I remember when I opened my offer letter to study law and psychology I sobbed profusely. I could have been the poster child for the Kim Kardashian ugly cry. I was so happy, but I was also intrigued and ready to take up the challenge. A lot of lecturers and students ahead of me tried to warn me about the workload, the long hours and how difficult studying law is. But in my experience, it's not the nature of the work that's challenging (unless you're studying Remedies or Equity & Trusts, in which case I'll pray for you). The most difficult parts of my law degree have been those moments where I've had to overcome parts of myself. I used to think it was such an unnecessary and overhyped cliche that it's you against yourself. But it really is. You're welcome to bombastic side-eye that whole narrative. But I thought we could help you out by sharing what were the hardest interpersonal obstacles to overcome at law school.
1. Not having strong boundaries
I remember having a lecturer standing infant of an audience of first-year law students stating the P's don't get degrees and whilst I understand the gist of what he was saying I can't say that striking fear into the heart of law students was helpful. We're already afraid and uncertain about our legal careers, save your terrorising for Halloween pls. Return to sender. No gracias. 🙅🏻♀️ That's why having strong boundaries is sound advice. You're going to be tempted at almost every turn. Even if you don't have many friends, the ones you do have will have transformed into professional ping-pong champions trying to schedule a time to hang out. Although rest is important you ultimately have to prioritise yourself, and your work and create imaginary deadlines ahead of time so you don't get caught up in writing your assignments at the last minute. In summary, I didn't realise how many things I would eventually end up saying no to.
I used to marvel at students that seemed to have all of the answers in our class. I have also been on the receiving end of this. Particularly in my contract law class. But I have to confess the times when I felt and was more capable of answering tutorial questions is because I often had fewer responsibilities than other classmates. For example, I was not working as much at a paralegal firm, and I was able to live at home before my hunger for more independence got the better of me. Ultimately, it's a waste of time fangirling over how smart you think someone else is in your class instead of focusing on what you can bring to the table. Here's the kicker as well, your questions are just as - if not more valuable than the expected answer. Your questions are the smoking gun of your curiosity and desire to apply the legal concept you're learning about to other scenarios and or cases. Hello future lawyer. 🤓
3. Giving it a fair go
Somewhere along the way, you forget that Law School is supposed to be fun. Rote learning your way through lectures can get old really fast. This is why participating in competition moots, watching other university debates online and even the odd Parliamentary speech keeps you engaged. As per usual Julia Gillard's mysogyny speech was so iconic that it was transformed into this banger. #thowbackthursday
If you're struggling with saying no, speaking up in class and feeling the pressure of having to have all the answers after drowning in readings know that you're not alone. You're also in a moment in your legal degree where you have a unique opportunity to make mistakes, ask questions and learn as much as you can.