Freshers is just around the corner but it’s never too early to think of the challenges to come.
In this post, I address four things that I wish someone had told me before I started law school.
Life revolves around your next law event
Well, this may not be entirely true. There are many workshops and legal events available for you to attend – even more so since the beginning of the pandemic, as virtual event offerings have increased in a bid to ensure accessibility to the profession. These workshops and legal events don't just teach you about the law – take advantage of these. It pushes you towards thinking about different sectors and finding out what works for you and what doesn't. Many of which can be applied to life outside of law.
It's an intense few years
It’s so easy to be swept by the crowd. Everyone is talking about training contracts, vacation schemes, mini-pupillages, pupillage and what seems like a never-ending conversation naturally convinces you that you should be doing more to be on your way to becoming a lawyer. As if the workload isn't high enough, the thoughts of being perfect can be consuming. Even when you’re not competing for the best grades and work experience with your peers, you’re competing with yourself to be the best lawyer. It’s important to take a step back and evaluate the legal path you want to take. My best piece of advice for incoming law students would be to find roles that are the most suitable for you and remember that transferrable skills are valuable.
No, not everyone becomes a criminal lawyer
Let’s rewind to my first year of university as I’m sat in my very first criminal law lecture. Our very enthusiastic and inspiring lecturer was amazing at bringing legal problems to life, by relating them to her fictional husband. Suddenly I feel like I’m in an episode of ‘How to get away with murder’ and I know I need to toughen up – not just mentally but also for the journey I was preparing to embark on.
Studying criminal law grips you from the moment you enter the class. Litigation, legislation and real-life problems are brought to life. Next thing you know, your friends and family are expecting you to solve all of their legal problems. The more I learn about the legal profession, the more I realise that there are so many niche areas out there that can be combined with your personal interests, from aviation law to sports law. Some of which can also combine criminal law but are not always applicable to the legal advice those close to you seek. With the daily changes in different areas of the profession, the more opportunities there are for you to develop your own interests and become an expert in that field.
It gets easier!
Going into law school or starting any legal course can feel overwhelming at first. Most of you will not have studied law at A level or even during your undergraduate. It won't always take you over an hour to read a case. Once you get used to all the legal jargon, it does become easier to identify the most important parts of a case. You're not expected to know everything about a case or even recite everything that your lecturer reads to you. Many methods can work, including the Cornell note taking method and writing on lecture slides. A recent question I've been asked is “can I use a tablet for lectures?” If it works for you then don’t let anyone stop you from using that method. Focus on finding a strategy that works for you.
Ultimately, everyone has to start somewhere. Let's be kind to ourselves and enjoy this journey.