The start of law school can be daunting. 1L Darryl Green weighs in on preparing for the great undertaking:
As the days get crossed off my calendar, I find myself getting closer and closer to my law school’s orientation week. As excited as I am, I can’t help the nervousness that grows stronger within me each passing day. I am about to get a full on taste of what it’s like to be an actual student in his first year of law school. The only question is, am I ready?
For me, it’s the one question that‘s repeated over and over again. It’s well known that law school is no walk in the park. The undergraduate mentality that a lot of students come in with, have to be reevaluated immediately upon entering law school. I am sure this will be explained in depth during orientation in every law school in the country. But even so, the worries one may face when starting law school may come before one even sets foot on a law school campus. Here are three of my main worries about starting law school:
1. The Work Load
By now, entering 1L students have probably received packages from their respective schools. These packages may include orientation information, class schedules, first assignments, required readings, suggested readings, etc. ”First Assignments? Required readings? Suggested reading? The school semester hasn’t even started yet and I already have work to do?” Yup, there are books that need to be read and assignments that need to be done before classes even start. A small work load compared to what will be handed to students at the start of classes. As a full time student, my schedule consists of five classes that are (so I’m told) generally standard for 1L students. Property, contracts, torts, civil procedures and legal methods. All of which require a lot of individual attention, lots of reading, analytical thinking, understanding, briefing and outlining. It’s definitely a step (or two, maybe three) up from years as an undergrad. It’s something I know I’ll have to get a grip on. I know it could be very overwhelming and stressful, but if I don’t, it can be a full on disaster.
We all have different methods of studying and retaining information for quizzes and exams. A lot of the time, the information we stored was only to be regurgitated during test time. It’s something that as an undergraduate I’ve gotten used, and it has pretty much worked. But all good things must come to an end. To some extent, at least what I’ve been told and experienced a little is, law school requires more than learning new information and reciting it verbatim. Sure, I will spend countless hours studying and memorizing new words, rules, and other information needed for the law school exams. Doing my best impersonation of Mike from Suits (good show by the way) to help me through. However, it takes more than just being able to recite the information you come across. As a law student, I will have to be able to take what I learn and figure out how to apply it to a given scenario or fact pattern and then explain how I arrive to such a conclusion. From my understanding, this is an important part of studying in law school. It’s one thing to know the information, but it’s another thing to know the information and be able to apply it properly. This is quite different from what I am used to.
If you love multiple choice tests, raise your hand. (Ok, let’s see. I get to choose between four, maybe five answer choices. I know one of them has to be right and I’m pretty sure if studied hard enough, I can spot the answer when I see it. Yup, my hand goes up.) What about short answer questions? (Hmmm… ok. It’s a bit more time consuming than multiple choice, but hey, Just read the question, write a sentence or two and I am golden. I guess I can put my hand up here too. Reluctantly though.) Okay, now essay exams? (… and cue the cricket noise.) No, I am not a big fan of essay style exams but from my understanding, it’s going to be what I am faced with come test time in law school. Professors don’t really want to know how many times you can correctly guess an answer on a scantron. And although, simply writing out two sentences, answering a question with yes or no and why is okay, it will only be a piece of a bigger question that needs to be answered on an exam. Professors want to see what you’ve learned throughout the semester and the best way for them to see that is through an essay style exam. It’s pretty much the norm in law school, It’s going to take some getting used to.
Those are a few of my worries with starting law school. Am I ready for it? Only time will tell, but I am preparing for what’s to come. Since I know there is going to be a massive workload, I am trying to figure out the best way to go about getting it organized and how I can get a handle on it early. Studying is going to take up a lot of my time, granted. So setting up a schedule and sticking with it will be key. Regarding the exams, one of my required readings is a book entitled Writing Essay Exams to Succeed in Law School. So far, its been very helpful and It’s a good book for essay exam writing. (For your reference, it is listed in my Good Reads.)
What is it about starting law school that worries you?