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bobsaget

Upset with 1L Grades, could use some advice

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My friend is in the bottom 10% of my school. He only got 1 interview at OCI and he got the job at a prestigious firm in Toronto. Sure it won't help to get bad grades, and on average it will be more difficult, but in reality, it's not really something to worry about.

I think people who have great grades are the ones who are disadvantaged sometimes, especially if they worked hard to get those grades. They come in the interviews with the wrong attitude. I have seen this over, and over, and over again. And they end up with nothing.

Also, if you improve your grades it will be easy to tell a story about how you were able to adapt and adjust yourself.

Especially if you want to practice something like family law, just focus on doing RA work for a professor in family law, do some independent research, do an internship in family law, publish a book review or student note or article, slightly improve your grades to have a positive story to tell them, and it's job done. No one will worry about your grades ever again.

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26 minutes ago, chirico said:

My friend is in the bottom 10% of my school. He only got 1 interview at OCI and he got the job at a prestigious firm in Toronto.

The only way two ways I can see this reasonably happening is if your friend has some special skillset that the firm is looking for and they're having a hard time finding people, or if he has a very strong connection with decision-makers at the firm who are able to just outright ignore marks. A third alternative is potentially you not knowing his place in the class correctly. "Bottom 10%" (of the school, not even the class) means like, C-minus or D-ish average. That's really low on the charts and I can't see anyone being hired with those marks at an OCI firm.

For the special skillset thing, I know a couple of people, both at different schools, who got hired doing specialized work at Bay Street firms (specifically, IP) even though I don't think either of them had anything better than a C+ on their 1L transcript. But, they had doctorates and plenty of academic/postdoc work, and so the firms didn't care about law school marks very much. But that's also a really specialized area. That said, I doubt they would have gotten hired if they were in the "bottom 10%" of the school despite their qualifications elsewhere. Then again, you never know.

 

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2 hours ago, Ryn said:

The only way two ways I can see this reasonably happening is if your friend has some special skillset that the firm is looking for and they're having a hard time finding people, or if he has a very strong connection with decision-makers at the firm who are able to just outright ignore marks. A third alternative is potentially you not knowing his place in the class correctly. "Bottom 10%" (of the school, not even the class) means like, C-minus or D-ish average. That's really low on the charts and I can't see anyone being hired with those marks at an OCI firm.

For the special skillset thing, I know a couple of people, both at different schools, who got hired doing specialized work at Bay Street firms (specifically, IP) even though I don't think either of them had anything better than a C+ on their 1L transcript. But, they had doctorates and plenty of academic/postdoc work, and so the firms didn't care about law school marks very much. But that's also a really specialized area. That said, I doubt they would have gotten hired if they were in the "bottom 10%" of the school despite their qualifications elsewhere. Then again, you never know.

 

Of course, he is the exception. It is definitely not normal and he got lucky. But recruiting is very random. He doesn't have any of what you mentioned.

I am definitely not saying this is a good idea. But it's not impossible. Firms do NOT publish the grades of their lawyers. In my opinion, they don't care as much as many people think. Especially at McGill. Basically, even if you are in the bottom 30% at McGill, your grades can still be near the average (because most people get a 3.0 B average), so the grading system makes many people look better than they really are.

Also, basically, McGill students are the exception for Toronto firms, they are a kind of diversity students (in my opinion), which adds another factor as to why grades do not matter at McGill. They are looking for something else when they are hiring McGill students. So my advice should only be for McGill students. Feel free not to believe me about my experience and my friend's experience.

Edited by chirico

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On 5/9/2018 at 10:24 PM, bobsaget said:

B curve. B is considered average. That would mean I am below average, don't know about ranking however.

Yeah, slightly below, but not so far below that a small family office won't take an interest in you, especially if you improve a bit in family-related courses and demonstrate your interest in the area.

Look at it this way - you're lucky that family is your chosen area. They tend to be in need of lawyers and this way you don't need to stress about OCIs and grades like so many in your class because you can skip that and still pursue your #1 goal. For you, 1L is just a prerequisite to start doing family law stuff of choice in 2L and then it won't matter a ton. For people wanting corporate jobs, 1L is hugely important. 

