Thoughts About Studying Law
I have only been studying Law for a few months but I can safely say that I have experienced a thousand emotions within this period. I will start with some of the less exciting things about studying Law before I move on to explain the best things about the course.
To start with, the most popular and obvious one is that Law requires a lot of reading. Words alone cannot do justice to explain how much reading is required of a law student. Sure enough, there will be certain students with photographic memory who may not need to study as much as the others but the essential point is that if you want to do well, you must sit down, read the content, understand it and regurgitate it in your own words. Being on deck with the reading is certainly doable but the issue is that this is university - things get in the way every time and it becomes difficult to keep up with your reading.
The second pet peeve is that some topics are extremely boring. It is no news that the reading process is so much easier if you can understand the content because then, it is easily remembered. However, this is not the case for those dry cases and core readings. Sometimes, it discourages you from even reading which in turn could demoralise you when you have set out to achieve something that day. For this kind of situations, cramming could be the only solution especially when the topic makes a consistent appearance in the exams. Of course, it is never fun to cram so much information at a go but it is inevitable in Law school.
Third, the competition in Law school is fierce. It sounds harsh and I do not intend to put you off but there is some sort of rat chase that goes on in Law school. The first kind of competition you will come across are the law students themselves. Inevitably, some students have the competitive mentality so are only there to be the best and nothing but the best. These are the kind of people that want to know your grades so they can compare if they have performed better than you. That said, you certainly do not have to join them; Law allows for so much independence (which is great) but you cannot study it on your own. You need people to help you, to encourage you and to support you which is unlikely to happen if you are one of those sorts of people. The second type of competition is the race for career opportunities. While there are so many opportunities open to law students of every year group, places are limited. There is no pressure to rush into applying for job opportunities but you are doing yourself harm if you are not polishing yourself and increasing your chances of getting employed. Get involved with extra-curricular activities and remember that the people who chase after opportunities usually get them; so, if you want one, get applying. Just remember to take your time and know what suits you.
Fourth, law students do not usually write as much as they read. This could be a good thing but I find it ironic because, why do we read so much if we do not need to write things down somewhere? As aforementioned, you have to read far and wide to increase your prospects of success but this is not the same for writing, as lawyers are expected to be concise writers. So, the essential point is not how much you write but how you write it. In exams, you may have extensively read but no exam time condition will ever allow you to write as much as you want to. The same applies to essays, as you are expected to identify what is relevant out of a mass of information and then explain it concisely. It does not seem like a challenge until you are stuck with a perfect essay that is well above the word count. Don’t worry, you will gradually learn this as you progress. Now, to move on to the absolute best things about studying Law!
Firstly, fast-forward back to my first point about how much reading the course requires. Well, the good news is that as time goes by, you develop two skills called skimming and scanning. Skimming means reading a text to get only the general or main idea and scanning involves looking for a specific fact without reading everything. I remember my very first reading, it was fifty-pages long and although I started in the morning, I did not finish until past 5 pm. How this happened is what I cannot explain. The main point is that now, I could have hundreds of pages to read but will only need to jot down five important points. Speed reading is a skill you may not realise you are developing until you are far into the course.
Secondly, Law is fascinating. While growing up, I always heard that ‟lawyers are smart liars” and I never understood the concept until I started studying Law. As a law student, you learn how to manipulate the law so it favours you. The creativity that comes with this is interesting. It always amazes me when I read a case and see how a party or even a judge has managed to twist the law so ridiculously, but it still makes complete sense. This is why there is no right or wrong answer in Law – you are encouraged to explore your creativity. As long as you support your stance with authorities and your confidence comes across in your writing, you will most likely impress your marker. It is not incredibly easy to get marks that range higher than 70% but it is also not impossible. Always remember that your markers are looking to reward you so give them a reason to do that.
The third point is that law students are usually pampered. Be it through the champagne and drinks during a networking event or the many freebies you will get from law firms competing to increase their presence on campus. Law firms usually sponsor most Law Societies so as a member, you benefit from discounted social events and lots more. More so, this means that you have more job opportunities at your door step. Therefore, it is incredibly important to take advantage of every opportunity the Law Society has to offer because things will not be the same upon graduation.
Fourth, have I mentioned how Law teaches to be resilient? Personally, Law tries you, it challenges you, it pushes you to the very edge but the whole journey of the course is pushing through all these hurdles. In fact, when I come across applications that ask questions like ‘please describe a time you have faced a stressful situation and how you responded to the challenge’, I feel like writing ‟I study Law”. The same could be said for other courses but I think we learn so much from sifting through thousands of cases and dealing with countless principles. If you learn any life skill from studying Law, it is resilience.
Now on a more natural basis, you will have friends that will be in the journey with you but most especially, you will be surrounded with equally creative people. Some of your friends will have answers to a problem that you may have never thought of before. Consequently, you will begin to appreciate diversity and automatically start to recognise that there is always the other side to a story. Law keeps you on your toes such that you are always prepared with a backup plan because you never know what might come at you. Finally, even if you do not want to be a lawyer in the end, the skills you acquire from studying law make you suitable for several other jobs. There are so many transferable skills that are applicable to other areas, so don’t worry if you change your mind.
All things considered, sure enough, Law has its not-so-exciting moments. It may also get more challenging as you climb up the ladder but trust me, it is rewarding in the end. Watching people succeed with great results is always an assurance. After all, no course is exceptionally easy, you signed up for hard work by attending university so get to work and do not give in to your doubts.