Law School Discussion

Law Students => Current Law Students => Topic started by: ptoomey on November 27, 2009, 09:49:01 PM

Title: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on November 27, 2009, 09:49:01 PM
Hi Everyone,

I'm not in law school yet, but I'm seriously considering it. I've been doing a lot of reading about different schools, job prospects, etc, and I just read something kind of scary. Just wondering what current law students think.

Below is a post someone made in reaction to the article titled "Law School Is For Everyone" on the USNews site. This guy says that many people at his law school(which he says is ranked in the 50's) study in excess of 80 hours per week.

I realize the number of hours will vary quite a bit depending on the individual - reading speed, dedication, study habits, etc, but just curious how much time all of you are putting in.

One other question. I'm sure this varies a bit too, depending on the course load and year of school, but what is the typical number of pages you have to read per night or per week?

Thanks in advance.
ptoomey

Here's the post:

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I scored a 176 on the LSAT and have not been able to turn a single A. Yes you read that right. Law school is something like what legal practice is. A time draining, balls to the wall death match. You need to understand that your grade stands alone over the bodies of your fellow students. Every law student thinks he/she understands this until one month before finals. You need to understand that 'the lottery' of law school favors those who are most willing to sacrifice--time, family, friends and money. I thought coming in to a school ranked around the 50's with a 176 on the LSAT and a great undergraduate experience in a writing intensive major I would be able to relax a little more than my fellow students and still sail to the front as usual. Wrong! I didn't expect to have fellow students spending 80+ hours studying per week from day one. Look! I am not exaggerating. There are more than a handful of students who spend more than 80 hours a week studying. Brains is only one part of the equation. The other part is time. Then those same people end up practicing law and being your future boss. The same person who sacrificed quite literally everything in life to be the boss at your target firm will expect no less from you. If you don't believe me, just ask around. Big firms are quite open that your job is first and anything else is only incidental.
Do you want to spend $120,000 to be placed in a death match with dozens of other people as smart as you are? The 'winners' will be those who prioritize everything after the law.
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Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: Ninja1 on November 28, 2009, 01:26:24 AM
I'd be skeptical of anything that poster claims. No way he's at a school in the 50s with a 176 LSAT, unless he's retarded, which speaks for itself.

He does have some valid points though. While you won't spend 80 hours a week studying, you'll certainly stay busy. And while intelligence matters, the amount of time you pour in does to. But no way does anyone spend 80 hours a week studying, especially after the first semester.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: mbw on November 28, 2009, 05:46:46 AM
I'm at a T-14, and I know of people who, starting around Fall Break, began to put in 70-80 hour weeks (if you include class time.)  I've been pulling 65-70 hour weeks for a month now, and cranked it up to 80 hours this past week.

I used to think I'd do okay with this level of study, but knowing there are others doing even more (and I just can't, as I have a family) I have no illusions as to top 10%.  Those spots are already taken by the naturally gifted and 80-hourers.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ryanjm on November 28, 2009, 02:08:12 PM
Yes, some people are workaholics and will put in ridiculous hours in order to get that top 10%. Yes, the legal practice is a grind that requires a ton of hours if you want to work at a big firm. Yes, I graduated and am not practicing law for this very reason. Yes, 90% of the people I know who are working at law firms hate it. Yes, you should find another career. HTH
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on November 29, 2009, 10:35:40 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone.
It seems like it's all over the map. Makes sense though.
I hope others chime in on how much they study.

On a related topic, how high do you have to go in the rankings to
get to the point where you don't have to be in the top 10% to get
a job -  T20? T14? Is Fordham high enough? I'm guessing the answer
is different today than it was before the recession.

ryanjm, did you try getting a job or were you so disillusioned with
law that you decided to do something else? Did you go to a top school?

I just found this on top-law-schools.com about Cornell and the number of
hours people there study:
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Competitiveness

