How Much Pressure Will You Face In Law School?

Pressure in law school

As you're considering law school, you may come across horror stories about people who haven't been able to handle the trials and tribulations of law school. But you may be wondering how much stress that you'll encounter—should you choose to go.

I think there are varying degrees of pressure depending on your unique circumstances. That said, it’s fair to say that everyone experiences some pressure. I think the pressure comes from three distinct, but somewhat intertwining areas:

Pressure from exams

Law school is a tournament where there are a finite number of As, Bs and Cs. No matter how much you may like your classmates, you are competing against all of them. There's no way around this. As a result, this creates pressure as you approach exam time, especially since many of your classmates are putting in the same amount of time of preparation. Law school students are generally smart and hardworking, so you’ll need to find a way to separate yourself from the pack. This is stressful.

Pressure to find a job

Associated with my first point above, the primary point of attending law school is to find a job—whether it’s inside or outside the legal field. Your grades will play a large part in this task. But if you don’t obtain as high of grades as you’d like, you’re going to have to scramble to find a job before graduation. You’ll have to canvas your own network, attend networking events, or seek help from your career services office.

Considering that you are likely carrying law school debt (perhaps up to six figures), the stakes are high, especially since you’ll need to start paying off your loans shortly after graduating. Again, this is stressful.

If you’d like to read more about how I found my first post-law school job, you can find more here.

Pressure surrounding your life goals

I think most law students would be lying if they said they never thought about dropping out at some point during law school. There’s inherent pressure in thinking about whether you’re on the right path. Many law students (including me) didn’t have prior experience in the legal field, and they may be in for a rude awakening once they discover that they may not actually like law school or legal practice. You may have the temptation to do something else, which makes it even more difficult to succeed during the most challenging times of law school.

In sum, law school isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s critical to find a way to handle the pressure, whether it’s through exercise, meditation, or something else.