I’m T1, But Am I Good Enough?

My question goes as follows: I read a recent post that B students at tier-2 schools will surely fall through the large-firm cracks.  Not to be an asshole, but I’m not surprised.  What about B+ to A- students at tier-1 schools? 

If I go to a top-15 law school and have around a 3.5 GPA coming out of my first year, am I going to get a job during early interviews this September in a city like New York or DC?  Or is everyone who isn’t a 3.7+ GPA student from a top school screwed?

Yes, only people will 3.7 GPAs from Harvard, Yale or Stanford will get jobs in 2009.  No one else has a shot.  The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with a 3.65 from Columbia will have absolutely no chance. 

Your question, while understandable, is nonetheless ridiculous!  Think about it.  How many 2Ls actually have 3.7s from top-ten schools?  300?  Despite the recession, New York is still a big city with lots of law jobs. So is DC.  Not to mention Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.  So relax, there are still plenty of opportunities out there.

Having said that, the legal landscape has definitely changed.  The number of jobs has decreased.  So have the salaries.  Things will definitely revert back to “normal” at some point, but for now, life as a young lawyer/law student is tough.  Competition for associate/summer associate jobs is more competitive than ever—and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.  So get used to it. 

As for your specific question: Will you get a job in NY or DC?  Answer: I have no idea.  I’ve never met you.  My guess is… If you interview well and “present” like a normal, diligent, professional woman (and the anxiety-ridden question you submitted isn’t representative of an overall neurotic disorder), you have a good chance (better than 50%) of landing a job in the city of your choice. 

Your stats are solid (relative to top NY firms’ criteria), so that won’t be an issue.  Firms will definitely want to interview you.  Getting the job, however, is up to you.  Not your GPA or law school ranking.  Believe it or not, firms look at more than just numbers.  Personality actually matters.  I’ve interviewed hundreds of top-tier candidates in my life, and the simple truth is, the hiring decision usually comes down to the following question: Is he or she likable?  If the answer is yes, the odds of getting a job go up.  If the answer’s no, the odds go down.  Way down. 

Good luck.

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Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

12 Comments

  1. Bill Dugan

    April 28, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Wow, what a dilweed!  Is this what is coming down the pike?  Was I such a jackass when I was in law school?  I hope not.  Lady, law is what you make of it, whether you’ve got a 3.9 from a Tier 1 school like West Virginia University School of Law , or a 2.5 from a TTT school like where I went to school.  I made itt OK in law, so you can too.  And you have certain assets I don’t have which should bode you well in the legal world.

  2. BL1Y

    April 28, 2009 at 3:17 am

    What is top-15? Is this the TTT version of T-14?

  3. Are you good enough?

    April 28, 2009 at 5:45 am

    Well, you know what they say – if you have to ask…

  4. Danny2L

    April 28, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I think that’s a reasonable question to ask right now.

  5. Anon

    April 28, 2009 at 8:44 am

    He or she will get a good job unless he/she is a social misfit.  Those are good enough credentials to be in the mix at most top firm in dc and ny.  But like Mr. Ex Bitter said, it’s up to you to get the job.  Once you get the interview, there’s no one to blame but yourself.  Good luck!

  6. Wing Fat

    April 28, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Yas, she real dip-dill, like Dugan say.

  7. lady lawyer

    April 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    no marketing undergrad, but it is all about selling yourself.  If you passed the board they know you have new lawyer skills. Read a salesman book of selling a product and your the product.

  8. Anonymous

    April 29, 2009 at 6:58 am

    You’ll be fine.  Just be prepared and let the firms know you’re willing to work your butt off.

  9. 1L-Local TTT

    May 1, 2009 at 7:53 am

    So, I go to a second tier (also known as a TTT to everyone else) in NJ. Its a Local School and Its Cheap. I have a 3.3 GPA (B+’s across the board.) While I realize that it is important to some people to be “the best” and to have other people be impressed by your intellectual wang, what I do not understand is why people are so intent on going to work for traditional Biglaw firms. Why work 80 hour weeks for ridiculous pay, when you never get to see your awesome house, and people all over the internets are bemoaning their lifestyle. I just don’t get it. Maybe its the slacker in me, but what the fuck. Why be bitter and overworked, when you can be apathetic and somewhat relaxed?

  10. Anon

    May 5, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    To #1
    I hope you don’t have any loans to pay off.  People have different reasons for wanting a Biglaw job: perceived prestige, potential to make partner, working on matters for front page making deals and client and etc.
    However, most people just want to pay off the ridiculous loans – even if it means working in a hellhole for a few years.

  11. M

    August 2, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Based on the top-15 law school I attended, I noticed that students generally needed a 3.5 or higher GPA to get summer associate offers from big-market firms that interviewed at OCI in August 2006 and 2007.  A 3.5 is above the median grade at that school. 
    Some students with lower grades did get offers at big-market firms; they may have had some special experience that interested the law firm, or they may have been affirmative action hires.
    I wish you the best of luck next fall!

  12. Bubble burster

    August 25, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Sorry but for most firms, personality means squat. The only personality they’re looking for is that of a drone. Other than that, grades tell the tale.

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