November 1, 2015

Truths and Myths About Law School

I wanted to make this for people like me who have a very limited and vague idea about what to expect in law school and who are either considering applying or have already been excreted. 

You carry around an arm full of books. 

Truth. Elle Woods was seen do doing this when she finally got serious in law school, but this has been a daily occurrence for me since day 1. In my case the law books are so huge because they contain the material for both the Fall and Spring semesters, and the professors expect us to bring to note additional items in the book. I also find brining my books with me to class because I book brief, so if a professor were to ask me a question, I usually already have the answer highlight in my book.  

Related: What's in my law school backpack and My highlighting system

All you do is study.

Truth. Although, technically it's just reading the 20 odd pages assigned per class. I'm taking notes as I go, but mostly it's just reading every day. So I guess more like you must put forth effort every day. 

Related: A Law Student's Study Schedule  

You live in the library 

Myth. Because the only "homework" is to read every night, there's never a need to cram during an all nighter. While you should prepare to read for about two hours every day, that's pretty much your only assignment. And since you can read wherever you like, you can study in the library, or on your coach, or by your apartment's pool — wherever you're comfortable.

Related: 5 places to study besides the library and How to have the perfect library session 

Everyone is stressed the F out 24/7

Half-truth. A lot of 1Ls are scared of the unknown, but 2Ls and especially 3Ls seem okay with life for the most part. The advice I keep getting over and over again from professors and upperclassmen is to do the readings and don't get behind, and you'll be fine. 

The Socratic method is terrible

Myth. If you read the case and know the basic questions, you'll do just fine. I suggest skimming your brief(s) really quick at the beginning of class so you have your facts straight just in case you're called on. It seems obvious, but already there has someone in my Contracts class throw in some facts of that day's Torts case. I honestly don't think it's that bad at all. 

Related: My First Experience with the Socratic Method

You don't have time for...

Be it a boyfriend/girlfriend, puppy, or even putting on makeup, I've had a lot of people ask me if they should give these things up before they go to law school. Myth. Without sounding too much like a mom, you have as much time as you make in your days. You can walk a dog when you get home from class or go on a date to get away from reading or go to bed earlier so you have time to get up and get ready. 

Related: 8 reasons to get a pet in law school 

You can't work your 1L year

Truth. Most schools have requirement that 1Ls can't work. Even if your school doesn't or you think you can be sneaky about it, I highly recommend that you don't try to work during this year unless it's absolutely necessary. Remember that you're going to have to be reading for 4 different classes every single night and create your own study guides for these classes and writing very long and complex legal documents for your legal writing class. You'd literally have 0 free time and honestly your grades and mental stability will probably suffer.

Related: How to balance working part-time in law school 

It's all black pant suits from here

Myth. Even though this is a business professional school so overall it shifts away from the Nike shorts and oversized T's of undergrad, that doesn't mean you have to be a boring lawyer yet. I still stroll in to class with my bright and colorful Lilly Pulitzer lunch box and cup every single day. 

Related: What to wear to law school class

The curve sets you up to fail

Myth. In my experience, most professors set the curve something like this: 5 B's and higher, 25 B-'s, 35 C+'s, 5 C-'s and lower. So realistically you're probably going to get a B- or C+. I know this sounds harsh but in law school that's about the equivalent of getting an A- or B+ in college so those are super common grades. Law school does this so you push yourself to do more than the minimum effort to really earn your grades.

Related: Putting the law school curve into perspective

Helping others ruins your class ranking

Myth. It's natural to look at the curve and think that the only way to get ahead is to keep someone else out of your grade bracket. Reality check: that person can still do a much better job analyzing the law on their test than you even if you don't give them the notes from that class they missed because they were sick. If you work a little every day and do practice problems at finals crunch time, then you should be able to get a top grade regardless of how other people did.