Posted 11/18/2008 7:40 PM (GMT -7)
I wasn't DXed until my first semester of law school (the weekend before my first exam). This is the worst and most stressful time to be sick. Based on that, I can't speak to CD w/ respect to the LSAT. Like Fitzy I did the books and took several practice tests on the computer. I did well enough to get into good schools and get scholarships to mid-level schools.
I went with the scholarship to a mid-level school, but would recommend going to the best ranked school you get into. It really helps with jobs later and things are easier there b/c the competition is to get in. At mid-level schools everyone competes for rank (because fancy jobs will take highly ranked, but not all people from these schools). Also, more prestigious schools have more money. This helps if you want to do public service work (which I am doing now). These jobs don't pay enough to support yourself and pay off the huge student loans. Big schools have programs where they pay your loans for you if you are in public service and meet income requirements. My colleagues who have this benefit are in better shape than I am by far (thankfully my husband pays the mortgage).
The first year of law school is the hardest. Everyone is competing for the best grades on the curve. These get you onto law review/moot court. Either of these makes your path to a big paying firm job, clerkship or other hard to get jobs much easier. Usually you get on based on your first semester grades or a summer tryout. I didn't go for it because I was so sick my first year. Wish I did because you can coast once you have the credential. I have many friends who made law review on first semester grades who were lazy from then on but have 6-figure salaries now. Those types of jobs aren't my thing (long hours and lots of stress, only pay off is money), but it's nice to know you can get one easily if you need to. These are the ones Fitzy was mentioning getting through summer programs your first year, you get hired then and are usually guaranteed a job when you graduate unless the economy tanks or you really screw up.
If you're into public service work like I am/was take this type of job your first summer or second. It shows you are committed to it and aren't just interviewing for it when you graduate because you couldn't find anything else. I did unpaid death penalty work my two summers. I loved it and got to work on a Supreme Court case. Clerks from big schools got stipends from their schools for the work, but I did it free. The experience landed me the job I have now and I LOVE it.
As for classes, you have no choice what you take the first year. Talk to people ahead of you who had the professor you had and find out what their exams are like and practice those exams if they are available. For some buying study aids will get you through easily. Some profs are so in their own world you have to have VERY specific notes on their opinions to pass their exams. Figure out which is which and figure out how to please them. Some profs will cold call on you. It's stressful when you are new to it, but I actually learned to enjoy it. I was also the odd duck who loved most of my classes. After the first year I only took the ones I was interested or were taught my professors I liked or heard good things about.
Most of the stress I could deal with. I learned not to procrastinate. If I read most (never all) of what I needed before class I didn't have that panic to rush through things and wasn't nervous to be called on. I commuted in by train, so I could always at least skim what I needed each day on the way in. Also, some profs take volunteers. I usually only got through 1/2 of my reading, so I'd volunteer at the beginning to avoid being stumped later. I did procrastinate on legal writing, it's hard no to. Just schedule NOTHING the weekend before they are due and you'll get through the papers.
Like I said up top, I was DXed right before my first exam. During the study week before exams I got an obstruction that I thought was an appendicitis. I was in the hospital until the day before the exam. The school was very accommodating. They offered to delay the exams until after the holidays. I turned them down because I just wanted to get them over with. Other than that first exam I was fine. That first one was the worst grade I got in all of law school and it happens to be in my field of specialty. :) The only other time CD really got to me was that spring when we had oral arguments and papers due just before exams. I had been sick the whole year, but things escalated before my argument. I argued and was hospitalized the next day for a week. My profs were all great. Friends gave me their notes (even at competitive schools people will give good notes to a sick person b/c we're not seen as competition). Profs also offered extra help. This may have given me extra insights into the exams too.
Back on the job thing. Don't work your first year if you can afford it. When you take jobs take the job that will give you the best usable experience (where you can try a case yourself or write your own briefs or work with clients). Interning with judges is great work. You do a lot of legal research and writing that translates to all jobs and you get a judge for references.
You do need to pay for the bar review course. Law school basically has nothing to do with the bar exam. The bar wants general law. For example the crim law that is on it is a joke that has no real application, it's not the law anywhere. Also, there will be subjects you never took. Here the exam is two days. I did not ask for an accommodation, but was in remission then. I was surprisingly calm for the bar. I took the review course and was passing the practice tests ok. Basically you get each topic down to a single page outline that you have memorized, if you can remember the key words from that you can write a passing essay. The multiple choice are trickier, but they teach you the techniques around that too.
This is a novel and I'm rambling. I'll send you an email, so you can ask any specific questions you want.
Hoping to stay in remission after the birth of a healthy baby girl. On Pentasa during my pregnancy, but Ive gone rogue and med-free to nurse.