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How can I market myself with a poor GPA?

By Edward Honnold

Q: Ever since my last year of undergraduate study, I've been overwhelmed with health and family problems. I went through my first two years of law school just barely getting by because of these problems. I took a year off to handle my problems and now that I'm back, I've been doing better than ever. My concern is with how my potential employers will view my grades prior to my medical leave and also, will they think that I can't "handle" working for them because of my previous problems. I have an excellent working history (I currently run my own family law clinic)with glowing references and very strong work ethics. I am scared that I've doomed myself because of my first two years in law school. What do you advise that I do?

A: Though your GPA in the first two years may prove a challenge in approaching some employers, I encourage you to build on your strengths. Minimize all communication regarding your personal circumstances in the first two years, and pursue employment with the knowledge that your competence is best demonstrated by your more recent performance. If your law school is highly ranked, your GPA will not matter much in the long run. If the law school is less highly ranked, you will want to build on personal contacts that you may already have or can develop in your intended field or specialty area. For more specific practical advice on job seeking, I recommend you read Kim Walton's book, Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of your Dreams. Good luck.

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