Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

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Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 11, 2020 12:19 pm

Hi,

I am a 1L and had a really bad first semester. I did not know how to prepare for my exams and got a D, two Cs, and a B-. No chance to raise GPA this spring because of COVID-19 pass/fail.

I do not want to drop out of law school because I took time off already before coming and know that I would regret dropping out. But I get really depressed thinking about the future and my job prospects with my horrible GPA (2.08).

Can someone who had similar stats reply to me and give me hope that things will turn out o.k.?

Thanks

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by PPL » Mon May 11, 2020 1:12 pm

PM me. I graduated from a t14 a few years back. Knew of at least 3 people in the bottom 20% of class get multiple big law offers. Not that this is the likely result, but I wouldn't write off job prospects just yet.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by andythefir » Mon May 11, 2020 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 12:19 pm
Hi,

I am a 1L and had a really bad first semester. I did not know how to prepare for my exams and got a D, two Cs, and a B-. No chance to raise GPA this spring because of COVID-19 pass/fail.

I do not want to drop out of law school because I took time off already before coming and know that I would regret dropping out. But I get really depressed thinking about the future and my job prospects with my horrible GPA (2.08).

Can someone who had similar stats reply to me and give me hope that things will turn out o.k.?

Thanks
Do you feel like you know why you got the Ds and Cs? That's a major red flag to me, most top schools use those as punitive grades. If you felt the light come on and realized what the game really was and/or had some outstanding health/personal issue that resolved, then I'd say keep on keeping on, but know that a fed clerkship or biglaw will be a major uphill battle. If you don't feel like you've turned a corner, my concern would be passing the bar because the bar requires issue spotting in black letter law subjects. If you want to be a lawyer, you can be, as long as you're willing to move around. That will definitely mean taking jobs other top law school students don't want, and it may also mean strategizing which bars would be doable.

I personally got a C in my first semester, and I very nearly dropped out. I'm glad I didn't, but I also felt like the whole law school process only made sense at the end of the first semester. You certainly can have a great career ahead of you, and I hope that's what happens.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Sackboy » Mon May 11, 2020 5:28 pm

I'm sorry for your situation OP. This is a tough place to be as a rising 2L. The good news it that OCI isn't until January and you'll have a semester of courses with a higher curve to help boost your grades. Still, even with a 4.0, you're barely going to land above 3.0. I'd prepare yourself for striking out at OCI, and I'd start considering PD/ADA jobs. If you don't land biglaw, it's important to attach yourself to an employer that you think will either have the resources to hire you or your school might support a post-grad fellowship at.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by burritotaco » Mon May 11, 2020 5:52 pm

How much debt are you looking at? This would probably be the deciding factor for me personally.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by 2013 » Mon May 11, 2020 6:35 pm

Does your school allow your to retake courses for a higher grade? I know some schools allow students to retake with the cap being a B- or something. I would look into that if I were you. Leave the Cs alone and just retake the D class.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by LBJ's Hair » Mon May 11, 2020 9:32 pm

PPL wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 1:12 pm
PM me. I graduated from a t14 a few years back. Knew of at least 3 people in the bottom 20% of class get multiple big law offers. Not that this is the likely result, but I wouldn't write off job prospects just yet.
I mean, if OP just had generic 20 percent grades, depending on the school s/he could still definitely get BigLaw. Not sure I could consistently pick out bottom 20 percent from just generic bottom half at my alma mater.

But like, if I saw OP's transcript, I'd go "Damn, I didn't even know they gave out those grades at T14s." Not saying this to dump on OP, just like ... a 2.08 is not the same as a 3.08.

OP, if you're looking at substantial debt I would consider dropping out.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by ChickenSalad » Mon May 11, 2020 9:54 pm

LBJ's Hair wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:32 pm
PPL wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 1:12 pm
PM me. I graduated from a t14 a few years back. Knew of at least 3 people in the bottom 20% of class get multiple big law offers. Not that this is the likely result, but I wouldn't write off job prospects just yet.
I mean, if OP just had generic 20 percent grades, depending on the school s/he could still definitely get BigLaw. Not sure I could consistently pick out bottom 20 percent from just generic bottom half at my alma mater.

But like, if I saw OP's transcript, I'd go "Damn, I didn't even know they gave out those grades at T14s." Not saying this to dump on OP, just like ... a 2.08 is not the same as a 3.08.

