Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a PD or DA job?

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Aukshell
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Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a PD or DA job?

Postby Aukshell » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:41 pm

I'm a 1L and all my grades are now posted. I did fairly awful. I don't yet know what the curve is, but I'm clearly well below median. Until now I was not too worried about my grades because I wanted to be a DA or PD in the Bay Area. Should I be worried now? How much does the DA's office and the PD's office care about grades? Can I effectively make up for my terrible grades by doing getting lots of experience?
Last edited by Aukshell on Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

smalltown
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby smalltown » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:06 pm

I'm in the same bullshit boat at a similarly ranked school. I've asked some mentors who were PDs and they said she never heard PDs ever talk about grades. It's just about being a good attorney. Now, while that's comforting, there is nothing to say I won't be equally shitty at being a trial attorney. But for your main question, yes, experience - experience that makes you a good attorney - appears to matter much more. Good times.

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saltoftheearth
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby saltoftheearth » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:21 pm

my immediate response: "no, you're fucked"

awesomepossum
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby awesomepossum » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:24 pm

Aukshell wrote:I'm a 1L and all my grades are now posted. I did fairly awful. I don't yet know what the curve is, but I'm clearly well below median. Until now I was not too worried about my grades because I wanted to be a DA or PD in the Bay Area. Should I be worried now? How much does the DA's office and the PD's office care about grades? Can I effectively make up for my terrible grades by doing getting lots of experience?



The problem is how do you get more experience than those with the better grades?

There are plenty of people who want to work in defenders and DA offices with great grades who will be looking for summer internships at those offices as well. How do you get MORE experience than them when it comes to job hunting time?

Remember that right now the number of openings is extremely limited. Public budgets are in the toilets and most places are on hiring freezes. As far as I know, you really have to be exceptional to get in the door.

arnoldg
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby arnoldg » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:45 pm

I attended Hastings for one year then transferred to a higher ranked school (Top 15). When considering Hastings I was led to believe top 33% would get biglaw. After attending I learned this was rarely the case. Even before the economic downturn top 20-25% was necessary to be taken seriously by law firms with 100+ attorneys. Even those between top 33% and top 50% at Hastings had trouble finding any employment. I advise OP to figure out how to improve his or her grades. It's not over yet. Good luck.

smalltown
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby smalltown » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:50 pm

The best way to get experience, and internships in these offices, is to show you're committed to the cause. There aren't many people who are willing to work in undesirable locations for free or low pay. But you will be if you are committed to justice, wherever it may be. Do trial ad, mock trial, clinics. Be involved with volunteering for low-income legal needs.

It could be different in other states, but I know in my state that good grades and an inability to perform at the podium will get you nowhere in these offices. Trials are often described as who can tell the best story. There are plenty of people who are fantastic legal academics, but can't relate to regular people and can't tell a story worth shit. There are also people who are fantastic legal academics who can relate to regular people and can also tell great stories.

It certainly would be better to be in the latter group. But not everyone is that. Some people aren't in either group. Hopefully that's not us. I'm encouraged I won't be.

The problem with all of this is that a lot of local government agencies are not hiring. But it's going to be people who are better in the court room that get those few jobs, not those that have great grades. If you walk into one of these offices and say you have an A in Con Law but no trial experience, they'll be impressed and point you to the nearest firm.

Be careful of the regurgitated advice on this board. The track for corporate law is different than criminal work.

awesomepossum
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby awesomepossum » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:54 pm

smalltown wrote:The best way to get experience, and internships in these offices, is to show you're committed to the cause. There aren't many people who are willing to work in undesirable locations for free or low pay. But you will be if you are committed to justice, wherever it may be. Do trial ad, mock trial, clinics. Be involved with volunteering for low-income legal needs.

