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A Law Student’s Guide to Social Situations

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Law students often complain of art student envy: the feelings of jealousy you have when you see yet another Facebook status about how awesome being a uni student is from your friend in the arts faculty. The cheap booze, the awesome pub crawls and the barely-there homework which allows you to work a part-time job AND claim student discounts. Hurrah!

Unfortunately, this is absolutely not true of a law degree. Well, not for most of us anyway. When other students are skulling their $1 champagne or schooners at the student lounge, I am at my Friday 4 – 7pm contracts lecture (yes, they actually did that). When other students are wearing pubcrawl t-shirts with dodgy puns about sleeping with nursing students, I am chaining myself to my desk in hope of STUDYING UNTIL MY EYES BLEED. And worst of all, when other students are able to neatly compartmentalise their life: uni/work/friends, I think; law/internships/Kirby J.

But that’s not the worst of it. The worst was when, looking in the mirror, I realised the bored look I had on my face following a 2 hour discussion on car parts with my brother was very familiar. He had definitely had the same look as I tried to explain to him the absolutely and totally fascinating case I had just read about. Sound familiar?

It seems there are a few law student eccentricities that we should spare our families and non-law friends from…

“Thus” is never a word to be spoken audibly

There is never, ever an excuse to use ‘thus’ in a social situation. Let me reiterate. Never. Ever.

Despite what Judges have led you to believe, it does not take 48 pages to make a decision

Decisions in law are long-winded, complicated and painstaking. Decisions in life are, generally, not. What you would like to order for dinner should be a statement, not an examination. There is no need to verbalise the dissenting opinion. Particularly when discussing the future of personal relationships.

Your friends cannot sue everyone, and you cannot sue them

There is a very powerful stage in a law degree where you think you can sue everyone, and that everyone needs to be advised of their legal rights. Unfortunately, when your friend finds out the cost of employing an actual lawyer to sue the co-worker that spilt red wine on her handbag (TRESSPASS TO GOODS, you cry!) your advice may not seem so great. Further, just ask for your damn shoes back. It doesn’t need to be in writing.

Big words may impress your tutor, but that’s about it

Legalese seeps into your brain, I get it. Suddenly “important” seems like a very dull way to say “seminal” or some other word you found after scouring your thesaurus. Unfortunately, your friends will feel about you the same way you felt about Crennan J the first time you read a High Court A judgment. We don’t really want that.

Everything is not an argument

Incredible as it may seem, everything is not a question of law. You do not need to examine it from every angle. Just let it be. It will make dinner with your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents so much easier.

Stop feeling guilty about not studying

No one likes hanging out with that guy who keeps reminding them of how much homework they should be doing. Forget it. Ask for some tequila and declare it a recess.

Put down the coffee and have some sleep so you can stop acting like a zombie every time you talk to your best friend

Try it.

Ask for help

I hate it too. There is no surer equation in my head than asking for help = admitting failure. But the problem with having a pathological opposition to asking for help is that no matter how many times you tell your friends “Oh-no-I’m-fine-I-mean-I-havent-slept-in-three-days-and-I-think-I-can-feel-my-heart-palpitating-from-the-stress-caffeine-and-expectation-but-nooooo-I’m-fine”, it doesn’t make it true. Pour your heart out to them. That’s what friends are for. Anyway, no one likes being the best friend of Superwoman (or man)!

Case law is almost never interesting to non-law students

It beats me why my friends don’t find McHale v Watson absolutely fascinating or why my family cringes every time I begin a statement with “so there was this case...” But, alas, it’s happened enough times for me to realise resistance is futile.

Have I missed anything? What law student idiosyncrasies should we just save for each other?

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