Law school | Fourth-Year Confessions
When I first started my Law degree, I was frighteningly ambitious. My naivety about the legal system perpetuated many ideas I had about becoming a judge and participating in legal governance. Did I know what a Chapter III Court was? Not even close! Judicial activism? We don't know her. I was essentially in the grips of the Dunning-Kruger effect. This effect is a cognitive bias whereby you might have limited experience or knowledge in an area of study, yet you overestimate your capability.
However, it's a position of privilege to be at a point in my law degree now where I have enough expertise to see how much I know. But also how much more there is to discover. When I think about a Dunning-Kruger effect, I think about going on an awkward hike with your besties that you've been on before. You've told them that the walk is a trek, but what do they know? They're vibing with you with unbridled enthusiasm and snacks. Thank goodness they are because the friends I've met along the way during law school have made studying law even more fun. I mean? Who else will you laugh with about chattels and gratuitous consideration over coffee? Not a single soul.
Some things that I anticipated dreading about law school, such as studying Contract Law and studying Professional responsibility, were memories that I won't forget. I'll admit it. There's something unusual about being part of a cult (oh, sorry, ahem, I mean a classroom). We barely knew each other (and still don't), but we're all unified by determining if we can vitiate a legal contract. Or how a snail had the audacity to get into a bottle of ginger beer, causing severe gastroenteritis. Rude!
I suppose I could be more compassionate, not just to the snail but also to those who thought you could have finished your degree a few years ago or had a few hiccups along the way. I think the most crucial advice I strangely have for students in fourth-year law is to accept at this point that you're kind of in a video game. Is it as subtly menacing as playing Pac-man, where it's essentially one Pac-man against four ghosts? No. But in the fourth year, I would say the workload is usually the heaviest. I know they throw the gavel at you and all the readings you can download on your iPad. But in the fourth year, there's a lot to unpack. It's the first time you start to see the law as a network of interrelated concepts.
You can anticipate studying subjects such as Equity & Trusts (I still don't trust this subject) and asking what Equity seems to parallel what dividends are. Does anyone know? I still have Equity on my study radar for next semester. You'll also learn about Criminal and Civil Procedure and the Law of Evidence. You can start saying "I object!" in real life. As if you don't say it already.
Ultimately, the fourth year is where the heat turns up. However, this is good because you've got enough experience to appreciate how the law operates and, more importantly, how to apply it by referencing the common law. The best advice I have for the fourth year is to appreciate how far you've come. Even though you can't rest on your laurels, you can use your experience to continue learning and growing in the face of unwelcome legal hypothetical scenarios that your tutor dished out. You might be ready to give up, but you are much closer than you think.