Wednesday, October 05, 2005

IQ stands for Income Quotient: Money helps you pass law school

To "jp" who did not leave an email link (text of his/her comment below):

Belle -- I realize this is going off on a tangent, but I'm curious about your statement "I've seen a lot of dumb people pass law school with the help of their parents' money."

My question is, How does parents' money help a person pass law school? The only direct form of help I can think of is paying for tutors, and I'm not sure if that could really remedy dumbness (as opposed to laziness).


First off, their parents' money sends them to private, elite lower education institutions where the quality of their education triggered their intelligence, if they were born with it. If not, they simply got the pedigree and perhaps the school got a new gymnasium in exchange for passing the dumb but rich student.

Then they get accepted into ivy league law schools despite poor grades and/or LSAT scores because their parents are alumni.

Once in law school, they do not have to split their focus from studying to work a job because their parents are footing the entire bill. This allows them twice the study time (and potential time to meet with tutors, to incorporate your example) as a dissimilarly situated student. I use myself as an example: my top 30 percentile rank dropped into the lower 50 percentile when my money ran out and I had to work in addition to attending school full-time. It wasn't because I was lazy, nor because I was dumber than my peers. It was because I had 20+ hours less a week in which to study. Throw in the lowered brain function induced by sleep deprivation and lower grades were inevitable.

Finally, ivy league schools have take-home exams and forego the class ranking system. On the following point I'm uncertain, but I've heard that the exams are also not graded. I find evidence to support my assumption, however, in the ivy league process for Law Review admittance: while one must compete for Law Review, there is no minimum GPA requirement (ie, one cannot "grade in"). If my assumption about grading is correct, then one could conceivably get F's one's entire ivy league law school career without any negative effect. Getting into the ivy league school (any one of them) is what counts. Any law firm will welcome you if you have a JD from Harvard, Princeton, et al., regardless of what your grades were. At my public law school, you get kicked out if you perform below a C+ average.

Granted, it's a stereotype, but how is it that stereotypes enter the modern zeitgeist? And granted, the situation is unlikely to happen in your second-tier law schools.

As my immigrant mother says: There are two ways to survive America. Either be really really rich, or be really really poor. Anything in-between is hardship.


Matt McIver said...

The underlying assumption here is that intelligence is what gets you through law school. Lack of intelligence will prevent you from being a great lawyer, but you can get into (and possibly through) law school by acquiring a set of skills that do not require massive intelligence. Some, yes. Huge, no.

I teach the LSAT, and that's convinced me.

Matt McIver

Belle Ambrose said...

Wished I'd remembered that when I was studying for the LSATS. I could have used some tutoring.

As for intelligence not being the sine qua non of passing law school, you may have a point. But if we accept that it's an erroneous assumption, then we have to question the larger application of it - does intelligence ever get any of us through anything?

Anonymous said...

Intelligence, as with any tool, is only as good as you use it. I understand and completely relate to what you are saying. Far less intellegent individuals have surpassed me in classes because they do not need to work 40 hours a week and also raise their 2 children. I'm not whining. The fact is I made my bed, I deal with the situation. However, if I had enough money to not work, not worry about my school bill and be able to pay a nanny or some kind of domestic help, I know my chances would increase significantly. I think this principle of money helping the attainment of "success" is purvasive all across the board in our society. I also wonder if it should be any other way?