« on: April 03, 2008, 11:15:30 AM »
I will agree that luck is a major, major component of how well you do. At least at my school, there are a handful of geniuses who can consistently seem to do well from class to class (you'll know who they are by the end of 2L year, when they are all editors of the flagship journal and so on). Unless you are one of those lucky few (and even though I'm sure you think you are, you almost certainly aren't), there is a large component of randomness to it.
Here's my experience: First semester, I did all the things you're supposed to do - had a great study group (both the other folks in my group wound up on the flagship journal, and while they're both very very smart people, I taught them as much as they taught me when we were figuring stuff out), read religiously, attended every single class, reviewed old exams, outlined, the works - and wound up smack dab in the middle of the class. Did the same thing second semester, and actually did slightly worse. Nevertheless, I found a decent job through OCI, so basically I figured since my GPA was permanently in the toilet, at this point my only real concern was not flunking out. I ditched the study group and only studied alone, never ever outlined, but kept up with my reading (mostly) and went to class (almost always). I wound up in the top 5% for that semester. I still worked hard, but not nearly as hard as I did 1L. I was pretty much just luckier.
So, the moral of this story is that you have to work hard. And you have to get lucky. One thing you will find (assuming that you go to the best school you get into; it might be different if you are foolish and decide to go to a crappy school) is that law school is full of ridiculously smart people. Differences in how you perform on the exam are both subtle and extremely subjective. It's not surprising that your grades when competing in this kind of pool under this kind of criteria will be all over the place.