“Go to law school, they said. It would be fun, they said.” The amount of memes describing the humor, wisdom, and torture behind law school are hilariously accurate. As my 2L year comes to an end with an eventful final stretch, I am surprised and humbled to look back on how much I have grown. Through it all, my mind has gone through the most challenges and triumphs. For those who are in law school or are thinking of going to law school, I want to share with you why you need to run away as fast as you can. Ha! Kidding. I actually just want to share with you some of my experiences and resources that have helped me the most to get this far.
I will admit that when I was preparing to go to law school and would ask every law student or lawyer about it, I found it increasingly annoying when they would joke that I should stop and switch to something else. I still have yet to crack the code behind how those dreaded logic games on the LSAT feature in any class or job. If you look at the statistics, or people talking about the statistics, lawyers are the most likely to suffer from depression, addiction, and other dark influences out of any other profession. This kind of information was usually repeated to me with the jokes. From what I have seen and experienced thus far, this is no joke. The amount of confusion and disappointment law students go through is the reason why I think the law student’s mind is so precious.
From an academic standpoint, the curriculum is nothing like any other school experience. At first, the adjustment feels very daunting. Essentially, you have to learn how to teach yourself the material to prepare for one exam where you strive to not only get the right answer but a better answer than your classmates. Regardless of how much studying and practicing you do, you never really feel comfortable with your preparation. Thus, thinking about your grade is never fun. Eventually, you create a method that works for you.
From a social standpoint, the environment feels like an obstacle course at times and the magic word is always “networking.” From the second semester of our 1L year to the end, we are obsessing over internships, fellowships, and jobs. Gradually, students start coming to class wearing suits for interviews and part-time internships or jobs. Balancing interviews, mixer events, and stalking alumni…I mean…networking along with your school work can be challenging.
What does a typical day in law school look like, you ask? Well, that depends on your year and status. A full-time first year student spends Monday through Thursday or Friday in class and the school library carrying really heavy casebooks and supplements. As you progress to your second and third year, this time is split among internships or jobs and extracurricular activities. In class, you are not lectured on the subject matter, but instead tested by reciting from the reading assignments. You are basically asked about the readings, which are usually cases and statutes, to analyze how the rules are applied in the cases. During this exercise, you must also be a detective to discover what aspects of the rules and cases the professor is planning to use on the final exam. There are also skills courses, where you learn how to write legal briefs (which are not brief with a minimum of 20 pages), legal memos, contracts, wills, etc. Throughout the week there are a variety of student organization meetings, academic or career workshops, and social activities to attend.
Depending on your personality, the love/hate relationship with this experience can change from day-to-day. This is why the law student’s mind is so precious. It evolves to expand and compartmentalize all the knowledge, strategies, and reality checks it needs to survive.
I will admit that my mind has had a tough time. In spite of working to do everything right, there always seems to be this lingering cloud of inadequacy. It is kind of like in the movies where your mind splits in two voices:
Thing 1. “Ok, I think we got this. Way to go.”
Thing 2. “Ha! No way. That guy over there probably knows it better than you.”
Thing 1. “Well, maybe that job wasn’t for me. It’s ok.”
Thing 2. “Aww, another rejection. I guess no one wants you.”
I am sure this kind of thinking can happen at any school or job or part of your life, but for me this cloud of negativity grew darker while in law school. Add interactions that leave me feeling confused of whether people genuinely want to see me succeed or just interested in what they can take from me….it is not a pleasant mixture. Plus all the horror stories, which are real, of law graduates who cannot find a job and sometimes seem worse off than when they started. So, like any resourceful google-er, I searched for inspiration and encouragement to enhance my J.D. journey:
- The Gen Why Lawyer: A podcast featuring interviews with a variety of lawyers talking about the legal industry, career, and life.
- Law School Toolbox: A blog that provides tips and tutoring to law students.
- Above The Law: A blog about the legal industry beyond cases and adds humor and insight.
- Ms J.D.: A blog and mentoring platform for women in law.
- My Twitter legal list: As I was preparing for law school, I wanted to incorporate my journalist / blogger / social media skills to enhance my experience. So, I keep a list on Twitter for legal news.
Law school is an investment financially, intellectually, and emotionally. The only thing that is guaranteed is what you take out of it. As long as a law student takes care of his/her mind and is open to re-define their image of success, I think it is worth it.
Are you in law school? How has your experience been? What would you add to my list above? If you are thinking of going to law school or work in another challenging profession, how are you taking care of your precious mind?
Wearing: The Limited blouse; T.J.Maxx pants and shoes