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6 minutes ago, providence said:

For people wanting corporate jobs, 1L is hugely important. 

Do you think the same applies for people interested in the public sector (e.g., MAG or Legal Aid)?

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Just now, LivePumpkin said:

Do you think the same applies for people interested in the public sector (e.g., MAG or Legal Aid)?

Yes, because government positions are competitive too and recruit fairly early, as opposed to small family offices that may not hire until later into 2L or even well into 3L when more grades, and more specialized grades, are available, other factors are important too, and there is probably less competition. 

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9 minutes ago, providence said:

Yes, because government positions are competitive too and recruit fairly early,

To my knowledge the only government that styles its justice ministry as "MAG" is Ontario's, so if that's what @LivePumpkin is asking about, then I have to disagree with @providence here. Ontario MAG offers some summer positions but the 'big recruit' is the articling recruit in the fall of 3L, by which time you have 2L grades available. That's not to say 1L grades are irrelevant, but it provides an opportunity for your C in first year torts to be outshined by your A in admin law.

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6 minutes ago, whereverjustice said:

To my knowledge the only government that styles its justice ministry as "MAG" is Ontario's, so if that's what @LivePumpkin is asking about, then I have to disagree with @providence here. Ontario MAG offers some summer positions but the 'big recruit' is the articling recruit in the fall of 3L, by which time you have 2L grades available. That's not to say 1L grades are irrelevant, but it provides an opportunity for your C in first year torts to be outshined by your A in admin law.

 

21 minutes ago, providence said:

Yes, because government positions are competitive too and recruit fairly early, as opposed to small family offices that may not hire until later into 2L or even well into 3L when more grades, and more specialized grades, are available, other factors are important too, and there is probably less competition. 

Yes, I am asking about Ontario. Thank you both! :D 

Also, how is the hireback after articling in the public sector? Do most students return?

Edited by LivePumpkin

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27 minutes ago, LivePumpkin said:

Do you think the same applies for people interested in the public sector (e.g., MAG or Legal Aid)?

LAO doesn't care about grades too much (considering that I articled for them) BUT minimum grades are still a thing and the spots are pretty competitive. Same with gov hiring - lots of applicants for few positions.

I'm a family lawyer at a small firm. Students have sent unsolicited resumes and we have met with a few of them. If I were hiring, I would seek the following:

1. Family law experience. Have you drafted documents? That is a large part of the articling experience.

2. Client service experience. Have you interviewed clients before? Do you know how to get information for people? Can you handle sensitive information in a non-judgmental way?

2a. Experience with diverse and/or marginalized populations.

3. Letter writing. Can you write a letter? I'm not being pedantic - lawyers blow at writing letters. Some lawyers write the most heinous letters that are so antagonistic that just fuel the fire. Other lawyers write the most flowery shit. Letter writing is a skill.

4. Courses completed. Which courses have you taken? Have you taken family law? If not, why are you interested in family law?

 

I honestly don't care about grades all that much. A person with a 3.4 with no people experience is likely going to be a burden on my practice than someone with a 2.6 who is great at client interviews and has drafting experience.

Re: McGill Grades.  51% of upper year students are between 3.0-3.29. 30% of students are between 2.7-2.99. McGill IS an exception to rules as chirico pointed out.

Edited by artsydork
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21 minutes ago, whereverjustice said:

To my knowledge the only government that styles its justice ministry as "MAG" is Ontario's, so if that's what @LivePumpkin is asking about, then I have to disagree with @providence here. Ontario MAG offers some summer positions but the 'big recruit' is the articling recruit in the fall of 3L, by which time you have 2L grades available. That's not to say 1L grades are irrelevant, but it provides an opportunity for your C in first year torts to be outshined by your A in admin law.

True but you get a huge jump on things if you get a 2L summer job early in 2L with your 1L grades don't you?

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I had similiar grades to those in 1L, they significantly improved organically in 2L when I was in courses I was interested in, and I ended up getting jobs for 2L summer and Articling in the field I wanted, including Articling at a Crown's office.

