Aug 29, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Law school may be the key to reaching your goals of becoming a legal professional, but it is not easy. And while the reward waiting for you at its conclusion may make the journey more than worth your while, finding a little inspiration along the way can help you keep going when the going gets tough. Check out these seven motivational quotes perfect for seeing you through the dog days of law school.

1. “The first days are the hardest days…” – The Grateful Dead

Whether or not you’re a Deadhead, it’s hard to argue with this quote from the Dead song Uncle John’s Band. Whether you’re transitioning from undergraduate studies or from the workforce, the shift can be a challenge.

According to Keri Clapp, professor and tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox, it’s perfectly normal to struggle in the beginning while you are acclimating to new course materials, teaching methods, and study habits, as well as to your surroundings. However, as you adjust and as everything becomes more familiar, it will also become easier. Remind yourself that a learning curve is part of the experience.

2. “What may be done at any time will be done at no time.” – Scottish Proverb

Given the massive amount of reading involved in law school, procrastination is a dangerous habit.

Lee Burgess, co-founder of the Law School Toolbox, explains, “Law school is a marathon — not a sprint. It takes hard work and discipline to study daily (and to take much-needed breaks) and generally you are the only one setting up the study schedule. The only accountability is the test looming far in the future….If you have a tendency to procrastinate, this is a recipe for disaster that can lead to disappointing exam results.”  

Rather than attempting (and failing) to cram before exams, take a positive, proactive stance by setting up a schedule, establishing an accountability structure (with built-in breaks), understanding your personal study preferences and habits, and finding a place which is conducive to studying. The more these pieces are in place, the better off you will be when it comes to keeping up with the workload.

3. “You must keep your mind on the objective, not on the obstacle.” – William Randolph Hearst

At times, law school work may seem insurmountable. While focusing on everything you have to do can be immobilizing, keeping your eye on the prize can help you continue to move forward. Or another way of looking at it is by the mantra: “The only way out is through.”

4. “Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.” – Jim Rohn

There is the easy way and the right way. In law school and in life, committing to choosing the latter over the former can help you not only grow as a professional, but as a person. Conversely, taking shortcuts can come back to haunt you later.

5. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray

Law grads have many career options ahead of them. Taking the time to understand your ideal job can help you start on the most fulfilling career path. In addition to law jobs in areas ranging from corporate and bankruptcy to civil rights and immigration, alternative career paths include everything from teaching to human resources.

Ultimately, the best job is not necessarily the one that pays the most -- it is the one that sustains you for the long haul.

6. “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.” – Beverly Sills

Failure -- and learning to recover from it -- is an invaluable life lesson. And while it may not be what you set out to learn, former law student Selina Grun argues there is no better time to fail than during law school. She suggests, “We, as lawyers and humans, hate to admit to failure. But in order to lead and to innovate in the legal field, we need to challenge ourselves constantly. I think taking a course that deals with an unfamiliar or seemingly unmarketable subject is a good start. Even though that might entail [...] failure, it also gives you a valuable learning experience. Why not take full advantage of being in an environment where our mistakes do not cost our employer millions and ourselves our careers?”.

7. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Legal recruiter Harrison Barnes explains, “Confidence is the most important characteristic for an attorney to possess in order to be successful. An attorney needs confidence to represent clients, to act ‘tougher’ against opponents, to push through when under assault in court or at the negotiating table and more. The most important characteristic any attorney can have is confidence and it is because of this that the ways in which we screen, train and develop attorneys are so harsh. As a Darwinian-type society, we put attorneys through extreme pressure in order to ensure that only the most confident attorneys rise to the top.”

This also applies to law school. Meanwhile, know believing in yourself can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t set yourself up to fail by underestimating yourself or undercutting your own potential.

Do you have a favorite go-to quote for pushing through challenges? If so, please share your inspiration in the comments section.




Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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