How Napoleon Would Have Approched Law School. Or, Why It’s Good to Be Lazy.

FaceoffI have no idea if this story is apocryphal, but I like it.

How Napoleon Assigned Jobs

Someone once asked Napoleon how he decided where to assign soldiers.

His reply:

Soldiers are either smart or dumb, and lazy or energetic.

  • The dumb and lazy are my foot soldiers. They can be made to trudge along and follow instructions, if they’re appropriately motivated.
  • The smart and energetic are my field commanders. They’re smart enough to know what to do and energetic enough to rally the troops to do it (not an easy task).
  • The smart and lazy are my generals. They also know what needs to be done, but they spend most of their time thinking up ways to do less work.

And what about the dumb and energetic? “Those people,” Napoleon replied, “I shoot. They just get in everyone’s way.”

What Does This Have to Do With Law School?

Let’s extrapolate. How would Napoleon have approached law school?

I’m guessing — strategically.

Would he have gone to every single class, done every single page of the reading, compiled a beautiful outline, and tried to learn every last detail of every case (the smart/energetic approach)? Maybe, but I’m guessing he would have focused more of his attention on learning to write great exam answers and condensing his knowledge into something he could commit to memory (the smart/lazy approach).

The Bottom Line

There’s noting wrong with being smart and energetic, but you might get even further in life being smart and lazy!

(My guess on who he’d shoot? That annoying classmate who debates pointless bits of minutia with the professor in every single class, wasting everyone’s time and making lots of enemies along the way. Don’t be that person.)

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