I am a fourth-year litigator at a small firm that focuses on criminal defense (DUI, street crimes, etc.). I'm the only associate, and there are two partners. I love being in court practically every day and think I can run circles around my friends who are litigators in the big firms (and have never been in court!). However, none of the big firms in Philadelphia will even interview me. Do grades still matter, even though I have such good litigation experience? (B.R., New Jersey)

Do grades matter if you have good litigation experience?


Dear B.R.,

It sounds like you are probably a very experienced "trial attorney," which is different from a "pretrial litigator." It's important to understand that litigation in small firms is usually very different from litigation in large firms.

In large firms, many of the cases are very big and can go on for years before they either go to trial or finally settle. As such, most of the litigation consists of pretrial activities (discovery, expert witness reports, motion writing/briefing, hearings, etc.) that lead up to a possible trial. In certain large firms, there are junior partners who have never been to trial and some junior partners who have never argued in court. In many mega firms, some associates rarely (if ever) take depositions or argue in court. (Often, high-profile and high-paying clients want the partners to handle these aspects.)