It could be different in other states, but I know in my state that good grades and an inability to perform at the podium will get you nowhere in these offices. Trials are often described as who can tell the best story. There are plenty of people who are fantastic legal academics, but can't relate to regular people and can't tell a story worth shit. There are also people who are fantastic legal academics who can relate to regular people and can also tell great stories.

It certainly would be better to be in the latter group. But not everyone is that. Some people aren't in either group. Hopefully that's not us. I'm encouraged I won't be.

The problem with all of this is that a lot of local government agencies are not hiring. But it's going to be people who are better in the court room that get those few jobs, not those that have great grades. If you walk into one of these offices and say you have an A in Con Law but no trial experience, they'll be impressed and point you to the nearest firm.

Be careful of the regurgitated advice on this board. The track for corporate law is different than criminal work.



Actually I'm taking this from what I heard working at an appellate defenders office as an intern.

Being a great interview and having experience is great, but crappy grades at a mediocre school is not going to help especially now. Right now, all legal employers have their pick of the litter. If they can get a fantastic speaker with great experience AND great grades, they're obviously going to take that.

Especially because of all the free legal help from deferred biglaw associates, the market for DA/public defender work is pretty bad.

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Cara
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby Cara » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:55 pm

All true smalltown but in this economy PD and DA's offices have so few vacancies that they can pick the applicants who have all the above AND good grades.

How anyone who is a 1L in the worst legal recruiting environment in decades can be so blase about their grades is beyond me.

smalltown
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby smalltown » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:13 pm

awesomepossum wrote:Actually I'm taking this from what I heard working at an appellate defenders office as an intern.

Being a great interview and having experience is great, but crappy grades at a mediocre school is not going to help especially now. Right now, all legal employers have their pick of the litter. If they can get a fantastic speaker with great experience AND great grades, they're obviously going to take that.

Especially because of all the free legal help from deferred biglaw associates, the market for DA/public defender work is pretty bad.


Yep. I'm just saying that all is not lost if you're not looking to be a corporate lawyer. And, as you likely know, appellate defenders are usually more intellectual than trial attorneys. So going into to appellate work does take both. And it's definitely a no-brainer that someone with both trial skills and good grades is going to be an attractive candidate. I'm just relaying what I've been told by people who hire here.

Cara wrote:How anyone who is a 1L in the worst legal recruiting environment in decades can be so blase about their grades is beyond me.


Sorry if it appears I'm being blase (which is an unfairly underused word) but the sky has not completely fallen. I have different aspirations than what appears to be the vast majority of people on this board, so I view things differently. I'm just hoping to find a job that lets me either stay in the area where I've been the last 10 years, or get back and keep up the family ranch while helping out the people around the area. Luckily, there ain't many Columbia or Cornell grads clamoring to work there.

If the OP is looking to work in a big city DA or PD office, things could be dicey, maybe. But there's no need to be discouraged. Hustle your ass off to find a job.

Aukshell
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby Aukshell » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:52 pm

I really appreciate everyone that has taken the time to candidly answer my question. I'm going to talk to the career office next week, but they tend to paint a pretty rosy picture.

Cara wrote:All true smalltown but in this economy PD and DA's offices have so few vacancies that they can pick the applicants who have all the above AND good grades.

How anyone who is a 1L in the worst legal recruiting environment in decades can be so blase about their grades is beyond me.


Cara, I'm not sure if your second paragraph was directed at me or at Smalltown, but I am most certainly not blase about my grades. I spent a great deal of time and energy studying for my classes, and I was severely shocked and upset to see them. In fact, I posted because I am very concerned about my job prospects.


Awesomepossum wrote:
Being a great interview and having experience is great, but crappy grades at a mediocre school is not going to help especially now. Right now, all legal employers have their pick of the litter. If they can get a fantastic speaker with great experience AND great grades, they're obviously going to take that.

Especially because of all the free legal help from deferred biglaw associates, the market for DA/public defender work is pretty bad.