OP, if you're looking at substantial debt I would consider dropping out.
Yeah I don’t want to pile on OP here either. But the bottom 20% is probably around 3.08 at any T14. A 2.08 is certainly last in his class. OP would need a perfect 4.0 in the fall to get up to 3.0 cumulative GPA.

OP, if you have a large scholarship or minimal debt, then there are good reasons to stay regardless. Several Cs and a D in one semester suggests that your approach is problematic and you likely don’t understand what the professor is looking for or how to issue spot. Talk to career services, that’s what they’re there for

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Monochromatic Oeuvre » Mon May 11, 2020 11:25 pm

I've never seen someone at a T14 get a GPA that low who wasn't (1) entirely mentally incapacitated during one or more exams or (2) deliberately trying to fail them. A "C" is generally given out as a punitive expression of an uncommonly bad performance and I'm like 60% sure that at T14s you have to actually get the administration involved to give someone a "D." If this was OP's good-faith best effort at these exams, I would be bewildered at what on earth you had to fail to do to get those grades and would have to imagine every Biglaw firm would feel the same even in a good market, let alone whatever the hell January's gonna be.

OP: I'm not saying this to dunk on you, but just to point out that I think Biglaw is highly unlikely for you and there's probably more struggle than accomplishment in your future if you continue to pursue it, so really think about your debt level and how much you want to be a lawyer. Realizing that law isn't for them is often the best thing that happens to law students.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Hi-So - ArshavinFan » Tue May 12, 2020 2:55 am

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 11:25 pm
I've never seen someone at a T14 get a GPA that low who wasn't (1) entirely mentally incapacitated during one or more exams or (2) deliberately trying to fail them.
This is definitely harsh - My 1L was terrible in relation to the rest of my class. Although I didn't get any C/Ds - that was due to the fixed grading scale than the merit of my work. I raised my grades immensely 2L and 1st semester of 3L, and I got a BL job (as of now, who knows what COVID will do to my deferred offer) - but it took a lot of networking with the grade increase. But rest assured I wasn't entirely mentally incapacitated or trying to fail them. I simply didn't know how to write an exam and how to study for one. And it's not as if most professors teach that - you're expected to pick it up on your own. Most students do - but I didn't. I ended up paying the price, learning it later, and I lucked out (for now).

To be quite blunt OP - this forum is good for a lot of things, but I don't think it's the best place for your question or you right now. My intuition tells me you'd get better perspective and advice from talking to 2Ls/3Ls/alumni and telling them of your situation, along with meeting a student services officer or counselor. People are going to balk at your grades especially because only a few T14 schools would allow D's for first years - I know that Georgetown eliminated the B- for 1Ls at the beginning of the school year, and Penn doesn't even have D grades. So as most people on this forum have never even seen a similar situation ( including me), I doubt they'd have personal experience(s) to guide you.

Talk to alumni (upper students) while figuring out what about the law is appealing to you. Then go for it next fall if you think you're up for it. The summer break after 1L helped me to focus and relax, hopefully it does the same for you. If not, you can always take a leave of absence and get your mind right/focused as to what's next.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by cavalier1138 » Tue May 12, 2020 6:11 am

Hi-So - ArshavinFan wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 2:55 am
This is definitely harsh - My 1L was terrible in relation to the rest of my class. Although I didn't get any C/Ds - that was due to the fixed grading scale than the merit of my work.
But that's kind of the point.

Top schools don't generally allow C/D grading except in extreme circumstances. I think most, if not all, of the T14 require administrative sign-off on D grades. So there's a massive difference between performing badly (all B and B- grades) and what OP is talking about. And I don't think it's at all out of line to suggest that these grades indicate something severely out of whack with the OP's exams.

A single D would be concerning at a top school. An entire semester of C and D grades may actually be insurmountable if the OP doesn't have a good reason for it. I agree they should talk to someone at their school, but I don't think alumni will be the best resource. This is not a common situation at all.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by nealric » Tue May 12, 2020 10:28 am

I think large institutional jobs are unlikely at this point, so the question to the OP is whether they want to pursue a hardscrabble small firm/solo career. With a significant grade increase, state and local government jobs might come into the picture. It's not the end of the world- there are very successful lawyers who struggled academically- but it is grounds for a serious reassessment.

