What's law school like?

I'm thinking about going to law school next year. Can you tell me about your experiences as a law student, what was your area of expertise, what you liked and what you didn't like?

Is there something I can do to prepare for law school, besides take the LSAT and read avidly? Are there things you wish you would have known or done before going into law school?

Thanks!

7 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Law school is not fun. It is a lot of work, stressful, and it will more than likely create a lot of debt for you. You do not "major" in anything in law school, but you do get to choose your electives after you finish the mandatory courses (torts, property, constitutional law, contracts, etc.) What you enjoy about your undergraduate education now is probably going to be what you enjoy during law school. What you hate now will be the same thing. Imagine going back to elementary school and seeing the same classmates all the time, assigned seats, cliques, etc. Additionally, unless you are at the top of your law school class (top 5%), went to a good school (first tier), or are connected (does your mommy or daddy play golf with the white collar crowd), you will be limited in finding gainful (read, pays 70k+) employment. Take a look at the website I cite below. Its funny and fairly accurate. I'm not the author (and I don't feel that bitter) but the ranting is representative of what many of my classmates feel.

    I've answered someone else's questions regarding LSAT preparation. Look over my old answers, it should still be there.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hello,

    I graduated from law school in May and I'm a practicing attorney now.

    My experiences as a law student were pretty good. I specialized in criminal litigation, and was very active with Mock Trial and student activities.

    The Good: interesting discussions with fellow law students; professors that are intellgent and demanding (in a good way); not too much "homework" (except for reading); some of the cases are really interesting; finding your "niche"

    The Bad: fear of getting called on via the Socratic method; high stress levels; almost unbearable amounts of work in the first and second years; annoying know-it-all classmates; competition sometimes impedes making true friends

    Something I wish that I knew before I got to law school: that law school is no different than junior high school- people are gossipy, cliquish, and bitchy. I was expecting people to have matured by thier 20's but... I was wrong.

    Here is something that I wrote for a friend thinking about going to law school- sorry for the length:

    I'm not going to lie to you, your first year is pretty hellish. Basic classes are Torts, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Real Property, Civil Procedure, Legal Research and Writing, and sometimes Criminal Law. Warning: at most schools, criminal law is not what you're thinking it is. It's BORING. It's all about memorizing elements of crimes and learning theories of punishment. The interesting Law & Order type stuff is learned in Criminal Procedure and Evidence, which are second-year classs.

    The hardest class for me was Property because is archaic and incredibly boring. Civil Procedure isn't a walk in the park, either. I suggest getting the Examples & Explainations series for all of your classes. Getting E & E for Property and Contracts are a studying necessity. Also, invest in a Black's Law Dictionary (it is very expensive but you'll use it a lot even after law school) for home and a mini-legal dictionary for class. You'll need it if a professor asks you a question using a legal term that you don't know.

    One thing that I wasn't really prepared for was the Socratic method of questioning in class. It's stressful because the professor randomly picks up the attendance sheet and calls on someone, then drills them with questions that no one knows the answer to. Most professors ease up on it during the second semester, though.

    Your first year of law school is where you learn how to read and analyze cases. You'll read over 1,000 cases your first year (!), and you'll probably brief half of them or so. Briefing is a necessity to being prepared for class. What it basically is is identifying the procedural history of the case, the issue in the case, the court's "holding," and the rule that comes out of the case. Most people stop briefing in the second semester and "book brief" their cases (basically they highlight the important stuff and write some notes in case they get called on).

    My suggestion: go onto 4lawschool.com read the briefs to become familiar with how a brief looks. There are some cases you'll definitely read (ex., for Civil Procedure you will definitely read the Burger King, Worldwide Volkswaagen, and Asahi cases), so you might as well familiarize yourself with them as soon as possible.

    It's a lot of studying- you get out of class around 1:30 and you'll probaby study until 8 or 9- but as long as you do the work and don't get behind, you will do fine.

  • Linkin
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You can also read IL by Scott Turow.

    Best advice I can think of is to figure out what area of law you want to practice in. Then get in all the classes or experience you can in that area before law school.

