Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

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ErinBurr
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Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby ErinBurr » Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:54 pm

I go to a T14, and really want to end up in DC, which I keep hearing is more competitive than other markets. First semester I feel like I underperformed, but I did better second semester. Will my first semester grades bar me from being able to get a good DC biglaw job? (I don't really care about vault rankings etc, just want to make market $). I'm trying to decide how safely I should bid.
1st semester: A-, B+, B
2nd Semester: A, A-, A-, B+

Thanks in advance for any advice!

grades??
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby grades?? » Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:57 pm

Whats your gpa, rank, and what t14 school do you go to? That will make a difference here.

ErinBurr
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby ErinBurr » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:00 pm

grades?? wrote:Whats your gpa, rank, and what t14 school do you go to? That will make a difference here.


no gpa/rank at my school, it's in CCMVP range

grades??
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby grades?? » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:13 pm

ErinBurr wrote:
grades?? wrote:Whats your gpa, rank, and what t14 school do you go to? That will make a difference here.


no gpa/rank at my school, it's in CCMVP range


You have some idea where you stand I'm sure. Median- DC will be hard. Gotta hustle and work your ass off. Below median? Focus on other locations, but you can still try to hustle and network, just realize its unlikely.

Also there is a real difference between wherever you stand at Columbia versus Berkeley or Michigan for this exercise
Last edited by grades?? on Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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UVA2B
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby UVA2B » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:14 pm

ErinBurr wrote:
grades?? wrote:Whats your gpa, rank, and what t14 school do you go to? That will make a difference here.


no gpa/rank at my school, it's in CCMVP range


You can get D.C. Biglaw.

sanzgo
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby sanzgo » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:29 pm

you can get DC biglaw, just be smart about bidding. obviously don't waste bids on w&c, wilmerhale, etc.

and definitely don't go ham on dc only. add some nyc.

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TheSpanishMain
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby TheSpanishMain » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:40 pm

UVA2B wrote:
ErinBurr wrote:
grades?? wrote:Whats your gpa, rank, and what t14 school do you go to? That will make a difference here.


no gpa/rank at my school, it's in CCMVP range


You can get D.C. Biglaw.


Yeah, people really overstate how hard DC BigLaw is imo.

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RSN
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby RSN » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:48 am

Congrats on your solid upward grade trend. Think you'll be fine, especially if you have a convincing answer to why DC. Are you working there this summer?

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RCSOB657
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby RCSOB657 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:01 am

Totally unrelated, how did you only have 7 grades your entire first year?

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Mrocky2
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby Mrocky2 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:45 am

RCSOB657 wrote:Totally unrelated, how did you only have 7 grades your entire first year?


Pass fail classes. I know at Columbia we only have 7 grades first year because we have 3 grades that are P/F (Legal Methods and a year of Legal Writing)

arklaw13
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby arklaw13 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:52 am

Just based off a back of the hand estimate of your gpa, you would probably be on the low end of what we'd look at where I work. You'd probably have to have something seriously interesting on your resume for us to really consider you.

ErinBurr
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby ErinBurr » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:41 pm

Thanks everyone! Starting to feel a little more confident about the possibility of working in my favorite city. I'm not working there this summer, unfortunately. And ties are weak (just have an uncle and 10ish friends in DC) but I'm trying to find some way to play it up.

As mentioned above, my school does have pass/fail for some required classes so only 7 total real grades.

I've heard W&C is impossible to get into unless you have some unicorn factor. Are there are other firms that are ridiculously hard to get a job at, or does difficulty of getting hired pretty much align with vault ranking? (My career office is not helpful with this question)

Thanks again!

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Wild Card
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby Wild Card » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:55 pm

My grades were A-, A-, B, B, B, B, and I got callbacks at top DC firms. They care about ties and interest alignment.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby arklaw13 » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:08 pm

ErinBurr wrote:Thanks everyone! Starting to feel a little more confident about the possibility of working in my favorite city. I'm not working there this summer, unfortunately. And ties are weak (just have an uncle and 10ish friends in DC) but I'm trying to find some way to play it up.

As mentioned above, my school does have pass/fail for some required classes so only 7 total real grades.

I've heard W&C is impossible to get into unless you have some unicorn factor. Are there are other firms that are ridiculously hard to get a job at, or does difficulty of getting hired pretty much align with vault ranking? (My career office is not helpful with this question)

Thanks again!


