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Law School GPA Isn’t As Important As You Think, Professor Says

It’s final exam season for law students. And, for many, that means one thing: stress.

But one law professor offers his piece of advice to law students during these anxiety-ridden times: relax.

“These finals, in the context of your legal education overall, aren’t nearly as important as they seem right now. What’s more important, is your overall GPA at graduation,” Dan Canon, a professor of law at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, writes for Law.com. “Learning the language and the culture of the law is difficult, and this first year is designed for you simply to be immersed in it, not to achieve perfection. You’ve got time to hone both your skills and your grades over the next two years.”

GPA NOT END-ALL, BE ALL

Canon highlights that GPA isn’t nearly quite as important as law students make it out to be.

“No employer or client has ever looked at my grades,” he writes. “Academic performance, it must be confessed, is a poor gauge of how someone will perform as an attorney. Thus, the real prize is passing the bar exam. Focus on that.”

Other experts argue that grades do matter…just not equally.

“Some firms, agencies, and judges offer 1L summer clerkships for law students,” Renwei Chung, Diversity Columnist at Above the Law, writes for ABA For Law Students. “Even fewer firms do so without your first semester’s grade report. Thus, recruiters and judges only have your first semester’s grade report as initial evidence to judge you as a potential candidate.”

Chung says that GPA, while important, is not the only thing that will matter.

“Many people who aren’t at the top 10 percent of their class do just fine and have stellar law careers,” he writes. “In fact, 90 percent of law students are not in the top 10 percent of their class. Crazy right? Many would contend that networking, soft skills, and other factors are just as critical as grades are to one’s career. I wholeheartedly agree.”

And in the grand scheme of life, Canon says, grades really won’t matter. And if they do, it’s only for a moment.

“So if your exams seem like the most important things in the universe, it might be because they are, at least at this moment, and so far as we know,” Canon writes. “Good luck, and whatever happens, know that it will soon be forgotten.”

Sources: Law.com, ABA For Law Students

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