GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

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GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 07, 2020 6:04 pm

Current Article III clerk starting to plan out post-clerkship options. I graduated from a T30 with a lower than average GPA and went straight to clerking. I'm hoping to get some insight into the GPA cutoffs at various firms, either generally or firm-specific. For instance, the GPA cutoffs at AmLaw 100 firms, V50s, V20s, etc., or specific firms in these ranges.

Also wondering if a D.Court clerkship (in SDNY/CDCA/NDCA/DDC equivalent) makes firms less sensitive to a lower GPA.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 07, 2020 6:24 pm

I have a hard time believing someone at a T30 with below median grades has one of the more desirable district court clerkships. However, even if that were the case, I still think you’d have an uphill battle given your school/grades. Your GPA cutoffs will probably be similar to what they were from 2L OCI, maybe slightly better.

My friend went to a good state law school (think Alabama/UF/Ohio State) and was on LR and graduated with honors (top third). She had an Article III clerkship. She wanted to go to Chicago/NY after clerking and had a difficult time finding a litigation position at one of the market paying firms. She ended up getting an offer at a non-vault AmLaw firm but that was a struggle too.

There are also a countless number of stories on here of clerks struggling to find positions you will probably find.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:17 pm

I assume you mean CDCA not EDCA?

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 6:24 pm
I have a hard time believing someone at a T30 with below median grades has one of the more desirable district court clerkships. However, even if that were the case, I still think you’d have an uphill battle given your school/grades. Your GPA cutoffs will probably be similar to what they were from 2L OCI, maybe slightly better.

My friend went to a good state law school (think Alabama/UF/Ohio State) and was on LR and graduated with honors (top third). She had an Article III clerkship. She wanted to go to Chicago/NY after clerking and had a difficult time finding a litigation position at one of the market paying firms. She ended up getting an offer at a non-vault AmLaw firm but that was a struggle too.

There are also a countless number of stories on here of clerks struggling to find positions you will probably find.
OP here. Thanks for your uplifting comments, but they didn't answer my questions re: GPA cutoffs. By the way, I never said I was below median.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:17 pm

My understanding is that GPA standards for clerkship hiring don’t change dramatically from OCI. Yes, firms recruit law clerks and give nice clerkship bonuses, but most law clerks also already have the fancy grades. So I’d use whatever a firm’s standards were for your school’s OCI, since I don’t think getting a clerkship wholly changes the calculus. It can help at the margins (especially if your grades went up during law school and you now have a much better GPA then you did then). If the firm doesn’t normally recruit at your school, I’d assume it’s an uphill battle (though certainly a possible one) for clerkship hiring.

Your question is not an easy one to answer because they’re are too many variables. Firms have different GPA benchmarks/cutoffs for different schools, and “T30” is a pretty vague description. Also the market you are looking at matters a lot: the GPA cutoffs will be more forgiving in, say, NYC than DC. If you’re a diverse candidate or a veteran with a clerkship, that will change the calculus too.

I don’t think you’ll get any useful information with the question as it stands. But as a rule of thumb, I’d assume that the firms have not wildly changed their standards from OCI for post-clerkship hiring.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:42 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 6:24 pm
I have a hard time believing someone at a T30 with below median grades has one of the more desirable district court clerkships. However, even if that were the case, I still think you’d have an uphill battle given your school/grades. Your GPA cutoffs will probably be similar to what they were from 2L OCI, maybe slightly better.

My friend went to a good state law school (think Alabama/UF/Ohio State) and was on LR and graduated with honors (top third). She had an Article III clerkship. She wanted to go to Chicago/NY after clerking and had a difficult time finding a litigation position at one of the market paying firms. She ended up getting an offer at a non-vault AmLaw firm but that was a struggle too.

There are also a countless number of stories on here of clerks struggling to find positions you will probably find.
OP here. Thanks for your uplifting comments, but they didn't answer my questions re: GPA cutoffs. By the way, I never said I was below median.
Quoted op here. You said lower than average gpa so I assumed you meant below median.

And for your question, I did say that it’s going to be similar to what your school’s cutoffs were for 2L OCI. You didn’t name your school, or your curve, so it’s hard to give a gpa cutoff. For most V100 to V50 (aside from obvious outliers), I’d say your gpa should still be around 3.4+ if your school was on a 3.33 scale. For V20, probably a 3.5. For V10, you’d probably still need to have graduated near top 10%.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by nixy » Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:22 pm

"Lower than average" does sound like below median if you don't say what average you're referencing.

It's not clear that clerking actually makes up for a lower GPA. It's certainly better than not clerking, but it will depend on how much the employer values a clerkship as well as how strict they are about cutoffs. I'm afraid I can't give you any input about grade cutoffs any any firms, in part b/c to my understanding they're usually school-specific (they'll take lower grades from Columbia than from GT, say).

