Besides the traditional law school curriculum, there are certain lessons that you will learn while earning your J.D. degree that can support you through your time both during and after school. These lessons may be important life lessons or give you a look into how to manage your time and your place in the legal field long after you have graduated.
In this article, we will be discussing some of the most important things you will learn in law school, including lessons that you will learn outside the classroom.
Lessons You'll Learn in Law School
The lessons that you'll learn in law school can extend beyond the classroom and may be helpful in all areas of your life. Below, we've rounded up the most common things you may learn during your time in school so you can get an idea of what to expect from your legal education.
Applying Your Knowledge
Beyond just learning the law and being tested on facts, cases, and names, law school will teach you how to apply your knowledge. Most law school exams will offer scenarios in which you will have to use your knowledge to come to the correct conclusion, supporting your answers with facts and legal precedent. This teaches you how to synthesize information and use a wide variety of knowledge at the same time to problem solve.
Applying your legal knowledge is an essential skill for those working in the legal field and will be important from the moment you enter law school until the day you retire from your successful legal career.
Critical Thinking and Lawyer Logic
You may be familiar with the importance of lawyering logic from your time studying the LSAT. This same type of logic and critical thinking is often taught in law school to allow you to objectively see a situation and how the law applies to it. Oftentimes, you may be surprised that your first reaction to a legal situation is not correct when looking back at case precedent and the way that the law works.
Law school will teach you how to critically think and focus on the key elements of a problem, more accurately applying logic and legal knowledge to solve an issue.
The Importance of Time Management
Something that is essential for law students to possess is effective time management skills. The amount of reading, studying, and extracurricular activities that you will engage in while in law school will teach you how to effectively manage your time and order your priorities.
This is a skill that can help you throughout your time in law school and after graduation, as careers in the legal field are notoriously time consuming and require a strong sense of organization in order to succeed.
Outside Experiences Are Essential
Classroom learning is one thing, but you'll come to understand during your time in law school that outside experiences are essential in rounding out your skills. Things such as moot court, practicums, clinics, law journals, and internships will assist you in developing your practical lawyering skills and exposing you to real-world legal techniques.
It is important to become involved in extracurricular activities as your studying schedule allows in order to develop your legal knowledge and make connections in the legal workforce.
You Can't Know Everything About the Law
Many students go into law school with high hopes and expectations that they will completely know the ins and outs of the law by the time they graduate. This is not the case, however, as the legal field is constantly evolving and new precedents are always being set.
Your time in law school will give you a good idea about the foundations of the law and how to apply them, in addition to leaving you with certain specialized knowledge based on the courses you take.
As you begin to work as a lawyer, you will continually expand your legal knowledge and become more proficient in applying and understanding the law, and may even develop a specialty in a certain type of law, but you will certainly always be learning.
Perfectionism Can Create Burnout
Law school is a highly competitive environment, and when coupled with large amounts of reading and studying, can be a recipe for burnout. Students who strive to make every assignment perfect during this time are likely to become more overwhelmed than others when it comes to assignments. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't try your best during each class, but it does mean that sometimes ‘done' is better than ‘perfect,' and that you shouldn't toil away over your assignments at the risk of your own sanity.
Comparison Is a Bad Idea
As we mentioned above, law school is very competitive. There will probably be many moments where your peers want to compare grades or ask about your class rankings. While it is up to you whether to talk about these sensitive subjects or not, you should note that comparison is generally a bad idea. Comparing your grades and assignments with others can make your classroom environment even more competitive, or it can create uncomfortable situations where your peers think that they can outperform you. It may also make for more stress if you realize that others have scored higher or that you are answering questions in a different way.
There are many ways to achieve success and the right answers in law school, and comparing your work to others will likely only create confusion and stress that you can easily live without experiencing.
Adaptability and Flexibility Are Necessary
Being set in your ways and methods is not a great approach to your law school education, as you will need to learn new things at a moment's notice or be encouraged to look at things from multiple different viewpoints. It is necessary while you proceed through your legal education to be as adaptable and flexible as possible with things like studying, grades, and extracurricular activities, as this will keep you open-minded and on the easiest path to law school success.
Don't Be Intimidated
The law school environment inherently brings out people and peers who may not want you to succeed and those that are more concerned about their own success than yours. When you encounter individuals or situations that may be uncomfortable for you, the best you can do is don't be intimidated. Focus on the big picture and continue giving your best effort in law school; be confident, but don't be arrogant. Keeping your head down and putting in the work is the best way to succeed and outperform those who may not want you to excel during your studies.
Self-Care Is More Important Than You Think
As you begin law school and dive into hours of rigorous studying, it is easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself too. Neglecting self-care can lead to serious burnout and a reluctance to do your best in law school despite knowing the consequences of a poor effort. Make sure to take time to relax and recover away from your reading and assignments whenever possible and try to maintain a regular schedule of sleeping, eating, working out, and studying during your legal education so you can keep your body healthy. After all, a healthy and mentally healthy version of you is more likely to ace every assignment and exam that comes your way.
Understand Your Limits
Many students who enter law school will throw themselves into their studying full force without understanding their own limits. This can create a situation where the individual is overcommitted and overwhelmed, but not able to drop any of their activities due to fear of failing or looking bad in the eyes of peers.
It is incredibly important to understand your individual limits when entering law school and to know what you can and can't handle at once. There will be plenty of time throughout your three years to join activities and other legal extracurriculars, so you don't need to do it all during your first semester. Create a study schedule and get the hang of law school life before slowly introducing other activities and building a schedule that is full, but not overwhelming.
Making the Most of Law School
Besides a formidable legal education, law school can impart many lessons to its students. During your time in school, you are likely to learn a number of things about yourself and about the legal profession that can only be taught through hands-on experience and time spent with peers. Remember not to overcommit yourself and to incorporate self-care into your daily routines so that you have the best chance of succeeding and making the most of your time in law school.