The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Sunday, January 23, 2005


It’s funny the spike in readers I received Friday and Saturday. Could it possibly be because grades came out? Seriously, did you really think I was just going to blurt it out to you?

This past Tuesday, we had our 1L second semester orientation. It was your usual ego-boosting "you are the cream of the crop, you should be so proud of yourselves for coming this far, and this is what you will have to expect this semester" speech. In reality, there were more like ten speeches. To make things seem uber-important, they held this panel-style discussion in one of the other campus buildings in a really fancy dimly lit theater. Each Dean/Professor/Student sitting at the “important people table” gave their own talk about grades. We heard a variety of pieces of wisdom and advice from the aforementioned individuals including: "grades are not the world"; "it is more important to pay attention to your significant other or dying grandparents than your Civ. Pro. grade"; "if you don't do as well as you think, there is always next semester"; "those coming from a different undergrad background may have a difficult time adjusting their first semester"; "grades are no indication of your intelligence or what caliber of lawyer you will make"; "one three hour exam to determine your grade is not necessarily a fool proof system"

I thought it was a very re-assuring pity party, but surely all of this discourse was not aimed at yours truly. I mean seriously, law school is something that I was destined for. Everyone who knows me says "you just have that thing about you...you think like a lawyer." I have an impressive future as a top attorney and my grades will surely reflect that, right? (Okay, so perhaps my thought processes were not quite so self-inflated.)

I got my first grade Friday and to my absolute dismay and utter shock, I DID NOT get an A+ in Civil Procedure. In fact, I am much closer to being just...oh I cannot say it...average!* I know, I know...complete shock to me too. To quote my brother's favorite movie: The Horror. The Horror. I cannot be just average. My mom always told me I was the smart kid in the family. What the hell do I do now? My starting salary (2.5 years from now) just plummeted $10,000. Wandering the streets of DC aimlessly, I have no reason to hurry home. I lack the motivation to study, because it appears that I am dumb. I should just drop out now and go back to being an architect. Oh my gosh, the smart people panel was talking to me! (Okay, so perhaps my thought processes were not quite so self-deprecating.)

So, let us step back and put this in all in context...the bulk of students at my law school (including myself) are extreme over-achievers. This is how they got here in the first place. They come from diverse backgrounds with extreme levels of intelligence and tremendous achievements. They really are the cream of the crop. At least that's what they tell us. Seriously, to look at the resumes of some of my classmates is quite intimidating. Lot of Ivy Leaguers, lot of Ph.D.s, lot of determined people. (And me:-) When you have a situation with so many whiz kids, the bar is inevitably raised. All of the sudden, each of these intellects is doing everything within his/her own power to attain their extremely high self-set goals. Not surprisingly, everyone cannot meet at the top. The main problem with this subjective measurement of grades is that from day one, we are taught that your 1L GPA is all that matters. Despite the pep talk from our panel earlier week, it has been ingrained in our heads that you unquestionably must be at the top of the class. We are to understand that firms will not even consider interviewing someone who is not at the top. Well, um, if my math is correct, there is about 85% of the class that will not be in the top 15% of the class. (Damn, I’m good.) I fail to believe that only eighteen students in my section at a Top 20 law school will get jobs. So, it seems that for the second time in my thus far short law school career, I am being reduced to numbers. After only one semester, all of the “you are extraordinary and we only take the best” speech is translated into a number on a scale falling somewhere between a 1.67 and a 4.33 (assuming they give no D’s or F’s). What does this mean to me? Not a damn thing. No one can honestly look me in the eye and convince me I cannot achieve my life goals because of a grade on a Civ. Pro Exam. They tried to look me in the eye and tell me that my GPA and LSAT were supposed to be an indicator of which schools will take me. I called bullshit on that and got in anyway;-)

Off to study so I can get my A+ in Torts this semester!

*Do not pity me, as the GW definition of ‘average’ is well above the well known average of a “C”.