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lawplicant

Lower grades at a more competitive school?

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Let's say I attend a more competitive school with a median GPA/LSAT. Should I be concerned I will receive lower law school grades than going to a less competitive school where my GPA/LSAT is above the median?

Do these grades even matter?

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This is definitely something that I've thought about, and even though I'm not in law school, I don't think going to a more competitive school necessarily means you will receive lower marks, nor should this be a major consideration.

If you think about it, in your undergrad, did all the AP and IB students dominate your classes? Was every gold medalist an IB or AP student? The answer for me was no. In fact, I know a bunch of them who ended up being average students after being in AP classes since grade 4. In university, everyone seemed to blend together and it didn't matter a bit what great things you did in high school or what your average was.

I would like to think the same goes for law school. Law school will demand something very different from you than in your undergrad, and you see people succeeding in law school even though they majored in dance or biochem (things totally unrelated to law). Ultimately, people have different strengths and weaknesses and I think it just depends how you play to that in law school.

However,  there is some merit to your question. I don't believe that it is necessarily as easy to get an A+ (HH) at UofT as an  A+ at Western. At the end of the day, the class at UofT has a much stronger academic record than those at Western, or any other school in that regard. And because of the way that marks are distributed at (most/all?) law schools, you are essentially competing with your classmates for marks. So in that regard I do think you need to work harder to get your desired mark at a more competitive school, but I don't think this should be a major concern because if you got in, that's all the proving you need to do. Everyone starts at a blank slate again (more or less). What happened in high school or university doesn't really matter because everyone is at the same level 

Edited by BayStreetOrBust
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1 hour ago, lawplicant said:

Let's say I attend a more competitive school with a median GPA/LSAT. Should I be concerned I will receive lower law school grades than going to a less competitive school where my GPA/LSAT is above the median?

Do these grades even matter?

Some people have suggested that there is a correlation between GPA/LSAT and performance in law school, but I have yet to see a study to back that assertion up. In the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary, I'd say no.

I will suggest that law school grades are dependent on three factors: (1) the amount you study, (2) the quality of the information you keep, and (3) your natural aptitude in writing a law school exam. The first two points are obvious; I'll expand on the third. There is an art to writing that exam that not everyone gets. If you "get it", you can do well. If you don't "get it", you don't. For all we know, you may intuitively understand how to write a law school exam, and with the studying to back it up you may cruise to an A. If that is the case, you will excel wherever you go. If that is not the case, you could be average. Or a dud. Who knows. And since law school exams are weighed at 100%, they are really the bottom line of doing well.

Don't get caught up in these faux strategies. Pick the school you think you will be happy in and work your ass off. That's all you can do to configure circumstances that are conducive to your success.

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2 hours ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

I don't believe that it is necessarily as easy to get an A+ (HH) at UofT as an  A+ at Western. At the end of the day, the class at UofT has a much stronger academic record than those at Western, or any other school in that regard. 

Lol shots fired. What did Western ever do to you?

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Also, to contribute constructively here, I also don't think that it really makes that much of a difference what school you go to wrt what grades you'll get. Like people above said, there's not necessarily a correlation between your undergrad performance and law school performance (for example i ended 1L with a b+ average after having only gotten into Western in May whereas one of my friends got in with a scholarship very early in the cycle and she ended with a b- average).

But also, having transferred to osgoode in 2L, i actually have been thinking that it might be easier here to get higher grades than at western. they have a much bigger class size than western does (so this is osgoode specific, wouldn't necessarily apply to uoft) so that means there are more grades to go around. law grades are curved on a B average, so at western where there are 175 1L students only about 30% of those will get above a B average, and 30% of 175 is way smaller than 30% of 300 (which is the osgoode class size). Also, tbh, at osgoode at least, i don't think that the class is any more accomplished/competitive than the class at western. keep in mind that people choose to go to different schools for lots of different reasons (location, scholarship offers, school environment), and also, again this is very osgoode-specific, but osgoode admits students very holistically, so they place a lot of value on things like your background and experiences, so it's possible to have people with lower grades than they would've needed to get into western.

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I think the relative difficulty of one school over another, which is hard to quantify but admittedly probably exists given the varied admissions practices between schools, tends to really only make a difference when you start dipping into average (B) grades, and even then I don't know what extent it'd actually matter.

