What Can I Expect in Law School?
Congratulations, you're going to law school! You're about to embark on an exciting adventure, but your enthusiasm is probably tempered by more than a little anxiety. As with any new experience or life transition, your anxiety is likely related to the fact that you don't quite know what to expect. Although you've spent four years in undergrad, post-secondary education is different in many ways.

Keep in mind that all schools provide different experiences, and that there is no universal "normal" for law school. Nevertheless, if you're about to begin your first semester in law school, or if you are considering applying, the following can provide you with some insight into what you can expect from the experience, and how you can capitalize on its opportunities.

Training and experience
As with most post-secondary education, your first year of law school will likely be devoted to a prescribed number of courses covering the fundamentals of law. Depending on the school, these are often taught in large lecture halls and may seem somewhat impersonal. While these courses may sound a bit dry, the level of engagement is usually determined by the professor teaching the course. Some may prefer to simply present a lecture, while others may prefer to engage the students in dialogue.

Once you have moved past the first-year fundamentals, you will have the opportunity to take electives or advanced courses in order to narrow down your interests and settle on a field of study. Additionally, law students often begin their internships or summer jobs during their second year, which can provide invaluable experience. This is an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in practicing your chosen area of law.

The third year of law school can be one of the most enjoyable for students since most of your required courses are long behind you. This is a good time to get involved in student-led activities and conferences, and to start to plan for the state bar exam, which you will need to pass in order to practice law in your state.

More often than not, law schools are very competitive environments, and you will be held to high expectations. Although you may only be taking a handful of courses each semester, it would be a mistake to assume that this leaves your schedule wide open for socializing. The study of law is incredibly complex, and it requires a considerable amount of studying in order to ensure you fully understand your field. In light of that, consider your study and work habits, paying particular attention to the ineffective ones, and brainstorm how you might do away with those. For example, if you've developed a habit of strolling into class five or ten minutes late, start planning to write an essay for me to my classes ten or even twenty minutes earlier.

This is truly the biggest difference between the undergraduate and graduate levels of education. You are going to have to be your biggest supporter and cheerleader now, since there will be far less coddling than you may be used to in an academic environment.

Articulation and communication
If you've done your research on what to expect in law school, you may have noticed a pretty heavy emphasis on the level of difficulty of your studies and the potential for burnout. Think of this more as a reality check than discouragement, and don't let it dampen your spirits. Although law school can, and almost certainly will, be hard, you can emerge as a better communicator and thinker. Even though you may not actually become a practicing lawyer, the ability to articulate your thoughts and communicate well with others is a skill that can serve you well for the rest of your life.

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