nicole72994: I just graduated law school in May. Currently, I’m studying for two bar exams.
First, 1L year was the worst. Beyond being difficult work wise, it was difficult adjustment wise. Professors don’t want to be a friend in law school, unlike in undergrad. Get an A? Great. Get a D? Okay. The responsibility falls onto the student to seek out the professor to ask questions, get advice, or study tips. My 1L year, I only had one midterm (worth 10%) in one class and all of my finals, besides the one I had the midterm in, were worth 100% of my grade. I began studying for my exams between 4-5 weeks out and the exams themselves are 4 hour timed exams. It’s an absolute brain dump of a test. Most people take a day off between studying for exams, but some people can’t because of the exam schedule, which you don’t get to choose yourself. There were times that i was at school from 7 AM to midnight during finals.
1L summer is difficult in another way. Most people, unless they’re on law review (top 10% of the class), do public interest jobs which don’t pay. That’s 10 weeks over the summer of full time work without a pay check. Some people take up second jobs as servers or bartenders to make rent. Most 1L’s won’t get job offers from their 1L summer jobs, it’s just used for networking.
2L year was the busiest. Now that professors know that students can handle the work, they give more of it. On top of more work, some will choose to work during the semester (but under 20 hours under ABA rules), clerk, or work in a clinic. Most clubs at my school allow 2Ls to be on the executive boards, so add that to the mix. Also, 2L year is when most students take the MPRE, which is the legal ethics exam. Each state has a particular passing score, which determines whether the person can be an attorney in that state. Even if they pass the bar exam, but don’t pass the MPRE, they can’t practice. I studied for the MPRE for two weeks before the exam took place and fortunately passed my first time. I have friends who still haven’t passed and have taken it multiple times.
The 2L summer is when most people get a paying job. I received only $5000 for ten weeks, which after taxes was closer to $750 a pay period. This is also the time that most associates are busting their asses to get an offer at the end of the summer. If you’re in big law, and don’t get an offer, it’s essentially a death kiss onto your resume becuase other firms will see that you didn’t get an offer and will ask why.
Both 1L and 2L summers people accept jobs at places that they might not be interested in because it’s a job. Nobody is picky during this time because law studnets have to have two jobs on their resume in order to find a job after graduation.
3L year is the most intense because at this point it’s a countdown until the year is over. I clerked with a judge during the first semester, which meant traveling 30 minutes, paying for parking/the train, working for a few hours a few times a week, then going back to school to attend class. I worked in the law school’s clinic the second semester which was a 6 credit class meaning I’d be putting 20 hours a week into the clinic at a minimum. I easily put in closer to 40 hours a week during the last few weeks. Before graduating, we have to apply to whatever state to take their bar exam, which involves a really exhaustive application process- think listing all of your jobs for the past ten years or since you were 18, listing every address you’ve ever lived at, getting finger prints taken, getting recommendations (and those recommendtors have to recommend others to recommend you), paying for the exams which is easily close to $1200, and on top of that paying for a commercial bar prep program to help prepare for the bar. My program cost $3200.
During bar prep (which I’m going through right now), don’t expect him to come home in a good mood or even until late at night. I’m at school from 8:30 AM to around 6:30 PM with my phone and internet turned off (unless I’m taking a break). The entire day is spent reading, highlighting, completing practice questions, getting most of them wrong, writing essays, getting low grades on the essays, and then panicking because it feels impossible to remember evertyhing the exam wants you to remember.
Oh, and on top of that, I’m signing a lease for a new apartment and moving in after the bar, so I’m also in the beginning stages of the packing process.
My boyfriend and I have been dating since my 1L and his 3L years (so for two years). He went to law school and has gone through everything I’m going through now and understands that when I’m acting like a huge asshole that it’s not personal and it’s just bargression. We’re planning on getting engaged after I take the bar because that’s how much focus needs to go into this test.
If I sound rude or really pessimisstic, I’m just being honest. In my opinion, a lot of couples who have one person go into law school usually don’t last past the first year because it’s such a selfish mistress. It’s incredibly demanding, way more demanding than undergrad or a master’s degree, and unless they’ve gone through it, or they’re in medical school and understand the pressure, it can lead to a lot of hurt feelings or feelings of neglect.
I understand that you really want to be engaged, but I highly suggest waiting until after he takes the bar exam. There’s really no other time that he can take off because the ABA has some pretty strict attendance rules and if more than that amount is missed, it’s usually an automatic failure for the class. Don’t jepordize his law school career because you feel antsy, it’s not worth it.