With each new round of law school admissions, tens of thousands of applicants have the same question: “Is law school hard?” These curious souls, anxious with anticipation and perhaps consumed with some dread, want to get a better idea of how hard they should expect law school.
Asking, “Is law school hard?” before deciding to become a lawyer isn’t a cowardly question. It’s a smart question.
Because if you know more about what it takes to become a lawyer, you’ll be better able to finish the steps to become one.
The J.D. program at a law school is specialized and not for easily bored people. If you don’t have an open mind, aren’t willing to take on challenges, and don’t do your best, you might not like law school. This means that it’s not for everyone.
Is law school hard? Getting in and Staying in
Is law school hard: A solid GPA and an LSAT score are good signs that you are qualified for law school, but they do not guarantee that you will be a good law school candidate. This is why law schools consider your LSAT and GPA, your CV, personal statement, and recommendations to assess whether you’ll be a good match for the program and can handle it.
Every year, thousands of students apply for law school admissions. Many applicants go through the process with little idea of what to expect from law school. They could save a lot of time and worry if they asked a practicing lawyer, “Is law school hard?”
People in this category often grumble about how difficult law school is. You may struggle to cope if you are not devoted to studying or lack the necessary skills or mental agility. Furthermore, it is not a curriculum you can breeze through simply because you are intelligent. Cramming will not save you when it comes to tests.
You cannot afford to slack off in law school because the material is diverse and extensive. To succeed, you must put in the necessary effort throughout the program.
To summarize, law school is hard. In terms of stress, workload, and required dedication, it is more difficult than conventional colleges or universities. However, roughly 40,000 students graduate from law schools yearly, so it is attainable.
What makes Law School Hard?
Is law school hard: Before you apply, we want you to be as ready as possible. This way, law school will be more exciting for you than for your friends.
To help you with this, let’s look at some things that make law school hard. If you know about these things now, you can start planning how to deal with them when you get to law school.
Below are law school attendees’ most common responses to “Is law school hard?”
The Hefty Workload
Is law school hard: When people say that law school will be hard, they usually mean that you will have to do a lot of work.
The program demands you conduct extensive research and examine various topics. Not to memorize things but to comprehend specific concepts, lines of reasoning, tactics, etc.
Unlike other areas where you can scan passages as an undergrad, law school demands you to go through everything you’re taught and then expand on that knowledge with additional research.
You must complete the required task on time to avoid falling behind and having negative consequences.
Lots of Reading
Law school may only be for you if you hate reading or are an active reader. Even if you love reading, the materials you’ll have to study in law school may take the fun out of you.
Most of the reading materials are legal texts and cases involving a lot of jargon and Latin. If you’ve read Shakespeare before and appreciated it, you should easily cope with the reading materials.
Apart from how tedious the content is to read, there is also a lot to it. If you don’t finish your allotted reading, you’ll spend much time in law school playing catch up. This will not help you in your final exams.
Another reason you could struggle with law school studies is the need for more experience. If you majored in something that had nothing to do with law in college, law school would introduce you to strange ideas that you need to understand quickly.
The good news is that, with time, you’ll grow more familiar with the process, have an easier time learning topics, and learn to manage your time and duties better.
Is law school hard: Medical school may be more stressful than law school, but both are not for the faint-hearted. In law school, you won’t have impromptu quizzes or piles of projects to worry about, but the pressure to keep learning and avoid falling behind is strong.
Many law students study for at least three hours every night after courses. You can opt not to use this method, but if you do, you will most likely have no idea what was discussed in class the next day.
Is law school hard: It is very hard to get into a top law school. Competition gets tougher once you’re in. Think about this: your classmates went through the same struggles as you to keep their GPAs and LSAT scores high. These are people who don’t want to fail.
The curve grading method does not assist either. Your tests are graded concerning the rest of the field, which creates intense competition among students and can lead to some students going to great lengths to obtain the elusive “A.”
Everyone works hard to pass law school with flying colors so that they may get good positions afterward, which puts even more pressure on you to succeed.