In 2007, the Princeton Review book, 2008 Best 170 Law Schools, ranked Cornell students as the hardest working law students in the United States. According to the book, the students at the Law School study an average of 5.97 hours/day. This is especially unusual considering that students at other top law schools study far fewer hours. However, current Cornell Law students dispute the accuracy of the data that may portray Cornell as an ultra-competitive school. According to these students, students at the law school work hard but there are no horror stories. Students are competitive to an extent. The course load is heavy with students taking a graded legal writing course and 16 credits each semester during their first year. However, the course load does not force students to study 6 hours/day. One student who achieved good results working an average of 3 hours/day stated that Princeton Review’s data may be flawed due to exaggeration by students who may count time getting coffee from the local Starbucks as time spent studying.
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Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: EarlCat on November 29, 2009, 11:16:50 AM
I would estimate I put in about 50-60 a week, but that includes breaks for food, etc.  I'm not in a book 10 hours a day nonstop.  I doubt anybody is.  It's also not all studying per se.  Right now I'm in the middle of an appellate brief, and after that I'll be doing trial prep and then studying for finals.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on November 30, 2009, 12:23:24 AM
Wow, 50-60 is still a pretty intense work load. Does that include class room hours?
Do you take weekends off or just do a shorter day on Sat and Sunday?
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: Ninja1 on November 30, 2009, 02:13:12 AM
Counting class hours, I probably spend around 30-40 hours a week on law school stuff if I'm doing everything I'm supposed to (I still contend that most people skim after 1L if they read at all). During 1L though, there were probably times I put in 60-80, but that was only when I had something due for legal writing.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: mbw on November 30, 2009, 10:08:02 AM
If I spent 30-40 hours a week, I wouldn't make median, let alone anything remotely safe, job-market-wise.  The 2007 Princeton Review report does not take into account the New Reality, post melt-down.  Everyone here seems to understand the stakes are now much higher, and it means many more hours hitting the books - so 60-80 hours is more the norm than the outlier.  Our curve is so tight that a single grade could make a significant difference as to where you land.  But with five graded courses a semester, I don't know if you can really compare us to a lot of schools with less rigorous curricula.

Truth is, if you don't want to work, don't come to Ithaca.  Sometimes, I regret that I did. :P
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: EarlCat on November 30, 2009, 10:12:35 AM
Wow, 50-60 is still a pretty intense work load. Does that include class room hours?
Do you take weekends off or just do a shorter day on Sat and Sunday?

I pretty much do the same every day, although I took most of thurs and fri off this past week.  But like I said, that's not like straight 100% intense work.  It's work, food, work, LSD, work, food, work, walk back and forth to school, work.  Who knows how many hours are actually full-on productivity.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on December 01, 2009, 02:18:02 PM
Counting class hours, I probably spend around 30-40 hours a week on law school stuff if I'm doing everything I'm supposed to (I still contend that most people skim after 1L if they read at all). During 1L though, there were probably times I put in 60-80, but that was only when I had something due for legal writing.

Ninja1, I like that answer. So far it's my favorite :) I can't envision doing much more than 50 - 60 without getting burnt out.

If I spent 30-40 hours a week, I wouldn't make median, let alone anything remotely safe, job-market-wise.  The 2007 Princeton Review report does not take into account the New Reality, post melt-down.  Everyone here seems to understand the stakes are now much higher, and it means many more hours hitting the books - so 60-80 hours is more the norm than the outlier.  Our curve is so tight that a single grade could make a significant difference as to where you land.  But with five graded courses a semester, I don't know if you can really compare us to a lot of schools with less rigorous curricula.

Truth is, if you don't want to work, don't come to Ithaca.  Sometimes, I regret that I did. :P

mbw, that's pretty scary. 80 hours a week is insane. Are you a 1L? Does it get any less intense in years 2 and 3 up there, from what you've heard.

I pretty much do the same every day, although I took most of thurs and fri off this past week.  But like I said, that's not like straight 100% intense work.  It's work, food, work, LSD, work, food, work, walk back and forth to school, work.  Who knows how many hours are actually full-on productivity.

jeez, I don't know if I'm cut out for this. I think I'd go nuts if I didn't take Saturdays and Sundays off.
Which means I could probably get up to around 50 hours if I leave time for sleeping and eating, and walking.
I might be too old for this :-\
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: mbw on December 01, 2009, 03:42:58 PM
Counting class hours, I probably spend around 30-40 hours a week on law school stuff if I'm doing everything I'm supposed to (I still contend that most people skim after 1L if they read at all). During 1L though, there were probably times I put in 60-80, but that was only when I had something due for legal writing.

Ninja1, I like that answer. So far it's my favorite :) I can't envision doing much more than 50 - 60 without getting burnt out.

If I spent 30-40 hours a week, I wouldn't make median, let alone anything remotely safe, job-market-wise.  The 2007 Princeton Review report does not take into account the New Reality, post melt-down.  Everyone here seems to understand the stakes are now much higher, and it means many more hours hitting the books - so 60-80 hours is more the norm than the outlier.  Our curve is so tight that a single grade could make a significant difference as to where you land.  But with five graded courses a semester, I don't know if you can really compare us to a lot of schools with less rigorous curricula.

