HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades? Forum

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bigbrainenergy

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HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by bigbrainenergy » Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:09 pm

Hello!

Grades just came out at HLS and I'm not sure what to make of mine/how it bodes for my future. I was waiting to see how my grades turned out before thinking about clerkships, so would love to get people's honest takes.

I got 3 DS's, 1H, and 1P. I feel really happy about the DS's but saw in some threads that having any P's automatically takes me out of the running for many clerkships. Any thoughts on how to interpret these grades and then what I should continue aiming for in the upcoming semesters?

I don't want to gun for anything, but it would just be helpful to know where I stand for things like clerking.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 20, 2022 7:27 pm

bigbrainenergy wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:09 pm
Hello!

Grades just came out at HLS and I'm not sure what to make of mine/how it bodes for my future. I was waiting to see how my grades turned out before thinking about clerkships, so would love to get people's honest takes.

I got 3 DS's, 1H, and 1P. I feel really happy about the DS's but saw in some threads that having any P's automatically takes me out of the running for many clerkships. Any thoughts on how to interpret these grades and then what I should continue aiming for in the upcoming semesters?

I don't want to gun for anything, but it would just be helpful to know where I stand for things like clerking.
Those are excellent grades. You can definitely clerk -- clerk on SCOTUS, no less, with Ps. Even grade snobs like Kagan and JGR take HLS clerks with a few Ps. The key is the DS:P ratio. The better it is, the better your clerkship options. High-powered profs making influential recs don't care about the number of Ps, they care about the ratio of DS:P.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Thu Jan 20, 2022 9:46 pm

You're near the top of the class and apparently have three professors who think highly of your exam-taking ability. Would slightly prefer 2DS/2H/0P but agree with the previous poster that your grades will not hold you back anywhere.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 20, 2022 9:48 pm

bigbrainenergy wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:09 pm
Hello!

Grades just came out at HLS and I'm not sure what to make of mine/how it bodes for my future. I was waiting to see how my grades turned out before thinking about clerkships, so would love to get people's honest takes.

I got 3 DS's, 1H, and 1P. I feel really happy about the DS's but saw in some threads that having any P's automatically takes me out of the running for many clerkships. Any thoughts on how to interpret these grades and then what I should continue aiming for in the upcoming semesters?

I don't want to gun for anything, but it would just be helpful to know where I stand for things like clerking.
If my judge saw this and were not friends/did not know the professor who gave the P's reputation, they'd probably assume the professor wrote a poor exam and/or doesn't know how to grade.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Pneumonia » Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:38 pm

The P is an outlier and judges will view it that way, likely even if it is from a well-respected professor. But it will be even better for you if the P is from an oddball like Hanson, or from a visiting professor. A student several years ago got 4 DSs and 1 P first semester. The student took the P exam to the professor, asked what went wrong, and the professor basically said "yeah this is a strong exam, it should've been an H" or something like that (full account is eariler in the "HLS Students Answering ..." thread if it hasn't been deleted).

It also slightly matters what the mix is. If the P is in LRW (or to a lesser extent, Civ Pro), that could bode more ill than if it is in Criminal Law or Torts. In any event, you should be elated about your results. I wouldn't sweat the P too much. You should try to find out why you got it, though. Not so that you can "fix" the issue, but because judges will be curious about it and might ask about it.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 20, 2022 11:42 pm

Good grades and tbh it’s way too early to be worrying about the sorts of judges who require extremely high grades. You probably won’t clerk for one, but it won’t be because of one P your first semester.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by bigbrainenergy » Fri Jan 21, 2022 12:01 am

Thank you everyone, this was really helpful to read! I got the P in LRW which definitely freaked me out a little bit, since that was the class I ended the semester feeling the best about. Also freaky because my professor emphasizes how LRW skills cut across everything, so my anxious brain is thinking I just know how to take tests but will be a mediocre lawyer.

I'll meet with my professor and see what went wrong, and try to pull it up for spring semester LRW. Thanks again everyone!

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:55 am

Having similar questions with OP. I'm also wondering how many DSs there are for a single 1L requirement. Is it typically around 5% ≈ 4 per section?

