Law is generally a discipline that requires rigour, structure and discipline. It involves a cyclical process of long hours spent reading and crystallising legal principles.
While an inherently complex and intellectually demanding course on its own, it does share these similarities with many other courses required for specialised professions. Given that, you may be well set for converting to law.
However, to ensure you are fully prepared, here is a list of the top three things non-law students should know about before converting to law.
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Readings are a given. Truckloads.
From academic journals to cases, even the most avid reader will be pushed to his limits. While readings are daunting, they become manageable after a while.
Learn to skim rather than read every single word
This is an art departing from the literal implications of skimming that may involve missing out key aspects.
Go through the text while looking out for key details. For example, in case law, looking out for the ratio is an art on its own due to two difficulties. Firstly due to the excessive amount of text and secondly, the different legal reasoning of judges in arriving at their conclusions.
So, do not worry if you find yourself having to revisit the case more than once at the expense of time. Even top lawyers and barristers advocate revisiting cases as we are only human, prone to omissions of key details.
Confusion exists in three strands, namely in time management, note-making and your approach to examinations. But there are a few simple ways to ensure you don’t get confused while studying law.
Treat law like any other course, except with more caution. The unpredictability of law can come in two ways: a rabbit hole of further reading about a particular point of law and the latter – more likely – utter confusion as to what the judge was trying to say, or what law is about.
No worries. Struggles are endemic to law, in deciphering judgements and crafting answers, as with any other course. Manage your time in accordance to your capabilities and deadlines. Keep a to-do list to account for your productivity and ensure that routines are strictly adhered to.
Some students have reflected that sometimes they lapse into copying whole chunks of texts into their notes. This is not advisable.
You can only present information by processing its meaning and understanding it. To do this, it’s important to structure notes.
If it is a problem question, what tests have to be accounted for? What case law can you rely on to support your propositions? And in case law, why was the case decided the way that it was? Consider these questions when you’re setting out your notes.
Make a structured revision timetable. Break it down in terms of topics covered for every subject. Have learning objectives and ensure you have adequate practice with past year questions before stepping into the examination hall.
The question you answer during your examination must be one that you have reasonably prepared for – meaning not something totally unexpected. This confidence is premised on nights and days of focused hard work.
There is no shortcut to success. Thus, timed practices are necessary. You have to learn to think hard and fast.
Failure is commonplace in law. Learn to move past it, especially if you are a perfectionist unaccustomed to not scoring well.
Overall, the study of law is prestigious but requires a lot of preparation to be successful. At the very least, studying law helps students develop complex analytical and evaluative skills, on top of confidence in having survived law school.
Published: 26/02/18 Author: Edwin Teong Ying Keat
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