Getting Cold-Called Sucks
Is law school hard: This is when a professor asks you in class to answer a question. Even if you know the answer to the question, getting a cold call can still be scary, and many law school students worry about it the whole time they are there.
Most people fear being called out of the blue because they fear public speaking and giving the wrong answer, which will happen most of the time. But it’s all part of training to help you feel more confident when you speak in public. It’s also a way to make sure you continue studying.
The Case Method of Teaching
Is law school hard: Law professors use the Case Method to teach. This strategy differs from the typical teaching style, in which your professor informs you exactly what you need to know to crack the exam.
This strategy needs prior research on certain court cases.
These cases will then be taught in class, and you may be cold-called to share your knowledge and thoughts on the case.
While studying, you should identify the law applied to the case & understand how to apply that law or law to a fact pattern. Your ability to do so will be evaluated in the final exam.
Many people initially find the Case Method of teaching unattractive and frustrating, but you’ll get used to it. If you are having difficulty, you can always seek assistance from a tutor, study group, or lecturer.
One Exam Can Determine Your Fate
Is law school hard: Most legal schools give you one exam per semester. One of these tests could change the trajectory of your marks for the rest of your law school career. Although there aren’t many assignments, the tests and the law school’s curve grading system can be punishing.
Furthermore, there is no way to compensate for poor performance because just one exam at the end of the semester determines your grade.
The Curve Is Brutal
Is law school hard: Regardless of how hard you work, your grade will still be decided by the grades of others. You’d think this would encourage collaboration, but it instead encourages fierce competition.
Because of the law school’s curve grading method, only a small percentage of the class can do well. Instead of a grading system focused on individual performance, the curve grading method is based on your performance compared to your colleagues.
Regardless of everyone’s scores, the bell curve grading style assures that there are both high and low grades. So, even if everyone received an “A,” some will be marked lower than others.
The curve grading system is used differently at each law school, with some being tougher than others. However, regardless of the application, the curve is an annoyance that must be overcome.
To beat the curve, you must outperform your classmates on exam questions. It requires you to master the subject and know it better than everyone else in your class. However, focusing on the curve can place a lot of pressure on you regarding tests. Focus on doing your best for the sake of your sanity.
Feedback is Scarce
Is law school hard: Feedback to influence your performance and how to best prepare for an exam is rarely provided in law school unless you seek it out. This is different from the help you could get as an undergrad. While this teaches you independence, it also makes it difficult to recognize if you are on the right track or have deviated from it.
However, when you do receive feedback in law school, it is extremely beneficial. So, feel free to approach instructors or the academic assistance office. Exam preparation becomes much more difficult in the absence of feedback.
You Can’t Afford to Miss Anything
As an undergrad, you can occasionally afford to miss a lot of classes. If you miss a class in law school, you probably need to catch up on a point that will decide whether or not you pass. What if you miss a few classes? That is an issue.
Every class requires your undivided attention, so you must always be there.
Prepare for the Law School Experience
You now know the answer to the question, “Is law school hard?” But to help you even more, here are some books that will help you get ready for the experience:
- Getting to Maybe: This book will tell you how to study for and do well on law school exams.
- Law School Confidential: This book provides advice and tactics for getting into law school. It also teaches you how to cope with the stress of your first year of law school and contains a synopsis of 1L subjects.
- 1L of a Ride: This book, written by a law school professor, gives you the cheat code to succeed in law school. It provides advice from someone who has been in the system for decades that you will not find anywhere else.
- Plain English For Lawyers: This is an excellent book for studying the art of legal writing. It will also teach you how to write better law school essays and tests. The skills you will learn will also help you in your future legal career.
What Knowledge and Skills Can Law Schools Teach You?
Law school can be a life-changing experience for you. What do you study at law school besides thoroughly comprehending the law? To put it simply, you learn to think like a lawyer. It includes:
- Writing: In their first year, all law students take a very in-depth course on legal writing. This class will help you get better at writing clearly and concisely.
- Research: You will become an expert at navigating complicated literature if you work as a research assistant for a professor or do your research for a writing requirement in the upper division.
