, you need to become a good networker. Think of it as an investment in your longterm future. Maybe it sucks now. But maybe it will also prepare you to find clients as you become more senior in your firm.

2. I'd guess you're aiming too high. Stop looking at V50 firms and lower your standards to the 200's. Yes, those higher firms don't care if you're well networked because they have sufficient demand. Networking really starts to help as you move lower into the larger, midsize firm space.

3. Don't give up. Keep plugging away. Learn to be disappointed and persevere. Life sucks. It has ups and downs. But its no excuse to give up.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:56 pm

Networking is quite useful, and it's an important skill to learn. The mistake is seeing networking as a short-term investment and as just an opportunity to name drop a person. It's all about planting seeds for the long term.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby nealric » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:25 pm

There's no point in trying to network into Watchtell without sterling grades, but there are plenty of firms that are willing to overlook grades from someone at a top school if you otherwise are a good fit. Even if you don't get a biglaw SA position, networking could still help you land a post-graduation job.

By the way "networking events" are mostly useless. Try to focus on an intended practice area, and work on trying to setup informational interviews and the like. It's a grind, but well worth it- even if you are the type that can waltz in to OCI and get any job they want.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:41 pm

I completely agree that networking is critical. People who say that its useless because of their bad grades don't know how to network well. It's more than just a name dropping exercise, you can actually learn so much about a practice area which can be very helpful when interviewing and describing why one particular firm's practice group interests me. Besides networking with the firms that I already had screeners with, I networked with associates from firms that I KNEW I'd never bid on. Why? because its much easier to get good unbiased perspective about other firms and practice groups that way and its great practice for the actual interview and learning to ask good smart questions.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby cftvgybhu » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:23 pm

I totally disagree with all the talking about the usefulness of networking alone. Nobody is saying that it is useless. The OP is saying, because of the bad grades, the networking is not useful enough to help him out!
If you are not the one with bad grades and had experience of being asked "do you have any questions for me" in the middle of the interview, you know nothing about what OP is talking about!
Could you pay more attention to the argument before you give advice?

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Wild Card » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:55 pm

I don't know about networking, but I went on a field trip to Washington, DC, that my law school (NYU) organized, and I got a callback with the firm that had received us. That firm typically calls back only those with top-10% GPAs, but they gave me a callback even though my GPA was well below median. Obviously, I didn't get an offer and the partners and associates were deeply hostile to me as soon as they saw my grades--but I had a nice trip to DC, at least.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I totally disagree with all the talking about the usefulness of networking alone. Nobody is saying that it is useless. The OP is saying, because of the bad grades, the networking is not useful enough to help him out!
If you are not the one with bad grades and had experience of being asked "do you have any questions for me" in the middle of the interview, you know nothing about what OP is talking about!
Could you pay more attention to the argument before you give advice?


I can tell you that I have had that experience a million times over. That's why, instead of networking with Cravath, I network with firms in my range.

One thing I've never liked about TLS/T14 is that people really like to define themselves by V100 firms. When they strike out, they act as if all hope is lost. For Christ sake, you can still have a rewarding career. There are other options out there with meaningful, well-paying work.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby nixy » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I totally disagree with all the talking about the usefulness of networking alone. Nobody is saying that it is useless. The OP is saying, because of the bad grades, the networking is not useful enough to help him out!
If you are not the one with bad grades and had experience of being asked "do you have any questions for me" in the middle of the interview, you know nothing about what OP is talking about!
Could you pay more attention to the argument before you give advice?

And people are saying that networking *can* outweigh bad grades, at least with some employers, if done properly in the context of bringing other things to the table (skills/experiences/connections). Sure, some employers will have hard floors and won’t go below them - but even then, making a good impression with someone who works for that employer can help you out in the long run, because that person probably knows people who work elsewhere.

Besides, what else should the OP be doing? Focusing *only* on grades isn’t going to cut it either, for many people at least.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I totally disagree with all the talking about the usefulness of networking alone. Nobody is saying that it is useless. The OP is saying, because of the bad grades, the networking is not useful enough to help him out!
If you are not the one with bad grades and had experience of being asked "do you have any questions for me" in the middle of the interview, you know nothing about what OP is talking about!
Could you pay more attention to the argument before you give advice?


