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Feeling Defeated and Scared


Anonymousmoose

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Anonymousmoose
  • Law Student

Hey y'all

 

I just finished my 1L grades and did terrible. I got a D+, C, C, C+ and one F. The F, I can change pass/fail if I pass the rewrite. Be honest though, am I screwed with these grades in 1L. It was a very hard year and I busted my ass out for these grades and I am feeling super defeated. I am determined to do better in 2L but I feel so defeated and sad with these grades. I feel like my future is screwed and fucked. Please give me advice on whether I am screwed or not? Is there any hope for me or not.

 

I got to Dal for context.

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LMP
  • Articling Student

Let's be candid, these are really bad grades. They're going to seriously limit your job search. 

But, there is comparatively good news. You don't absolutely need a legal job in your 1L summer. While these grades probably fuck you over for the 2L recruit too, there is still hope. You also have time to raise your grades before the most important job search, articling. 

Your goals should be: 

1. Figure out why you're doing so poorly and work to correct it. 

2. Try and pick a feasible practice area you are interested in. Work to learn about this area. Network, take courses in it, join clubs. Help make yourself more attractive to employers. Understand that a lot of the more competitive roles are currently out of your reach. Focus on what is attainable. 

3. Once you've done both of these and raised your marks, start working on a narrative. A quick pitch you can give explaining why you did poorly, what you did to correct it and why it won't be an issue in the future. 

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Anonymousmoose
  • Law Student
Posted (edited)

 

6 minutes ago, LMP said:

Let's be candid, these are really bad grades. They're going to seriously limit your job search. 

But, there is comparatively good news. You don't absolutely need a legal job in your 1L summer. While these grades probably fuck you over for the 2L recruit too, there is still hope. You also have time to raise your grades before the most important job search, articling. 

Your goals should be: 

1. Figure out why you're doing so poorly and work to correct it. 

2. Try and pick a feasible practice area you are interested in. Work to learn about this area. Network, take courses in it, join clubs. Help make yourself more attractive to employers. Understand that a lot of the more competitive roles are currently out of your reach. Focus on what is attainable. 

3. Once you've done both of these and raised your marks, start working on a narrative. A quick pitch you can give explaining why you did poorly, what you did to correct it and why it won't be an issue in the future. 

Hey,

 

Thank you for your quick response. My practice area that I want to work in is Family law. Would my grades still limit me in reaching out for jobs for 2L recruit? Or 2L jobs?

 

I am trying to focus on what happend and how I did so poor too. I have been reaching out to my professors and seeing where I went wrong to improve for next year. 

Edited by Anonymousmoose
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LMP
  • Articling Student
23 minutes ago, Anonymousmoose said:

 

Hey,

 

Thank you for your quick response. My practice area that I want to work in is Family law. Would my grades still limit me in reaching out for jobs for 2L recruit? Or 2L jobs?

 

I am trying to focus on what happend and how I did so poor too. I have been reaching out to my professors and seeing where I went wrong to improve for next year. 

Yes, because you apply in like, a month or two. So you only have your 1L grades. I'd be surprised if you got any OCIs, but it is possible so apply to places you feel qualified. 

But that's the recurit, there are other firms you can and should be looking at which offer 2L positions. 

Look around at family law firms or sole Practioners in smaller places. Get involved in local events put on by associations that relate to family law. Try and get your face and name known to people so when they look at your application they aren't just seeing the grades. 

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SoIWantToBeALawyer
  • Law Student

Your chances for the 1L and 2L recruit are definitely going to be hurt by your 1L grades. BUT it's not the end of the world. Some students don't get legal jobs during their law school summers but manage to get articling positions and overcome it. Like LMP said, just focus on figuring out why your grades were bad and create a plan on how to do better during 2L and 3L. If you're able to improve, you'll be fine. Maybe reach out to your professors or even other students to discuss how to improve. 

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JackoMcSnacko
  • Lawyer

Candidly, your grades will be a red flag to almost all employers no matter how networking you do, given lawyers all know how law school grades are generally distributed.  You are likely aware of your position so I won't press this point, but you should not let people (who will generally be considerate of your feelings) convince you otherwise - these are low grades even among the usual crowd of lower scoring students. 

Your job search strategy will need to show (1) awareness of why your grades were so poor and (2) some evidence that such weakness will not impact your abilities at work or that you have made tangible progress on rectifying those weaknesses.  This, in addition to networking to show yourself off as something other than your grades.

The good news is you still have two full years before articling to figure this out.  If you can build a good narrative in 2L and 3L, you can still set yourself up for good articling prospects.  Good luck.

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SNAILS
  • Articling Student
Posted (edited)

I think the answers by other people above would be appropriate if your "bad grades" were something like 2 B's, 2 C's and a D. Your grades were not merely low; those grades are within the bottom 2-5% of your class.

