Law Students

Pessimistic Law Students More Successful, Study Finds


Lawyers are often the exception to the rule. It’s no different, researchers are finding, in studies of optimists.

A study by Duke University researchers found that, on the whole, optimistic people do better in life, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.). They work more hours, save more money, pay credit card bills more promptly, are less likely to smoke, and are more likely to remarry after divorce. (Those who were overly optimistic, however, didn’t make such good judgments.)

Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, who studies positive psychology, says most optimists do better in life than merited by their talents alone.

But with lawyers, the opposite is true.

Seligman’s survey of law students at the University of Virginia found that pessimists got better grades, were more likely to make law review and got better job offers.

“In law,” he told the newspaper, “pessimism is considered prudence.”

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