« on: March 04, 2010, 05:18:46 AM »
Basically everything here is credited.
There are three facets of "luck" which I think compound each other:
First, on a law school exam, you can go down the right path of analysis or down the wrong path. Preparation increases the likelihood of the former. But you can be unprepared and stumble down the right path, just like you can be well-prepared and wrongly decide that X issue requires more attention than Y issue. This is baseline "luck."
Second, exams are exercises in semi-frantic writing; when you're operating in a state of controlled panic, your performance is going to be volatile. Were a well-prepared student to take the exact same Property exam 10 times (like Groundhog Day, except he's Andie MacDowell--no memory), he might get two As, three A-'s, three B+'s, and two Bs. And that doesn't account for the baseline "luck" of going down the right (or wrong) path as a fluky take on some specific fact pattern. When you factor that in, if you take 10 different Property exams, you might wind up with everything from an A+ to a B-.
Third, finally, there's inconstancy inherent in the grading process. No matter how well you know a prof's tendencies and areas of emphasis, she might write a specific question with something bizarre and unpredictable in mind.
So that's the exam-specific stuff. You can also get sick or sit next to a girl who treats her keyboard like a game of Whac-A-Mole--so on and so forth.
This all might sound extreme, but I know a number of people whose transcripts have 15 As and A-'s, and one B- or C+. It happens.
BUT BUT BUT, the fact that you see people with consistently high (or consistently low) grades is absolutely indicative of the fact that overall success is really just about preparation & ability. My point is only that "luck" exists (it's just another name for uncontrollable variables, but whatever).
Also, OP mentioned writing skills, which for my money is the most important element in getting good grades. I'd wager that SAT II Writing scores are as good or better than LSAT scores at predicting law school class ranks. If you write quickly, cogently and stylistically, you're going to get good grades. That's not luck, but it's also not a teachable ability.
Yeah yeah I know, TLDR.