This might seem like a silly question, but we will ask it anyway: is law school hard? Many potential law students ask themselves this question. They often worry the course material will be just too difficult to grasp. The answer is a qualified yes. Although new material and the adjustment from undergraduate to law school can be difficult they are by no means impossible. Here is our take on what can make law school seem extremely difficult for those unsure whether to apply.
Is Law School Hard? Yes! Here’s why:
1. You need to learn to think a different way and in a new language.
The adjustment between undergraduate and law can be difficult because you both have to learn to think in a different way, and do so while learning a different vocabulary. Law school will require you not to memorize the specifics of cases, but rather fact patterns that you can then apply to new scenarios. Many 1L students struggle with this transition. Furthermore, you also have to learn use legal vocabulary, adding an additional layer of difficulty.
2. You need to learn to think on your feet.
Many students find the spontaneity of questioning on the spot difficult. Professors of undergraduate classes do frequently call on random students to answer questions. The difficulty in law school is that you often have to apply what you read and memorized for class to a set of facts you have never encountered before. This can be especially nerve-wracking when you have to give an answer in front of the entire class! This is called the “socratic method.” During your 1L year, you will also most likely take part in some sort of oral arguments. These can be especially challenging for those who fear public speaking or do not think quickly on their feet.
Want tips for surviving the Socratic Method? See this post!
If you are looking for general public speaking tips, see this post!
3. Class preparation is hard work by itself.
Law school requires a lot of hard work to effectively memorize and apply class material. Unlike undergraduate courses, law school does not require you to memorize just specific facts or formulas; rather, you must learn fact patterns and apply them to theoretical situations. To do this properly, you need to efficiently read class materials and outline on your own time. You will do his generally without any additional guidance from your professor. The material itself can be difficult to grasp, and just memorizing it is not going to mean you do well. On top of that, you will most likely be judged only on a final exam at the end of the semester, meaning you only have one chance to show your mastery of the material.
We highly recommend you prepare for class efficiently (rather than spending all of your time reading cases). Thus, we highly recommend you read this post on how to succeed in law school to gauge how to do this.
4. Competition is for class standing, not grades.
Another challenging aspect of law school is that your success is interpreted solely through how well you compete against your peers. Your class ranking is essentially one large curve. Doing well in a class does not mean just mastering material, but being able to articulate it better than your classmates. This is a huge adjustment from undergraduate. Unless your professors graded you on a curve, this type of competition will be new to you. It is disconcerting for those who are used to knowing what will objectively get them an A in a class. And because class ranking can be important to future career prospects, everyone else will be pushing just as hard as you.
5. The level of competition is generally higher than in undergraduate.
You graduated from your undergraduate program in 3 years with a 4.0 GPA. You headed two student body organizations, and managed to volunteer twenty hours a week at a soup kitchen. Overall, you were a standout member of your graduating class. Guess what? Your new peers in law school probably did all of this too! The level of competition in law school classes is higher than that of undergraduate. Your peers will be more qualified and more intelligent than almost any undergraduate class. Plus, there are no mixed enrollment general education requirement type classes in law school to help pad your performance. Your peers will be generally smarter and more motivated than a typical undergraduate student. This means you will have really to excel to finish towards the top of your class.
6. So, is law school hard! Yes, but it is manageable!
The transition from undergraduate and material can be challenging. However, don’t be deterred from going to law school if you are interested! Skills like outlining and learning to use legal vocabulary can be learned on your own or through a law school prep course. After a few classes, you will have a better idea of what your professors are looking for when they call on you in class. Beyond the day-to-day challenges, a legal career can be very intellectually stimulating and rewarding.
Although the transition from undergraduate to your 1L year can be tough, it should not dissuade you from going to law school! Once you make the adjustment, a variety of career and educational paths open for you. So don’t let your initial worries about law schools difficultly stop you from applying. Although it is a lot of hard work, greater things lie ahead!