You deserve a medal for getting through law school.
Now before everyone rolls their eyes, take a minute to admit that law school can be downright draining. So let Survive Law help you break down some of the times law school sucked, and how you can manage them.
1. My classmates kinda suck...
So your class is full of Legally Blonde inspired personalities and one too many wannabe Harvey Spector’s? That’s okay. It’s actually very common to experience social burnout. In competitive environments, particularly during clerkship season, some of the more obnoxious qualities of those you spend time with come to the forefront. Just remember that the key to dealing with this is recognising that everywhere you will go in your professional life you will need the resilience to encounter differing personalities.
2. I have way too many assessments due at the same time, where has my life gone?
This is where a diary comes in handy. Make sure when you first get your materials that you note down due dates. More often than not your assessments will be due around the same time. So get started on the first piece due as soon as the date is released. This will mean you can avoid last minute panic and enjoy down time guilt-free.
3. That exam was crazy hard - I think I failed.
You probably didn’t. Because I didn’t, every time I thought I did. Remember, your examiners write exams to fail you, but they mark them to pass you. It may have been the most intense and difficult exam you’ve ever faced, but if you struggled, so did your mates. Try and leave the exam alone after it’s done. If you really feel like comparing, find someone who you trust to discuss it with you in a reasonable manner.
4. I am stressed most of the time and it’s ruining my life.
Anxiety is common in our profession, and it often starts when you first enter law school. If you’re feeling anxious regularly I would recommend you seek help as soon as possible. Stressful situations will continue to crop up, so getting an arsenal of coping mechanisms in place that are healthy. Some great things to start with:
make sure you are getting enough sleep
nourish yourself with good food
go for a walk every couple of days to clear your head (music optional)
drink plenty of water to reduce the occurrence of headaches
spend 10 minutes before you start your day without your smart phone and any distractions and just breathe.
5. I haven’t gotten any experience yet, where do I even start?
If you’re working full time or haven’t found a legal job yet, don’t stress. Many firms recognise that the skills you attain in other jobs are transferrable to your potential work with them. I also know from talking with a partner that they regard progression within a company or business an important factor in determining your skills (even if it was not a legal job).
It’s always good to get yourself on some waiting lists at community legal centres in your first year. They may take a year to come to fruition, so it’s good to give an expression of interest as soon as you can.
6. So many clerkship applications, so little time
Start early. Do your firm research when the year starts, and start to get a sense of whom and what you like about them. Writing cover letters at the beginning of the year is great for you when you will be time poor. Most firms ask multiple questions in their application forms, so you don’t want to be struggling through cover letters as well as those questions in the small time frame you’ve got.
7. No clerkship. Do I hope for a quick and painless death now?
Yes there is a life after clerkship season. For those lucky few (and I do mean few) who score them – fantastic. For those who didn’t, just remember that even those who scored them aren’t guaranteed a graduate job. So keep a sense of perspective. At various pre-clerkship season event nights I was surprised at how many partners did not start at the firm and took unusual pathways to get to where they were today. Just remember that life is rarely linear, and the unexpected journey allows you more insight into what you truly want.
8. What are the chances of getting a job these days in such a competitive market?
You will get a job. While there has been a lot of scare mongering as to the dwindling numbers of lawyers being hired over the past few years, things do pick up. Last year things definitely started picking up again in terms of hiring, so remember that the ebbs and flows of industry are normal. The best you can do is make sure you continue to perform at your personal best and seek opportunities around you.
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