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:12 am

From my experience with biglaw hiring, there's a loose GPA "floor" that we won't go under unless the candidate really brings something valuable to the table. Sometimes, that "something valuable" can be a clerkship, but usually it's something like subject matter expertise. A clerkship is definitely a boost, but it most likely won't make up for a serious GPA deficiency this early in your career if you're aiming for the top firms (like V50+). For example, if a firm usually requires a 3.7 from a T30 during OCI, they'll probably still look at you if you have a 3.6 & a clerkship, but probably not if you have a 3.3 & a clerkship. If this is going to be your first firm job (not including an SA) firms will probably look for a similar GPA that they would during OCI at your law school (which for a T30 is usually whatever the cutoff is for roughly top 1/3).

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by moxcoal » Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:07 pm

If you're below a firm's cutoff, you're below a firm's cutoff. My understanding is that they're concrete where they do exist. However, if you're able to nab a competitive clerkship, I don't think you'd be below any cutoffs. Those clerkships are more GPA sensitive than firms, especially if we're talking T30 schools.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by nixy » Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:56 pm

Generally, yeah, but people do sometimes get clerkships through connections or such with less other conventional qualifications (to be clear, I’m not saying they don’t deserve it/aren’t qualified, just that their qualifications may not lie strictly in GPA). The OP already described their GPA as lower than average so it’s kind of impossible to tell at this point where they’d fall wrt cut offs.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Definitely Not North » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:26 pm

It is wild to me that anybody could give a shit about grades beyond, like, 1 year max after graduation/employment.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anon115523 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:26 pm

For 2L OCI at a T30, the general GPA cutoffs are as follows:

V5--Top 5% (usually at or above a 3.8
V10--Top 10% (usually at or above a 3.6)
V11-V25--Top 15% (usually at or above a 3.55)
V26-V50--Top 25% (usually at or above a 3.5)
V50-v100--Top 33% (usually at or above a 3.4)

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by nixy » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:27 pm

Definitely Not North wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:26 pm
It is wild to me that anybody could give a shit about grades beyond, like, 1 year max after graduation/employment.
I mean, lots of things about big law hiring don’t make sense, but until there aren’t more people qualified lawyers than there are jobs, that doesn’t really matter. (Besides, most clerks are applying without any practice experience, so firms only have so much to go on.)

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Whatislaw » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:31 pm

You'd be amazed at how many firms still give a crap about GPA for even laterals.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:55 pm

It's shocking but firms actually still look at GPA for laterals, and even for partnership. It's rediculous.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by polareagle » Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:55 pm
It's shocking but firms actually still look at GPA for laterals, and even for partnership. It's rediculous.
Obviously I can't disprove it, but I find the bolded basically impossible to believe. Entry level and lateral hiring (even lateral partner hiring) are about trying to assess a candidate using external markers, and while GPA is increasingly silly the further one is from law school, I guess it still gives *some* relevant information about work ethic, intelligence, ability to navigate a system, or whatever.

Partnership promotion is nearly entirely about ability to produce profit for the firm and then, to varying tiny degrees at different places, about fit, signaling, rewarding hard work, etc. The GPA of a colleague whose work and ability to generate business you've been able to assess firsthand seems totally irrelevant. The bolded suggests that someone would have a sufficient GPA to get hired on the partner track at a firm and then re-assessed and found wanting at the time of promotion. Color me skeptical.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:13 pm

Anon115523 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:26 pm
For 2L OCI at a T30, the general GPA cutoffs are as follows:

V5--Top 5% (usually at or above a 3.8
V10--Top 10% (usually at or above a 3.6)
V11-V25--Top 15% (usually at or above a 3.55)
V26-V50--Top 25% (usually at or above a 3.5)
V50-v100--Top 33% (usually at or above a 3.4)

OP here. This is what I was originally trying to figure out. Thanks.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Reese1 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:14 pm

polareagle wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:18 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:55 pm
It's shocking but firms actually still look at GPA for laterals, and even for partnership. It's rediculous.
Obviously I can't disprove it, but I find the bolded basically impossible to believe. Entry level and lateral hiring (even lateral partner hiring) are about trying to assess a candidate using external markers, and while GPA is increasingly silly the further one is from law school, I guess it still gives *some* relevant information about work ethic, intelligence, ability to navigate a system, or whatever.

