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Alleviating Common Fears Associated During Your First Year of Law School

When you receive your first acceptance letter to law school your heart flutters with excitement.  You cannot wait to share the exciting news with friends, family and loved ones. As the first day of law school draws near, your heart begins to have that same fluttering feeling, however this time, it feels a little bit different.  This time, the flutter represents nerves, anxiety, and a general sense of uneasiness, as you are unsure of what the first day of school will bring.  Unsettled thoughts begin polluting your mind, in no particular order: Will you fail out? How will you handle the large amounts of reading material? What will your professors be like?

If you let this self-doubt get the best of you, you may even question whether you made the right choice by going to law school at all.  Rest assured, we have all been there.  Below, is a step-by-step guide on how to combat these feelings.  The first step is acknowledging that:

The way you feel is NORMAL

Hard to believe right?  You are not the only one who feels like the large amount of reading material is daunting.  Law schools around the country fill their classes with students who come from all walks of life.  Your class represents people from different socio-economic backgrounds, students fresh out of college, or oppositely, professionals who have had full careers and are looking to make the switch into the legal field.  Everyone is starting from scratch. So, you must remember to:

Take things in stride!

Do the best you can.  If you do not come from a professional legal background, or if you do not have friends or family members who are attorneys, it is OK.  You must remember that your class is made up of students from various backgrounds, with a variety of skill sets.  There is no pre-requisite that you are able to effortlessly read a Supreme Court case or be able to regurgitate case holdings in class with ease.  Reading a case is a skill.  Like any skill, it takes time to develop.  As the old saying goes, "practice makes perfect".  The more you read, the more efficient you will become.  You will learn what to look for while you are reading and you will become familiar with important case analysis portions to extract from the case.  If you are still having difficulty, meet with the Academic Development faculty at your school, or seek out study aides. When using study aides, please remember they are supplements. DO NOT use these as a REPLACEMENT for reading cases. 

Next, please remember that:

It WILL get easier

Trust and believe, that things will get easier in your second year and third year of law school.  You will not be limited or required to have such a stringent course schedule filled with required courses.  Alternatively, you have the choice to begin adding elective courses to your class schedule.  This gives you the opportunity to explore new areas of law, or oppositely, give you the opportunity to begin taking courses in your pre-determined area of legal focus.  This will be FUN!

And finally…

You CAN DO IT!

Remember, you were admitted into law school for a reason.  Amongst a large pool of applicants, the law school admissions officers read through your materials, and evaluated your application in totality, and selected YOU to be a part of their law school class.  You possess something unique, you are intellectually capable of handling this challenge, and please remember, that if you did not possess these qualities, you would not have been selected.

You are embarking on an incredible and prestigious educational journey and profession.  Please remember to enjoy every minute of the journey.  It truly is an unforgettable one.

This post has been brought to you by the Ms. JD Journalists. If you have suggestions for any topics that you think should be covered on Ms. JD, feel free to email your suggestions to contentdirector@ms-jd.org and the Ms. JD Journalists will get right on it.

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