Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

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Linzer Tort
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Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Linzer Tort » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:04 pm

I had a rough time this semester with legal writing, and will end up with a failing grade unless I can show I suffered from a medical issue that affected my performance. I think I will be able to--I have bipolar disorder, and was in quite a depressive state around the time that my final memo was due.

Provided I can get the grade changed from "U" (unsatisfactory) to MW (med withdrawal), how fucked am I for OCI? I will likely have to explain my situation, which while I admit is better than straight up failing, can't come off in a good way no matter how I spin it.

Has anyone had similar experiences? Will having good grades (TBD) and really good job experience before law school (my counselor described it as "gold" to employers) help me land a big law job, which is my goal?

I've honestly never felt so terrible and am for the first time seriously considering the whole law thing. I know I have a good reason for underperforming, but it still feels indescribably shitty. It's such a huge reality check to be told I can't even get LW right.

Any input, similar stories, or advice would be tremendously appreciated. Cheers.

mushybrain
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby mushybrain » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:26 pm

The risk you run here is making employers think you have some kind of issue that will prevent you from performing on the job in the future. Frankly the only way I see MW being just slightly better than U in this specific situation is if no one asks you about it, because you end up in the same predicament whether they ask you why you got a U or why you got an MW. And you can be quite sure they'll ask you if its a U. They might be shy about asking about the MW for fear of overstepping some boundaries but I doubt any assumptions they make would be in your favor.

How is it possible to only do a medical withdrawal after the fact from only one class, anyway? I think my school makes you withdraw for an entire year if that's your reason and I don't think they allow it at all this late in the game...

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stillwater
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby stillwater » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:31 pm

MW I would think would be better. The poster above poses a very real worry but it seems to be preferable to having to explain why your work was unsatisfactory.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:33 pm

Can you retake the class? If so, would the MW be replaced with a regular grade, or would the MW always be on the transcript?

Mr. Jones
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Mr. Jones » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:50 pm

Unless it's going to be somewhere in the D range just take the grade. Most people do not have perfect law school records. Employers know that because they were there too. I had to explain a bad grade once during an interview and it was not a big deal. Just do as well as you reasonably can in your other classes and keep in mind law school is a three year game. Most people's class ranking will change, those in the top 10% at the end of 1L are not always there at the end and it's not uncommon to find people outside of the top 50% finish in the tip 33%.

Good luck.

Linzer Tort
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Linzer Tort » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:53 pm

Thanks guys.

For the one who mentioned a D range grade, we have a pass/fail system here.

I will be able to retake the class next fall and I believe the MW will be subbed out. My worry is for the time between now and then, when I'll be applying to 1L summer jobs (which is now, actually).

Mr. Jones
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Mr. Jones » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:58 pm

For what it's worth, I didn't find my 1L job to be terribly important in my job search post-grad. If you don't get the 1L job you really want, just get that job part time in during the school year. I found the competition to be A LOT lower when I applied for a federal externship during fall than in summer, and it was more fresh when I interviewed later as a result. Don't kill yourself over this LRW.

On another note, if you are worried about people thinking you can't write in the long run, take more writing classes and do well and when applying for jobs give them a writing sample that's good (from externships etc.). It should be relatively short, 6 pages ish, because no busy employer will want to read your 30 page mock-msj write up. Too long.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:20 pm

Linzer Tort wrote:Thanks guys.

For the one who mentioned a D range grade, we have a pass/fail system here.

I will be able to retake the class next fall and I believe the MW will be subbed out. My worry is for the time between now and then, when I'll be applying to 1L summer jobs (which is now, actually).


I'm a 2L, and when I interviewed for 1L summer jerbs, I was never asked for a transcript. Offered position on the spot on the strength of my work/volunteer experience and Spanish language ability. Many PI places, esp. so-called "non-prestigious" (ugh) ones, don't even ask for grades. It does NOT matter what you do your 1L summer as long as you are working in a legal capacity.

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kalvano
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby kalvano » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:28 pm

Mr. Jones wrote:Unless it's going to be somewhere in the D range just take the grade. Most people do not have perfect law school records. Employers know that because they were there too. I had to explain a bad grade once during an interview and it was not a big deal. Just do as well as you reasonably can in your other classes and keep in mind law school is a three year game. Most people's class ranking will change, those in the top 10% at the end of 1L are not always there at the end and it's not uncommon to find people outside of the top 50% finish in the tip 33%.

