Published August 1, 2019
As a law student, letters can mean the world; whether it’s letter grades or letters from loved ones, they are all a huge part of the university experience, but the three most important letters to a law student are G-P-A. Here’s your go-to guide to figuring out that all important grade point average and what it can mean for you as a law student.
Most law schools follow a 4.0 Grade Point Average scale, which is determined based on
(Total Quality Points) / (Total Credit Hours)
To achieve those numbers, the grade earned for a class is assigned a Quality Point value. Here’s how that typically breaks down for every letter grade. It should be noted that courses that are failed for any reason are counted towards your GPA, but courses that are marked as “S” or “Pass” do not count towards GPA calculation.
A = 4.0
A- = 3.67
B+ = 3.33
B = 3.0
B- = 2.67
C = 2.0
D = 1.0
F = 0.0
Once you get back your grades for the semester, add up the quality points from each class, then divide that number by total credits for that term, and boom! There’s your GPA!
Some law schools recognize class ranks, some do not. While the UB School of Law does not recognize a numerical class rank, it provides various GPA rank benchmarks, ranging from top 5% to top 25% of the class so that individuals may provide percentile class rank information to other parties that they find appropriate.
Check with your school to learn about their individual policies on class rank.
Your law school GPA will have an impact on your program eligibility, and may impact your eligibility to:
Requirements will vary by law school so be sure to revisit your school’s academic policies, which you most likely reviewed and signed during new student orientation.
As you probably know, your law school GPA can be important as you apply for legal internships and jobs. While your GPA is very important, it isn’t the end of the road. There are still plenty of ways you can stand out as a prospective employee.
One way to make yourself stand out if your GPA isn’t where you want it to be is to be able to self-reflect on why your grades aren’t as high as they could be. Did you struggle in one class, but worked extremely hard and did much better moving forward? Many firms will consider this and appreciate your dedication to self-improvement.
Another way you can come back from a lower law school GPA is to gain valuable work experience. Doing internships at law firms will help you gain relevant experience that firms you’re applying to will value. Bonus points if you pursue multiple externships and/or clinical opportunities.
UB School of Law offers many different experiential learning opportunities to help enrich your law school experience. From clinics, to externships, to moot court, to providing pro bono services, there is no shortage of spaces to explore co-curricular activities. All of these opportunities can give you a boost if your GPA is less-than-stellar.
Hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn how to do a job, and will provide context to things you learned in the classroom. These opportunities can help strengthen your understanding of difficult concepts and make you a more promising job candidate.
Short answer: your law school GPA matters. Employers will be looking at it, so do your best and work as hard as you can to get the best possible grades. Prestigious firms will look for higher GPAs and you may not be their first choice if yours isn’t the strongest.
On the flip side, don’t feel like a lost cause if your law school GPA isn’t exactly where you want it to be. Plenty of people with lower law school GPAs land great jobs! Your life isn’t over if you don’t have a 4.0.
Your experience outside of the classroom is a major factor in forming connections with other law professionals, and is also pivotal in gaining the hands-on experience you just can’t get in the classroom.