Welcome to Law School: A 3-Step Survival Guide

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.

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Is This Depression or Just Feeling Down?

We all feel fluctuations in our moods (from elation to deep sadness). Some people feel this range of emotions to a lesser degree (find it hard to feel intense emotions) while others feel it to a greater degree (find it hard not to feel intense emotions). A common question we get is, “How can you tell the difference between a low mood and something more serious like depression?”.

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The Diplomatic Way to Say “No”

In the life of a new associate at a medium or large law firm, it is not uncommon to sacrifice time with friends and family in favor of working long hours each day, working into the evening or on weekends at times when looming deadlines approach, and work with multiple superiors (partners and senior associates). In addition to the challenge of learning new aspects of the law, managing your time to complete the volume of work assigned to you, and trying to maintain your personal life in some fashion, the challenge of saying “no” becomes one of the most common sources of stress among new associates.

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Depression in law school – Imposters and Socrates

The stats are alarming which indicate that before entering law school a student is just as likely to have experienced depression as any other adult in the general population (which is about 7%). After one year of law school, 32% of law students experience depression. It keeps rising to 40% by the end of the third year. So what is it about law school, and in particular the first year of law school that is so stressful to law students? While there are many sources of stress in the first year of law school, two particular stressors stick out as significant for many students: the Imposter Syndrome and the Socratic Method.

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Watch Out For Narcs

I’m not the first to post this caution, which is found on a number of addiction oriented sites, but if you are new to looking for help for addictions, your web searches may lead you to something called “Narconon,” which is both a program and now a facility in Florida (land of a thousand rehabs).

 

It sounds a lot like Nar-Anon, doesn’t it, and also like Narcotics Anonymous.  (NA is like AA for drugs; Nar-Anon, with no “c,” is for significant others of drug addicts.)   But it’s neither of those.

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