If you find yourself in one of these categories, I encourage you to take a leave of absence from law school. Talk to the associate dean who usually counsels students on these issues, or to another sympathetic faculty member. Arrange at least to take some time off from law school. Your particular situation, when combined with the more general pressures of debt and the job market, makes law school a particularly bad bet for you.
I've posted some thoughts before about withdrawing from law school: The first of those posts gives some general guidelines and the second discusses sunk costs. You may also be interested in these posts examining the financial risks of law school: Risky decisions and Some rules for risky times. Meanwhile, here is some specific advice for students who are hurting academically, psychologically, or physically after their first or second year:
Academic Difficulty. In more golden times, I could sometimes encourage students in this category to persevere. If a student was strongly committed to law practice and had addressed the source of academic difficulty, perseverance was possible. But today's legal market is far too cruel for students at an academic disadvantage. The bar exam is harder today than it used to be; students in academic difficulty almost always struggle with this obstacle. Even when students with poor transcripts pass the bar, they face overwhelming challenges in finding jobs.
If you're experiencing academic problems, remember that law school and the bar focus on a very narrow slice of intelligence. You undoubtedly have talents and intelligence that you can apply in other fields: If you were admitted to law school, you already have a history of achievement. Ironically, you might even make a terrific lawyer--law school and bar success don't match practice success. But at this point in time, the system requires law school and bar success just to enter the field. If you're struggling with law school--even if you're not technically on academic probation--you would be much better off investing time and money in other fields.
Lots of people leave law school and succeed in other ventures. One of the most successful in that group is Les Wexner, Chairman of the Limited Brands Corporation and a multi-billionaire. Wexner left law school because he found it boring--not because of any academic difficulty. But keep him and many other law-school-leavers in mind if law school doesn't fit your brain. (Yes, I know this is an anecdote--but it's a darned good one, don't you think?)
Physical and Psychological Harm. My mother was an alcoholic (even though she wasn't a lawyer--she just hung out with a lot of us), and over the years I've talked to students who suffered from anorexia, bulimia, obsessive compulsive disorder, alcoholism, substance abuse, and a host of other disorders. These conditions cause real hardship, both for the sufferer and for loved ones. They can also lead you into serious scrapes with the law and permanently bar you from law practice and other careers.
There are treatments for these health conditions, but law school doesn't give you enough space to focus on recovery. And if you're struggling with any of these challenges while attending law school, you're not getting the best pay-off for the dollars you're investing. You will be much better off if you take a leave of absence, address health issues, and then re-evaluate whether law is for you.
If you're unsure about your mental or physical health, talk to your family and close friends. They often notice changes in your mental or physical state before you will (or before you're willing to acknowledge those changes to yourself). My Dad and I confronted Mom several times before she acknowledged her alcoholism; you will hear similar stories from others. So listen to your family and friends if their gripes are a little more pointed than "you don't have time for me any more."
* * *The bottom line is that law school costs too much--and is too financially risky--to combine with other types of risk. If law school is hurting you in any of the above ways, please give yourself a break and take some time off to consider options. Even if you ultimately return to law school, you'll be happier, healthier, and more likely to benefit from your remaining classes. Meanwhile, law schools shouldn't be making money off your misery.