QI have a C average at a second tier school. While I have good work experience, I’m worried about finding a job out there when I graduate. I’ve interned each year during law school and I’m currently a clerk for the in-house counsel of a large (Fortune 500) corporation. I have decent experience in a specialized field (information privacy law), have received scholarships and additional training in my field, and have a good personality with plenty of optimism. Any chance a law firm will overlook my relatively low grades in favor of experience and solid recommendations from my supervisors?
AThe short and quick answer is yes. Sure. They will overlook it, but only under the right circumstances and for the right reasons.
Your problem is not your grades nor your law school. Hell, it’s not your attitude, which is commendable. It’s the market. When you compete for jobs that are few and far between, employers are not generally willing to take a risk on a “lower-tier” candidate when they can just pick from, honestly, T1 grads who are in the same boat but with better grades and more impressive resumes. It’s the harsh reality, probably the same shitkicker that didn’t get you into a better school.
So, what to do? Differentiate yourself, somehow, some way. The specialized field helps a bit, but to make any difference you need to network within that field (hell, even a related field) with anyone who will sit down and talk with you. And talk to those with whom you intern now, have interned in the past, have ran into when you were an intern anywhere. Explain your predicament, ask them to keep an eye out for things if they can, and don’t drop the optimism. No one likes a whiner or anyone who feels they are entitled to a job just because they have a JD. And keep a sharp eye out for non-legal jobs within your field, as that may end up being your best option. Good luck. It’s tough.
As an aside, I actually receive more questions like yours than any others, with some variations:
- I Want A Job But Have No Legal Experience: Guy pisses away two years of law school, has no experience to show, and wonders how he will fare once he graduates.
- I Work Hard, but My Law School Grades Suck. Entering 3L wonders if he has any shot in hell at making big bucks while pulling down a C+ GPA.
- I’m a 4th-Tier, Mid-Ranked Law Student. First year student with shitty grades who expresses ambivalence about the law.
- I Have B Grades at a T2 School. Law student freaking out about a B average and wondering about chances of getting a job at a big firm in New York or DC.
Read through those and review the comments as well (ignoring the annoying douchebag trolls), as they often offer additional advice from people in the same boat. I’d be interested in what others say to you as well.