October LSAT scores will be released in the next day or so, and in addition to reading DGTLSU, prospective law students should consider things such as this message:
My school does not officially rank, and to the extent they pigeonhole students it is by top 5%, 10%, 15%, top third, etc breakdowns. Students talk, of course, and as best I can gather I finished second overall in my 1L class. At the very least I was well above the top 5% threshold. (We have a shade under 300 students in the first year program). Roughly 10% of the class in 2011 and 2010 landed jobs at firms with 100 or more attorneys. Another 2 or 3% of these classes landed Article III or State Supreme Court or Chancery Court clerkships, and it is reasonable to assume they had offers at those kind of firms or will be in position to get one at the end of their clerkship [Ed note: I wouldn't be so sure about that. This was true five years ago, but seems much less so today]. So looking at these numbers one should be pretty comfortable finishing in the top 5-10% of the class. This year's reality says not so much.
BigLaw OCI just wrapped up at our school. One or two offers might still be dangling out there, but for all intents and purposes people either know where they will be next summer or know they have to figure out a plan B on the fly. My school is a T2 in a major population center (top 10 in population city). I don't know what I was expecting in retrospect, but OCI wound up being a white knuckle affair. I got callbacks with 15% of the firms I did "screener" interviews. Thankfully I had a large enough sample where a 15% success rate meant not just a callback but an offer, too. Still, I came way to close to striking out.Other people in the top 5% did strike out. These are folks on Law Review and/or moot court. They are outstanding, personable, sensible men and women who have a lot to offer a firm. But the firms don't have anything to offer them. What was really disappointing were the number of screeners to callbacks to positions available ratio. I don't think your readers (especially the ones thinking of going to school) understand this. For instance one NLJ 250 firm came to my school to screen 20 candidates. According to NALP they do OCI at 9 schools. 7 of them are in the geographic area of my school, so it is fair to assume all 7 schools were interviewing for the same office. Total positions they were looking to fill for next summer: 3. The anecdotal evidence suggests this firm was hardly an outlier but rather representative of the hiring ratios most firms were using. In short, many of the firms who came to my school to interview 20+ people did so with one or two callbacks in mind to produce 2, 1 or 0 offers to my classmates. When you are dealing with these kinds of yields, GPA distinctions such as 3.95 or 3.80 or 3.72 matter as much as what color tie you are wearing that day. All 20 people who interviewed at the above referenced firm had tremendous measureables. All that got you is the chance to be the amongst the one or two they called back. Multiply that by 7 schools, and you are looking at 14 people for three jobs out of a group of roughly 140 who can all say they are 5-10%ers with law review and other tremendous markers. When you think about it that way it is surprising that more people in the top 5% didn't strike out.I sat down with a classmate recently to go over a few items from class this current semester. During our conversation we discussed briefly the year in OCI (we both have summer jobs lined up at V100 firms), and we both agreed that only a fool (ourselves included) would take a chance with law school.
I mention this not to brag, as no doubt most people would love to do well enough to participate in OCI and get a job offer at the end of it. I mention this to put a real story on what the whole process, from the first day of 1L to the end of OCI actually looks like. Enroll at a school where the median LSAT is around the 80th percentile. So already you are "smarter" than 4 out of 5 people going to schools across the country. Work your ass off first semester. Skip Thanksgiving with the family cause you are outlining. Spend half your weekends with your study group, the other half reviewing your notes on your own. Look around you and realize that forty other people in your section have done the same. You need to finish better than all but two of these folks to make top 5%. And what do you know, you do. Congrats. Now do it all over again in the second semester. If you are fortunate enough to ace things again in the second semester then all you have done is earn a chance to be the person to score the one or two callbacks at xyz firm available for the 20 people just like yourself during OCI. And if you do, now you have to ace the process again when the odds are still in many cases better than 50-50 against you. That's what it takes for the vast majority of people (at the non T-14 schools) to land the kind of job that one had in mind at the start of the law school process. Proceed at your own risk.