TIPS: Law school is uncomfortable

Below is one of KALA MUELLER's tips for first-year law students and those planning to enter law school. For more, please read "Advice from the Trenches for Incoming 1Ls: On the Rigors of Law School" by KALA MUELLER; This was published on July 31, 2018.

Law school is hard for pretty much everyone and no one knows what they're doing in the first year, even if it doesn't always appear that way. A common response I received was some variation of, “I really didn’t expect to struggle as much as I did with the material and the testing.” This tends to be uncharted territory for new law students, most of whom have always excelled in school, and it was unsettling for many of the rising 2Ls I heard from, including Madison Huber:

In law school, you’re thrown into the deep end of the pool without a floatation device. It will be uncomfortable. The panic will set in. You will feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, and that’s because you don’t. Realize that is how you’re supposed to feel and embrace it.
Hilary Sayre likened the transformation that occurs in the first year of law school to the growing pains she experienced as a child.

The process of learning how to read a case, spot issues, grasp complex and abstract principles, and write effectively about those principles hurts. Your brain will ache as you learn how to handle the workload and the density of the material. But, when you look back you will see […] that you are transforming into an intelligent, dauntless, and formidable attorney. Take each day in stride, humbly accept each setback and triumph, ask for help when you need it, and don’t forget to mark your progress on the wall so you can see how much you grow.

The biggest lesson Ashley Hatfield learned in the first semester of 1L year was to stop comparing herself to those around her.

I remember feeling like I wasn’t doing law school right because I wouldn’t stay up until 11 p.m. studying, I wouldn’t lock myself in the library after class got out, and I didn’t have 17 highlighters and a coordinating sticky note system for reading cases. I remember questioning whether law school was the right choice for me because everyone seemed to be swimming while I was struggling to keep my head above water. I soon learned that my classmates and I were in the same boat, and I began to focus on myself. I decided to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and began to use the strategies that worked for me and let [other] people use what worked for them. Knowing that everyone was just as lost as I was really helped to calm my fear of failure. Know your truth, know yourself, and don’t give up!