I received a comment that asked me to expand a little bit more on this concept of “work ethic” in law school. Although my use of the phrase in my previous post was slightly sarcastic, work ethic is actually extremely important. In saying that, however, I would like to add the disclaimer that work ethic really varies from person to person. I don’t think anyone makes it to law school with bad work ethic, but work ethic is really more about what works best for you.
Law school is tough. There’s no way to sugar coat it, but it’s completely doable once you know what you’re capable of and what you need to do to get through. To be completely honest that’s something you just can’t figure out until you’re thrown into it.
For me personally, I spend a few hours everyday just reading. I don’t take notes, unless a subject is particularly tough for me. I then take notes in class and later combine my notes with past years notes. I know that I retain information best when I write by hand, so I combine all the notes by hand and then type it all up closer to my exam. Most exams are open book but you don’t want to be relying on your notes too much because they don’t give you time to do much more than think and write.
Assignments and research for papers take up more time and the month before exams I spend pretty much all day in the library. As well, in upper years you get the chance to pick your own classes. While you will inevitably have at least a couple exam classes and a couple paper classes, once you know what you’re good at, you can schedule mostly paper classes if you excel at writing papers, or you can take mostly exam classes if you never want to write a paper again in your life.
As for extracurricular activities, there is definitely time for it but it then comes down to your time management skills. Aside from writing for this blog at my leisure I am also Co-President of the South Asian Law Student Association, I edit articles for the UBC Legal Eye, and fingers crossed I will hopefully be also working on a research project (I have an interview for the position next week!). In first year I volunteered for the Law Student Legal Advice Program and maintained my volunteer commitment with BC’s Children’s Hospital. I also still find time to see my friends on the weekends (take at least one night off!) and work out a couple times a week, even if it’s just a 20 minute run or a couple rounds of Dance Central (an AMAZING game).
Life doesn’t have to end once you start law school, but you do need to know where to cut back and how to balance the two worlds. Make sure that you pick extra curricular activities that you enjoy, that way even if your life feels go, go, go you’re still enjoying what you’re doing. If you don’t, it can all get really old, really fast.