Law & Economics — A Crash Course For Law School Applicants

If you attend law school — especially a school like University of Chicago Law School where Law and Economics envelopes the pedagogy — you’ll learn that by applying economic theory to the analysis of law, theorists can explain: the effect of laws, which legal rules are reasonable and economically efficient, and, ultimately, accurately predict the rules courts will craft to remedy future (hypothetical) problems.

If your eyes are starting to glaze over, or you’re afraid that all this talk about “economics” is going to lead to a surprise math quiz, RELAX. You don’t need a knowledge of macroeconomics (or, god forbid, long division!) to get the gist of where I’m going.

Becoming a Rational Actor

All that you really need to know about Law and Economics is that courts create rules with the assumption that the litigants are acting “rationally.” This simply means that they believe that people always behave in such a way to improve their situations and are not purposely acting against their best interests.

Unfortunately, far too many entering first year students are NOT rational actors.

I am shocked by the number of smart, driven students who begin law school without doing any research on the investment they are making. Law school is an huge commitment of time and money. Just like (hopefully) you didn’t invest in Bitcoin without first understanding the risks and how to hedge against them, it’s unwise to begin your legal studies without any familiarity with law schools’ illusive pedagogical approach and common strategies for success.

Starting Law School Prepared is Crucial

Strong academic performance during your 1L year is crucial to maintaining merit scholarships, transferring to higher ranked schools and, most importantly, directly correlates to post-graduate employability. Without proper preparation, most law students (which equates to the bottom 90% of the class at most law schools) find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar system that if navigated improperly saddles them with staggering debt and little hope of finding meaningful employment. Consequently, you’re committing “student malpractice” if you fail to prepare for the many challenges 1L year will present. Put another way: It’s irrational to spend time preparing for the LSAT only to walk into your high-stakes 1L year employing a “trial and error” approach.

Act rationally and make sure you do everything in your power now to ensure that your circumstances are improved by your decision to go to law school, not worsened.