OP, have you had some detailed discussions with your professors about your exam outcomes? You really need to understand on an in-depth level what went wrong. Especially, for the D- there were zero D's given out in any of my 1L classes, so you either got an unusually harsh professor or did something to seriously upset them. Does that GPA put you on academic probation or require any course repeats?

It's also worth mentioning that such performance may bode poorly for bar exam essays, which are fundamentally similar to 1L exams (just more focus on black letter law). So even if the GPA isn't important because you are going to go solo, you need to figure out exam grading.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Pneumonia » Tue May 12, 2020 10:56 am

Have you requested and received copies of your exam answers? One D and two Cs makes me question whether you experienced software issues. As others said, I am not trying to be a jerk, but a D (and even two Cs) from a T14 suggests the possibility that you literally didn't turn in an exam or something similar.

If each professor received the full copy of the exam you turned in, then you need to understand why you got these grades before you can decide whether to continue law school. Did you simply not know what to expect from a law-school exam? Or did you study really hard and take practice exams? If the former, you have a chance to get better--though it will be an uphill battle, and you will need to be prepared to explain to potential employers why you did not do a better job of preparing for 1L exams. If the latter, you should think hard about whether to continue law school.

Getting into a T14 shows that you are smart. Better to embrace that law school isn't the best outlet for your intellect than to spend the next several years throwing good money and time after bad.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Sackboy » Tue May 12, 2020 11:54 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 6:11 am
Hi-So - ArshavinFan wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 2:55 am
This is definitely harsh - My 1L was terrible in relation to the rest of my class. Although I didn't get any C/Ds - that was due to the fixed grading scale than the merit of my work.
But that's kind of the point.

Top schools don't generally allow C/D grading except in extreme circumstances. I think most, if not all, of the T14 require administrative sign-off on D grades. So there's a massive difference between performing badly (all B and B- grades) and what OP is talking about. And I don't think it's at all out of line to suggest that these grades indicate something severely out of whack with the OP's exams.

A single D would be concerning at a top school. An entire semester of C and D grades may actually be insurmountable if the OP doesn't have a good reason for it. I agree they should talk to someone at their school, but I don't think alumni will be the best resource. This is not a common situation at all.
My T13 required faculty to fill out a petition if they gave a C. I can't imagine what it takes for a student to get a D. I had a friend have a mental breakdown in the middle of a 1L exam, and he still got a C. OP's grades are seriously of concern.

As I stated earlier, OP should start pivoting to PD/ADA jobs or gigs where OP's T13 might offer a school-sponsored fellowship to continue on after graduation. Nealric also has a good suggestion to look at small firms and potentially going solo (if OP can swing the finances). It likely won't be until the END of 2L that OP has >3.0. OP needs to network hard and be open to any type of employment.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Monochromatic Oeuvre » Tue May 12, 2020 12:29 pm

Hi-So - ArshavinFan wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 2:55 am
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 11:25 pm
I've never seen someone at a T14 get a GPA that low who wasn't (1) entirely mentally incapacitated during one or more exams or (2) deliberately trying to fail them.
This is definitely harsh - My 1L was terrible in relation to the rest of my class. Although I didn't get any C/Ds - that was due to the fixed grading scale than the merit of my work. I raised my grades immensely 2L and 1st semester of 3L, and I got a BL job (as of now, who knows what COVID will do to my deferred offer) - but it took a lot of networking with the grade increase. But rest assured I wasn't entirely mentally incapacitated or trying to fail them. I simply didn't know how to write an exam and how to study for one. And it's not as if most professors teach that - you're expected to pick it up on your own. Most students do - but I didn't. I ended up paying the price, learning it later, and I lucked out (for now).

To be quite blunt OP - this forum is good for a lot of things, but I don't think it's the best place for your question or you right now. My intuition tells me you'd get better perspective and advice from talking to 2Ls/3Ls/alumni and telling them of your situation, along with meeting a student services officer or counselor. People are going to balk at your grades especially because only a few T14 schools would allow D's for first years - I know that Georgetown eliminated the B- for 1Ls at the beginning of the school year, and Penn doesn't even have D grades. So as most people on this forum have never even seen a similar situation ( including me), I doubt they'd have personal experience(s) to guide you.

Talk to alumni (upper students) while figuring out what about the law is appealing to you. Then go for it next fall if you think you're up for it. The summer break after 1L helped me to focus and relax, hopefully it does the same for you. If not, you can always take a leave of absence and get your mind right/focused as to what's next.
Well, first, it sounds like you're way overstating the ease of getting a Biglaw job after striking out at 2L OCI, but that discussion has been covered ad nauseum on this forum over the years.

