Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

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PeanutsNJam
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Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:24 am

It sounds like most partners went to law school at least 15 years ago, when admissions was much easier, as was finding a job. Nowadays, you have to be T10, top 30% at T14, or top 10% at regionals to have a shot at these preftigious biglaw gigs. In the elite lit burnout thread, they talk about having to be top of your class at T6 to have a shot. Then you have the lounge thread that talks about how partners don't know how computers work.

Are most partners really just dumbs, who went to T10 with a 165 in 1997, and graduated below median? Or are they actually sagely and brilliant.

hlsperson1111
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby hlsperson1111 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:04 am

I think the partners in my firm are universally very, very smart - significantly smarter than the average associate. You don't survive that long at a big firm without being very sharp and without accumulating a wealth of knowledge about effective lawyering. There are discrete areas where I think associates may have a leg up (particularly legal research and facility with e-discovery platforms) but I don't think they are smarter than partners by a long shot.

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:56 am

Just to clarify, by "smart" I mean in the general sense, not capacity to lawyer. Obviously a guy who's been doing it for 20 years will be better than a guy who's been doing it for 0. It's more a question of fundamental aptitude? General problem solving ability, learning pace, pattern recognition, yada yada.

Basically, say you're on a plane and the pilots both had a heart attack. Would you rather pick the William and Connolly associate, or senior partner, neither of whom have any direct or indirect experience piloting a plane, to try and land the plane?

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bearsfan23
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby bearsfan23 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:12 am

PeanutsNJam wrote:Just to clarify, by "smart" I mean in the general sense, not capacity to lawyer. Obviously a guy who's been doing it for 20 years will be better than a guy who's been doing it for 0. It's more a question of fundamental aptitude? General problem solving ability, learning pace, pattern recognition, yada yada.

Basically, say you're on a plane and the pilots both had a heart attack. Would you rather pick the William and Connolly associate, or senior partner, neither of whom have any direct or indirect experience piloting a plane, to try and land the plane?


Under no circumstances would I want a W&C associate or partner piloting a plane

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby JohannDeMann » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:33 am

I'd prolly want the partner steering the plane for the sole fact that an associate would just crash that thing in the nearest Building to escape the cruel miserable world of biglaw. Lol at miraculously piloting a plane one day to go into work the next and write yet another file memo that will never be read.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:21 am

At least smart enough to get the newly minted associate attorneys to do the undesirable work while working grueling hours.

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AreJay711
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby AreJay711 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:37 am

Lots of associates have more raw intelligence than the average partner. IDK about how the averages compare, but law isn't really that intellectually demanding. Partners became partners because they were in the right place at the right time, have developed the right skills and knowledge base, and managed firm politics correctly.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:30 am

If they didn't need more than a 165 to get into a good school/get a good job, does getting a 165 really show anything about intelligence?

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UnicornHunter
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby UnicornHunter » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Law school used to actually be hard though.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby jbagelboy » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:04 am

Isn't law school easier to get into now than ever before

it used to be a big deal to get into T14, now any chump who didn't flunk out of college can just hire an LSAT tutor for 6 months, crack 170 and go to an "elite law school"

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star fox
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby star fox » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:17 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Isn't law school easier to get into now than ever before

it used to be a big deal to get into T14, now any chump who didn't flunk out of college can just hire an LSAT tutor for 6 months, crack 170 and go to an "elite law school"

Pretty douchy comment imo.

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smaug
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby smaug » Fri Apr 17, 2015 11:11 pm

star fox wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:Isn't law school easier to get into now than ever before

it used to be a big deal to get into T14, now any chump who didn't flunk out of college can just hire an LSAT tutor for 6 months, crack 170 and go to an "elite law school"

Pretty douchy comment imo.

just somewhat honest, I think

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jbagelboy
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:11 am

star fox wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:Isn't law school easier to get into now than ever before

it used to be a big deal to get into T14, now any chump who didn't flunk out of college can just hire an LSAT tutor for 6 months, crack 170 and go to an "elite law school"

Pretty douchy comment imo.


well I'm including myself in this category - lets not get too self-congratulatory here. and I'm clearly exaggerating. The actual motions of graduating from a good college with a passable GPA (and everything that goes into that -- writing a thesis, solving problem sets, not dying of alcohol poisoning or cocaine overdose), prepping and signing up for the LSAT, sitting for the exam, filling out the online application forms, ect. takes more than a large swathe of the population would muster. I'm not even being facetious, I acknowledge this takes time and money and effort. Which is why the average student at such a law school will surpassed some minimum level of competence that a lot of other people in their early 20s have yet to reach.