Truth is, if you don't want to work, don't come to Ithaca.  Sometimes, I regret that I did. :P

mbw, that's pretty scary. 80 hours a week is insane. Are you a 1L? Does it get any less intense in years 2 and 3 up there, from what you've heard.

I pretty much do the same every day, although I took most of thurs and fri off this past week.  But like I said, that's not like straight 100% intense work.  It's work, food, work, LSD, work, food, work, walk back and forth to school, work.  Who knows how many hours are actually full-on productivity.

jeez, I don't know if I'm cut out for this. I think I'd go nuts if I didn't take Saturdays and Sundays off.
Which means I could probably get up to around 50 hours if I leave time for sleeping and eating, and walking.
I might be too old for this :-\

It does seem to get a bit easier in 2-3L.

And age shouldn't deter you.  I'm the oldest in my class.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: Ninja1 on December 02, 2009, 03:35:43 AM
Counting class hours, I probably spend around 30-40 hours a week on law school stuff if I'm doing everything I'm supposed to (I still contend that most people skim after 1L if they read at all). During 1L though, there were probably times I put in 60-80, but that was only when I had something due for legal writing.

Ninja1, I like that answer. So far it's my favorite :) I can't envision doing much more than 50 - 60 without getting burnt out.


Now, I will say that I did see some people put in way more hours than me during 1L, but I honestly have no idea what they were doing after a certain point. I'd go to class, do all of my reading, and maybe even go back over my notes and still not manage to spend more than 40 hours a week on stuff, but some people would spend like 10-12 hours at school every day. What they were doing is beyond me, and results varied greatly from one person to the next. One guy that put in tons of time got either straight or almost straight As, but a few other people I know managed to get even worse grades than me despite spending twice as much time working, and most people just did about average (as per the usual with the curve I guess).
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on December 02, 2009, 09:39:06 AM
Now, I will say that I did see some people put in way more hours than me during 1L, but I honestly have no idea what they were doing after a certain point. I'd go to class, do all of my reading, and maybe even go back over my notes and still not manage to spend more than 40 hours a week on stuff, but some people would spend like 10-12 hours at school every day. What they were doing is beyond me, and results varied greatly from one person to the next. One guy that put in tons of time got either straight or almost straight As, but a few other people I know managed to get even worse grades than me despite spending twice as much time working, and most people just did about average (as per the usual with the curve I guess).

Yikes, it sounds so random. Do you think writing ability(on exams) is the biggest factor, after you've put in some reasonable threshold of reading and preparing?
I'm the proud owner of one of those ultra writing intensive engineering degrees - I'll get crushed in law school if it comes down to writing ability.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on December 02, 2009, 09:40:03 AM
It does seem to get a bit easier in 2-3L.

And age shouldn't deter you.  I'm the oldest in my class.

Thanks for the encouragement. I haven't given up on the idea yet.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: USAFVETERAN on December 03, 2009, 12:27:40 AM
I started out putting in roughly 48 hours a week (this includes class) but scaled back after about a month in.  At that point I was burning out quickly.  Once deadlines for legal research approached I cranked it back up to beyond 48 hours because legal research has a way of forcing one to burn the candles.  I am probably back at around 48 because on finals approaching.  There are a few things that I have figured out so far. First, you will find your own pace throughout the semester.  However, this does not mean scale back on reading etc. Second, you WILL burn out if you try to maintain a workload more than your body can handle. Third, and probably most important, if you do all of your reading and briefs throughout the semester you will not have to put in mad hours when it is time to study for your finals.  When you begin to study the time spent should be a refresher on the concepts that you have already read. 
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: Ninja1 on December 03, 2009, 02:48:05 PM
Now, I will say that I did see some people put in way more hours than me during 1L, but I honestly have no idea what they were doing after a certain point. I'd go to class, do all of my reading, and maybe even go back over my notes and still not manage to spend more than 40 hours a week on stuff, but some people would spend like 10-12 hours at school every day. What they were doing is beyond me, and results varied greatly from one person to the next. One guy that put in tons of time got either straight or almost straight As, but a few other people I know managed to get even worse grades than me despite spending twice as much time working, and most people just did about average (as per the usual with the curve I guess).

