Pitt Law Works: Volume 4 Issue 2 - February 19, 2009
DOES YOUR GPA REALLY MATTER?
WHERE IT REALLY COUNTSKeeping your grade point average (GPA) up can be vital to your academic success. Slacking off could land you on academic probation, or the law school could yank your scholarship. Plus, maintaining a high GPA is crucial to those who dream of working at a large law firm.
THE REALITIES OF THE JOB MARKETThankfully though, most employers don't enforce extreme academic standards on their applicants. All other factors being equal, an employer is more likely to choose the candidate with stellar grades, but that doesn't mean a so-so student can't land the perfect job. Employers understand that students have different circumstances. Employers take a school's reputation into consideration, but they also understand working to pay your way through school, extracurricular involvement and extenuating circumstances can lower your academic marks. Having relevant experience, such as externships, is key to getting ahead in today's cutthroat job market. Luckily, a superior GPA from atop-ranked law school isn't required to get an externship. Externship site supervisors look for candidates with a go-getter attitude, something that can be expressed in a cover letter and interview - not a transcript.
DON'T BE DECEPTIVEDespite the fact that employers may not automatically cut you for your low grades, it should go without saying that you should never lie and tell an employer you have better grades than you really do. In fact, you should always have your GPA calculated by the registrar in order to be most accurate.
RESUME REMEDIESIf your GPA falls below your standards, you do have options. First, make sure your perspective is realistic. Students come to law school after being at the very top of their respective undergraduate schools. So getting a 3.04 in law school might feel like a crushing blow. We recommend that if your GPA is a 3.0 or above, you list it numerically. If it is below a 3.0 but still a B, list it as a letter grade. Another strategy: focus on courses, such as legal writing, pleadings drafting, trial advocacy, and relevant substantive subjects. Or, focus on tremendous improvements (list your Fall 1L grades and your Spring 1L grades to indicate your ability to identify and resolve problem areas.) Remember, only 10% of all practicing attorneys were in the top 10% of their law school classes. The other 90% managed to stay positive, engage in focused job searches and now, have great careers.
CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS: WHO, WHY AND HOW
John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate ProgramProgram Director: Prof. Martha Mannix, Mannix@pitt.edu Are you drawn to the real life drama of the courtroom? Do you have dreams of becoming a trial attorney? If so, then the Civil Litigation Certificate Program can provide you with a unique curriculum devoted exclusively to training the trial lawyers of tomorrow. The minimum total credits required in order to earn the certificate is 24. Requirements: 3 core courses • 1 clinic/practicum • 4 specialized skills courses • Trial/Appellate Moot Court • Writing Requirement
Health Law Certificate ProgramProgram Director: Prof. Alan Meisel, Meisel@pitt.edu This innovative program is a path for practice in any health care institution,organization, agency, or law firm that specializes in health care matters. You will pour over complex business and legal transactions, bioethics, patient care issues and a host of other legal topics. Course offerings include antitrust,fraud and abuse, business transactions, disabilities and non-profit organizations. Real-world externship experience is plentiful within Pittsburgh's extensive medical community. Students can also keep pace with hot topics by attending the PBI's two-day Health Law Forum.
- Requirements: 4 core courses • 2 required electives • 1 clinical experience • 3 electives â–«writing requirement
Pitt Law Environmental, Science and Policy Certificate ProgramProgram Director: Jennifer L. Poller, Esq., email@example.com Students enrolled in the certificate program will not only learn environmental law as it exists in statutes, regulations, and cases, but also will be involved in its practical application whether that takes the form of litigating and negotiating cases in courts or administrative tribunals, participating in federal and state rule making efforts, drafting agreements, or working in the numerous other contexts which constitute the practice of environmental law and policy-making. Upon graduation,certificate students will be prepared to pursue a variety of career paths including private practice, work as a governmental attorney at the local, state or federal level, a staff position with a non-profit environmental advocacy group or research institution, or become part of a multidisciplinary environmental consulting firm. The minimum total credits required in order to earn the certificate is 22.
- Requirements: 4 core courses â–« 2 electives â–« 1 environmental practice â–« Writing requirement
Intellectual Property & Technology Law CertificateProgram Director: Prof. Janice Mueller, Mueller@pitt.edu The Certificate Program in Intellectual Property and Technology Law is intended to provide students with a basic grounding in the field of intellectual property law, relevant clinical and/or other practical experience, and more in- depth study of advanced topics in intellectual property law and in related areas of law and legal practice involving technology-driven issues and clients.
- Requirements: Three core courses in IP • Two advanced IP or technology law courses • Two corporate, commercial, advanced constitutional, or administrative law courses • One IP or technology law seminar/writing project • One "practical lawyering" course or for-credit project • A B+ grade average in certificate-related courses
International and Comparative Law CertificateProgram Director, Prof. Ron Brand, firstname.lastname@example.org The International and Comparative Law Certificate Program is intended to provide a foundation for careers and further study in the application of legal regimes to transnational and international relationships.
- Requirements: International Law • International Business transactions • Comparative Legal Cultures • Upper Level Writing Requirement • Nine Credits of Electives