QFirst, let me say that I enjoy reading your column. Your advice to others and the candor of your responses help me justify the disinterested malevolence that is quickly hardening my heart.
My situation is this: I have two interviews with prospective employers scheduled this month. One is with a branch of the federal government, and the other is at a legal aid office. The problem is that I have a terrible first semester GPA. Like absolutely terrible. It’s embarrassingly bad. Right now, I am sporting a 2.0 (A fucking 2.0!). I could have traced my hand and made hand turkeys with googly eyes, pipe cleaners and construction paper feathers and received better marks.
Here is some quick, personal background on me: I graduated from a good undergraduate university, was a four-year D1 athlete, had a decent GPA in my major, a mediocre overall GPA. I am an experienced paralegal from Philly, and I am still working part-time for my old firm while currently a 1L at regional third-tier law school. I will have zero debt when I graduate, a reality that few law students face and one that I do not take for granted (despite my hardening heart and what my GPA might reflect).
So, how can I possibly explain my terrible GPA and prove to hiring committees that I am actually capable of rational thought? My current plan is to just own up to the fact that I haven’t yet figured out how to answer an exam question and then highlight my work experience, non-exam writing ability, and professional references.
I know appealing to the counter-factual is not always a great way to prove a point, but right now, I’m not sure if there is much else I can do. Should I craft some kind of Tim Tebow-like “promise,” and pledge that, if given an opportunity, I would prostrate myself this summer to further the goals of X organization and prove that I am worth the risk? Should I even interview?
My fallback plan is to take summer classes, improve my GPA and accelerate my degree if I cannot find a job. Any advice would be appreciated.
AMy advice: Put as much effort into studying for finals as you put into this email. If I were grading this, you’d get a B, maybe even a B+.
In all seriousness, study harder and learn how to take law school exams. It’s more of an art than a science. Or vice versa, I’m not sure. In any event, you need to learn how to prepare for finals better. Ask a few smart and cool 3Ls for advice about this. It will help.
Beyond that, chill out. There is plenty of time to get your grades up.
As for your job interviews, your suggestion is spot on. Be honest and self-effacing. These are temporary gigs, so I wouldn’t freak out too much. As long as you find someplace to work this summer, you’ll be fine.
My last bit of advice is to figure out what aspect of law you want to practice and try to get some practical experience in that field as soon as possible. Given your grades and resume, BigLaw is probably a long shot. Okay, an impossibility. So don’t waste any time sweating it.
Your personality, D1 jock swagger, and strong writing skills (yes, it was a legitimately well-written, entertaining question) are plenty of ammunition for a great legal—or non-legal—career.