Stress Factors for First Year Law Students (1L)
Many smart people think about attending law school. The stress factor is not always considered by prospective students.
Prof. Carroll Seron at the UC Irvine School of Law candidly acknowledges this issue. “It is a rite of professional passage that the first year of law school is highly stressful and, indeed, is designed to be so. Five interrelated factors contribute to this stress.
“First, students are called on to learn a new, often arcane body of knowledge; this is stressful in itself.
“Second, [ ] there is, as a general matter, relatively limited feedback to students about the quality of their work, which tends to create great uncertainty and anxiety among students about how they are doing by way of mastering these new materials.
“Third, though the Socratic method is not the only pedagogical style used by law faculty these days, it remains nonetheless popular with many. As a result, students find themselves in a situation where they confront the daily possibility of exposure and embarrassment for not knowing how to answer a question.
“Fourth, all students admitted to a highly selective law school have known academic success; in law school, they are confronted with equally successful counterparts and must become accustomed to being below average.
“Finally, there is the competitive aspect of law school as students seek to impress their peers and their teachers … In a word, first-year law students are simply worried about getting through the hurdle.”
Carroll Seron, A Law School for the 21st Century: A Portrait of the Inaugural Class at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, 1 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 49, 55-56 (2011).