By Don Macaulay, President and Founder of Law Preview, a BARBRI company
The grades you receive during the first year of law school will likely dictate the professional opportunities that will be available to you upon graduation. As a result, it is important to map out a plan now that will allow you to maximize your chances to excel during 1L year.
IT’S A ONE YEAR SPRINT, NOT A THREE YEAR MARATHON
As you have undoubtedly heard, it is a very competitive legal hiring market and the most selective legal employers make offers for full-time employment only to those students who participate in firm-sponsored summer associate programs that take place during the summer after the 2L year. The truth is that only those students with top 1L grades will get considered for these coveted programs because law firms recruit during the fall semester of the 2L year and only consider 1L grades when determining who to invite for an interview. Consequently, students who view law school as a three year marathon rather than a one year year sprint often find themselves running the wrong race because most of the best jobs will have been filled long before graduation.
“A student’s grades during the first-year of law school are extremely important. Top law firms recruit for their Summer Associate programs during the fall semester of the 2L year and often only consider a student’s 1L performance when deciding who to interview. Grades should be considered a top priority over participation on journals, moot court and other extracurricular activities.” – Mike Telle, Esq., Hiring Partner, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP
TOP 1L GRADES? TRADE UP TO A BETTER SCHOOL
The recent drop in law school applications has many believing that 2014 will present a unique opportunity for students admitted to lower-ranked law schools who wish to “trade up” and transfer to higher-ranked schools during the second year. Many of the highest ranked schools have purposely decided to accept fewer applicants in 2013 in order to preserve (or even improve) their U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings by taking only students with the highest LSAT scores and most impressive undergraduate records. The thought is that these schools will likely admit a greater number of second year transfer students to fill their seats and generate much-needed tuition revenue for the school.
When determining who to admit as transfer students, law schools often consider only one thing –1L grades. LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs may be used as predictors by admissions deans for how well someone will perform in law school. But the best evidence of how well someone will perform in law school is how well they performed in law school. This is why law schools are not asked to report transfer students’ LSAT scores and UGPAs to either the American Bar Association or U.S. News & World Report, and why law schools base their transfer admission decisions almost solely on a student’s 1L grades.