A Guide to Surviving Law School Finals

law school finalsIt’s that time of year again when everyone is nearing a full-on holiday hustle. The weather gets colder and the days are shorter. Gifts need to be purchased and decorations carefully placed. Meanwhile anxious students tackle law school finals.

For law students, final exams are one of the most stress-inducing rituals of a legal education. Sitting down to a three or four-hour exam aimed at demonstrating learned legal concepts and exceptional legal analysis is taxing. In fact, research shows that law students are the most stressed, anxious, and depressed population in higher education. Nearly 70 percent of law students have reported mental health concerns.

How can students circumvent the drudges of law school finals and come out on top?

Practice Yoga

Yoga is a great opportunity to exercise the mind and body by connecting both. Simply put, yoga is a great stress reliever. Instead of analyzing the hairy hand case or determining who really owns Blackacre, yoga focuses our attention on breathing and establishing our center in a chaotic environment, like law school finals.

Yoga doesn’t have to be expensive. Many studios offer free introductory classes or special rates for students. Check out Eb & Flow Yoga in Chicago, Amara Yoga & Arts in Urbana, Yoga Glo online, or your local studio and ask for a discounted student package.

Exercise

This recommendation may seem repetitive, but yoga is very different than kickboxing. The Mayo Clinic cites increased mood, endorphins, and an improved meditative process just by exercising. The antidote to long hours in the library may be as simple as signing up for a gym membership, going for a run, or taking a nice long walk. Let out some stress from finals in a positive way. Check out Class Pass, LA Fitness, or the live-streaming fitness site Qinetic.

Find Friends Outside of Law School

It’s great to have law school friends who understand what you’re going through. But it’s also good to have friends who can drag you out of the law school bubble. Listening to others talk about life outside of law school can help put your experience into perspective. They may even be able to help you come to terms with failing to understand the Rule Against Perpetuities.

Want to kill two birds with one stone? Try exercising with November Project. Operating in cities throughout the U.S., November Project offers free exercise meet-up groups complete with encouragement and hugs.

Light a Candle

We all know that certain scents are soothing. Lavender, sandalwood, geranium, and orange blossom are a few examples. While our study rooms at home are typically refreshingly clinical, it’s important to take the time to create a relaxing environment. Light candles, soak in a bath, listen to soothing music and decompress.

Stop Studying

Crazy as it sounds, the best way to retain information for law school finals may not be an all-night cram session. Research shows that distributing intense bursts of study over a long period of time is the best way to master information from those classes you’re trying to ace.

Create a study schedule that allows maximum opportunity to cover course content, but also allows for down time to let the information sink in. Bonus? With an organized study schedule you may be able to find time to experiment with the recommendations in this blog!

Pet a Puppy

Therapy dogs are all the rage. Law schools across the U.S. are exploring the benefits of bringing therapy dogs to campus, allowing students to cuddle, pet, and (hopefully) de-stress. Advocate your student bar association to bring pet therapy to your campus. Many programs, such as Chicago’s Canine Therapy Corps, are free.

Seek Help

Everyone can use help in law school. The Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP) is a not-for-profit organization created to help law students and lawyers through difficult times. LAP provides confidential assessments, individual and group therapy, referrals, and interventions. LAP even helps with character and fitness concerns. Many of LAP’s staff are lawyers, so they can relate to the stresses of law school finals.

As the pressure of law school finals builds, create a stress management toolkit. Take time for yourself, explore how to de-stress, and help your friends de-stress too. Take a yoga class, exercise, and create a calming environment. These tips aren’t only for law students. Lawyers can benefit from petting puppies too!

How do you stay grounded during finals?

Amanda Carey

Amanda Carey

Amanda is a 3L at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and was a 2018 extern at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. She is completing a doctorate in education at Northern Illinois University, and is finalizing her dissertation "The Fog of Blackacre: Exploring depression, anxiety and stress of the American law student." Amanda holds a Master of Arts in communication, specializing in the study of realism and perception, and a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Washington State University. Amanda worked in higher education prior to law school and plans to practice in litigation after graduation.
Amanda Carey

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Amanda Carey

Amanda Carey

Amanda is a 3L at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and was a 2018 extern at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. She is completing a doctorate in education at Northern Illinois University, and is finalizing her dissertation "The Fog of Blackacre: Exploring depression, anxiety and stress of the American law student." Amanda holds a Master of Arts in communication, specializing in the study of realism and perception, and a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Washington State University. Amanda worked in higher education prior to law school and plans to practice in litigation after graduation.
Amanda Carey

Latest posts by Amanda Carey (see all)

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