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Justforlaw

Emphasis on undergrad transcript for 1L and 2L recruits?

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Hey all,

 

I'm a 1L, starting to think about recruits and stressed about the amount of firms that ask for your undergrad transcripts. I didn't perform well in my first 2 years of undergrad and am scared it will reflect poorly on me for recruits. Do firms place a lot of emphasis on undergrad grades? Should I address the low marks of my first 2 years in my cover letter? Thanks in advance for the help 

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No. It's generally not a good idea to waste valuable real estate on your cover letter explaining poor grades. 

First, you may draw their attention to that fact that they may not have noticed. Second, it's undergrad... law school grades take precedence over undergrad. If you did well so far in law school, don't worry about your undergrad grades. Third, there's really no good explanation for bad grades apart from some serious external factor, and very few people can make that claim in a credible way.

But again, I wouldn't bother talking about it. Talk about why you would make a good fit for the firm; don't try to explain away why they should overlook bad grades.

Some recruiters may (very rarely) suggest a supplemental letter to explain away why you performed poorly academically, but not many do. Visit your counselor for specific advice.

Edited by JaysFan364
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15 hours ago, JaysFan364 said:

No. It's generally not a good idea to waste valuable real estate on your cover letter explaining poor grades. 

First, you may draw their attention to that fact that they may not have noticed. Second, it's undergrad... law school grades take precedence over undergrad. If you did well so far in law school, don't worry about your undergrad grades. Third, there's really no good explanation for bad grades apart from some serious external factor, and very few people can make that claim in a credible way.

But again, I wouldn't bother talking about it. Talk about why you would make a good fit for the firm; don't try to explain away why they should overlook bad grades.

Some recruiters may (very rarely) suggest a supplemental letter to explain away why you performed poorly academically, but not many do. Visit your counselor for specific advice.

Thanks for your advice! Follow up: do you think I should include my complete undergraduate transcript (from all 4 years), or only include transcripts from my last 2 years of undergrad? 

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36 minutes ago, Justforlaw said:

Thanks for your advice! Follow up: do you think I should include my complete undergraduate transcript (from all 4 years), or only include transcripts from my last 2 years of undergrad? 

If they ask for your transcript then you should probably provide them your complete transcript...

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OP,

I had 5 D's and 6 C-range grades on my transcript. I also exhibited a downward trend, which is worse than your situation. 

Provide your complete transcript, and do not waste time or effort trying to explain it in writing. 

I can say that my abysmal undergrad marks had little effect on the number of OCIs / in-firms I received, but I did have to explain somewhat during my interviews as to what went on. Not that I had a good excuse - I was forthright in that I was young and lacking in time-management skills. Do not explain unless asked, of course. 

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1 hour ago, Justforlaw said:

Thanks for your advice! Follow up: do you think I should include my complete undergraduate transcript (from all 4 years), or only include transcripts from my last 2 years of undergrad? 

Are you going to cut out the first two years ?

 

Edited by Luckycharm

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17 minutes ago, Luckycharm said:

Are you going to cut out the first two years ?

 

No, I meant do firms ask for your last two years only, or your full transcript. :)

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This is premature. Worry more about your 1L grades. You can have a 4.0 GPA in undergrad but if your 1L average is a B or lower you will receive very few interviews. 

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Firms will ask for undergrad transcripts so you can’t really get away from sending your transcripts. This is very anecdotal but some of the people who interviewed me during the 1L recruit commented on my undergrad grades so they definitely looked at them. I didn’t feel like it played a big part in their decision however and they probably looked at them because I had very few law grades after one semester.   

Edited by andi28

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2L and my grades have been commented on. I didn’t have a “bad year” per se but my transcript does have a couple abnormalities — they were largely ignored and the focus was moreso put on my “good” years/grades/etc. I have had many interviews and only twice have we talked about undergrad grades, both positively; and no irregularities ever came up. 

 

Do not explain it in your cover letter and don’t worry about recruiters seeing it poorly. Just have an explanation prepared.

Edited by wtamow

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On 10/18/2019 at 1:17 PM, Deadpool said:

This is premature. Worry more about your 1L grades. You can have a 4.0 GPA in undergrad but if your 1L average is a B or lower you will receive very few interviews. 

So in order to have a chance at a firm you need to score above the curve? 😦

Are there other ways to get into big law if you are just average? 

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40 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

So in order to have a chance at a firm you need to score above the curve? 😦

Are there other ways to get into big law if you are just average? 

Luck and\or nepotism are probably your best bet at that point.

But having a B+ average puts you in a good spot to be competitive during the process. But Biglaw isn't the be-all, end-all of the law profession.

