Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
wwwcol
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby wwwcol » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:31 pm

so we know the median is 3ish Hs, but do we know anything else about the distribution? e.g 25/75 quartiles?

tomwatts
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby tomwatts » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:06 pm

Go back to page 124 to find just about everything publicly known about grades.

Average is a decimal just under 2 Hs per semester. Median is unknown but unlikely to be terribly different from the average.

EDIT: Just to explain the math... if 37% of students get Hs, then the average number of Hs in 1L year (out of 10 classes) has to be 3.7. That comes out to 1.85 Hs per semester. Because DSs count higher and LPs count lower, the number won't be exactly 1.85, but it'll be close.

If cum laude (60th percentile) actually is at 3.5 (as rumored), then the 60th percentile is at half Hs and half Ps, or 2.5 Hs per semester in 1L year. That fits reasonably well with the median being around 2 Hs per semester, give or take. (Although, really? It takes an average of more than half an H per semester to jump past 10% of the student body? That's a larger spread than I would've expected. The distribution might not be a normal distribution.)

In conclusion, math is fun.
Last edited by tomwatts on Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:23 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:06 am

I'd like to make a public service announcement to the 1Ls reading this:

Don't post your grades as your status on Facebook. It's incredibly gauche and many of your classmates will think you're a tool.

Also:

Mista Bojangles wrote:For Latin honors purposes at graduation, yes a 4-credit black letter is twice the weight of 2-credit LRW. For EIP purposes, the consensus (in whatever way it was formed) seems to be that employers just count your Hs, without doing any further math



A good rule of thumb when dealing with lawyers:
Would doing it way X require the lawyer to do basic math? They probably didn't do it that way.

permapress
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby permapress » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:04 am

can we have more anecdotal stories of ppl making second semester comebacks? because oh dear.

despina
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby despina » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:22 am

permapress wrote:can we have more anecdotal stories of ppl making second semester comebacks? because oh dear.


My grades were average first semester (which I was 100% thrilled about). Somehow I totally kicked ass second semester. I'm not sure exactly how this happened besides that I relaxed somewhat and was much less intent second semester on understanding every element every case (or preparing perfectly for every class). I think this helped me see the "bigger picture" in my classes instead of getting bogged down in details, so I was able to write more coherent exams with more original ideas. But that's just a guess... grades are still a great mystery to me.

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TripTrip
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby TripTrip » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:41 am

despina wrote:
permapress wrote:can we have more anecdotal stories of ppl making second semester comebacks? because oh dear.


My grades were average first semester (which I was 100% thrilled about). Somehow I totally kicked ass second semester. I'm not sure exactly how this happened besides that I relaxed somewhat and was much less intent second semester on understanding every element every case (or preparing perfectly for every class). I think this helped me see the "bigger picture" in my classes instead of getting bogged down in details, so I was able to write more coherent exams with more original ideas. But that's just a guess... grades are still a great mystery to me.

Bam. I wanted to hear this.

delusional
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby delusional » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:08 am

permapress wrote:can we have more anecdotal stories of ppl making second semester comebacks? because oh dear.
Checking in. Dramatic improvement second semester for me. Spoke to my professors about what went well and what went poorly. Stayed on top of outlining all semester. Took more practice exams. Compared answers to study group and to available sample answers. Happy to go into greater detail via PM.

But regardless of how you did, you should probably bear in mind that if grades are the only factor, the difference between 5-6 H and 1-2 H is pretty insignificant in your long term outcome. You'll end up, for example, doing corporate finance at a firm that is elite in corporate finance, instead of at a firm that is elite at corporate finance and everything else.

AllTheLawz
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby AllTheLawz » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:52 am

despina wrote:
permapress wrote:can we have more anecdotal stories of ppl making second semester comebacks? because oh dear.


My grades were average first semester (which I was 100% thrilled about). Somehow I totally kicked ass second semester. I'm not sure exactly how this happened besides that I relaxed somewhat and was much less intent second semester on understanding every element every case (or preparing perfectly for every class). I think this helped me see the "bigger picture" in my classes instead of getting bogged down in details, so I was able to write more coherent exams with more original ideas. But that's just a guess... grades are still a great mystery to me.


Truth is that if you got 1H or worse you are pretty much out of the running for most of the firms that are truly selective at HLS barring miraculous grades in the spring. Fortunately, thats only ~10 or so firms (and no, I don't mean V10). At this point you are better off making sure you get involved in things you truly love, build relationships with classmates, generally develop yourself as a person and enjoy the student experience. All of these will probably make you a better interviewer and will get farther during EIP than having 4Hs instead of 1 or 2Hs.

delusional
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby delusional » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:48 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:
despina wrote:
permapress wrote:can we have more anecdotal stories of ppl making second semester comebacks? because oh dear.


