Advice: Think of law school like a full-time job

Photo by Ashley Golledge

Law school can seem overwhelming when balancing reading, homework and exams. Time is an incredibly valuable resource in law school and finding a balance between school, sleep and a social life can be difficult. The good news is, it is possible to find a balance between all of those things and find eternal happiness… or whatever the law school equivalent of that is. Being able to manage your time effectively will make your experience significantly better. For me, that entails treating law school like a 9 to 5 job.

1L James Schmidt is pictured on the Speaker’s Balcony in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of James Schmidt.

Because I worked full-time in Washington, D.C. before coming to law school, I was able to learn a lot about time management. As a Senate legislative staffer, I was often working on multiple projects at once and at a certain point prioritization of projects became necessary. Being able to pick between what you absolutely need to do versus what you would like to do is crucial to maximizing your time. For me, I’m able to maximize my time best when I’m at Green Hall because I treat my time there like it’s my job. From 9 to 5 (or until my work for the day is done), I’m either in class or trying to prepare for another class (or taking a long lunch). That way, when I go home at the end of the day, all of my work is done. Procrastination in law school can lead to a stressful experience. In undergrad, putting off your work until the day before is generally a conundrum you can work yourself out of. In law school, getting your work done in advance can greatly relieve your day to day stress, and frankly is essential to getting your work done on time.

Also important, having enough time to sleep and enjoy what free time you have. There will be times in law school where you have two assignments due at the same time, while also still having to prepare for class. It is easy to get overwhelmed in these scenarios, and for me, sometimes I find it necessary to forgo preparing for a cold call in class in favor of finishing my assignments and getting eight hours of sleep. This is why I find treating law school like a 9 to 5 important to my success. I know that after I go home for the day, I have the rest of the day to do whatever I want. Although 1L year will be stressful, finding that time to relax and watch a movie or go bowling with friends can prove more beneficial to your success than staying up until 2 a.m. studying.

While living in D.C., James Schmidt played on a recreational office softball league. Photo courtesy of James Schmidt.

As you begin preparing for your first year of law school, think about how you manage your time currently and how you can transition to applying that at law school. Effective time management can change your law school experience from stressful… to still stressful, but significantly less stressful and being less stressful will lead to a better overall law school experience.

— By James Schmidt, a 1L from Houston, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador