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"Be a Joiner!"

Michael Kirby

The best advice I’ve ever received at law school was from my favourite former High Court Justice Michael Kirby, who told students to “be a joiner!”

Before reaching my final year of law, I always seemed to be in this rush to get to the finish line and as a result I didn’t find much time to join anything. But why was I in such a rush? There’s no medal for finishing early, and if anything, being in a rush came at the expense of truly enjoying my university experience.

So this year I made a pact with myself. This was going to be it! I was going to be a joiner. I was going to participate in competitions. I was going to get involved in my university’s law society. I was going to attend the social functions. I was going to do my readings on time... okay, so I have managed to achieve all but that last goal.

For me, this year has been the busiest and most exciting of my degree. I’ve found myself unable to say no to the different activities that pop up at law school. Law essay competition due in two weeks? Done. Mingling with ex-judges? Why not!

Perhaps I’m just compensating for lost time, but all I know is that I’ve got final year fever and I just can’t stop signing myself up to anything and everything that comes my way. While this means that I often come to classes sleep deprived, looking a little zombie-like, keeping busy has meant that I’m more productive and (to some extent) less stressed.

This year I realised that university really is about more than the next High Distinction or CV-building activity. It’s about enjoying every moment, making the most of opportunities that come your way and watching where these opportunities end up taking you.

The truth is that I’m enjoying my final year so much that I don’t want it to end. To prolong the excitement a little longer I’ve made arrangements to stick around for an extra year. I realised that there really was no rush to finish, so next year I’ll be sticking around to complete my honours thesis in Arts, while competing in an international law mooting competition and possibly running for a position in the law society.

Since following Justice Kirby’s advice I’ve found that I’m a happier, more confident law student. While I still haven’t found myself a graduate position, I’m far from concerned. I know that so long as I embrace opportunities that come my way, the rest will figure itself out!

So whether you’re still a baby first year or you’re in your final year of law, it’s never too late to start being a joiner!

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