By- Nikita Lamba
Life as a Law Student
Whilst we have all heard a little about studying law at university, whether through family, friends or movies, it is intricate to know what it really does entail and there’s no shortage of stories out there, from the generally accurate to the absolutely fantastical. Law is a great subject to study at university but it does have its challenges.
1. There is a lot of reading.
Just to get the terrifying one off the beaten path first, it is hard to explain how much reading a law degree engross other than to say that there are a lot of law books! Law students get a name for clocking up the library hours because every week you need to gain knowledge of what the law actually is and scholastics’ opinions of it from scrape, and neither of these will be particularly diminutive There is beyond doubt an art to running the reading lists and you will get all the advice you need from older students when you first arrive, but it does take a while to get used to the pace of learning. By the end you won’t believe how swiftly you pick up the key themes of an article or find the important passages from a case. Just be geared up for the unavoidable long nights when you need to stay up getting through a continuous reading list. They do happen but they are only as common as you want them to be.
2. There is no single ‘eureka!’ moment, but it does all come together eventually.
Certain areas of law, particularly contract and tort, deal with diverse types of human action but are so similar in places that they often ‘run out’ just as the other one starts. As you habitually learn only a few topics at a time you may not understand one completely until you have covered the next one. It is absolutely normal to feel a little like you’re in the dark to begin with, even though universities try to organize the courses so that the first year exams at least can stand on their own.
3. There is a rat race, but you don’t need to join it
The law students aren’t measured the quickest off the mark for getting concerned in applications and internships early on in their degree. If you are thinking about fetching a solicitor it is worth applying to those if you want to be ahead of the game, but the big one is the summer vacation plots at the end of your penultimate year. If you are thinking about the Bar then the more mini-pupilages you have under your belt when you fill in your application form at the beginning of your final year the better, and some chambers will expect a certain number as a minimum. However, most of this kicks off at the beginning of second year so you do have time to reconcile into legal study before you need to think about applications. There are other options too like civil service, interning for a while until you make your mind up on a career path or further study. It’s also worth thinking about going to local chambers if that pleads to you, rather than applying to an organized scheme. Make sure you think sincerely about where you want to start off as it is easy to be swept along with the crowd. It is also just a fact of life that the legal sector is very competitive for finding a job. Keep on top of your work, get involved with extra-curricula’s and apply to any schemes which may interest you so that your CV looks as good as it possibly can when you get to more serious applications.
4. You need to sweat the small stuff.
Each degree demands a particular blend of certain skills, law requires both utter command of the details of legislation and cases, and a wider view of how dissimilar areas connect and what they aim to attain. Basically, you need to memorize a lot of things! And you need to be prepared to sit down and learn case laws, and at the very least the key clauses of the relevant legislation so that you can find it in the statute book. It is absolutely normal to have case summaries jammed up round your wall during exam season.
5. It can be absolutely fascinating — especially when you think it won’t be.
Perhaps the big thing to know about a law degree is that there are subjects which you have to study and you expect you won’t enjoy. This is an unfortunate side-effect of the fact that law degrees are at heart vocational and so you study certain areas which are crucial to the smooth functioning of society but aren’t considered too glamorous. Nonetheless, because you have to learn these topics in considerable depth you do find yourself getting far more interested than you ever plan to. Find the interesting element of something which doesn’t originally appeal to you, there will always be one. Make as much of it as is possible as interesting to you as is possible.
6. Being a law student is what you want it to be.
Perhaps the impression is that law students spend their whole lives in the library learning statutes, appear to networking events, at internships or in exams. There is a core amount of work which has to be done, but as a humanities student you’re in the fortunate position of being able to handle your own timetable to a certain extent. Make the most of it! There is also abundance of extra-curricular activities which can be really rewarding. If you’d like to get involved in pro bono work then most law schools have a scheme running, make sure you try some mooting because even though it’s quite scary but it does wonders for your public speaking.
Like any subject at university, studying law has its ups and downs. However, if you’re fascinated in the subject and able to encourage yourself to work sensible hours then there are definitely more positives.