Center for High Achievement & Scholarly Engagement
Pre-Graduate and Pre-Professional Advising

Life in Law School

Law school can be interesting and exciting. It is also extremely demanding so it is a good idea to consider what life in law school will be like, and whether you think you will be able to cope with the demands that it places on students.

Discipline

Discipline is essential to being a successful law student. If you gain admission to law school, then you likely have the ability to understand the work. However, if you get behind by missing a couple of classes or some reading, then you will quickly find yourself struggling. Classes nearly always build on knowledge gained in previous classes and without the discipline to attend every class, there will be gaps in your knowledge which are difficult to go back and fill on your own.

You will also need to be disciplined in your reading. Some of the reading will be interesting, but some will be dry and hard going. You must also be prepared to accept that your social life might not be quite what it was as an undergraduate. Passing exams will require many hours of study, and little free time to do anything else.

Writing

Legal writing is a big part of the work of any lawyer and learning its style is a big part of law school. Some classes will require a lot of writing and you must be prepared for your writing style to be dismantled, and developed into a tool of precision. In legal writing, every word must be chosen carefully, conveying no more, or less meaning than the writer intends. Many students find the writing laborious and frustrating. However, learning how to write with clarity and concision will be an invaluable tool.

What you will study

The first year of study in nearly all law schools will focus on central areas of law such as contracts, criminal law, constitutional law, property, torts, and civil procedure. Many schools will also have a full year course on legal research and writing. With the first year out of the way, student's have more choice over what they study and start to focus on courses that are most useful for their career. For example, a student who wishes to practice in intellectual property may take classes including copyright law, patent law, and internet law. A student interested in family law may take classes in divorce law, wills, trusts, and poverty law. It is not an imperative to focus courses to one or two particular areas and many students will take a variety.

Examination

Examinations in law school are usually less frequent but more extensive than examinations at undergraduate level. There is generally one exam per subject at the end of the semester, or at the end of the year for a full year course. Sometimes this can put more pressure on the exams than you will be used to.