Yikes, it sounds so random. Do you think writing ability(on exams) is the biggest factor, after you've put in some reasonable threshold of reading and preparing?
I'm the proud owner of one of those ultra writing intensive engineering degrees - I'll get crushed in law school if it comes down to writing ability.

Writing ability matters, but probably not as much as it should. Grammar seems to take a backseat in law school for reasons that I don't fully understand. If you know and can apply the law, you'll be cool.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on December 03, 2009, 04:47:43 PM
I'd probably be alright at putting short arguments together, but under time pressure,
I doubt I'd be able to organize something long that sounded impressive when I was done.
I can write something that sounds halfway intelligent, but it takes me a long time, with
lots of rewrites.

I think I might survive, but I doubt I'd be able to make it to the top of the class, at
least in 1L.

Thanks for the info, Ninja1.

Good luck studying everyone. Finals must be coming soon.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: redjay on December 11, 2009, 01:06:18 PM
Id say i put in around 70 per week during finals, but thats mostly because I don't start studying until the last week of the semester and have to learn everything from the beginning. I don't recommend this method, but it works fine for me because I generally take a couple writing classes and only have 2-3 exams.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: kimber1028 on December 15, 2009, 02:05:45 AM
I put in about 50-60 hours throughout the term (including class time), but I was doing all of my classwork, outlining, and going through supplements at the same time.  Since I followed this method continuously, my workload didn't amp up a ton during finals and I was able to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night during crunch time.  I did take weekends off completely until the last month before finals, though.  It's really about how you organize your schedule and how efficient your study time is.  I've seen others spend 80 hours a week "studying," which really means about 50 studying or in class and 30 on Facebook and G-Chat.  That's an easy way to burn out and not learn the material even though a lot of time is being put into school.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: kenpostudent on December 15, 2009, 10:50:19 PM
Hi Everyone,

I'm not in law school yet, but I'm seriously considering it. I've been doing a lot of reading about different schools, job prospects, etc, and I just read something kind of scary. Just wondering what current law students think.

Below is a post someone made in reaction to the article titled "Law School Is For Everyone" on the USNews site. This guy says that many people at his law school(which he says is ranked in the 50's) study in excess of 80 hours per week.

I realize the number of hours will vary quite a bit depending on the individual - reading speed, dedication, study habits, etc, but just curious how much time all of you are putting in.

One other question. I'm sure this varies a bit too, depending on the course load and year of school, but what is the typical number of pages you have to read per night or per week?

Thanks in advance.
ptoomey

Here's the post:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I scored a 176 on the LSAT and have not been able to turn a single A. Yes you read that right. Law school is something like what legal practice is. A time draining, balls to the wall death match. You need to understand that your grade stands alone over the bodies of your fellow students. Every law student thinks he/she understands this until one month before finals. You need to understand that 'the lottery' of law school favors those who are most willing to sacrifice--time, family, friends and money. I thought coming in to a school ranked around the 50's with a 176 on the LSAT and a great undergraduate experience in a writing intensive major I would be able to relax a little more than my fellow students and still sail to the front as usual. Wrong! I didn't expect to have fellow students spending 80+ hours studying per week from day one. Look! I am not exaggerating. There are more than a handful of students who spend more than 80 hours a week studying. Brains is only one part of the equation. The other part is time. Then those same people end up practicing law and being your future boss. The same person who sacrificed quite literally everything in life to be the boss at your target firm will expect no less from you. If you don't believe me, just ask around. Big firms are quite open that your job is first and anything else is only incidental.
Do you want to spend $120,000 to be placed in a death match with dozens of other people as smart as you are? The 'winners' will be those who prioritize everything after the law.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

During my first semester, I put in about 6-8 hours a day studying outside of class, 6 days per week. I took Friday nights off to work. On weekends, I put in 12 hour days preparing for classes, writing memos for my legal writing class, and outlining courses. I won't say this is average, though. I probably worked much harder than I needed to. On average, though, even an efficient student studies for 4-5 hours a night outside of class. That is also assuming you take on no extra curricular activities and you've gotten good at reading and briefing cases. It's quite a bit of work. Let's put it this way, if you find time to save anywhere, you will want to spend it doing hypotheticals and problems to prepare for finals. You can NEVER do enough hypos and practice exams!
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: ptoomey on December 21, 2009, 01:04:10 AM
Id say i put in around 70 per week during finals, but thats mostly because I don't start studying until the last week of the semester and have to learn everything from the beginning. I don't recommend this method, but it works fine for me because I generally take a couple writing classes and only have 2-3 exams.