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Pneumonia » Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:03 am

bigbrainenergy wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 12:01 am
Thank you everyone, this was really helpful to read! I got the P in LRW which definitely freaked me out a little bit, since that was the class I ended the semester feeling the best about. Also freaky because my professor emphasizes how LRW skills cut across everything, so my anxious brain is thinking I just know how to take tests but will be a mediocre lawyer.

I'll meet with my professor and see what went wrong, and try to pull it up for spring semester LRW. Thanks again everyone!
This will make it very important for you to have a good writing sample for clerkship apps, then. If you are applying on the plan, then you have three more semesters for that. But if you are applying to the conservative feeders or near-feeders, then you'll need something much sooner. If you don't have anything else, then I would clean up your LRW memo and submit it as "this is an edited version of my 1L memo."

Relatedly, the DSs show that you know how to do legal analysis, or at least issue spotting, so I doubt that poor reasoning is what gave you the P in LRW. Rather, you either (1) had a Climenko with idiosyncratic preferences, or (2) did not comply with the technical aspects of legal writing. Climenkos can be idiosyncratic in a number of ways. Some of them are focusing entirely on publishing and their job search, with teaching and grading only as an afterthough. Some of them have PHDs in other disciplines that have different writing conventions. Occasionally some of them create their own LRW class to serve ideologial or other ends. If any of those apply to yours, then you might consider being prepared to explain that to judges. The caveat, of course, being that you must offer it as an explanation rather than an excuse.

If you missed the technical aspects of legal writing, that is an easy problem to fix. Many people come to law school thinking that they are good writers because they have internalized the rules of English composition, because they are good at narrative, or because they can string together a series of compelling sentences that don't offend the ear. Those are all good skills. But the core of competent legal writing consists of separate rules that do not depend on any of those skills. Namely: put your analysis in a logical (syllogistic) outline before you draft it; always do positive analysis before responding to counterarguments; use topic sentences; and avoid passive voice. If you follow those rules then you will be ahead of your classmates (and your peers when you graduate). And people who follow those rules will get better LRW grades nine times out of ten when compared to people who merely implement the skills I mentioned earlier. Again, if this is the reason for your P, then you should be prepared to explain to judges how you are actively working to improve your writing.

Bryan Garner's books are the standard for all of this. I would read Legal Writing in Plain English, and then skim The Elements of Legal Style and The Winning Brief to make sure you understand and are conciously implementing each of the rules that he sets forth in those latter two works. None of them will make your writing "great," but they form the baseline for how legal writing gets done at a high level in legal practice.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:08 am

Tbh I still wouldn’t worry much even though it’s LRW, but in addition to the books mentioned, Ross Guberman’s are good

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by RedNewJersey » Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:46 am

I understand the perspective of thinking LRW is important, but, on balance, I think getting the P there is the best case scenario.

The key question is whether you're a good writer. If so, this was a false negative, and you just need a professor to be able to say you're a good writer. The nice thing about getting the P in LRW is (1) it's 2 credits rather than 4, so it affects your weighted GPA less (for latin honors, Sears Prize, etc.); (2) nobody has heard of LRW professors, so they're the least important people to impress; (3) LRW is non-blind and iterative, which is unlike any other class. Odds are, whatever made you worse at LRW will not recur.

If you actually are not a good writer, then, yeah, that's a problem, and something to work on.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by ksm6969 » Fri Jan 21, 2022 4:47 pm

RedNewJersey wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:46 am
I understand the perspective of thinking LRW is important, but, on balance, I think getting the P there is the best case scenario.

The key question is whether you're a good writer. If so, this was a false negative, and you just need a professor to be able to say you're a good writer. The nice thing about getting the P in LRW is (1) it's 2 credits rather than 4, so it affects your weighted GPA less (for latin honors, Sears Prize, etc.); (2) nobody has heard of LRW professors, so they're the least important people to impress; (3) LRW is non-blind and iterative, which is unlike any other class. Odds are, whatever made you worse at LRW will not recur.

