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How hard is law school?

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I'm going to law school for 2020 and I can't help but feel unprepared and truly scared that I may not be smart enough for law school. I have so much anxiety about being a drop-out or having no clue about things and failing. I've never been the type to do bad in school and I usually was considered the "smart" kid in my program (not that it matters now), but I've been feeling a lot of uncertainty and anxiousness about literally flunking out of school. How hard is law school? 

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It's not as bad as people make it out to be, but it is a lot of work. If you are willing to put in the work, you will be fine. The content itself can of course be challenging, but it is all completely doable if you were successful in undergrad. Most people do not "flunk" out of law school unless for personal reasons, or because they genuinely do not care for what they are learning, in which case they shouldn't be in law school in the first place because why pursue something you aren't interested in? 

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I think the content itself is not that difficult, especially if you just want to pass. I think learning the LSAT was more difficult.

It's hard to do well though. The average law student is a straight A student and hard working so it can be a challenge to stand out from the pack. I also found all the collective anxiety in 1L difficult to manage. There was always this feeling that you're not doing enough or that other people are more intelligent or have more experience than you but those things are just noise. Focus on your studies and your goals. You will be fine.

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its a LOT of work, the material itself is challenging but understandable.. its just a lot all at once

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As many people have said, it is a substantial amount of work (in 1L), but it's not as bad as many people depict. You'll still have plenty of time to socialize (if COVID allows...) and time for other hobbies. Compared to most undergrad programs, it is a leg up in terms of the amount of work involved, but again, it is doable, and remember that it is only your first year that is really challenging. It gets much easier afterward.

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25 minutes ago, georgecostanzajr said:

As many people have said, it is a substantial amount of work (in 1L), but it's not as bad as many people depict. You'll still have plenty of time to socialize (if COVID allows...) and time for other hobbies. Compared to most undergrad programs, it is a leg up in terms of the amount of work involved, but again, it is doable, and remember that it is only your first year that is really challenging. It gets much easier afterward.

Sorry to hijack, but just curious about why things get easier after 1L? I was expecting about the same level of work required and even more challenging/advanced courses (just finished 1L).

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14 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

Sorry to hijack, but just curious about why things get easier after 1L? I was expecting about the same level of work required and even more challenging/advanced courses (just finished 1L).

In my view, it doesn't necessarily get easier after 1L, rather it's just different. Others might disagree. In a sense, it's easier because you've spent a year learning how to law school and hopefully figured out your own learning style so you can be more efficient. However, you're more likely to be busier in upper year (2L especially, don't know about 3L) with clinics, moots, ECs and maybe a part time job. The content does get more difficult, at least the classes I took, which were mostly black-letter law, but you also have more control over your schedule.

In 2L there is also the additional stress of OCIs and clerkship applications which can take more of an emotional toll than 1L.

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I'm also curious to know how Law school is for ESL students. Are readings challenging for those whose first language is not English? I came here in grade 9 and never really had an issue with readings up until finishing my undergrad however, the passages on the LSAT seemed a bit challenging at first. Wondering if this is something that gets better with time?

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4 minutes ago, Dreamchaser said:

I'm also curious to know how Law school is for ESL students. Are readings challenging for those whose first language is not English? I came here in grade 9 and never really had an issue with readings up until finishing my undergrad however, the passages on the LSAT seemed a bit challenging at first. Wondering if this is something that gets better with time?

It gets better with practice.

I've seen ESL students do quite well at law school but these are people who speak the language quite well despite English being a second language. I sense that you'll do fine when it comes to making sense of the readings but might struggle a bit when it comes to writing (most language learners' comprehension skills are better than their expression skills). This is of course a skills that you can improve with practice.

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9 hours ago, thebadwife said:

Sorry to hijack, but just curious about why things get easier after 1L? I was expecting about the same level of work required and even more challenging/advanced courses (just finished 1L).

Firstly, you have the foundations down. You're no longer learning the basics. It'll take you substantially less time to read a case and find what you're looking for. You'll know how to study for courses properly and what works for you.

Secondly, your course load is lighter. In 1L, I had 6 final exams. You can imagine how remarkably stressful it was to study for all of those year-long courses at the same time. In 2L, I had 4 courses in my first semester, a course for my Jan term intensive (which was a joke), and three courses in my second semester. The courses themselves are substantively more difficult than those in 1L, but given that you're not juggling 6-7 courses at once, and that you have the basics down, it's a lot easier to manage.

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9 hours ago, Psychometronic said:

In my view, it doesn't necessarily get easier after 1L, rather it's just different. Others might disagree. In a sense, it's easier because you've spent a year learning how to law school and hopefully figured out your own learning style so you can be more efficient. However, you're more likely to be busier in upper year (2L especially, don't know about 3L) with clinics, moots, ECs and maybe a part time job. The content does get more difficult, at least the classes I took, which were mostly black-letter law, but you also have more control over your schedule.

In 2L there is also the additional stress of OCIs and clerkship applications which can take more of an emotional toll than 1L.

