How To Survive Law School


By Sarah Cansler

As soon as you get your acceptance letter into law school, you will start to receive all kinds of unsolicited advice. You should always take such advice with a grain of salt, because everyone’s experiences in law school are different, and you know (or will quickly learn) what you need to do to succeed and stay happy and healthy while you do it.

With that said, I am about to provide—you guessed it—some unsolicited advice about how to survive law school. I’m not here to tell you how to get good grades or your dream job, because there are plenty of people wiser and more experienced than I am who can help you accomplish those worthy goals. Instead, I’m here to give you my thoughts on how to make your three years in law school a tolerable, and perhaps even enjoyable, experience.

  • Make friends. This one seems painfully obvious, but you would be surprised at how easy it can be to fall victim to the notion that you are in a race against your classmates to get the best grades, the best internships, the best job offers. Remember that your law school classmates will be your peers in the legal community after you graduate, and making enemies does you no favors when you begin your career. In fact, your classmates are the only people who really know what you are going through in law school. Ask some classmates to study with you, get their opinions on the professor you just can’t figure out, and connect with them in extracurriculars or even outside of school. It will make the day-to-day grind of law school that much more bearable.
  • Exercise. This is a big one. It is extremely hard to balance school with self-care, and that balance unfortunately does not get easier as you advance in your career. Start a habit now. You don’t have to join a gym or run a marathon; simply making sure to go for a walk or do a yoga video each day will do wonders for your physical and mental health. Use that time to think about anything else besides the cases you have to read for class that day—taking a break from your work to move your body will actually help you retain and process information better than if you just keep grinding without a break.
  • Get to know your professors. All professors have office hours, but few students take advantage of them. Your professors are not only the experts in the subjects they teach and can help you work through topics that you’re struggling with; they also have a wealth of knowledge about the legal field and the practice of law. They can help you make connections in the legal community, gain writing experience, and write strong letters of recommendation for you if they get to know you. Make a point to get to know your professors outside of class.
  • Have fun. Don’t laugh. There will be times in law school you’d just as soon forget, but there will also be times you remember fondly. Your professor will invent a hysterical hypothetical that you’ll talk about for years. You will have late night study sessions that devolve into eating junk food and commiserating about Pennoyer v. Neff (if you don’t know what that is yet, you will—believe me, you will). The point is, not every moment of law school will be stressful and difficult. Enjoy the moments that are not, and they will make the moments that are that much easier to handle.

As the saying goes, law school is a marathon, not a sprint. Cultivate your relationships with your classmates and professors, and take care of your physical and mental health on a daily basis, and you will not only survive in law school—you’ll thrive.