- Oration & Rhetoric: Some law school classes require you to talk in front of the class, but you can also participate in mock trials or moot court to improve your speaking skills.
What Are the Salaries and Career Opportunities for Law School Graduates?
Becoming a lawyer is a serious commitment, but it may allow you to earn a higher-than-average wage. It is important to note that there are various sorts of lawyers, and salaries may vary depending on the function.
While many other factors influence income, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual wage for lawyers is $122,960. In 2019, the top 10% of lawyers had a median yearly salary of more than $208,000.
Some law school graduates choose not to practice law to achieve a better work-life balance. Many positions require a law degree and having a J.D. may be beneficial in some cases. There are several ways to put the skills you learned in law school, whether you are an arbitrator, banker, law clerk, paralegal, research fellow, or law librarian.
Is Law School Right For You?
If you want to be a lawyer, there is no question that law school is necessary. Nonetheless, it’s typical to wonder if you’re “cut out” for law school. Finally, the answer is straightforward: law school may be worthwhile if you are enthusiastic about enrolling after realizing what it takes.
Even if you don’t want to practice law, there are some strong reasons to attend law school. Law school may help you strengthen your critical thinking abilities, make valuable connections, and gain legal knowledge that will benefit you in other areas (like finance and business). It may also equip you to represent vulnerable groups you’ve always wanted to help or to attain other professional objectives.
If you are concerned about relocating closer to the school that provides your desired program, consider ABA-accredited law schools that offer an online J.D. degree program.
20 Tips to Succeed in Law School
Follow these 20 Tips for Success in Law School :
1. Do the reading:
Complete all of the reading for your classes. Don’t fall behind because you might never catch up. Do your reading during the day when you are the most alert. Also, read where you won’t be distracted or tempted to do something else. Otherwise, you will spend far too much time preparing for class.
2. Brief the cases:
Make notes as you read. For each case you are given, write down the important legal facts, the case’s holding, and why the court made that decision. Cases like this are called “briefing” cases. Your briefs should be short and to the point.
3. Review before each class:
Just before class, look over your reading notes (case briefs). So, the cases will still be fresh in your mind, and you will be able to follow the class discussion much better.
4. Go to class:
Most professors talk about things outside the reading, so you must come to class to be at a disadvantage on the final exam. Also, if you miss more than 20% of the course sessions, you will get an “F.W.” This counts as an “F” on your grade point average, and even if you retake the course, it will always be on your academic record.
5. Pay attention in class:
Some misguided students shop on the Internet, play computer games, or check their e-mail during class. You are paying a lot of money for your tuition. Do you want to use your tuition money to “surf the net” or play computer games instead of listening to what’s being said in class?
6. Participate in class:
Students learn best when they participate actively in the learning process.
7. Take class notes:
Only try to write down some of what your professor says to the point where you stop participating in the class discussion. Before you start your next reading assignment, look over your class notes and think about how the new cases you read affect the ones you’ve already looked at in class.
8. Write outlines for each of your classes:
Outlines prepared by more senior students and commercial outlines are not suitable substitutes for creating your own. The analysis required to develop a course outline assists you in determining the legal rules that apply to the course’s subject matter and how the laws connect.
You are less likely to master the subject if you do not undergo this procedure. Furthermore, not all teachers teach the same way. In truth, many professors teach different courses yearly. The only way to receive a customized overview for your course is to create it yourself. You will never complete your outlines on time if you wait until the reading session.
Some students outline once a week, while others outline once a month. Others, on the other hand, prefer to outline whenever a topic is finished. Choose a schedule that works best for you and keep to it.
9. Consider forming a study group:
Study groups can be a very beneficial learning tool. Talking about the content with peers can help you understand and remember it better.
Your classmates can also provide you with useful study tips. If you create a study group, search for classmates who are well-prepared for class and have comparable academic goals.
Refrain from allowing your study group meetings to devolve into social or gossip gatherings. Also, refrain from employing study groups to distribute your workload. Finally, if you are not benefiting from your study group, you should leave it.
