Work/Life Balance in Law School

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
thenorth
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:24 am

Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby thenorth » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:31 am

A OL asks currents students and graduates:

In your experience, what sort of work/life balance seems to be most effective in law school? Many current students recommend "finding what works best for you" while others talk of grueling dusk-til-dawn work days. How does the workload compare to UG, for example, and does it vary significantly by year (LR, journals, clinics, etc.)? Are students who routinely enjoy their nights and weekends away from campus or relaxing at home more likely to have poorer academic performance?

The answers to these questions will probably vary by school rank and personal temperament, but hopefully some trend in the responses will emerge to suggest that one general approach is usually more successful than another. Thanks!

kcdc1
Posts: 930
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:48 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby kcdc1 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:01 am

Are students who routinely enjoy their nights and weekends away from campus or relaxing at home more likely to have poorer academic performance?

No, it's very reasonable to take off evenings and weekends during 1L if you're efficient during weekdays. I recommend completing all of your reading, attending all of your classes, and taking thorough notes. That takes about 5-9 hours per day of actual work, depending how quickly you read and organize your thoughts. But that's time spent actually working. If you spend 3 hours per day chilling and complaining about how much you're working, then you're going to have to spend nights and weekends to keep up.

User avatar
pancakes3
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:49 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby pancakes3 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:05 am

There is no reason to pull an all-nighter during the semester, no reason to spend more than 9 hrs a day working, and no reason to study 7 days a week. It'll be a massive relief to you to realize that learning the law itself is not that hard. The hard part is the exam + curve, and the only time that matters wrt finals are the weeks leading up and including finals.

jarofsoup
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:41 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby jarofsoup » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:24 am

Usually the work life balance thing is only an issue towards the end of the semester. Take a day off. Force yourself too.

User avatar
lawhopeful10
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:29 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby lawhopeful10 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:00 am

1L year keep going out to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 2L year and on you can get bombed on a Tuesday if you want.

mvp99
Posts: 1384
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:00 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby mvp99 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:16 am

my 2l year was worse than the first.. too many assignments

User avatar
lawhopeful10
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:29 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby lawhopeful10 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:23 am

mvp99 wrote:my 2l year was worse than the first.. too many assignments

Haha yea I think I might have had more stuff going on but you just don't care as much and you already know the drill. Even 1L year you could probably go out all the time and get really good grades since it all comes down to understanding how to game exams but if you aren't sure where you are at its probably better to air on the side of caution 1L year. But as others have said all nighters and not going out at all is ridiculous. The final month before exams you should probably be completely focused but that still doesn't involve all nighters.

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3153
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby twenty » Sun Apr 26, 2015 1:54 pm

I worked (at a job) 30+ hours a week during 1L. Not much social life or free time beyond that, though - occasional birthday party or girlfriend dropping by notwithstanding. I'm hovering around top 20% grades right now, but I don't see that as "pretty good." Even if I go up to top 10%, I won't be participating in my school's OCI.

See, the thing is, law students unequivocally put "doing well" in law school in the same light as "getting good grades" and that's not really true. If you followed TLS' advice in picking a law school, you're at a T13 school, or you're at a T1 school on a full scholarship. If you're at a T13 school, you'll get biglaw, so your grades really don't matter as long as you're not in the bottom 10-20% of your class. If you're at a T1 on a full ride, you aren't going there for biglaw, and your grades really don't matter for other legal jobs as much as hardcore networking/PI dedication/interviewing.

I thoroughly enjoyed my 1L experience. I regularly went to office hours just to shoot the shit with professors, went to every free-food event (even ones not affiliated with the law school), and worked on some pro bono projects. The rest of my class ranges from indifferent to miserable. I've had many class mates openly express their hostility towards my perceived slackerisms - I've been cornered a couple times by people who were upset that I always pass on cold calls and don't take law school seriously. Another time, I threw softball questions to a kid giving a (minimally) graded presentation, and my seat neighbor became angry that I was helping the guy out.

I've said this before, but 99% of your success in law school is determined by decisions you make as a 0L many months before you start your first day of orientation.

User avatar
lawhopeful10
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:29 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby lawhopeful10 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:25 pm

twenty wrote:The rest of my class ranges from indifferent to miserable. I've had many class mates openly express their hostility towards my perceived slackerisms - I've been cornered a couple times by people who were upset that I always pass on cold calls and don't take law school seriously. Another time, I threw softball questions to a kid giving a (minimally) graded presentation, and my seat neighbor became angry that I was helping the guy out.

This is insane. I don't know why people would care that you slack off, if anything you would think they would be happy knowing they don't have to work as hard if other people don't as well. The idea that you need to be a workaholic prick in law school to do well needs to stop. Anecdotal obviously but I finished top 3% 1L working hard but not all the time and then 2L first semester when I blew off class and went out all the time only dropped to like top 5-6%. Learning to take exams is all that matters. I would love to be in class with people who took themselves crazy serious only to do terrible come exam time. Anyway OP don't be one of those people.

User avatar
pancakes3
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:49 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby pancakes3 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:34 pm

Working hard is just a coping mechanism for people who fail to come to terms with the fact that grades are completely dependent of a 1-shot, curved test. It doesn't seem equitable so it cannot be.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:51 pm

Law school can be super chill once you get the hang of it. For example, I bought a casebook in an area of law I'm going into after my clerkship. I remember first semester 1L taking like an hour to get through 10 pages, now it's like 20 min. Eventually you figure out what's important. Honestly, it doesn't take more than 3-4 hours a day outside of class 1L. It's like 2 after that (but then your journal will suck up the difference). People who pretend law school is hard are being silly.

Edit: That's assuming you read. A big, unwarranted assumption after 1L.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Apr 26, 2015 3:41 pm

During the semester you could attend every class and do every word of assigned reading in approximately the hours of a normal full-time workweek. This is really the best way to go imo -- work slowly, steadily and reasonably throughout the semester, then turn it up a couple notches at the end of the semester as finals approach. Honestly doing 16-hour days early on is going to be inefficient anyway because you won't even know where to put your efforts yet.

thenorth
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:24 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby thenorth » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:37 pm

Thanks for your responses. I'm glad to hear that it's possible to have a life and do well in class, at least during 1L.

Also, to what extent can participation in study groups affect free time? Or do study groups really matter at all, especially outside of exam time? They seem like they could be good useful for discussing cases or exchanging outlines etc. However from anecdotal evidence it seems like they're more informal than a OL might suppose and only really become important options around exam time. Would it be a good idea to spend some time forming and participating in such groups?

User avatar
cyrilfiggis
Posts: 76
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:35 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby cyrilfiggis » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:45 pm

Study groups are a waste of time except possibly for going over exams toward the end. Even then, you're not necessarily going to know if the people you're taking practice exams with know what they're doing if there are no model answers.

User avatar
lawhopeful10
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:29 pm

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby lawhopeful10 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:49 pm

Yea I think study groups are really inefficient but it's helpful to have someone toward the end of the semester to compare outlines with just to make sure you have everything. I mean you can still study with classmates to make friends obviously I just wouldn't take it too intensely like one group of kids did my 1L year.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:11 pm


thenorth
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:24 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby thenorth » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:19 pm

Quite amusing.

BigZuck
Posts: 10854
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:53 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby BigZuck » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:20 pm

BigZuck wrote:your diction is just kinda British-y or pretentious or something

+1

thenorth
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:24 am

Re: Work/Life Balance in Law School

Postby thenorth » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:23 am

thenorth wrote:Quite amusing.


A quote from the youtube clip but who's counting.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests