You've progressed a long way down the road to law school. You've learned how to gain admission to a program that fits your needs. You've explored how to find the money to pay for your legal education. But you may still have many questions. What's law school really like? Will my investment be worth it? Of course, your own answers to these questions lie in the future. In the meantime, however, you can read all about it and talk to people who have been there, done that.
The first year of law school is not for fair-weather enthusiasts. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to feel overwhelmed and thoroughly drenched in self-doubt. With an increasingly competitive job market, even 1Ls (first-year law students) aren't immune to the pressure of the placement process. And at many schools there is often the "case method" of teaching that could be another strain. In case method classes, the professor's role is to provoke students into a higher level of thinking. You will certainly be challenged on a number of levels.
Nontraditional First-Year Curriculum
A few schools offer a different kind of curriculum to students. For example, Georgetown Law Center offers a program called Curriculum B, emphasizing the source of law in history, philosophy, political theory, and economics. Other schools with curriculums that offer an "atypical" first-year approach include: University of Montana, William and Mary, and the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), among others. Each school's offerings are unique. For example, the University of Montana and William and Mary organize their first-year students into law firms where students tackle lawyering problems in a simulated format. Chicago-Kent focuses on cultivating legal writing skills, drawing extensively on the use of computers in this effort. These are just a few examples. Many other schools offer special programs. Contact the schools for details on their offerings.
Second- and Third-Year Curriculum
Your second and third years in law school usually offer greater flexibility in course choice, often in more specialized areas of the law, and sometimes with a clinical component. Different law schools offer different special programs and specific requirements for graduation, but the J.D. degree is generalist in nature, and prepares you to solve current legal problems and anticipate the problems of the future.
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