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Ann Israel is the legal profession’s Dear Abby. A New York legal recruiter since 1979, Ann is a past president of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants.

Q: I attended a third-tier law school and performed badly my first year of law school, in part due to an illness that required hospitalization. I was able to significantly improve my grades during my second and third years of law school, but, unfortunately, those first-year grades pull down my overall GPA to below a 3.0. I managed to obtain (i.e, luck-into) a position at a Biglaw firm, but have not been happy with the work environment.

After some informal networking, I believe I would be happy with a different firm or, perhaps, an in-house position. I am currently working as a litigation associate but am considering pursuing a tax LL.M. While I am aware that an LL.M. will not compensate for a low-GPA at a third-tier school, I was hoping you would advise me as to how I can best present myself to potential employers. Will my one year at a top law firm help, or will I always be haunted by my JD GPA?

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