Today I thought it’d be fun to share 5 law school truths, now that I’m one month in. Law school, despite Elle Woods playing it cool, is hard. It’s definitely not undergrad. So, to those of you still in undergrad, be sure to enjoy the freedom! Anyway, when you’re about to enter law school you get a lot of advice and you can read so many books about “succeeding in law school” or “getting the most out of your 1L year,” but I say it’s all really irrelevant because you won’t know what it’s really like or what you’re doing until you just do it! I plan to do more law school related posts in the future, but today here a 5 simple truths about law school:
- Cold-calling is intimidating. Even as you get more comfortable in a class, and even as you start briefing cases better, you will still feel your stomach drop like you’re about to descend a roller coaster when you hear your professor say, “umm… Miss… Coker. Tell us the facts of [insert case here].” Cold calling is scary, but it is important to note that unlike The Paper Chase, most professors don’t want to embarrass you, but rather want you to learn and get comfortable speaking in front of crowds.
- The reading is heavy. After being an English major in college, I thought the reading would be no big deal in law school. When I saw the syllabi and realized most assignments weren’t over 20 pages per class? Whew, what a breeze, right? WRONG. 11 pages take about 2 hours to get through. I read, I re-read, I highlight, I annotate, I ask myself questions, I brief the cases, and I take notes. 11 pages is no small venture now.
- Law School attracts competitive people. While I may not experience the competitive classroom atmosphere that we know exists at the Harvards and Yales during my William and Mary time, I see the competitive nature of my classmates (and myself) in other ways. I’m not going to say law students aren’t competitive because law schools tends to attract Type-A personalities. We’re annoyingly punctual, we go above and beyond on homework, and we blow off steam with a pint on Thursdays at Bar Review. I see the competitive nature in my classmates when we’re discussing hours spent on homework, when someone will slip in, “well I already finished that, haven’t you?” Or, like last weekend, the competitiveness shows when we shout, “another round! after losing at Bananagrams.” There are subtle comments implying a competition I didn’t know I was part of, but overall everyone is nice and it’s really only natural competitiveness shows occasionally. Also, I am very thankful my experience isn’t nearly as competitive as I’ve seen or heard about in the past.
- You DO have time for a social life. If you plan your week correctly, you definitely have time for a social life. While it may not feel like you have time for anything but reading between Monday and Friday, you do. Productivity is key. Prioritize, and make sure you take time off when you need to, and take breaks with friends. I go to Bar Review, I go hiking, I run errands with a friend, I walk around downtown and grab a coffee. You have to make sure you make the time, but if you do, a social life is completely doable.
- You don’t have to be 100% sure about the law you want to practice. While many people enter with a general idea of what kind of law they want to do [Intellectual Property, Criminal Defense, Child Advocacy, etc.] many people aren’t sure and many people change. It’s completely okay to be unsure, but also know you want to do something with the law. Don’t feel deadlocked into a career before you’ve even learned the law!
What truths do you know about law school?