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What is the law school experience like?

choatecolatechoatecolate Registered User Posts: 173 Junior Member
edited May 2012 in Law School
Is it a "friendy" environment?

do students live together/hang out like in undergrad?

i know theres a ton more work, but do the students have active social lives as well?

how similar to undergrad is it?

Post edited by choatecolate on

Replies to: What is the law school experience like?

  • LaBarristerLaBarrister Registered User Posts: 168 Junior Member
    My pre-law society meeting tonight is hosting a 1L who will speak about her experiences at our law school so far (2nd tier). Would you like me to share them with you after our meeting tonight? I wouldn't mind.
  • XaviFMXaviFM Registered User Posts: 952 Member
    At one of our early identification things we were told that there are two sorts of programs, with University of Washington and Hastings College of the Law being given as examples of the two extremes.

    UW is supposed to be a very collegial environment, helping one another and not publishing grades or full class rankings, with people working in a very cooperative environment to make sure that everyone graduates and is successful.

    They told us Hastings College is very cutthroat and not very collegial, with people constantly jockeying for position within the school.

    I was told that the reason for this is because of the geography of the relative schools. With Hastings there are a number of other higher or similarly ranked schools in the area, so in order for a Hastings grad to compete with a Boalt Hall or Stanford grad they have to stand out very much.

    I'm told the reason that UW is so collegial is that it is allowed to do so by the fact that there aren't any comparable schools East until Minnesota or South until Berkeley. So, knowing that all of their graduates are similarly placed to have stronger regional prospects than the Seattle U Law, Gonzaga Law grads, et cetera, it is most beneficial to the college to ensure that the entire class is buoyed by an environment in which it is assured that each of the grads will be successful.

    I'm distilling what I was told about two specific programs, while being told that all of the rest of the schools will be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.
  • choatecolatechoatecolate Registered User Posts: 173 Junior Member
    ultimately i hope to attend georgetown, duke, virginia, cal law..... or any t14 really. I can expect a bloodbath for grades right?
  • millerflowermillerflower Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    I thought it was hard to have a social life in law school. It is also a competitive environment. Some of the students were great, but some of them were snakes. They had no compassion or empathy for others; its a good thing they didn't go into the medical field.
  • LaBarristerLaBarrister Registered User Posts: 168 Junior Member
    Speaking of a personal life, did anyone attempt trying to date while in law school? Or bring a relationship into law school? Just curious.
  • stacystacy Registered User Posts: 1,100 Senior Member
    Some law schools are friendlier than others. I went to Michigan and found it quite friendly. The gentler the curve and the more prevalent the jobs, the friendlier I think places will be. UM is especially nice since people go to lots of different cities after graduation so everyone isn't fighting for the same pool of jobs. It might have gotten more competitive though since the economy is worse than when I attended (2006-9).

    some students live together/hang out. Some law schools have dorms where some students live; others have nearby apartments that tend to attract a bunch of law students. But there are plenty of students who are older, have families or jobs, etc. and aren't going to be as involved outside the classroom. There are extracurriculars and social events but when I compare my undergrad to law school, undergrad had more (undergrad also had more students, and most lived on campus, so it was different in other ways).

    Some people do a lot of socializing, and others very little. There are parties, sports events, etc. A lot depends on the school.

    As for dating, I know people who got divorced in law school or broke up with their significant others, while other people got married to people they met in law school. So it depends. Law school is stressful and it takes a toll on some relationships. But I also know lots of people who are still with the same people they were with before law school, who had kids while in law school, etc. Your life doesn't stop just because you're in law school. For most people, it's about the same amount of work as a demanding job. There's still time for family, fun, friends, dating, hobbies, etc....just not a tremendous amount of time.
  • LaBarristerLaBarrister Registered User Posts: 168 Junior Member

    It sounds like a wonderful challenge. My goal is to focus not on grades but on the profession. The grades can take a serious toll on someone who really depends upon getting good marks. I won't fail because I'm passionate about the work, but I won't cry when I get C's - it won't make me a bad lawyer.

    I know this, here, will be personal and, perhaps, irrelevant, but I just want to share that my girlfriend’s dad is a really good lawyer who is passionate about his work. She understands what family, and thus, personal life can be like when dealing with attorneys. I’m really crossing my fingers that she’ll be here to stay and understand what I’ll be going through!

    Thanks for all the comments, guys and gals :)
  • XaviFMXaviFM Registered User Posts: 952 Member
    Thanks stacy for that.
  • drusbadrusba Registered User Posts: 9,167 Senior Member
    You should read " One L" by Scott Turow.

    The actual experience is not anything like college. Some of your classmates may be right out of college but a lot have already been out for some period, have had real jobs after college, are married, and some even have kids. Most do not live at the school while attending even if it is at a college that has dorms available for graduate students.