Networking is going to be most useful for those who don't have credentials that leap off the page. Could you listen to the advice before you whine? There has been a lot of advice in this thread.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby earlgreytea » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:38 pm

if you don't see the value of networking for a job and developing relationships, you're going to have a tough time in a CLIENT FACING SERVICE industry.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby sparty99 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:20 pm

I agree mostly that networking is useless if you have bad grades as I travelled all across the country getting that fancy big law job. Attended all the career fairs too. But there is that 5% chance. Thus, you cannot stop networking. Plus, it is better to contact a Partner of Office Managing Partner then going through HR where you will automatically get rejected. Associates are generally useless.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:50 am

I realize that I might be an exception, but while we are sharing anecdotes, here’s mine:

Mediocre grades from t30
Networked/lucked into fedclerk
Networked but struck out at biglaw while clerking (maybe it was Econ maybe it was still those mediocre grades)
Went to solid govt job, albeit not ausa or DOJ honors or anything
Spent almost two full years intensely networking, not including all the time I spent networking while clerking and in school
Landed lockstep v20 in target market.

There were so many rejections and dead ends before I made my big moves, man. You just need to go into it knowing that and accepting it.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:29 am

sparty99 wrote:Associates are generally useless.


Assuming the only value you get out of networking is an entry level job, you're correct. However, networking is just as much about your next job change and the one after that. For example, an associate at one of the firms I SA'd at started his own firm and was bought out by another firm a year or so later. Now I have a partner contact in that other firm.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby nealric » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:56 am

It's worth noting that networking works both ways. Now that I'm in-house, I've actually been a client of someone I reached out to as an associate for networking purposes. It makes good business sense for senior people to be friendly with students and jr. Associates because eventually those folks may become clients.

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Re: networking is pretty useless without good grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:25 pm

networking is worth it / important even with low grades. In fact, I think it's even more important with lower grades. I say this as someone who completely bombed my 1L year and was never able to fully recover from that. I know what you mean though - sometimes (but not always) once you tell people your grades either they lose interest or else they say there is nothing that they can do for you. I got around this first by not putting my gpa on my networking resume, so that I could meet with people first, talk about my experience etc without that initial low gpa bias. For me that was very helpful because even if the conversation eventually turned to grades, by then people had heard more about me, my experiences and could see that I present well / am professional / motivated etc. The other thing I did is really kick up my efforts and talk to even more people. Sure, some people will be limited in what they can do for you, but there is someone out there who knows just the right person to connect you to, event you should attend or position you should apply for. It may be that they cannot get you a job at their firm but that does not mean the experience has to be worthless. In fact it was an associate I met for coffee that ended up helping me get a job in-house, through a client he happened to know was hiring for an entry level role. This job had not even been posted yet when he mentioned it to me, so I was able to submit before it was on every website and was one of the first to be considered. Having someone hand over your resume will be more helpful that trying to fight against the thousands of others with similar (or better) credentials submitting online. Not only that, but I was able to tailor my cover letter with the help of another person I had previously connected with that happened to be in the same industry, and this person helped me prep for my interviews and eventually reached out to her network to help me come up with a competitive salary range (I genuinely had no concept of what I should say). So although not every person I met was able to connect me to a job opportunity, I never saw it as a waste of time or lost cause because there are many ways in which people can be helpful. I would not have gotten my first job without networking and I definitely outperformed my numbers because of networking.

Are you tied to doing big law? Part of the process is also about being realistic. I'm not saying you won't get there, and to be honest I still hope to eventually get biglaw experience myself, but don't close yourself out of other great opportunities even just as a starting point. If you are more open to starting off in other areas people will likely be able to help you more (ie some people where able to tell me government positions that were much higher paying than I initially thought, so I initially closed myself off from gov thinking I could not afford it with my loans; people often made introductions to others who might be able to help etc). The more flexible you are, the more likely people will be able to help. I also think you shouldn't think a job offer will be the immediate direct result of networking. That will come with time but focus on making connections with people and getting any advice they are able to offer.

Don't forget that there are plenty of people like us who were not at the top of their class. You would be surprised at where some people are today compared to where they started. So as I was networking, I often found myself sitting across very important people who had similar stories and were that much more willing to help because they themselves had faced an uphill battle. Reach out to everyone and anyone and don't let the process get you down (although I understand that is easier said than done).

Lastly I completely agree with the person above who said networking is just good business sense. Now that I am actually in a position that I could help influence hiring decisions, I think back to my horrible, embarrassing OCI experiences and wonder why none of those people had the sense to think ahead. OCI was easily the most humiliating period of my law school career and I am shocked at the lack of forethought so many of the interviewers (and recruiting staff) showed during that period. Even if you do not want to hire someone, there is no reason not to treat them with basic respect.

OP I hope you don't lose heart and keep pounding the pavement.



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