There might also be people who express their intelligence a different way and no matter how hard they drill will not diagram problems and fill in bubbles fast enough to score high enough on the test. But I think we'd all agree that the vast majority of the time it's not truly ability or intellect, but informational asymmetry and failure to apply oneself or understand the process. I said six months with an LSAT tutor and I mean it, that's a lot of time and energy and expense.

Most law students with any degree of introspection at any law school - even the very top ones - probably realize they took the path of somewhat less resistance than a whole host of other alternatives.

xiao_long
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby xiao_long » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:31 am

jbagelboy wrote:Most law students with any degree of introspection at any law school - even the very top ones - probably realize they took the path of somewhat less resistance than a whole host of other alternatives."

180

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Cobretti
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby Cobretti » Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:55 pm

So it was easier to get into law school before USNews made schools obsess over GPA and LSAT? Wasn't it significantly easier but more arbitrary before? I've never heard any evidence that law school has become less competitive (other than the dip over the last couple of years of course), and I thought everyone agreed that it has only become more competitive since these objective factors became strongly weighted.

Not saying the LSAT isn't beatable, but I don't understand how that fact makes it easier to get in now. There is clearly less nepotism now, so in that sense maybe it is easier for people without connections to get in since way back in the day that door was permanently shut, but I think the people that make it in now are generally more academically competitive.

ETA: and I'm not talking about the shorter timeline that I think OP is talking about, the LSAT was still relatively important in 1997. Just talking about jbagel's assertion that the rise of the LSAT (~20 years) has made it easier. And I think OP's assertion doesn't really make sense because partners have self selected out over the last 10+ years as clearly being smarter than the average associates from their classes. He might have an argument that first years today are more academically competitive than first year associates 30 years ago though.

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cookiejar1
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby cookiejar1 » Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:47 am

bearsfan23 wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:Just to clarify, by "smart" I mean in the general sense, not capacity to lawyer. Obviously a guy who's been doing it for 20 years will be better than a guy who's been doing it for 0. It's more a question of fundamental aptitude? General problem solving ability, learning pace, pattern recognition, yada yada.

Basically, say you're on a plane and the pilots both had a heart attack. Would you rather pick the William and Connolly associate, or senior partner, neither of whom have any direct or indirect experience piloting a plane, to try and land the plane?


Under no circumstances would I want a W&C associate or partner piloting a plane

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bruinfan10
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby bruinfan10 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:07 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Isn't law school easier to get into now than ever before

it used to be a big deal to get into T14, now any chump who didn't flunk out of college can just hire an LSAT tutor for 6 months, crack 170 and go to an "elite law school"

i don't know anything about math or stats (which is why i'm a lawyer), and i agree with your broader point, but isn't a 170+ by definition the top 98/99th percentile of test takers in a given administration? i still feel like my score was a fluke. but i didn't hire a tutor; maybe that can open up the highest scoring ranges to anyone.

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star fox
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Re: Are freshly minted associates smarter than partners?

Postby star fox » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:05 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
star fox wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:Isn't law school easier to get into now than ever before

it used to be a big deal to get into T14, now any chump who didn't flunk out of college can just hire an LSAT tutor for 6 months, crack 170 and go to an "elite law school"

Pretty douchy comment imo.


well I'm including myself in this category - lets not get too self-congratulatory here. and I'm clearly exaggerating. The actual motions of graduating from a good college with a passable GPA (and everything that goes into that -- writing a thesis, solving problem sets, not dying of alcohol poisoning or cocaine overdose), prepping and signing up for the LSAT, sitting for the exam, filling out the online application forms, ect. takes more than a large swathe of the population would muster. I'm not even being facetious, I acknowledge this takes time and money and effort. Which is why the average student at such a law school will surpassed some minimum level of competence that a lot of other people in their early 20s have yet to reach.

There might also be people who express their intelligence a different way and no matter how hard they drill will not diagram problems and fill in bubbles fast enough to score high enough on the test. But I think we'd all agree that the vast majority of the time it's not truly ability or intellect, but informational asymmetry and failure to apply oneself or understand the process. I said six months with an LSAT tutor and I mean it, that's a lot of time and energy and expense.

Most law students with any degree of introspection at any law school - even the very top ones - probably realize they took the path of somewhat less resistance than a whole host of other alternatives.

But what's your basis for stating that it used to be a bigger accomplishment to get into a good law school than it is mow? If I hadn't gone to law school or came on here, if probably consider going to a T14 to be a "big deal". In fact I'm pretty sure I did. Why were the boomer law students any different than today's crop? Some impressive, some not, a lot in between.




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