Question: What happens with bad law school grades?
A question that sometimes arises and strikes fear in all 1Ls (first year law students) is, “What happens with bad law school grades?” Definitely a loaded question. Of course with each school and student the answer will be different. Most law schools grade the first year sections on a forced curve, so there are going to be bad grades. Period. This will result in a lowered GPA for the student that could mean a lost scholarship, lower class ranking, and some schools do cut the bottom percent from the class section at the end of the year.
So what can you do with bad law school grades? With the Spring Semester finals rounding the corner: STUDY! Make sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes you faced throughout the first semester, and focus/prepare for your exams the best way for you. Each person is different, and by now you should know your study habits from your undergrad years, and now having almost finished your first year of law school. Review past exams, see if you can compare outlines with classmates or 2Ls that had the same professors, etc.
However, if you didn’t do as well in your first year as you wanted, it’s not the end. There are still two more years to bring your GPA up, and now a chance to truly specialize your education and training. If you know you want to practice solely in Family Law, become an expert in that area. If you are still looking for a summer position, or decided to take an offer outside of your desired area, don’t worry. Just focus and begin specializing your training to truly excel in that area. Network throughout the summer, dive into your area of the law, and start enhancing the other aspects of your resume and training to bring the focus away from your first years grades and show them your dedication and drive.
Remember that a lot of schools do not continue the forced curve that you experience throughout your 1L year. Often second and third year students are not graded on a forced curve, so there is more room for professors to assign grades that they feel reflect your participation and exam responses. Additionally, these next two years are focused on classes of your choosing as well.
Another drastic, and yet interesting insight, is that if you did have a bad 1L year you could always decide to transfer to another law school. It is a drastic move, but this can help you in a few different aspects. Remember that law student transfers during their second year do not affect the rankings for law schools the same as they do for the 1L applicants, so students with lower LSAT scores than what is normally accepted have a greater chance of being admitted. Furthermore, most schools do not use your GPA from your previous school. Consequently, if you happen to get passing, but bad law school grades, this will allow you start fresh at a new law school.