Why Law School Is Different Than Undergrad

Most of you have already figured out that law school is nothing like college. In fact, with the lockers and structured classes, it’s a bit more like junior high! However, there are a few things you should be aware of.

1) Social networking sites: while it feels like junior high, law school is actually a lot more adult than undergrad. You don’t have to become completely responsible and button down, but keep your facebook and myspace profiles clean. Be aware that future colleagues and future bosses could potentially be reading your profile; be careful of drinking pictures, and updates that are too personal. Also, take measures to beef up your security on those sites, and keep them private! Also, be careful of who you friend. Again, I’m not going to tell you not to live your life, and not to be yourself, just be a bit careful!

2) Fellow Students: these fellow students will eventually be fellow colleagues. Make friends, not enemies. No, you’re not going to like everyone, and not everyone has to be invited to your wedding, but it doesn’t hurt to be nice. These are people that you are going to have to work with, and you might need favors from them. The legal community is small, no matter where you are, so learn to be civil. You want to be remembered for your professionalism, not for stepping on other people’s toes or being unpleasant.

3) Study Habits: what made you successful in college most likely wont work in law school. You might have to learn to study a bit differently, so do not assume you can rely on your old habits. I’m willing to bet that many of you were very successful in undergrad with minimal effort and relied on attending class to teach you what you needed to know. Remember that in law school you are among the cream of the crop, so you have to work even HARDER just to stay on track. Merely showing up in class, and doing the minimal reading will not get you where you need to be. Law school requires doing the reading assigned BEFORE class, showing up for class, and THEN studying some more, making sure that you understand and can apply the material.

4) Exams: most undergrad classes were based on multiple choice tests, not so in law school. Most law school classes have a grade based almost 100% on your final. That’s a lot of pressure on one little test! This means that during the semester you can’t slack, because cramming at the end of the semester like you’ve done for finals in the past will absolutely not work. Also, bear in mind law school exams ask for an analysis, not merely reciting laws that you have learned. Therefore, mere memorization of buzz words will not get you by, you need to make sure you have as complete of an understanding as possible of the concepts and reasoning behind the law as much as the rule itself.

5) Majors: In undergrad it is important to pick a major as soon as possible and stick to your concentration. In law school it is a little bit different. Sure, it is important to think about an area that you want to specialize in, but it is just as important to try to broaden your horizons. Save room for dessert, take a course because it sounds interesting. Law school is more about learning how to analyze and interpret the law and apply it to the facts rather than memorizing and retaining the substance of any particular class. You never know what area of the law you might fall in love with.

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