Bad grades because of sickness

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
BoriquaEsquire
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:04 pm

Bad grades because of sickness

Postby BoriquaEsquire » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:34 pm

So I'm slowly getting my 1L second semester grades back and I did appallingly (T10). So far, no D's or F's, but I can feel them coming (I still have two classes that haven't given grades back). First semester was all B's of varying degrees and I'm okay with that.

The thing is, I was extremely sick during finals (and the entire semester, but mostly during finals). I was in the hospital 2 weeks before finals and when I came out of the hospital, my mother had to come every day to care for me while I studied. I was so out of it, I don't even remember taking my Con Law exam (but I did take it because I got a grade back).

My school gave me an extra 3 days to study, but obviously that wasn't enough.

I know that when I'm not sick I'm a pretty decent student and law is definitely where I see my life going as of now. I really, really don't want to quit.

My question is, is there a way to note these extenuating circumstances to employers when I go in for interviews? I don't want to put it on my resume or cover letter because I think that's kind of unprofessional. Should I just wait for them to ask me about it? What if they never ask?

Morgan12Oak
Posts: 451
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:59 am

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby Morgan12Oak » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:20 pm

I would venture to guess you can talk about it in an interview. I wouldn't put it on a cover letter or resume, because as you mentioned I think that'd be a bit unprofessional.

I think your problem would be convincing the firms that in the absence of your sickness, you would have done significantly better. I'd imagine firms tend to discount these stories significantly because they have so many options in terms of who they can recruit. They could take someone with the grades or take someone without the grades but an excuse, albeit a good excuse.

User avatar
danidancer
Posts: 841
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:46 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby danidancer » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:30 pm

Talk to your career services. You'll probably get asked during interviews why your grades dropped, so that would be the time to bring it up.

Midleton
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:15 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby Midleton » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:17 pm

Discussing your health issues during the interview is likely the better option.

That said, if I was an employer I'd be concerned about your overall health and how that may impact job performance. Anybody with a history of severe illness is an inherently weaker candidate than a comparable candidate without health concerns. I would be hesitant to sign a football player with a history of injuries that impacted his performance if another player of comparable ability without health concerns was available for a similar amount. Similarly, I would be hesitant to hire a junior associate who has a history of health issues that were apparently so bad that their performance during finals dropped dramatically.

Basically, I'd also try to find a way to help alleviate any concern a potential employer may have about your overall health.

Giddy-Up
Posts: 103
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:36 am

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby Giddy-Up » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:58 pm

Midleton wrote:Discussing your health issues during the interview is likely the better option.

That said, if I was an employer I'd be concerned about your overall health and how that may impact job performance. Anybody with a history of severe illness is an inherently weaker candidate than a comparable candidate without health concerns. I would be hesitant to sign a football player with a history of injuries that impacted his performance if another player of comparable ability without health concerns was available for a similar amount. Similarly, I would be hesitant to hire a junior associate who has a history of health issues that were apparently so bad that their performance during finals dropped dramatically.

Basically, I'd also try to find a way to help alleviate any concern a potential employer may have about your overall health.


Hopefully those doing the hiring have a better handle on the ADA.

Midleton
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:15 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby Midleton » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:20 pm

It's fairly easy to find a reason - not illness related - for hiring one candidate over another.

BenJ
Posts: 1353
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:58 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby BenJ » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:07 pm

Giddy-Up wrote:
Midleton wrote:Discussing your health issues during the interview is likely the better option.

That said, if I was an employer I'd be concerned about your overall health and how that may impact job performance. Anybody with a history of severe illness is an inherently weaker candidate than a comparable candidate without health concerns. I would be hesitant to sign a football player with a history of injuries that impacted his performance if another player of comparable ability without health concerns was available for a similar amount. Similarly, I would be hesitant to hire a junior associate who has a history of health issues that were apparently so bad that their performance during finals dropped dramatically.

Basically, I'd also try to find a way to help alleviate any concern a potential employer may have about your overall health.


