September 19, 2018 The Modern Law Library

How to be—sort of—happy in law school

By Lee Rawles

Law school can be a lonely, stressful time, and it’s easy to feel like you're failing to fit the model of the perfect law student. But there’s no one right way to go to law school, says sociology professor Kathryne M. Young, author of How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School; you can craft your own experience.

When Young attended Stanford Law, she was also working towards a Ph.D. in sociology, and she found herself viewing her fellow classmates through a sociological lens. Who sat where in each class, and why? Who participated in class, and in what ways? How did students’ different backgrounds impact their learning experience? Years later, she turned that kernel of curiosity into a study, surveying more than 1,100 current students and 250 alumni of more than 100 schools; conducting in-depth interviews of current students, faculty, law grads and people who chose to drop out of law school; and visiting 17 schools from different tiers, size and geographical locations.

The data she collected formed the backbone of How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School, and Young gives practical tips for keeping a mental balance; choosing the courses and activities to pursue; managing the practical aspects of your household and budget; forming relationships with mentors and peers–and even deciding when if it’s time to leave law school altogether.

In this episode of the Modern Law Library, Young talks with the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles about tackling imposter syndrome; advice that alumni wish they could give their younger selves; and techniques for getting along with your fellow students. Young’s book offers a holistic approach to surviving–and thriving–under the social, academic and economic pressures of law school.

Listen to the Podcast

In This Podcast:

Lee Rawles
Kathryne M. Young is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she teaches courses on criminal procedure, policing, courtroom evidence, social psychology, and teaching pedagogy. She holds a JD from Stanford Law School and a PhD from Stanford University. Young’s research has been published in Social Forces, Law & Society Review, Harvard Law Review, and California Law Review, among other places. In addition to law students’ experiences, her research interests include police-citizen interactions, parole, and how people think about the legal system.