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How intense is law school?

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How intense is law school?

Old 11-01-04, 02:19 PM
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How intense is law school?

I'm going to get my degree in early 2006 and I'm thinking about a graduate degree path. I've considered an MBA, but lately I'm thinking about going to law school. I think I can probably get into Brooklyn Law School if I study and get a good score on the LSAT.

My worry is time. I work full time, married and may have a kid soon. How much work is law school? What is the work load for an average class?
Old 11-01-04, 02:22 PM
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Working full time, having a wife, maybe a child, and going to law school FT? That is a recipe for failure at one or more of those endeavors.

To some extent it is school specific, so you may need to talk to folks at Bklyn LS, but it doesn't sound easy to me...
Old 11-01-04, 02:28 PM
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That's a lot to juggle, but if you are motivated enough, you could always go the P/T route.

Personally, I think many lawyers make law school out to be more of a nightmare than it really is. I was employed 20 hours/week (except during the exam periods) from day 1 of law school. I still had plenty of time to study and have fun (without my grades suffering). I did well (top-quarter) at a top-50 school and I passed the bar on my 1st try.

Last edited by Red Dog; 11-01-04 at 02:30 PM.
Old 11-01-04, 02:33 PM
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Going to law school part-time while working full-time is doable, provided your spouse agrees to take on the great majority of the household and child-rearing responsibilities and is okay with you basically being completely absorbed with school work for four years. Expect to be studying whenever you’re not at work, in class or asleep, at least for your first year.
Old 11-01-04, 02:33 PM
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I am 30, married, have a 9 month old son, and am a full time second year law student at Loyola Law School in LA. We had the baby in January, right at the start of my second semester.

Despite all that, I ranked in the top 10%. It's all about time management. I did not not personally find the first year as tough as people make it out to be. Being older means that I am more focused on what I need to do and do not bother with the same high school type BS that a lot of younger students engage in. I do skip pretty much all the social events and parties. However, I really don't mind that. I love my little boy and spend every extra minute with him.

I thought about part time, but it takes a year longer, and I was not making much money in my job anyway so it was not like I was giving up much in terms of lost income. Also, if you work full time and go to work, I just couldn't see when I would have the time to see my wife and be able to keep up on reading. Full time means I can really concentrate on my studies.

Basically, you need to ask yourself what your strengths are. If you are good at time management and can learn easily through class time and can read actively, you should have no problem. I found that I never needed to work past 6 or 7 every night during my first year.

Also, you need a wife that will support you in your school work. My wife is amazing and takes care of the baby for the most part. I help when I can, but she is really the one who raises our child right now.

Last edited by sherm42; 11-01-04 at 02:43 PM.
Old 11-01-04, 02:46 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
Personally, I think many lawyers make law school out to be more of a nightmare than it really is. I was employed 20 hours/week (except during the exam periods) from day 1 of law school. I still had plenty of time to study and have fun (without my grades suffering). I did well (top-quarter) at a top-50 school and I passed the bar on my 1st try.
I didn't share your experience. I found law school to be very demanding mostly because of the competative grading system. After breezing through my undergrad years with a 3.88 GPA, I had to struggle very hard to remain in the top half of my class at a top-20 school. I'd say studying for the bar exam was extremely easy by comparison to the effort I had to put in during law school.
Old 11-01-04, 02:53 PM
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Originally posted by Yakuza Bengoshi
I didn't share your experience. I found law school to be very demanding mostly because of the competative grading system. After breezing through my undergrad years with a 3.88 GPA, I had to struggle very hard to remain in the top half of my class at a top-20 school. I'd say studying for the bar exam was extremely easy by comparison to the effort I had to put in during law school.

To each their own.

I also might add that things get easier to handle as you move through law school. 3rd year was a joke IMO.
Old 11-01-04, 03:06 PM
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I agree with Red Dog. I did LS while married w/ a 2 year old. I only worked during my third year, however (thanks dear!). Still, I have no doubt that I COULD have worked nearly, if not, full-time and still done extremely well.

I graduated in the top 5% and passed the bar first try. I also think many make LS into more trouble than it really is. If you did well in college, I see no reason why you cannot do well in LS.
Old 11-01-04, 06:53 PM
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Well, I don't agree that "if you did well in college you should do well in LS". LS requires certain skills that aren't necessarily required in college. I'm not saying the 2 are unrelated, but they don't directly correlate either. I did just ok at college (probably didn't try enough), and finished 2nd in my LS class at a top 50 school. And my school was littered with straight A college students who worked hard in LS and couldn't pull better than a B.

