Are you thinking about attending law school and are unsure of what to expect? Do you want to become a lawyer someday and are trying to determine if you have what it takes? If either of these questions sounds familiar, then you have come to the right place.
Law school is an intermediate step for anyone looking to become a lawyer. However, what is it really like? We will give you insight into what the law school curriculum looks like and even what you can look forward to in your first year of law school.
You don’t have to go into things blindly any longer. If this sounds like information you’re interested in, all you have to do is keep reading. This information will not let you down.
What is Law School?
If you’re thinking about becoming a lawyer, then the chances are high that you will be reading a lot of information about what law school is and how you can get in. However, we’ll still provide you with the most information possible.
Law school is in a nutshell, is the academic institution that prepares a student for working within the legal system. Any student looking to practice law can not do so until they have graduated from law school. However, not all individuals who attend law school intend to practice law. Law school can be beneficial for several different professions.
Law school is a program that takes place after a traditional degree has been received and is a Juris doctorate program.
Outside of being a lawyer, there is an abundance of options available for students who opt to go to law school. These professions include an FBI agent, an HR professional, a mediator, and several other options. If none of these professions or degrees intrigue you, there are also several different types of lawyers that you can become. This can include an injury lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, or even a technology lawyer.
Though you can hold various majors to be admitted into law school, several majors will adequately prepare you for the journey ahead. Degrees in business, political science, and even economics are three of the best majors for law school. These law school majors will put you on the path to success.
How to Get Into Law School?
Now that you know what law school is, it’s vital that you understand that you can not just pick a law school and decide to go. Like traditional college, you must be accepted, and there is a number of acceptance criteria that you must meet before you are admitted.
Getting into law school, contrary to what you may be thinking, is not impossible. Before you begin planning your first day of law school, it’s crucial that you know how to get in. You will need to start by completing your bachelor’s degree. There is no specific major that you must have to attend law school, but there is often a minimum GPA that you must maintain during your undergraduate years. Knowing what law school you would like to attend will allow you to know if you meet the requirements before you get to your senior year of college.
Outside of completing your bachelor’s degree, you will also need to take the LSAT. The LSAT, also known as the Law School Admission Test, is one exam that should not be taken lightly. Students will begin studying as much as a year to six months in advance to ensure that they are adequately prepared. This test is a mandatory step in your law school process and, unfortunately, is not free.
Once you have determined that you’re going to law school and have begun preparation for the LSAT, you will need to think about your recommendation letters. You should obtain recommendations from teachers who know you well and who you were able to work closely with during your collegiate tenure. These letters help speak to your character and give the school a better image of you from someone else’s point of view. Getting letters from teachers who cannot speak confidently of your character and work ethic may be detrimental to you in the long run.
One major thing you need to think about is the personal statement. Your personal statement allows you to show your personality, showcase your achievements, and so much more. This allows you to add some personality to your application.
After you have done all of this, the last thing you need to do is apply for law school. Before you can apply, you will need to do the research necessary to find the schools which are best for you and that fit your needs. Once you have done that, all that’s left to do is wait for your acceptance letter.
What to Expect in Law School?
Now that you know how to get into law school, it is vital that you know what to expect from your tenure in law school. One of the most critical periods of law school is your first year; this is pivotal in setting the stage for what you will experience. Law school is essential not just in the classroom but outside of it as well.
First Year in Law School
Your first year in law school sets the stage for your time to come. During your first year, you can expect to do a considerable amount of reading and for it to be the most difficult. Though each school is different and has different stipulations, several things about law school remain the same.
One positive thing about your first year of law school is that you will meet several students in the same boat. You will likely make fast friends during your first year due to the commonalities of your experience.
Law School Curriculum
Your first year in law school is said by many to be the most challenging year that you will have. For many first-year students, the law school curriculum involves the same foundational courses at universities across the globe. There are seven courses that are considered foundational to law. These courses include Torts, criminal law, property law, constitutional law, and more. These courses are the basis for your legal education.
First-year students will also be introduced to the case method way of teaching. This method involves creating a brief of a variety of cases. Students will then discuss case relationships and go through their own case analyses. Students can expect to have several hours of reading every night.
Law School Culture
It will take some adjusting to get used to law school, so your extracurricular activities will be vastly limited your first year. However, if you are able to keep up with the workload and have a social life, many colleges offer student organizations that keep the law at the center of their missions.
How Hard is Law School?
We would be lying if we told you that law school would be easy. Traditional college is by no means easy however law school can be considered far worse. The amount of work that students will need to accomplish and balance in order to be successful requires determination and dedication.
During your first year, you will need to get used to the complexity of the course load and the pace at which you learn. Unlike your early years of school, it is imperative that you do well on the work that you are given while in law school. There will not be several assignments for you to complete, but the reading will be extensive.
Courses will be much faster-paced, and often a missed lecture could mean a failed exam. Missing a class can be detrimental to your education and usually cost you a good portion of your grade. One thing that often makes law school difficult is the grading scale. Many schools utilize a curve, a bell curve, which means that you must outperform your students. The higher the highest grade in the course, the more the curve shifts with a bell curve.
