It’s January, the start of a brand new year.
And here you are, thinking about law school. There’s so many questions running through your mind.
Where do I apply? How am I paying for it? Does it matter which school I attend? Will it make a difference if I don’t have a lib arts degree? Should I live on campus or off? Is it possible to make friends in law school?
There’s a ridiculous number of things to prepare for and – if I’m being honest – you won’t ever be ready. You will never have all of the answers. To make things worse, there’s so much literature covering all the ways Law School will destroy you.
I was required to read 1L of a Ride and it really freaked me out. I didn’t find it helpful, especially since the law professor who wrote the book basically said that my 9 year relationship would [pretty much] fail, I would never have a life, my friends would dump me, and I’d just cry myself to sleep every night wondering why I even bothered to become a lawyer. I mean, ok sure – I questioned why I was sleeping less than 5 hours a night, reading an obscene number of pages, doing a terrible job at briefing cases, and not understanding tort law, but the crap he scared me over was just not necessary. If you’re interested in the stats he includes, then give it a try.
In a refreshing change of pace, Anne sent me her book. She’s one of my readers who felt the same way I do about the lack of advice in the 1L arena. She wrote her own helpful guide to acing your first year in law school. I had the opportunity to read her work and, though I don’t agree with everything she mentions, I feel it is a pretty decent representation of the process you go through to get in, secure funding, and prep for exams. If you’re worried about what you might encounter on your own law school adventure, I recommend you read this:
I disagree with her hatred of the highlighting method (which makes sense, since she’s color-blind) but do agree that just highlighting will not help you learn. If you’d like my take on book-briefing, read this post.
Anne also discusses how she negotiated her financial aid package. While some schools may let you do this, I don’t recommend you try unless you’ve got a stellar resume. Law schools do not need you, per se. There’s a helluva long list of students waiting to slip into your spot if you decide not to attend an institution for any reason. If the Financial Aid office isn’t inclined to send more money your way, I am not sure it’s the best option to push the matter.
However, if you can upsell yourself then you should do it! What’s the worst thing that might happen? They say “no.” Well then, at least you asked.
After receiving my acceptance to St. Mary’s School of Law, I was told I would not receive my financial aid package until after I committed, which is one step past the seat deposit and meant I couldn’t back out to attend another school if I didn’t like the financial aid package. When I asked why that was the case, they responded with “we want you to attend our law school because you genuinely want to come here, not because we’re giving you monetary incentive.”
Yeah, I was pretty pissed. Not knowing what I would receive put me in an awkward situation. But, it also forced me to look at extremes. Say, for example, I were to receive the Presidential Scholarship I’d applied for, guaranteeing a full ride. Well, that would mean I’d have to uproot my life in Dallas, where my boyfriend and I lived together, separate my two dogs [since one belongs to the Beau] and then pay for rent in a new place – essentially paying a second mortgage. I considered the potential move a deficit and chose to look at other options. Note that I did negotiate with the law school, they just refused to budge. This minor setback did not deter me from committing to another school.
Overall, I liked Anne’s book. It’s an easy read and full of useful information from someone who’s recently been a 1L. I find it difficult to take advice on say, renting textbooks, from someone who’s been teaching the law for the last three decades. Would they steer you wrong? Maybe not always. But it’s good practice to get a “boots on the ground” perspective.
Whatever advice you choose to peruse, I hope it helps you prepare for the law school adventure. If you’d like a quick and dirty guide to prepping for classes, you can also read this post.
Good luck with finalizing those law school applications this month! If you have any questions, reach out. I’m happy to help where possible.