When people ask me what first year of law school is like, I answer without hesitation: boot camp. I haven't been in the military, but I've heard enough about it (and seen enough movies) to know that it's no fun -- and neither is being a 1L.
Though preparing for what are two different objectives, here are five reasons why being a 1L is like being in boot camp ...
When you go to law school, you're not learning job skills per se, you're learning a new way of thinking. Your brain will be harnessed to issue spot, think in terms of cause and effect and become best friends with the "reasonable person." It may take a few months in, but you will soon not be able to have conversations with non-lawyers without interrupting and saying "that's not the question I asked you."
Hand-in-hand with lawyerly indoctrination is the learning of a new language -- legalese. After finishing law school, I realized that what you really get out of having a JD is fluency in the new vocabulary of law. You don't learn how to be a lawyer, but you learn the language so that you can learn to be a lawyer at your job.
Each day is very repetitive -- and also has similarities to grade school, as well as the aforementioned boot came. You have the same classes every day with the same people. Each day looks about the same: get up, go to class, go to the library, go home, scale the wall, run 10 miles in the rain. Rinse and repeat.
Your entire class is split into "sections" and you have all your classes with the people in your section. Not only that, but you're working so hard at keeping up with school work you should tell your friends and family you'll see them in June after final exams.
Be prepared to be deprived -- of pretty much everything: your social life, your love life, free time, hobbies. The one thing you will not be deprived of is reading. (Editor's note: Don't read your text books right up until you go to sleep. Read something else for a few minutes before lights out. If you don't, you'll dream about law. Not fun.)
It may seem like the first year of law school is really tough -- and it is. But making the sacrifices to get the great grades first year will make the rest of your time at law school that much easier. Wait until second year to be "at ease."
- Top Ten Movies to Watch Before Law School (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- What to Wear to Law School -- Do's and Don'ts (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- One More for 1Ls: Top 5 Study Tips for First Year Law Students (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)