Sign up to our Newsletter

10 Things To Know Before Law School

May 26, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 01/18/23

If you are about to begin your journey with law school, keep reading for a list of things to know before law school!

What to Know Before Law School

Things to know before law school

Beginning a J.D. is an overwhelming but exciting time for any student. Law school is notoriously difficult and demanding. 

Even applying to law school is no easy task. You’ve done the hard work of getting into the law school of your dreams, and there is still a lot of hard work to come! However, we’re here to help you gain knowledge and confidence before you begin your law journey! 

See below for ten things to know before law school. 

1. Learn Healthy Ways to Manage Stress

As mentioned before, law school takes a lot of hard work. As a first-year law student, you will encounter many new terms, concepts, and legal definitions–all information that can certainly be overwhelming.   

In order to be successful in your classes and take care of yourself mentally and physically, you will need to learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. 

2. Strengthen Your Research Skills 

Having unparalleled research skills is essential to succeeding as a law student and future lawyer. No matter what area of law you are interested in pursuing, there is no way to get away from research in the legal field. 

Develop your research skills as much as you can. Don’t underestimate the nuances and complexities of research - especially in a legal context! You will need to find, identify, and analyze cases, historical contexts, and unreliable sources. 

3. Read Smarter 

There is a ton of reading to do for law school. 

Find methods of reading smarter, not harder. Some people suggest reading a case backward. Knowing the final decision first will make it easier to scope out facts and critical information in a case. You will want to use your time effectively when you read hundreds of pages of cases.

4. Fine-Tune Your Writing 

Writing is key to being a successful lawyer. Among other things, your writing skills reflect your competence as a lawyer.  

While strong writing skills are multidisciplinary, legal writing has its own rules and styles. It is not the same as writing an essay for your high school English class, so don’t go into law school with an ego. Polish your legal writing skills, and continue to work on these skills as you progress through your degree. 

5. Take a Public Speaking Course 

Just like writing, public speaking is another core skill a lawyer should possess. Even if you aren’t interested in speaking in court, strong speaking skills are an asset in any profession. 

6. The Possibilities Are Endless 

There are so many career paths for you once you graduate. You don’t necessarily have to be a court lawyer. The legal field is so vast that there are probably options to choose from that you haven’t considered yet! You can work in government, private corporations, and tech companies. You can also go on to be a teacher or a researcher. 

People often think of lawyers within the context of criminal justice, but there are many other areas and specialties of law to pursue. You can become a family lawyer, personal injury lawyer, an employment lawyer, and many more!

If you find yourself questioning your career path in law school, don’t worry! Your degree and education will not go to waste. Look into all the possibilities out there. With so many options, there is a perfect fit for you.  

7. Save Up as Much as You Can

Post-secondary education is expensive, and law schools often come with a high price tag.  

Even if you received scholarships and financial aid, it is still in your best interest to save as much money as possible to better manage your debt after graduation. 

Working part-time or full-time the summer before you go to college and working part-time throughout the school year are great ways to save up some extra cash for living expenses, school supplies, and of course, some fun activities too!

Check out some affordable law schools if you are concerned about paying for your education.

8. Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Law school is time-consuming and very demanding. Despite all the prep work and studying you may do, you are bound to feel stressed out and overwhelmed at some point. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people will do wonders for your mental health as you work towards your J.D. 

9. Go To Class Prepared 

This tip may seem obvious, but to make a good impression on your professors and peers and to get the most out of your classes, show up to every class and show up prepared. 

This means doing the readings, completing your assignments, and proactively reaching out to your professors if you need help or aren’t understanding the material. 

You’ll be investing a lot of time and resources to attend law school, so ensure you put in the work and make the most out of it. 

10. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity 

Throughout your degree, your school will host seminars, talks, events, clubs, and a wide range of other activities for students. Some great activities to take advantage of include:

  • Debate clubs
  • Student Government 
  • Mock Trials 
  • Clerking jobs 
  • Study groups 

Engage with these opportunities as much as possible to build relationships with your professors, peers, and other professionals in the legal field, all while developing your communication skills and legal knowledge.

FAQs: What To Know Before Law School

Going into law school is a big deal, and you may still have questions about what to know before starting law school. Read below as we answer some frequently asked questions.

1. How Many Hours a Day Should You Study in Law School?

Generally, first-year law students spend about 30 to 40 hours per week preparing–completing readings, and studying for class. As students move into their second and third years, the time spent reading for classes decreases slightly, but the time spent preparing for classes remains about the same. 

New England Law asked some of their students what a day in the life of a law student looks like to give you a better understanding of what your schedule may look like in law school. 

2. What is the Best Major to Prepare for Law School?

Unlike pre-med, there is no pre-law degree. However, there are undergraduate degrees for prospective law students that develop skills that make a successful law student. Buffalo University’s School of Law names Political Science as one of the best undergraduate degrees to prepare for law school. Other undergraduate degrees include: 

  • English 
  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice 
  • History 
  • Economics 
  • Philosophy 
  • Sociology 

Any one of these areas of study is great to take for aspiring law students. When deciding on a major to prepare for law school, think of degrees that emphasize communication skills, writing and research skills, and interdisciplinary skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. 

If you’re still wondering what school to attend for your undergraduate degree, check out some of the best pre-law schools

3. Are Law Degrees Worth it?

Long story short, yes! A law degree is definitely worth it if you are passionate about working with the law in some capacity.  

The U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job outlook for lawyers will grow 10% in the next ten years, above the average. This means that there are, and will continue to be, a lot of career opportunities available for graduates.

Final Thoughts

Starting a J.D. is a pivotal point for aspiring legal professionals. By understanding what to know before starting law school, you are already demonstrating initiative and a desire to set yourself up for success! 

If you are eager to be even more prepared, we have a list of 11 books to read before law school

Best of luck on your journey!

Schedule A Free Consultation

Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.

You May Also Like