I was flipping through my diary and doing my usual panic-because-everything-is-due-in-a-few-weeks-then-it’s-exams, and then I realised that I finish law in a couple of months. I started to think back to the past few years of my life and wondered, “Would I have done anything differently?”
Perhaps I should have worked harder at contracts even though at the time I thought it was just a massive waste of time…now I know better! What are some of the things that current me would tell first year law student me?
1. Studying law is not like being in high school. In year 10 maths, you could have thought: “to hell with trigonometry. How is this going to help me in life if I’m not planning to be an architect?” I know that in first year studying criminal law, I operated on this mode of thought. Now that I am studying my PLT subjects, criminal law work is a key component of the advocacy subject and I’m kicking myself…just a little.
2. Annotated legislation texts are amazing and often, a godsend.
3. It is never too early to look for a job. In my first year, I was a little stunned to even be at law school, let alone think about finding a job. However, I later discovered that my friends who had paralegal jobs were understanding the law much better than me.
I believe that this is all down to the fact that often, the law can be boring and seemingly abstract. When it is applied to a real-life situation that you may encounter at work, it takes on a new level of understanding – suddenly concepts make sense. And it doesn’t hurt to have the experience when applying for clerkships and grad positions. I notice that in interviews, they are far more interested to know more about what you’ve learnt while working in a legal capacity than those three months you worked at Wendy’s in year 10. Work experience is also amazing for when you study the PLT subjects (if that is what you choose to do).
4. Drink V – it helps you stay awake in lectures. However, don’t drink V or coffee on an empty stomach – it will make you feel a little ill and thus, be counter-productive to your goal of paying attention in a lecture if you can’t even stay in the lecture room.
5. Live for the little accomplishments – I find it helps with the ultimate study goal if you enjoy the little achievements along the way.
6. Learn to balance study and fun – after all these years studying law, I feel a bit bad thinking about friends I may have lost along the way. But of course, learn to know when to prioritise your studies, especially if you have friends who don’t understand how stressed you really are.
7. Support from friends and family is invaluable. But the reality is, no one will understand exactly what you are going through unless they have also studied law. Don’t feel too guilty when friends and family members just don’t seem to understand that you need to go home and finish that assessment.
8. Time flies by a lot faster than you expect. In first year, finishing this degree seemed like a very long way away, but right now I can’t believe how fast it has come around. Enjoy all the good moments because you will live through all the bad ones.
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