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February 01, 2006

To 1Ls: Don't sweat your first grades

Scoplaw offers a very timely and helpful word to the 1Ls:

As much as I have problems with Stoicism, please remember, there’s an arbitrary element to grades, and all they’re really telling you is what you know anyway – that you’re in the same ballpark as your peers; better on some things, worse on others.  They don’t measure your worth as a person.  (So don’t act, positively or negatively, as though they do.)  They also don’t measure your knowledge of the law against an objective standard.  They also don't measure your future ability to be a lawyer or even begin to assess the myriad of skills that you can bring to bear on lawyering.  Grades are just points on a curve relative to your peers. 

If you find yourself freaking out, have a beer (or two), sit down, and think about all the worthwhile things you accomplished on your way to this point in time; you're going to accomplish just as many, if not more, great things after you leave here.  And whatever psychological impact grades have, it's already come too late - it can't undo who you are, what you've done, or what you can do in the future. 

So rock on, 1Ls. Keep that bigger picture playing in technicolor on your mental screen and all will be well. Scoplaw and I and countless others before us are living proof.

Posted by mowabb at February 1, 2006 01:17 PM

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Actually, those grades really do matter and really do affect your entire career. It's the difference between the top ten percent student who's turning down $85,000 year starting associate position for something better and the bottom 50% student who is being turned down by the city District Attorney. The people aren't vastly different from each other in any aspect but their grades.

Posted by: Aaron at February 3, 2006 12:02 PM

Um. Yeah, we already know *that* Aaron.

But a lot of people internalize those grades and assign more significance than they really bear; that’s kind of tragic.

Also, (depending on the school) keep in mind that almost everyone can find some kind of legal work that will allow them to a) eat, b) live under shelter, c) pay off your loans. It may not be the swankest of jobs to begin with, but the legal world is just a different beast than law school - people are evaluated on different skills; I keep hearing that writing, research, and actual litigation skills *matter* a few years out when people are looking to lateral. Many successful lawyers were not tip-top of their class.

Posted by: Scoplaw at April 5, 2006 10:35 PM