Being weeks away from graduation, we law students get all sentimental and junk. These are a few things I wish I knew before going to law school. Good luck to everyone contemplating and working on applications currently. Everything will be fine 🙂
1. In law school, you will learn a new language, and no one will understand you.
At first, but they do catch on eventually. And it’s not just the Latin phrases, doctrines, and landmark cases you will find creeping into your daily language. It is also all the abbreviations and terminology 100% unique to law school (I’m talking about Crim Law and being an “L”). You may even find yourself having to explain what “Bar” means from time to time.
2. Law school is not really anything like college.
I’ve heard that grad school in general is not anything like college. It’s impossible to describe, but generally speaking, college looks like a breeze compared to grad school: it’s less work, way less pressure, and grad school prepares you so much better for your career than a liberal arts degree.
3. Law school is freaking a lot expensive, but it can be worth it.
One day I calculated the actual cost to become lawyer, and it came to roughly $240,000.00 – that’s undergrad and law school tuition, books, and bar expenses. This is essentially a mortgage, but with no equity. Don’t panic, because it’s an investment that can be worth it, if you know this is what you really want to do.
4. Law school is like boot camp, but worse.
A friend of mine at law school was also an military officer, and I asked him which was worse. His answer? Law school, because it’s much longer. Also, instead of coming out all fit and trained, you generally come out 20 pounds heavier and completely unaware of culture and current events of the last three years.
5. Don’t forget about balance.
Law school, especially the first year, is designed to break you and make you you fight through the heavy workload. You will read more than you ever thought possible, your books will be heavier than ever, and you will go nuts just hoping for something – ANYTHING – different to do. I found it really helpful to have some time to do something creative – sing, paint, or write. Others like working out or volunteering. Although you won’t have much time, try to find a few moments to use the other parts of your brain.
6. People will always talk about how much money you’re going to make, which can be awkward.
My undergrad degree was in communication arts, so when I was working towards that no one ever commented on me becoming a rich journalist. Later, when people found out I was in law school, a lot of people made comments like, “Oh, but you will make so much money,” and, “Then you will be set for life.” Don’t forget: there are no guarantees, and law school isn’t like winning the lottery – it takes a lot of hard work, skill, and sacrifice. You really shouldn’t (well, don’t) go to law school for the buckets of cash, because money isn’t everything and lawyers can be just as poor as the rest of us.
7. You can technically go to law school anywhere, by staying local has its benefits.
Although all law schools teach the general rules and common law, so technically you can go to school in Wisconsin and work in Maine, going to school in the state in which you plan on working has its perks. For instance, the school may offer some classes unique to the local state (like Connecticut Civil Procedure); some states are straight-up weird (I’m looking at you, Louisiana and New York), so you will want to immerse yourself in that totally different legal culture as soon as possible; and you can start to make connections and look for post-graduate work while in school more easily.
8. “Legally Blonde” is mostly not accurate, but has a few moments of truth.
As a whole, most law students would say that Legally Blonde lied to them about law school. But there are some things that are surprisingly accurate, like the struggle of studying for LSATs while everyone else is enjoying senior year, the importance of class rank and earning an internship, and that one 1L prof who is just there to scare the bejeezus out of you.
9. Your undergrad concentration doesn’t matter.
When I decided to go to law school, I was one year from graduating will a bachelor’s in communication arts. I was really worried that it was too late for me because I couldn’t switch to a pre-law program. My advisor assured me, however, that a good law school will prepare me with everything I will need to be an effective attorney – from passing the Bar to running my practice. In fact, having a unique undergrad degree, like art, can help make you stand out to the admissions committee. Don’t worry – go for it!
10. Law school will become your Taylor Swift ex-boyfriend.
Law school was really alluring and exciting at first – so much potential and hope for the future. But now it is needy and cruel, and you are singing to yourself that you are never, ever, ever getting back together, you would really like to feel like a normal 22-year-old, and you just want to tell law school that it didn’t have to be so mean. But, like all needy, tormented exes, it will make you a stronger person when you make it through.