You got "D+, C, C, C+ and one F." Not to be mean, but that is bad enough that you should forget about jobs for now, and focus on strategies for improving your grades next year.  Since you said, "It was a very hard year and I busted my ass out for these grades," I wonder if you worked in a very inefficient way. Perhaps you read materials thoroughly but did not have an effective summary (also called a "CAN) for the exam? Perhaps there were life circumstances that made you get such poor grades? Perhaps the law school exams were completely not what you expected? Perhaps the time pressure got to you and you left most of the exam questions blank?

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you either need to identify why you did so poorly or there is a risk you will not make it through law school or pass the bar exam.

Family Law at a small firm does not normally demand high grades. If you can start getting mostly B's or better, your job prospects later will be just fine.

Edited by SNAILS
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Diplock
  • Lawyer

The basic problem with offering a coherent reply right now is that the OP simply asked "am I screwed?" and most answers have focused on that. That's obviously a pretty subjective question. At least in a future post OP clarified their interest in family law. That's something to focus on a bit.

So, are you screwed in the sense of graduating from law school? Well, you passed 1L. By the skin of your teeth, but you did. Technically, you don't even need to improve on that performance (I don't think...is there a total GPA cut off? Individual school policies will vary) in order to graduate with a law degree. Certainly, even if there is a cut off, you don't need to improve by much. So on that level you aren't screwed.

Are you screwed to find employment? Well, you're fortunately interested in an area of law that prioritizes interest and engagement over academic performance. So I'd encourage you to get practical exposure to family law whenever you can (through clinics, any work opportunities, moots, etc.) because you'll be leaning on that more than grades anyway. Similar to criminal law, the usual path in family law also involves getting out on your own asap. And bluntly, if you're prepared to self-employ and you can get to the point where you're licensed to practice law, your grades will never matter again. At least not outside what they suggest about your ability to do the job well, and I'll address that in a moment.

Are you screwed from the perspective of passing the bar? I...don't know. I've seen cases where people who did well in law school struggled to pass the bar, and I suspect the opposite is true also. The bar is testing your knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep. It's multiple-choice fact memorization more than anything else. Presumably you must have some academic ability and be good at some things or you wouldn't have gotten into law school in the first place. You're obviously struggling with the deeper analysis required on papers and in exams at law school. It may in fact be the case that you're good at the inch deep stuff that often gets tested in undergrad just like the bar exam and you may find you're fine at that, as long as you study. So while there's some concern here, I wouldn't say you're screwed - it really depends on what the problem is.

Finally, for practice. I'm going to give you some bottom line insight about family law (which applies also to crim, immigration, etc.) and some people may disagree and I'll say in advance, fuck em. My advice comes from long experience that few people here can replicate, and I know that the few who can won't disagree with me. To be a really great lawyer in these areas of law, you need an academic and abstract appreciation for the law. If you want to bend jurisprudence, if you want to set precedent, if you want to be the lawyer writing articles that your peers learn from and refer clients to you when they encounter cases that push the margins of that field of practice ... you may not have those chops. So people who say "man, with grades like that maybe you shouldn't practice law" are right on that level. If you aspire to be that lawyer, your grades in law school are already probably telling you there may be a problem with how your abilities match against that aspiration. HOWEVER.

The earlier point about practice refers to what it takes to be at the top of the field. And most of us - I include myself - never end up there or anywhere close. Leaving aside that thin slice of the profession and the work they do, most of family law is relatively straight-forward and I can tell you immediately what the main job requirements are. You need to be diligent and pay attention to deadlines and details. You need to want to do the job. You need to feel a sense of obligation and responsibility towards the clients who have retained you - enough so that even when you aren't very motivated to check things one final time you do anyway. You need to give a shit. And if you have those qualities, along with a sufficient grasp of the law in that area (and I genuinely believe you have the ability to get there - anyone who got into a Canadian law school does) you can be a good lawyer, even if you're never a great one. And clients in this area of law will almost always be better served by someone who gives a damn and does the job diligently then someone who is objectively "smarter" in academic terms but doesn't - that's true 98% of the time.

So, overall, not screwed, no. You've got some work to do and some stuff to figure out. But I certainly wouldn't give up at this stage, unless you've decided you don't want to be a lawyer after all.

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Dinsdale
  • Lawyer

First year grades were poor.  No need to belabour that point.  All is not lost.  If you can show significant improvement in 2L and 3L, you will be able to explain away those 1L grades as an aberration.  Firms like to see improvement, and some law students just take longer to "learn the ropes" than others.  Also, as a generalization (and as others have said) family law is mostly practised in smaller firms and boutiques, which don't necessarily insist on top grades (in the recruit) to the extent BigLaw does.  You're unlikely to get anywhere in OCI's, so focus on a longer-term strategy to get an articling position in family law.  Strongly urge you to get at least a "B" in Family Law, and also to take any advanced family law courses Dal may offer and do well in them too.

 

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