Thinking About Law School – Part 2: The Positive

The good news is that if you have been accepted to law school, you bring with you all the basic skills needed to succeed. You may have to fine tune some of them, but you do know how to do it all.

You are going to be inundated with tips, tricks, shortcuts, and sure fire schemes through out law school and all of them are going to promise you better grades, better comprehension, wealth, fame, fortune, and possibly increased sexual potency. However, the real key to law school success is free, all you have to do is ask.

Ask questions, ask for help, ask early, ask often, ask intelligent questions, ask stupid questions, ask silly questions, ask really probing questions, ask, ask, ask! The simple fact is that you are spending tens of dollars for minute you are sitting in class. You are paying thousands of dollars to understand this material. Get your money’s worth, use the resources you’ve all ready paid for: the professors, the tutors, the librarians, etc. Pay no attention to the guy sitting next to you with that bored look on his face. Odds are he doesn’t understand the material any better than you, so don’t be inhibited by his ennui — if you don’t understand something ask a question, ask it now and keep asking until either you do understand it or the professor suggests meeting him during his office hours to discuss it further (go to the meeting & ask questions). Let the bored guy get the C, you are shooting for better.

Thinking About Law School – Part 1: The Downside

Law School will consume you. It will eat into your free time, social life, relationships, and your wallet. It is stressful, exhausting, frustrating, and devastating. To survive, you are going to have to be very good at time management and sufficiently disciplined to religiously apply those skills.

I went through law school on a part-time basis being loath to give up the benefits that came with my full time job. Over the course of a week I would, on average, put in 40 hours at my job, 12 hours in class and 36 hours studying. Leaving 80 hours for eating, sleeping, commuting, shopping, and all the other myriad of things one does in one’s life. You can do it all, but you really have to prioritize.

You are going to invest a large sum of money, in most cases the equivalent of a modest 3 bedroom house, into your law school education and end up competing for a job with a starting salary in the neighborhood of $50,000 unless you are among the lucky 5% that find employment with BIG LAW and a its big salaries and 70+ hour work weeks.

I went into law school knowing that my first job would entail a pay cut. In my naivete, I had assumed it would be something on the order of 10-20% and that by my third year of practice I’d have passed my  old salary by. It was a rude awakening when reality stuck its head in and my envisioned 20% was really 50% and that it would be 5-7 years before I’d catch up. These were not comforting number. My best advice, don’t see law school as a means to big money that road leads to disappointment and disillusionment. Treat is as an end in itself and let the future come in its own time