Law school is unlike any other post-graduate experience due to the unique amount of reading involved. It takes time to adjust to the sheer quantity of assigned pages; however, these readings are not only lengthy but they'll also challenge you to thoroughly ascertain the correct legal conclusions based on the material. Nearly all of the assigned reading consists of condensed versions of actual cases in textbooks produced and edited for a particular course, such as criminal law or property.
As a first-year law student, covering 50 pages per night for each of your classes will be time consuming as is. On top of that, you will be expected to understand complex legal principles by spotting the issues presented by a case's facts and then determining how and why the judge applied a particular law to those facts. This is a task that even the best students find a bit challenging at first.
A question I am asked often by incoming first-year law students is whether it is okay to work part-time during the school year. This is an understandable question as the costs of a legal education can be daunting. Additionally, many people enter law school having worked in a job that will be relevant to their future careers, so they hope to continue working there. However, it is best not to work during your first year in law school if possible.
Being a lawyer is a profession in which people entrust their property (and even their lives) to you. You want to be more than competent--you want to excel. Working during your first year of law school detracts from your ability to become an expert issue-spotter and a master at applying the law to your future clients' cases.
Although some students are able to manage a healthy balance between law school and work, the odds are against you and you would be taking a huge risk with your future career. While working part-time, you are likely to fall behind in your readings and will no doubt rely on hornbooks, commercial outlines, and other study aids; these materials will help you get by, but they will not teach you how to become a truly great lawyer.
You only have one shot at law school and it's a huge investment. Do it right: read the casebooks and develop a mastery of the law. Wait to resume (or begin) working until your 2L year, or only work during summers if your finances allow.
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