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How to choose electives

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Whilst I’m sure, like me you can’t get enough of constitutional law and the rest of the Priestley clan, doing electives is one of the best parts about law school!

But how do you actually decide what subjects to take?

If you’re anything like me and find all things law interesting then picking electives can be hard! There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing. Firstly, electives are a great way to really explore your interests both in law and outside of law. So if you are really passionate about something, why not give it a go. Most universities allow you to take a couple of university wide electives. You can pick up French, economics or even creative writing.

Electives are also a great way of finding out what areas of law you are and are not interested in pursuing after university. If you’re passionate about current refugee reform why not take Immigration and Refugee Law or if you want to crunch some numbers and have a go at Taxation Law. If it has been your life long dream to be a next Janet King why not give criminal law sentencing a go? There are so many options to choose from, maybe you’re passionate about your Saturday footy and want to apply your legal skills in a sporting context, there’s an elective out there for you!

Choosing a range of subjects is not only beneficial in finding areas of law that interest you but eliminating those that don’t.

There are also a range of work integrated learning electives. If you’re working full-time or part-time in a law firm, why not get that work credited towards your degree? If you are particularly passionate about breaking down those barriers to justice and making legal advice more accessible, you have the option of being placed in a community legal centre (plus this is something you can put on your resume if you haven’t been so lucky with clerkships).

What’s great about electives is that they don’t always have the typical 40% assignment and 60% exam which means you can play to your strengths. If you’re a great public speaker, why not choose an elective with an advocacy task, or if you love research essays, pick a subject with no final exam. If you are in the minority of students (I like to think that’s the minority) that love 60% end of semester exams, don’t worry there are still plenty of subjects to choose from.

If you are particularly passionate about a particular area in law but your university does not offer any electives within that area, do some research and see which universities offer it (both online and on-campus) and your university can organise for you to study cross-institutionally. Another option most law schools offer you to undertake independent research on a topic of your choosing.

There are so many electives to choose from, if there’s one piece of advice I can give, it is to enrol in subjects you genuinely have an interest in and not just a subject that you think will be easy, not only for your own benefit in getting an idea of what areas you do and don’t enjoy but because that is what will stand out when applying for jobs in a particular department rather than higher grades.

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