Good luck.




That is terrible advice. Law school may be three years, but the first year is 90% or more of the end game. Where you end up at the end is of vastly less importance than where you end up at the end of 1L. If there is any way to not have a bad grade on your record, take it.
Last edited by kalvano on Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:29 pm

kalvano wrote:
Mr. Jones wrote:keep in mind law school is a three year game.



That is terrible advice. Law school may be three years, but the first year is 90% or more of the end game.


depends on your goals. for big firms, which is what OP wants, that is absolutely true.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:31 pm

OP, what school (or, if you're afraid of outing yourself, approx. rank) do you attend, and how much debt?

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kalvano
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby kalvano » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:32 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
kalvano wrote:
Mr. Jones wrote:keep in mind law school is a three year game.



That is terrible advice. Law school may be three years, but the first year is 90% or more of the end game.


depends on your goals. for big firms, which is what OP wants, that is absolutely true.



Not really. Grades always matter to some degree, even if you want PI or small firm work. They matter less, but they still matter. Particularly given the state of the job market.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:33 pm

I feel obligated to point out that if you're looking for biglaw, you'll still have the F on your transcript going through OCI at the beginning of 2L. If all the rest of your grades are spectacular, I suppose that would help, but it's certainly something you'd have to explain. (I wish I had more concrete advice, but I don't - I know someone from my school who withdrew during 1L and started over again the following year, but she wasn't aiming for biglaw, and I don't know how she explained the withdrawal.)

(I do know people with PI jobs who've never been asked for their transcripts, so I agree that there are jobs that can get around the grades thing, but since OP wants biglaw that's all kind of moot at this point.)

Mr. Jones
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Mr. Jones » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:28 am

kalvano wrote:
Mr. Jones wrote:Unless it's going to be somewhere in the D range just take the grade. Most people do not have perfect law school records. Employers know that because they were there too. I had to explain a bad grade once during an interview and it was not a big deal. Just do as well as you reasonably can in your other classes and keep in mind law school is a three year game. Most people's class ranking will change, those in the top 10% at the end of 1L are not always there at the end and it's not uncommon to find people outside of the top 50% finish in the tip 33%.

Good luck.




That is terrible advice. Law school may be three years, but the first year is 90% or more of the end game. Where you end up at the end is of vastly less importance than where you end up at the end of 1L. If there is any way to not have a bad grade on your record, take it.


I always heard that 1L year was 90% of the jobs game a lot before starting law school, I heard it a lot less after my first year, and I don't hear about it much after starting work. Biglaw, however, does fit into this mold so I should largely recant my advice. I actually didn't notice your goal was biglaw. If that's the case and you 2L internship is really all that matters, consider trying for the MW. Be aware that this could be difficult to explain during the interview. My advice is to not take a fail (since there is no in between I guess between P/F) and consider options other than biglaw. Midlaw is more fun anyway.

Linzer Tort
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Linzer Tort » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:33 am

Appreciate all of the feedback. Even in spite of some of these not great realities some of you are posing, it all still sounds reasonable and not something I should kill myself over.

Blue Lotus, I'm at a top 10. Lots of debt, but as ridiculous/irrational as it sounds, I don't care much about the money, I am absolutely sure this is what I want to do and what I love, so dropping out isn't an option.

NYstate
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby NYstate » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:40 am

Hmm. I am stumped by this one. You really have no choice but to take the MW and retake the class for a pass. There is no way you should disclose a disability like bipolar disorder in an interview and I don't know if firms can ask about it.

I.would just say that you had to withdraw for medical reasons but you are retaking the class. I honestly don't know how much more the firm would press that in an interview. If pressed I would say I was being treated for a condition that is no longer an issue.

One warning : big law can drive even stable people into mental health issues. Be sure this is what you want and that you will be able to handle the pressure, stress and hours of the job. You might be better off and happier in a less demanding job.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:42 am

Linzer Tort wrote:Appreciate all of the feedback. Even in spite of some of these not great realities some of you are posing, it all still sounds reasonable and not something I should kill myself over.

