Let’s face it, law school is hard. However, there are definitely things you can do to make law school marginally less stressful. Here are my top 5 lifehacks for law students:
1. Use the law librarians (they’re awesome)
source // tenor
Actual footage of a law librarian
Law students usually spend inordinate amounts of time in the law school library, but rarely speak to the one person it’s permissible to have long conversations in the library with: the librarian. Most law librarians are specialists in using legal databases and finding the right textbooks. If you’re struggling with research, ask your librarian – they could save you hours and teach you some great research skills.
2. Use the internet
source // brickipedia
You, with your newfound legal research skills
Lecturers often hammer into students that they shouldn’t use the internet for legal research, other than using databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw. However, there are actually a lot of good (free) legal resources online. Obviously, don’t cite Wikipedia in an opinion, but have you ever checked the sources cited in a Wikipedia article? Sometimes, these can lead to actual cases or reliable legal commentary. Similarly, Googling a topic can lead you to good articles and research papers online.
There are also lots of good legal databases online – in particular, check out the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII), Australian Legal Information Institute (AUSTLII), and New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII). Many New Zealand (and overseas) courts and tribunals also post their decisions online – the Employment Law database and Employment Court website are great for employment cases and the “judgments” section of the Courts of New Zealand website uploads many recent decisions. Finally, most international law materials are freely available online – the official United Nations and European Union websites, for example, have extremely comprehensive databases.
3. Get your essays published
If you write an essay or research paper for a course, look into getting it published. There are quite a few journals out there you can submit to, including your university’s law review, the Public Interest Law Journal of New Zealand, the New Zealand Women’s Law Journal and the New Zealand Universities Law Review (ask your lecturer for more ideas). You could also write a more informal piece for a publication like LawTalk or your law school’s website or newsletter based on your research. Getting published anywhere is super impressive on your CV, and if it’s work you’ve already done for a course, you’re killing two birds with one stone.
4. Get smarter about looking for jobs
source // giphy
When you’re at law school, it can seem like the only sources of jobs out there are the big firms, with their heavily publicised clerkship programmes, and that there are literally no other jobs.
However, there are lots of other places where jobs in firms and barristers’ chambers are advertised. First, both the College of Law and the Institute of Professional Legal Studies have job boards advertising jobs for new graduates (the College of Law even has a page where students can post their CVs for prospective employers to look at). Secondly, try websites like TradeMe, SEEK, Jora New Zealand and LawFuel. The Auckland District Law Society also has a job board on its website for law students. Finally, have a look at the job listings in LawTalk, the magazine published by the Law Society.
5. Go for every opportunity - even if you don't think you'll get it.
Apply for every opportunity or job you see. A classic rookie mistake is to think there’s no point, because you don’t have the advertised skills or experience. However, you really never know – there might not be any applicants who exactly fit the job description, or the person doing the recruiting might get in touch later when a role that’s perfect for you turns up.
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