People ask, “is law school hard”? The honest answer is yes. Every college course is hard, and there is no overnight success when we speak of studies to join the legal profession.
If you are one of those individuals who aspire to become a lawyer, but fear is continuously bugging you, then this article is for you. The following information is an in-depth explanation of how stressful law school is and insights to help you survive it.
Being a lawyer is perhaps one of the most prestigious and noblest pursuits a person can attain. It is because lawyers are the catalysts for settling disputes.
They are the protectors of the integrity of the law and ensure that it is appropriately implemented. In a typical society, conflicts commonly arise out of misunderstanding or injustices.
By this time, lawyers have to act as counsel to calm the tension without turning into violence. They must fight to correct the wrongs in society. This is very important to maintain solidarity in a particular community.
Furthermore, laws are fundamental, and we cannot imagine the absence of it. It is very precise, but broad in numbers because it encompasses a body of practices, customs, and rules needed in our society.
Again, lawyers alike are obliged to know the nature and effectiveness of every law. Hence, we can already point out why studying law is rigorous and that the pressure is absolute.
Understanding Law School
Before becoming an official lawyer, aspiring students must undergo an intense and competitive law school environment. This will serve as the training ground to prepare yourself from the loads of burden of the actual profession.
Here, you should expect sleepless nights and countless readings. The level of stress is high due to the demands of the course.
Moreover, memorizing or familiarizing at least 50 to 80 pages of compacted case laws will be the typical lifestyle for the next few years until graduation. During class, professors will likely use the Socratic method or the frequent asking of questions to students.
The students should be able to answer every question raised to them by applying legal principles to a given problem. Take note. A student cannot double-guess their way of explaining because it is crucial to pinpoint the exact legal principle to be used to solve a problem.
Therefore, better tell the professor beforehand that you did not know the answer; otherwise, you will be embarrassed.
All of these factors are just the tip of an iceberg. More characterizing features make every law school around the world difficult.
It is normal to feel anxious about it, but the most important thing one can do is believe. Eventually, you can adjust to law school’s exhausting nature and become a proud lawyer before you know it.
Like any other course offered in school, the law school also has a curriculum to follow throughout the journey. It is designed to help the students learn all the things there is to know about the legal field.
Apparently, law school programs have a span of three years, but other countries offer it in four years. But in terms of curriculum, all law schools offer the same subjects during the first year. Generally, the following subjects include:
1. Civil Procedure
The main goal of civil procedure is to provide a fair and just means of settling conflicts and creating efficient methods of handling cases. It is the study of complex rules done by any court proceedings. It dictates the flow of a single lawsuit during and after a trial.
2. Criminal Laws
This is, by far, one of the most challenging subjects taught in law schools. This will determine the provisions as to what constitutes a “criminal” and/or “criminal offense” and specific penalties if proven as one. This is a very complicated subject for some people, and it really requires dedication.
This is a study of agreements done by two parties. This subject offers a set of stipulations when making contracts. It suggests how contracts should be legally done and resolved if ever a breach occurs.
This subject is a study of harmful acts punishable under civil law. You will study different kinds of wrongful acts, whether intentional or accidental and its implications to civil codes.
5. Property Law
In this subject, it is expected for students to learn the different explanations of acquisition, possession, and property disposition. Please be advised that you will study case laws about slight distinctions of property ownership during this moment.
6. Legal Research Writing
This is also an essential part of the curriculum as it teaches aspiring lawyers to write legal documents such as memos and affidavits. Of course, students must learn how to write for professional purposes.
7. Constitutional Law
Generally, this is the body of rules or doctrines that govern a country. You will learn all of this when you proceed to law school.
However, you can choose your own classes when you reach the second and third years. Always remember, subjects differ in every law school, but several options include real estate, taxation, study of evidence, trial advocacy, and more.
By doing so, you will establish an interest in what type of practice area you want to take after law school.
Besides, you must comply with every requirement as required by the curriculum because a failure of compliance could mean a period of extension.
Methods of Teaching
In law school, there are two types of techniques utilized in the system. The case method and the Socratic method. Both ways are essential to challenge students to build up the courage and confidence needed for the actual job. Below are the explanations of the two methods for more in-depth understanding:
• Case Method
This is basically reading “cases” that came from court proceedings. You will be handed a “casebook,” which is a compilation of cases, and you will be assigned a task.
You will scrutinize every case by pointing out broader legal concepts and principles. Afterward, you will be called by a professor to use the principles and legal concepts extrapolated from reading cases to another set of circumstances and present them before the class.
Interestingly, after reading a few cases, your mind will be honed to memorize legal concepts and determine their limitations or area of effects. Over time, you will observe a significant change in yourself becoming better as you push through the journey.
There are steps on how to master the case method. First, identify the facts and all parties concerned in the case.
Second, record the procedural history together with the relevant facts of the case. Third, try to digest the judicial interpretation of facts and how it will change using a different pattern. You can always use this technique to lessen the difficulty of the course.
• Socratic Method
This method is a system of extreme questioning that may lead to students developing an idea.
It gives clarification to pre-disposed learnings of students regarding legal concepts. But most of the time, it confuses students due to them panicking as the questions get more intense. Literally, you may feel the most dreadful hot-seat.
To succeed with this method, students must withstand the pressure when asked by a professor to analyze the legal principles and apply it in a new fact pattern.
Also, you must read the case thoroughly before going to class. By acting such, students prepare themselves to face questions by having a clear understanding of the case assigned to them.
Moreover, to avoid yourself from suffering the potential embarrassment of the Socratic Method, you must: Listen attentively to the discussion because you might be called to answer.
Prepare a scenario of questions on your mind then generate answers. Ask other students of senior years regarding the style of questioning of different professors. This might help you reduce anxiety.