Second, your "I did badly 1L, but networked and hustled and copped Biglaw!" story is not particularly helpful to OP precisely because you *didn't* fall below the fixed grading scale. We counsel people who get B-'s all the time and let them know their situation is very typical. There are firms who regularly hire down to 3.0 at T14s and even plenty of stories of people who have gotten Biglaw offers below that (although they're generally the exception rather than the rule). But that's at like 2.9, maybe 2.8. Even if OP performed okay next semester--and there's no indication OP can write anything close to a median exam--they'd wind up way below the lowest GPA I've ever seen a firm take from someone who didn't have either connections or a really, really good explanation (the only one I remember, in seven years, was a woman who was sexually assaulted and spent most of the year in a mental health clinic). And that gets to my point that there's really no precedent for anyone like OP getting a job that can serve the average T14 debt burden. I'm not saying it can't happen, I'm just predicting a yearslong struggle for ultimately a low chance of success. You specifically said you "lucked out"--the smart cadre on here does not advise that anyone who still has the choice spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school in the hopes of "lucking out."

I have no clue why your "intuition" tells this forum couldn't help OP because no one here has ever seen a similar situation and therefore they should talk to upperclassmen. This site has more posters than the number of upperclassmen OP could reasonably ask by a few orders of magnitude. If no one on here has ever heard of an analogous situation, then it's immensely unlikely a few dozen randomly selected law students have (and that's to say nothing of (1) the fact that people who post here are generally more knowledgeable than the average student or (2) OP's probable and understandable reticence at fully explaining how badly they performed during 1L face-to-face to a bunch of strangers, compared to the anonymity offered here). As for talking to student services, I'd love to be a fly on the wall the very first time a school getting $50k+ a year from a student advises him that it would be in his best interest to drop out.

I'm sure OP could indeed improve and land some legal job; it's just probably gonna be two more years of hard work and a whole lot more debt for something not particularly lucrative. So it would behoove them to think about whether they really, really have a burning desire to practice law.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 12, 2020 1:25 pm

I had better stats than you, but definitely below 3.0 at a T10

I focused my summer internships to be criminal law focused and then only took clinical and trial ad classes for the next 2 years. I ended up getting an ADA job pretty easily.

I don't get paid much, but I am happy with a 9-5 and doing something for the common good

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by QContinuum » Tue May 12, 2020 3:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 1:25 pm
I had better stats than you, but definitely below 3.0 at a T10

I focused my summer internships to be criminal law focused and then only took clinical and trial ad classes for the next 2 years. I ended up getting an ADA job pretty easily.

I don't get paid much, but I am happy with a 9-5 and doing something for the common good
Thanks for chiming in. If you don't mind, could you speak a bit more to 1) whether you had any C/D grades, 2) relatedly, how far below 3.0 you were (no need to give an exact figure, but 2.8-2.99, for instance, is very different from 2.08), and 3) whether your government position had a minimum GPA requirement (IIRC, it's very common to see a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement from otherwise non-grades-sensitive government employers).

Again, not to be overly harsh on OP, but their situation really is kind of sui generis and almost unprecedented at a T14. It's one thing, as Oeuvre points out, to have low, but on-curve, bad grades, like a mix of Bs and B minuses, which would take one below 3.0. That's something you can recover from at a T14. But it's totally different to have 2 Cs and a D, with the best grade being a single B-. I just don't think employers are going to view a T14 transcript with multiple C/below grades the same way they'd view a T14 transcript that's just a hair under 3.0 due to one or two B minuses.

I'll add: it is possible to get Cs at a T14. I knew of a few cases at my T14. But those were exceedingly rare, and the students who got those Cs didn't get any other Cs (or worse) - their other grades were much better. Those Cs were given out in pure multiple-choice exams where they really bombed the test bigtime. I've never heard of an essay exam getting a C or worse at a T14. And I think it's very unlikely OP had three 1L finals that were pure multiple-choice with no essay component.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by HillandHollow » Tue May 12, 2020 4:34 pm

At my T14, they released all grading statistics (anonymized), and there were a dozen Cs in each of my 1L classes, and 2-3 Ds (and 1 F, as I remember). Only saying this to point out that it isn't SUCH an anomaly for someone at a T14 to get a C. I think the expectation is that anyone who got a C or D in one class, did not also do that poorly in another class, but that's hard to know.

