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Did my good grades screw me out of getting a job in a firm?

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So let me preface this with I do understand I am probably overthinking this. However, I have had a few interviews lately (unsuccessful) and have talked to upper years (not about me specifically, about the legal field generally) about this topic and multiple people seem to have the same opinion that high grades mean less law firm opportunities. I do not think my grades are the best, there are absolutely many, many students who have done much better. What my concern is that they are not 'the best' which opens up every opportunity but that they are also 'too good' to get a job practicing. My interviews have been starting with "Well, I see from your transcript that you did very well, good job, however if you're interested in the academic side of law we cannot provide that here so you may want to look somewhere else' without asking me about my interests first, and with a CV which focuses solely on the practice of law (in their areas) not the academic side. My colleges opinions seem to be 'high grades get you to an MA not to a firm". So, I figured I would post here, with all my grades laid out, where no one knows who I am so there is no bias, and ask: "Will my grades negatively impact my chances of practicing law?" For context I go to the University of Ottawa, all but my thematic (W) (not specified for confidentiality, it was a class of 20 students), ADR (J) and property (F) were year long courses. 

Torts: A+

Contracts: A

Criminal: A-

Property: A-

ADR: B+

Thematic: B

Legal Research: C+ 

PubCon: S 

I hope I am overthinking it and I have the same chance as everyone else come OCI's and articling, but with the COVID pandemic affecting firms and the shop talk law students do, I figured I needed some advice from those in the field, and not coming from a family who knows any lawyers, this forum is all I've got!

Thank you in advance

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Posted (edited)

Personally, I do not think high grades limit opportunities in firms as you've been told by others. In my experience, the markets which really value grades filter for the students with the top grades. In regions that do not value grades to as great an extent typically don't care if you're grades are stellar or not. 

In this regard, having good grades opens up opportunities in markets that care for grades, but have minimal impact on markets that do not care all that much on grades. 

That being said, during my 1L interviews there was a firm which straight up told me during the interview that they found it hard to believe a person from my school was applying to their firm. As such, there's probably some employers who may feel their time would be wasted hiring a student with good grades because of their own perceptions that you'd likely not want to work for them in the immediate or long term. As such, it may be worthwhile to show your interest in these firms when conversations shift to the type mentioned above. I'd still say these sorts of occurrences are not frequent and therefore are more an exception to the general rule that good grades won't adversely impact your opportunities. 

Edited by LeoandCharlie
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Posted (edited)

Don’t mean to be rude here but your grades aren’t that high. You’re obviously a great student but these grades don’t make your jaw fall open. I can imagine no world where you’ll be negatively impacted by a few variant As.

Edited by FingersCr0ssed
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I mean, you said it yourself... Your grades aren't THAT great. Especially with the likely grade inflation that will come out of the COVID grading scheme at Ottawa this year. My grades were similar last year and I got 12 OCIs and a job. However, I knew students who had straight As and got more OCIs than they could schedule. So don't worry for a second about having too good of grades... I'd estimate you'll do fine getting OCIs, then it's just up to your personality.

As a matter of fact, I find the idea that too good of grades will prohibit you from getting into a firm to be quite absurd. There are lawyers in every major firm that were SCC clerks, summa cum laude, gold medallists, etc. 

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41 minutes ago, LegalQueen96 said:

My colleges opinions seem to be 'high grades get you to an MA not to a firm"

Your colleague is an insecure ass. Don't worry. Keep aiming to do as well as you can. Good grades won't hurt you.

But you may consider getting your cover letter reviewed to really emphasize interest in practice.

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I mean this nicely: your grades are good, but they’re not that good. Once you adjust to Pub Con being either a C or C-, you’re essentially a mid-to-low B+ average student, aren’t you? A solid 20% of your class is likely above you.

I think high grades can limit some opportunities. If you’re a straight A student, firms that are used to applications from less academically accomplished students are going to wonder why you want to work there, instead of at Henein Hutchinson or Stockwoods or whatever firm has a reputation in your field for hiring academically accomplished students.