One Exam per Semester
When giving grades, most law schools depend on the score of a single exam taken during the final stage of the semester. The comprehensive exam will cover all the discussions in a given semester.
It is usually divided into multiple-choice and essay sections. On this day, pressure starts to elevate because the end product of your performance will dictate your grade, which determines your future in law school.
But do not worry because there are helpful strategies that you can use. These are basic examples, and it is always up to your preference on what is best suited for you.
• Study early, and do not procrastinate.
• Manage your time properly.
• Digest every information before proceeding to another.
• Call on a friend to help you.
Frequently asked questions regarding the law profession are: How to become a lawyer? And, how long will it take for me to become a lawyer? Answers vary depending on several factors like the law school and the pre-law course. The following information is a detailed answer to each question.
Now, if you dream of becoming a lawyer, then you need to go to law school. But entering law, the school has prerequisites for efficiency purposes.
1. You must have obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Most degrees are accepted, but several courses like political science, history, accountancy, and philosophy will prepare law school better.
The advantages of the said courses have something to do with the subject matter. However, law school is a different game, and it is the student’s efforts and dedication that determines their edge, among others.
2. Another factor is the student’s GPA.
The requirement of GPA level varies depending on the law school’s performance. Top-performing law schools will demand a high level of GPA. For example, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford require around 3.83-3.97 GPA.
If you happen to have a GPA below the required line, you will have a hard time entering the school. You cannot blame these outstanding universities because they are only protecting the reputation of the school.
Furthermore, having a high GPA like 3.8 will make universities crazy, and they will compete themselves just to get students with remarkable GPAs.
3. Take the LSAT Examination.
LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test divided into five sections such as multiple-choice, logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, reading comprehension, and variable section.
LSAT is a crucial part of entering a law school, given that your GPA is acceptable. Some instances wherein students scored high, or at least above the average of what the law requires, make up for their low GPAs.
Taken, for instance, the score needed by Yale, Harvard, and Stanford ranges from 168 and above. If you have a problem with your GPA, then you should redeem yourself by performing excellently on LSAT.
Consequently, if you have a confident score on the LSAT and a high GPA, you should expect invitations from different accredited law schools.
4. Now, the last step is to process some papers for admission.
You will go directly to your desired university and have yourself listed to enroll for law school. But you can opt to do it online since universities at this time offer services online.
After all that, the last step is to wait for the class to start officially. Now, consider yourself a few steps away from becoming a lawyer!
The next question is: How long will it take for me to become a lawyer? To answer this, there are few things to consider:
Pre-law Course Description
The years taken to attain a bachelor’s degree are counted. There are types of courses that take up to 4 to 5 years to finish.
Also, we must put into account certain instances that result in a period of extension. It can be a natural calamity, a pandemic, or merely a student’s irresponsibility. All of these are factors that can prolong your anticipation of becoming a lawyer.
Your performance at Law School
Frankly speaking, you cannot survive law school if you are a lousy and lazy student. Cancel all your everyday night-out and start reading vigorously.
Otherwise, you will struggle to cope with the academic demands, or worse, not being able to finish. Just extend your patience, and it will pay off. Besides, a little sacrifice could mean a lifetime of gratification on your part.
Other External Factors
We also need to recognize other factors that make law school difficult, aside from the factors mentioned previously. These external factors contribute to the overall struggle every law student undergoes. It can be said as follows:
• Pressure and Competition
The existence of pressure and competition is present in every law school. It is normal to be intensely pressured because the workload of law school will surely test your patience.
Starting from the subject matter to the methods of teaching is absolutely exhausting. Another thing is the competition between the students.
We cannot deny that in every classroom, there will always be the that competitive person who wants to top everybody. It is totally normal to encounter such a student. The least you could do is to create your own circle of friends aiming to help one another until all of you become lawyers.
• Mentally and Emotionally Challenging
You need to be mentally and emotionally prepared upon entering law school. You must be critical on how to align your thoughts, especially answering questions. By doing so, it will resonate a good impression of yourself.
Hence, you need to train your mind by reading cases and legal principles continually. However, we cannot evade those unfortunate days where fate is not in our favor.
This usually happens when we fail a quiz or exam, give a wrong answer to our professors, and more. When these humiliating days happen, just keep on improving yourself. You are way less than what you could be. After all, it is only temporary.
• Financial Struggle
Education is very costly. You have to spend thousands of dollars on books, technologies, tuition, and miscellaneous fees. Law school is not cheap. For example, Harvard Law School’s education is $ 67,081.
On the other hand, Yale’s tuition is $59,920, and Stanford’s is $47,460. If you wish to study at this prestigious university, then you should be financially capable. But if you cannot afford such an amount, you can avail of a full-time scholarship. You just have to surpass their standards.
You do not have to force yourself to study in those expensive universities. There are affordable universities like public ones with an annual cost of $27,160. Besides, you will also learn the same laws in your country as taught in private universities.
• Bar Exam
A bar exam is the most crucial part of becoming a lawyer. You cannot be called an official lawyer without passing the bar examination.
This is the most difficult stage because you need to memorize and understand everything you discussed throughout your law school years.
Six to twelve months of isolation is needed for bar exam review. Therefore, you need full-time dedication and perseverance to pull this off.
There is no doubt law school is hard. If you could imagine all the efforts needed to survive law school, you will surely feel discouraged because you might fail. That is our initial response to something we fear.
Instead, we should look at it from a different perspective. Law schools might be exceedingly hard, but you must go for it if it is your dream to become a lawyer.
If you really want to become a lawyer, provided by appropriate means of successfully going into a law school, give your best and use available resources to help you make that dream turn into reality.