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On 10/19/2019 at 5:49 PM, thebadwife said:

So in order to have a chance at a firm you need to score above the curve? 😦

Are there other ways to get into big law if you are just average? 

As a student, your chances are lower because there is a lot of competition and most (if not all) firms have a grades cutoff. Connections and nepotism can get you in with B's, along with ECs like being a varsity athlete (this is the biggest one where I've seen average students make the cut), professional artist, and other unique activities that may stick out to an employer. Specialized knowledge may also be an asset somewhere - i.e. applying to an IP boutique with a B average but a PhD in engineering. 

I mean, ask yourself why a Big law firm would have the need to dip into the pool of average students when there are many students applying that are above average to outstanding academically. The Toronto Big law recruit hires a few hundred students and there are over 2000 law students in Canada alone. 

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On 10/20/2019 at 8:34 PM, Deadpool said:

As a student, your chances are lower because there is a lot of competition and most (if not all) firms have a grades cutoff. Connections and nepotism can get you in with B's, along with ECs like being a varsity athlete (this is the biggest one where I've seen average students make the cut), professional artist, and other unique activities that may stick out to an employer. Specialized knowledge may also be an asset somewhere - i.e. applying to an IP boutique with a B average but a PhD in engineering. 

I mean, ask yourself why a Big law firm would have the need to dip into the pool of average students when there are many students applying that are above average to outstanding academically. The Toronto Big law recruit hires a few hundred students and there are over 2000 law students in Canada alone. 

Where do people who aren't above the curve in their classes end up working? It would seem that the majority of students would then not have a chance for firm work? This is all really new to me so I am a bit confused. Is the Vancouver market different form Toronto?

Also, if you have connections to a firm (like, more than just a coffee meeting type connection), how do you make that stand out in a cover letter for an OCI? Sorry for the onslaught of questions and for hijacking OP's post!

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1 hour ago, thebadwife said:

Where do people who aren't above the curve in their classes end up working? It would seem that the majority of students would then not have a chance for firm work? This is all really new to me so I am a bit confused. Is the Vancouver market different form Toronto?

Also, if you have connections to a firm (like, more than just a coffee meeting type connection), how do you make that stand out in a cover letter for an OCI? Sorry for the onslaught of questions and for hijacking OP's post!

I'm not sure your reasons for going to law school, but surely you do not think that everyone, or even most people, go to law school wanting to work at a large corporate/commercial firm. The OCI recruit in 2L is just that - 90-95% of employers are large and mid-sized corporate/commercial firms. There are law students who do not participate in this process because they have different career goals, including students with top marks and achievements. Most people do not go to law school wanting to become corporate/commercial lawyers, in my limited experience. The OCI recruit is the path of least resistance and many students worry about paying off their debt and the allure of Biglaw draws them in, but there are other areas of law besides corporate/commercial that will attract strong law students as well. You make the assumption that everyone above the curve is aiming for a Biglaw job and this is false. 

If you have a connection to a firm that is strong enough to get you an interview/firm offer, why would you need to write about it in a cover letter? Wouldn't you just get in touch with your connection and ask them to help bring you on? This is a taboo subject. No employer likes to advertise the fact that there are some people that get their foot in the door through connections. You go about this process behind the scene on your own. 

I'm not sure what you mean by "firm work" but you can work at a firm anywhere, in any area of law, including starting your own firm. But, yes, if you only want to work at a large corporate/commercial firm and that is all you went to law school to do, you need to try your best to land there as a 2L summer student. 

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35 minutes ago, Deadpool said:

 You make the assumption that everyone above the curve is aiming for a Biglaw job and this is false. 

 

Thank you for your answer! I found this really helpful. I guess I've been surrounding myself with people who are interested in biglaw and it has clouded my vision a bit, particularly because of all the biglaw events at my school that make it seem to be the most popular career choice that everyone is aiming for. Thank you for giving me a bit of perspective!

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46 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

Thank you for your answer! I found this really helpful. I guess I've been surrounding myself with people who are interested in biglaw and it has clouded my vision a bit, particularly because of all the biglaw events at my school that make it seem to be the most popular career choice that everyone is aiming for. Thank you for giving me a bit of perspective!

That’s so weird! We go to the same school but I feel very few people in my group care at all about big law/corporate to the point where I feel kind of embarrassed to admit I find corporate law alluring.

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37 minutes ago, Aschenbach said:

That’s so weird! We go to the same school but I feel very few people in my group care at all about big law/corporate to the point where I feel kind of embarrassed to admit I find corporate law alluring.

Sometimes I genuinely wonder how they pick the small groups

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7 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

Sometimes I genuinely wonder how they pick the small groups

Absolutely! Given how each one has a very distinct personality, I highly doubt the process is random.

 

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