But you’re not anywhere close to the stage where people start wondering why you’re applying to them instead of Stockwoods. Which means that if firms are writing you off as being too academic, something else is wrong with your application. Maybe your cover letter sounds too academic, maybe it’s something in your cover letter, or maybe you’re giving off that vibe during interviews. Figure out what it is, and fix it. 

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Where else do you imagine most law students get hired but at law firms? 

What's more concerning here is your reliance on your "colleagues" opinions. Do they have jobs of their own? Seems rather strange that they would be telling you that good grades lead only to academia and to aim for less than you are now. In fact, I'd caution you to be very wary of such people and actually connect with some alumni and lawyers instead. 

Law school is a trade school to make lawyers. That is its core function. Not many people attend law school solely to learn and teach the law. 

Most people do not find law jobs in 1L. You still have two more years of law school to go. You will be just fine. 

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Thank you all this is exactly what I was hoping to hear. I know my grades are not phenomenal (I am proud, I worked hard, but they are not shockingly good) and never would have lumped myself into this category if I hadn't had these specific experiences with interviewers questioning my ability/desire to work in a firm vs pursuing academia which was quite disenharetening as I went into all interviews knowing I would have to defend my S (which never even came up), but never thinking I'd have to defend my desire to work in a firm. So thank you all this has been very helpful! 

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This is the weirdest grade anxiety thread on here. Usually there are a couple posters with grades like yours are like "will I be okay with a C+ in LRW? I heard that seven sisters firms think LRW is the most important because as a student you will mostly be researching and writing memos." 

Congratulations on doing well in 1L. Your transcript will definitely not be holding you back in the recruit. 

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8 minutes ago, feraenaturae said:

This is the weirdest grade anxiety thread on here. Usually there are a couple posters with grades like yours are like "will I be okay with a C+ in LRW? I heard that seven sisters firms think LRW is the most important because as a student you will mostly be researching and writing memos." 

Congratulations on doing well in 1L. Your transcript will definitely not be holding you back in the recruit. 

You are 100% right . The LRW doesn't concern me too much because I do not want to work in Toronto, and if I need to explain it within an interview I know it was the first exam I wrote at home during a global pandemic, and within my other courses I have marks based almost entirely (or entirely) on research and writing so I can refer employers to those experiences if I get in the door to an interview to hopefully make up for the C+. Thank you ! 

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Just now, LegalQueen96 said:

You are 100% right . The LRW doesn't concern me too much because I do not want to work in Toronto, and if I need to explain it within an interview I know it was the first exam I wrote at home during a global pandemic, and within my other courses I have marks based almost entirely (or entirely) on research and writing so I can refer employers to those experiences if I get in the door to an interview to hopefully make up for the C+. Thank you ! 

Oh man, to be clear, I was joking! You might get asked about it, just because the grade is such an outlier. But I just want to clarify that I was joking and completely making up the idea anyone thinks LRW is the most important for hiring. I have never heard that, but have actually heard the opposite as a rumour (no clue if that had any truth to it).

You should have an explanation for it prepared before interview season. Maybe you were just writing it reductively, but I'm not sure saying it's the first exam you wrote at home during a global pandemic is the best answer you could give.

I don't know your circumstances, but I think you could come up with a stronger answer. One that shows critical self-reflection and the ability to learn from your mistakes/weaknesses to become better. For example, identifying specifics of what went wrong and what you learned from it.

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28 minutes ago, LegalQueen96 said:

Thank you all this is exactly what I was hoping to hear. I know my grades are not phenomenal (I am proud, I worked hard, but they are not shockingly good) and never would have lumped myself into this category if I hadn't had these specific experiences with interviewers questioning my ability/desire to work in a firm vs pursuing academia which was quite disenharetening as I went into all interviews knowing I would have to defend my S (which never even came up), but never thinking I'd have to defend my desire to work in a firm. So thank you all this has been very helpful! 

It may well be that there is some general issue with your approach to applications and interviews. If the same concerns keep coming up at interviews, you need to question why that's happening. It definitely isn't that your grades are too good. That concern is...strange. I'll leave it at that. But just because it isn't the reason you were worried it might be doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist. It just means it isn't coming from where you think it's coming from. I'd really suggest you should be looking elsewhere to locate the problem, because there probably is one. But it isn't that your grades are too good.