Anyway, it's been a few years, but as I recall, my first 1L exams grades included a B/B-, a C, and a C- or D. Got a few callbacks from OCI, went on one (two?) but then canceled all my outstanding biglaw apps after I got my preferred public interest job. The major difference between me and OP though was that I had the improved next set of grades to show that I had "figured it out" (even though they still weren't all As or anything), so I was able to explain away that first set. The switch to pass/fail is unfortunate for OP.

I would suggest OP speak directly to the 2nd semester professors to find out what type of grade his/her exams would have received. If they would have all been As and Bs, then you can talk about this in interviews, showing that you figured it out and also that you followed up with professors (I assume that you already followed up with the first semester profs). If your exams still would have received C/Ds, then that is a whole other discussion.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Wild Card » Tue May 12, 2020 4:45 pm

HillandHollow wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 4:34 pm
At my T14, they released all grading statistics (anonymized), and there were a dozen Cs in each of my 1L classes, and 2-3 Ds (and 1 F, as I remember). Only saying this to point out that it isn't SUCH an anomaly for someone at a T14 to get a C. I think the expectation is that anyone who got a C or D in one class, did not also do that poorly in another class, but that's hard to know.
--

I went to NYU. I'm looking at the grade distributions for Fall 2019: four (4) out of 424 1Ls got a grade in the C/D/F range. (Comically, all four C/D/F grades were for CivPro. I don't get it--I loved CivPro.)

To be clearer: exactly four (4) C/D/F grades were given out, to four (4) different people.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 13, 2020 4:48 pm

OP, my overarching guidance here is to lean heavily on your institution to help you out and to do your best to speak with empathetic and compassionate people who can see past your "bad" semester and help you out. This is not an easy task, but I think it is doable.

First, it's critical that you take stock of and are able to persuasively explain what happened your 1L fall, so that you build a narrative that makes clear that while your first-semester grades are disappointing, they don't define you and don't detract from your strengths. I would start by meeting with several career counselors - not just your assigned counselor, but a variety of them. I would pool together advice on what you should do and plan to meet regularly with the counselor who offers you the best advice and is most empathetic.

Many times, someone has a bad semester because something has happened. If that's the case for you, then I definitely would craft your narrative based on that. But not every "bad" semester is caused by a single, identifiable issue. And that's where a narrative comes into play.

Second, I think you should meet with or discuss these issues with a professor that you had during the second semester of your 1L year. I would try to pick a professor in class where you performed the best in and, ideally, a class where you were able to secure a good grade. Explain to them what happened to you during your first semester and ask them for advice on how to improve. Good professors tend to give good advice. But, ideally, you will be able to build a relationship with this professor who likely can be a resource for you in the future. The professor will be able to serve as a reference and help to explain that your first-semester grades don't define you, or they will write you that letter of recommendation in the future that will contextualize your first semester. When you can't lean on your grades, you have to lean on other things and create a holistic picture that makes clear that your grades don't define you.

Third, it is very important that you work to identify the issues that tripped you up during your first semester and pick a curriculum for your 2L year that gives you the opportunity to take classes you can excel in but also remains rigorous. Again, here's where an academic counselor or a career counselor can help you.

If you are able to improve considerably your 2L year (or even the first semester of your 2L year), your cumulative GPA will not be so important. What will be important is the upward trajectory. Then you can add to your narrative so you can say, "I had a really bad first semester. Here's what happened to me. Here's how I worked to fix it. And as you can see from my subsequent grades, here's how I improved over time. It shows my tenacity, my eagerness to work hard, and my ability to overcome problems."

I had low grades during my 1L year (and actually did even worse my second semester than I did during my first) and this is how I was able to break through and land the job of my dreams. It is not going to be easy, but nothing really is, and it's going to take a lot of work and energy. But, if you want to be a lawyer and you are committed to practicing law, then it is worth fighting for. Now is not the time to give up, or to let naysayers tell you about how hard it is and that they've never seen someone do it before.

Best of luck to you, OP.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by HarrisonK » Wed May 13, 2020 7:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 4:48 pm
OP, my overarching guidance here is to lean heavily on your institution to help you out and to do your best to speak with empathetic and compassionate people who can see past your "bad" semester and help you out. This is not an easy task, but I think it is doable.