Partnership promotion is nearly entirely about ability to produce profit for the firm and then, to varying tiny degrees at different places, about fit, signaling, rewarding hard work, etc. The GPA of a colleague whose work and ability to generate business you've been able to assess firsthand seems totally irrelevant. The bolded suggests that someone would have a sufficient GPA to get hired on the partner track at a firm and then re-assessed and found wanting at the time of promotion. Color me skeptical.
The only way I could see it is if someone had absurdly good grades from a top school (think #1 in their class) and partners who were voting on them didn't personally know what their intelligence was like, could use it as a proxy. But besides that very narrow exception, I couldn't see it happening.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by 2013 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:13 pm
Anon115523 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:26 pm
For 2L OCI at a T30, the general GPA cutoffs are as follows:

V5--Top 5% (usually at or above a 3.8
V10--Top 10% (usually at or above a 3.6)
V11-V25--Top 15% (usually at or above a 3.55)
V26-V50--Top 25% (usually at or above a 3.5)
V50-v100--Top 33% (usually at or above a 3.4)

OP here. This is what I was originally trying to figure out. Thanks.
This also varies by school. Not all T30 are created equal. Some (Vandy, UCLA, UT Austin, Wash U) place significantly better than others (Emory, GW, Irvine, UF).

So, if OP were a UF grad, I wouldn’t necessarily say that they could get a V100 at top 1/3 even with a clerkship whereas top 1/3 at Vandy could probably get V20.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:31 pm

At least at my t14,

Very grade selective firms (top 10% or better): Cravath, S&C, Cleary, DC firms like Covington, W&C, Wilmer, A&P.

Grade selective firms (top 30% or better): Paul Weiss, Skadden, DPW

Somewhat grade selective (above median or better): Simpson, Kirkland

Not that selective (around median is fine): Latham, Weil

Don’t apply if you aren’t ranked first in your class: Wachtell

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:31 pm
At least at my t14,

Very grade selective firms (top 10% or better): Cravath, S&C, Cleary, DC firms like Covington, W&C, Wilmer, A&P.

Grade selective firms (top 30% or better): Paul Weiss, Skadden, DPW

Somewhat grade selective (above median or better): Simpson, Kirkland

Not that selective (around median is fine): Latham, Weil

Don’t apply if you aren’t ranked first in your class: Wachtell
Yeah, this seems closer to right. The post above with GPAs assigned to Vault rankings seemed to be totally random.

Grade selectivity doesn’t track with Vault rankings. Some “V10” firms like Latham less grade selective than many firms lower on the Vault rankings. And the market matters a lot (I’m guessing that post was meant to be for NYC, but it certainly doesn’t reflect the hiring norms in DC).

OP really should talk to his school’s career services about what the 2L
OCI GPA standards are and go from there. Career services can get a bad rap sometimes, but they have data on this stuff.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anon115523 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:10 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:31 pm
At least at my t14,

Very grade selective firms (top 10% or better): Cravath, S&C, Cleary, DC firms like Covington, W&C, Wilmer, A&P.

Grade selective firms (top 30% or better): Paul Weiss, Skadden, DPW

Somewhat grade selective (above median or better): Simpson, Kirkland

Not that selective (around median is fine): Latham, Weil

Don’t apply if you aren’t ranked first in your class: Wachtell
Yeah, this seems closer to right. The post above with GPAs assigned to Vault rankings seemed to be totally random.

Grade selectivity doesn’t track with Vault rankings. Some “V10” firms like Latham less grade selective than many firms lower on the Vault rankings. And the market matters a lot (I’m guessing that post was meant to be for NYC, but it certainly doesn’t reflect the hiring norms in DC).

OP really should talk to his school’s career services about what the 2L
OCI GPA standards are and go from there. Career services can get a bad rap sometimes, but they have data on this stuff.
I was basing it off my career services gradesheet, OP was asking about T30, not a T14. Around median will not get you biglaw at most T30s, so what you're saying is totally irrelevant to OPs post.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by nixy » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:19 pm

That’s likely true, but I don’t find the straightforward correlation between Vault rankings and grades convincing either. As has already been noted, not all T30s are the same, and things like size of summer class also make a difference. The ranking of which firms are more vs less grade selective still seems helpful for non-T14s, even if the actual cut off is going to be different.

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anon115523 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:47 pm

nixy wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:19 pm
That’s likely true, but I don’t find the straightforward correlation between Vault rankings and grades convincing either. As has already been noted, not all T30s are the same, and things like size of summer class also make a difference. The ranking of which firms are more vs less grade selective still seems helpful for non-T14s, even if the actual cut off is going to be different.
Based on my T30's gradesheet, Vault ranking is heavily correlated with grade cutoffs. Yes, there are exceptions (e.g. STB is less selective than the rest of the v10 at my T30; Kellog Hansen is 97th but you need to be in the top 10%), but I deliberately bolded and underlined generally because of TLS posters coming through with their "but aktualllly"s and saying how their cousin at a T40 got into Latham being top 25%

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Re: GPA Cutoffs At Different Firms

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:51 pm

As has already been stated, it's difficult to track GPA cutoffs for different Vault levels. But, in general, what are the cutoffs like for firms at the end of the V100 rankings (think: Fox Rothschild, Ballard Spahr, Davis Wright, Katten)? (anecdotal insight would be helpful)

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