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What I wish I knew as a first year

Little boy thinking

From time to time, we all realise there are things we wish we'd known. Bianca has compiled a list of them to make these moments few and far between!

1. Lectures

If you live near your university always attend lectures. It is so easy to get into the vicious cycle where you skip a lecture to study and catch up on readings, subsequently fall behind in class and then skip lectures because you have no idea what is happening and so on. I made this mistake in Contract Law and the results were not pretty. Things would have been so much easier if I just attended all my lectures (or listened to them online) and caught up on the readings later.

2. Bring your weapons

To deal with the dreaded Socratic method in class, always bring your laptop and if you type furiously for the entire lecture (or at least pretend to), you will be unable to accidently make eye contact with your lecturer and be compelled to answer questions in front of the class.

3. Listen for easter eggs

Most of your lecturers do want to see you succeed and will often drop hints throughout the semester about the content on the exam. Document the examples provided by your lecturer and any reappearing themes throughout the semester. While your lecturer may claim that everything is examinable, if you can predict the sorts of questions you will face it will make completing the exam so much easier.

4. Know your limits

Don’t stay up until 2am studying just because your housemate with magical powers to concentrate works well into the early hours of the morning. Especially when you are a morning person and had a few drinks the night before.

5. Weigh up the benefits

Don’t bother attending your 9am tutorial if you had a late night. A couple of hours extra sleep will do wonders and you can always copy the notes of your studious friend who actually attended class.

6. Use appropriate sports metaphors

We know you’re a superstar and achieved excellent results in high school without having to put in too much effort or by cramming the night before assessments. But law school is a marathon, not a sprint. Slowly preparing your exam notes throughout the semester instead of waiting until SWOTVAC. Your stress levels will be much more manageable and you will be a step ahead of your peers.

7. Trash TV is your friend

Your law school friends will understand your craziness and those weekly Law & Order/Please Marry My Boy marathons will be what you keep you going each week.

8. Be nice

Try not to make enemies – it’s so awkward when you run into them in the real world. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but don’t let other people get to you.

9. Fail to plan, plan to fail

Begin looking for volunteer work early. While you may not have any legal experience in first year, it will make it so much easier to get a Clerkship later on if you have been slowly gaining experience from the start of your degree.

10. There are no stupid questions

Don’t be afraid to speak up in class, no one will judge you and who cares if they do anyway. Do talk to your lecturers, you never know which one will invite you to get coffee with them and an international criminal lawyer who worked at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia.

11. Nerdy breaks

Double degree students – you will love your other degree. You will procrastinate doing your Corporate Law assignment by doing the recommended readings for your other degree so you still feel like you are studying, but do not have to face reading another 100 page judgment.

12. Be daring

I was lucky to learn this early in first year: Always step outside your comfort zone and take any opportunity that comes your way. For instance, I absolutely hated public speaking when I commenced university, but forcing myself to enter mooting and witness examination competitions helped improve my self confidence immensely. Say yes to opportunities that come your way, even if they are not of a huge interest to you. You never know where they will take you.

13. Most importantly

Lastly, have fun! Law school may be stressful, but your friends and family will always be there to support you.

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