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Law Student Information on Jobs and Clerkships:
A lot of upper-level law students spend a lot of time applying for and then worrying about jobs, and particularly law firm jobs and clerkships. In light of that, I'm happy to plug two sites that have popped up recently to help students share feedback on these processes: The Clerkship Notification Blog, hosted by Yale ISP fellow Katherine McDaniel, and SummerAssociate.com, hosted (I think) by the whiz kids of the XO board.

  As you might guess, the first site is about clerkships, and the second is about summer associate offers. The two sites have a different focus, but they share the same goal of pooling information to make the job process a little bit less mysterious. If you're a 2L or a 3L who has sent in a bunch of applications and is waiting to hear back, you might want to check them out. And if you know of other sites like this that are worth mentioning, please leave a comment in the comment thread.
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Thank you. This will feed nicely into my ongoing OCI obsession.
9.12.2006 6:03pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Thanks for the link to the summer associate site. There isn't enough information for it to be really helpful yet, but if the word gets out it could be great.

Question: Could it somehow be perceived negatively by an employer if they figure out I've posted to the site about their offer to me?
9.12.2006 6:16pm
Ahmed (mail):
Humble Law Student, I guess it would depend on the employer and how your other posts look.

Of course we're all negotiating for money and other things, so it's not immoral, but they might feel like you are trying to find the keys to the safe. If they really have a problem with it, they may be unpleasant about other things in your career anyway.

Just avoid the sorts of XO posts that people remember the board for, and I doubt you'll have any troubles. You also can obfuscate a little by fudging facts.
9.12.2006 6:41pm
Tennessean (mail):
Although this is not to say those websites are useless -- certainly they are far from it -- but you've got to love the apparent veracity of unchecked data.

E.g., the University of Virginia people who keep entering "Top quarter." It was my impression that UVa did not calculate class rank (except for limited purposes like the LR cut-off or certain awards, none of which presumably would extend to the 25% percentile).

You might could guess based upon the curve about what GPA would correspond to top quarter. However, since the student must make a guess at class rank, since the student knows their own GPA with much greater certainty, and since the student might be a wee bit piqued (_screening interview_ dings at Clearly Gottlieb and KE can't be a common experience around the LR offices), I would hazard that the class-rank guess is probably a shade optimistic.

I also liked some of the comments:

* "didn't want to work there anyway - let someone else get blown up in the Sears Tower while I'm unemployed"

* "first, they called, but i was buying cat litter. then, they tried email, and finally, they smoke signalled, fyi. you know, i really thought the interview went well. we talked about cats. the interviewer had 12, i have three. i thought i hit it off." (surprisingly rejected at the screening stage)

* "The funny part is that I didn't even interview with them--just a gratuitous rejection letter."

* "expected - interviewer openly hostile during screening interview"

* "average GPA, interviewer kept telling me he was sure I had great prospects, asked me where else I interviewed." (rejected, wonder if the interviewer and the interviewee had opposite genders?)

* "White girls with asian guys" (Appalachian School of Law, for White and Case in Fl)
9.12.2006 6:48pm
Tennessean (mail):
Regarding the question posed by the humbler law student (who could surely teach this presumptuous commentator a thing or two):

Although in actuality, I would be not at all surprised to learn that merely posting your information (without judgment, such as some of the comments noted above) would never have any effect, the game-theory, risk-averse law firm would hold even that against you.

After all, what do you personally have to gain by posting? I suppose you could hope your posts might induce others to post. But you can do so only by revealing information about the firm and information that could be traced back to you. (Or, perhaps, by posting false information akin to the data you desire, seeking rebuttal information, although this should also signal to you the worth of the data). How does the very slight marginal benefit compare to the admittedly slight risk? And if you add risk aversion?

In my experience, most law firms are risk averse or at least expect their associates to behave that way (hence holding on to suits longer than most businesses, etc.). So posting even innocuous information could signal to the firm, if they figure out who you are, that you are not their kind.

Of course, this only matters, I suppose, if you get the summer associate offer, and if you do that they will have so much other data on you, that I rely upon the less fanciful answer that, unless you do something particularly noticeable, e.g., the XOXO posting mentioned by Ahmed, this won't matter.
9.12.2006 10:38pm
Anthony Ciolli (mail):
Do you mean these "whiz kids"?
9.12.2006 11:10pm
U.Va. 2L (mail):
Tennesseean:

U.Va.'s mean is 3.3, and a GPA above 3.48 is in the top 25%. It says as much on the transcripts career services gives to interviewers.
9.13.2006 12:10am
Tennessean (mail):
U.Va. 2L - If you happen to have access to the career services version of a transcript, do you mind posting that language? I'm kind of curious (not so much re: this particular volokh discussion, but more re: the pointless ongoing debates I've had with some friends who graduated from there in the past decade or so).
9.13.2006 12:44am
Ahmed (mail):
You hit on it in your earlier comment, Tennessean. If they actually give you a position at their firm (ie, you actually have something to lose) then they won't disgregard you merely because of a benign internet post - they either like you or they don;t based on your performance and personality.

