2.078th Post



Law school is stressful, and that’s by design: the rigors of earning your law degree are similar to the rigors you’ll endure as a budding legal professional, where only the strong survive. And although law school can be difficult, that doesn’t mean you have to become insane on the way to graduation. There are several ways to cope, prevent stress, and stop the insanity before it starts. We’ve outlined 25 tips that can help you stay sane and happy, and even live like a normal person now and then.

  1. Keep your goals achievable

    It’s great to set big dreams and work toward making them a reality, but be careful not to overdo it. Think about how you’re going to get there, and set achievable goals that you know you can reach along the way. Checking off goals that are realistic for you to achieve can really build your self confidence, and give you momentum to keep going for the big stuff.

  2. Give your mind a break after lectures

    After going through lectures and briefing, your mind needs a break. Although it’s tempting to go straight to the books, spending a little time vegging out is important to your mental health and energy. For an hour after your lectures are over, just take some time to do something else, like playing with your pets or watching TV. Anything that can temporarily get your mind off of law school and let you be yourself for a while.

  3. Practice time management

    It’s tempting to just jump in and do all you can without thinking about how it’s actually going to get done, but by budgeting your time, you can accomplish more and have less anxiety about it all. Manage your time by reviewing your weekly goals and tasks, then organize your time into daily task lists. You may not meet your goals perfectly every week, but by managing your time, you will likely get closer to perfect and have less worry about how it’s all going to get done.

  4. Eat a balanced diet

    Junk food is convenient and easy to mindlessly shove down your throat while you’re trying to focus on studying, but it’s terrible for your energy and health. Take the time to eat food that’s actually good for you, because junk food will catch up with you eventually. Healthy food including fruits and vegetables can be made accessible, and they will help keep your mind going when you need it the most.

  5. Spring clean your life

    Before you begin law school, tame all of the issues that might pop up as a distraction to your studies. Visit the dentist, organize your house, and take care of any nagging issues that can mess with your time management. Do whatever you can to automate your life, including paying bills, so that you can focus on what’s absolutely necessary. If you didn’t get a chance to do this before school started, be sure to take care of it during breaks.

  1. Figure out your financial situation

    Law school is scary on its own without the worry of financial ruin, but if you don’t have a clear picture of how you’re going to handle the six-figure student loans that come along with your law degree, you just might lose your mind while you’re working to get your degree in the first place. Have a plan for the investment and how you’re going to take care of your living expenses while you’re in school. It’s also wise to work hard to find scholarships so that you don’t have to bear the full weight of law school on your own.

  2. Use The Buzzer

    If you just can’t get anything done, avoid distractions, or focus, using The Buzzer method for law school can be incredibly helpful. With this method, you’ll set a timer for 45 minutes, work straight through without any interruptions, not even bathroom breaks, and then take a break and repeat. You may not get anything done, but chances are that at some point in the 45 minutes, you’ll get bored and want to start doing some sort of productive work. If this method works for you, it can help save your sanity and make you get things done so you can move on and do things that don’t revolve around law school.

  3. Hug a puppy

    Get some perspective and release endorphins by taking a minute to hug a puppy when you’re at your most stressed. At George Mason University School of Law, 15 homeless puppies were enlisted in the fight against exam stress, and made students feel like they could “get to be human again.” The Yale Law Library has added a therapy dog, Monty, as well, and theWashington Post reports that he helps to break the pressure on campus.

  4. Think about the exam on the first day of class

    The Girl’s Guide to Law School shares a secret: what’s tested in law school isn’t necessarily what’s taught in law school. It sounds weird, but it’s true. So that means you’ll need to consider what you really need to know from the very beginning, and save your energy by simply working on that. Shoot for a flexible understanding of the law, or, as The Girls’ Guide to Law Schoolsays, “figure out what’s set in stone, and what’s malleable.”

  5. Have an outlet

    When law school is consuming your life, it’s easy to forget that you’re a real person with interests other than legal briefings. But you actually are a real person with needs, and an outlet is a great way to meet them. Do something fun for yourself, like going to the gym on a regular basis, or taking the time to go to the movies on occasion. It’s essential that you indulge yourself from time to time so that you don’t burn out.

  1. Recognize and minimize procrastination

    If you’re feeling stuck and lonely during long nights of studying, it might feel like a good idea to log on to Facebook and spend a few hours connecting with your friends and family that you never seem to have time for anymore. But the more time you spend putting off studying, the less time you have to actually participate in real life. Buckle down when it’s time to do the work, and enjoy the fruits of your labor when it’s appropriate.

