Things You Should Know About Law School: Success Tips |

Things You Should Know About Law School: Success Tips


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William & Mary was founded in 1780, but the modern law school did not emerge until the latter half of the 19th century. In most law schools in the United States, Canada, and some international schools, the modern curriculum was well established by the turn of the century. There are over 230 law schools in the United States. Over 40,000 new students attend these schools every year, and just under 34,000 graduate. Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law) bachelor's degree is commonly referred to as a J.D. degree. There is stiff competition for law school admissions, and the application process can be costly. Most law schools follow a three-year curriculum that covers the basic foundations of law, although some focus on specific areas of law, such as health care or environmental law. There are only a relatively few law schools that offer a complete online education. Still, law schools-and the bodies that accredit them-are slowly beginning to accept more forms of distance education. Almost 90% of law school graduates become practicing attorneys.

It is hard to succeed in law school. To obtain this legal right of passage, one must work hard and be determined. Knowing more before starting law school will help you succeed from day one.

Is It Hard To Get Into Law School?

Approximately 230 law schools across the United States offer over 40,000 seats for law school applicants each year. There are over 60,000 students applying to these schools every year. An average of six law schools accepts prospective law students. Because law school rankings can play a significant role in how graduate job offers are made, the competition is even more intense for the top law schools. A law school chooses its students based on a combination of past academic experience and life experience. An undergraduate major is also important. In addition to pre-law/political science degrees, there are several other degrees, which lend themselves well to law school preparation. In light of the diversity of law practice, law schools value students with diverse educational and personal backgrounds.

How Does Law School Application Process Work?

There are several factors that go into determining acceptance to law school, including: 
  1. Standardized test scores on the Law School Admission Test (or LSAT). In recent years, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores have also been accepted. LSAT averages are published by every law school. Applicants who fall within (and preferably above) the average are more likely to be accepted.
  2. Undergraduate performance. Your undergraduate institution's reputation and any additional undergraduate GPA or advanced degrees are also taken into consideration by law schools. Although there are many degree programs that make excellent law students, it is also important to demonstrate passion in your undergraduate degree. A passion for a field of study can be demonstrated by extracurricular or work experience.
  3. Letters of recommendation from professors or individuals who can attest to your capacity as a good law student. As lawyers are bound by professional standards, letters of recommendation speak to not only your abilities as a student but also to your moral and ethical character.
  4. A diverse and unique background adds to the applicant's appeal. Due to the broad scope of law practice, law schools seek out students with rich and varied life experiences.

Law school applications cost a lot as well. Standardized tests, application fees to schools (which average $80), and Credential Assembly Service fees (CAS) cost between $400 and $450. Most applicants apply to six schools on average, with additional schools costing between $60 and $100. Most law school applicants spend close to $1000 on their applications. Most applicants also take preparation courses or purchase materials in order to improve their test scores, which is also a considerable expense.

What Is Law School Accreditation And Is It Important?

An attorney must be licensed by the state's agency that regulates legal practice before he or she can practice law. Law students at ABA-recognized law schools are required to graduate from ABA-accredited schools as most states require a law degree from an ABA-accredited school. To be accredited by the American Bar Association, a law school must meet the ABA's requirements. Six states do not require law students to attend an ABA-accredited law school to sit for the bar exam. Applicants must attend law schools that are approved by the licensing agencies in these states. Some jurisdictions require no J.D at all. A legal internship may be substituted for a J.D. in these jurisdictions.

In Law School, What Will I Study?

Traditionally, law school education starts with a first-year curriculum that covers the fundamentals of all law: contracts, torts, civil procedure, property, criminal law, and constitutional law. Additionally, first-year law students normally take a class on research methodology and legal writing. Students focus on core classes such as business administration and the legal process in their second year. Classes like these help students prepare for the legal profession. Students who are interested in specializing in a specific area of law in their third year take courses on health law, environmental law, intellectual property law, international law, labor law, public international law, tax law, corporate law or legal relations.