Blue Lotus, I'm at a top 10. Lots of debt, but as ridiculous/irrational as it sounds, I don't care much about the money, I am absolutely sure this is what I want to do and what I love, so dropping out isn't an option.


I wouldn't drop given the school rank and the fact that you enjoy law/want to be an attorney.

Do be gentle with yourself and get whatever emotional troubles affecting your performance straightened out...so long as you disclose and seek help, this should not be an issue for C&F.

Did you get any grades for your substantive classes yet? If so, how were they?

Mr. Jones
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Mr. Jones » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:49 am

Just say you got Mono

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BlueLotus
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:51 am

Mr. Jones wrote:Just say you got Mono


don't lie to employers. just say something vague like "health reasons" and they probably wouldn't (and shouldn't) inquire further.

09042014
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby 09042014 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:52 am

Take the MW, and just be sort of vague about what type of illness you had that caused you to have to withdraw.

Or lie. Nobody should really be asking about what sort of illness it was.

NYstate
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby NYstate » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:57 am

Desert Fox wrote:Take the MW, and just be sort of vague about what type of illness you had that caused you to have to withdraw.

Or lie. Nobody should really be asking about what sort of illness it was.

Agree with this. This is what I was getting to. I don't know if you will be questioned about it. The interviewer will know it is legit because the school allowed it. Just to repeat myself- don't disclose mental health issues. You might have to report it on C & F but you don't have to disclose to a firm.

I've never asked anyone about a health issue. I'm not even sure it would be allowed.

Cellar-door
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Cellar-door » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:06 am

Employers aren't going to ask what it was if they see medical withdrawal. The most they can ask is if you think you can perform the job ad if you would need accommodations. What they think may be a different story, but no reputable employer should be asking you for details about your medical history.

Linzer Tort
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Linzer Tort » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:12 am

NYstate wrote:Hmm. I am stumped by this one. You really have no choice but to take the MW and retake the class for a pass. There is no way you should disclose a disability like bipolar disorder in an interview and I don't know if firms can ask about it.

I.would just say that you had to withdraw for medical reasons but you are retaking the class. I honestly don't know how much more the firm would press that in an interview. If pressed I would say I was being treated for a condition that is no longer an issue.

One warning : big law can drive even stable people into mental health issues. Be sure this is what you want and that you will be able to handle the pressure, stress and hours of the job. You might be better off and happier in a less demanding job.


Yeah, unfortunately it is still the case that admitting mental health issues is a no no. It's sad, really. They're really no different than physical health issues, and even if they are, can be treated just as effectively. But I digress. Thanks for your advice, your warning is something I have certainly thought about.

Linzer Tort
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Linzer Tort » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:14 am

BlueLotus wrote:
Linzer Tort wrote:Appreciate all of the feedback. Even in spite of some of these not great realities some of you are posing, it all still sounds reasonable and not something I should kill myself over.

Blue Lotus, I'm at a top 10. Lots of debt, but as ridiculous/irrational as it sounds, I don't care much about the money, I am absolutely sure this is what I want to do and what I love, so dropping out isn't an option.


I wouldn't drop given the school rank and the fact that you enjoy law/want to be an attorney.

Do be gentle with yourself and get whatever emotional troubles affecting your performance straightened out...so long as you disclose and seek help, this should not be an issue for C&F.

Did you get any grades for your substantive classes yet? If so, how were they?


No grades yet. I know I can't bank on anything stellar, but I did feel a whole lot better coming out of my exams than I did after turning in my memo, which I'm using to appease myself.

Thanks for your input, everyone. You've made me feel a bit better.

Lizard
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Re: Medical Withdrawal from Legal Writing--screwed?

Postby Lizard » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:40 am

I just want to tell you how much I can empathize about legal writing being the worst. I think the MW is the way to go and hopefully you will have a much easier time next time around. Also maybe the M part will actually help the W from seeming like a blemish on your transcript?

Crazy how at some schools legal writing can easily be the most stressful, time consuming course even when it is offered pass/fail. I can't believe they gave you an F and you actually turned it in. There is so much hype about pass/fail meaning pass--how awful to discover that is not the case. Glad you don't have to take the F.

Hold onto the fact that this career path is what you love and care about. Your passion will distinguish you from so many ppl in this field. Best of luck!




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