Let's face it. Law school is not known to be a nurturing environment. Over 30 years later, the 1970s novel-based TV series, The Paper Chase, in many ways still reflects the reality of the law school experience. Law school tends to be a competitive, no-nonsense environment. Grades, class rank, and law review status still determine a student's post-law school job prospects.
Students are inclined to be singularly focused on their own performance and outshining their classmates. Professors, particularly those who teach first year students, tend to have a masochistic inclination toward embarrassing and instilling fear in students. Given this uniquely stressful and isolating environment, where does a student find support when grades go awry and the overall experience becomes overwhelming?
Study Groups. While many law students are competitive, it is possible to bond with other students and be supportive of each other. This is likely to occur among students with some sort of common interest. A good place to start is with a study group. Students who form a study group naturally support each other's success. While a study group is not the place to spend a significant amount of time discussing individual angst about grades and other personal issues, it is a place to get and share ideas about how to maximize success in class and on exams. Similarly, students who are part of special interest organizations often create bonds that encourage support among members. These types of groups range from area of law specific groups such as an intellectual property or criminal law group, or a women's law society, or a group based on ethnicity or sexual orientation. Such groups also often organize seminars on how to handle stress in law school.
Counseling Services. Another source of support is counseling services offered by the law school or the university. A school's services department typically employs professionals experienced in helping students deal with issues associated with academic performance, job search, and campus social issues. These confidential services can be vital in helping students get through rough patches and ultimately succeeding in law school.
Tutor. If your problem is academic, working with a tutor will help you learn how to better manage the law school workload. Since a primary source of law school stress is grade-related, if you feel lost in class or performed poorly on exams, get help from a resource experienced in helping students understand how to organize themselves and properly prepare for law school success. Once students learn these law school fundamentals, they often find that their anxiety level goes down and their grades go up.
Family and Friends. Family and friends who are not in law school can also provide much needed support. While those who have never experienced law school or a similarly grueling experience may not be able to fully identify with your situation, sometimes talking with an outsider who has a sympathetic ear is all you need.
While you may not be able to turn to the student in the assigned seat next to you in your contracts class, there are other resources available to help guide you through law school. Do not wait!
This article was written by FindMyLawTutor.
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