    You start with the belief that you are a very intelligent person who did very well in college and good enough to get into law school. Everyone in your class is in that same boat, top students all. It is not too long into the first week or two of having classes which use the socratic method (the prof asks questions designed to lead you to an understanding that you must achieve on your own with the prof seldom providing any real answers) that you begin to doubt your intelligence and start to believe you may be as dumb as a post because you understand little that is going on. You spend a huge amount of time studying. And it is not like you are reading hundreds of pages a night but instead you are reviewing for one class perhaps 15 to 20 pages of shortened versions of actual case opinions in a casebook and trying to figure out what it actually says, what is actually important, and what you can use the principles in the case for. You sometimes spend several hours just reading and thinking about those 15 to 20 pages. Finally, you become enormously proud of yourself and shreik, "I've got it," and then you go to the next class, get called on, and after about 2 minutes of questioning you realize that you have absolutely no idea what those cases were about. That reduced-to-ignorance state lasts for many about four to five weeks and then some lightbulbs start going on off and suddenly you actually do understand all the stuff you were supposed to learn in the first week. Those for which the lightbulb does not go off usually disappear by end of first semester. You then spend the rest of the semester sort of in that state where your understanding of what is going on always seems to be a few weeks behind where you actually are in the class.

    While you are struggling with those kinds of classes you also have a research and writing class which consumes enormous amounts of your time, and is usually for only one or two hours of credit, as you attempt to produce legal writings that analyze factual situations and provide legal analysis of those situations with citation to a huge number of cases and statutes, an exercise for which you have to learn the method of citation which itself takes a huge amount of time.

    Having spent 80 hours or more a week studying, researching and doing some papers, and the rest of your waking hours just thinking about the law which you cannot stop yourself from doing, you then come to final exam time where, for most courses, the final exam is everything since during the semester you took no tests and produced nothing that would result in a grade. You are given a number for the exams becuase you cannot put your name on them since the profs are supposed to grade it without knowning who you are. You then take the final exams. When you leave each exam you hear others talking about it and the questions and their answers and when you hear what they are saying you look off into space and wonder, "Am I doomed," because more than half of what they are saying is somthing you did not even mention in your answers. You then get your grades and are either happy or decide to end it all.

    During this first semester, most do actually make friends and even do some grouping for studying. You usually have two major groups in a class as the semester progresses--those who eagerly volunteer and often seem like they know what they are talking about and the rest who try their best to hide from sight. Friendships are sometimes related to that grouping but often they are persons from both groups. You have those that are very willing to share their knowledge and then those who are hoarders of information who try to avoid having others benefit from their knowledge. There are occassional parties and often there is a Friday afternoon go-to-a-nearby-bar group to release all the tensions gathered during the week.
  • cartera45cartera45 Registered User Posts: 12,444 Senior Member
    My goal is to focus not on grades but on the profession.

    I don't know what you mean by this. You can't focus on the profession while you're in law school unless you plan on working at a firm while in law school. Law school has very little to do with the practice of law. You learn very little that is in any way helpful to the practice. Practicing law is on the job training. There is nothing inherently difficult about studying law. It is not rocket science. Much of the difficulty comes form the sheer volume of work. I developed a very close group of friends in law school. We had a great time. I also developed a great relationship with a study partner very early on and that helped me tremendously. I think if you had a really rigorous undergrad experience and are accustomed to analyzing huge volumes of material, the transition is not that difficult.
  • parentstwoparentstwo Registered User Posts: 187 Junior Member
    I'm not sure about the advice to read "One L."

    I've read it. It's rather extreme, and it terrified me when my D was heading off to HLS. She thinks the book is dated (after all it was written 35 years ago) and it's a poor portrayal of what things are like there nowadays.

    I would draw this analogy: "One L" is to law school as "The Good Wife" is to a big law firm.
  • BEngineerBEngineer Registered User Posts: 201 Junior Member
    Seriously, the law school experience ain't that bad (though I got my finals next week)... The group of students in Law will actually rarely be involved in the faculty and some (including myself) starting to skip all lectures because it is not that helpful for the exams anyway. The reason for this is because the students that are in this faculty are more mature, and some (like myself) have full time jobs that they need to attend to.

    However, I don't see how this would affect your student life as, like myself, I join various student clubs at my university; skipping lectures means you have more time to study and do other stuff. Plus, its not like other faculties have a more "friendlier" environment (I am from engineering).

    As for stress and time-consuming, I think its not as bad as engineering as you have less homework. I don't have labs or quizzes, just research papers to write. Its just the memorization is the pain. So why is it a pain? Imagine some of the cases have very similar names with similar years and you have to memorize a few for each situation so probably you need 50-60 cases memorized for each exam. You would also have your country's statute book with you, but you need to memorize exactly which statute and which section to use and the exam duration is pretty short.
  • GreybeardGreybeard Registered User Posts: 2,355 Senior Member
    The question's use of the definite article ("the law school experience") seems to presume that everyone experiences law school the same way. My wife and I graduated from the same law school, the same year, and had very different experiences there.

    (We first dated each other nine years after graduation, by the way.)
This discussion has been closed.