But being an A student at any law school is difficult. I can't imagine a firm actually putting any weight around whether that A came from U of T, Western, Osgoode, or Windsor.

13 minutes ago, pinkroses said:

But also, having transferred to osgoode in 2L, i actually have been thinking that it might be easier here to get higher grades than at western. they have a much bigger class size than western does (so this is osgoode specific, wouldn't necessarily apply to uoft) so that means there are more grades to go around. law grades are curved on a B average, so at western where there are 175 1L students only about 30% of those will get above a B average, and 30% of 175 is way smaller than 30% of 300 (which is the osgoode class size). Also, tbh, at osgoode at least, i don't think that the class is any more accomplished/competitive than the class at western. keep in mind that people choose to go to different schools for lots of different reasons (location, scholarship offers, school environment), and also, again this is very osgoode-specific, but osgoode admits students very holistically, so they place a lot of value on things like your background and experiences, so it's possible to have people with lower grades than they would've needed to get into western.

It's true that larger class sizes give you a bit more flexibility with respect to getting helped by the curve (because of the human element, i.e., people have different strengths, weaknesses, priorities, etc., not because of the math), but I don't think it matters that much ultimately.

Osgoode might be more holistic in its admissions policy, but bear in mind that the medians are still pretty high. I know the data is self-reported, but see here for what kind of grades generally get you into Osgoode. From my contacts on the admissions committee, I am told that those stats are not far off from their internal numbers.

 

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2 hours ago, thegoodlaw said:

Some people have suggested that there is a correlation between GPA/LSAT and performance in law school, but I have yet to see a study to back that assertion up. In the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary, I'd say no.

 

Here you go: https://www.lsac.org/docs/default-source/research-(lsac-resources)/tr-16-01.pdf

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44 minutes ago, pinkroses said:

Lol shots fired. What did Western ever do to you?

Nothing. I love Western as a school and have had a quality undergraduate education here, but I don't think that you can really say that getting an A at Western Law is the same thing as an A at UofT Law (unless if Western limits the % of As at 1% or something, but I do not believe that is the case). I don't doubt that an A student at Western could be an A student at UofT but I think an A student at UofT would almost certainly be an A student at Western

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36 minutes ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

Nothing. I love Western as a school and have had a quality undergraduate education here, but I don't think that you can really say that getting an A at Western Law is the same thing as an A at UofT Law (unless if Western limits the % of As at 1% or something, but I do not believe that is the case). I don't doubt that an A student at Western could be an A student at UofT but I think an A student at UofT would almost certainly be an A student at Western

Grade distributions are posted online at Western. I did some quick math on the reported upper year courses for the 2017 Spring Semester since it is the most recent report. There were 1117 marks given out which included 59 A's and 11 A+'s. Overall, that means that A's are at about 5% and A+ are at about 1%. This data excludes moots since those marks are not included in the distribution report. And for what it's worth, 4 of the A+ are all from one course (Civ Pro taught by practitioners).  

Edited by Jgweebz
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I know people at U of T who came in with 3.9+s and 175+s, who are at both the top and the bottom of the class. Conversely I know people who scraped in off the wait list at both the top and the bottom of the class. I’ve seen stuff that suggests that GPA/LSAT is somewhat predictive of law school success, and in the aggregate this is true, but that aggregate is made up of a lot of individual cases and you won’t know where you slot in until you get there and start doing the work. 

As far as an A at Western being equivalent to an HH at U of T, the thing about that is that the top of the class at any school pretty much gets law, so in a way I think they’re relatively similar. That being said transfers to U of T pretty much had straight A’s at the school they came from, and they don’t have straight HHs once they transfer in (I guess Alarie has compiled this stat, I’ve had a discussion with him about it). 

So there’s some anecdotal evidence for you 0Ls to ponder. 

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26 minutes ago, DenningsSkiTrip said:

I know people at U of T who came in with 3.9+s and 175+s, who are at both the top and the bottom of the class. Conversely I know people who scraped in off the wait list at both the top and the bottom of the class. I’ve seen stuff that suggests that GPA/LSAT is somewhat predictive of law school success, and in the aggregate this is true, but that aggregate is made up of a lot of individual cases and you won’t know where you slot in until you get there and start doing the work. 