Ties don't matter for D.C. Geographic ones, anyway

Yeah, you will not get a callback at Williams & Connolly with your grades. There are other super grade selective firms, and it doesn't necessity correlate with vault ranking. Wilmer, for example, is one of the most grade selective non-boutique firms in D.C but isn't even a V20.

Firms like Covington, Arnold & Porter, Latham, Kirkland, Gibson, Sidley, are also going to be a big stretch for you. That said, I'd focus on the firms with the largest class sizes that aren't obviously out of reach based on what your CSO tells you.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby RSN » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:58 pm

arklaw13 wrote:
ErinBurr wrote:Thanks everyone! Starting to feel a little more confident about the possibility of working in my favorite city. I'm not working there this summer, unfortunately. And ties are weak (just have an uncle and 10ish friends in DC) but I'm trying to find some way to play it up.

As mentioned above, my school does have pass/fail for some required classes so only 7 total real grades.

I've heard W&C is impossible to get into unless you have some unicorn factor. Are there are other firms that are ridiculously hard to get a job at, or does difficulty of getting hired pretty much align with vault ranking? (My career office is not helpful with this question)

Thanks again!


Ties don't matter for D.C. Geographic ones, anyway

Yeah, you will not get a callback at Williams & Connolly with your grades. There are other super grade selective firms, and it doesn't necessity correlate with vault ranking. Wilmer, for example, is one of the most grade selective non-boutique firms in D.C but isn't even a V20.

Firms like Covington, Arnold & Porter, Latham, Kirkland, Gibson, Sidley, are also going to be a big stretch for you. That said, I'd focus on the firms with the largest class sizes that aren't obviously out of reach based on what your CSO tells you.


Ties absolutely matter in D.C., at least at some firms, even if yours isn't one of them. Also, the firms you named are the ones with the largest class sizes. OP will probably want to target places that skew a little smaller but aren't as grade-selective -- Steptoe, Willkie Farr, Crowell & Moring, White & Case, Cleary come to mind.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby arklaw13 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:23 pm

RSN wrote:
Ties absolutely matter in D.C., at least at some firms, even if yours isn't one of them. Also, the firms you named are the ones with the largest class sizes. OP will probably want to target places that skew a little smaller but aren't as grade-selective -- Steptoe, Willkie Farr, Crowell & Moring, White & Case, Cleary come to mind.


Maybe ties matter for firms that are more Mid-Atlantic-based, I don't know. But as far as the D.C. office of national firms, I haven't seen any evidence that a lack of ties matters. Maybe being from the DMV area can be a boost in some regard at certain firms, but my experience is that it's on par with NYC in terms of how much ties matter. Which is next to nothing.

Agree that OP should target firms like that if possible as well. But with a ~3.5 from Columbia or Penn, which is where I'm assuming OP is at based off the information above, I tend to think it's more likely that OP gets an offer from one of the firms with the biggest class sizes, even if those firms are more grade-selective generally, than from a firm like Willkie that hires less than 10 SAs per year. Plus, a lot of the smaller firms tend to rely on one or two niche practice areas, at least on the regulatory side. If OP pitches him/herself as being gung-ho on litigation, that would mitigate that issue, I suppose.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby iamgeorgebush » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:46 pm

arklaw13 wrote:
RSN wrote:
Ties absolutely matter in D.C., at least at some firms, even if yours isn't one of them. Also, the firms you named are the ones with the largest class sizes. OP will probably want to target places that skew a little smaller but aren't as grade-selective -- Steptoe, Willkie Farr, Crowell & Moring, White & Case, Cleary come to mind.


Maybe ties matter for firms that are more Mid-Atlantic-based, I don't know. But as far as the D.C. office of national firms, I haven't seen any evidence that a lack of ties matters. Maybe being from the DMV area can be a boost in some regard at certain firms, but my experience is that it's on par with NYC in terms of how much ties matter. Which is next to nothing.

Interesting. I'm headed to NYC in the fall and bid only NYC for OCI, so I can't speak from personal experience. But based on conversations with DC-bound folks at CLS, my sense is that ties DO matter a lot for DC. Surely not on par with the midwest, but from what my DC-bound friends have told me, interviewers will really question "why DC?" in a way that they won't ask "why NYC?," and ties are a sure way to answer that question. (There are other ways to answer the question, of course, such as an interest in a niche practice that only DC has or a significant other that lives in DC. But you've gotta have some valid reason; it's not a "default" like NYC.)

