I'm a lawyer and I love what I do. But I'm damn lucky to have fallen in with good people and fun work. I don't make bank, and I took a huge paycut as a result of the recession, but I can pay most of my bills.
Don't go to law school if you think it's a way to get rich, or have a good job, or be happy, or have a nice life. Go to law school because you want to be a lawyer. And being a lawyer is nothing like they show on TV. You will spend a lot of your time staring at books or a computer screen, writing writing writing, and sometimes having to deal with real human beings.
I go to court a few times a month, but have only had one or two "real" courtroom type experiences.
Also, don't go to law school if you're going to have to take on a large debt load to do it. Scholarships, or a good state school in the state where you want to practice, or just forget about it. I know a lawyer in DC who was making under 50K at a private firm. The supply/demand curve is too fucked.
As for law school itself?
I'm a freak, I know, but I fucking loved it. I would go back in a second. I don't really have any close friends from high school or college because law school changes you so much. My closest friends are the folks I sat with 8-6 every day for three years, because they know what we all went through.
It is hard, no doubt. First year is brutal. All three years, at least on the days I had classes, I would generally get there around 8 and leave at 6, and do all my studying at school and between classes to avoid having to bring it home with me. Studying for finals, I would be in on weekends for at least half days. I didn't work 1L or 2L, and worked about 20 hours a week for the general counsel at a state agency during 3L.
Don't skip class.
There isn't really "busy" work, except maybe some stuff in 1L regarding research/drafting (but it is useful for when you get out). Most of the homework is "bust my ass so the prof doesn't bust my ass in class" work. Depending on the class, you will have an assignment of X pages in the case book to read. You'll want to take notes and be able to speak on the cases and what they mean. You might not get called on, but if you do and you're unprepared, you'll look like an idiot and some professors will ride you for that.
I suppose it's all busy work, since you can get away with not doing the homework and praying you don't get called on...
Some of the classes are harder than others, and some are pretty much useless (until you get to practicing and you start going "wtf was that rule in conflicts???").
I think I took around 12-14 hours a semester? I don't remember. Slightly less than I took in undergrad, where I took 15 or so a semester.
Anyway, law school teaches you how to take the class you need to take to pass the bar exam. It doesn't teach you shit about practicing law. And the LSAT is worthless for everything except getting into the right law school, so it is HYUOOGE.