But folks here are all agreeing with each other to an extent. Factors to consider: are you going to the best possible school you can go to? If so, you may find it a strain; if you go to an easier school you may be big fish, little pond (that's what happened to me).

if you are good at time management, life will be easier for you. i skied 50 days my 2L and 3L years, so yeah, I could have worked outside of school more. Also, if you want to do Law Review that takes lots of time.

I stick to my original statement that working FT, with a wife and kid, will make going to LS FT very hard, if not impossible. You will hate your life, and your wife will too. Working PT, however, is very doable for many people.

But, as this thread shows you, it's different for different people.
Old 11-02-04, 02:21 PM
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I'm 33, married and have three kids under 5 ... am considering LS seriously (need to change my career - it's terrrriiible) and i'm echoing the original poster's query. Am I nuts? Do I need to see Dr. Phil for some affirmation?

I'm glad to hear that some here were able to work and bear down at the same time. I, too, would have no hesitation skipping social events. I think that others would understand.

The main thing that i'm worried about is the potential age-discrimination that I may face if and when I do finish LS. I'll most likely be in my late, late 30's or early 40's ... depending.

A good friend of mine who's a snake ... er, a lawyer (just kidding!) hinted that particular areas of law may or may not find my prospective application appealing or distracting due to my familial committments potentially fleshing the inability to solely focus on the career at hand.

Another friend of his stated that in other carefully selected areas it's entirely possible to have a law career without selling your soul to the Firm.

The other concern that I have is the impact that this career will have on my family. Decisions, decisions.

Anybody have more in-depth comments? Thanks.
Old 11-02-04, 02:23 PM
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There were a decent number of 30-somethings in my law school class when I started. Granted I started in 1996 and I'm sure the average age of law school students has been decreasing.
Old 11-02-04, 02:29 PM
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There were several non-traditional students in my class in LS as well, including a few in their late 40s/early 50s. As for selling your soul, it depends on how much you want to make and where you want to live. I like to think I have a comfortable life in a rural area, doing interesting work and have plenty of time for my family and other interests. I could have made more working in a big city firm, but the difference between 1850 Billable and 2200-2300 Billables a year makes the lost revenue worth it in the long run.
Old 11-02-04, 02:42 PM
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For everyone here that went to Law School, what did you major in during Undergrad? Did you guys know you wanted to go to LS after Undergrad?
Old 11-02-04, 02:57 PM
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Re: How intense is law school?

Originally posted by al_bundy
How much work is law school? What is the work load for an average class?
Law school is quite easy. It may be one of the easiest forms of graduate school. This is partly because the topics aren't complicated - nuanced, sometimes, but not rocket science - and partly because your competition is a bunch of 22-year-olds coming from the lazy days of undergrad.

My first year, I attended about two hours of class per weekday and studied maybe two hours every day. Probably less. I finished my first year about 17th in the class (of about 250) at Case Western Reserve, which is a quite well-respected school (just outside the top 50.)

Things changed after that. I got a part-time job, eventually turning it into a full-time job, and just got distracted. My grades tanked (comparatively), and I finished in the top half of the class, but just barely.

Law school is very easy if you minimize distractions. Your circumstances will make this much harder. If at all possible, try to concentrate your efforts. i.e.: Is it possible for your wife to work and put you through school? You'll have to live a very meager lifestyle for three years, but if you concentrate and do really well (shoot for top 5%), the salary boost for the rest of your career will make it worth your while.

- David Stein
Old 11-02-04, 04:07 PM
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I think all of this is kinda funny; it only shows that there is no generalizations here. I particularly cracked up at sfsdfd's "law school is easy". While I myself also found it easy, I had many good friends who were very smart that did not find it so.

bill_n_opus, I went to law school at 32, and while I was on the older side, I was far from the oldest. And I have rarely if ever found my age to be a hindrance. If anything, it's a plus.

As for what to expect from the career: well, some places do expect you to make the firm your life. But not all. If you are willing to sacrifice money for QoL, or willing to sacrifice a few years of your life, to some extent, you can carve out a nice life for yourself. Or so I am hoping, I'm still new at this (Class of 2003).

But, of course, YMMV!
Old 11-02-04, 04:21 PM
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i'm doing univ of phoenix now and will graduate in early 2006. I'm working full time in IT, but I'm looking to change careers. i have time during my workday to do some schoolwork. i talked to the wife and she said that if i want to go, i can.

i've heard that law school is some crazy amount of work and I was curious if it was true. i remember at career day in high school a local lawyer came and said that almost all the time out of class he was studying.
Old 11-02-04, 04:55 PM
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The organization that accredits law schools (ABA) limits the number of hours that a FT first year law student can work outside of school. I believe the limit is currently 15 hours/week. Most schools encourage you to not work at all your first year.

