Is law school hard? Yes, without a doubt. But if you have a true passion for the law and are disciplined, organized and motivated, you’ll not only get into law school, but excel. Even though three years is the typical length for and the US, there’s a lot compressed into that short amount of time. Aside from your academic pursuits, which will take up a lot of time (just reading takes up to 30% of a law student’s time), you’ll also have to pursue extracurricular activities that are often required of your degree, such as volunteering at a law clinic or externing at a law firm. So, to put it succinctly, law school might be the biggest challenge of your life, but this article will tell you what past and current law students say about what the life of a law student looks like and what you need to succeed.
Getting into law school is an uneven challenge. You may have the grades, excellent LSAT scores, and the desire, but not enough to pay for your tuition.
You’re looking at anywhere between $17,000 and $20,000 per year in tuition alone. If you factor in other costs, such as rent, food, transportation, healthcare, you’re looking at spending between $40,000 to $60,000 every year to become a lawyer. This one obstacle is what makes many people reconsider whether to go to law school or try another, less-costly path, and dissuades many people, unfortunately.
Maybe the opposite is true for you; you have the money to cover the cost of law school, only you are not sure . Or you’re worried about the relative low and whether you are a competitive enough applicant. Whatever obstacle or challenge is making you think twice about applying to law school, be sure that there are ways to overcome them, which the following section will cover.
Can ChatGPT help you get accepted to law school?
If you have made it into law school, there are a few things you have to adjust to in your first year, such as:
- The amount of reading and memorization
- The grading system
- The Socratic learning method
- Having to analyze and problem-solve
They may be a shock when you first arrive, but you’ll get used to them, and your challenges will change every year. You’ll have the support of your school and faculty if you need help adjusting to the study methods used in law school, which is the case study method. The case study method examines all the relevant details and history of a complex legal case, and it is how you will be introduced to the law at most law schools.
In your first year, you’ll spend most of your time in class, reading, and doing extracurriculars, such as participating in mock trials, working for a law review, or being a member of a student organization. But apart from going to classes and doing your other commitments, to truly succeed at law school, you’ll have to “think like a lawyer”. One of the easiest ways to get into the mindset of a lawyer in your first year is by preparing for your classes ahead of time, which means spending up to 100-150 hours reading per class.
Some students take days to prepare for each of their classes, because preparation pays off. You’ll be able to answer questions you’ll be asked in class, and refine your analytical and problem-solving skills through endless case study. Your first-year class schedule depends on the curriculum of your school, but usually first-year law students have to take a list of required courses with one or more electives.
The workload can seem overwhelming, but preparing for your classes is one of the ways you can overcome the other challenges of law school. Making time for yourself during law school is also important and you should find time to do the things you love. You can also use any free time you have to network with professors, alumni or your fellow students to create the connections that will help you in the future.
1. Information Overload
Absorbing all this new information and memorizing it is something that you’ll have difficulty with, but it will get easier the more you do it, and you will do it a lot. However, you’ll also have to start developing your analytical and reasoning skills, since those are part of being a lawyer as well. You have to learn how to take the information you are absorbing and fashion a defense or argument with it, which is different from simple memorization and recall.
2. Grading on a Curve
Law schools grade you differently than you were graded in your undergraduate years. They use a grade curve that will adjust your grade based on the performance of everyone else in your class. This usually means that your grade could be lowered, even if it was initially high, although some professors use the grade curve to increase grades as well. This practice can be frustrating at first, especially if you’re coming from a humanities or social sciences background, where individual achievement is rewarded. However, grading on a curve is a reality of law school that you’ll have to get used to.
3. Finding the Motivation
Can you see yourself reading 100 pages in one night, of a densely-worded legal text from a century ago? Will you be able to handle studying for your finals or doing extra work to catch up to the rest of your class because you had some unexpected setback? If you do see yourself doing these things, then you’ll have to the strength within to keep going during the times when you want to give up.
That’s why preparing for law school is more than knowing , getting your GPA up and finding the money to pay for law school. You’ll also have to have clear goals about what you want to do with your degree, regardless of whether it is in the law or not; how to pay back your loans, and, ultimately, what will make you happy.
