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Grades for Clerkships


bubblegum
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bubblegum
  • Law School Admit

Hi everyone,

I’m in 2L and I had strong 1L grades. I have a good amount of actual experience (summer job and ECs). I’m applying for 2024-2025 clerkships at the ONCA and ONSC this year.

 

However, I just got my grades back and I finished with one B+, one B and one C+, one C. There were a lot of personal circumstances during exams that impacted my performance (multiple close family members seriously ill + hospitalized, only caretaker in the home, back to back exams the next week).
 

Obviously these grades will affect my application but I was just wondering if anyone had any insight to what extent? Are my chances completely shot? 

Edited by bubblegum
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CleanHands
  • Lawyer

You are almost certainly not competitive for ONCA based on those term grades alone.

If your grades are otherwise strong, the term might not preclude you from obtaining a trial level clerkship.

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer

I agree with @CleanHands, particularly in light of the fact that your strong grades were pre-transfer from Windsor. I would be surprised if you received an interview invite from any appellate court this year.

I also would be surprised if you got a trial level clerkship, although I suppose it is not impossible. 

At this point, you should focus on improving your grades over the next two semesters and consider applying in third year, to the extent you are still interested. 

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CleanHands
  • Lawyer
3 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I also would be surprised if you got a trial level clerkship, although I suppose it is not impossible. 

Anecdotal but FWIW I do know someone who recently clerked at the BCSC who had a low B+ average overall but wildly inconsistent grades with multiple top of the class grades but also a handful of Cs (I've seen their transcript).

I was surprised, myself.

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FellowTraveler
  • Law Student
58 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I agree with @CleanHands, particularly in light of the fact that your strong grades were pre-transfer from Windsor. I would be surprised if you received an interview invite from any appellate court this year.

I also would be surprised if you got a trial level clerkship, although I suppose it is not impossible. 

At this point, you should focus on improving your grades over the next two semesters and consider applying in third year, to the extent you are still interested. 

This may be out of date, at least for the ONSC and FC.

Osgoode admin shared competitive stats for ONSC applicants this year. I don't remember exactly what they were (it was communicated verbally) but it was squarely mid-curve. They (as well as current ONSC clerks) shared that the Court is consciously looking to broaden the scope of who gets a clerkship opportunity, beyond folk who do well on law school exams.

As for the FC, a current judge visited and implored students who might not consider themselves traditional clerkship material to apply, stressing that grades would not be a determining factor in anyone's application. (My words, all. I'm just communicating what I took from the presentation, months later.)

Obviously, higher grades are going to be a plus. But, if we take both courts at their stated intention, it is still very much worth applying. And if those 1L grades are good enough and you're already applying to one court, there's no reason not to throw your hat in the ring for ONCA. Write an addendum, briefly mention what happened in your letter, whatever. The worst they can say is no.

Edited by FellowTraveler
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QMT20
  • Lawyer
2 hours ago, FellowTraveler said:

As for the FC, a current judge visited and implored students who might not consider themselves traditional clerkship material to apply, stressing that grades would not be a determining factor in anyone's application. (My words, all. I'm just communicating what I took from the presentation, months later.)

Obviously, higher grades are going to be a plus. But, if we take both courts at their stated intention, it is still very much worth applying. And if those 1L grades are good enough and you're already applying to one court, there's no reason not to throw your hat in the ring for ONCA. Write an addendum, briefly mention what happened in your letter, whatever. The worst they can say is no.

This is a statement from one judge. At the FC each judge does their own hiring independently. You can't take that judge's statement as representing the intention of the entire court. 

If OP's clerkship application materials were done anyway and their dean agreed to put them on the list for ONCA then by all means yes, throw your hat in the ring. I think BlockedQuebecois and Clean Hands points were just to be realistic about your chances. I am aware of several appellate judges who think grades should be the primary consideration for clerkship hires. Traditionally at ONCA that's been dean's list/distinction standing as a minimum with many successful applicants being medalists. 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer

@FellowTraveler I’m not really sure we disagree – it seems like you agree that a trial level clerkship would be surprising but not impossible (and based on the lack of discussion in your post, I assume you agree with my assessment regarding appellate clerkships). 

With that said, I understood from OP’s post that they had already applied and were looking for an evaluation of their chances.

If they are instead asking whether or not they should apply, my advice would probably be to apply to trial level clerkships if they are interested in those. I probably wouldn’t advise them to apply to ONCA just because their chances are likely nil, although we don’t have the benefit of any other information about OP to consider.

Edited by BlockedQuebecois
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FellowTraveler
  • Law Student
34 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

@FellowTraveler I’m not really sure what you’re disagreeing with – it seems like you agree that a trial level clerkship would be surprising but not impossible (and based on the lack of discussion in your post, I assume you agree with my assessment regarding appellate clerkships). 

With that said, I understood from OP’s post that they had already applied and were looking for an evaluation of their chances.