If you actually are not a good writer, then, yeah, that's a problem, and something to work on.
This, exactly, with the additional note that if you are actually a bad legal writer (ie, you dont know how to IRAC or explain topics or whatever) then it is very unlikely that you would have gotten 3DS's and a H in the 1L doctrinals.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 21, 2022 5:20 pm

As an HLS grad who clerked on 2/9/DC and then worked at some elite firms, I can tell you that getting the P in LRW is actually the best case scenario. It's a joke of a class that mostly comes down to the idiosyncrasies of the Climenko. Most judges and lawyers understand the subjective nature of "good" legal writing (beyond the baseline necessary-but-not-sufficient traits), and will care much more about the actual courses. They can gauge legal writing themselves directly when it comes to your apps anyway.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jan 24, 2022 1:50 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:55 am
Having similar questions with OP. I'm also wondering how many DSs there are for a single 1L requirement. Is it typically around 5% ≈ 4 per section?
IIRC, it's 5 per 80 person class, although theoretically professors have discretion to give fewer than 5. And then things vary quite a bit in seminars but they can only be given if there are 7 or more students in a class.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:27 am

Thanks! Adding onto this - does this mean ~2/3 DS' in LRW? I'm sitting at 3DS/2H but am curious about position in class.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:27 am
Thanks! Adding onto this - does this mean ~2/3 DS' in LRW? I'm sitting at 3DS/2H but am curious about position in class.
Nobody can tell you (and you can’t calculate it based on how many get DS in lrw), and I’m sure it varies year to year at the very top end, but you are certainly within range of Sears prize if you repeat for spring.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:27 am
Thanks! Adding onto this - does this mean ~2/3 DS' in LRW? I'm sitting at 3DS/2H but am curious about position in class.
Not sure on the LRW question. But your grades are comfortably within the top 5%. Probably within the top 10 people. If you're conservative, some COA judges will consider 1Ls with one semester of grades. If you plan to be a litigator, you may want to start applying.

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 09, 2022 5:58 pm

bigbrainenergy wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:09 pm
Hello!

Grades just came out at HLS and I'm not sure what to make of mine/how it bodes for my future. I was waiting to see how my grades turned out before thinking about clerkships, so would love to get people's honest takes.

I got 3 DS's, 1H, and 1P. I feel really happy about the DS's but saw in some threads that having any P's automatically takes me out of the running for many clerkships. Any thoughts on how to interpret these grades and then what I should continue aiming for in the upcoming semesters?

I don't want to gun for anything, but it would just be helpful to know where I stand for things like clerking.
You're in a great position. I had similar grades after 1L fall and nobody seemed to care about the P. The good thing about the P being LRW is that you can somewhat correct it by getting at least an H in LRW in the spring. Dedicate some time there this semester.

In terms of clerking, you're more than grades competitive for virtually any clerkship based on where you're tracking. If you're conservative, go to Jack and get him to send your apps out; you'll essentially "lock" in your trend with nearly every FedSoc feeder (some, like Sutton, want ~3 semesters and some, like Katsas, will only consider you with ~3 semesters and a first clerkship lined up). If you're liberal, start working on your recs; the plan is a bloodbath and while your grades will make you attractive, frankly prof calls tend to be the biggest differentiator IMO. If you clicked with any of the profs who DSed you, go to them and try to do work for them, talk to them for advice, etc. Start thinking about who you might like to get to know during 2L.

But generally: congrats. Now on to the fun part of trying to repeat! (Side note: you're not out of the running for 1L sears probably. My guess is your rank would be 6-10 right now, but if you repeat or better, you'll have a very real shot).

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Re: HLS 1L, help me make sense of my grades?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 17, 2022 6:09 pm

This thread is very credited and helpful, I wouldn't freak. It's not an HLS-specific weird point that the class that's perhaps most substantively important (LRW) is taught by the most idiosyncratic pool of (non-prof!) teachers, so how judges view it is largely in the context of your broader narrative. It's a "death knell" if the rest of the transcript is middling to bad, but excusable if the rest (like yours) glitters. If you get an H / DS, it's largely confirmatory if the rest of the transcript is good, but not much of a credit if the rest is middling to bad.

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