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capitalttruth

Got a C+ on first fall term assignment

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Got my first fall term assignment back today, it was a C+ on a criminal law memo worth 15 percent. Even though it's only worth 15 percent, I'm feeling pretty distraught. I worked very hard on this thing for about a month. The fact that I worked so hard on it only to get back this mark is making me second guess my ability to understand the course materials. It's also making me question my ability as a law student in general. The added stress of having an exam coming up in this course in a month, having only received an evaluation with a C+, is shattering my confidence going into the exam.

I came into law school with high expectations, I want to get into government and/or clerk at some point for a trial level court. I'm afraid those goals may be out of reach if I keep receiving marks like this. How do I pick myself up after a mark like that, and should I not draw too much from this?

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you should be grateful it happened on something only worth 15%. I'm not in law school yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I would imagine something like this would actually be a blessing in disguise because it's a flag (and not a final grade destroying flag) that you need to adjust your strategy or approach to the material. 

I would definitely talk to the prof about it, and look into some tutoring from a higher year. So I would say yes draw a lot of from it! But not in a negative way. 

Edited by legallybrunette3

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Definitely talk to your professor to get feedback on how you could improve. A C+ may indicate you are missing a major issue or two.

Use it as a learning experience, but don’t get discouraged. Law school is a steep learning curve, especially in the beginning. Your first mark is not always indicative of your abilities.

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57 minutes ago, capitalttruth said:

The added stress of having an exam coming up in this course in a month, having only received an evaluation with a C+, is shattering my confidence going into the exam.

This happened to me too. I got a C on my very first law school assignment at the beginning of October (luckily it was only worth 5%). I talked to my Prof for more feedback and since then I have gotten two other 5% assignments back in the same class (I got a A- and a B+). For me, the experience was a pretty rude awakening but I used it to fuel me for future assignments.

You are a smart and capable person. You can turn it around.

Edited by flyingfish

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Many of your friends who received Bs and As on this assignment will likely receive a C+ or two over the course of the next three years. That applies to you, too: you might've gotten a C+ today, but that doesn't mean you won't get Bs or As down the road. 

Law school is a rollercoaster, and learning to roll with the punches is key to surviving it. That's what makes the good moments so sweet.

Edited by Tagger
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There are plenty of successful lawyers that struggle early on in law school, Uriel has some excellent posts on the subject: 

But take this as a wake up call, you need to do something differently. It is okay to struggle, successful people are the ones that figure out why and change their strategy. You are not yet at the point where you need to adjust your expectations, but you're right that continuing to get significantly below average marks is going to hamstring your career aspirations. 

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8 hours ago, capitalttruth said:

Got my first fall term assignment back today, it was a C+ on a criminal law memo worth 15 percent. Even though it's only worth 15 percent, I'm feeling pretty distraught. I worked very hard on this thing for about a month. The fact that I worked so hard on it only to get back this mark is making me second guess my ability to understand the course materials. It's also making me question my ability as a law student in general. The added stress of having an exam coming up in this course in a month, having only received an evaluation with a C+, is shattering my confidence going into the exam.

I came into law school with high expectations, I want to get into government and/or clerk at some point for a trial level court. I'm afraid those goals may be out of reach if I keep receiving marks like this. How do I pick myself up after a mark like that, and should I not draw too much from this?

Don't worry about it. I have a C+ on my transcript in a course that I thought I understood (it's my main practice area now and, ironically, other lawyers in my group who I consider much smarter than me consult me on issues related to this area now). I was very worried about during OCIs. It didn't matter. Never really has except in my own mind. 

Edit: if you're getting Cs consistently, you need to do something differently; but if you got one C on one assignment, don't worry about it other than figuring out what you did wrong/prof didn't like. 

Edited by conge

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Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences. It really puts my grade into perspective. I'm going to take heed of your advice and determine how I can improve. I have office hours with my prof on Wednesday.

I should also add that this grade was not curved, so had it been curved there would be a chance it would be closer to the B range. This is still lower than I'd like, so the advice still applies. 

