Law school is hard. Being a lawyer is harder. But that difficulties and responsibilities come with entering the legal profession is not something to bemoan or a cause to run away. Nor should the difficulty of legal education and practice be sought purely as a means to financial rewards, especially since these rewards are becoming all the more elusive in today’s world. It is an opportunity for intellectual development and experience, all lifetime benefits to embrace.
The difficulty starts from the moment we study for the LSAT. In our first years, we are tasked with reading and processing and cogently articulating concepts gleaned (or pulled like teeth) from ancient cases about barrels falling out of windows, churches burning down, and smoke balls that supposedly cured every minor ailment under the sun. Come second year, we may find ourselves toiling in the law review cite-check room as staffers or coming out of our shells as we practice oral argument for Appellate Writing & Advocacy, along with even more copious amounts of reading, this time on topics like criminal process, agency and corporate law, taxation, postmortem property transfers, and intellectual property. Then you will get the taste of working as an attorney, whether in a summer associate position at a large firm or clerking for a mid-size or smaller firm, in which your legal studies for the first time become “real.” When third year arrives, you will have the chance to take workshops on pretrial practice and contract drafting among others, and (you guessed it) more reading. In sum, as Justice Stephen Breyer was right to tell his children, “[I]f you do your homework really well, . . . you can do homework the rest of your life!”
Once you begin practicing in the real world, you will have even more difficult homework, and the stakes are even higher.