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Most people find applying to law school a very stressful process. But it’s just the first step toward a generally stressful career. Learning how to manage your stress early on can save you an immense amount of grief and anxiety in future years.
There is much you can learn right away from the application process itself. The LSAT, for example, presents a situation you are going to see repeatedly: a high-stakes timed test following a lengthy preparation period. You’ll see this next as a law student, where most of your courses will be graded based solely on your performance on one timed test at the end of the semester.
After three years of this, you’ll spend an additional 10 weeks preparing for the Bar Exam: another high-stakes timed test, but this time the stakes are whether you’ll be allowed to actually pursue the career you’ve been preparing for over more than 3 years.
If you become a litigator, the stress keeps coming: lengthy preparation for a few minutes or hours before judge and/or jury, this time with your client’s life, finances and/or well-being at stake (not to speak of your own reputation). And you likely will not be handling just one case at a time, but many.
So as you go through the application process, take some time to pay attention to how you’re handling the stress. Which parts cause you the most anxiety? Why? What helps you relieve stress in a healthy manner?
Below, you’ll find some discussion of and links to resources about various stress management strategies. Pick and choose among them—what works for one person might not work for the next. And if you stumble upon a tip you think others would benefit from, please send them along to the Pre-Law Advising Office.
And here’s the requisite disclaimer (because I may not be a therapist, but I was once an attorney): The suggestions, tips and strategies you’ll find here are not coming from a trained or licensed or certified mental health professional of any kind. They are mostly a collection of commonsense advice from a concerned advisor, professor and former supervising attorney based on my experiences in life and work, and supplemented with advice from mental health experts. Take them for what they’re worth to you, and nothing more. I hope they’re helpful.
Brooklyn Law Prof. Heidi K. Brown offers some important insights about lawyers (and law students, and yes, it’s applicable to pre-laws as well) and anxiety, as well a some tips for working through the anxiety rather than pretending it doesn’t …