Yesterday I gave a talk on interview techniques to the 1L class at my law school. Hopefully I soon will be able to post a podcast of the event on this blog. In any event, I've discussed the points I covered in that talk in a previous post on this blog. I've interviewed in some very tough job markets over the years, and my advice has served me well.
As I was giving the talk yesterday, it struck me that some of my interviewing advice is relevant to the subject of law school exams and grades. Specifically, law students often internalize their exam performance and equate exam performance with self-worth, at least to an extent. Or they equate exam performance with their potential as lawyers. Those are mistakes, of course, but I see them happen all the time. And having been through the law school experience myself, I understand that saying "don't do that" is much easier said than done.
The point I want to make here, though, is that grades are final (except for clerical errors, which are pretty uncommon). And that point gets me back to the subject of interviewing. Much of my advice about the interviewing process rests on the premise that you should focus on the elements of the interview process that you can control, not those you can't. That may seem obvious, but I see far too many people expend a lot of time and energy worrying about whether they are going to get a particular offer. Yet interviewees never have actual control over whether they get offers! Instead, what they do have control over is how they approach the process, and how they interview. Focusing on what you can control means you are more likely to improve your interviewing performance, and also are more likely to reduce stress and obsessive attention paid to aspects of the interview process that are outside your control.
In the exam context, then, let those grades you just received go--good, bad, or otherwise. You can't change them. Focus now on what you can control: what you can learn from what you did right and wrong on those exams, and how you can improve your performance in the future. And next semester, worry about what you can do to improve your exam performance--which you can control--and not about what grade the professors give you, which you cannot. In other words, worrying about the process, and not about the end result, is a way to improve both your law school grades and your interviewing skills.