For me, law school was a challenging, yet fulfilling experience.
It’s much different than college in that the law school environment is much more professional. You and your classmates realize that you’re there to do well in your courses and to secure a job after graduation. The stakes are high because law school is extremely expensive.
1L year was especially challenging. My classmates and I entered an unfamiliar environment containing a new language and demanding professors. Often, I was concerned about whether I was adequately preparing for class. But I got better day by day and eventually worked through the confusion. Ultimately, you learn to crawl before you learn to walk or run.
One hard reality for me was that hard work won’t necessarily pay off. Your colleagues are both intelligent and hardworking, so you need to work smarter to maximize your odds of success on exams. Further, I realized it’s critical to apply the law to the facts on exams. Since everyone will know the case law, writing an answer that digs deep into the facts is the best way to distinguish yourself from your peers.
2L and 3L years were slightly easier, mostly because I was more familiar with the language of legal practice and the way that law school works. I had more control over my course selection and could select courses that interested me. I also knew where I would be working at the start of my 3L year, so the intense pressure somewhat faded.
Besides the academic experience, I enjoyed my internships and summer work. I was an intern in Philadelphia criminal court the summer after my 1L year and a summer associate at a Big Law firm the summer after my 2L year. If you’re interested in learning how to become a Big Law summer associate, I’ve written an essay which you can access here.
The bar exam was difficult (as it is for everyone). I’d have to admit, however, that I enjoyed my work experience more than law school. I liked solving real problems for clients and was more interested in the practical aspects of law rather than legal theory.