I’m hardly the only one with advice for entering law students. My colleague and friend Eric Goldman points to three resources, two of them from Florida State University (here’s the FSU site, which has additional resources) and one from Dahlia Lithwick. All three are excellent and worth reading.
I have only one thing to add to Dahlia L’s observations: Some people go to law school for the intellectual challenge; some do it because their life’s mission is public service; some people are attracted by the money and prestige they think is associated with being a lawyer. Note to this last group: A career as a lawyer will mean a life of hard work and a decent income. Except in the rare case, it won’t make you rich. If your goal is to get rich, don’t go to law school. Law school is for people who aren’t willing to take the risks involved in really getting wealthy, or who don’t need to.
And here’s a particularly good passage from the FSU pamphlets:
Thinking “like a lawyer” involves mastering the analytical function, including recognizing relevant legal principles and applying them to factual situations. Your clarity of thinking and problem-solving will improve, which are both strong benefits. But at the same time, your pre-existing beliefs, values, preferences, and your feelings and emotions will not be engaged in this analysis. Much of your apparent success in class will depend on displaying the relatively narrow analytical skill, often to the exclusion of everything else. The first potential problem is that students begin to discount or ignore their beliefs, feelings, and values as if they no longer matter. This is a huge mistake, because it eliminates the sense of who you are that has developed throughout your life. The result is that law students often feel “lost,” or that something important is missing, and indeed it is if you become disconnected from your personal values, preferences, and feelings.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part I: Get fit.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part II: Scientists should read some literature.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part III: Non-scientists should read some science.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part IV: Write.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part V: On law school prep classes.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part VI: On taking law school exams.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part VII: On grades.
Link to Welcome to Law School, Part VIII: More books to read, and movies to watch.