My Grades Suck and No One Wants To Hire Me

A brave soul shared this story with me but wanted to remain anonymous. We will call him “Joe”. Before law school, Joe worked as a financial analyst. He got a little bored and wanted a career change. He went to law school but continued to work full time. His grades suffered. He thought he could wing it and that didn’t really go according to plan (memories of 1L are coming to mind for me but I quickly woke up after the 1st semester). So he graduated. His average was well, below, way below average. With no articling position, he decided to write the Bar exams. He passed (still worked full time)! With that goal accomplished off he went and cold-called and emailed every firm he could think of (over 300 firms/organizations). This is his story in his words. 

Failing was never my goal. I went into law school with what I recognize now was blind faith. I always aced everything prior to law school without much effort. I barely had to show up to class and almost always aced my exams. I figured I could do the same in law school. I was wrong. Three years of school coupled with three years of full time work sounds like an impossible feat but, I somehow pulled it off. Sure I practically got kicked out of my program but surely employers would recognize how incredible I was. How, against all odds, I continued to support my mother who has been battling MS for almost 10 years now. Except no one cared. No one still cares. Two years later, I have a law degree but no articling position in sight. But hey, I passed the Bar! I guess I’m not stupid after all.

I started to think I should give the LPP program a shot. I mean why not? Sounded promising. After 8 months I could finally practice. Maybe start my own firm. I could BE Louis Litt sans Harvey of course but close enough. I started to read up on the program and frankly, I began to worry. Would I be perceived as second tier? I still laugh out loud at the very thought of that. At this point, I was probably 4th or 5th tier given my horrible transcript. I gave up on the idea. I just could not see myself in the program.

I attended something like 2 million OBA, CBA, WHATEVER A, events in order to network and spread the word that I was desperate to get called to the Bar. It didn’t work. People “promised to forward my CV to their friends” or “would let me know if they hear anything”. They never heard anything. I never heard anything. I was still jobless, hopeless and in the process made a new friend named depression. People told me I was just a little sad and needed to “exercise to lift my spirits”. A quick note on that, don’t try to cure depression with your wise words. Even qualified individuals who have spent half of their adult lives in school haven’t been able to cure depression. Sometimes just listening to your friend with no judgement really is all they need. It helps a lot, trust me.

Fast forward to today. I am still depressed but luckily my depression is under control thanks to a wonderful therapist and my supportive family. What I realized in all of this is that a career as a lawyer is not for me. I don’t just say this because I practically failed out of law school although to be fair maybe that was a sign I chose to ignore. I do appreciate the training that I received and I truly do believe that the skills I acquired in law school are absolutely transferable. It wasn’t a waste and I still follow current events to keep myself sharp. The good news is that although I am not a lawyerI am proud to say that I started working in a policy role in Ottawa and am quite happy where I am today. So the point of all of this I suppose is to say, if you find yourself hitting a wall because your transcript is not Bay Street worthy, there is hope. How boring would it be if we all followed the same path?

Advice, Career