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Coping With Law School Stress: Your Four-Point Plan

Coping With Law School Stress: Your Four-Point Plan

First, have faith.
Have faith in God (however, you may envision God) and pray. Have faith in the process. (We really mean it when we say we would not have admitted you if we did not believe you could succeed. You are an investment — we would not squander our resources unwisely). Have faith in yourself. Become your own best cheering squad and reassure yourself with all the success you have already had that brought you to this point.

Let me ask you a question. Why are you here? Following in the footsteps of a role model in your life? Better take him or her to lunch or read his or her biography regularly. Have a hunger for justice? Look around you and see all the desperate need for lawyers hungry for justice. Carve out a bit of time to volunteer. You get the picture. Have faith that law school will help you meet (or even find) your goals.

Live outside the law.
You will have less time and energy for your family and friends — but be sure not to neglect these important people in your life. They are your buffer against stress — your link to the rest of your life and self. And for heaven’s sake, when you are spending time with them, don’t “lawyer” them. Watching a football game with your buddies is not a good time to review your knowledge of the tort doctrine of assumption of risk. Don’t use a discussion with your spouse as an opportunity to practice rephrasing the issue. Instead, keep track of yourself and nurture the relationships that will nurture you.

Take care of yourself.
Follow the advice your mother gave you (or should have given you). Pack a nutritious lunch. Get enough sleep — especially during the times you think you can least afford it. Get some exercise — the Law Book Bench Press is not enough. Take twenty minutes a day to go for a walk at least. Keep a positive mental attitude. Don’t let yourself fall victim to cognitive self-defeat and negative imagery.

If you do have problems, get some help.
Ask one of your professors, ask our student support staff, ask our assistant dean, ask the campus counseling center (by the way, you should know that law students and medical students are their largest clientele, so don’t think you’re the only one). The law school has helped many a student, with truly horrendous crises; navigate their way through this process to graduation. But those students asked. They asked before it was too late to find effective solutions.

So there you have it. For many of the same reasons that law school can be stressful, it can also be one of the most exciting, challenging, enriching experiences you will ever have. I wish you all the greatest success.

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