I agree with this in part. The beginning of 2L is certainly stressful because of OCIs. But once the recruit is over in November, if you're able to get a job, it's smooth sailing from there.

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10 hours ago, Hegdis said:

1. The vast majority of your future classmates feel as you do. The few that have some comfort level (usually because a parent is a lawyer) know less than they think. It all evens out in the first six weeks.

2. Be prepared to put in time. Feel scared, feel anxious, feel uncertain - and do the work. Do it anyway. Do it early, or late, or worst, or wrong - but do it. And if you struggle meet your prof and take advantage of office hours and ask senior students for their outlines/notes. In short, always value learning over appearance. A lot of big talkers sink in first year because they refuse to admit they need the life saver. You reach out and grab on. 
 

3. The work is new, and the environment is new. The latter may be a harder adjustment. Spend this summer hanging out in your very first suit. Try on those heels. Tie that tie. Iron that shirt. Try to get over your rookie “firsts” so you are somewhat comfortable at least faking it - and back to #1 - most of your peers are there with you. 
 

You made it it this far. Maybe it will challenge you - but rise to meet it. You can - now make sure you do. 

As a 3L and as someone who was a Dean’s Fellow at Osgoode, this advice is perfect. 
 

I recall in my first two weeks of law school that I felt I couldn’t do it. I even looked up how much money I’d recover from tuition if I dropped out. I had someone speak some sense into me and told me to just stick it out through the first semester and then reconsider then. I did so. I began to love law school, I just did the work and I was fine. Come second semester I did exceptionally well and was able to secure a 1L job. 
 

I then can also recall very clearly the final words I wrote on my final 1L exam. I remember the feeling of joy and happiness for having made it through what was a big learning curve. It was so rewarding. 
 

I say all this to highlight that law school can be challenging, it can be tiring and it can be frustrating. But remember, you’re in law school to learn. If you knew it all then you’d be wasting your time. You’re there to learn so allow yourself to learn. Allow yourself to feel anxious about not knowing, but do not attribute a lack of intelligence to your lack of knowledge. You’re smart and your flurry of a 1L experience does not negate that. Work hard but allow yourself time to breath. Focus on the learning part of law school. You’re there to learn. You’re not there to get a grade or to appear like you’ve got it all together. Focus on learning, being kind to your fellow classmate and enjoy other parts of life too. If you dk that, law school will be far more enjoyable. 

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13 hours ago, legallyillegal said:

I'm going to law school for 2020 and I can't help but feel unprepared and truly scared that I may not be smart enough for law school. I have so much anxiety about being a drop-out or having no clue about things and failing. I've never been the type to do bad in school and I usually was considered the "smart" kid in my program (not that it matters now), but I've been feeling a lot of uncertainty and anxiousness about literally flunking out of school. How hard is law school? 

What you're experiencing is a textbook case of impostor syndrome, although it doesn't hit most people until they have at least started law school or entered practice. Don't worry, it's fairly normal to feel this way when entering a competitive law school (or profession) where you are surrounded by high-achievers. You have nothing to worry about. The law school admissions committees are very good at weeding out people that they think will not be successful in law school. They have it down to a science, just look at how low the drop out rate is for Canadian law schools. The fact that you have been admitted means that you are smart enough, now you just need to buckle down and put in the work, because there is no substitute for that, no matter how smart you are. 

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A related question: how hard is it to be an above average law student and get a B+ average in 1L? What extra work is needed compared to the average law student? Thanks 

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Just now, jatthopefullawyer said:

A related question: how hard is it to be an above average law student and get a B+ average in 1L? What extra work is needed compared to the average law student? Thanks 

How can anyone possibly answer this question?

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6 minutes ago, jatthopefullawyer said:

A related question: how hard is it to be an above average law student and get a B+ average in 1L? What extra work is needed compared to the average law student? Thanks 

Probably a bit harder than average, and I would guess you would need to work a bit harder than the average student.

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2 minutes ago, jatthopefullawyer said:

A related question: how hard is it to be an above average law student and get a B+ average in 1L? What extra work is needed compared to the average law student? Thanks 

Depends on the law school of course, but here at Western, I would say that you need to put in a fair bit of effort. It's not extremely difficult but it's not easy either. Most hardworking students I know received a B+ average or higher average.

Know the course material very well, know the professor's preferences and what they expect, and do practice exams. Remember to study smart (there are many students who studied all day and night and received lower grades than those who studied in a more effective manner).

 

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26 minutes ago, jatthopefullawyer said:

A related question: how hard is it to be an above average law student and get a B+ average in 1L? What extra work is needed compared to the average law student? Thanks 

No one can answer this. In my opinion, students who get high marks are, on average, hardworking, but some hardworking students get average marks and some students who don't work that hard get high marks. Even if we were to accept the premise that you could work your way to a B+ average, no one could possibly tell you what things they did that led to a higher mark, what things they did that didn't help getting a higher mark, how many extra hours were needed to get a higher mark, etc. 

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