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3 minutes ago, feraenaturae said:

Oh man, to be clear, I was joking! You might get asked about it, just because the grade is such an outlier. But I just want to clarify that I was joking and completely making up the idea anyone thinks LRW is the most important for hiring. I have never heard that, but have actually heard the opposite as a rumour (no clue if that had any truth to it).

You should have an explanation for it prepared before interview season. Maybe you were just writing it reductively, but I'm not sure saying it's the first exam you wrote at home during a global pandemic is the best answer you could give.

I don't know your circumstances, but I think you could come up with a stronger answer. One that shows critical self-reflection and the ability to learn from your mistakes/weaknesses to become better. For example, identifying specifics of what went wrong and what you learned from it.

Very true! I asked the Professor for feedback on my exam and so know exactly I went wrong and how to improve going forward, just did not want to post the whole spiel here. 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Diplock said:

It may well be that there is some general issue with your approach to applications and interviews. If the same concerns keep coming up at interviews, you need to question why that's happening. It definitely isn't that your grades are too good. That concern is...strange. I'll leave it at that. But just because it isn't the reason you were worried it might be doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist. It just means it isn't coming from where you think it's coming from. I'd really suggest you should be looking elsewhere to locate the problem, because there probably is one. But it isn't that your grades are too good.

Maybe [there is a problem]. But it could also be that summer jobs open to 1Ls after the year is done are usually also open to 2Ls, and lots of great candidates don't get a law job 1L summer only to do fine (or clean up with offers) in the 2L recruit?

Edited by feraenaturae
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The random things that give law students anxiety NEVER ceases to amaze me. 
 

OP you’ll be fine. 

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12 hours ago, feraenaturae said:

Maybe [there is a problem]. But it could also be that summer jobs open to 1Ls after the year is done are usually also open to 2Ls, and lots of great candidates don't get a law job 1L summer only to do fine (or clean up with offers) in the 2L recruit?

If the "problem" we're talking about is simply that the OP hasn't got a 1L summer job, I would agree that's easily normal enough it doesn't need any kind of further explanation. But in this case, the "problem" seems to be repeated interactions where potential employers believe the OP isn't interested in practicing law but rather in academia. And if that's happening, I have to believe it's coming from more than a moderately strong transcript of grades.

Side note. I happen to believe most employers and interviewers are very good at what they do. When they are identifying a common problem, not only is there (a) probably a reason why they are putting their finger on this, but also (b) probably a good reason rooted in reality. That isn't to say they are infallible. But I'm struck by how the OP has indicated they put together a CV that emphasizes their interest in practice and not that they actually are interested in practice. There's nothing like "this is what I really want to do - why don't they believe me!" it's more like "I've presented it this way, so why don't they believe me."

I'll invite the OP to comment further. But quite honestly, this happens in legal practice a lot and I won't apologize for bringing my instincts as a lawyer to this forum. People ask questions all the time when the question is only a route to trace backwards to their real problem. In this case, the question itself is, with due apology, frankly kinda dumb. No, you aren't being denied a 1L summer job because your grades are too good. If anything, these jobs are only realistically available for people who have strong grades, because there are relatively few of them. But there's a real issue here (I'd guess) and probably relates to something in the OP's actual interests, intentions, or career goals (or, potentially, the lack of them). That's what's happening here, if anything.

So, tell us more if you'd like to. Or not, as you prefer.

