Until recently, I really enjoyed this thread because the information shared was extremely relevant to the majority of 0L’s concerns, which, to me, essentially deal with how we can maximize our potential as a first year law student. The thread started out on a good note with the UVA_2L sharing what worked for him with the added credibility of good grades at a good school to back it up. His story, like most information shared on a discussion board, was anecdotal and therefore subject to criticism by others who didn’t study in the exact same way. Most of those posts were interesting to me as well since I want to learn as many ideas about studying as possible so as to develop my own strategic approach to law school.
However, The TexasLawGuy’s “Intellectual Determinism Post” tainted the usefulness of this thread when he claimed,
“Please don't waste your money on a ton of crap to try and do well in law school. Just show up, be diligent, be social, and keep your head on straight. If you've naturally got what it takes, you will be at the top of your class. If you don't, you will still end up doing just fine.”
There were a few posts in rebuttal, but they were neither strong enough nor numerous enough.
The main problem I have with this post is not so much about whether he is right or wrong--though I do think he‘s wrong. Instead, I believe thinking in this way provides zero benefits for 0Ls. To think that we will all “naturally” end up in a certain place in class regardless of how much we work is completely at odds with everyday experience. We clearly can’t all end up in the top of our class, but I don’t think that is the ultimate goal of most 0Ls anyway.
Like I said before, the goal is maximizing our potential. I’ll never be able to run a four minute mile, but does that mean I can never get faster? I’ll never bench press 600lbs, does that mean I’ll never get stronger? Or maybe more relevantly, I can’t score a 180 on the LSAT, so I might as well “show up” and give a “diligent” effort when test day comes? The analogies are endless, but all are illustrative of the fact that what we do and how we do it IS important to the outcomes we receive. Studying the law is no exception.
I can see why determinism can be seductive since two people, or two hundred, can work there butt off on the same task, (law school) and achieve very different outcomes. I realize we each have limitations. But rarely do we ever know what those limitations truly are. Only working to improve our performance will ever bring those limitations to light. To me, working to perform well in law school means developing a strategic approach based on my own skills and weaknesses. Believing that we have somehow already reached our potential without testing the waters, provides no benefit for anyone.
For the most part, I agree. I definitely think that deterministic thoughts pre-law school are deadly. How do any of us know that we are "naturally" capable of top 5% if we haven't even had a class yet? But, I think TX-feminine hygiene product guy has a small point: stop trying to figure out your own strategy by what has worked for others (which you certainly alluded to). this statement is not meant to suggest that listening to others' advice is bad, but just a starting point.
Also, maybe there is some kind of natural ability that comes into play, but thinking you have it as a 0L can only be disastrous. Those are the same feminine hygiene products that end up at the bottom of the class, cause they just 'knew' they 'got it.'
Moral of this whole drawn out thread could possibly be: stop reading this board, get a life, do the readings, eat well, rest plenty, maybe even exercise, and NEVER go on a discussion board talking about how you just have "it".
After all, we all have "it"; it's called poo.