To conclude our series on law school myths, we’re going to end on a positive note. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve gone over the “myth” that the first year of law school is incredibly rigorous and the “myth” that law school hiring is most dependent on your first semester’s grade. Unfortunately, both of those turned out to be more fact than fiction.
This week, we’re going to cover another topic — the idea that law school forces you to give up all life outside academics. Before I went to law school, I’d often heard that I’d fall out of touch with my friends, spend all my time in the library, and generally have no social life. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case.
To caveat, there are certainly times when your academic life will takeover. In keeping with prior posts, this is mostly the case during your first year, when you are trying to learn a new legal language and stay on top of a demanding workload.
With that said, I was always able to maintain a relatively normal social life (except during the final exam stretch). I was able to stay in touch with my friends and family back in California, developed friendships with my classmates, went to bar reviews (a fancy name for law school-hosted happy hours), and enjoyed New York City.
This leads to another point — if you’re spending every waking minute studying, you’re probably overdoing it. You should make sure you do all your reading, attend all your classes, outline early, and maintain a steady work schedule. As part of that schedule, maybe you’ll do your reading and outlining on weekends, and take weekdays off apart from classes. Or maybe you’ll treat law school like a 9-5 job and take your evenings off. Regardless, you should budget free time in. If you really need some reason to do so, think of it as making time for networking. Your classmates are your best network, and you should take time to get to know them. And you’ll drive yourself crazy if you totally abandon friends, family and the rest of your life outside of school.
The idea that law school is all-consuming and miserable is overblown. I, for one, enjoyed my time in school (with some very notable exceptions, such as first semester exams) and I would discourage anyone from letting the stress and work ruin the experience entirely.