Have you ever heard the advice, “treat law school like a full-time job”? Well, I have. Frequently. I used to think this was really good advice and have even given it myself on occasion. However, after spending a lot of time teaching in law schools and talking to law students, I actually think it kind of sucks.
Now, to be fair, I don’t think people who give this advice have ill intentions or are trying to mislead the person they tell it to. Let’s start by discussing the ways law school actually is like working a job. You should expect to spend a lot of time doing it. When I think of a full-time job, I think of the way a person spends most of their time. And that is true of law school, you should definitely expect to spend most your time doing it. But, as you’ll see below, I think this gives an incomplete picture of the time expectations on a law student.
You should act professionally while you are there. This is the biggest point in support of treating law school like a job. It isn’t really “school” so much as it is the start of your professional career and you should treat it as such. Remember, your classmates become your colleagues, bosses, opposing counsel, and the judges hearing your cases (the horror!).
But, here are the many ways this piece of advice misses the mark It woefully underrepresents the amount of time that law students are expected to dedicate to law school. The last time I checked, a full-time job generally requires about 40 hours of time per week. In contrast, the average law school week is about 60 hours. I am in the business of knowing law students, and I have yet to come across one that only spends 9-5 Monday through Friday on law school related tasks and is happy with their grades. Sure, there is always an exception (and I’m sure if you are it, you’ll let me know in the comments on Facebook); but, generally speaking, law school requires much more […]