What students wished they knew about Law School
Updated: Jan 31
Law degrees are a popular choice among both undergraduate and postgraduate students. They are known as one of the most competitive and challenging courses available. There is no shortage of commercially available dramatisations and portrayals of the law lifestyle. Notorious offenders include great movies like Legally Blonde to series like How to Get Away With Murder. However, while these make for binge-worthy TV dramas, they also lead to misunderstandings about what to expect when studying law.
As such, this article will reveal truths that many law students wished they knew before enrolling themselves in law school. If you are going to law school or simply just thinking about it, these are the things you should keep in mind to give psych yourself up for some of the best and most challenging years of your career.
Manage your stress
Everyone talks about the pure stress of studying law, it's the only subject I've studied that puts 'dying' into the phrase 'I'm studying.' But how inevitable is this experience? If you enrol in Law school are you forever deemed to be permanently stressed and overworked? Not necessarily. It's worth noting that Law students typically find their first year of Law School to be the most stressful. Usually, this is because there's so much to learn and it's often the first experience law students have concerning the realities of what it's like to study and apply the law.
Incorporating balance into your routine
What I found challenging wasn't applying the law but applying myself. The workload had me occasionally checking the Fair Work Ombudsman's website to see if the work I was putting in was even legal. Just kidding! But you're not a robot and as enduring as that stereotype is, the most important thing is to understand that balance is the key. We have all run into a fellow law student who claimed that they "had weeks where I stayed up late every night for weeks to finish internships and schoolwork." Whilst we admire your commitment to the grind, it's important to keep focusing on your health and relationships as a buffer for your mental health. Knowing how much you can mentally take on and checking in with yourself will prevent you from burning out.
Create reasonable expectations
As is understanding the cyclical pattern of workload each semester.
The quantity of work that needs to be done early in the semester is quite modest. Things usually don't get very severe until the last month or two. Many students' difficulty is that the expectation of a constant heavy workload has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They frequently spend more time studying outside of class than they need to early in the semester because that's what people assume law students do. Create expectations of yourself that are reasonable and allow you to complete tasks ahead of time alongside other commitments that you have in your life.
Ask the right questions
The most important piece of advice for prospective law students is to speak with second and third-year students about how to study for each class. “Expectations differ from professor to professor, and law school teachers, regrettably, are notorious for failing to communicate those expectations. Finding a student that did well in the class, is a good start to figuring out how they expect you to address legal hypotheticals. They'll be able to advise you on when what, and how much to study”.
Manage your time before it manages you
Your top priority should be time management. Make a schedule for yourself, not only for work or school but for everything. Make sure you have a plan for each week. One should keep the substantial hours to studying and class preparation, keeping in mind the class and work schedule. An essential strategy is to set aside time for yourself. Do not place yourself at the bottom of the priority list. Your work won't get done without you, so you need to put yourself first. Make a strategy so you don't end up just meeting your deadlines at the last second. The relief you'll feel from being organised shouldn't be under-estimated.
Build genuine relationships
Don't undervalue the importance of networking! Not only will these relationships be helpful when you're applying for jobs and internships, but they will also help you feel more connected and less anxious whilst studying at University. Many Universities provide law students with numerous opportunities to network. You can socialise with alumni and attorneys, firms, and businesses.
Remind yourself that you're not alone
If you begin to feel that don't belong at your school, know that such feelings are normal. Many senior attorneys advise that many other law students are experiencing the same thoughts. If you are constantly overwhelmed, you can also talk to the school counsellor for guidance and assistance. The truth is that your school didn't make a mistake in admitting you; you belong there and have the ability to achieve.
Edited by Samantha Bodell
Written by Arina Thoggy
Arina Thoggy is a professional journalist and writer. She has several years of experience in writing for different industries in Business and Law. Arina also includes works that provide brilliant tips about Trademark Lawyers in Sydney.