Book Review: Becoming a Lawyer by Michael Brogan and David Spencer
If you’re currently buried in exam notes and textbooks – and let’s face it, most of us are – then you’re probably not in the mood to read a book about how you could become a better law student. Heck, you could even be wishing that you never became a law student. However, if you feel that you could use some tips, guidance and advice about how to survive your exams (as well as the rest of your degree!) Becoming a Lawyer: Success at Law School may be worth adding to your reading list.
Becoming a Lawyer is pitched as a guide to surviving and thriving at law school and in that way it is really aimed at newbies. Experienced students will probably have already mastered the first four chapters, which cover introductory topics like how universities and law schools are structured, how law school is different from other studies and different learning and teaching approaches.
However, first years and law school veterans alike are likely to benefit from the book’s practical tips and advice, including a useful overview of legal problem solving methods like ILAC (Issues, Law, Argument, Conclusion) – also known as IRAC to some. The advice in relation to legal research is also practical and helpful, and it was good to read (at last!) that, yes, it is okay to use Google and Wikipedia to begin your assignment research (we all do it anyway, but it’s nice to have it confirmed in a textbook).
Most relevantly for this time of year, authors Brogan and Spencer have some great tips to help students through their exams. They’ve put together a list of the Twenty Commandments of exam technique and a helpful structure for your exam notes. One good tip: make sure you answer every question you are asked to answer! Believe it or not, the markers want to give your points for trying but a blank page means an automatic zero.
Becoming a Lawyer at times wanders into theoretical discussions that might be interesting to your lecturer but could make some students go glassy eyed (such as the section on the rise of educational technologies!). However, there are plenty of rewards for students who stick with it. Overall, the book is a good introduction to studying law and provides plenty of tips to help new students in particular develop the skills required to succeed at law school.
Becoming a Lawyer: Success at Law School (Third Edition) is written by Michael Brogan and David Spencer and is Published by Oxford University Press.
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