redjay, that's a risky approach, but I'm glad to hear it worked out for you. I tried that approach in engineering school, because it had always worked before that, and let's just say that I need a really high LSAT score to get into the schools I would like to attend :-[

I put in about 50-60 hours throughout the term (including class time), but I was doing all of my classwork, outlining, and going through supplements at the same time.  Since I followed this method continuously, my workload didn't amp up a ton during finals and I was able to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night during crunch time.  I did take weekends off completely until the last month before finals, though.  It's really about how you organize your schedule and how efficient your study time is.  I've seen others spend 80 hours a week "studying," which really means about 50 studying or in class and 30 on Facebook and G-Chat.  That's an easy way to burn out and not learn the material even though a lot of time is being put into school.

kimber, that sounds like an approach that could work for me. My IQ drops by half when I don't get sleep, so I probably wouldn't be able to do much more than that. And weekends off is essential for me. You sound like you're dedicated, but like you still have a life.
Are you happy with the results? Do you think that the amount of work you're putting in will allow you to rank high enough to have good job prospects when you're done?

During my first semester, I put in about 6-8 hours a day studying outside of class, 6 days per week. I took Friday nights off to work. On weekends, I put in 12 hour days preparing for classes, writing memos for my legal writing class, and outlining courses. I won't say this is average, though. I probably worked much harder than I needed to. On average, though, even an efficient student studies for 4-5 hours a night outside of class. That is also assuming you take on no extra curricular activities and you've gotten good at reading and briefing cases. It's quite a bit of work. Let's put it this way, if you find time to save anywhere, you will want to spend it doing hypotheticals and problems to prepare for finals. You can NEVER do enough hypos and practice exams!

Yikes, that's a serious work load. Does that leave time for kenpo?
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: kenpostudent on December 22, 2009, 08:21:17 AM
Not during the first semester. I'm hoping to get back to training in the Spring, though.
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: cooleylawstudent on December 24, 2009, 09:38:00 PM
Are you still working as an engineer right now? What type of engineering did you take? Why the huge shift?
Just so you know you can the patent bar with a bachelors degree in science/engineering and for all practical purposes serve as a patent attorney(although you have to use the title "agent") if you wanted to do that while studying for better scores on the LSAT. Heck it might even pay for lawschool.

Also, you may want to visit http://www.usphs.gov/profession/engineer/default.aspx

It can help get you a commision and pay off student loans with only a 2week basic training. They let you in as old as 44 and the GI bill could pay for lawschool too. They also have a reserve version of them.



redjay, that's a risky approach, but I'm glad to hear it worked out for you. I tried that approach in engineering school, because it had always worked before that, and let's just say that I need a really high LSAT score to get into the schools I would like to attend :-[
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: Denny Shore on December 26, 2009, 12:51:03 AM
The standard answer I've received on this question from professors and 2 and 3 L's is to expect to study about 2 hours per hour of class time.  It was not uncommon or unusual to study 8 hours a week, for example, for Torts alone.
All told, including class, my average week was between 46-50 hours per week of total work.  Memo's add to the fun and when you have a test coming off, all bets are off.
There were some weeks when I put in closer to 60 hours and rare weeks when I had less than 40 hours (including class time).
During finals, I studied 40-50 hours for Contracts, 55 hours for torts, and 50 hours for Property.
During the semester, I wrote 3 memo's, the first being 10 pages long, the second being 14, and the third being 12.  The memos soak up a lot of time as you have to research, plan, write, edit, double check, and finalize. 
The roughest weeks were when memo's were due and the two times our professors scheduled make up classes, which happened to coincide with the heaviest reading (by chance - no one is that cruel).
I also carefully tracked my reading.  The average reading weeks was between 90 and 120 pages, with the heaviest week requiring close to 200 pages.
Law school requires a major investment of time and effort.  Expect to work harder than you ever have.  If you've come from the "real" world and worked a job with real responsibility, the workload is manageable.  If you are used to college course work and "cramming", you may struggle to adapt to the workload.  I still don't think you can cram for law school with the success it can be done in college (just my opinion).
Title: Re: How Many Hours Do You Study Per Week
Post by: dunson3L on December 29, 2009, 01:14:43 PM
I did around 10-15 hours of reading during most weeks and maybe 25-30 hours of reviewing my reading during finals week.