Are you about to start law school? Congratulations . . . You have probably heard at least a few horror stories about the stress, the dropout rate, the prevalence of depression, the high student loans, the competition, the high rates of substance use, and how law school is either like military boot camp, the Hunger Games, or the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog. Challenges shape us, and law school is a life changing experience. Needless to say, it is best to have some helpful strategies at the ready, even before it seems they are necessary.
Like many unique stressors in life, they often start with a common experience (e.g., test anxiety) which is then amplified by aggravating factors (e.g., the increased pressure put upon law school success). The result is a new stressor that we are often ill-equipped to manage given our previous coping skills. So, what is a law student to do?
It’s helpful to think about stress and your relationship to stress differently.
Understand how stress on law students is different. Familiarize yourself with the common questions/issues and barriers that law students face. Find out what resources are available and when you (or a friend) might need them.
Learn and practice specific strategies to help you:
- Get control of how you respond to stress,
- Gain the upper hand on stress,
- Increase your confidence,
- Prepare for the unexpected, and
- Learn to set boundaries.
Law school is the foundation of your legal career. The healthy coping skills you develop now will serve you for the rest of your career in the inherently stressful legal profession. So, don’t put it off. Take care of yourself today, and for the rest of your professional life.
Massachusetts law students (and lawyers) can schedule a Free & Confidential appointment with one of our clinicians about anything that’s on your mind. Find more on scheduling here.
Shawn Healy, PhD