Throughout your time in law school, you will need to learn to think differently. You will need to analyze a variety of situations and learn the law for situations that are not black and white. You will also need to prepare yourself to be wrong. It will take some time to learn the law, but you must be open and receptive to it.
How Long is Law School?
Though your first year of law school is the hardest, it is not the last year. Law school, on average, takes three years to receive your Juris doctorate degree. However, some accelerated programs exist that will allow for law school completion in two years.
How to Find the Best Law School?
You can do several things to prepare for law school, with the first being finding the best law school for you. Law school requirements are strenuous, but they can vary by institution. Use these tips to ensure that you find the best law school for you.
Evaluate the curriculum
You need to assess if a law school curriculum fits your needs and wants. Though much of the first-year curriculum is the same across the board, your second and third years offer room for possibility and electives. These electives and options will vary based on the school you choose. Make sure that these options align with your overall goals and needs before committing yourself to a school.
Pay attention to the demographics
There are several factors that go into play when choosing an institution. The same care and time that you put into selecting a four-year college should be done when choosing a law school. You will need to think about things like location, average class sizes, facility amenities, and more.
If you know that you need personalized attention, likely, you will not choose a school with large class sizes and limited tutoring resources. You will also need to think about in what environment you perform best. If you know that certain cities or areas cause stress, you should try your hardest to avoid schools where these stressors will be constant.
Create a budget cap
It’s no secret that education is expensive. If this is a significant concern for you, it may be beneficial to create a budget with a cap. This can be the amount you are looking to spend per year or altogether. Regardless of which route you choose to evaluate, this ensures that you don’t consider schools that are over your budget. It would be best if you also attempted to look for scholarships early to be aware of how much wiggle room you will have financially.
Analyze what you can handle
No one knows you better than yourself; you know how much stress you are able to handle and how well you perform under pressure. This means that although everyone in your family may want you to go to Harvard Law, the program’s rigor may not be what you need and you also may not be as equipped to get into the program. There are some schools that often make a student’s wish list. However, it is just as essential to have safe schools.
You should not only be evaluating your potential to perform after being admitted but your aptitude for acceptance.
7 Tips to Prepare for Law School
Start researching early
As you can see from the previous section, there is a lot that you will need to do to assess the schools to which you are applying. This decision should not be taken lightly and will require an ample amount of research. This research should be done on more than just the law curriculum but the school, location, and other essential avenues. What is the attitude of the city where the school is located? How is housing? Is there public transportation? These are all critical things to ask yourself and to know. Therefore, the earlier you start your prep, the better. This leaves you more flexibility and freedom.
Take an LSAT prep course.
One major game-changer in preparing for the LSAT exam is taking an LSAT prep course. The LSAT exam is extremely important and can predict how well a student will do during their first year of law school. The LSAT prep course can be expensive, but it can be worth it. However, there are cheaper options like LSAT prep books and virtual classes.
Get others to read your personal statement.
Your personal statement is critical. It allows admissions officials to differentiate you from just another applicant. Therefore, it’s vital that you do not write this statement in isolation. Having others proofread your statement can be extremely beneficial and aid you in seeing things that you may not have seen before.
Learn to take notes
Taking notes and creating outlines will be extremely important when you start law school. There will be extensive amounts of reading, and it’s crucial that you understand how to read for understanding and grasps concepts quickly. Having notes which are easily digestible and highlight the vital information can make or break your progress while in law school. Use your undergraduate education to find out what does and does not work for you.
Work hard & get good grades
Your GPA is a critical factor for getting you into law school. You must prepare and take your undergraduate curriculum seriously. You must maintain a consistent GPA and ensure that you do not settle no matter what is happening around you.
Build meaningful relationships
Obtaining good recommendation letters is essential for your law school acceptance. Use the relationships that you have built with your professors during undergrad to help you to get these letters. Make sure that throughout your tenure as a student, you are working for more than a grade. Your professors can be more than just recommendation letters. They can be mentors and even aid in encouraging some of your educational interests.
Seek practical advice
Though it may be nice to talk to older lawyers about their experience practicing law, they won’t help when it comes to law school. Though their experience is valid, it may be too far removed from how law schools operate now. Talk to current students to get the rundown on the law school experience. If you’re having trouble finding individuals to help you in your search, places like college message boards, campus groups, and social media may be an excellent way to find current students.
Wrapping Things Up: What is Law School Like?
Law school can be a scary place; however, it is highly beneficial in the long run. Law school does more than teach you laws. You learn how to think about the law and how to apply it to a number of scenarios.
In terms of difficulty, law school is no joke. If you are not prepared for the rigor, it can be a tough pill to swallow, especially during your first year. This is the year when you will genuinely determine if law school is for you. Utilize the different tips provided above to ensure that you are not only familiar with law school requirements but prepared to take on the task.