The good news is that you survived your first year and passed all your classes. The bad news is that you got bad law school grades, you are not in the top 25% of your class, and you are not sure what to do. But unless you hate law school, it is not time to throw in the towel.
What to Say During OCI Interviews
Frankly, if you do not finish in the top 25-30%, you might not get many OCI interviews. If you do get some interviews, it is probably because the firms like something else on your resume — prior work experience, interesting background, etc.
During your interview, talk about that stuff. There is no need to defend a grade unless they ask. If they do, direct them back to your other strengths. Try something like this: “Yes, I was slightly disappointed in my grades. At the same time, I learned from [prior experience/work experience] that having [these skills] really helped me stand out in [prior experience].
Practicing lawyers do not remember their grades. Once you have a job, your law school grades are basically irrelevant. If you can get an interview, show them why you would make an excellent clerk, and they may not even ask about your grades.
Find a Way to Acquire Practical Skills
Lots of people who get good grades do law review/journal and tend to become obsessed with their grades. Many of them are too busy to actually work as a law clerk somewhere. That is your chance to separate yourself from them.
Start networking, and find an opportunity to do some real legal work. Depending on the employer, legal experience can be more important then law review. Another good option is to sign up for a law school clinic and get some hands-on experience during the semester.
Your GPA Can Still Go Up
If you are still concerned about your grades, you still have two years to raise your GPA. After first year, most classes are no longer on a forced curve. If you do some research, you can choose classes that tend to result in good grades. You can do the same with professors and find out which ones like to give out As.
Not doing as well as you hoped first year can be a bummer, but it is not the end of the world.