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Author Topic: Anybody else as terrified about starting law school next month as I am?  (Read 4878 times)

jhandin

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Deciding Between/Waiting On: Hofstra, Southwestern, Arizona, FSU, UC Irvine
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I begin my first year of law school next month.  I am just basing my posts on what people have told me and what I have read on these boards and others.
University of Kentucky 1L

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Matthies

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Itís totally natural to be anxious right now. No matter how much you do to prepare for it before hand, no matter how many books you read on what its like, its still going to be a completely new and personal experience for all of you. There will be good days and bad days, easy weeks and weeks that will really test your stamina. There will be concepts you get right away and things your classmates understand but you canít seem to grasp. You will have the best days and worst days of your life so far in law school. You will meet your best friends and make relationships that will last the rest of your lives (and some of your current relationships wonít last through law school). And when you come out you will be a very different person than when you went in. The way you think and look at life will be forever changed. Its going to be a fun three Ė four years with just enough terror and disappointment thrown in to make it meaningful. Donít worry now, youíll have plenty of time and reasons to do that later.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

lovelyjj

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It’s totally natural to be anxious right now. No matter how much you do to prepare for it before hand, no matter how many books you read on what its like, its still going to be a completely new and personal experience for all of you. There will be good days and bad days, easy weeks and weeks that will really test your stamina. There will be concepts you get right away and things your classmates understand but you can’t seem to grasp. You will have the best days and worst days of your life so far in law school. You will meet your best friends and make relationships that will last the rest of your lives (and some of your current relationships won’t last through law school). And when you come out you will be a very different person than when you went in. The way you think and look at life will be forever changed. Its going to be a fun three – four years with just enough terror and disappointment thrown in to make it meaningful. Don’t worry now, you’ll have plenty of time and reasons to do that later.
Wow. That sounded really cool. I really want to go to law school now. :o

UnbiasedObserver

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No, I'm not worried about that.  I'm worried it's going to be as difficult as people say.  I'm worried that the professors will be vicious, the reading will be incredibly difficult to comprehend, and I just plain old won't get it.  I've been reading Law School Confidential and I've heard all the horror stories.  It's especially because I want to do well in my first year.

The material really isn't too difficult.  I can't stress this enough.  The hardest part is thinking like a lawyer, writing like a lawyer, and handling the vast amount of information thrown at you in just a few months. 

Matthies

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No, I'm not worried about that.  I'm worried it's going to be as difficult as people say.  I'm worried that the professors will be vicious, the reading will be incredibly difficult to comprehend, and I just plain old won't get it.  I've been reading Law School Confidential and I've heard all the horror stories.  It's especially because I want to do well in my first year.

The material really isn't too difficult.  I can't stress this enough.  The hardest part is thinking like a lawyer, writing like a lawyer, and handling the vast amount of information thrown at you in just a few months. 

Credited. And the best and most important advice, and the part that many law students seem to miss (even some posters on here who are law students) is the thinking like a lawyer does not stop at the end of your exams. Itís a skill you have to learn AND practice every day. Itís a skill you have to practice on your own outside of school. If the only time your thinking like a lawyer is when your reading a hypo, youíre not thinking like a lawyer. If the only time your using your logical skills is on exams, your missing the whole point of what law school is supposed to teach you but is not written in any book: changing the way you think about issues.

Best thing you can do to prepare for that is stop having black and white opinions on anything, now. From now on critically think about decisions and views you hold in your life. About arguments you make on these message boards. Go beyond your surface views of any issue and THINK about the pros and cons, how you would argue against what you truly believe, what holes are in your thinking. Practice this everyday throughout law school. It matters not if your opinion changes, only that you learn and practice THINKING about if your opinion could change and what it would take proof wise for you to get there.

This is thinking like a lawyer. Far too many law students think the only time youíre supposed to critically analyze things is when a hypo is in front of you, in everyday life they forget what they are being taught, they never really get it. You have to be able to see the issue without the issue being placed in front of you. In practice it wonít be a nice hypo for you to answer. So your critical thinking needs to be fine tuned almost to second nature by the time you graduate. You need to know, almost instinctively when an issue pops up without having anyone else point out its an issue for you. That only comes from taking the skills you learn about thinking beyond the classroom and applying them to everyday things. Then you start to see the hidden issues all around you. Then youíre thinking like a lawyer.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

mpk1516

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The key to 1L is hard work, same as anything else in life. As mentioned above, the concepts really aren't hard, except MAYBE for a few things in Contracts and Constitutional law depending on your background. The stressfulness is almost entirely decided internally. If you are a naturally stressed person or someone who is always looking over to see what the other guy is doing, you will find law school very stressful. If you are naturally relaxed or have ways to relieve stress effectively, law school may actually be fun and rewarding (as I found it to be).

