By Beverly Aarons  7. December 2012

When searching for job candidates amongst recent law school graduates, AmLaw 100 can pick from the cream of the crop. They usually prefer new attorneys who have attended the best schools and who graduated at the top of their class.  But even if you didn’t attend a top tier law school and/or you performed poorly you may still have a chance to find employment at some of the largest and most prestigious law firms. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. 1.      You may need to give it a few years. It’s not impossible to find work at an AmLaw 100 with poor grades if you can prove your value in other ways. But to do that, you will need to build a reputation as a quality attorney for at least a few years.
  2. 2.      Specialize in high-demand practice areas. There are certain areas of law that lack enough qualified attorneys to fill positions. If you focus your work on these high-demand practice areas, big law firms may overlook your less than stellar law school grades.
  3. 3.      Become popular and respected. Once you graduate from law school, immediately get involved in your industry. Speak on panels, run workshops, write articles and volunteer with professional associations.  In general, you must be seen by your peers and superiors doing good work in the industry. If you’re seen as a valuable asset with some level of influence in the legal industry your law school grades will hold less weight.
  4. 4.      Develop a professional network.  By building a strong professional network you will surround yourself with people who can observe your work up-close and who may be willing to give you a professional recommendation. In the legal industry a professional recommendation will hold a lot more weight than law school grades.

If you’re hoping to land a job at one of the AmLaw 100 and you don’t have strong law school grades, don’t be discouraged.  Leverage your other assets to prove that your grades do not reflect the full scope of what you’re capable of as an attorney.

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