...while acquiring all this debt, all this pressure to perform...
I don't get all this "debt fear" discussion. After twenty years of managing multiple mortgages, equity loans, vehicle loans and student loans (all of which I've handled on anywhere from $30K to $65K/year), I just don't understand the "big debt deal."
Do you think you can do well enough in law school to get a job offer that will pay the bills with a little left over for savings/investment (not for partying or frivolous entertainment expenses)? Then go to law school. If not, get some other (cheaper) graduate degree (or none at all) and get a job commensurate with your education and experience.
Don't kill yourself over 1L year in law school. I can think of better things for which to off yourself--none being economic or academic in nature.