First, it's critical that you take stock of and are able to persuasively explain what happened your 1L fall, so that you build a narrative that makes clear that while your first-semester grades are disappointing, they don't define you and don't detract from your strengths. I would start by meeting with several career counselors - not just your assigned counselor, but a variety of them. I would pool together advice on what you should do and plan to meet regularly with the counselor who offers you the best advice and is most empathetic.

Many times, someone has a bad semester because something has happened. If that's the case for you, then I definitely would craft your narrative based on that. But not every "bad" semester is caused by a single, identifiable issue. And that's where a narrative comes into play.

Second, I think you should meet with or discuss these issues with a professor that you had during the second semester of your 1L year. I would try to pick a professor in class where you performed the best in and, ideally, a class where you were able to secure a good grade. Explain to them what happened to you during your first semester and ask them for advice on how to improve. Good professors tend to give good advice. But, ideally, you will be able to build a relationship with this professor who likely can be a resource for you in the future. The professor will be able to serve as a reference and help to explain that your first-semester grades don't define you, or they will write you that letter of recommendation in the future that will contextualize your first semester. When you can't lean on your grades, you have to lean on other things and create a holistic picture that makes clear that your grades don't define you.

Third, it is very important that you work to identify the issues that tripped you up during your first semester and pick a curriculum for your 2L year that gives you the opportunity to take classes you can excel in but also remains rigorous. Again, here's where an academic counselor or a career counselor can help you.

If you are able to improve considerably your 2L year (or even the first semester of your 2L year), your cumulative GPA will not be so important. What will be important is the upward trajectory. Then you can add to your narrative so you can say, "I had a really bad first semester. Here's what happened to me. Here's how I worked to fix it. And as you can see from my subsequent grades, here's how I improved over time. It shows my tenacity, my eagerness to work hard, and my ability to overcome problems."

I had low grades during my 1L year (and actually did even worse my second semester than I did during my first) and this is how I was able to break through and land the job of my dreams. It is not going to be easy, but nothing really is, and it's going to take a lot of work and energy. But, if you want to be a lawyer and you are committed to practicing law, then it is worth fighting for. Now is not the time to give up, or to let naysayers tell you about how hard it is and that they've never seen someone do it before.

Best of luck to you, OP.
Well said. This is the type of post that people come to TLS for.
Last edited by QContinuum on Thu May 14, 2020 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 14, 2020 9:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 4:48 pm
OP, my overarching guidance here is to lean heavily on your institution to help you out and to do your best to speak with empathetic and compassionate people who can see past your "bad" semester and help you out. This is not an easy task, but I think it is doable.

First, it's critical that you take stock of and are able to persuasively explain what happened your 1L fall, so that you build a narrative that makes clear that while your first-semester grades are disappointing, they don't define you and don't detract from your strengths. I would start by meeting with several career counselors - not just your assigned counselor, but a variety of them. I would pool together advice on what you should do and plan to meet regularly with the counselor who offers you the best advice and is most empathetic.

Many times, someone has a bad semester because something has happened. If that's the case for you, then I definitely would craft your narrative based on that. But not every "bad" semester is caused by a single, identifiable issue. And that's where a narrative comes into play.

Second, I think you should meet with or discuss these issues with a professor that you had during the second semester of your 1L year. I would try to pick a professor in class where you performed the best in and, ideally, a class where you were able to secure a good grade. Explain to them what happened to you during your first semester and ask them for advice on how to improve. Good professors tend to give good advice. But, ideally, you will be able to build a relationship with this professor who likely can be a resource for you in the future. The professor will be able to serve as a reference and help to explain that your first-semester grades don't define you, or they will write you that letter of recommendation in the future that will contextualize your first semester. When you can't lean on your grades, you have to lean on other things and create a holistic picture that makes clear that your grades don't define you.

Third, it is very important that you work to identify the issues that tripped you up during your first semester and pick a curriculum for your 2L year that gives you the opportunity to take classes you can excel in but also remains rigorous. Again, here's where an academic counselor or a career counselor can help you.

If you are able to improve considerably your 2L year (or even the first semester of your 2L year), your cumulative GPA will not be so important. What will be important is the upward trajectory. Then you can add to your narrative so you can say, "I had a really bad first semester. Here's what happened to me. Here's how I worked to fix it. And as you can see from my subsequent grades, here's how I improved over time. It shows my tenacity, my eagerness to work hard, and my ability to overcome problems."