This alone would prevent you from going to law school full time while working full time, unless you were going to go to an unaccredited school (a bad idea). Of course, there’s no “big brother” who inspects everyone’s timesheets to see how much work you’re doing… but if caught, it could impact financial aid, etc.

In general, I think that law school is probably something that you should only do if you are pretty serious about becoming a lawyer. You sound pretty unsure/casual at this point.

Miami has a great site with some questions/answers that might be helpful:

http://www.law.miami.edu/admissions/29questions.html
Old 11-02-04, 05:14 PM
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the best thing about a law degree is that it is very general. you can be a lobbyist, a practicing neighborhood attorney, corporate lawyer, tax lawyer and a ton of other specialties that are very different from each other. the starting pay is good too. I make $63k now and if i change into a finance career after getting my bachelor's i will probably take a pay cut. with a law degree i will get a nice raise.
Old 11-02-04, 05:16 PM
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For the question about undergrad degrees, I was a film major in undergrad. As far as I know, most schools like their applicants to have diverse undergrad backgrounds. They love it when people are math majors, science majors, etc. It brings a different perspective to the classroom.

I think the LSAT score is probably more important than your undergrad degree in getting admitted.
Old 11-02-04, 05:27 PM
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I don't know if anyone else is in law school right now, but I am. I go full time (1st year) at a top 25 school, and I probably do about 3 hours of work outside class, preparing for the next day's classes. I think I spend around 10-12 hours on weekends compiling notes, working on outlines, etc. I think this workload is kind of on the low end compared to the rest of my classmates.

My program is full-time only, and the oldest person is 48. I think the average age is 23, meaning most people are either straight out of undergrad, or took a year off. The classes are not very difficult, but the lectures are incredibly boring. If you aren't sure it's definitely what you want to do, the $100,000's in loans is probably not the wisest decision, especially if you have a wife and family.

Keep in mind, all first year classes are going to have a final as your only grade in the class, except for legal writing, which is generally one paper that will be used as your writing sample for future job applications. What this means is that you need to be able to dedicate A LOT of time when necessary (finals weeks).

If you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask me, I'll try to answer as specifically as possible
Old 11-02-04, 05:45 PM
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if law schools are looking for variety, then i might get in

8 years in the army, 4 years in IT after leaving the army, bachelor of science in business/finance
Old 11-02-04, 05:55 PM
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Outside of law-writing assignments (which were a PITA), I also studied about 2 hours per day about 5 days a week. Obviously, that number goes up in the couple weeks leading up to exams (mainly preparing outlines). Like I said before, I finished in the top-quarter of a top-50 school.

I was an Int'l Relations major in college.
Old 11-02-04, 05:56 PM
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Anyone here know anything about patent law?

I'm currently getting my MS in Electrical Engineering and thinking about going for patent law next year. I'm sort of worried though about what sorts of schools I could get into though since my undergrad GPA was quite poor, but I had an upward trend at the end of my undergrad, and into my grad school.
Old 11-02-04, 05:57 PM
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Originally posted by bboisvert
The organization that accredits law schools (ABA) limits the number of hours that a FT first year law student can work outside of school. I believe the limit is currently 15 hours/week. Most schools encourage you to not work at all your first year.

Unless they changed it since the late 90s, it is 20. They do encourage no work, which is I think is a load of bull. Like I said before, I had no problem working 20 hours per week as a 1L.
Old 11-02-04, 06:04 PM
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Originally posted by CrazeeDonkee
Anyone here know anything about patent law?

I'm currently getting my MS in Electrical Engineering and thinking about going for patent law next year. I'm sort of worried though about what sorts of schools I could get into though since my undergrad GPA was quite poor, but I had an upward trend at the end of my undergrad, and into my grad school.
Here is what I know about Patent law. One of my fellow students last year had passed the Patent bar. It's the only bar exam you can pass before law school and not get into trouble. He worked at a Patent law firm. He told me that you cannot get into being a real patent attorney unless you have a PHD in a major science like Biology, Engineering, or Chemistry. This is on top of the JD you need to be an attorney.

My favorite part was his description of these attorneys as having no social skills at all because they spent most of their lives in school studying science.

Since he did not have a PHD, he was not able to really practice patent law and is not interested in going for a PHD on top of his JD.

If you really want to do patent law, then you will likely need to get a PHD in a science as well.

Last edited by sherm42; 11-02-04 at 06:06 PM.

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