Law school is a mentally exhausting three (or four) year endeavor. Even the most dedicated aspiring lawyer can suffer from law school burnout. Many hit such a wall after a law school related setback like a bad grade, when a personal life event affects your law school focus, or at the beginning of any given semester. Whether it is fueled by fatigue, frustration, or just plain apathy, don’t let a momentary state of mind break your will to fight through the hard patch and re-engage. Here are five low-impact ways to motivate you to get back in the law school game so you can stay on track and accomplish your law school goals.
1. Listen to Law-Related Podcasts
Law-related podcasts that inspire, motivate, or stimulate you can help reignite whatever flame sent you to law school in the first place. Whether it is the story of the impact of a practicing attorney or the discussion of an intellectually challenging question before the Supreme Court, podcasts can be a great passive way to work you back into the law school struggle. Passive approaches to learning may not be the best, but just listening to a podcast is simple enough and requires very little law-school type effort from the listener. If you don’t know where to start, read Alexa Galloway’s post Top Podcasts for Law Students for some vetted legal listening. For a podcast dedicated to your law school success, check out the Law School Toolbox Podcast!
2. Read Around the Law
If you don’t think you could trudge through another assigned case if your semester’s grade depended on it, try reading something else. Keep it related to law, but give yourself a break from assigned reading. Find something that doesn’t seem like work to you—read a biography of a lawyer or jurist you find fascinating, read a survey of an area of law you enjoy, read a work of legal history, or even read a true crime book. If you are in law school, at some point you very likely enjoyed reading. By tapping into that joy of reading that law school can sometimes squelch, hopefully you can jumpstart your desire to apply your reading prowess to your legal studies!
3. Issue-Spot the News
If you are a news junky, try issue-spotting the news. In any given set of top headlines, the law is usually lurking somewhere. Even if a news story is not about the law, many news events will reference a particular lawsuit, a statute, a crime, or something law-related. Try to dig into the passing reference to the law and use the tools you are developing in law school to explore. Try to find the case or pleadings, try to pull the statute, or try to identify the cause of action or crime. Once you dig in, it will surprise you how much you know about the law and sometimes how little the professional journalist seems to know about the law that underlies their story. Flexing your legal-knowledge muscles in a non-graded activity can be liberating and help you to appreciate how much you actually have learned. For some places you will be sure to find some law-related content, check out the post Read to Succeed: Learn the Language of the Law.
4. Volunteer Around the Law
For those that are just itching to get involved and make a difference, you don’t have to wait until you graduate to jump in. Try to find volunteer opportunities that let you get involved in the legal community you are interested in. For these purposes, take a break from stressing about formal internships or resume-building. Just look for a chance to volunteer to help at a law-related event or in a law-related organization. Maybe work the intake table at a local immigration information workshop or help sort the file room at a legal services clinic. You may not be applying your legal skills just yet, but getting involved will inspire you to keep pushing toward your ultimate goals.
5. Keep Writing
If the high-pressure, highly technical legal writing of law school has you frustrated, try to find another reason to keep writing. For many that fancy themselves good writers, the Bluebook can suck the joy out of the endeavor and leave them thinking law school may not be what they were hoping for. Try to find ways to keep writing if that is something that brought you to law school. You will master the Bluebook soon enough and then you will begin to enjoy the writing part again, but until then, find ways to keep writing. Writing about the law in any capacity—whether it is a blog post on a current legal issue in the news or a short story that incorporates some of your new found knowledge of the legal system—can help drive you to set aside your temporary frustrations and rededicate yourself to mastering legal writing.
Burnout can happen to anyone. In some form or fashion, most every law student will experience it. Try to recognize it for the phase that it is and don’t let it beat you. Hopefully the list can help you break free from your temporary law school doldrums and get you excited about law school again.
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.