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Becoming a Law Student

The Matrix

When I first decided to do a law degree I honestly wasn’t sure if I would fit in. Lawyers and law students all seem to have a certain analytical edge to them, and an attitude to the world that is present but hard to put your finger on. All I knew is that I didn’t have it and was secretly worried that I wouldn’t make it through. I soon discovered that law students aren’t born; they are created by law school.

The signs were subtle in my first semester. I started arguing little points that ordinarily I would have let slide. Precision of details was increasingly important for some reason. This was really strange for me as I’m a notoriously laid back guy. I was becoming a jerk; my brain and personality seemed to be warping. It wasn’t just me though. With every post-tutorial discussion, I could see it happening to my fellow students.

The idea that brains of law students actually change even has some recent authority in neuroscience. A study at the University of California revealed that students studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) experienced measureable structural changes to their brains. The study involved scanning the brains of 24 students undertaking an LSAT preparation course, before and after the course. They were compared to the scans of a control group not undertaking the course. The scans demonstrated an increase in connectivity between the two brain hemispheres as well as increased activity between the frontal and parietal lobes. Both of these traits are associated with logic and reasoning skills.

This semester I’ve been studying torts and contracts. After a particularly brain-bending lecture in week three, I drove home and went to the shops and I saw how the whole world is a big mess of duties of care and simple contracts all woven together. It was like seeing The Matrix for the first time. I’m guessing this sort of thing will continue as I study different subjects.

Budding law students need not worry if they aren’t precise, argumentative and a touch cynical about the world. They will be… they will be. (Read in best Yoda voice).

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