10. Review, review, review:
Just because you only have an exam at the end of the semester doesn’t mean you should review until the reading time. This is not an undergraduate school. You cannot earn good grades by cramming right before exams. As a result, scheduled numerous reviews throughout the semester.
11. Attend review sessions held by your professors and their academic coworkers:
Some professors and Academic Fellows have review sessions before exams. This is a great way to get answers to questions you have without having to wait in line outside your professor’s office. During review sessions, helpful tips about writing your test answers to get the most points are often shared.
12. Take advantage of feedback from your professors:
If your professor gives you a practice question and says she will look over your answer if you turn it in by a certain time, DO IT! This is a great chance to get feedback from your professor and make any changes you need before you are graded.
13. Attend the academic achievement center’s workshops:
These workshops teach important skills like outlining, managing time and stress, and preparing for and taking law school exams. These are all skills that you need to do well in law school.
14. Take practice exams:
Exams that your professor has already given are better. This will help you figure out how your professor makes tests. Law professors keep several old exams in the Fowler School of Law Library.
If you can, choose an old test for which a sample answer is on file. This will let you compare your answer to the sample and figure out how well you did. If there isn’t a sample answer on file, ask your professor to look over your answer and give feedback.
Do not ask your educator to review your answer before the finals. If you ask early, your professor is more likely to have time to look over your answer.
15. Create a study plan
Many students say they need more time to prepare briefcases, outline papers, and take practice examinations. They are wrong! By arranging your schedule, you will have enough time to satisfy all of the demands of law school while also having time to participate in extracurricular activities. Professor Faulkner can assist you with time management.
16. Do not leave your LRW papers until the last minute:
Once again, this is not an undergraduate institution. You cannot expect a good score if you write a paper the night before it is due (or, for that matter, a passing grade). Good legal writing takes time and a lot of revision, so get started on your LRW tasks immediately.
17. Review your exams:
Meet with your educators to discuss your tests after the grades are posted. It’s the best way to figure out what you did well and what you need to improve.
18. Reduce your stress.
Law school can be stressful, but there are things you can do to cope. Laughter is a great way to deal with stress. Making time for exercise. Carrying 100-pound law books every day does not count as exercise. Eat fruit, vegetables, and whole grains regularly.
A diet Coke and a package of Ding-Dongs need to be balanced breakfasts. Don’t drink too much caffeine; drink a lot of water. Every night, sleep for at least seven hours. Keep up with things outside of law school.
You don’t have to give up everything you liked doing before you went to law school. You will have less time to do them. Lastly, if you think your stress level is getting out of hand, talk to your partner, a family member, a close friend, or one of the law school Deans.
19. Don’t get caught up in the law school competition aspect:
Accept it. Only one person in the class can finish first. So, instead of being number one, try to do your best. Also, help your classmates out and treat them with respect. It will help you and your classmates have a better time in law school.
20. Get help if needed:
Students aren’t usually confused about what kind of law they’re learning in class, how to prepare for class, study for exams, manage their time or take law school exams. It is rare for a student, especially in the first year of law school, not to have questions about these topics from time to time. If you have questions, several resources are available to you. Every professor has office hours once a week.
FAQS: Is law school hard?
How hard are law school classes?
Is law school hard: Because law school classes are taught differently than undergraduate subjects, some students find the study and material more difficult to understand.
Undergraduate education focuses on memorizing, short-term memory, and developing critical thinking abilities. Courses typically employ didactic teaching methods (instructional or lecture-oriented). The information you memorize may or may not apply to your major.
Law school sharpens your critical thinking abilities and focuses on long-term memory recall and information application. The Socratic approach is used in law classes (self-teaching through discussion and Q&A).
Here are some things to consider when moving from undergrad to law school:
- Everything you learn may be useful in a future course or case – it’s unusual that you’ll study something and never use it again.
- Law students are taught to discuss multiple points of view and understand that there may be no “correct” conclusion.
How hard is it to study?
Is law school hard: Law school takes a different strategy than undergraduate studies. The legislation is complex, and you must thoroughly comprehend the subject matter. It will require more than just remembering notes (which is often the approach for undergrad). This makes law school more difficult for many students.
