I’m not exactly a fresh law graduate but most readers of this blog are here because they’re either in law school or currently internally debating with themselves on whether to go to law school or not. Some are considering whether to even stay in law school. More recently the choice is now whether to even take the PHILSAT* at all.
Most readers are curious on what law school is really like. Since I’ve been out of law school for a time I’ve enlisted the help of H**, who is currently in law school, for inputs in this article.
***Main points are inputs from H.
So as a throw-back, let me share some of the things that you should probably know before going to law school.
1. Law school takes up most, if not all, of your time.
A lot of people who go straight from college right into law school are shocked at the sudden change of pace. As a law student you are expected to have the initiative to photocopy your own cases, research the journal articles, books or other readings contained in the law professors’ outlines. The research part is time-consuming enough. On top of that you have to meticulously read through voluminous materials (supreme court cases, journal articles, law commentaries). Studying for a two hour class could easily translate into 3-5 hours of prior reading, leaving you with little time for romantic dates (no!), gym time, Facebook time, and generally time to yourself.
2. Law school is more difficult than your average masters degree.
Others enter law school under the misguided notion that it is like your average MBA or masters degree, where you just spend two to three hours every weekend listening to the professor give a lecture. It is not. Law school is more difficult than your average undergraduate degree (and to think I suffered through several courses of CALCULUS in my Economics degree) or even your average masters degree.
The difficulty lies not only in the subject matter, which is complicated in itself, but also in the language employed in law. Law uses a precise and formal type of English language. Certain key words must be carefully used in certain context, otherwise you change the meaning completely. You might eventually grow into it but it will be jarring at first.
There will certainly be a learning curve. You’ll have to get used to the socratic method employed by law professors, which is essentially a daily verbal exam requiring you to answer a series of questions to show your line of thinking to arrive at the answer. That is why reading cases for your classes gets extra difficult because you’ll have to be able to recall the details later on.
3. Law school is expensive
If you are paying for your own way for law school , it is very expensive. On top of tuition costs, you’ll have to buy law books, codals and pay to photocopy your readings. On the other hand, the average graduate masters degree doesn’t require as much, financially.
There is also an opportunity cost of paying your own way for law school especially for working students. Money that could’ve been put to work in investments now goes to a non-income producing (at least at the moment) expense –law school.
4. Law school makes you gain weight
Law school is a drain on your wallet, but not on your weight. The long and arduous studying, combined with the stress of daily recitations and constant competition (not really but more like pressure to keep up with them) with your law classmates will have you reaching for that beer / wine / chocolate / ice cream / random junk just to keep you sane. The all nighters also wreak havoc on your body clock and affect your metabolism, making you gain weight.
5. Law school will make you irritable.
If you have mental issues or are emotionally fragile, law school isn’t for you. First off, professors will not hesitate to release their passive aggressive sarcastic insults upon students who are caught unprepared. Second, the pressure to keep up with your classmates and to read the mountains of cases will get to you. Combine all these with a lack of sleep and you will become irritable at one point or another. If you have mental issues, law school may not be a good place for you.
Anything else we should add to this list?
*Passing the Philippine Law School Admission Test is a precondition for entry into any Philippine law school. It’s a recent Legal Education Board requirement.
**Real name withheld for privacy