Awesomepossum, your post seems to suggest that you have a very bleak view of the current legal market. There are a lot of schools that are a lot worse than Hastings, and there are plenty of students that are below median at those schools. If the market is too saturated for someone with good experience and crappy grades at Hastings to get a job at the DA's office or the PD's office, then what do all those people below median at the other 150 law schools ranked below Hastings going to do? Are the vast majority of them not going to be able to get jobs too, even if they have good experience? My impression was that while many law students have a hard time getting a job that pays well if they aren't at a T14 and their grades are bad, they can still get a job. Do you disagree?

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:20 am

Aukshell wrote:I really appreciate everyone that has taken the time to candidly answer my question. I'm going to talk to the career office next week, but they tend to paint a pretty rosy picture.

Cara wrote:All true smalltown but in this economy PD and DA's offices have so few vacancies that they can pick the applicants who have all the above AND good grades.

How anyone who is a 1L in the worst legal recruiting environment in decades can be so blase about their grades is beyond me.


Cara, I'm not sure if your second paragraph was directed at me or at Smalltown, but I am most certainly not blase about my grades. I spent a great deal of time and energy studying for my classes, and I was severely shocked and upset to see them. In fact, I posted because I am very concerned about my job prospects.


Awesomepossum wrote:
Being a great interview and having experience is great, but crappy grades at a mediocre school is not going to help especially now. Right now, all legal employers have their pick of the litter. If they can get a fantastic speaker with great experience AND great grades, they're obviously going to take that.

Especially because of all the free legal help from deferred biglaw associates, the market for DA/public defender work is pretty bad.


Awesomepossum, your post seems to suggest that you have a very bleak view of the current legal market. There are a lot of schools that are a lot worse than Hastings, and there are plenty of students that are below median at those schools. If the market is too saturated for someone with good experience and crappy grades at Hastings to get a job at the DA's office or the PD's office, then what do all those people below median at the other 150 law schools ranked below Hastings going to do? Are the vast majority of them not going to be able to get jobs too, even if they have good experience? My impression was that while many law students have a hard time getting a job that pays well if they aren't at a T14 and their grades are bad, they can still get a job. Do you disagree?

I don't like to feed into the TLS ohmygodnojobs panic, but your post describes the state of the legal market prior to the recession. There are a lot of people out there right now who can't find any legal work at all, and a damn large number of lawyers who are considering themselves lucky when they can get their hands on a paralegal gig. It isn't pretty.

awesomepossum
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby awesomepossum » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:20 am

Aukshell wrote:
Awesomepossum, your post seems to suggest that you have a very bleak view of the current legal market. There are a lot of schools that are a lot worse than Hastings, and there are plenty of students that are below median at those schools. If the market is too saturated for someone with good experience and crappy grades at Hastings to get a job at the DA's office or the PD's office, then what do all those people below median at the other 150 law schools ranked below Hastings going to do? Are the vast majority of them not going to be able to get jobs too, even if they have good experience? My impression was that while many law students have a hard time getting a job that pays well if they aren't at a T14 and their grades are bad, they can still get a job. Do you disagree?


I agree there are a lot of schools worse than Hastings. I have no idea what people below median are going to do at those schools. I think they're fucked to be honest. A lot of people at top twenty schools below median are thoroughly fucked too.

I think that many/most people below median at schools at the level of Hastings will not get a legal job in this environment.

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thesealocust
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a job?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:05 pm

n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

postitnotes
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a PD or DA job?

Postby postitnotes » Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:07 pm

You can maybe still get PD, but the people I know gunning for DA jobs are top 20% at top 10 schools. Regardless, it's not looking pretty and you may be forced to work outside the legal field. (Not sure how the law blip will help, because I think business people for example only know business school rankings.)

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Grad_Student
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Re: Below Median at Hastings, can I still get a PD or DA job?

Postby Grad_Student » Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:42 pm

Being a DA is less about grades and more about commitment. DA's will hired up and down the grade spectrum so long as you have the commitment.




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