  2. Avoid coping through chemistry

    Drugs, alcohol, and overloading on caffeine can make a small stress problem even bigger. Don’t be a “drunken lawyer” and give the Bar a reason to refuse your application. Learn to cope through healthy outlets, and use, but don’t abuse, alcohol as an occasional way to relieve stress.

  3. Don’t be afraid to rely on the study skills you already know

    Plenty of people will tell you that law must be studied in a way that’s radically different from anything else, and you have to do things completely different from the methods you’re used to. But Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy does not agree, remarking that if it works for you, you can certainly study the same way you got through your work as an undergrad or graduate student. You may need to make minor modifications, but it’s certainly possible to go with what you know and avoid the stressful process of learning a brand new way to learn.

  4. Break large projects down into small tasks

    Make humongous efforts feel like less work by taking them one small step at a time. Identify tasks within large projects, breaking things into subtopics and assigning smaller time blocks so that you can focus on manageable pieces. This will help you keep things organized, and give you motivation to keep going as you accomplish small goals along the way.

  5. Don’t be a perfectionist

    Law school naturally attracts highly driven students who are bent on doing everything perfectly, but life is much easier if you accept that some things don’t have to be perfect. Many schools have a B- curve, and some professors simply don’t ever give As. Recognize that a good grade isn’t always an A plus, and that you don’t have to be in the top 10% of your class to become a good lawyer.

  1. Don’t get sick

    Law school can make for close quarters and a perfect environment for picking up germs that can knock you down and make studying even harder. Stay well and on the top of your game by putting up a good defense: maintain a regular sleep schedule, a healthy diet, and practice good hygiene and hand-washing techniques.

  2. Focus on what you really need to know

    As Listless Lawyer notes, 95% of what you want to achieve in law school will be based on your grades, which come from your exams. And while you’ll spend lots of class time looking over the minutia of cases, chances are, that same minutia isn’t going to show up in the relatively short exam. Focus on the “holding” that summarizes the rule that the case stands for, and anything else you may retain is gravy on top.

  3. Avoid taking on too much

    MSU Law recommends that you simply focus on the stress of law school without adding to it unnecessarily. Getting in over your head and overextending yourself with too many society and association groups can seriously bog down an already busy workload. Consider which opportunities offer the most value to you, and focus on doing well with them. And of course, know yourself and what you can reasonably handle.

  4. Put everything where it belongs

    Emily Rushing, law librarian, recommends that law students keep their lives neatly filed. Keep emails, notes, projects, and anything else you might collect in the right place. By putting information where it belongs, you can easily retrieve it when necessary. As she points out, being smart is often more of a question of whether you can find information, rather than how much you can absorb or retain.

  5. Take short breaks when you’re feeling the pressure

    It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed in law school, and it’s also understandable for students to want to push through and work as hard as possible. It’s important to be human, and take short breaks before your stress and anxiety turns into full-blown panic and a situation in which you just can’t get anything done. Take short breaks, do mindful breathing, and allow information to sink in while you rest.

  1. Treat law school like a job

    If you let law school become your life, you truly will go insane. Set limits much like you would with a job. Plan to work on law school studies during certain hours, and then actually put in the time, but when it’s over, you really do have to put the books down and stop studying. If possible, study away from home, and when you get home, leave your books in the bag.

  2. Remember that it’s only temporary

    If you’re a first-year law student, it’s easy to feel the strain and feel that the reality you’re in will continue for years two and three as well. But UCLA law students Sylvie Levine and David Burke point out that things get more relaxed as you go. The second year becomes a little more relaxed than the first, particularly with fewer classes to attend. The third year is the most relaxed, as most students have already secured jobs, and with their eyes on the prize, are just hoping to get things done without screwing up enough to lose their jobs. All of this is to say that law school is a downhill battle, one that may be tough in the beginning, but gets easier as you go.

  3. Maintain relationships in law school

    As law school wears on, it’s easy to crawl into your own hole and buckle down with work, but maintaining relationships with your classmates and professors is important. Use the people you know in school for both positive reinforcement and references. You should also continue to build your network, as you’ll certainly find opportunities to call on them during your job search and career as a lawyer.

  4. Know your deadlines

    Always know when your assignments are due. This is a simple task that will save you time and allow you to better juggle your schedule. Whether they are papers, projects, or assignments as a summer associate, always find out the date and time an assignment is due, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you need it.

  5. Have friends outside of law school

    Although law school relationships are important, you should also make a point to maintain your friendships outside of law school as well. While you’re freaking out about exams, your law school friends can’t really help you: they’re dealing with the same issues. But people in the real world can bring you out of your dark hole when your law school friends fail to do so.


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