Generally, law schools teach a general curriculum, but some focus on a specific area of law. The Lewis & Clark College of Law at Northwestern University, for example, is widely regarded as the best law school for students who are interested in Environmental Law. Many law schools offer joint degrees that allow students to obtain their Juris Doctor while also pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), or a healthcare degree such as an MD or a Masters in Public Health (MPH). Combining two degrees takes less time and money than earning them separately. Additionally, they give lawyers the opportunity to concentrate their studies and expand their career opportunities.


Law School Success Tips

DO THE READING: Make sure you read all the reading assigned to you. Keep up with your reading to avoid falling behind. Schedule your reading to take advantage of your alertness. It would be best if you also read in an area where you will not be distracted. If you fail to prepare for class the right way, you will spend far too much time on it.

BRIEF THE CASES: Take notes as you read. Describe the legal significance of facts, the findings of a court, and the reasoning behind a ruling for an assigned case. It is known as "briefing" a case. Case briefs should be brief and to the point.

REVIEW BEFORE EACH CLASS: You should review your reading notes (case briefs) before classes. As a result, you will be better able to understand the class discussion (as well as avoiding any embarrassment that may arise if you are unprepared).

GO TO CLASS: It will be hard to prepare for the final exam if you do not attend class because professors will cover many topics in class that were not discussed in the readings. You will also receive an "FW" if you miss more than 20% of the sessions of a course. If you repeat the course, this will still count as an "F" in your grade point average.

PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS: Some misguided students spend class time shopping online, playing computer games, or checking email. College tuition is expensive. Rather than attending class discussions, would you instead spend tuition money "surfing the web" or playing computer solitaire?

PARTICIPATE IN CLASS: Active participation is the best way for students to learn.

TAKE CLASS NOTES: Do not, however, get so caught up in trying to take down every word your professor says that you are not actively participating in the discussion. Analyze how newly read cases relate to previous ones you have read in class and review your course notes before starting your next reading assignment.

PREPARE AN OUTLINE FOR EACH OF YOUR CLASSES: You should not use outlines prepared by more senior students or commercial outlines instead of making your outline. In preparing a course outline, you need to determine the law applicable to the course's subject matter courses subject matter, as well as the relationships between the rules. The likelihood of you mastering the subject matter is minimal if you do not go through this process. Professors may also approach a subject differently. It is not unusual for professors to teach a course in different ways year after year. A custom outline can only be made for your course if you create it yourself. You will never finish your outlines in time if you wait until the reading period. Some students outline weekly, others once a month. Other students outline after each topic is completed. Choose a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

CONSIDER FORMING A STUDY GROUP: Study groups can be an effective learning tool. Understanding and retaining course material can be improved by talking through the material with classmates. You can also get study tips from your classmates. Form a study group with students who are well-prepared for class and have similar academic goals. Keep group meetings from becoming gossip sessions. In addition, do not use study groups as a means of sharing the workload. Finally, if you find that your study group is not working for you, resign.

REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW: No matter when your final is, consider doing your review during the reading period, even if there is no exam before then. This is not college. There is no point in cramming right before finals. Throughout the semester, make sure you review frequently.

ATTEND REVIEW SESSIONS CONDUCTED BY YOUR PROFESSORS AND/OR THEIR ACADEMIC FELLOWS: Exam review sessions are sometimes held by professors and academic fellows. You can clarify the issues you are confused about without standing in line outside your professor's office. Furthermore, during review sessions, helpful tips regarding how to write your exam answers to earn you the most points are often shared.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FEEDBACK FROM YOUR PROFESSORS: As soon as you are given a practice question and your professor asks that you submit your answer within a set deadline, DO IT! Getting your professor's opinion is a great way to adjust your performance before it is graded.

ATTEND THE WORKSHOPS CONDUCTED BY THE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT CENTER: Workshop topics include outlining, time management, and preparing for and writing preparing for and writing law school exams-skills essential for a law student's success.

TAKE PRACTICE EXAMS: Several times. Preferably exams previously administered by your professor. It will help you figure out how they draft exams. Law professors prepare a variety of prior exams. If possible, choose a prior exam for which a sample answer is available. Your performance can be evaluated by comparing your answer to the sample. You may ask your professor to review your answer if there is no sample on record. Asking your professor to review your answer should not be left until just before finals. It is more likely that your professor will have time to review your response if you ask early.

