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Dear Amanda,

I am a 2L. I had pretty good grades my 1L year, but in the fall semester, I really fell behind because of interviewing. My grades plummeted. I thought I had done well in my winter course, but I hadn’t. I am not one of those people who care about grades for the sake of grades, but I am worried about the effect this will have on my job. I have already accepted a summer position at a firm in NYC. Will my chances of getting a permanent offer decline once the firm gets my 2L grades at the end of the summer?

Yours,

Possibly below the curve

Dear Possibly,

If I was an actual advice columnist, I would probably fill this column with quotes from Mark Weber or the good people from the recruiting department at my firm. But, then again, if you were actually worried about your problem, you would probably go to OCS, rather than writing to some schmuck in your school paper. Unless you’re an idiot. Which I guess your grades might indicate is the case. So, if this is really a concern, go talk to someone at OCS. Otherwise, let me regale you with anecdotes that are only tangentially on point.

I seriously doubt that your 2L grades are going to be a problem. Unless the decline was so drastic that you’ve received one of those Cs they talk about in horror stories told around fireplaces in Hastings come Halloween. And even then, you’d probably have to have gotten three or four of them for it to make a difference. About a third of the people I know did really well 1L year, then slacked off 2L year, causing a negative impact on their GPA. But everyone I know got offers from their summer job. What really counts is your performance over the summer.

I had always suspected that grades didn’t count for much other than preliminary screening, and pretty much everything I had heard from first-year associates at my firm over the summer confirmed it. Then, in November, during one of my expeditions to stalk World Poker Tour players at Foxwoods with my faithful Foxwoods sidekick, Josh “Atlantic City? Tonight? Hell, yeah!” Pheterson, we had dinner with the hiring partner at my firm who had flown in from LA to cough up the ten thousand dollar buy-in and play in the tournament. (For those of you wondering why Josh was the sole representative from my poker group in attendance that weekend, let’s just say that the other options were Brian “I’d rather be at a council meeting” Blais and Matt “I am Matt, therefore I am flaky and unreliable” Barkoff.) Now, I should preface this story with an acknowledgement that my hiring partner is considerably cooler than any other hiring partner in the world. Particularly, he’s way cooler than your hiring partner in New York will be. I know this, because everyone in Los Angeles is cooler than everyone in New York City. Also, my hiring partner is a total degenerate gambler, who was once ranked second in the world in seven card stud, and who would make over/under bets about the weather in eastern cities with Chris “What do you mean that’s not a flush?” Chiou over the summer. (Yeah, Chris, you’re going to miss that. You think they’re going to do that with you in the DC office? I don’t think so.) At any rate, at one point, my hiring partner was asking me if I was going to be able to make it up for every day of the tournament. I told him that since I had missed several classes in spending five days in the last two weeks at Foxwoods, I would probably stay in Cambridge and catch up on my reading unless he advanced in the tournament. His reply to that was something along the lines of, “You don’t need to read. We don’t care about your grades anymore. I would seriously contest it if the firm attempted to make a hiring decision about someone based on their grades. You need to have fun during your last year of law school. You need to come up here more often. This may be your last good year for playing poker for quite some time. I know I don’t play as much as I like since I started working, even less since I got married.” Now, granted, this advice is coming from a man who would make air quotes and refer to me as his “niece” when other players would ask him who the girl on the rails cheering for him was. And he’s the same person who’s given me the somewhat questionable advice of moving from the $2/$4 limit hold ’em tables to the $15/$30 limit hold ’em tables. But, still, he’s the hiring partner in a respected firm. And he says once you’re in the door, grades don’t matter that much.

Bottom-line is, if you do well on your summer job, they’re going to give you an offer. But if you’re not convinced, you should talk to someone in the recruiting department at your firm or at OCS.

Yours,

Amanda

Got problems? Amanda has solutions, and she’d love to share them in a public forum. E-mail record@law.harvard.edu.

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