Saturday, January 12, 2008

Burning questions

Excerpts from recent reader email thinking about going to law school:

Female reader asks: I am newly married, and I am concerned about what kind of stress being a student again would put on my marriage . . . I guess what I am asking is, how do you juggle it all? What should a 1L expect as far as work load? Is it the equivalent of an 8hr day? 10hr day? or longer?

Yes, its stressful on a marriage. I did the first half of 1L with a kid here and a husband overseas. Things didn't get truly hard until he came back! Its an adjustment. The thing about law school, especially first year, is that its kind of all-consuming -- in both a good and bad way. Its all you want to do, think about, talk about. And you'll want him to understand it too, and he'll think its like any other grad program. And its not. I've got a Masters. Law school is different.

At no law school I know do you have control over your first year schedule. Expect it to be 5 days a week and run from 8 til 4 or 9-5. You'll get crazy little breaks in between. Like college, Torts three days a week, 90 minutes a class, followed by an hour break, followed by Crim twice a week, etc. If you maximize those breaks -- like you disappear into the law library and work, you can avoid bringing a lot home. Most people don't maximize those breaks; they socialize over a long lunch, etc.

Then have to go home and read 60 pages by the next day. And 60 pages of law reading is just NOT the same as 60 pages of Harry Potter, or even a college text. At least at first. (Well, it'll never be Harry Potter, but it gets easier).

Short answer, expect 8-10 hour day plus a full weekend day (or two half days), more at exam time. Some would say I am underplaying it -- I know some who did 12 hour weekdays plus a weekend day. I know others who do it in a lot less.

And grades don't necessarily correlate directly to the hours spent.

I try to be home in time to spend a few hours with my son and husband. I either go to bed early and wake up early to read, or I read after the "boys" are in bed.

With a long commute, there are study aids on CD you can listen to in your car. I don't know how good they are, but read other posts in this blog, other law student blogs and ask around online. Law students are very helpful ... when they're not in your class at a competitive school.

Any others from the wishiwouldhaveknown crew care to chime in? edit the post and add to it, or do so in the comments.


nicolle said...

as for the time's probably good to spend the kind of time that Butterflyfish mentioned. i never spent nearly that much time on law school until Finals Week started breathing down my neck. i can't say i'm the most conscientious law student ever, though. i ended up doing very well...but blowing off all that school during the semester makes finals week really, really stressful because you're learning the ins and outs of the subject then, as opposed to gradually through the semester.

i can't really speak to the stress it would have on a marriage...i'm never-married. however...i did have a serious significant other for the first year and a half of law school, someone i was with before law school. he was a fellow law student--is your husband, dear reader, in law school? if so, i can speak to that...or maybe i'll write a full post soon about those special tensions that arise in law school relationships.

Butterflyfish said...

The reader's hubby is not in school -- she may not even read this blog. She wrote me at my email and I figured the repsonse would start a helpful dialogue here. (I told her I was gonna do this so maybe she will read).

law school groupie said...

Even though i am not married, this post was helpful for me as a prospective student. I wondered about the time commitment - if people put in 10 hour days or what. I'm sure there is a lot of slacking off, and then catching up (or attempts at catching up).

How difficult is the reading at first? One persons advice was to start reading Hemingway to prepare your brain. I also kind of wonder how much the stress can get to a person. Basically, I'm afraid of crying myself to sleep a lot of nights.

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