I had low grades during my 1L year (and actually did even worse my second semester than I did during my first) and this is how I was able to break through and land the job of my dreams. It is not going to be easy, but nothing really is, and it's going to take a lot of work and energy. But, if you want to be a lawyer and you are committed to practicing law, then it is worth fighting for. Now is not the time to give up, or to let naysayers tell you about how hard it is and that they've never seen someone do it before.

Best of luck to you, OP.
Completely disagree with this post - not one word about student debt, and as someone that was similar to OP after 1L (about 3.0 GPA at T14), I would not recommend someone continuing to take on student loans in this situation. OP - if you are taking on substantial loans, you should absolutely drop out. I have friends that dropped out of college with that kind of GPA, let alone law school. Do not waste another dime on a legal education if you are using debt. If not, then that is a whole different story, and the previous post makes more sense. But the fact is, your financial situation should be the number one consideration here and there will not be many doors open to you, especially with the economy in the shape that it is in. I knew of plenty of people from my law school with low grades that ended up fine after a few years of struggle, but none of them had below a 3.0, let alone a 2.0 and the economy was on the upswing, not on the verge of a recession.

OP - drop out and be thankful you'll never be a lawyer.

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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Clytemnestra3 » Thu May 14, 2020 9:39 am

I wouldn’t drop out based on the information you’ve given us. I would:

1. Talk to the professors to understand what you did wrong. Ask them and/or the admin if there’s some way for you to do extra work to bring your grades up. Even if they say no (likely), you’ll know what to do next semester.

2. Ask the administrators if there’s a way you can receive grades for your courses next semester. Explain that you want a chance to prove to employers that your first go-around was a fluke and you can’t do that with pass/fail grades. This seems like a very reasonable ask to me.

3. Consider why you went to law school. Unless you had your heart set on a Supreme Court clerkship or one of a handful of prestigious firms, I don’t think anything’s out of reach for you. But this is a question you should discuss with professors/career services.

If after learning what you did wrong, you still do poorly, then maybe you can consider quitting. But you are already attending a great school. That’s 75% of the battle right there. This is a set back, but one you can very likely recover from. Just don’t let your disappointment lead to bad decisions. Keep a clear head. Start climbing. You may be surprised how quickly you emerge from this hole.

Anonymous User
Posts: 350610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 14, 2020 10:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 9:05 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 4:48 pm
OP, my overarching guidance here is to lean heavily on your institution to help you out and to do your best to speak with empathetic and compassionate people who can see past your "bad" semester and help you out. This is not an easy task, but I think it is doable.

First, it's critical that you take stock of and are able to persuasively explain what happened your 1L fall, so that you build a narrative that makes clear that while your first-semester grades are disappointing, they don't define you and don't detract from your strengths. I would start by meeting with several career counselors - not just your assigned counselor, but a variety of them. I would pool together advice on what you should do and plan to meet regularly with the counselor who offers you the best advice and is most empathetic.

Many times, someone has a bad semester because something has happened. If that's the case for you, then I definitely would craft your narrative based on that. But not every "bad" semester is caused by a single, identifiable issue. And that's where a narrative comes into play.

Second, I think you should meet with or discuss these issues with a professor that you had during the second semester of your 1L year. I would try to pick a professor in class where you performed the best in and, ideally, a class where you were able to secure a good grade. Explain to them what happened to you during your first semester and ask them for advice on how to improve. Good professors tend to give good advice. But, ideally, you will be able to build a relationship with this professor who likely can be a resource for you in the future. The professor will be able to serve as a reference and help to explain that your first-semester grades don't define you, or they will write you that letter of recommendation in the future that will contextualize your first semester. When you can't lean on your grades, you have to lean on other things and create a holistic picture that makes clear that your grades don't define you.

Third, it is very important that you work to identify the issues that tripped you up during your first semester and pick a curriculum for your 2L year that gives you the opportunity to take classes you can excel in but also remains rigorous. Again, here's where an academic counselor or a career counselor can help you.

If you are able to improve considerably your 2L year (or even the first semester of your 2L year), your cumulative GPA will not be so important. What will be important is the upward trajectory. Then you can add to your narrative so you can say, "I had a really bad first semester. Here's what happened to me. Here's how I worked to fix it. And as you can see from my subsequent grades, here's how I improved over time. It shows my tenacity, my eagerness to work hard, and my ability to overcome problems."

