Big firm, big pay ... not-so-good grades

Q: I recently graduated from a law school in the Midwest (3rd-tier) and my grades were not very good. I am living in Virginia (I just took the VA bar in July) and I have no idea as to how to find a job in the DC Metro area. I would like to practice law, anything but litigation. I would love a job at a big firm with big pay and long hours, but that seems unlikely based on my grades and law school reputation.

Any suggestions?

A: I encourage every career candidate to pursue vigorously exactly the type of employment most desired. However, to be realistic, in view of your academic record, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment if you seek only positions at a big firm with big pay and long hours. Such positions certainly exist, but they are extremely competitive in the Washington, D.C. area. Since you just took the Virginia bar, I would urge you to consider pursuing contacts at small to medium firms in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. Your chances will be better there, and you are less likely to become demoralized before you find a job. The secret to finding a job in this context is to network, network, network, and to pursue all options.