Want to know what law school is really like? In this blog, one student tells us what they’ve learned, from how t o tackle huge reading lists efficiently to attending law firm open days.
Let’s get straight to it: there is a LOT of reading. And yes, the rumours you’ve heard about spending more time with your textbooks than with your friends are closer to the truth than they are to fiction. But don’t worry! This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be a law student and have a social life.
There’s an art to managing the mounds of reading you’ll receive every week: the key is to be efficient as possible. Firstly, stick to your syllabus. Often you will be given an outline of the structure of topics in your lecture handouts – so stick to the content of the lectures and fill in gaps where necessary in your textbook. Secondly, use the ‘further reading’ to engage with debates in the grey and unclear areas of law – this will really help you to display your wider reading and more importantly show off that first-class knowledge in your exams.
Now that the most daunting part is out of the way, the second most important thing I learnt at law school is that you should have full confidence in your academic abilities. The reason I say this is because you will soon find yourself surrounded by people in classes that spew legal jargon and sound like legal geniuses. Don’t worry that others are doing better than you or have a better grasp of the material – it’s perfectly okay to take your learning at your own speed.
Whether you realise it or not, from the moment you step into law school, you are in tough competition with your peers to secure legal internships and work placements. While it sounds too early to be thinking about your employability when starting your first year at law school, it’s not surprising that competition starts early. The legal profession is becoming an increasingly competitive sector due to the volume of high quality applications law firms receive every year. However, this doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with applications for internships in your first year at law school. If you can show that you have attended a handful of law firm open days, this will put you in great stead when applying for vacation schemes or mini-pupillages in your second and final year at university – so attend these early!
Perhaps one of the most obvious ones – everyone is going to ask you legal advice and you may or may not have the answer to it. Being a law student means that you are taught and thus examined on the grey and often more controversial areas of law, as opposed to the more simple and clear-cut. As a consequence we often forget that law isn’t just about concentrating on the complex intricacies of debate, but can often be quite simple and straightforward.
Reading lists aside, going to law school is a great experience. Just like any other degree, going to law school will challenge your limits and make you break boundaries that you never thought were possible. More importantly, law school will be exactly what you want it to be, and always remember the key to surviving law school is to establish a balance between studying and taking time out for yourself – so there is no excuse for not making the most of your university’s clubs and societies!
Words: Vikramjeet Singh
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