Bottom of your law class

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Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:13 pm

To those who graduated toward the bottom of your class: what are you doing now? Years of experience? Salary?

albanach

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby albanach » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:To those who graduated toward the bottom of your class: what are you doing now? Years of experience? Salary?


You're probably also going to want to know what rank of school they attended. There may a very big difference in being near the bottom of your class at the T-13 and the sane at a T1 or T2 school. That said, outcomes below the top 10-15% of the class at lower ranked schools seem to have a lot to do with networking ability and willingness to hustle so, relative to their class, it might be the difference isn't so stark.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:09 pm

I wasn't at the bottom of the class - was around median - but I sure felt like I did. In law school, I was made to believe that unless you were at least top quarter of the class or so you were consigned to "shit law." It's definitely more challenging, but class rank is nowhere near as predictive of your success as an attorney as I thought. I have a bit under 3 years experience and am making about 6 figures. I didn't have to hustle or network, either. Just work hard and people will see the quality of your work and look beyond your class rank (generally speaking - some places are just off-limits when it comes to having a mediocre class rank).

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:09 pm

I was top 36% (that's not a thing you can put on your resume unfortunately) at Tier 1 (in the 30-40s) state school in a major market. The economy wasn't as good then (mid-2010s), but I did get OCI interviews, probably because Law Review board member and constant intern/extern/paid positions from 1L summer on. My approach has always been to aggressively pursue work experience as a way to set me out as hopefully someone with a workmanlike character if not academic greatness.

Most important goal for me was to find a legit legal job immediately, because I think if you end up JD-preferred or take work that's less than legal you may be permanently cast out. This is a big risk for bottom of the class folks even in Tier 1, but especially from #50 and below. I, for example, made sure to take a criminal externship to make myself marketable for the plentiful state jobs (PD/ADA). Things have gone well-enough for me, I've always gotten interviews and have established myself as a lawyer. I know others who have struggled to escape the crappy jobs I list below, but you also will benefit from being willing to put yourself out there, network, be personable, be involved. That can effectively bump you up out of bottom half territory.

If you are true bottom of the class, get real with your expectations, but understand if you want to be a lawyer it's better to do ANYTHING legal over non-legal imo. Things to look at:

State agencies / prosecutor/PD/AG jobs - maybe JAG but probably not.
Legal aid
Being a flunky for a solo or small firm in a backwater market
Have a daddy who is a lawyer or connected

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:25 pm

I did not graduate bottom of my class (around top 1/3rd), but knew the ones in my class that did. Went to the flagship state school where only the top 5-10% really have a shot at OCI so if you don't get top grades, I don't think there is much distinguishing you for the jobs you would be eligible for from just outside median vs. bottom of the class other than experience, hustle, nepotism and networking.

Anonymous User wrote:If you are true bottom of the class, get real with your expectations, but understand if you want to be a lawyer it's better to do ANYTHING legal over non-legal imo.


I think this generally good advice assuming the person at the bottom of the class still wants to practice law. For those in my class that finished near the very bottom, they are not doing anything law related. Some are selling real estate, selling merchandise online, etc. I suspect they just didn't enjoy the experience in addition to not being able to find anything.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:53 pm

I was at the top of the bottom half (maybe 45th percentile?) at a T25.

I clawed my way into a federal clerkship (specialty court) and then leveraged that into another specialty clerkship in a top district. Next year I will be working for a biglaw firm.

My advice is to pick a specialty/niche and go all in. Your best bet at this point is to develop a resume tailored for a specific field, which will give you an edge over candidates with better grades but no focus. Think tax, bankruptcy, immigration, environmental law, etc. Don't do generic things like corporate and commercial litigation as there will be too much competition.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:12 pm

I was bottom half or third of my law school - T25. Somehow lucked my way into a big law job right out of law school. Advice of previous anon is correct - focus on a specific area. I am in a niche area, one of those listed, and I feel comfortable assuming that, that contributed to my ability to get in right away. I also had a few internships in law school that showed I was dedicated to the specific specialty that I now practice in, including a federal judicial internship and an internship at a "BigFed" agency.

It's certainly an uphill battle, but don't assume bottom half means you will be a bad attorney or are otherwise incapable of doing the work and keeping up with your peers. Eventually, you will get to a point where grades don't really matter.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby lawhopeful100 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I was at the top of the bottom half (maybe 45th percentile?) at a T25.

I clawed my way into a federal clerkship (specialty court) and then leveraged that into another specialty clerkship in a top district. Next year I will be working for a biglaw firm.

My advice is to pick a specialty/niche and go all in. Your best bet at this point is to develop a resume tailored for a specific field, which will give you an edge over candidates with better grades but no focus. Think tax, bankruptcy, immigration, environmental law, etc. Don't do generic things like corporate and commercial litigation as there will be too much competition.

