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Why study law?

Why study law?

Syndy Liew

04/04/2022

Reading time: four minutes

For those contemplating pursuing a law degree, this LCN Blog post will set out my three main reasons for pursuing law, including considerations and resources that might help you decide. 

You don’t have to become a lawyer

Having a law degree is versatile. If you’ve been dreaming of becoming a solicitor or barrister, pursuing a law degree will come in handy for you (of course, you could still pursue a career in law without a law degree through other routes).

Check out LawCareers.Net’s Solicitor’s hub and barrister’s hub to hear from expert lawyers.

Studying law will hone key skills such as critical thinking, discipline, and the ability to communicate well through written or oral work which will help you excel in whatever career you choose.

For example, Eve Cornwell, a YouTuber known for her law school vlogs, left her training contract at a magic-circle firm to pursue a career in legal technology. Furthermore, law firms have also started to offer non-legal career routes in legal tech or project management. 

I wasn’t sure about what career I wanted to pursue upon graduation, but I’m interested in learning how the law operates to regulate society and the market. If you’re in a similar position, a law degree will be a good option to further your interest and help you discover what alternative careers are of interest. 

Unsure what to do with your law degree? Read this LCN Says: ‘What should I do with my law degree?

Law school opportunities 

Most universities or law societies will provide plenty of opportunities to hone your legal skills, such as mooting and negotiation competitions. Law students will also be given opportunities to attend law career fairs to gain insights into the different career options available for a law student. Since the pandemic, many firms have either continued with virtual law fairs or are choosing a mix of virtual and face-to-face law fairs.

More specifically, my university sends out a weekly employability newsletter that sets out all the opportunities (research opportunities, work experience, volunteering opportunities and more) that law students can apply for. For example, my university recently advertised a human rights work experience scheme and organised a talk about a career in financial regulation.

These opportunities are not necessarily exclusive to law students (though some might be) but studying law doesn’t mean that you’re only limited to legal opportunities. There’s a diverse range of opportunities that your law degree qualifies you for! 

There’s no right or wrong answer

Before coming to the UK for university, the subjects I took in my country were mainly STEM subjects, which means there are fixed sets of right and wrong answers when it comes to applying knowledge.

Even for subjects such as History, our understanding of the subject is accessed based on a prescribed scope of answers that are considered ‘model answers’. However, one key thing that my tutors emphasised in law school is that there’s no right and wrong answer. Our quality of answers is based on our ability to defend a position well-supported with evidence. Of course, when it comes to answering problem questions, you need to apply the correct legal authority to support your argument.

Personally, this form of learning is different from what I’m used to, which makes the degree intellectually challenging for me. I also find that my critical thinking skills have been improving. My tutor always encourages us to voice out our positions regarding a legal issue during seminars and provide reasons why we chose to support one position and over the other. 

Some other considerations

Learning structure

Depending on the university, your contact hours are made up of lectures and seminars. Students that attend the University of Bristol have online lectures and in-person seminars. It’s important to figure out your learning structure; do you lean more towards zoom lectures or are you more engaged when the lecturer is in the same room as you?

Volume of readings

There is a lot of reading to do. I have around eight hours of pre-reading for each module to complete before attending tutorials. My seminars rotate fortnightly where I have three modules in one week. The amount of readings is still something that I’m getting used to and I can count on one hand the amount of time I complete my readings. 

Exam criteria

This year, I have two coursework and four timed-assessments (open book exams), each worth 100%. This varies between different universities. For timed-assessments, they usually consist of essay questions and problem questions. Essay questions involve thinking about ambiguous areas of law (this makes sense since the law is continuously developing).

Problem questions are where you apply the law to a certain scenario. I personally enjoy problem questions because those are really fun to work on.

Imposter syndrome

I’m sure this applies to students doing any course. There will always be someone who excels in certain course areas that you might struggle with. I still struggle with imposter syndrome especially looking at the achievements of my coursemates (such as winning the debating competition or mooting competition). I would then start to doubt whether I really deserve a spot on a work experience scheme that I gained given how brilliant law students all are. 

Resources

The Forage

Law firms such as Latham & WatkinsLinklaters LLP have virtual internship experiences that simulate shadowing a lawyer. You can check out the type of work that lawyers typically do in different practice areas. 

YouTubers

Eve Cornwell, Lucy Cole and Libbie Miles make university vlogs that provide a glimpse into life as a law student. For those interested in Scottish law schools, Amy Flight is a law student from the University of Strathclyde who vlogs regularly.

LawCareers.Net

I relied on the Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law as my main point of research prior to starting university. 

Books

  • Letters to a Law Student: A Guide to Studying Law at University by Nicholas McBride; and
  • The Rule of Law by Lord Bingham (I still use this book in writing my essays).