Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What law school is really like

It has been a long time since I wrote on this. Part of the reason is that I found out I passed the bar a few weeks ago so I did a little too much celebrating. Emily and I also had some some people visiting for homecoming. Other than that, I've been doing general job hunting things. I have an interview tomorrow, so hopefully that goes well.

With that I'll digress into talking about what law school is really like (or at least what it was like for me). Law school lasts three years and they are all a little bit different.

First Year

The hardest part of the first year of law school is learning to manage the stress and workload. Don't get me wrong, the subject matter is pretty difficult, but it is definitely understandable. The problem is that they assign so much it takes a lot of work to get through it all. It's definitely doable, it just takes a lot of work and a plan. The point I'm trying to make is that it's not the difficulty of the material that gets most law students in trouble, it's the sheer volume and stress.

The stress of law school comes from a few different places. The first place it comes from is the class sessions. Most law school classes include a lot of student interaction. By that I mean that the professor asks questions about the reading from random students. Most students had some horror stories about professors embarrassing certain students for not knowing things, but I never saw anyone get embarrassed very badly. In any event, it's still pretty stressful to go through, especially when it's random (which it was for virtually all of my first year classes).

The second place the stress comes from is the course organization. Almost all of my first year classes had your final grade riding exclusively on your final exam score. This means you get no feedback at all on what you know until the course is over. That's right, no papers, no midterms, no quizzes. If you have a bad final, you get a bad grade because there is nothing to bring it up. This lack of feedback tends to drive most law students crazy.

Finally there is a lot of stress from the intense workload. The cases can be pretty complex and you tend to have to read a lot of them, so if you get too hung up on understanding every little detail you can drive yourself crazy. It's important to make a study schedule and stick to it. That includes leaving something if you've gone through it twice and still don't understand it.

That may sound pretty bad, but I guarantee if you work hard and don't drive yourself crazy with stress you will get through law school. The only people I saw fail were people who didn't do enough work or killed themselves with stress

Second Year

The course work in the second year eases up quite a bit. Most professors start telling students when they will be called on in class. Also, there tends to be more midterms and papers that count towards your grade, so it's not all riding on one exam.

Sounds better right. Well the school part is easier. The problem is in the second year you are actually allowed to work, which most people do. There are also more extra curricular activities that you can do (and probably should do if you are able). So while the course work is significantly easier, your overall workload actually increases, which means the second year is actually probably busier than the first, just in a different way.

Third Year

The third year for me was pretty boring. The course work gets quite a bit easier (mainly because you get so much more used to it). The extra curriculars also wind down quite a bit. I got pretty bored for most of the third year and I was basically just waiting to graduate.

So I talked mostly about the first year, probably because that's the year most people are concerned about. Once you get through that, you know you can do it and it's just a matter of getting through the next two years. There are a lot more things I could talk about, but that would be really long. If anyone has any more specific questions you can either send an email or just post it in the comments.


  1. GREAT explanation tyler :)

  2. a lot of people i've talked to are surprised that you're not allowed to work the first year of lawschool... but is that exclusive to where you went to school- or are all law schools like that?

  3. Good luck for your interview tomorrow (I guess thats really today - time difference and all that!)

    I hope you knock 'em dead!

  4. Tyler,
    If you wouldn't mind, PLEASE discuss the LSAT (correct me if wrong) test when TRYING to enter law school.
    Q1: What is the test like (analytical type questions)?
    Q2: How should one prepare for studying for the LSAT?
    Q3: What helped YOU prepare for the exam?
    Q4: How long does it last (6 hrs.)?
    Q5: How much weight is placed on this exam vs. GPA, references, etc... when entering law school?
    Q6: What do you know NOW that you wish that you knew THEN?

    Congrats on your passing, but we all knew that you would! :)

  5. congratulations on passing!

    And these are some great tips!! please keep it up Tyler :)

  6. Hey, I took the LSAT this summer and am looking to apply to law school's this year, any reccomendations?

  7. Congratulations on passing the bar!

  8. Tyler, thank you so much for sharing your law school experiences and basic information. Congratulations on passing the bar! We all wish you good luck on your future endeavor. What kind of law are you most interested in? And Also, when did you decide to pursue law?

    I am really fascinated with this subject and am glad that you have made your blog a great resource for us neophythes!