There is going to be a lot of reading which will require a lot of time. If you struggle with focus on one topic, don't worry, there will be plenty to read for each class almost every night. Generally, I found the formula pretty simple. Read everything before you go to class. Take detailed notes on your reading. Go to class. Take abridged notes in class focusing on things that the professor emphasizes. After class, review your notes in the areas that the professor seemed to pay most attention to as well as any areas you still don't fully understand.

If you are able to dedicate yourself to this process for the better part of 6 days a week, you will be more than fine.

UnbiasedObserver

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Credited. And the best and most important advice, and the part that many law students seem to miss (even some posters on here who are law students) is the thinking like a lawyer does not stop at the end of your exams. Itís a skill you have to learn AND practice every day. Itís a skill you have to practice on your own outside of school. If the only time your thinking like a lawyer is when your reading a hypo, youíre not thinking like a lawyer. If the only time your using your logical skills is on exams, your missing the whole point of what law school is supposed to teach you but is not written in any book: changing the way you think about issues.

Best thing you can do to prepare for that is stop having black and white opinions on anything, now. From now on critically think about decisions and views you hold in your life. About arguments you make on these message boards. Go beyond your surface views of any issue and THINK about the pros and cons, how you would argue against what you truly believe, what holes are in your thinking. Practice this everyday throughout law school. It matters not if your opinion changes, only that you learn and practice THINKING about if your opinion could change and what it would take proof wise for you to get there.

This is thinking like a lawyer. Far too many law students think the only time youíre supposed to critically analyze things is when a hypo is in front of you, in everyday life they forget what they are being taught, they never really get it. You have to be able to see the issue without the issue being placed in front of you. In practice it wonít be a nice hypo for you to answer. So your critical thinking needs to be fine tuned almost to second nature by the time you graduate. You need to know, almost instinctively when an issue pops up without having anyone else point out its an issue for you. That only comes from taking the skills you learn about thinking beyond the classroom and applying them to everyday things. Then you start to see the hidden issues all around you. Then youíre thinking like a lawyer.


This is right-on.  It amazes me how many fellow students don't realize that the world isn't black-and-white--and when I question their views they become extremely defensive and won't concede anything!

While I had this perspective even before law school, law school accentuates it in ways that few other experiences can. 

Also, I'd like to add that every law student should try to do at least some practical experience such a clinic, where they're working very close to clients.  THEN you see that the human side of lawyering is also very important! 

,.,.,.;.,.,.

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Like Matthies said, learn how to find legal issues.  The entire f-ing process has a simple end-result: to teach you to find legal questions, and then to form coherent answers based on analogizing and distinguishing precedent, statutory interpretation, constitutional interpretation, balancing tests, policy, common sense, and a flavorful jello-like substance I call "root-marm."

Questions.  This is all about questions.  Did John, the landlord, have a duty to mitigate damages once the lease was broken?  Can you break a one-long lease without halfway notice?  Can the landlord break into an apartment?  The next time you have an argument with your drunk friend from college, do yourself a favor -- stop and try to phrase the question presented.  Is it: can a football team play well without a quarterback who puts up 3k yards?  Or: does the offense need a 3k quarterback to be successful in a fantasy league?

Finally, enjoy it.  It's your last chance to love life before you wake up in a ranch house in Arlington Heights, Illinois, an adjustable rate mortgage that could go apeshit at any minute, term life insurance with a broker who won't return your calls, a recent parking ticket because the downtown parking is congested, an increasingly rotund belly, a kid who listens to too much metal, and a pension plan contingent on racetrack gambling.

UnbiasedObserver

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The key to 1L is hard work, same as anything else in life. As mentioned above, the concepts really aren't hard, except MAYBE for a few things in Contracts and Constitutional law depending on your background. The stressfulness is almost entirely decided internally. If you are a naturally stressed person or someone who is always looking over to see what the other guy is doing, you will find law school very stressful. If you are naturally relaxed or have ways to relieve stress effectively, law school may actually be fun and rewarding (as I found it to be).

There is going to be a lot of reading which will require a lot of time. If you struggle with focus on one topic, don't worry, there will be plenty to read for each class almost every night. Generally, I found the formula pretty simple. Read everything before you go to class. Take detailed notes on your reading. Go to class. Take abridged notes in class focusing on things that the professor emphasizes. After class, review your notes in the areas that the professor seemed to pay most attention to as well as any areas you still don't fully understand.

If you are able to dedicate yourself to this process for the better part of 6 days a week, you will be more than fine.

My studying methods were very similar to yours.  I recommend your approach, for what it's worth!