As a Law Student are You a People Person or an Idea Person?
By Daniel June
There are two types of people in the world, idea-people and people-people. The first thinks in terms of ideas, is abstract, is by nature more scientific and analytical, perhaps a bit more cold, but accurate, with his nose against the facts. The people person on the other hand can get a lot of people to come to his party, can influence others with a wink, prefers novels over philosophy, is concerned about people and their plights. The first has a memory that grasps unto facts like grapes to a cluster, whereas the second remembers people, their stories, their narrative. Whichever of these you are, you can turn it to your advantage.
Studying law, the mix of classes and the disparate information must be drawn together into an integrated whole. If you are an idea person, identify your principle as concisely as possible. Justice, economy, integrity, whatever values you hold dear, spell them out specifically in terms of the career you wish to seek. By seeking to fulfill principles, you will become a principled person, one who builds his habits, his work demeanor, upon principles, upon virtues.
If, however, you are a people person, then its time to choose a hero. Think of somebody you especially admire, a great lawyer or judge. Think of somebody who has faced challenges similar to yours and come up out triumphant. This is along the lines of the Greek model for virtue which prescribed imitating virtuous men. If you lack a hero, reading the literature out there about great lawyers and the cases they take can help hone you in on what kind of person you would like to be.
Why bother with choosing principles or heroes? Because they are goals, they are purposes. Having them, all the facts and details and information you study will naturally align into a structure supporting your goal. Rather than memorizing 100 loosely related facts, you will focus on 50 of those facts in terms of your goal -- and those facts will never be forgotten.
In other words, your studying will become more passionate and effective when you have a telos, an end view in mind.