Is it Like, Hard? A Day in the Life of A Law Student

Edited by Avleen Grewal


Is it like, hard? Many of us law school hopefuls (myself included) have wondered about what life is like in law school.  It’s no secret that law school isn’t easy, and involves a lot of time hitting the books, but is it possible to have a social life in law school? To answer this question, I interviewed first year Queens Law student Sarah Mackay Marton to tell us about the day in the life of a law student.



Olivia Levy (OL): What made you decide to go to law school?


Sarah Marton (SM): I first started thinking about law school when I was finishing up high school. I knew I loved to write and did a little bit of debate, but the thought process hadn’t gone much further than that. When I started my undergrad at the University of Toronto, I did the Trinity One Ethics Stream. From there, I ended up pursuing a double major in Ethics, Society and Law (ES&L) and Psychology. The ES&L program really gave me a taste of what studying law might be like. I took courses such as “Basic Principles of Law” and “Intro to the Canadian Legal System” and I was hooked. Even now it’s hard to explain, but there was a moment where I was sitting in class one day and just thought, “Okay, I think can do this forever.” It was a combination of really starting to enjoy (and understand) my readings and realizing I looked forward to going to my lectures.


Although Sarah’s law school dream began from out of high school, many individuals realize their desire to go to law school during their undergrad or even during graduate degrees! If you’re still trying to figure out if law school is right for you, get involved in law-related extra curriculars like the Hart House Debate Team and the U of T Pre Law Society to get exposure to law related skills like debating and mooting and to network with lawyers.


OL: What is your typical day like as a law student from morning to evening?


SM: My typical day usually starts with waking up by 8:30am. I like to make breakfast at home, pack a lunch and make sure I have all my notes ready for class. Luckily, I live about a five minute walk to campus and class starts at 10:00am. At Queen’s, in 1L [first year] we have six mandatory classes per semester and I usually have three to five hours of class a day. In between classes you can usually find me in the law library catching up on readings. Though, most days there’s a guest lecture or special panel happening, and I try and attend as many as possible. It’s a great way to learn about niche areas of law and they always have great snacks. In the evenings, I either snag a study room with some friends or head off to my extra-curriculars. When I finally head home, I like to cook myself dinner, sneak in an at-home workout and, realistically, go back to studying for a few hours. I like to wind down with a little bit of Netflix and get ready to do it all over again the next day!


OL: How many hours do you typically spend studying per day?


SM: On an average day I probably spend about five to six hours studying outside of class time. That includes review before class, lunch time study sessions and a lot of reading after school.


OL: How do you balance social time with the workload of law school?


SM: I won’t lie, it’s not an easy balance to find. Being in law school makes you a little bit crazy. A lot of people feel that they need to make every minute of the day productive, otherwise they aren’t doing enough. My trick to finding a balance essentially boils down to multitasking. I try and pick extra-curricular activities that feel like I’m taking a break or that I really enjoy. That way I feel like I’m a part of my school’s community and I get to see my friends, but I’m also accomplishing something. The other side of that is finding a group of friends with whom you can study. I love getting together with a few people, ordering some delicious take-out and working through practice problems. It makes everything feel a little less serious and gives you a chance to feel social. I also try and remind myself that sometimes you just need to do something fun, and in the long run taking a break and shutting your brain off is good for you.


OL: Are you involved in any extracurriculars or societies?


SM: My goal in law school was to really immerse myself in the community and campus! This year I’ve gotten involved as a Volunteer Editor for the Queen’s Law Journal, an Executive Member of the Queen’s Women in Law Club, a Podcast Host for Pro Bono Students Canada, and a Student Ambassador for the Queen’s Law Recruitment Team. I’ve also developed a love of mooting and I’ve participated in both the Society Moot and the Hicks Morley Labour and Employment Moot. However, my favourite extracurricular by far is my band Proper Tease. Along with some fellow 1Ls, I sing in a rock(ish) band. We practice for a few hours every Monday and it makes the start of the week infinitely better. We recently performed at Queen’s charity concert “Lawlapalooza”, which raised over $8,000!


As seen from Sarah’s experience, life as a law student can be an amazing experience despite the academic challenges. For those who may be entering law school in the fall, look for opportunities on campus to get involved, and be sure to maintain your mental and physical health through exercise and meal planning!

Brief Bio:


Sarah MacKay Marton is a first-year law student in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University. Prior to law school, Sarah graduated with high distinction from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Ethics, Society and Law. During her undergraduate, Sarah was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and served as the chapter president and Vice President of Finance. She also spent a summer abroad studying law at the London School of Economics.



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