I had low grades during my 1L year (and actually did even worse my second semester than I did during my first) and this is how I was able to break through and land the job of my dreams. It is not going to be easy, but nothing really is, and it's going to take a lot of work and energy. But, if you want to be a lawyer and you are committed to practicing law, then it is worth fighting for. Now is not the time to give up, or to let naysayers tell you about how hard it is and that they've never seen someone do it before.

Best of luck to you, OP.
Completely disagree with this post - not one word about student debt, and as someone that was similar to OP after 1L (about 3.0 GPA at T14), I would not recommend someone continuing to take on student loans in this situation. OP - if you are taking on substantial loans, you should absolutely drop out. I have friends that dropped out of college with that kind of GPA, let alone law school. Do not waste another dime on a legal education if you are using debt. If not, then that is a whole different story, and the previous post makes more sense. But the fact is, your financial situation should be the number one consideration here and there will not be many doors open to you, especially with the economy in the shape that it is in. I knew of plenty of people from my law school with low grades that ended up fine after a few years of struggle, but none of them had below a 3.0, let alone a 2.0 and the economy was on the upswing, not on the verge of a recession.

OP - drop out and be thankful you'll never be a lawyer.
This is ridiculous and as elitist as it comes. The vast majority of law students pay for law school with student loans. The vast majority of law students do not get into biglaw. To say that a law student with debt who cannot get into biglaw should drop out of law school is plainly wrong. The OP is a t14 law student who will get a job as a lawyer (assuming he passes the bar), even if that job is a $60,000/year job with a small ten person law firm. A t14 graduate who starts at a small 10 person law firm will make partner after ~10 years and then will be billing $350-$550/hour and have a better lifestyle than most biglaw lawyers.

I know several lawyers (in my home state) who went to unranked law schools and have never worked in firms larger than 10 people. All of those lawyers (now in their 50s+) make $500,000-$1,000,000/year working less hours than biglaw associates. Indeed, I worked for a firm my 1L summer that had about a dozen lawyers. I worked with one of the named partners (who is a long time family friend). He worked half a day on Wednesdays in the summer and didn't work summer Fridays so he could golf. He had two full time paralegals and a few associates. He once told me that over the past 12 years (at the time), he has never had a year in which he made under $1,000,000 (although he's the exception, everyone else I know like him make closer to $350,000-$500,000). He does commercial real estate and land use. He never worked in biglaw, never clerked for an Art. III judge, and did not graduate from a t14.

A second example: another long time family friend went to a lower ranked law school (Penn State Law, I think). He joined a small PI firm out of law school. Although he is now in his 50s, he is now one of the area's best and most respected PI lawyer. He lives in a multimillion dollar home, has several vacation homes, and each of his 4 kids went to private highschools and private universities. He lives a great life despite not being a t14 graduate.

OP can have a great career if he wants to work for a small firm. He will work hard and make partner and have a great life, even if he is not working at Cravath on the world's biggest deals. He will pay back his debt even if it takes longer than his classmates who work in biglaw.

Anonymous User
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Re: Bottom of class at T14; 2.08 GPA

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 14, 2020 10:21 am

It’s laughable that people think small law firm partners regularly make $500k+. Many do, of course, but there are far more that barely get by. A lot of these posts are overly optimistic.

OP had a 2.08 and will conceivably graduate with a sub-2.5 GPA. I’ve never seen a GPA that low in my life. I personally had a 3.1 my first year (non-T-14 but a firm that places around 40-50% into biglaw) and struck out. This was during a booming economy. There is weight given to a T-14, but nothing can outweigh that 2.08 (more so if that T-14 is Georgetown). I worked my ass off the next two years and still barely managed to get a around a 3.4.

OP should consider dropping out. I personally only know of one person who had a very low GPA (2.7) who got a job at an AmLaw firm. They were fired within a few months because they just couldn’t grasp basic concepts no matter how hard they tried.

The problem is that OP may end up being a terrible lawyer. We regularly hear stories of mediocre law students becoming amazing lawyers, but I doubt they are talking about people who were at the very bottom of their class. OP is probably the lowest GPA in their class by a large margin.

OP needs to reevaluate what they want to do and strongly consider dropping out if they will have a significant amount of debt.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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