What Can I Expect When I Start Law School?
You can read all the books, watch all the movies, and dig through all the Reddit sub-threads, but it won’t be the same as experiencing the real thing for yourself. What on earth are we talking about? Law school of course! Students interested in law school often try and gather as much information as possible before applying and attending. Whether it’s to calm anxiety, satisfy expectations, or increase anticipation levels, students are obsessed with gathering intel on law school. Well, we understand this urge and we’re here to help! We’ve written an unequivocal guide to answer the question “What can I expect when I start law school?” Whether you’re an undergraduate student, a recent college graduate, or simply anyone thinking about law school, here’s what you can expect.
What Can I Expect When I Start Law School?
A Noticeable Difference From College
A common mistake that people make when choosing to attend law school is thinking that it’s an extension of college. While it may be easy to understand why this misconception exists, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Law school should be treated as a major career move and the first step you take in establishing your career. You’ll notice a difference in the way that people carry themselves when compared to a college campus. Classmates become colleagues and future professional connections. Grades become your ticket to top-tier internships, and eventually, high-earning associate positions. You’ll compete with other students for grades, positions in the legal community, and top honors. Law school is a big career move. You get the idea.
Check out this post detailing all the different ways law school is different from college.
You’ll Read. A Lot.
One of the most frequent things that law students do when they’re not in class is read. You’ll be reading cases, outlines, and treatises. You name it, you’ll probably end up somehow reading it in law school. (Here are some tips on how to read a law school case if you’re not sure of what to expect.) The reading material in law school serves two primary purposes. First, it allows students to prepare for class. If they get called on in class (a frequent occurrence), they’ll have an idea of what the professor is talking about. Second, reading course material allows students to begin preparing for the final exam. The way this is done is through outlining. Outlining is essentially a synthesized version of the entire semester in an easily accessible format. A perfect segue into our next topic!
We’ve written about outlining many times on the JD Advising blog, and for good reason. A well-executed outline is one of the most powerful tools a law school student can possess. Learn more from our in-depth guide on how to outline in law school. As mentioned above, a law school outline is essentially a course summary for the entire semester. Students generally begin their outlines early on in the semester and develop them as time passes. Once the final exam rolls around, which your entire grade is based on, students generally study heavily from their outlines. Therefore, if outlining isn’t your thing and you’ve been contemplating law school, it may be time to brush up!
While law school is a difficult, time-consuming, and often stressful path to take in life, don’t be too worried. Law school is still a great time with many memories to be made. You’re going to meet life-long friends, make unforgettable memories, and become part of a larger legal community in doing so. Like your undergrad experience, everybody starts off from scratch and nobody has a clue what they’re doing. That is exciting! Everybody is on a similar journey once they attend law school. Figuring out the journey with new people in a new environment is part of the fun.
Finding Your Legal Interests
Don’t be surprised if what you originally attended law school for, say criminal law, isn’t what you’re interested in later. Law school exposes students to a wide variety of different legal subjects to help them find what they’re interested in. Many times, students realize that what they originally were interested in, doesn’t speak to them as loudly as another subject. That’s totally O.K. A majority of lawyers will tell you that they practice an entirely different type of law than they originally anticipated. I personally went into law school with the intent of studying intellectual property law. I quickly realized that it was not for me and found out that litigation was more my style!