Everyone has their own personal reason for wanting to pursue a career in law. Maybe you’d like to change the world, or maybe you’d just like to make a lot of money. Either way, it doesn’t matter why you’re there. Law school takes no prisoners whether your intentions are pure or tainted, and it is a painful process that must be endured to obtain that glorious pot of juris doctorate gold at the end of the rainbow.
Most potential law students have seen Legally Blonde, and although I don’t attend Harvard, I can attest that there is some accuracy in the film. Law school professors are a brutal bunch-they show no mercy, and it seems that their ultimate goal is to embarrass you in front of your peers. The Socratic Method is alive and well, and you will be a victim of its merciless hand at one time or another.
What is the Socratic Method you ask? Well, I classify it as a particularly cruel and unusual form of torture. The professor will randomly call on students-and it is random because most law professors have no desire to learn their student’s names. The professor will then ask you to give the facts of a case you have read in your book. But it doesn’t end there-you will then be bombarded with questions about every facet of the case, even the most miniscule details that you never would have thought were important when you were diligently reading the case at 2 AM the night before. If you attempt to say, “I don’t know”-forget it; you’re not getting off of the hook. You will be verbally assaulted until the professor tires of abusing you and moves on to another nameless victim, leaving you exhausted and humiliated-just another casualty of the Socratic Method.
Another issue that potential students are wary of is the enormous amount of work involved in law school. While it is true-the reading is endless, it is absolutely doable. For every day of class, you must read about 30 pages in your case book and brief 5-6 cases. That equals out to roughly 240 pages of reading for all of your classes per week and briefing about 25 cases. The key to staying afloat is time management. If you manage your time well, you will have plenty of time to do other things that are not related to law school. The workload is heavy-generally forty or so hours a week of studying, but most adults in this country work forty hours a week at their jobs and still manage to have a life, so it’s not impossible.
The most important thing to remember as you walk through those hallowed halls for the first time-final exams are everything! It is important to prepare for class and keep up with your reading, but it is more important to prepare for exams. Do not be fooled by the overzealous students in class who always seem to have an interesting comment or know all of the answers-many times they are the ones who do poorly on finals. They are so busy trying to think of witty remarks to impress their professors and fellow students that they don’t spend enough time getting the various concepts down. Be thorough in your class preparation, but don’t be obsessed with it. It will do you no good in the end.
Lastly, try to have fun. Easier said than done, but you must have a life that doesn’t involve Intentional Torts and Adverse Possession or you will burn out quickly. Make sure that you maintain relationships with people who have nothing to do with law school and don’t care whether or not a contract has adequate consideration. Law school is no walk in the park, but it can be substantially easier if you allow yourself to relax once in a while or take a day off. And remember-law school is only three years. You’ll have an entire lifetime as a lawyer to be stressed, so why not take it easy while you still can?