My grades were average first semester (which I was 100% thrilled about). Somehow I totally kicked ass second semester. I'm not sure exactly how this happened besides that I relaxed somewhat and was much less intent second semester on understanding every element every case (or preparing perfectly for every class). I think this helped me see the "bigger picture" in my classes instead of getting bogged down in details, so I was able to write more coherent exams with more original ideas. But that's just a guess... grades are still a great mystery to me.


Truth is that if you got 1H or worse you are pretty much out of the running for most of the firms that are truly selective at HLS barring miraculous grades in the spring. Fortunately, thats only ~10 or so firms (and no, I don't mean V10). At this point you are better off making sure you get involved in things you truly love, build relationships with classmates, generally develop yourself as a person and enjoy the student experience. All of these will probably make you a better interviewer and will get farther during EIP than having 4Hs instead of 1 or 2Hs.
You should probably identify the firms, just to get a sense of what you are not out of the running for.

Out of the running for: Wachtell, SullCrom, Cravath (75%), Boies, Irell, Munger, Susman, W&C, Wilmer Boston/DC. Probably the DC offices of a few others.

Not out of the running for: Simpson, Davis Polk, Weil, Skadden, Gibson, Latham, Covington, Debevoise, Cleary and on and on. I have friends who literally had bottom third grades who ended up at some of these firms, and median-ish people at all of them. While it's true that each individual with bad grades whom I know had a particular story about getting the job, it's also true that you only need one of them, not all of them.

ETA: Apparently I was outvoted on Wilmer Boston
Last edited by delusional on Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

michlaw
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby michlaw » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:55 pm

The median in each and every black letter 1 L class taught is a P...line up 100 grades (just to keep the percentages in order... it works the same with 550 grades) and the first 37 are H's the next 55 are P's and the last 8 are LP's (setting aside the 2-3 H*). The middle number or median will always be a P (which is a letter but it works the same). The obvious variable is who gets the H's. In a totally random world they would be evenly distributed and everyone would get 3.7 of them out of ten. Hence the suggestion that 3.7 is the median. I would offer that that is not how it works. For example there are 140 1L's who enter with LSAT's above 176 and GPA's above 3.97 and it is likely that they get a larger percentage of the H's not only in the 1L first semester, but in all subsequent semesters. It is certainly the case that the dispersion of entering stats is fairly narrow and prior results do not guarantee future performance. Every entering class is full of people who are accustomed to getting top grades so there is going to be considerable rotation within the H group. The variables that determine who gets the H's would change with each particular group of 1L's. The percentages are fixed, but how they are distributed is not a constant. The likely median is 2 H's for the first year. The ok letter they send out is to counter the notion that your fate is determined by the recently received first semester of grades. The evidence they offer is antidotal, and 10 examples is hardly a trend, but hope springs eternal. Throw in the inevitable group of those with 6 H's who can't get out of the rain and the playing field levels. Willing of course to be proven wrong.

kcam1991
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby kcam1991 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:50 pm

Anyone take Legal thought now with Unger? Trying to figure out how I should approach his class.

AllTheLawz
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby AllTheLawz » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:03 pm

delusional wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:
despina wrote:
permapress wrote:can we have more anecdotal stories of ppl making second semester comebacks? because oh dear.


My grades were average first semester (which I was 100% thrilled about). Somehow I totally kicked ass second semester. I'm not sure exactly how this happened besides that I relaxed somewhat and was much less intent second semester on understanding every element every case (or preparing perfectly for every class). I think this helped me see the "bigger picture" in my classes instead of getting bogged down in details, so I was able to write more coherent exams with more original ideas. But that's just a guess... grades are still a great mystery to me.


Truth is that if you got 1H or worse you are pretty much out of the running for most of the firms that are truly selective at HLS barring miraculous grades in the spring. Fortunately, thats only ~10 or so firms (and no, I don't mean V10). At this point you are better off making sure you get involved in things you truly love, build relationships with classmates, generally develop yourself as a person and enjoy the student experience. All of these will probably make you a better interviewer and will get farther during EIP than having 4Hs instead of 1 or 2Hs.
You should probably identify the firms, just to get a sense of what you are not out of the running for.

