« on: April 12, 2010, 12:44:51 PM »
I was on Law Review Staff and on the Law Review Board, so I've worked with some amazing law students. I've always been around the top third in my class, and I got on Law Review either because I am a good writer, or I'm just lucky.
I also hang out with a bunch of students who are ranked around the middle of the class.
I feel like I have a good understanding of what it takes to be in the top half, top third, and top ten percent of the class.
Granted, the top 4 or 5 students might just be smarter than everyone else, but I think work (both hard work and smart work) makes all the difference.
Think of law school as a speeding car. It takes a certain amount of power to maintain 50 mph for a period of time. How much more power do you think it takes to maintain 100 mph for the same period of time? Twice as much? Much more. Probably 4 or 5 times as much.
50MPH in a standard SUV probably requires around 20 horsepower.
100 MPH probably requires around 100 horsepower.
So the faster you go, the more horsepower per MPH you need.
As you go up the rankings in law school, the more effort per ranking spot you need.
Let's say you are ranked 75/150 and you maintain that ranking by studying an average of 10 hours a week. (doable)
To be ranked 50/150, you probably would have to jump up to an average of 20 hours a week.
To be ranked 25/150 (Twice as many spots) You probably have to jump up to 50 hours a week.
This is caused by the bell curve that most law schools use. It's like a distance cycling race where everyone is huddled in a pack, and when someone breaks away some people chase them, and some people conserve their energy and stay in the pack. At the end of the race there are usually a few crazy people who are out front, followed by a small chase group a few minutes behind, and then slowly the groups get larger and larger.
At some point, most students realize that they can't keep up with the leaders, and that ranking 50/150 is just not worth twice the effort of ranking 75/150.
This psychology probably means that if you basically kill yourself all year long, You are almost guaranteed a spot in the top 25% of the class. (Granted, the first 1L semester is full of flukes and anomalies, but my theory holds true in the long run)
Law school is littered with people like me who fall comfortably close to the middle as soon as they realize they can't quite get into that top ten percent.
Next question, for whoever wants to answer it, is whether ranking 50/150 instead of 75/150 will even help you get a job?