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13 hours ago, LegalQueen96 said:

So let me preface this with I do understand I am probably overthinking this. However, I have had a few interviews lately (unsuccessful) and have talked to upper years (not about me specifically, about the legal field generally) about this topic and multiple people seem to have the same opinion that high grades mean less law firm opportunities. I do not think my grades are the best, there are absolutely many, many students who have done much better. What my concern is that they are not 'the best' which opens up every opportunity but that they are also 'too good' to get a job practicing. My interviews have been starting with "Well, I see from your transcript that you did very well, good job, however if you're interested in the academic side of law we cannot provide that here so you may want to look somewhere else' without asking me about my interests first, and with a CV which focuses solely on the practice of law (in their areas) not the academic side. My colleges opinions seem to be 'high grades get you to an MA not to a firm". So, I figured I would post here, with all my grades laid out, where no one knows who I am so there is no bias, and ask: "Will my grades negatively impact my chances of practicing law?" For context I go to the University of Ottawa, all but my thematic (W) (not specified for confidentiality, it was a class of 20 students), ADR (J) and property (F) were year long courses. 

Torts: A+

Contracts: A

Criminal: A-

Property: A-

ADR: B+

Thematic: B

Legal Research: C+ 

PubCon: S 

I hope I am overthinking it and I have the same chance as everyone else come OCI's and articling, but with the COVID pandemic affecting firms and the shop talk law students do, I figured I needed some advice from those in the field, and not coming from a family who knows any lawyers, this forum is all I've got!

Thank you in advance

Your grades are just above average. Your GPA is around 7.0?

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Luckycharm said:

Your grades are just above average. Your GPA is around 7.0?

Lol, what? 

It looks like OP went to Ottawa. They have a 10, 9, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5. Using a weighted average calculator to account for differing course credits (that C+ was in a one credit course), it looks like their gpa is around 8.1. So an A- average, or if you prefer, above Ottawa’s internal cutoff to apply to the ONCA or SCC. 

They’re well above average. 

Edited by easttowest
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14 hours ago, LegalQueen96 said:

So let me preface this with I do understand I am probably overthinking this. However, I have had a few interviews lately (unsuccessful) and have talked to upper years (not about me specifically, about the legal field generally) about this topic and multiple people seem to have the same opinion that high grades mean less law firm opportunities. I do not think my grades are the best, there are absolutely many, many students who have done much better. What my concern is that they are not 'the best' which opens up every opportunity but that they are also 'too good' to get a job practicing. My interviews have been starting with "Well, I see from your transcript that you did very well, good job, however if you're interested in the academic side of law we cannot provide that here so you may want to look somewhere else' without asking me about my interests first, and with a CV which focuses solely on the practice of law (in their areas) not the academic side. My colleges opinions seem to be 'high grades get you to an MA not to a firm". So, I figured I would post here, with all my grades laid out, where no one knows who I am so there is no bias, and ask: "Will my grades negatively impact my chances of practicing law?" For context I go to the University of Ottawa, all but my thematic (W) (not specified for confidentiality, it was a class of 20 students), ADR (J) and property (F) were year long courses. 

Torts: A+

Contracts: A

Criminal: A-

Property: A-

ADR: B+

Thematic: B

Legal Research: C+ 

PubCon: S 

I hope I am overthinking it and I have the same chance as everyone else come OCI's and articling, but with the COVID pandemic affecting firms and the shop talk law students do, I figured I needed some advice from those in the field, and not coming from a family who knows any lawyers, this forum is all I've got!

Thank you in advance

I'll admit that I only read the first few lines of your post, but I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts that you'll do just fine in OCIs/the job market generally speaking. 

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, easttowest said:

Lol, what? 

It looks like OP went to Ottawa. They have a 10, 9, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5. Using a weighted average calculator to account for differing course credits (that C+ was in a one credit course), it looks like their gpa is around 8.1. So an A- average, or if you prefer, above Ottawa’s internal cutoff to apply to the ONCA or SCC. 

They’re well above average. 

They’re realistically closer to a B+ average, since OP clearly got either a D, D+, or C in PubCon. And more realistically, they probably got a D or D+, since it would be silly to hide a C when it’s the highest possible grade they could have gotten.

Plus, didn’t Ottawa do some weird thing where you could keep your midterm grade OR see your final grade and keep it OR see your final grade and hide it? That’s going to significantly affect what an average and well above average grade out of U Ottawa will be, this year.

OPs grades are good. They’ll get them interviews at firms, and possibly even interviews at appellate courts, if they want. But they’re not incredibly high. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois

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