Out of the running for: Wachtell, SullCrom, Cravath (75%), Boies, Irell, Munger, Susman, W&C, Wilmer Boston/DC. Probably the DC offices of a few others.

Not out of the running for: Simpson, Davis Polk, Weil, Skadden, Gibson, Latham, Covington, Debevoise, Cleary and on and on. I have friends who literally had bottom third grades who ended up at some of these firms, and median-ish people at all of them. While it's true that each individual with bad grades whom I know had a particular story about getting the job, it's also true that you only need one of them, not all of them.


Good idea. This looks about right except definitely not out of the running for Wilmer Boston (or Ropes either for that matter). Speaking based on friends/personal experience. Adding to this list, out at Covington DC and probably Jenner DC.

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acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:08 pm

Wilmer Boston is not out of the running.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Doorkeeper » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:54 pm

Cravath and SullCrom aren't out if you have 1H and have a 4H spring semester.

PMan99
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby PMan99 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:00 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:
Good idea. This looks about right except definitely not out of the running for Wilmer Boston (or Ropes either for that matter). Speaking based on friends/personal experience. Adding to this list, out at Covington DC and probably Jenner DC.


From what people have told me the bigger issue for a lot of people isn't actually that certain firms are out - everyone knows W&C isn't happening with 1H - but it becomes significantly harder to break into a market you have no ties to. NY biglaw is still there for people who want it, but if someone wanted SF with no ties? I dunno about that.

tomwatts
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby tomwatts » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:04 pm

michlaw wrote:The percentages are fixed, but how they are distributed is not a constant. The likely median is 2 H's for the first year.

I have wondered about this, as a statistical matter. The longer tail of possible grades above the average than below (that is, 10 Hs is farther above 3.7 Hs than 0 Hs is below it) suggests that it's likely that the average is higher than the median, especially if Hs and Ps cluster (so a person who gets an H in one class is more likely to get an H in another class — presumably the actual distribution fits this description but is much more complicated). I'm imagining a distribution that's skewed right, but it might be sort of bimodal, too, or at least have a fat tail.

I also wondered about another effect. The original distribution four years ago had significantly more LPs than DSs, and so there was even more skew. With 8% LPs and 2 DSs (which is 2.5%), you get an average equivalent to 3.15 Hs on the year. The current distribution has more DSs and fewer LPs than the original did, but it's not clear — because they're discretionary — whether, on average, there are now equal numbers of DSs and LPs, or whether one is greater than the other. It seems possible that, at least in some classes, there's some small additional skew remaining because of more LPs than DSs. I suspect the effect is small, though.

Generally, the overall skew would have to be rather dramatic for the median to be 2 with a mean of 3.7. The effect of the fat right tail could conceivably be large enough. Still, given that 5 Hs is on pace for cum laude — 60th percentile — it seems unlikely that it takes all of 3 Hs to hop past 10% of students. (It would mean that half of students get 2 Hs or fewer, and 40% of students get 5 Hs or better. That's far more bimodal than I'd expect — but could be the effect of DSs counting like two Hs.) I'd expect more like 1-2 Hs to move past 10% of students, which fits better with a median of 3. But frankly I'm not sure that we have enough information to tell.

(I feel the urge to reiterate that I just like numbers. I run all kinds of regressions on my Econ students' grades after every semester, mostly out of curiosity.)

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BelugaWhale
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby BelugaWhale » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:11 pm

Does HLS have any advisers than can help me choosing classes/and or help me with my degree progress?

Edit: is this the role of the BSA?

tomwatts
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby tomwatts » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:49 pm

BelugaWhale wrote:Does HLS have any advisers than can help me choosing classes/and or help me with my degree progress?

Edit: is this the role of the BSA?

Partly BSA, partly profs (especially your section leader), partly other things (Academic Advising at Harvard Law School).

despina
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby despina » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:39 pm

tomwatts wrote:
BelugaWhale wrote:Does HLS have any advisers than can help me choosing classes/and or help me with my degree progress?

Edit: is this the role of the BSA?

Partly BSA, partly profs (especially your section leader), partly other things (Academic Advising at Harvard Law School).


OCS and/or OPIA can also help. Though it's not their primary function, talk to somebody who specializes in the type of career you're interested in. They have a pretty good idea of what types of courses help to prepare for certain careers, and they also tend to have a more long-term sense of what classes / profs students find valuable.

o0o0o0o
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby o0o0o0o » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:00 am

I understand that a DS and a P together count as two Hs for GPA/latin honor purposes, while the consensus here is that firms at EIP tend to just count the H's rather than calculate GPA.