I have an exam coming up in this course in less than a month, going to focus my energies on condensing my summary and reviewing it from here on out. Thanks again everyone. I hope to share news of better grades with you down the road.

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I got a C+ on my first law school assignment too which scared me at the time, but my midterm and final grades turned out fine.  As others have said 15% is no big deal and better to get your first shitty grade out of the way early.  Just get feedback on where you went wrong, adjust as needed and keep putting in the work.  

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Re: aspirations to clerk at a court, just know that this was the experience of a Supreme Court justice during his first term in 1L

Moldaver struggled in his first semester of law school and failed his December exams.[1][3] Moldaver recovered and upon his graduation in 1971, was named his graduating year's gold medalist, an award given to the student with the highest academic average.[1][3][4] 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Moldaver

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14 hours ago, capitalttruth said:

Got my first fall term assignment back today, it was a C+ on a criminal law memo worth 15 percent. Even though it's only worth 15 percent, I'm feeling pretty distraught. I worked very hard on this thing for about a month. The fact that I worked so hard on it only to get back this mark is making me second guess my ability to understand the course materials. It's also making me question my ability as a law student in general. The added stress of having an exam coming up in this course in a month, having only received an evaluation with a C+, is shattering my confidence going into the exam.

I came into law school with high expectations, I want to get into government and/or clerk at some point for a trial level court. I'm afraid those goals may be out of reach if I keep receiving marks like this. How do I pick myself up after a mark like that, and should I not draw too much from this?

Don't worry too much about it. Everyone's going to get a "bad" grade in law school at some point. You have to remember that you're in a room full of people who most likely got straight As in undergrad. Several of them probably went to grad school before law school, too. You are all high achievers. And, since you're all graded on a curve, it means some people have to get a C+. But that C+ is only in comparison to your peers and only with respect to this one assignment. It's not a general statement about your ability as a law student, nor is it an objective measure of your academic ability overall.

Use this as a learning experience. Ask the prof to review the assignment with you and what you could have done to improve. Then take it from there so you can do better on things moving forward.

Now, let's take a step back for a moment. You should prepare yourself for the reality that this may not be your only disappointment. Law school is tough, and when you're competing against your classmates, all of whom are incredibly accomplished just like you, not everyone can be at the top. Most law students are average law students, and that's okay. Average law students get good jobs, too. Even Bay Street jobs -- case in point, I was an average law student and I'm a Bay Street associate.

So, manage your expectations but use this as motivation to see what you can do better. Law school is a bit of a learning curve, too, so that will take some time to master.

Good luck.

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1 hour ago, Ryn said:

Don't worry too much about it. Everyone's going to get a "bad" grade in law school at some point. You have to remember that you're in a room full of people who most likely got straight As in undergrad. Several of them probably went to grad school before law school, too. You are all high achievers. And, since you're all graded on a curve, it means some people have to get a C+. But that C+ is only in comparison to your peers and only with respect to this one assignment. It's not a general statement about your ability as a law student, nor is it an objective measure of your academic ability overall.

Use this as a learning experience. Ask the prof to review the assignment with you and what you could have done to improve. Then take it from there so you can do better on things moving forward.

Now, let's take a step back for a moment. You should prepare yourself for the reality that this may not be your only disappointment. Law school is tough, and when you're competing against your classmates, all of whom are incredibly accomplished just like you, not everyone can be at the top. Most law students are average law students, and that's okay. Average law students get good jobs, too. Even Bay Street jobs -- case in point, I was an average law student and I'm a Bay Street associate.

So, manage your expectations but use this as motivation to see what you can do better. Law school is a bit of a learning curve, too, so that will take some time to master.

Good luck.

I appreciate your advice. Truthfully I don't care if I am an average law student, that is more than good enough for most people. I just want to get a chance at the opportunities I've described above: government, clerking. If average grades allow me a chance to access those opportunities, then that's great. But I have a feeling they may require *at least some* above average grades, which is why I'm a little distraught. I suspect that I will rebound from this and get some decent marks this term, though. Everyone on this forum, including your most recent post, has been really helpful in illustrating some much needed perspective.

