Now that you’re headed to the right direction, it’s time to set your expectations as far as how long is law school, really. The decent salary that you’ll have after you graduate has a catch. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
It’s also worth noting that despite being a bit more difficult than earning your undergraduate degree, it’s not as hard as you think. If you ask several law students, they can inform you that getting in is the most taxing part of the ordeal and that the fun begins once you’re in.
Preparing for Law School
Before you begin, you need to have a solid strategy. Most students would say that they’re main goal is to achieve the highest grades, but they’re also the same people who tend to crash and burn because they overdo things. Don’t burst in to law school, just expecting to do hard work.
You need to have a good routine and a solid strategy for your classroom participation and paper works. If you spend all your time and energy without thinking ahead, you might end up doing that for nothing.
You should also expect to a more rigorous mental challenge when you’re in school. You might feel discouraged because of the fact that professors rarely give out feedback and your grades are based on what you get on your final exam.
The best thing that you can do to get an idea if you understand the material is to participate in class as much as you can. Have the initiative to motivate yourself, even if it means that you have to make sacrifices during your first year in law school. This is a good example of the end justifying the means.
1L – Your First Year
As with your years in undergrad, you can expect similar experiences at law school such as:
- Orientations – Of course, you would need to be oriented with the campus, the administrators, possibly a handful of professors. This is also the time when you get your class schedules and where to get resources such as textbooks for the duration of the semester. Ask as much as you can and condition your mind to adapt to the surroundings.
- Core/Basic Subjects – Don’t expect to be suddenly shoved into hard-hitting law subjects even if you already have an undergrad degree concerning law. You’re going to have to take similar subjects as before in order to refresh your mind and to add more to your knowledge.
This is your chance to get your feet wet and familiarize yourself with your professors and their teaching methods, because chances are, you’re going to cross paths with them more than once during your stay.
Expect yourself to do a lot of reading once your classes begin. Get into the habit of giving yourself some time to read and absorb everything. It’s going to take long nights and a lot of frustration. Also, don’t be worried if you don’t understand a lesson. There will be moments when you’d have to move on to the next topic before you can understand the previous one.
2L – Your Second Year
The busiest year that you’ll ever experience in law school is the second one. During your first year, you’re going to feel a different kind of pressure, but this time, it won’t be unfamiliar, but rather, heavier and more demanding. Aside from classes, you need to have extracurricular activities as well. This is to ensure that you can absorb as much as you can while you still have the opportunity. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the activities can be very impressive on your resume.
This time around, you’re no longer getting your feet wet in the classroom. You’re going to be out on the field to practice the principles that you’ve studied during your first year. Ask if your school has any law clinics for students. Law clinics will offer you a first-hand experience in handling legal disputes and interact with real clients while being supervised by members of the faculty or tenured legal practitioners.
3L – Your Third Year
Your third year in law school is the most fun, as you can now schedule electives that you’re truly interested in. You get more freedom with your choices. This is also the year wherein you have to prep yourself for the Bar Exam.
Each state has different versions of the Bar Exam, but generally, every state requires each taker to sit for an intensive exam covering a myriad of legal subjects that lasts for 2 days, with each day lasting for 12 hours. However, keep in mind that in California, you need to pass the Multi-state Professional Responsibility Examination or the MPRE. This is a 3-hour exam that will test your knowledge of professional responsibility and legal ethics.
When you take the exams, expect it to have two sections: multi-state and state. The multi-state section deals with 200 multiple-choice questions that apply to legal concepts in all US states. The state section will vary. So, if you’re taking the Bar Exams in California, expect to write six hours’ worth of essays about California state laws.
Like everything else, each term and curriculum has its high and low points. Your experience might differ as to how many years is law school, which can vary from one institution to another, but remember that you’re in charge of how things are going to turn out. Take things seriously, but don’t lose yourself while you’re on your way to becoming a lawyer.