What Law Students Experience After Graduation

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Law school is undoubtedly difficult and many law students look forward to the day when they sit in a classroom for the last time. That said, it's only just the beginning of their legal careers. 

Those in law school may be wondering what goes through law school grads' minds as they advance from law student to lawyer.

I’d say the typical feeling is (1) elation upon finishing law school, (2) trepidation about the bar exam, and (3) a combination of stress and cautious optimism during your first job.

The Journey

At the end of 3L year, almost everyone is ready to leave law school and take on the world. It’s an awesome feeling when you walk across the stage at graduation.

But then the reality sets in that you actually need to pass the bar exam to become a practicing lawyer. The degree of difficulty varies based on the state, but there’s no doubt that it’s difficult and stressful for everyone. It’s just something you have to power through. While it’s expensive, I’d highly recommend that you take a bar review course. It’ll maximize your odds of success.

After the bar exam, a good number of law students take some sort of vacation before starting their first job. Again, this is a period of optimism and excitement as you gear up to enter the workforce.

That said, there’s somewhat of a rude awakening when you start your first job. Law school certainly gives you the intellectual foundations so that you can “think like a lawyer.” Actual lawyering is a different story. Starting out, you often have to give advice on a discrete legal issue in an area of law where you may have no familiarity, all within a short timeframe. This is difficult.

It’s often the case that your law school training hasn’t really prepared you for that situation, even, for instance, if you took a bankruptcy course and are working at a bankruptcy firm. There’s a steep learning curve for everyone. Senior attorneys get it. Nevertheless, you have to try hard and learn as quickly as possible so that you can become a larger contributor to your team.

Ultimately, legal practice can be stressful for young attorneys. You’re in an unfamiliar environment and your time isn’t necessarily yours. You just have to do the best you can at work while simultaneously taking care of yourself (eating right, working out, meditating, etc.). The job will get easier once you get more practical experience, so be mindful of this fact when you’re facing difficult moments.