July 15, 2016

Keeping Your Confidence in Law School

You might think the curve or the tests will be the hardest part about law school, but it's actually YOU. | brazenandbrunette.com

This is a post that's near and dear to my heart, because my first semester was rough emotionally. I don't say this to scare you, because it shouldn't. I've talked before about how, for the most part, law school isn't that bad. One way I guess I could describe it is when you have a hard work out for the first time in forever. You don't think you can do it. Your mind keeps trying to give you every reason to quit. People on the outside give you this "poor you" look. It's not fun. But afterwards, you look back on it and realize that it wasn't too terrible and that you can do it all over again the next day. Like that saying It Seems Impossible Until It's Done

Accept the fear of the unknown

The worst part going in to law school is that all you hear are the horror stories and the "get out while you still can" jokes, and nothing can really help you be prepared. It's stressful at first because you never know if what you're doing is correct or even good enough. TBH, this gets a little better after the first few weeks once you get into the flow of class, but really doesn't go away until after your first finals when you've gone over your test. Then you'll know exactly where you stand in comparison to your classmates, what professors expect, and what you need to do to improve. 

I wish there was something more than just "take it day by day" that I could say that would make you feel better, but there's not. BUT, you can take solace in knowing that everyone else in your section class is also brand new to this law school game and equally as clueless.

Remember that you're new to this

So if someone around you uses a legal phrase or mentions a judge and you're just sitting there like Ha ha ha yeah mhmm I know exactly what you mean ha ha ha... that's ok! You're not any behind these people, they're just overachieving. When I got to law school I didn't even really know the difference between a trial court and appellate court, or even what case law is. 

This is law school, a place where you're presumed to come in knowing nothing and to learn about the law. Think back to Kindergarten -- if you showed up not fully knowing your ABC's or the names of all the colors then that was totally ok because that's what you were there to learn. 

Stop comparing yourself

Without sounding harsh, there's always going to be someone better than you. That's a fact of life. The great thing about law school is when you see someone who you think OMG they are so good at this mess up on something that feels so common sense to you. Sounds bitchy, but really it's just a little validation that you're not the stupidest person in the room (it's a common feeling).

The biggest thing I want to stress (and don't know how to do this without seeming bitchy, so sorry), is that just because someone acts like they have everything together in class does not mean that they are any better than you. This sounds very guidance counselor cheesy, but not everyone learns the same. You could be just as smart as the eager beavers in class, but when you start comparing how they dress/behave/participate, you'll start to think that they're ahead of you and it can wreck your confidence.

Give up on perfectionism 

I feel like law school tends to be packed full with Type A perfectionists who have always been the best. I mean you didn't get in to law school by barely scraping by in undergrad. The problem is that law school is basically rigged to where your best is never good enough thanks to the curve. At the beginning this sounds really scary like oooh you're probably going to be a C student and can make you freak out. 

First, have solace in the fact that it is statistically as hard to fail as it is to get an A, so at least you shouldn't flunk out. Second, just accept the fact that a B or even a C in law school is nothing to be embarrassed about. Your goal should just be to survive the first semester, and then the second semester to improve your grades a little in each class (so like a C+ to a B-). If you're too focused on being the top of your class then you're going to miss this important step on improving yourself!

Stay focused on your goals

Don't stress yourself out by pressuring yourself, but do set goals and work to achieve them. Don't think of law school as one big competition of you against everyone else, but think of it as you trying to better yourself—similar to when you decide to eat better in order to be healthier, but not because you are trying to be the healthiest person at your school. 

Final thoughts

Don't worry about the obvious hard parts because that will just work you into a frenzy. But when they do come, just try to ride out the waves and remember that every other person in your section also feels the same way. Don't doubt yourself!! You got to law school all on your own—with nothing but that pretty little brain of yours! Don't take that away from yourself.


  1. I just wanted to thank you for your blog! I'm starting law school in a month and these posts are super helpful!!

    1. Of course Maura!! I never want anyone to feel like how I did when I was starting law school, which was like a chicken with my head cut off lol. Good luck with your 1L year!

  2. I wanted to thank you also for your blog! I stumbled upon it on pinterest and just spent about 3 hours reading every post you've written! I will be attending law school in the fall and have the same worries as you did- what to wear, where to live, how do i cope with it all! Your posts made me feel better and gave me some great advice so thank you so much!!

    1. OMG Rachel you're so kind!! I'm glad that you happened upon here and I hope that I answered at least a few of your questions. If I didn't, feel free to email me!

  3. I love and really appreciate this post. I am currently in the final leg of my first semester of law school, and my fear of failing and not being perfect are getting the best of me. I worked my butt off during reading period and prior to make sure I know the material and know how to tackle hypotheticals, but there's always that lingering feeling of the sky falling, that I am going to fail out even though I've never failed a class in my life. This first semester is filled with so much uncertainty and anxiety - it is truly unbelievable. Thank you for putting it into perspective :)

    1. Alivia that's exactly how I felt this time last year! It seems like no matter how much you prepare for class, you never quite feel fully prepared, and it's even worse when you get called on and realize that you didn't understand something as well as you thought you did :/ I think this is because in undergrad not everything that you learned was brand new information so you kind of had a grasp on the concept before you started learning about it, but here usually when you learn something it's the first time that you've even heard of the concept so it can eat away at your confidence. Just stick it out for these next few weeks and I promise next semester will be way less intimidating!

  4. Ok so I’ve been reading your blog since summer and this post came up on my Pinterest board. I know this is an old post, but I’m commenting anyway because I can relate to EVERYTHING you wrote. It’s the end of the 5th week and my first midterm is Monday. My confidence is super low and I’m emotionally drained from the first few weeks. This post helped me so much. I just wanted to thank you for your posts and your blog in general. It’s one of the biggest support systems I have right now so thanks!

    1. Beatriz I'm not going to lie I'm a little bit teary eyed because I'm so glad that I could be there for you and be a little support system reminding you that you got this! That's literally my main goal of this blog is to help y'all out in any way that I can think might be helpful :) I hope that this semester has gotten a little easier since your midterm!