J.D. Shouldn't Mean Just Despair: 5 Ways To Minimize The Stress Of Your Legal Career

Law school: It’s stressful to get in it, it’s stressful to be in it, and its stressful even after you’re not in it anymore. Why? Well, there’s an endless amount of paper to read, write, and present. Preparing for exams or cases is a time-consuming, stressful task, too. There’s so much to think about and so much to do everyday, and there are far and few breaks in between. On top of that, lawyers make a living out of arguing and battling. There’s bound to be constant stress associated with their work and lifestyles.
So, what does a J.D. really stand for? Juris doctor? No, it stands for “just despair,” because having a law degree is a miserable, terrible thing. However, it doesn’t have to be. Here are five ways to minimize the stress of your legal career.

Preparing for the life of a lawyer can be daunting.

  1. Don’t overstudy -- The LSAT, its the biggest brick wall you might ever encounter in your life, and its standing right between you and the law school of your dreams. You might be like a friend of mine an enroll in night prep classes, then take the LSAT. Then repeat that process all over again three times just to end up in a low-ranking school. Don’t. Instead, take LSAT classes with care. In fact, self-study might be a better idea for you, especially since you’re the one taking the exam, so figuring it out on your own will improve your chances for success.

  2. Be realistic -- Its great to have a dream law school, but that doesn’t mean you have to go there. Be realistic. Could you really keep up with the environment and pace at HSY (Harvard, Stanford, Yale)?. We all have environments that work for us, so be realistic. Although rankings matter, go to the school where you will be your number one-- the best you can be. So, if a smaller, less-known school might be better for you, don’t hesitate to go.

Being in law school can be a pain.

  1. Take notes -- Most of your grades and thus academic success and achievement will be determined by one final cumulative exam. Think about that for a second. Your grade depends on an entire book full of way too many pages (some of which you might not have read) and an entire semester full of way too many lectures (some of which you might have missed). So, do yourself a favor and take good notes. Don’t cram, and don’t stress yourself out.

Practicing law for the rest of your life can seem like a slow death

  1. Go small -- Just like going to a smaller law school can help you avoid the stress of nasty, cutthroat competitors that are your classmates, going to a smaller law firm can help you avoid the nasty, cutthroat competitors that would have been your colleagues. Working in a small firm will really let you build a home at the place you work and with the people you work with. This is a great way to wake up in the morning with a smile on your face, not stress.

  2. Travel -- However, if you just want to work at a larger firm and don’t know how to deal with all the stress, travel. Being a lawyer comes with perks like trips. Work when you need to, but take the time to see the city. You can even relax and watch a movie on the plane or catch up on sleep. This can do wonders to minimize the stress of your legal career, perhaps, as you watch or dream about what your life would be like if you had a different one.
Paul Colley is a personal injury lawyer at Colley & Colley, LLP. When he's not practicing law, Mr. Colley enjoys counseling young lawyers on improving their quality of life.

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