If you are having difficulty with the material, you have several options for academic aid, including:
- Study groups
- Supplemental materials
- library resources
- Past exam papers
How difficult is it to achieve good grades?
Is law school hard: Law school classes often do not give gradable content throughout the course. That means they’re less tolerant if you receive a low grade on one of the few assignments.
Furthermore, law professors rigidly grade on a curve. Grades are usually set in stone, and professors have little leeway in grading.
As a result, many law students believe that getting good grades in law school is considerably more difficult than in undergrad. Grades are also more important in law school because your employer may look at specific grades and your total GPA.
How difficult is it to participate in class and perform well?
It takes more effort to go to law school. More is expected of how you look and how clean you are. There is a lot of competition because law school is full of smart, driven, and strong-willed people. In that crowd, it takes more work to stand out.
Dress and act like an attorney, as a matter of course, for a few reasons:
- You never know who might come to class. Your next boss might be watching the school to see who might be good for the job.
- Most of the time, success is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you dress and act like a lawyer, it’s convenient for you and others to think of you as a lawyer.
How hard is it to be a law student?
Is law school hard: Anxiety is a normal part of a law student’s life. So is coffee. Anxiety and caffeine are dangerous, so make sure you have a relaxing method.
Many law students work and commute to school rather than live on campus. That implies less spare time and more pressure to complete everything daily.
While in law school, you may need to re-prioritize your life. Make sure your family, friends, partner, and employer know your new schedule and needs.
Last but not least, remember to schedule some time away to keep yourself sane. Self-care is a little-known secret to law school success!
What is Law School Like?
Is law school hard: Law school is not the same as college. Professors use the Socratic Method in class, calling on students randomly to answer questions about prescribed readings.
Law school students also engage in experiential learning via the following:
- Legal Internships: Legal internships are designed for law students who have learned how to conduct research and write in the style of lawyers. Using your new skills, you can intern at a law firm, mid-sized corporation, or another location.
- Legal Clinics: Students act as real-life clients experiencing real-life challenges in legal clinics. The goal is for students to think critically about each scenario, use classroom knowledge, and develop personal skills. Despite being in charge of all case elements, they collaborate closely with clinical professors.
- Mock Trials: You will learn how to read and write about the law in law school. But what if you want to make a case in court? Mock trials give you a taste of what that is like because they are competitions based on real trials. These competitions are often held at law schools, and students who want to participate form teams. There might be a fee, so ensure you know all the details of the competition you want to enter.
- Moot courts: The moot court is like a mock trial in letting students research and argue about hypothetical problems. Then, faculty and peers give them feedback.
Some law students might also join a legal journal to improve their writing skills.
After law school, you must pass the Bar Exam before you can work as a lawyer. Usually, the Bar is given twice a year, in February and July.
Final words: Is law school hard?
Is Law School Hard? Yes, indeed. Law school is hard in many ways. But is law school so difficult? That is dependent. Few educational experiences can compete in terms of difficulty, both in terms of the amount of work necessary and the amount of stress you will face.
However, how difficult law school is for you will be determined by your aptitude. When selecting whether or not to attend law school, it’s time to look in the mirror and do some serious introspection. If you are a true type-A personality who has always been ahead of the curve and enjoys taking on big obligations at work and school, law school will be a great fit for you!
But it would be best if you were careful when doing these self-evaluations. You are not comparing yourself to the slackers of undergrad in law school. Imagine being in a race with 200 or more of the hardest-working people you’ve ever met. That is what you will face in law school.
It is optional that you be an automaton capable of handling everything. However, you will find law school easier if you are one.
If you prefer lazy days in front of the television, you should conduct some serious soul-searching before accepting an offer to law school. It doesn’t matter if you aced the LSAT; if you can’t put in hours upon hours of reading, you can struggle in law school (not to mention law practice).
Although there are ways to survive law school without feeling overwhelmed, you cannot fake anything and must not rely just on your head. Law school is a lot of work & you must be prepared to put in the effort.
One thing is certain: law school will push you to your boundaries and shape you into someone stronger and smarter than you were before admission.