Kevin Benish is a UW-Madison graduate and a current 2L at NYU Law School. In 2013, he offered his perspective on the unexpecteds of law school.
One year ago, I was reviewing my application materials for the 157th time and waiting on the LSAT score I thought would make or break my chances at getting into law school. Fast-forward to today, just eight weeks into my first semester at NYU Law. I realize law school is very different from what I ever expected, but the surprises are what make the experience so fulfilling.
Eight weeks into law school, there are three things I did not expect:
- The skills you use on the LSAT are critical to doing well in law school. People told me the LSAT was a silly exam, because it doesn’t test the skills tested in law school. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The challenging part of law school isn’t learning “the law,” it’s analyzing the real world situations where the law might or might not be applied. That’s what the LSAT tests: reading deeply into problems and identifying how the facts and rules work together, how arguments are made better or weaker. Law school, and practicing law (as I understand it), is more about the application of the law than the law itself.
- Being curious is more important than being brilliant. Everyday, I’m humbled by the brilliance of my peers and professors, but being curious about the law is key to learning what law school is trying to teach. Whether it’s the 22 year old who came straight from undergrad to law school, or the PhD who wrote their dissertation on the use of rhetoric in Supreme Court decision-making, it’s the questions they ask that help you “think like a lawyer.”
- Law school is different for everybody. I asked every lawyer and law school student I know for recommendations on how to do well in law school. What books should I read? What supplements should I buy? What should I do the summer before law school? I read every book I could find on the subject, but it turns out the best advice is to learn what works for you.
These realizations continuously help me during my first semester. Ask me in another eight weeks how I feel after my first round of exams and I might have a completely different perspective.