One of the hardest professions you can pursue is the law.
Before you can become a lawyer, however, or work in law, you have to attend law school.
The dropout rate at some law schools can even be as high as 30%.
Considering the high dropout rate, you may wonder what it is about law school that makes it so hard.
From critical thinking to preparing for the bar exam, here are a few reasons law school is so hard.
Is Law School Hard? (10 Reasons It Is)
1. Focus On Critical Thinking
A common reason law school is hard is that you learn in a different way than what you’re used to.
When you intend to go to law school, you can’t automatically enter law school right out of high school.
Law is a post-graduate degree.
You have to attend some sort of university first and get a Bachelor’s Degree.
While you’re learning for your Bachelor’s Degree, you’ll find that a lot of the information is memorization-based.
A professor will lecture about the topic and expect you to take notes.
You then review those notes, memorize them, and apply them in class.
Usually, you apply them in the form of exams.
As such, a lot of studying for your Bachelor’s Degree just involves memorization.
When you attend law school, you find that, while there is a lot of memorization, the main emphasis is on critical thinking.
Critical thinking is the use of logic, experience, communication, and experimentation to analyze a problem or question and come up with a solution or answer.
It’s a very different way to learn.
Not everyone can make the transition as easily.
Some students might find that they’re very good at memorization, but they’re not quite as good at critical thinking.
Since critical thinking is at the very heart of being a lawyer, that individual likely isn’t going to do well in law school.
Law school is hard because it focuses on critical thinking.
2. Focus On Self-Education
Besides critical thinking, you’ll find that a lot of lessons in law school focus on self-education.
While you’ll still have professors who lecture about certain topics, by and large, most of the education is down to you.
In particular, a lot of law school involves discussion.
Many schools follow the Socrates method of education.
Socrates was a famous philosopher and educator in Ancient Greece.
Many consider him the father of modern education.
He presented the idea to his students that the first step to becoming self-learners is to accept that they know nothing.
They must also accept that the things they do know may not be correct or as correct as they might believe.
After accepting those things, the student could begin their path to self-learning.
In particular, Socrates was best known for asking questions.
By attempting to find the answer, one could hone one’s critical thinking skills.
This way of learning is something that a lot of law school classrooms use.
In particular, a professor might pose a question in a lecture room.
The students might then answer the professor or break into small groups to discuss the question among themselves.
They’ll use logic, reasoning, experience, and other attributes to arrive at an answer.
They’ll then present their answer to the professor.
The professor might have further questions or point out problems with their answer.
The students can then refine their answers from there.
This method not only helps train critical thinking, but it also helps the students think on their feet.
It can also make learning more enjoyable since there’s more active participation.
Of course, it doesn’t suit every type of student.
Some students may lack the creativity to come up with answers.
Others might not flourish under this particular type of education.
As such, law school can be hard when you’re not able to learn well on your own.
3. Extensive Information
There’s no question that the sheer amount of information law students have to learn also contributes to how hard law school is.
Law students have tons of information to memorize or at least be able to refer to.
They need to know the major law cases that impact certain decisions today.
Depending on what type of law they want to get into, they may need to memorize contract laws, criminal laws, or civil laws.
The problem with memorizing law is that there are far more laws than any one person could ever memorize.
Laws also sometimes change.
You might be learning about one specific law one day only to discover a new case replaced that one’s results the next day.
New laws also get signed into existence every few days.
Whether it happens in the federal courts or smaller courts, there is always a new law either getting signed in or setting precedents.
Because of this, there’s always a lot of information for students to learn.
Add that on top of self-learning and trying to expand one’s critical thinking skills and you have a very busy semester.
There’s a common stereotype that law students run on coffee.
There’s some truth to the stereotype.
The sheer amount of information that students have to learn can require them to stay up late at night.
Not everyone can handle that sort of pressure.
Law school is hard because of the sheer amount of information they need to learn in a relatively short time.
4. Only Grade Is The Final Exam
Another reason law school is hard is that, often, the only grade you get is from the final exam.
A lot of professors won’t give exams throughout the semester.
If their teaching utilizes a lot of discussions, for example, then there’s no way to grade a student.
Grading becomes a bit more subjective in that case, and that can lead to problems with bias.
As such, a lot of professors won’t have any exams or quizzes until the end of the semester.
Only then will they have a final exam.
The final exam might reflect everything the students have learned over the course of the semester.
It might require them to present a certain argument for a question that the professor poses.
The student then has to use all the skills they learned and honed throughout the semester to best answer that question.
Depending on how you perform, you might end up with a great grade on your exam or a poor one.
Some students may not think that grades matter in graduate school, but they do.
They matter in the sense that some employers will look at your grades to determine your abilities.
If you have poor grades on your final exams, then they might pass you up in favor of someone who shows a better performance.
It also matters if you intend to get your doctorate.
You’ll need to maintain a certain grade point average to apply.
The problem with maintaining that grade point average is it’s a lot harder to do if you only get one graded final exam.
