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.