Is Law School Easier After the First Year?

Most people are aware that law school is no walk in the park. Still, whether you are just getting started in law school or considering applying, you may be wondering if there is a pattern where the academics become easier after the first year. This is a common question, and many people entering law school wish to know so they can stay motivated for their future studies.

The first year of law school is notoriously difficult, and many students report feeling that the second year is more manageable. This is not because the work necessarily becomes easier, but instead, students feel more acclimated to the learning environment and able to stay on top of their tasks. However, law school often gets busier as the years go on.

If you are just starting law school, take heart in knowing that it is a learning process, and you will get accustomed to the demands. Keep reading to learn more about the law school learning curve, the difficulties of the first year, and some things you can do to stay on top of your busy and challenging first-year schedule.

The Difficulty of Law School Over Time

As an aspiring or new law student, you have probably been told repeatedly that law school can be a challenging undertaking. Legal degrees are usually three-year programs that pride themselves on their rigor and breadth of information so that you can become the best lawyer possible.

In general, the first year of law school can be very difficult for students, especially if they have no prior background in the law. After the first semester and the first year overall, students may find that law school becomes easier for the following reasons:

  • School-specific adjustments: Starting at a new school can be a challenge regardless of what you are studying. After the first year of law school, you will be more knowledgeable about your specific school and what they expect of their students.
  • Acquiring study habits: Over the first year, you will need to learn how to study well and efficiently. As you acquire these valuable studying skills, they will stay with you into your second year and beyond, making it that much easier to take on academic life.
  • Developing a community: When you first begin law school, you will likely know very few people. As time passes, you will develop a network of fellow students and mentors that will help make life easier and provide some very valuable advice that can help you navigate the system.

Although the difficulty of your given program will vary depending on your specializations and your specific program, for the most part, students report having an easier time with law school once they have made the initial adjustment to the demanding course load and high academic expectations.

How Bad is the First Year of Law School?

As you prepare to apply to law schools or take on your first day of class, you may wish to get a sense of just how difficult this first year will be. The first year of law school is different for every student, but in general, you can expect it to be hectic. The following things usually contribute to the difficulty of your first year:

  • High expectations: Your law professors will not go easy on you, and many students find that their professors will start with very high expectations to put you to the test. If you can keep up with assignments and coursework, you will earn the respect of your professors and find valuable mentors. But do not expect it to be easy right away!
  • Learning the lingo: If you have no prior background in the law, you will understandably need to learn a lot of new vocabulary and systems that may be overwhelming at first. This learning curve will get better over time but is the most difficult in the first semester.
  • Finding your rhythm: Every new undertaking will require you to find a balance, and this is especially true for your first year. Working out a study schedule that optimizes your learning will take time but can make all the difference once you get it in place.

So, the first year of law school can be pretty tough, but remember that it is survivable, and it will get easier.

Keep in mind that the other years will not be a walk in the park and may get even busier than the first year as you take on work and internship opportunities. However, your acquired experience will go a long way in making the undertaking feel easier.

Tips for Managing Stress in Law School

turning stress into wellness

Stress management is a must in a high-pressure field of work and study like the law. Knowing what works for you to manage stress will help you stay motivated even when times get tough.

In general, first-year law students can hope to make their challenging year easier through the following strategies:

  • Make time for breaks.
  • Experiment with study schedules.
  • Seek out tutoring and academic support.
  • Do recommended readings and prep work.
  • Attend professor’s office hours or study sessions if applicable.

As a first-year law student, you will naturally go through a bit of a learning curve. Be patient with yourself and remind yourself that it will get easier—it may just take a bit of time to adjust!


If you are passionate about a career in the legal field, law school is a necessary step toward attaining your goals. Though it may never be easy, you can take some comfort in knowing that most students find the second and third years of law programs to be significantly easier than the first (this was my experience), although this is usually because most students have adjusted to the rigor.

First-year law students may face some difficulties, but just how difficult it will be largely depends on your program and professors. Practicing proactive study skills can help make your daunting first year that much easier and allow you to navigate the law school environment with confidence.


Stephen Metellus

I am a 3L law student in Washington D.C and owner of! I started law school with a lot of hopes and expectations, and it has certainly been a wild ride from the start! My goal is writing articles that help you in navigating through law school.

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