  • 1 decade ago

    Law schools differ in their various requirements: many schools have required courses in all years, and some schools only have required courses in their first or second years. As well, many schools will require that you take some breadth courses, which are courses that are intended to round out your education. These courses are ones that are outside the canonical law school curriculum. At some point in the course of law school, you will probably have to do a moot, which is like mock court. In the moot, you are given a fact situation and you have to prepare arguments and deliver them before judges (sometimes real judges, sometimes professors and practitioners) as if you were arguing in appellate court.

    Another thing to remember about law school, and you will hear this often, is to remember not to become too wrapped up in your studies. If you go to a school away from home, then make friends so that you are not lonely. If you go to a school in a city where you have friends, try to maintain those friendships, as well as making some friends at school. There will be times that you feel as if no one understands what law school is like. For these times, it is important to have at least a few friends. In addition, try to get involved in some extra-curricular activities at the school, or even away from it. If you choose to do a law-related extra curricular (like a club or a legal clinic) you will get the opportunity to meet more students in different years and get a feel for the school as a whole. You also will get great experience. Doing something away from the school will give you a chance to get away from it all, which is often quite needed at times. But it is very important not to make law school your entire life for your three years there.

    First Year

    The first year of law school is supposed to be the year that you will have to work the hardest. It is also the year where the competition can seem the most fierce, as everyone has to take the same courses and will have their papers and exams due at the same times. This is also the year where you have no choice about exams or papers, as there is little choice in your course selection. Therefore, it is common to have all or most of your final exams count for 100% of your grade - which increases the pressure as your year is determined by your performance in a 3 hour exam. There is a basic first year curriculum: Torts, Property, Contracts, Constitutional, Criminal, Civil Procedure. Some schools allow you to take an elective in your first year, others have no electives.

    Study Groups

    However, first year is also a year in which you make your friends, form study groups, and learn about how to study law and do research. It is important to keep in mind that the people you meet in school will be your colleagues if you practice after law, and therefore it is good to be on good terms with them. Most people form study groups in which each person in the group is responsible for one subject. Each person will then generally make a summary for their subject and distribute it to the others. Summaries are just what they sound like: a summary of the course. Everyone organizes their summaries differently, therefore it is not always a good idea to rely on someone else’s summary for your exams. You may want to rearrange the summary so it follows the way that you think, and you certainly want to check the facts. You don’t have to come up with the summary out of the air, though. Upper year students will have made their summaries, and summaries from particularly good students will circulate around a school for years, getting modified as new course material changes. Upper year students will be (or at least should be) happy to share their old summaries with you. In addition, some schools will have summaries on file or in the computer system so students can print them off. You should never buy a summary, people should give them to you. In addition, many exams are open book, so you can take all the information into the exam with you, you only need to synthesize it in the exam.

    Study groups, when they work well, are an excellent way to help you get through all the material and to discuss and understand what you are studying. However, it is important to form your study group with people who are like-minded in their work-habits. There is no point in joining a study group where you like to take it easy and everyone else in the group is strict about deadlines and not veering off topic in the discussion. A study group may meet right before exams for a few weeks or the whole year long. In study groups, people discuss course material and ask each other questions. It is a good way to understand things, even if you are not generally a group learner. As well, learning to work in groups is a good skill as you will generally work in teams later in your career as a lawyer.

    Workload

    The workload during the school year can vary: there is always a fair bit of reading, which is best to be done ahead of time. There may be some papers throughout the year, and, of course, exams at the end. It can seem as if everyone is against each other, and you hear stories of people stealing books from the library, although it does happen, it seems as this is more of the exception than the rule. Everyone is in the same boat, and most are willing to help out their peers. The other main problem with law school is, generally, it is graded on a B curve. This means that most people will not get grades as good as they have had for the rest of their lives. This can cause some people to despair, however, it is those who can accept that their grades will fall that are the best off, because then they do not spend sleepless nights worrying about what is likely the inevitable.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There are some useful tips here.

  • 1 decade ago

    It is hell.

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