Edited by benschnell
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I would agree generally that grades are less important to Legal Aid than they are to other government branches - civil, Crowns etc.

Legal Aid will care about practical/life experiences, courses etc that show you understand can handle their clients and the type of work they do. 

Edited by providence

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On 5/7/2018 at 12:15 PM, bobsaget said:

I have gone through many of the threads where 1Ls discuss their below average grades and they have been helpful. I have below average 1L grades (about a B- average) and would love to chat with a family lawyer or articling student.I have kinda (for various reasons) decided this is the area of law I would like to pursue but I think my grades are holding me back from getting any sort of meaningful employment in this area come articling time. If any one can reach out it would be greatly appreciated. 

Sorry for another "1L FREAK OUT' post. But I have taken the grades for what they are and now my head is looking forward to how I can improve myself in 2L.

A B- average in 1L is completely acceptable. And don't worry, plenty of 1Ls will tell you they got As when they definitely did not. 

I actually got a C+ in Family Law in 2L (it was bumped to a B- when I discovered a math error in the grading) and I just started articling with a small family law firm a couple of months ago. They didn't even ask to see my transcripts as they were more concerned with whether or not I would be a good fit with the firm and the personable nature of the practice area than anything else. So don't fret, a slightly lower than average first year should not have any lasting effects when it comes to articles especially given that you're interested in family law.

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1 hour ago, providence said:

True but you get a huge jump on things if you get a 2L summer job early in 2L with your 1L grades don't you?

It's an advantage, sure, but (1) many MAG summer students wind up going elsewhere, and (2) even if every summer student returned for articling, there would still be plenty of positions available. Out of the ~12 MAG articling students I've worked with, I don't think any were former summer students.

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2 hours ago, LivePumpkin said:

Also, how is the hireback after articling in the public sector? Do most students return?

Much worse than at large employers in the private sector. No matter how much of a superstar you are during articling, you won't get a counsel position (for more than a short emergency contract) unless there's a vacancy, and you win the competition to fill that vacancy. So there's an enormous element of luck in hireback. And even if you do get a contract right out of articling, it's probably for a 6-12 month term covering a secondment or a maternity leave. After which you may be job hunting again, or you might continue in a series of MAG contracts until you win a competition for a permanent position (probably several years later).

Last time I checked the numbers, a strong majority of MAG articling students did not return (or at least not for long).

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2 minutes ago, whereverjustice said:

Much worse than at large employers in the private sector. No matter how much of a superstar you are during articling, you won't get a counsel position (for more than a short emergency contract) unless there's a vacancy, and you win the competition to fill that vacancy. So there's an enormous element of luck in hireback. And even if you do get a contract right out of articling, it's probably for a 6-12 month term covering a secondment or a maternity leave. After which you may be job hunting again, or you might continue in a series of MAG contracts until you win a competition for a permanent position (probably several years later).

Last time I checked the numbers, a strong majority of MAG articling students did not return (or at least not for long).

I have heard though that former articling students get preference for hiring later - is that true?

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Just now, providence said:

I have heard though that former articling students get preference for hiring later - is that true?

After articling, if you're not hired back, you get two years in the 'hireback pool' during which you can compete for positions as an internal candidate. (You will still be competing against a lot of other internal candidates.) No doubt that's a better place to be, as an applicant, than being an external candidate. If you're an early-career lawyer, it's very difficult to get into MAG if you didn't article there.

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6 minutes ago, providence said:

I have heard though that former articling students get preference for hiring later - is that true?

Yes, I read that on the MAG website. From what I remember, they get put into a hireback pool where they have an advantage when it comes to getting a position in the government over someone who didn’t summer/article with MAG. 

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4 hours ago, artsydork said:

Re: McGill Grades.  51% of upper year students are between 3.0-3.29. 30% of students are between 2.7-2.99. McGill IS an exception to rules as chirico pointed out

I didn’t know that about McGill grades. In Ontario, bottom 10% would be very low. I stand corrected about that. 

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