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby arklaw13 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:40 pm

iamgeorgebush wrote:
arklaw13 wrote:
RSN wrote:
Ties absolutely matter in D.C., at least at some firms, even if yours isn't one of them. Also, the firms you named are the ones with the largest class sizes. OP will probably want to target places that skew a little smaller but aren't as grade-selective -- Steptoe, Willkie Farr, Crowell & Moring, White & Case, Cleary come to mind.


Maybe ties matter for firms that are more Mid-Atlantic-based, I don't know. But as far as the D.C. office of national firms, I haven't seen any evidence that a lack of ties matters. Maybe being from the DMV area can be a boost in some regard at certain firms, but my experience is that it's on par with NYC in terms of how much ties matter. Which is next to nothing.

Interesting. I'm headed to NYC in the fall and bid only NYC for OCI, so I can't speak from personal experience. But based on conversations with DC-bound folks at CLS, my sense is that ties DO matter a lot for DC. Surely not on par with the midwest, but from what my DC-bound friends have told me, interviewers will really question "why DC?" in a way that they won't ask "why NYC?," and ties are a sure way to answer that question. (There are other ways to answer the question, of course, such as an interest in a niche practice that only DC has or a significant other that lives in DC. But you've gotta have some valid reason; it's not a "default" like NYC.)


I agree with your assessment of the why D.C. being asked more. But they aren't necessarily getting at ties. If you are interviewing with a firm in Birmingham, and they ask that question, they are expecting you to tell them what high school you went to when you grew up there. For DC, literally any reason other than "well my grades are good and it's prestigious" will suffice.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby jaekeem » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:09 pm

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Last edited by jaekeem on Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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barkschool
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby barkschool » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:20 pm

jaekeem wrote:I also grew up near DC/strong family ties to the region, but I'm aware that doesn't really matter as long as I have a fair justification beyond 'prestige, duh'.


this kind of matters to people

arklaw13
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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby arklaw13 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:29 pm

barkschool wrote:
jaekeem wrote:I also grew up near DC/strong family ties to the region, but I'm aware that doesn't really matter as long as I have a fair justification beyond 'prestige, duh'.


this kind of matters to people


Yeah I don't mean to say that being from DMV won't help you at all. It's just not something that's expected.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby arklaw13 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:35 pm

jaekeem wrote:Similar question to OP, but with a 3.58 on a 3.3 curve coming out of MVP (1st semester A- A- B+ B+ // 2nd A A B+ B+)

I know I can probably get a Big law job in DC as long as I don't bid like a buffoon, but I'm asking more along the lines of what's the highest tier of firm I can expect to have at least a decent shot at (litigation interest).

I already know Covington/W&C are flat-out impossible. I also know Gibson is a pretty big stretch as well (this one makes me sad, but I only have myself to blame). What about Hogan Lovells/Akin Gump/Jones Day?

I also grew up near DC/strong family ties to the region, but I'm aware that doesn't really matter as long as I have a fair justification beyond 'prestige, duh'.


If you're at Virginia or Penn, I'd say you're within the ballpark gradewise. No idea about Michigan.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby RSN » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:25 pm

arklaw13 wrote:
jaekeem wrote:Similar question to OP, but with a 3.58 on a 3.3 curve coming out of MVP (1st semester A- A- B+ B+ // 2nd A A B+ B+)

I know I can probably get a Big law job in DC as long as I don't bid like a buffoon, but I'm asking more along the lines of what's the highest tier of firm I can expect to have at least a decent shot at (litigation interest).

I already know Covington/W&C are flat-out impossible. I also know Gibson is a pretty big stretch as well (this one makes me sad, but I only have myself to blame). What about Hogan Lovells/Akin Gump/Jones Day?

I also grew up near DC/strong family ties to the region, but I'm aware that doesn't really matter as long as I have a fair justification beyond 'prestige, duh'.


If you're at Virginia or Penn, I'd say you're within the ballpark gradewise. No idea about Michigan.