As far as an A at Western being equivalent to an HH at U of T, the thing about that is that the top of the class at any school pretty much gets law, so in a way I think they’re relatively similar. That being said transfers to U of T pretty much had straight A’s at the school they came from, and they don’t have straight HHs once they transfer in (I guess Alarie has compiled this stat, I’ve had a discussion with him about it). 

So there’s some anecdotal evidence for you 0Ls to ponder. 

I always hate posts like this, because it just leads people to think "yes, sure, on average people with a low LSAT and a low uGPA will be below average law students. But I'm the exception." And no, they're probably not. They're probably going to end up being whatever the data says they're going to be, because the 180/4.0 at the bottom of the class is an outlier, and the 160/3.5 at the top is an outlier. And honestly, those outliers probably have reasons for being the outlier.

If you're going to make a ~$100,000 decision, you should be aware of what's likely to happen. If you're likely to end up at or near the bottom of the class, fighting for an articling postion to avoid the LPP, you should know that. Then, if that's worthwhile to you, you can do it. But don't delude yourself into thinking "I'm the exception." That's like dropping out of Harvard because the richest man on the planet did it, so it's clearly the right choice. Bill Gates is the exception, not the rule. Plan to be the rule. Hope to be the exception.

(Not an attack on you particularly, just an attack on the genre of "exceptions exist" style of post. Same thing goes for the people that encourage 3.0/145s to apply because one guy got in with a 145 one time)

 

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1 hour ago, Jgweebz said:

Grade distributions are posted online at Western. I did some quick math on the reported upper year courses for the 2017 Spring Semester since it is the most recent report. There were 1117 marks given out which included 59 A's and 11 A+'s. Overall, that means that A's are at about 5% and A+ are at about 1%. This data excludes moots since those marks are not included in the distribution report. And for what it's worth, 4 of the A+ are all from one course (Civ Pro taught by practitioners).  

Yes but how many A-s are there? 9%? And would you mind sharing the distribution report, it would be useful for all in the forum.

 

37 minutes ago, DenningsSkiTrip said:

As far as an A at Western being equivalent to an HH at U of T, the thing about that is that the top of the class at any school pretty much gets law, so in a way I think they’re relatively similar. That being said transfers to U of T pretty much had straight A’s at the school they came from, and they don’t have straight HHs once they transfer in (I guess Alarie has compiled this stat, I’ve had a discussion with him about it). 

Yes, this was exactly what I was more or less referring to. No disrespect to Western but it only makes sense that one school is "easier" or "harder" than another based on differences in the admitted class.

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Honestly though, in Canada, what incentive would there be to attend a more competitive law school if you want Bay Street? If we are to trust the data, shouldn't a person with good stats be picking a less competitive school to maximise their chances of getting the grades needed for Bay Street? It doesn't seem outlandish.

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17 minutes ago, Livinginamerica said:

Honestly though, in Canada, what incentive would there be to attend a more competitive law school if you want Bay Street? If we are to trust the data, shouldn't a person with good stats be picking a less competitive school to maximise their chances of getting the grades needed for Bay Street? It doesn't seem outlandish.

Ask yourself this: Do you really think you can "outsmart" firms who are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the students they hire every summer?

 

A good candidate is a good candidate, and firms will see that - regardless of where you go. So pick the school that intrigues you the most and is the best fit for you.

 

Plus.. bay? There is just so much to law you guys don't even know about yet. Try not committing the next 3 years of your life to the pursuit of a fantasy you know nothing about outside of big money and crushing hours.

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26 minutes ago, Livinginamerica said:

Honestly though, in Canada, what incentive would there be to attend a more competitive law school if you want Bay Street? If we are to trust the data, shouldn't a person with good stats be picking a less competitive school to maximise their chances of getting the grades needed for Bay Street? It doesn't seem outlandish.

I think the stats are that a little over 50% at UofT end up on Bay and then its 30% or so for Osgoode and 25% for Western and Queens? Or that may just be for OCIs overall. Technically you have the highest "chance" of getting into Bay with UofT.

However, just because you got accepted to UofT doesn't mean you will be the top 25% of the class at Western, Queens or Osgoode. And just because you got into UofT in June off the waitlist doesn't mean you won't place in the top 50% of the class.