Also, I should add that the prof didn't curve these assignments. So I'm not sure what that means if the curve were to apply in this case, whether my mark would be brought up or whether I would stay the same.

Edited by capitalttruth

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27 minutes ago, capitalttruth said:

If average grades allow me a chance to access those opportunities, then that's great. But I have a feeling they may require *at least some* above average grades, which is why I'm a little distraught.

They will indeed require above-average grades. This is only a single assignment worth 15% of your mark; it is not a defining statement of your performance even in that particular course, since you still have 85% of your mark to go. Government jobs and clerking are not out even remotely, and I imagine even if you ended up having a C+ on your 1L transcript, it would not preclude you from those jobs as long as you showed stellar performance in upper years.

Now, I should be clear: if all one gets are straight Bs throughout law school, the likelihood of getting a clerkship is pretty low unless you have something else very compelling to show. Bay Street jobs will also be hard to come by. But there is a difference in being an average law student (having a cumulative B average, with some higher grades here and there), and a law student with straight Bs. The former will open up some opportunities that the latter won't give you. It still won't be easy to get the coveted jobs with a B average, but it is attainable. Now, I will add that clerking is significantly more competitive than landing a Bay Street gig, so if that's your goal, then having an impressive transcript is the first priority, even moreso than for OCIs.

That said, you're still very much in the running even with your single C+ assignment here. So find out what you can improve and keep working at it.

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4 hours ago, Ryn said:

They will indeed require above-average grades. This is only a single assignment worth 15% of your mark; it is not a defining statement of your performance even in that particular course, since you still have 85% of your mark to go. Government jobs and clerking are not out even remotely, and I imagine even if you ended up having a C+ on your 1L transcript, it would not preclude you from those jobs as long as you showed stellar performance in upper years.

Now, I should be clear: if all one gets are straight Bs throughout law school, the likelihood of getting a clerkship is pretty low unless you have something else very compelling to show. Bay Street jobs will also be hard to come by. But there is a difference in being an average law student (having a cumulative B average, with some higher grades here and there), and a law student with straight Bs. The former will open up some opportunities that the latter won't give you. It still won't be easy to get the coveted jobs with a B average, but it is attainable. Now, I will add that clerking is significantly more competitive than landing a Bay Street gig, so if that's your goal, then having an impressive transcript is the first priority, even moreso than for OCIs.

That said, you're still very much in the running even with your single C+ assignment here. So find out what you can improve and keep working at it.

I agree with everything you said. Talking to my profs, most of them said that most students have a diverse amount of grades on their transcript, from Cs to As, but these grades tend to curve higher in upper years when students find their niche and take more courses in that area. 

A clerkship would be nice, but government is my main focus and always has been. For clerkships, I've heard that trial level clerkships are a bit less competitive than appellate level clerkships. I've heard that, for the Federal Court of Canada for instance, one needs a B to B+ average to be competitive whereas appellate level is A- or higher. So when I say that my goal is a clerkship I have trial level courts in mind. I plan to pursue some experiences which may look good to hiring committees for those courts. I'm applying to a research internship at my school, applying to the Law Review next year (at my school, law review is not grades based), as well as taking courses in IP, Admin, and Immigration next year (three areas which I know the FC deals with heavily). I figure if I can get good grades in these courses, it would help my application greatly even if I have some shoddy grades on my transcript (hopefully not).

Edited by capitalttruth

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I did a diploma program with a very close knit group over two years. At the end of that two years, the program head said to us that he was shocked that no one asked for feedback on their assignments before the due date. He would have given us feedback and we could have improved our marks.

Should I be admitted into law school, I am going to test this out. See if they are willing to show me what an "A" assignment looks like, and review things before the deadline.

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3 minutes ago, OyVey said:

I did a diploma program with a very close knit group over two years. At the end of that two years, the program head said to us that he was shocked that no one asked for feedback on their assignments before the due date. He would have given us feedback and we could have improved our marks.

Should I be admitted into law school, I am going to test this out. See if they are willing to show me what an "A" assignment looks like, and review things before the deadline.

It is standard practice for basically every JD student to do that.

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