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Secrets of Success at Law School Part-2

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In part-1 of these series we introduced the “Activities that Measure Real Performance Possibilities of a Law Student,” “Activities that Lead to Real Success as a Law Student,” and some other attributes found in successful law students that set them apart from average graders. This article deals with principal traits that damage the possibilities of success.

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Traits That Limit or Damage the Chances of Success at Law School:
  • Lack of effort in activities related to taking notes, case annotations and briefs
  • Inefficient, disorganized, and sloppy research strategies
  • A passive approach to reading, rather than an active approach coupled with discussion and note taking
  • Procrastination
  • Neglecting to use the professor as a key resource element
  • Losing Focus: Allowing distractions to interfere with work
  • External blame attribution – where instead of actively seeking to solve problems by themselves, the students allow problems to remain unsolved and blame the situation on external entities including other students, the system, or staff or any reason that catches their fancy
  • “Imposing self-created handicaps” – an offshoot of “external blame attribution” this trait is visible most often on personally allotted projects where the student perceives, advertises, and contributes to making the project more difficult than it actually is. This helps as a safety measure on preserving the students' self-esteem: If success is found, it can be marked ‘extraordinary,' but if there is failure, the blame can be attributed to extraneous factors
  • Consciously setting unreachable targets – many students fear the assessment of the outcomes of their efforts and consequently set targets that are unreachable and not deliverable under the circumstances, thus leaving work incomplete in spite of visibly huge efforts put in
  • “Can't care less” – In an effort to preserve self-esteem, many visibly weak students build up a psychological defense and peer strategy that exudes a “can't care less” attitude – on top of destroying the prospects of the student personally, this attitude is also contagious and finds quick support in other weaker students, thus setting off a chain of failures
  • “Stubborn in approach” – many otherwise good students value ‘persistence' to the point of turning it into a self-defeating approach by continuing with strategies and processes even when they recognize them to be less efficient – they create a sort of personal challenge that invalidates their good sense in a bid to prove that “they can” where “others cannot” – knowing that the risks and chances of failure are high, or almost inevitable

These are the traits in law students that are little observed or documented, but contribute towards the maximum number of failures. Many of these traits are also carried forward to workplaces and severely hamper the work-career of lawyers. These negative habits and traits need to be snuffed out right here at college, during student life, and effective habits cultured in their place. Being conscious of these traits would help you identify and defeat them increasing your chances of success not only in law school, but throughout your life and career.

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Reference: Anne M. Enquist, "Unlocking the Secrets of Highly Successful Legal Writing Students," St. John's Law Review 82, no. 2 (2008).

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About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit

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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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