Lawyers are a study in contradiction. They have some of the highest levels of work-related stress, take fewer and shorter vacations, and struggle with high levels of student debt. But, according to a recent survey, 71% of legal professionals asked said they would not switch careers. Some of the reasons they give for loving the legal profession include:
- Intellectually stimulating
- Representing the voiceless
- Opportunities to be creative and problem-solve
- Being in a courtroom
- Serving their clients
These contradictions are important to discuss because the law is such a complicated calling. Law students and practicing lawyers all have different things to say about the law school experience, which are highly unique and personal to them, so they may or may not apply to you.
But it's also important to point out one important distinction between law students and professional lawyers, namely, lawyers have completed law school and have a different set of obstacles to deal with. Practicing lawyers, depending on their circumstances (career path, debt load, salary) may have negative or positive things to say about going to law school.
As the reasons that law school is worth it for them, despite all the challenges and stresses. We say all this to give a more substantial answer to our original question, which was, “is law school hard?”. It is, but that is something you should take as a given. Now that you know it will be hard, you have to find ways to prepare so you can weather the storm and not lose heart.
But one thing that is universal among all the groups we talked to, which is also something we tell the students we work with who want to go to law school: you have to have a genuine passion for the law. Law school is hard for everyone, but the people who make it are the ones who can take it because it means more to them than anything else.
Of course, you may be among the people who see law school as an intellectual pursuit, or are interested in the money and prestige. And it is entirely possible that you also make it, even though you are not completely enamored with the law. But, as any current lawyer will tell you, there are many more intellectually stimulating jobs, where you’ll make a lot more money, and not get into tremendous amounts of debt, so you should question whether going to law school is worthwhile for you.
Answering the question “is law school hard?” is more complicated than a “yes” or “no” and hopefully that’s what you’ve taken from this article. It will be hard if you don’t prepare and don’t adopt the right mindset to succeed. It will be hard if you don’t have the motivation, determination or desire to graduate. But whether law school is hard, or not, for you depends on how much you are willing to put in. If you organize your time, keep a routine, find the motivation and give more than what’s required for three years, law school might not be that hard after all.
1. Is law school hard?
Law school can be difficult to adjust to for most students, but if you work hard, organize your time, and create a set of goals, you’ll find that law school is not as hard as some people say.
2. What’s the hardest thing about law school?
Usually, people mention the workload, the amount of reading, the esoteric subject matter, and the pressure to keep up with your class, as you’re all on a curve. But finding the strength to continue is what people also say, and if you are able to do that, then everything else will fall into place.
3. How can I make law school easier?
You can make law school easier by doing all the required reading, and then some, organizing your time so you devote enough to both academic and non-academic pursuits, sticking to this schedule, and making friends or finding hobbies outside the law.
4. Why is law school so hard?
Law school is hard for most people because the teaching and grading methods are distinct from most undergraduate universities. It is also hard because of the amount of reading, and the subject matter. It takes time to get used to the teaching methods used in law school, as well as rewiring your brain to read, analyze and interpret rather than memorize, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
5. Is law school worth it?
Law school is definitely worth it if it’s your dream. But if you are going to law school for other reasons (career options, prestige, money), and you’re looking at it as an investment, it is worth it in that sense, as well. It may take some time, but paying back your loans is doable. Finding a job or passing the bar exam are also hurdles that you can clear, and most graduates do, but as with any investment, the more you invest, the bigger your return; meaning, the more time and effort you devote to your studies, the more you will be compensated.
6. Should I go to law school?
Whether or not depends on what you plan to do with your degree and what your motivations are. If your motivation is to be a lawyer to the exclusion of everything else, then you should go to law school. But law school is also a good choice for people who have reached the top of their field, and want another challenge or to accelerate their career. Many people with law degrees end up in non-lawyer positions, because having a law degree gives you many different career pathways.
7. What do I need to get into law school?
Academically, you’ll need an above-average GPA, LSAT score, excellent , and . But the other skills you’ll need are excellent reading, writing and analytical skills, problem-solving ability, creativity, and determination.
8. What kind of career options do law graduates have?
You’ll have a wide range of options to choose after you graduate, and pass the licensing exams. You may go into private practice or a law firm in your first years to help pay off your debts, but once you have, you can choose to follow you passion into another field such as business, finance, banking, politics, or non-profits. You can also choose to work in the legal profession, but as a writer, consultant, negotiator, and representative.