Agree with this. I had very good grades from a T1 regional school but still struck out with all the large law firms in my market. I worked at a smaller firm for a year and a half and just lateraled to a large law firm. The small firm I worked at practiced a specific type of litigation that the larger firm had a hiring need for. When I spoke to a recruiter about lateraling, she also mentioned that I might be able to make a move because I had experience in a niche and I wanted to stay in that niche. I think her exact words were that you can throw a rock and hit a commercial litigator. Basically, as the above posts say, I think you are better off trying to specialize in something.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:21 pm

Op here. Thanks for the responses. I graduated bottom half of my t2 and got a job through networking. However, I would like to move to a bigger firm eventually...

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:56 pm

right around 25th percentile at MVP, and I'm a shitty networker, so I had no prospects through 3L. Was seriously considering pursuing JD-preferred jobs. Got a funded fellowship through my school to pursue public interest, started work with a federal job I would have had zero chance at, then turned that into a federal magistrate clerkship (much, much easier to get than an A-III clerkship), turned that into a job with the fed organization that I did my fellowship with. So hard work and lots of luck.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:right around 25th percentile at MVP, and I'm a shitty networker, so I had no prospects through 3L. Was seriously considering pursuing JD-preferred jobs. Got a funded fellowship through my school to pursue public interest, started work with a federal job I would have had zero chance at, then turned that into a federal magistrate clerkship (much, much easier to get than an A-III clerkship), turned that into a job with the fed organization that I did my fellowship with. So hard work and lots of luck.


Similarly positioned at school in the same group. Turned fellowship into six-figure in-house position.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby banana$$stand » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:25 pm

T2 bottom 20%. Went with a full-ride.

Have a “JD Advantage” job- think legal technology consulting.

Making 90k with room to grow. Could be worse.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:52 pm

Finished bottom 20% at T2. Got an MBA as well.

Networked into a biglaw firm that doesn't pay market. Was making about 110k for the first two years.

Got a job inhouse at an SF Tech company. Year later we were acquired for 3B (had equity) taking me to about 200k/year.

Grades mean shit after your first job. I haven't been asked for them since.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby northwood » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:05 pm

Graduated below median, TT. Got a job from a 1L summer lunch networking ( grades actually went up 2 and 3L Worked throughout rest of law school. Earn market rate for my area.

Your work product, your work ethic and your personality matter most to employers than grades. Just pass the bar and do something that requires a law license.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:47 pm

Myself and a few of my friends graduated bottom third at a top 30. Three of us are at v100. Graduated 2016.

My firm is not market, but I think my friends’ firms are.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:56 am

Graduated from T20, i am not sure if i was ranked, but my GPA is slightly below the median. no journal, no law review, no mock trial , no nothing.

Did small law for a few months and landed in-house at a fintech company.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:To those who graduated toward the bottom of your class: what are you doing now? Years of experience? Salary?


I graduated near the bottom of my third tier school. I'm not exactly sure how near though, I never looked at my exact rank as my GPA was so terrible. Currently, I work at an estate law planning firm in a tech city (I focus on helping out with online assets).

For the people who I keep up with at my school who were below median or were on academic probation: ADA in a major city (showed 0 interest in criminal law or trial work throughout school but got this job in an extremely competitive county), land agent at an oil company, tax/financial planning at a small firm, small lobbying firm at the state level. The rest of the students I know who were below median at some point (I'm assuming at Tier 1 ranked schools, this would make them near bottom), one is a JAG, there are a couple that are prosecutors in the suburbs. The others flunked the Bar or are at small personal injury firms or medium sized personal injury mills, or work on oil/mineral rights.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Finished bottom 20% at T2. Got an MBA as well.

Networked into a biglaw firm that doesn't pay market. Was making about 110k for the first two years.

Got a job inhouse at an SF Tech company. Year later we were acquired for 3B (had equity) taking me to about 200k/year.

Grades mean shit after your first job. I haven't been asked for them since.



Op here. Impressive. I also finished toward the bottom of my t2 and currently at a mid-sized law firm. Any tips on networking into big law?

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:16 pm

Did anyone here feel that their lackluster performance in law school translated into difficulty with the practice of law?

Current 2L, below median and feeling anxiety about this.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Did anyone here feel that their lackluster performance in law school translated into difficulty with the practice of law?

Current 2L, below median and feeling anxiety about this.


Op here. No not really. Law school doesn’t really prepare you for the practice of law at all. Actually I learned way more during bar exam prep than I ever did in law school. You’ll be fine.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Myself and a few of my friends graduated bottom third at a top 30. Three of us are at v100. Graduated 2016.

My firm is not market, but I think my friends’ firms are.


How were you guys able to land V100s? Summered? Massmailed as 3L's? Or worked at small firms for a while then lateralled?

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:59 pm

I massmailed. Asked friends at other schools (mostly T-14) if they saw any postings. One of my friends summered at their firm. The other got a 3L oci gig (summered at a midsize firm during 2L).

Specialize, though. Think someone mentioned it above (or some other thread). I’m in a very niche practice (healthcare related). My one friend is in tax.