If they are instead asking whether or not they should apply, my advice would probably be to apply to trial level clerkships if they are interested in those. I probably wouldn’t advise them to apply to ONCA just because their chances are likely nil, although we don’t have the benefit of any other information about OP to consider.

We may indeed be disagreeing on semantics, but when I read "surprising but not impossible", I don't exactly interpret that as an endorsement to apply. So I wanted to provide examples of both courts actively encouraging folk without the traditional grades profile to apply, and I personally took away that their chances are a lot more reasonable than commonly discussed. (If you really want to get into the weeds, pretty much everyone's chances are "surprising but not impossible" given the few spots at the table.)

And yes, I'll save the "appellate judges care about more than just time-crunch wizards" take for someone who's really craving some copium.

58 minutes ago, QMT20 said:

This is a statement from one judge. At the FC each judge does their own hiring independently. You can't take that judge's statement as representing the intention of the entire court. 

If OP's clerkship application materials were done anyway and their dean agreed to put them on the list for ONCA then by all means yes, throw your hat in the ring. I think BlockedQuebecois and Clean Hands points were just to be realistic about your chances. I am aware of several appellate judges who think grades should be the primary consideration for clerkship hires. Traditionally at ONCA that's been dean's list/distinction standing as a minimum with many successful applicants being medalists. 

One more FC judge than anyone else is claiming. (That's the currency around here, right?) I'd counter that, in context, they were quite explicitly speaking more broadly than just their personal decision-making, but trading second-hand anecdotes doesn't do much for anyone. Maybe there is only a single judge who believes that, but all you need is one.

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StareDecisive
  • Law Student

Would someone chance me? I have close to know idea what past clerks’ application profiles looked like.

I applied to the BC courts (you apply jointly to the BCSC and BCCA but I want BCCA). I’m a 2L at uOttawa with an average of 8.31/10, a medium-range A- which would likely be at least top 5%, if not 3 or 4% (the school doesn’t publish percentiles anymore so this is guessing from forums before the repeal). My 2L Fall grades were a clean ‘A’ average. 

I don’t have a ton of research experience tho. Some from a summer firm internship and a past role, minor Law Review work in 1L. I may be starting a RAship with a prof during the interview process though. I have teaching experience as a law TA and tutor is separate classes, not sure how they would appraise that experience. 

 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer

If your grades translate to the top 3-4% of the class, you would be competitive (although that seems high for an A- average, given my understanding of Ottawa’s grading system). Top 5% likely almost guarantees you’ll be given a screener interview. 

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scooter
  • Law Student
15 hours ago, StareDecisive said:

I’m a 2L at uOttawa with an average of 8.31/10, a medium-range A- which would likely be at least top 5%, if not 3 or 4% (the school doesn’t publish percentiles anymore so this is guessing from forums before the repeal). My 2L Fall grades were a clean ‘A’ average. 

For Ottawa you also have to consider that they bumped the class average for every course by 0.5 a little while ago. Large courses used to be curved to a 6.0 and now they are curved to a 6.5, etc. If you are looking at GPA and percentiles from before that change they will not be directly comparable. 

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capitalttruth
  • Law Student
18 hours ago, StareDecisive said:

Would someone chance me? I have close to know idea what past clerks’ application profiles looked like.

I applied to the BC courts (you apply jointly to the BCSC and BCCA but I want BCCA). I’m a 2L at uOttawa with an average of 8.31/10, a medium-range A- which would likely be at least top 5%, if not 3 or 4% (the school doesn’t publish percentiles anymore so this is guessing from forums before the repeal). My 2L Fall grades were a clean ‘A’ average. 

I don’t have a ton of research experience tho. Some from a summer firm internship and a past role, minor Law Review work in 1L. I may be starting a RAship with a prof during the interview process though. I have teaching experience as a law TA and tutor is separate classes, not sure how they would appraise that experience. 

 

I was curious about this too. I am an 8.35/10 but I figured since I was a mid to high A-, I was about top ten percent of the class. As you know, the summa cum laude designation at uOttawa begins at 8.5/10, which I would imagine would be top 2-3 percent of the class, although my math is most likely off. In my mind, none of it really matters, though, because I've heard that GPA doesn't automatically correlate to interview chances at the FC/FCA/SCJ, where I applied to, although I am very happy to be wrong on this point.

Edited by capitalttruth
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StareDecisive
  • Law Student

Thanks for the responses. Yeah uOttawa’s grading practices are so confusing and make for so much guessing.

Has anybody heard whether BC courts interview emails are out? 

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bocuma
  • Law Student
1 hour ago, StareDecisive said:

Thanks for the responses. Yeah uOttawa’s grading practices are so confusing and make for so much guessing.

Has anybody heard whether BC courts interview emails are out? 

I'm at a BC school with similar grades and haven't heard anything, I also haven't heard about anyone else being scheduled for interviews yet. So I think it's unlikely that anything has gone out. They also stated on the application that all applicants would be contacted, so if you aren't selected for the first round you'll likely know at the same time as everyone else.

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