But does anyone know for Article III clerkship purposes how a DS and a P compares to two H's? (Assuming judges in competitive districts who probably receive lots of applications from HLS students and so who probably have some basic familiarity with the grading system).

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acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:28 am

o0o0o0o wrote:I understand that a DS and a P together count as two Hs for GPA/latin honor purposes, while the consensus here is that firms at EIP tend to just count the H's rather than calculate GPA.

But does anyone know for Article III clerkship purposes how a DS and a P compares to two H's? (Assuming judges in competitive districts who probably receive lots of applications from HLS students and so who probably have some basic familiarity with the grading system).


Will vary by judge. Judges often let someone else do the screening for them (they receive a LOT of applications; they don't have time to read all of them) so who knows what some random clerk or secretary thinks of the HLS transcript grading system. If the judge bothers to mention some cutoff to him/her, it's going to vary individually. Judges aren't all that uniform and the clerkship system is messy and disorganized.

Frozen98
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Frozen98 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:38 am

deleted
Last edited by Frozen98 on Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TripTrip
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby TripTrip » Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:14 am

Frozen98 wrote:and hence more important to display your interview skills? Or has this always been the case? I'm thinking that if interview skills are more important from HLS, then K-JDers who aren't naturals are at somewhat of a disadvantage because they won't have had as much exp interviewing and such.

This is basically the reason HLS switched to accepting a limited number of KJDs and started interviewing prospectives via Skype prior to extending admission.

Mista Bojangles
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Mista Bojangles » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:15 am

OK I'm a wee bit confused at people constantly referring to interviewing as a discrete skill. Honestly, "interviewing" (at least for EIP purposes) overlaps enormously - and very close to entirely - with just being socially able, reading social cues well, and being able to have an engaged and entertaining conversation.

Before EIP I'd never done a formal interview in my life, and hadn't even done a BS "mock interview" with OCS - then I absolutely killed EIP with a ton of callbacks, and 7 offers out of the 7 callbacks I accepted (brag blah blah, I don't feel the need for false modesty on an anonymous internet forum).

Guide to interviewing:
Three absolutely essential cardinals. Honestly the rest will just about fall into place if you at least execute these.
- Smile. Even if you hate smiling and prefer neuroticism and pain.
- Sustained eye contact
- Strong initial handshake

General tips:
- Be animated. Be lively and passionate about whatever you're talking about, whether it's an interest on your resume, or how much you loved the chocolate-covered pretzels at the firm's hospitality suite.
- Joke. Make at least one mildly self-deprecating joke to be sure that you don't come off too overconfident, if that otherwise might have been the case
- Bro out a little. If the interviewer begins to bro out back with you (which will happen a large % of the time), then proceed to bro out a lot.
- Absolutely embrace random tangents that have you talking about things completely unrelated to the firm or the law. If 3 minutes in you find the two of you talking about Spotify, or acupuncture, or your shared rock-climbing interest, run with it. Do not steer things back to the firm. If the interviewer seems entertained, you are golden.

DON'T (only one really big one I can think of):
- Approach the interview like it's an exam to be studied for. Do NOT be one of those poor souls crammed in the student lounge doing last-minute research on every aspect of the firm they're about to interview with. Spouting canned facts that you researched is a great way to come off as cold and robotic and boring. Instead, relax and eat a bagel and schmooze with your less neurotic classmates, to warm up for the more important schmoozing you're about to do. And then walk in and kill it.

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Mr. Elshal
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Mr. Elshal » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:18 am

TripTrip wrote:
Frozen98 wrote:and hence more important to display your interview skills? Or has this always been the case? I'm thinking that if interview skills are more important from HLS, then K-JDers who aren't naturals are at somewhat of a disadvantage because they won't have had as much exp interviewing and such.

This is basically the reason HLS switched to accepting a limited number of KJDs and started interviewing prospectives via Skype prior to extending admission.


Many of the K-JDs I've met either have some experience with interview or are simply socially adept enough that I think they would do just fine (although, to be fair, I have not seen how anybody performs in an interview). I also have seen a fair amount of people who did are not K-JD who have never had an interview, or have only had one or two. Finally, the interviews here are insanely easy to get the hang of. The overwhelming majority of students accepted under the current admissions program (application+interview) can figure it out.

So, takeaways: (1) K-JDs can have a lot of interviewing experience, (2) students who have worked for a while might never have had an interview, (3) the interviews are so easy that anybody here could figure them out.




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