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Grades influence the hiring decisions in law firms. Institutions primarily decide the grades as also the different levels in the law schools. The levels are a junior associate or a student of law, mid level to senior attorney and then to a partner.

A. Harrison Barnes, the creator and the owner of suggests that some elite institutions like that of Latham & Watkins, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, and Munger Tolles & Olsen always gives priority to your school grades above every thing. There are various reasons behind this practice:

The main reason for emphasizing on grades is that it provides its clients with the assurance that the particular firm deals with the best and the most competent lawyers. If you intend to capture the highest rungs of the law firms, your grades will continue to be an important determining factor.

The Significance of Grades for Law Students

The junior associates who have experienced campus interviews are aware of the importance of grades. The firms while making hiring decisions emphasize mainly on your school grades and the various activities in which you have taken part, for they actually have nothing else to look for since the candidate would have no experience. Apart from the grades, the hiring firms also look for your qualities and your passion for law practice says A. Harrison Barnes, the creator and the owner of Employment Crossing. Practicing law needs dedication and patience and such qualities will be tested during interviews.

The elite and prestigious law schools have set high standards in terms of grades of students seeking admission in law schools. Importance of grades further multiplies as you go down the law school grading hierarchy. A. Harrison Barnes points out that the several researches undertaken reveal that LSAT (Law School Admission Test) score is the best indicator of one’s academic performance as it is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) for prospective law school candidates. This test is designed to assess the logical and verbal reasoning skills of potential future lawyers. Studies conducted further reveal that the law school performance in the first year is the best indicator that predicts whether you will clear the state’s bar exam at the first attempt.

A. Harrison Barnes points out that the expectations of the different firms vary. There are many firms which do not give importance to on campus recruitment. Some prefer only through internal references of their associates. However, importance to grades is an essential factor. There are some small firms that do not attach much importance on grades as compared to experience but the biggest and the best law firms around the United States look at grades as a benchmark for the lawyer.

The Significance of Grades for the Junior Associates

Junior associates with one to three years of work experience tend to bother more about their work experience than their academic grades. As you progress in your career, there is a tendency of work experience taking precedence and grades are relegated to the secondary position says A. Harrison Barnes, the creator and the owner of Employment Crossing.

The most important factor that determines the demand and supply of the junior associates is the fact that most of them avoid getting into bigger firms. This helps them to work harder and get noticed faster. Most of the associates are found to be working with smaller firms that put more emphasis on grades says A. Harrison Barnes. Grades are very essential for a junior associate for the first couple of years of his work experience.

After gaining work experience it is likely that you will specialize in a branch in law. In this way the number of competitors also gets reduced as compared to lawyers with no specialization. Once this happens, there are chances that firms may even seek for such individuals who are more skilled, instead of having high grades, says A. Harrison Barnes.

Surveys conducted revealed that many of the elite national law firms recruit associates even from small law firms. These very firms employed such associates with higher grades. This is the importance of grades to a junior associate.

The Significance of Grades for a Mid Level Attorney and Senior Associate

Potential and skills are the most important parameters while judging a mid level associate. Firms while recruiting a mid level associates or senior associate not only look for grades but also his work experience, his potentials, the field in which he specializes, the firms from where you received training and so on says A. Harrison Barnes. For a mid level and a senior level associate, work experience and grades both make a difference.

The Significance of Grades for the Partner

For partners, the importance of grades is the least. However elite firms continue to emphasize on grades together with their ability to work. A. Harrison Barnes points out however that there are firms that recruit seven out of ten partners without checking their grades. This is primarily because at the partner level, they have secured a lot of work experience. At such times, this experience helps them perform better and this is looked at by law firms which recruiting for a partner level.

A. Harrison Barnes points out that a lawyer’s grades are definitely indispensable at the initial levels of his career. However after reaching a particular level, your ability to work and your experience is what becomes more relevant. The preferences vary from firm to firm. With different opportunities out there in the market, your grades however will definitely open up many avenues in your legal career

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