Grades—they don’t matter as much as you think they do. Despite all the hype (especially at this time of year for 1Ls) most employers don’t rely exclusively or even heavily on academic achievement when making hiring decisions. Yes, some employers are persnickety about grades and use class rank as a threshold factor when building applicant pools. And there will be instances when you aren’t going to get over the GPA hurdle to get an invite to the interview table.
The fact is that employers value a whole lot more than grades. So as you build your spring job search strategy, keep your academic performance in perspective. Grades sometimes impact whether you get an interview; they rarely impact whether you get an offer. Moving from interview to offer has little to do with grades and a lot to do with your skills, traits, and motivations.
Don’t believe me? Read what the lawyers and recruiting directors with whom I spoke identified as important traits. I asked what they value in the candidates who receive offers and none mentioned grades. These professionals focused on other indicators of success, including attitude, leadership, time management skills, and a sense of humor amongst the others detailed below.