Hopefully those doing the hiring have a better handle on the ADA.


Proving that a decision not to hire was illness-motivated is more or less impossible, especially for a situation like hiring law students where there are plenty of equally qualified candidates that the firm is not hiring. The ADA exists but is pretty much toothless on this subject. The fact is that this occurs, whether it is right or legal or not, and it's something to be aware of when discussing chronic illness at an interview.

BoriquaEsquire
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:04 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby BoriquaEsquire » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:26 pm

Proving that a decision not to hire was illness-motivated is more or less impossible, especially for a situation like hiring law students where there are plenty of equally qualified candidates that the firm is not hiring. The ADA exists but is pretty much toothless on this subject. The fact is that this occurs, whether it is right or legal or not, and it's something to be aware of when discussing chronic illness at an interview.


I agree with this statement. The illness I had actually left me quite disabled and I'm getting a service dog in the fall to help me with "activities of daily living" (I think that's how the ADA puts it). When I told this to my Office of Career Services, they told me NOT to bring the dog to any interviews. Essentially they said that legally, it's none of the interviewer's business whether you have a service dog or not, it's HR's business, and you don't want to give them a reason to discriminate against you. The ADA is a lovely thing, but we can't kid ourselves, there's still discrimination out there. There's discrimination ESPECIALLY in the legal field and ESPECIALLY against people with disabilities.

Given that I have a disability and my grades aren't so good, I know my career already has one foot in the grave. I'm looking into new career fields like government work (I'm working for a state government this summer), non-profit work, or smaller firms in the smaller cities. I'm leaving open what field I want to practice to give me a wider selection of what I can go into.

I'm viciously passionate about law and, despite my grades, I know that's what I want to do. My school could give me all the F's in the world and I'd still push on. I know that's not "logical", but law has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid. There's no way I'm going to let sickness/disability get in my way.

BenJ
Posts: 1353
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:58 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby BenJ » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:40 pm

Disability is probably something that is treated vastly differently firm-to-firm. I know some firms report disability statistics to NALP and some do not. I would look up which firms report disability statistics and target them strongly--they're much more likely to be amenable to hiring someone who is disabled, and to take the illness into account when considering your grades, as they're at least willing to discuss disability with regards to hiring.

I would also expect that government, especially federal government, is much less likely to discriminate and more likely to take your illness into account when considering grades. However, many (most? all?) federal government offices have a hard 3.0 GPA floor under which they cannot hire anyone, so if your GPA is under 3.0 (no matter what your school curves to) you may be stuck looking into state and local government only. (But look into that more; I don't know the details on the federal government hiring floors.)

Same probably goes for public interest positions, PDs, etc.

Definitely interviews are the place to bring it up, if at all.

User avatar
SmittenMitten
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:18 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby SmittenMitten » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:35 pm

I had a similar situation occur. In order to reduce my living expenses, I spent my 1L year living at home, with my dad. Second semester I found out my dad was stealing from me. I had no immediate options so I stayed there, until he got caught stealing from his employer and was fired. He told me we were homeless in the weeks right before finals and so I spent outlining time packing up all my stuff and trying to find a place to crash. It was horrible. I am also struggling with what to do in regards to interviews.

BoriquaEsquire
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:04 pm

Re: Bad grades because of sickness

Postby BoriquaEsquire » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:15 pm

I had a similar situation occur. In order to reduce my living expenses, I spent my 1L year living at home, with my dad. Second semester I found out my dad was stealing from me. I had no immediate options so I stayed there, until he got caught stealing from his employer and was fired. He told me we were homeless in the weeks right before finals and so I spent outlining time packing up all my stuff and trying to find a place to crash. It was horrible. I am also struggling with what to do in regards to interviews.


That really, really sucks. Even though these are two really different situations, if you want to talk about it to anyone, you're welcome to PM me. We can chat and maybe help each other find firms to apply to. Two heads are better than one.




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 8 guests