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Trials and Tribulations: What I’ve Learnt in First Year Law


I must admit, studying law has its perks: everything from the underlying respect of your friends who are either tertiary health gurus or the future Donald Trumps of the world, to the clichéd remarks of, “hey when I commit [insert crime here], you can be my lawyer!

I’ve also discovered that the life of a law student isn’t always flowers and rainbows. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt in first year law…

Be Consistent

I realised early in first year that consistency is much more important than it was in high school. In high school you could pull the occasional all nighter and still score good marks!

At university you’ll still encounter those who endorse all nighters, but given the amount of reading required, doing your work consistently really helps around exam time. It’s a relief to know that you don’t have to write notes on duty, breach of duty, causation, defences and damages plus a summary of the Civil Liability Act during the weeks building up to the final exams… and don’t get me started on contract law.

Sometimes Less is More

After a few case notes, essays and problem solving questions, I realised that sophisticated language does not equate to dismantling the thesaurus with neologisms and verbose minefields.

The transition from high school to university was admittedly a difficult one, but one of the biggest challenges was dropping the pretentious writing style I picked in high school.

Paragraph long sentences and flowery language are likely to lose us marks. When it comes to legal writing, I’m finding that the key is succinctness and simplicity; a trait that I’ve just learnt to appreciate.

Life is always simpler when you keep things simple.

Marks Aren’t Everything

We law students are a competitive bunch. Most law students (perhaps all?) are instilled with this notion that marks are paramount. It’s great to achieve brilliant marks, but I came to the realisation that life would be unfathomably boring if it just centred on Distinctions and High Distinctions. It’s not worth sacrificing your social life and happiness (and sanity) for the sake of a few extra marks.

Employers emphasise the importance of exploring extra-curricular and pursuing your interests. Even though you may spend your free time on something that has no relevance to the legal world, employers love to see interests beyond academia.

Get Involved in Extra-Curricular Activities

There are so many extra-curricular activities for law students to indulge in at uni. This year, I’ve tried negotiation and worked with the schools legal education group, which teaches high school students about their legal rights. It definitely relieves the stress of readings and assessments and is beyond rewarding. If you’d rather avoid law-related extra-curricular activities, there’s plenty to choose from: the K-pop society, the chocolate society, the Quidditch team, and more.

Don’t Neglect your Other Degree

The transition to law school was so difficult that I only focused on law and unintentionally neglected my international studies degree. Remember that doing well in your other degree can increase your GPA/WAM so don’t neglect it!

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