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13 Scariest Things You'll Encounter in Law School

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. | Last updated on

Getting into law school was scary. Between the LSAT, waiting for results, and surviving the application process, the whole law school process tested your nerves. And now that you're in, you can look forward to more gray-hair inducing events in school.

But don't people like to be scared? Isn't that the whole idea behind Halloween? Sure! In the spirit of Halloween cheer, here are the 13 scariest things you'll encounter in law school.

1. One Exam, One Grade

The standard practice in law school classes is to base your entire grade on a single final exam at the end of the course. This isn't really as scary as it sounds and is actually quickly becoming the standard fair for undergrad courses as well. But first year has been known to claim many victims prompting them to quit law school entirely.

2. Socratic Method

For some reason, 1Ls get it into their mind to watch the Paper Chase. They like to witness -- colleseum style -- Professor Charles Kingsfield verbally disembowel the hapless James Hart. Yes, some professors will be right on you like white on rice during your 1L year, but the good news is that by the third year, most law professors could care less.

3. The Surrounding Area

Have you ever noticed how so many good law schools are located in centers of urban decay? Think of University of Chicago and Hyde Park.

4. The Reading

The reading is scary -- at first. This is because you're going to make the newbie mistake and read every single word and ponder every comma. Then you're going to get better at finding the holding and extracting the real meat of the case. It'll be scary, but you'll learn to conver 100+ pages of reading into something manageable. There are dozens of tips that will make your 1L year at least livable.

5. Finding Internships/Work

Slots are in demand for good word. What else is news. This aspect of law school is, for many people, much scarier than the law school work itself. Internships and summer work is often a doorway to networking and good jobs. In fact, social networking is probably as important as you work -- maybe even more important.

6. Smarter People

Someone is going to be smarter than you. Consistently, these people will make you look and feel like dimwitted.

Now that you're in law school, you're going to get your first taste of people who suddenly think you have all the answers to their legal problems -- and that you're just dying to give them free advice. Get ready for a lifetime of this nonsense.

8. The Law Library

Fortunately, legal research has increasingly become an electronic endeavor and if you're a registered law student, software program companies will typically offer you limited access to their databases. And they're seek assistance from 2Ls and 3Ls you trust.

9. Smack Talk by Other Students

This comes in many different forms. Lawyers tend to be particularly bad at chest thumping and trash talk, though. Strive to make it a policy to listen to train your ears at filtering out the garbage that a lot of people say. Remember, empty bottles make more noise.

More and more law schools are making legal analysis and writing courses part of the first year set. People tend to either hate this course or love it. Be careful, however: In this course, your work will have been reviewed throughout the quarter with a TA or your professor. This means that you necessarily do not enjoy the level of anonymity you do with your other classes. This, frankly, is scary.

11. Knowing Nothing

We've known of cases where someone did not know what a complaint was until well into her third year. Although this is on the more extreme side, you'll probably find yourself at least feeling like you don't know anything, or that you're severely behind. In law school, very few people know exactly what's going on. That probably can also be said about life.

12. Problem clients

If you're lucky enough to be part of a clinic or to have volunteered your time, beware of clients who don't know the basics of personal space of those who have an ax to grind.

13. Debt

This one is probably deserving of top billing. All of you have done the arithmetic, or you've read about it. The scariest thing of all, however, is the prospect of defaulting on your loans. That's only scary life experience we suggest avoiding at all costs.

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