Everything comes down to how well you perform on that exam.
A professor who gives a few exams throughout the semester gives you a chance to make up for a poor exam.
Even if you do poorly on one exam, you have a few more chances to raise your grade point average.
With a final exam, what you see is what you get.
Law school is hard because many professors only give you a final exam to set your grade for that class.
5. Competitive Atmosphere
Law school is also very competitive.
You’re usually in class with a lot of other highly-motivated students.
It takes some smarts to be a successful attorney, so you’re likely brushing elbows with students who were at or near the top of their classes in undergraduate school.
A lot of attorneys are also charismatic by nature.
They have to be able to appeal to a jury or judge.
As such, you’ll find that a lot of students in law school are competitive.
Standing out can be difficult, but if you want to get ahead, then you need to stand out.
It’s important to stand out in law school for a few reasons.
The first is that the professor will take notice of you.
Depending on how they grade, you might get a higher grade if you’re the one answering well or leading the discussion.
It also helps you make connections.
You might find fellow students who are very similar to you and have similar goals.
You might be able to convince them to try and start a firm with you once you all graduate.
It’s also not uncommon for employers to visit lecture halls to look for potential employees to join their firms.
Standing out is hard when everyone is trying to do the same thing.
It means you have to work harder than you might otherwise.
Since law school is already hard, it becomes even harder when you add a competitive atmosphere to it.
6. Dress And Appearance Matter
When you attend your first law class, you’ll find that the students aren’t usually dressed as those in your undergraduate studies.
They’re usually dressed well and well-groomed.
That’s because your dress and appearance tend to matter in law school.
A lot of professors expect their students to dress the part.
If they want to become an attorney, then they need to dress like an attorney.
That might mean that guys will wear dress shirts and keep their hair carefully combed.
Girls might wear a nice blouse or even a dress to class.
This makes law school hard for a few reasons.
The first is that you have to put more effort into your appearance.
If you’re staying up late to memorize everything, then you’re already going to be lacking sleep.
Getting up early enough to groom yourself properly and put on something nice only further impacts your lack of sleep.
Secondly, it means you need to have the funds to buy yourself some nice clothes.
Money is usually tight in college unless you happen to have wealthy parents.
As such, scrounging up enough money to look the part may be harder for some than others.
It just adds another level of complexity to learning.
Law school is hard because your appearance and state of dress tend to matter more.
7. Some Firms Send Scouts For Talent
One of the reasons students sometimes feel a lot of pressure in law school is firm appearances.
Students never know when a representative from a firm might show up in class.
They usually come to class to scout for talent.
If they find a student that they believe matches what the firm is looking for, then they’ll keep their eye on that student throughout the semester.
Students know that impressing a scout is one of the best ways of getting an offer to join a firm.
It guarantees a place to work after graduation.
Because of its importance, a lot of students stress over ensuring they know their stuff if a scout is in class that day.
They want to be ready to impress them.
In some cases, even the professor is the one doing the scouting.
They might pass information about particular students that show talent to the various firms in the area.
Because of this, students are constantly feeling pressure to perform well, which makes law school very hard.
8. Public Speaking
Public speaking is at the heart of being an attorney.
You need to defend your client and show why the other person is in the wrong.
Not only do you need to speak well, but you need to ensure you know how to speak.
Speaking to the judge, for example, is going to be different from speaking to the jury.
Not a lot of people are good at public speaking.
Some even have anxiety about it.
As a lawyer, all you’re doing is talking in public.
You’re presenting arguments.
The spotlight is always on you.
That sort of attention and pressure might be too much for some students.
In law school, you can expect to do a lot of public speaking.
The goal is to get you used to it.
If you struggle with public speaking, then you might find law school quite hard.
9. Outside School Commitments
Law school is also hard when you have outside commitments.
If you have a job, for example, then you may struggle in law school.
Law school requires so much of your time, energy, and focus that it can be difficult to hold down a job as well.
Instead of studying, you’ll be working.
The unfortunate thing is that some students have to work to feed themselves or pay their rent.
Since working eats up study time, those students either won’t be studying as much or they’ll be staying up late to catch up.
Both instances can impact their performance in school.
Law school is hard when you have outside commitments taking up your time, too.
10. The Bar Exam
A final reason law school is hard is that you have to sit for the bar exam.
The good news about the bar exam is that you don’t have to worry about it until after you graduate from law school.
The bad news is that a lot of law school is about preparing for the bar exam.
The bar exam is the big exam that determines whether a prospective attorney can practice law in that state or not.
Because each state has its own bar exam, you may have to take it a few times if you want to practice in different states.
The bar exam is tough since it requires both critical thinking and memorization.
It also lasts a few days.
The thought of having to take the bar exam can put a lot of pressure on students.
Law school is hard because of the impending bar exam in every student’s life.
Law is one of the hardest courses of education you can take.
Due to a focus on critical thinking, higher standards of dress, and the other reasons listed above, law school is quite hard.