Natural talent is overrated; IQ can rise with effort

Law is cerebral, and many people don’t question the common assumption that brainier lawyers do better. Whether that is generally true, I at least have always thought that a person’s IQ is an invariant figure. Determined by what you are born with and what relatively early experiences you have, IQ thereafter remains fixed.

Then I read in Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management (Harvard Bus. School Press 2006) at 93 that “even allegedly inherited abilities – like IQ and other ‘smartness’ measures – improve markedly and continuously when people work hard, have good coaching, and believe they will keep getting better” (italics in original).

A lawyer becomes accomplished by dint of disciplined effort over time, with instructors, where the lawyer has faith that his or her cognitive abilities will improve (See my post of Nov. 6, 2006 on effortful study.). We can boost our IQs!

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