LegalJob has been asked by aspiring law students what it is like to attend law school today in 2012/2013. LegalJob has also been asked by current law students whether their law school experience is typical or whether they are doing something wrong. In an attempt to answer these questions, LegalJob asked a current 1L at a top 20-law school to provide his general impressions about his recently completed first semester.
Here are his comments:
Mind blowing. That is how I would describe the first semester of law school. Not in a bad way though, most of the experience was good. The first semester of law school was the most intense four months of my life to date. As an incoming law student you will no doubt read about the law school experience and what to expect. Looking back, nothing really conveyed the true essence of what was to come. Here are a few thoughts.
▸ In my section of 35 first year law students, not one student dropped out during the first semester and everyone came back for the second semester. While the first semester is certainly difficult, everyone made it through. Take it for what it’s worth.
▸ The first month was the hardest. This is because it was a new city, new school, new subject, and a new way of learning. Law classes are not really an extension of what you have been learning your whole life. It isn’t like going from high school to college but really a brand new subject taught in an unfamiliar way. Every so often a professor would lecture for the last ten minutes of class but usually professors adhered strictly to the Socratic Method. I had one professor that would only answer questions with questions. Luckily, most classmates are in the same boat and this new teaching/learning style will be used the rest of law school.
▸ My classmates were incredibly competitive. I think this is inevitable in law school settings but it isn’t a bad thing. I have never had a classmate try to sabotage me, plus many of the people from your classes will become your friends. Instead, I thought it created a great learning environment. Everybody is in class to learn as much as possible, they are engaged in the subject—when you are put in a situation where everybody intensely wants to be the best lawyer, you can’t help but try and work harder yourself.
▸ Try to keep what you’re learning in context. I found that the semester is fairly back loaded. What I mean by this is that while I learned roughly the same amount of information each week, I had to put it all together at the end of the semester. All of the material that you learn is like a puzzle, so if you are able to spend some time thinking about how all of the material fits together throughout the semester, it will free up time as finals approach.
The first semester of law school will fly by. Enjoy it.”