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So, You Want to Be a Lawyer What’s Law School Really Like?
In law school, there are no quizzes or tests throughout the course. Instead, at the end of the semester, you take one final exam on everything you learned in the class. The grade you get on that one test is the grade you get in the whole class, and law students only have one shot to get it right. If that sounds like a lot of pressure, well, that’s the point. Law school is about simulating that pressure-cooker feeling of being a lawyer and preparing students for when they will have their clients’ lives in their hands. Going to law school was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. It was a constant state of stress. In order to pass my classes, I had to change my entire way of studying and taking notes. It was hard at first. I went to law school in my 30s, after years spent in sales. I had to relearn how to study and how to deal with my professors, which wasn’t always easy. Professors in law school teach based on the Socratic method, which is a fancy way of saying they ask you a bunch of questions and try to back you into a corner if you don’t know the right answers. Before each class, you get a reading list of topics, cases, and laws you’ll need to know. You’d better learn that stuff backwards and forwards, because you never know whether you’re going to be called on next in class. And if you don’t know the right answer, brace yourself, because law professors are some of the most condescending people you’ll ever meet.
“Law school is a series of never- ending trials. I’d never worked so hard in my life!”
But stuck-up professors were nothing compared to other students. Law school is cutthroat. When you had to research case law and court appeals, you couldn’t just look up the information online. You needed to go to the library and cross- reference things, old-school. In order to get ahead in class, some students would take a library book they knew someone else needed and hide it! Good luck writing your research paper when the only book that refreshes the case you’re looking into isn’t on the right shelf. Law school is a series of never-ending trials. I’d never worked so hard in my life! Ultimately, I graduated in the top 10 percent of my law school at Georgia State. But that wasn’t the end of it. The bar exam was next. All the years in law school and the late nights in the library led up to this two- day-long test. The bar covers every single area of law. It doesn’t matter if you have already decided to practice personal
injury or workers’ comp law, you still needed to know everything about real estate, criminal law, estate planning, and bankruptcy law, just to name a few. I saw a lot of people break under the pressure in those two days and cry, get physically ill, or just walk out of the room. I’m not going to lie — a few of those options crossed my mind from time to time. But I pushed on, and in the end, my results spoke for themselves. The point is, I am so glad I don’t have to go back to school this fall! And if you have kids who are already complaining about their classes, feel free to tell them what I had to go through. Freshman biology is a dream in comparison. -David Brauns
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