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Overanalyzing overanalysis

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 1, 2009 in Drama

I really hate being wrong.

Down in the comments of this entry from a few days ago, I mentioned to idwsj that the law school drama (at least involving me) had pretty much died off.  Evidently I neglected to knock on wood or something because one of my classmates was working hard to rope me in today.

It started shortly after Contracts.  Class itself had me rolling, as we went over cases like Wright v. Newman (266 Ga 519) — affectionately referred to as the Baby Mama Drama case.  I suspect few things can prompt more humorous class discussion among 1Ls :)

Once class was over I headed downstairs to my locker to grab a few books and head home, same routine I’ve followed for weeks now.  A fellow Legal Eagle I’ll just refer to as the Unnamed Gunner1 comes up to me and asks if I’m planning on being at the law building on Saturday since we have midterms next Thursday and Friday.  I tell him I’m not, that I’ll be heading to the Aggie-Eagle Classic2 in Greensboro.

Then comes the crazy:  “Yeah whatever man.  I saw you being the first one to turn in your LRA quiz on Tuesday and then the first one to finish in Torts yesterday.  Do you think you’re better than us or something?”

::cue scratching record sound effect::

I’m not sure if it was the comment itself or the look of “wtf?” that came across my face, but a young lady walking by us promptly choked on her coffee.

Let’s hit the obvious point first — why the hell are you keeping track of when I turn in my assignments? Insecurity? Envy? Inherent stalker tendencies?  You might get better grades if you pay attention to your own work instead of figuring out when I’m done with mine.  Just saying.

Second:  how does someone in law school make the logical leap from finishing an assignment first to feeling superior as a result? Last time I checked, none of us got bonus points for how many seconds were left on the clock when we turned something in.

I’m usually one of the first people done because I refuse to overanalyze the problems.  I’ll read the facts, re-read them again to make sure I understand them, pick an answer and move on.  It’s a strategy that served me well on the SAT in high school, all throughout college, and on the LSAT before coming to law school.  If I sit there and think about the question even more, I’m that much more likely to change my mind and go from having a maybe-correct answer to choosing a definitely-wrong one.

For an example, compare Madame Prosecutor and myself.  Madame Prosecutor is the archetypal “good student” — she has two degrees already, is heavily active in a bunch of stuff, studies hard, and makes good grades.  She’s also 1 of only 2 people I’ve met so far in my life who can successfully make me feel like I haven’t accomplished much in my almost-three decades on God’s earth.3

Madame Prosecutor takes a lot longer to finish her assignments than I do.  So do I feel superior to her because I finish sooner?  Of course not, because (among other reasons) she gets better grades.  But I’m also not going to do any better compared to her by mimicking her.  Would spending more time on a question help me do better?  Not likely.  It would, however, substantially increase my chances of doing worse.

That’s not me thinking I’m superior, it’s me doing what I know works for me academically.  I’d suggest you do the same… preferably without stalking me in the process ;)

Hope all of you had a great Thursday, and enjoy your night! :D

  1. Apparently a friend of the fine upstanding gentleman I was conversing with here []
  2. The rivalry football game between the Aggies of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and the Eagles of North Carolina Central University.  Among HBCUs it qualifies as A Big Deal™ :) []
  3. The other being QuietStorm, an intensely competitive young lady I couldn’t beat at anything… so instead of trying to win I just convinced her to date me for 7ish years. []

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