There are also a wide-range of factors to consider other than grades when thinking about Bay street as an end goal. Take location for example. Yeah maybe you would have an easier time getting high grades at Western or Queens than at UofT, but UofT's location is by far the best if you want to do corporate as you can walk or subway a couple minutes to have a coffee chat with lawyers, whereas in other schools that is not really possible (even Osgoode). I guess in the end grades are what matter most however. At the end of the day, you pick the best route for yourself - this is your life

Edited by BayStreetOrBust
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10 minutes ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

There are also a wide-range of factors to consider other than grades when thinking about Bay street as an end goal. Take location for example. Yeah maybe you would have an easier time getting high grades at Western or Queens than at UofT, but UofT's location is by far the best if you want to do corporate as you can walk or subway a couple minutes to have a coffee chat with lawyers, whereas in other schools that is not really possible (even Osgoode). I guess in the end grades are what matter most however. At the end of the day, you pick the best route for yourself - this is your life

Location is one thing I wish I had considered before going away from Toronto for law. I have to "cram" all my coffee chats with Toronto lawyers in either my reading weeks or December breaks. Also, I wish I could attend more firm events in Toronto (although I still find value in going to Montreal events to learn about different practice areas and get better at networking/interacting with lawyers). 

While this is definitely not a deal breaker, I wish I had known about it earlier. 

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2 hours ago, DenningsSkiTrip said:

I know people at U of T who came in with 3.9+s and 175+s, who are at both the top and the bottom of the class. Conversely I know people who scraped in off the wait list at both the top and the bottom of the class. I’ve seen stuff that suggests that GPA/LSAT is somewhat predictive of law school success, and in the aggregate this is true, but that aggregate is made up of a lot of individual cases and you won’t know where you slot in until you get there and start doing the work. 

As far as an A at Western being equivalent to an HH at U of T, the thing about that is that the top of the class at any school pretty much gets law, so in a way I think they’re relatively similar. That being said transfers to U of T pretty much had straight A’s at the school they came from, and they don’t have straight HHs once they transfer in (I guess Alarie has compiled this stat, I’ve had a discussion with him about it). 

So there’s some anecdotal evidence for you 0Ls to ponder. 

Does U of T have grade distribution stats available? What is the "average" in 1L? When you have an A/B+/B system it is easier to tell than with Hs and Ps. Are these statistics available at U of T?

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I'm not going to comment on any of the rest of what is being said here, but I would echo the fact that different schools have different curves.  I was once on the committee at my school that considered such things, which involved looking at the curves across the various schools.  Before the UofT switched to its existing system, which makes comparisons more difficult as it is only 3 "grades", it was generally easier to get an A at UofT than at Western.  Does this mean anything?  I don't know.  But I did want to clarify that.

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4 hours ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

I think the stats are that a little over 50% at UofT end up on Bay and then its 30% or so for Osgoode and 25% for Western and Queens? Or that may just be for OCIs overall. Technically you have the highest "chance" of getting into Bay with UofT.

It's entirely possible that the stats have shifted since I did OCIs, but back in my day (hah) it was widely accepted that 40% of the UofT class, and 25% of the Western, Osgoode and Queen's classes got OCI jobs. If I remember correctly, Windsor & Ottawa's stats were around 15%.

For the record, I wholeheartedly disagree with the premise that the % of the class who lands an OCI job is in any way indicative of the success rate of the class, but I understand that I'm replying to someone whose username is "BayStreetOrBust" so that point may fall on deaf ears.

Edited by beyondsection17
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12 hours ago, thegoodlaw said:

 

I will suggest that law school grades are dependent on three factors: (1) the amount you study, (2) the quality of the information you keep, and (3) your natural aptitude in writing a law school exam.

(4) How good the other students in your class are. 

Remember, you are being compared to them. If you are in a class with an unusual number of students who "just get it" then it will be very difficult for you to get over a B. If you are in a class where a significant number of the students are struggling and you put your nose down and "figure it out" then you'll probably get over a B. 

5 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Ask yourself this: Do you really think you can "outsmart" firms who are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the students they hire every summer?

A good candidate is a good candidate, and firms will see that - regardless of where you go. So pick the school that intrigues you the most and is the best fit for you.

 

Something I always think about when working with UofT grads is "it cost me half the price to get my JD and here we are, doing the same type of work, earning the same amount of money...."

Edited by TheScientist101
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