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So You Want to Be a Law Student: Secrets from the Inside
(Continued from 1)

Now that I have had some time to reflect on the last three years, I realize that there were a few things I wish I would have known before starting law school. Below is a list of five issues that anyone desiring to go to law school should consider before starting the journey:
  1. The Financial Cost. Law school costs money—lots of money. Be prepared to encounter some sticker shock at the bursar’s office. The decision whether to spend the family’s savings (if available) or request financial aid is a difficult one. Even with a scholarship, the cost of tuition can be very burdensome. Many law schools suggest that first year full-time law students do not work while attending classes. This may mean that the law student’s family has to figure out how to live on one person’s salary or if the family should take out additional student loans for living expenses.
  2. The Family Cost. Law school was difficult, not just because of the stress or studying, but also because of the time it took away from my family. There may be many days when it seems easier to quit and go back to a former career. Law school can take an emotional toll, not just on the student, but on the student’s family as well. Everyone needs to be aware beforehand of the burden of constant studying, the new peer group, and the lack of time for regular activities. Finding a balance between the demands of studying and family time can be hard, but it is necessary if one is to survive law school. And survival of law school equals a degree that will open up new doors of opportunity, both professionally and financially.
  3. The Personal Cost. The first year of law school can seem daunting because it is similar to being dropped off in a foreign country without speaking the native language. The professors ask questions that seem unanswerable, the workload seems insurmountable, and classmates can turn into competitors at the drop of the first textbook. But eventually, the questions are not as scary, and the competitors become allies who help each other in a pinch, all pulling together for the same end: graduation. Though one’s confidence may wane at first, a completed law degree will do more than restore it.
  4. The Professional Cost. Having already begun a career for myself, I had a hard time giving up a steady paycheck in exchange for unknown territory. However, getting a law degree opens up more doors than just becoming a practicing attorney. Any career is sure to be enhanced, from becoming a politician to teaching in a university to being a CEO of a major corporation. Anyone with a J.D. behind his or her name will find no shortage of interesting opportunities waiting upon completion of law school.
  5. The Physical Cost. Long hours spent studying meant I became less physically active. There will be late night study sessions with those just out of undergrad who can still pack away nine pieces of pizza, get one hour of sleep, and still sound brilliant when grilled by the professor. However, three years of poor nutrition and sleep deprivation is not the key to law school success. Taking just a few minutes to stretch or walk around will have an energizing effect on both the physical body and the mental processes. Eating healthy meals and trying to get plenty of rest will also help reduce stress and keep the body in good working condition during school.
If all of these issues can be resolved in favor of attending law school, then go for it! Law school can be one of the best learning experiences and graduation is a well-deserved reward. The successful law student is not necessarily the most brilliant; more likely, he or she is persistent, not scared of hard work, and is unwilling to give up. Marching down the aisle with my classmates while my husband, son, and the rest of my friends and family looked on made me understand the biggest secret of all: that law school is worth it.

Meredith Beeby Edmison, J.D., graduated with her law degree on May 14, 2005. She is Executive Director of The Wegener Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization in Oklahoma City, where she lives with Mike (the husband), Jack (the son), and Oscar (the Wonder Dog).

See Also How I Got into Law School at 47.

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