Can’t aim for general corporate or lit and expect to compete against people in even the top half of their class.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:07 pm

Not bottom, but closer to median - maybe just above. I honestly haven't looked into rankings in years, but school is ranked roughly 75 going up and down 5-10 spots.

Thankfully I started with a decent GPA from the first year, and wrote on to a journal. Despite the slowly declining grades, I worked every semester after the first year, including a judicial internship with a federal district court judge in the first summer, law clerk jobs during the semester at local small law firms, a "small/mid-law" firm in an out of the way city for the second summer, more internships or clerkships during the school year, including one with the US trustee's office to get good bankruptcy experience. Ended up having to hustle hard and grind for a low paying small firm job as my first job. Thankfully the firm was expanding and a recruiter contacted me for a job with a bigger firm. Wasn't biglaw, but the work was the same (basically the firm's model was a discount version of biglaw - exact same clients as big law counterparts that were part of the clients' "roundtable" of firms). Of course hours were roughly the same as biglaw, despite pay being half. Ended up moving due to life changes, and that coincided with a inhouse job at a global financial institution. Inhouse job came with increase in pay, better benefits, less stress, and much more interesting work.

I mentioned my whole legal work history because after the first post graduation job where I had to discuss grades during the interview, no one wanted to talk grades. Everyone wanted to discuss the extensive job experience I accumulated during law school instead. I obviously didn't list my GPA on my resume, but I think people see the journal and dean's list one or two semesters and assume the grades aren't total shit.

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby 1styearlateral » Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not bottom, but closer to median - maybe just above. I honestly haven't looked into rankings in years, but school is ranked roughly 75 going up and down 5-10 spots.

Thankfully I started with a decent GPA from the first year, and wrote on to a journal. Despite the slowly declining grades, I worked every semester after the first year, including a judicial internship with a federal district court judge in the first summer, law clerk jobs during the semester at local small law firms, a "small/mid-law" firm in an out of the way city for the second summer, more internships or clerkships during the school year, including one with the US trustee's office to get good bankruptcy experience. Ended up having to hustle hard and grind for a low paying small firm job as my first job. Thankfully the firm was expanding and a recruiter contacted me for a job with a bigger firm. Wasn't biglaw, but the work was the same (basically the firm's model was a discount version of biglaw - exact same clients as big law counterparts that were part of the clients' "roundtable" of firms). Of course hours were roughly the same as biglaw, despite pay being half. Ended up moving due to life changes, and that coincided with a inhouse job at a global financial institution. Inhouse job came with increase in pay, better benefits, less stress, and much more interesting work.

I mentioned my whole legal work history because after the first post graduation job where I had to discuss grades during the interview, no one wanted to talk grades. Everyone wanted to discuss the extensive job experience I accumulated during law school instead. I obviously didn't list my GPA on my resume, but I think people see the journal and dean's list one or two semesters and assume the grades aren't total shit.

This has been my experience by and large except for the bolded, where despite being on LR and having some prestigious internships during school, the top firms still require a transcript. I avoid turning over a transcript at all costs because I graduated median at a low tier, out of market school where grades were not inflated (think median ~2.7/2.8).

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Re: Bottom of your law class

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:40 pm

1styearlateral wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Not bottom, but closer to median - maybe just above. I honestly haven't looked into rankings in years, but school is ranked roughly 75 going up and down 5-10 spots.

Thankfully I started with a decent GPA from the first year, and wrote on to a journal. Despite the slowly declining grades, I worked every semester after the first year, including a judicial internship with a federal district court judge in the first summer, law clerk jobs during the semester at local small law firms, a "small/mid-law" firm in an out of the way city for the second summer, more internships or clerkships during the school year, including one with the US trustee's office to get good bankruptcy experience. Ended up having to hustle hard and grind for a low paying small firm job as my first job. Thankfully the firm was expanding and a recruiter contacted me for a job with a bigger firm. Wasn't biglaw, but the work was the same (basically the firm's model was a discount version of biglaw - exact same clients as big law counterparts that were part of the clients' "roundtable" of firms). Of course hours were roughly the same as biglaw, despite pay being half. Ended up moving due to life changes, and that coincided with a inhouse job at a global financial institution. Inhouse job came with increase in pay, better benefits, less stress, and much more interesting work.

I mentioned my whole legal work history because after the first post graduation job where I had to discuss grades during the interview, no one wanted to talk grades. Everyone wanted to discuss the extensive job experience I accumulated during law school instead. I obviously didn't list my GPA on my resume, but I think people see the journal and dean's list one or two semesters and assume the grades aren't total shit.

This has been my experience by and large except for the bolded, where despite being on LR and having some prestigious internships during school, the top firms still require a transcript. I avoid turning over a transcript at all costs because I graduated median at a low tier, out of market school where grades were not inflated (think median ~2.7/2.8).


Op here... I’m pretty much in the same boat. I’m at a mid-sized firm now. So is there no hope of moving to a bigger firm eventually?? What about big “regional” firms... will they always care about your grades?? Depressing...



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