A special thanks to our guest blogger: Lulu H
Law school is a tough journey for any kind of student – no matter how hard they have to work to get good grades - or how much they have to learn. There are lots of things that you can do to make sure that when you graduate you are the best prepared for the career ahead of you.
Be prepared to work hard - just don't give up!
Law school is not a short trip. Remember when you’re studying that you’ll want to improve yourself overall and not just ‘spot fix’ certain assessment pieces. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for hard work – especially in law school. Don’t feel frustrated if you’re just beginning to change your habits. Try to look at yourself now and create a lifestyle and learning habits that you can sustain over the next four to five years.
While it’s important to get good grades, the real importance is to understand the mechanics behind your assessment.
Most students can get a credit or distinction average with a bit of work. What distinguishes the good students from the future lawyers, is that the future lawyers will look to see how they can apply what they’ve learned to a multitude of different scenarios – because they understand the complex thought process behind the law.
I got to see a pre-trial process first hand!
This step is not as easy as it sounds. Law school is often heavily theoretical and many legal concepts won’t be properly understood unless you have an opportunity to see how it works in the practical field. A common example of this is in contract law, where a lot of legal courses focus on the disputes – and you don’t get to see that there’s a multitude of negotiations and changes to the claim before the court.
If you can’t have a set practical outlet, try to join a local legal aid group as a volunteer and see if you can be an observer for a few hours every month.
It is very easy to be swept up in the ‘go hard or go home’ culture of law school. It allows students with a one-track mind to thrive as the hours that they spend studying is quickly rewarded with high grades. Unfortunately, they’re not maximizing their law degree – they’re just making the right noises to get the good grades. To truly get the most out of your law degree, try to learn something a bit different to your fellow peers, like a language, a science or an art and examine the law in this field.
This special skill may become useful in later interviews post law school, where you can offer a particular skill or knowledge base that clients may be searching for. Don’t shy away from specialist areas – the law is a highly unpredictable field and you never know what your client will need!
A little bit of dedication can take you a long way...
I know I’m not the only one who can be a little intimidated about going to consultation sessions. When I was in first year I was often worried that I would look silly or like I wasn’t trying hard enough. More than once I felt like I was singling myself out to be called on more in tutorials – which left me pretty unhappy!
However, going to consultations is a bit like swallowing vitamin pills. Once it’s done you can guarantee that you’ll reap in the benefits for a while to come. Consultation sessions offer you the opportunity to go over things in more detail than you can in a tutorial group or in a lecture group and they allow you to get to know your lecturer better.
When you study a language, a lot of teachers will tell you to walk around and just say random words in the language that you are learning. The idea is that, a lot like a baby, you will encourage your brain to form new pathways that help you to understand the language concepts. The law is no different. It is a unique way of communicating that can take a while to understand - when I first started at law school I felt like a lot of the lecture material went right over my head! So, I started a blog where I would write about the topics of that week. A lot like the ‘blabber’ method, this rambling article was a brilliant way to piece together complex concepts.
I would recommend either writing an article or talking to a very kind friend about whatever topic you’re learning. Try to do this with all topics – because you want to learn the information at an advanced and not superficial level.
This may seem a little out of place in a study article, but I guarantee you this will help you to learn self-discipline. Choose some clothing rules, for example no shorts or floral prints, that you only follow when you’re studying. This will help your brain to remember that while it’s wearing ‘study clothes’ it needs to focus. Over time it will have the added benefit of allowing you to separate the stress of law school and personal life.
Enforce may sound like a strong word but I can guarantee that while you’re in the midst of study, balance won’t come easy. While you’re on break make yourself follow a strict routine of healthy eating, study and exercise. Guidelines recommend eating fruits and vegetables daily, and exercising moderately for at least 30 minutes. Maintaining a healthy schedule will allow you to tackle your law degree head on!
Find out more about my law school life at lulu-h.blogspot.com.au
or follow me on Instagram: @theunderagelawyer