CREATE A STUDY PLAN: Many students complain about not having enough time to prepare for practice exams and brief cases. But they are wrong! When you plan your time in advance, you will have enough time to meet all of the demands of law school and still have time to enjoy some outside activities.

DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO PREPARE YOUR LRW PAPERS: Remember, this is not an undergraduate school. There is no point in hurriedly assembling a paper the night before you have to submit it and expecting a passing grade (or at least a good one). LRW assignments require a lot of editing and time, so begin working on them as soon as possible.

REVIEW YOUR EXAMS: Talk to your professors about your tests after grades have been released. Assessing your performance in your first year of college is the most effective way to evaluate your progress.

MINIMIZE YOUR STRESS: Even though law school can be stressful, there are several steps you can take to reduce stress. A great stress reliever is humor. Carrying 100 pounds of law books every day does not count as exercise. Eat fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain foods regularly-a diet Coke and a package of Ding-Dongs are not balanced breakfast. Drink lots of water instead of too much caffeine. Make sure you sleep for seven hours each night. Make time for social and leisure activities. Getting a law degree doesn't mean giving up everything you liked doing before; all you will have to do is do them less often.

DO NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN THE COMPETITION ASPECT OF LAW SCHOOL: Let's face it. There is only one student who can finish at the top of the class. Instead of setting Numero Uno as your goal, strive to do your best. Show your classmates respect and support. You and your classmates will enjoy law school more if this happens.

GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT: There is a tendency for students to be confused about the substantive law covered in their classes, how to prepare for class, how to study for exams, how to manage their time, or how to take law school exams. Especially during the first year of law school, it is rare for a student not to have questions about these subjects from time to time. Several resources are available for those who have questions.

For more observations about the top law schools, see the following article: Top Law Schools Analyzed and Ranked By America’s Top Legal Recruiter Harrison Barnes

What Kind of Job Can I Get After Graduation?

Around 90% of law school graduates become practicing attorneys, and most graduates find a job within 10 months of graduation. Despite this, the practice of law is prominently diverse and the types of jobs and salaries vary greatly.

Private sector jobs and public sector jobs generally exist. Working in a law firm or in-house for a corporation are both included in the private sector. Most jobs in the private sector pay more, leading to increased competition. From the data, it appears that most graduates who accepted jobs in the private sector were paid a median annual salary between $60,000 and $85,000. A small percentage of those with salaries over $150,000 earned over $85,000. 

Jobs in the public sector pay less than those in the private sector. Work as a prosecutor, a public defender, a district attorney, a legal clerk, or in a non-profit advocacy center are certain examples. Starting salaries in the public sector are typically less than $60,000. If a law school graduate accepts a job in the public sector, there are frequently student loan forgiveness programs that can help them clear their debt.

In addition, the starting salary for a licensed attorney tends to increase rapidly with experience. Attorney salaries in 2019 topped $120,000 on average. In addition, a large proportion of law school graduates pursue careers outside of law but take advantage of their legal education in other ways. There are a number of career options for graduates of law schools, including law enforcement, finance, child welfare, and numerous other areas.

Depending on your interests and the kind of work you hope to do, certain areas of law may appeal more to you.
  1. Bankruptcy Lawyers
  2. Business Lawyers (Corporate Lawyers)
  3. Constitutional Lawyers
  4. Criminal Defense Lawyers
  5. Employment and Labor Lawyers
  6. Entertainment Lawyers
  7. Estate Planning Lawyers
  8. Family Lawyers
  9. Immigration Lawyers
  10. Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyers
  11. Personal Injury Lawyers
  12. Medical Malpractice Lawyers
  13. Tax Lawyers
  14. Civil Rights Lawyers
  15. Sports Lawyers
See Also: Do I Need to Submit my Transcript When Applying for Jobs Years After Law School?


It is normal to have ups and downs when studying law at university. As long as you are motivated to work reasonable hours and are interested in the subject, there are definitely more positives, which makes it a great subject for three (or four) years. At the end of the day, you cannot anticipate everything about law school ahead of time. A fresh start should be achieved with an open mind, open eyes, and an open heart.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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