I agree with that assessment, but I'd add two notes -- (1) Covington and W&C are highly prestigious but W&C is far more exclusive, whereas Covington has a class of like 90 this summer. (2) Hogan, Akin Gump, and Jones Day are very very different places. At least in my experience the firms in DC have much more discernible personalities than e.g. the V10-20 in New York, which are much more fungible, so that's something to keep in mind going into the process. A related point to that, though, is that it's important not to get too attached to any one firm going in, not necessarily so you're not devastated if you don't get a callback (although that's important also), but because it may turn out it's a really bad fit and you actually wouldn't want to work there, whereas somewhere else you might not have expected may end up being great.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby RSN » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:33 pm

arklaw13 wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:
arklaw13 wrote:
RSN wrote:
Ties absolutely matter in D.C., at least at some firms, even if yours isn't one of them. Also, the firms you named are the ones with the largest class sizes. OP will probably want to target places that skew a little smaller but aren't as grade-selective -- Steptoe, Willkie Farr, Crowell & Moring, White & Case, Cleary come to mind.


Maybe ties matter for firms that are more Mid-Atlantic-based, I don't know. But as far as the D.C. office of national firms, I haven't seen any evidence that a lack of ties matters. Maybe being from the DMV area can be a boost in some regard at certain firms, but my experience is that it's on par with NYC in terms of how much ties matter. Which is next to nothing.

Interesting. I'm headed to NYC in the fall and bid only NYC for OCI, so I can't speak from personal experience. But based on conversations with DC-bound folks at CLS, my sense is that ties DO matter a lot for DC. Surely not on par with the midwest, but from what my DC-bound friends have told me, interviewers will really question "why DC?" in a way that they won't ask "why NYC?," and ties are a sure way to answer that question. (There are other ways to answer the question, of course, such as an interest in a niche practice that only DC has or a significant other that lives in DC. But you've gotta have some valid reason; it's not a "default" like NYC.)


I agree with your assessment of the why D.C. being asked more. But they aren't necessarily getting at ties. If you are interviewing with a firm in Birmingham, and they ask that question, they are expecting you to tell them what high school you went to when you grew up there. For DC, literally any reason other than "well my grades are good and it's prestigious" will suffice.


I think we're probably using "ties" differently. If you just mean whether you've lived in the area for an extended period, then it definitely matters less than in like a Milwaukee or something, since Covington couldn't fill out a class of 90 people from only DC/MD/VA who have the right grades. But it's definitely harder to give a satisfactory answer to the "why DC" question, which comes up in almost every interview, if you haven't interned there, have family there, maybe have a strong interest in a practice area that's mostly/only in DC and a good reason for the interest. That's in contrast to New York where you really don't need anything along those lines. So maybe "ties" is the wrong word, but some prior connection and/or a strongly substantiated interest are pretty critical.

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Re: Will my first semester grades stop me from working in DC biglaw?

Postby arklaw13 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:01 am

RSN wrote:I agree with that assessment, but I'd add two notes -- (1) Covington and W&C are highly prestigious but W&C is far more exclusive, whereas Covington has a class of like 90 this summer. (2) Hogan, Akin Gump, and Jones Day are very very different places. At least in my experience the firms in DC have much more discernible personalities than e.g. the V10-20 in New York, which are much more fungible, so that's something to keep in mind going into the process. A related point to that, though, is that it's important not to get too attached to any one firm going in, not necessarily so you're not devastated if you don't get a callback (although that's important also), but because it may turn out it's a really bad fit and you actually wouldn't want to work there, whereas somewhere else you might not have expected may end up being great.


Agree - this is very important. If you're weighing different offers, second looks can be really critical for picking a firm in DC.
RSN wrote:I think we're probably using "ties" differently. If you just mean whether you've lived in the area for an extended period, then it definitely matters less than in like a Milwaukee or something, since Covington couldn't fill out a class of 90 people from only DC/MD/VA who have the right grades. But it's definitely harder to give a satisfactory answer to the "why DC" question, which comes up in almost every interview, if you haven't interned there, have family there, maybe have a strong interest in a practice area that's mostly/only in DC and a good reason for the interest. That's in contrast to New York where you really don't need anything along those lines. So maybe "ties" is the wrong word, but some prior connection and/or a strongly substantiated interest are pretty critical.


I still don't think I fully agree with that, at least not based on my experience. I had never set foot in DC before my callback interviews. I can't actually remember anyone specifically asking me why I wanted to be in DC, but I remember having some lame spiel about being interested in litigating against the federal government. Which is an answer, but not a particularly good one. But obviously no one really cared. And in the interviews that I've done for various purposes, I don't think I've ever even asked that question. Maybe I would in an OCI interview, which I've never done.

I suppose the answer is to have a spiel ready, but don't let a lack of ties (geographic or otherwise) lower your confidence in interviewing. Your attitude should be "why wouldn't I want to be in DC?" because that's the attitude your interviewers will probably have.




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