If the firm is so 'risk averse' that they see internet comments as a problem in and of themselves (i actually believe this is possible) then be wary of even bothering with the firm. Everyone here is obviously too comfortable with blogs and forums to be happy at such a repressive place.
9.13.2006 12:57am
U.Va. 2L (mail):
Any student has access; you just have to go in and ask for one. (During OCI, it's helpful to carry a few extra around in case the interviewer doesn't have a copy for whatever reason.) I assume the reason we can all get copies is that they're marked "Not an official transcript, for Career Services purposes only" in huge letters across the top. Here's the relevant language:

"In the administration of its grading system beginning with the fall semester of 1997, the School of Law established a grading mean of B+ (3.3), so that a student whose grades beginning with the fall semester of 1997 are cumulatively at or near a 3.3 level would be ranked approximately near in the middle of the class, while a 3.48 grade point average represented distinguished work and produced a ranking within the top 25% of the class."

Now, AFAIK, there's no ordinal ranking done other than the top 25 for Law Review grade-ons (and, of course, the awards for highest GPA each year). But the mean and top quarter are well-known nowadays.
9.13.2006 1:59am
Tennessean (mail):
Thanks for the info - much appreciated. Since I live to quibble, I must, although certainly none of these critiques are aimed at you U.Va. 2L, and I also suppose I have to retract my critique of the U.Va. law students who claim, based upon 3.48+ GPAs, to be top quartile. Nonetheless:

First, that language doesn't describe what I am guessing the intended policy was. I would hazard that while Professor Mahoney may have been involved in the development of the curve itself (I have no idea if he was or if he wasn't; I just know he teaches a mean Quantitative Methods course), he wasn't involved in the writing of that language. Why they didn't just write "The School of Law established a grading system beginning with the fall semester of 1997 such that the grades for most classes should be distributed so that the mean grade is approximately 3.3 and the top quartile begins at approximately 3.48."?

Second, I thought the policy was (reading from here) "To assist in achieving grade uniformity, the mean grade for each course and seminar will be a 3.3 (B+). However, there is no particular grading curve to which a faculty member must adhere. Thus, the mean can be achieved either by averaging relatively high and low grades or by having most grades grouped more closely around the B+ (3.3) mean."

That sure doesn't sound like either the career services version or my version of the non-curve curve. I wonder what the real policy is?

Third, even if the plan was to assign the grades for each particular class to get to the 3.3 mean and the 3.48 quartile, that would not mean that a student carrying a 3.48 overall average GPA would be in the top quarter of her class. If the curve is applied to particular sections of a particular classes, it is applied to discrete groups which could include our future job applicant, members of her graduating class, members of other law school graduating classes, members of other schools within the university, members of other law school degree programs, and soon-to-be erstwhile law school students (who will later, e.g., drop out or transfer). Distributing grades in a certain way over this group does not mean that the grades will sort out "just so" amongst the particular classes. Indeed, that seems highly unlikely. For example, even if you assumed there was only one degree program, one graduating class, and one particular class, if there are more drop-outs (who presumably do poorly) than transfers (who presumably do well), then the particular class quartile may be 3.48 but the graduating class quartile will be greater than 3.48.

Moreover, my impression was that the "curve" was fairly lenient for smaller classes and virtually non-existent for independent studies.

In light of all of this, unless there is some mathematical genius taking place behind the scenes, I have to conclude:

1. There is a disconnect between the registrar and career services (and possibly also between these two and the faculty) regarding how the "curve" works.

2. The true quartile for the 2L class is higher than 3.48, possibly significantly higher (which, of course, neither the career services office nor the 2L class would want to check or admit).

(If that wasn't clear, I apologize as it is late.)
9.13.2006 3:25am
UVA 3L (mail):
On the topic of grading at UVA, professors do have the flexibility to play with the shape of the curve, as long as they stick with the B+ mean. The grade distributions are published, and you can see that some professors have relatively flat curves, and some cluster heavily around the mean. Some professors are generous with A+s and Cs, while others simply don't give them out.

It might be the case that the quartiles are pretty consistent each year, so Career Services is also correct. For example, the law review grade cutoff (top 25) is almost always around 3.70 (this year's anomaly notwithstanding).

The one pet peeve I have is that the curve is mandatory, even for smaller classes like seminars. It's not uncommon for an A- to be the highest grade possible simply because the professor did not want to give anyone a B-. I think UVA is one of the only law schools with such a draconian curve for small seminars, which is why many students who want to protect their GPA stay away from them.
9.13.2006 11:11am