As of September 2016 I will be a final year law student at the LSE. Soon to be a graduate it seems like the end of an era. Now as I am approaching the final hurdles of my law degree, dare I say that I am now a more knowledgeable human being, there are some things I wish I knew before I started law school.
1. Lectures are more important than you think.
For certain units that are tedious and quite frankly a dread to study, please make extra effort to attend the lectures. This is necessary in order for you to grasp an understanding (by fire by force) and it’s also necessary if you know fully well that you won’t be doing the reading “in your own time”. At least if you go to the lecture you will have a rough idea of what’s going on.
2. When times get tough, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in it.
This is not specific to law student, this can be instructive to those in other disciplines. In my first year with exams around the corner, I found myself being enveloped with fear, doubt and I felt extremely lonely. I found myself forgetting things that I had studied in depth and constantly questioning myself and my capabilities. I must say I am allergic to failure, but instead of this being a driving force to propelling me forward, this turned into something negative to the extend that my brain shut down.
Personally, coming from a very strict Caribbean background, I was told often to ‘suck it up’ and ‘you can do even more hours of studying’ and so for a while I remained hardened. However, when I opened up and spoke about it all, I was granted great relief. If you find yourself going through any of the above, please do not be afraid to speak to student support and take advantage of their counselling sessions or speak to friends in your course. You might think that you are the only one undergoing such stress but don’t fool yourself, once you’ve open up, you will be surprised.
3. It’s not essential to read everything!
Of course studying law you will undoubtedly be bombarded with a lengthy reading list. The first thought which may run through your brain is “Are they having a laugh?’ Followed by a “How am I going to read all this?”
I remember going to one of my first LLB introductory talks at LSE and being told that reading for 40 hours a week is the bare minimum if I wanted to pass. I took that to heart. And in my first year I felt guilty every time I fell short. But to be frank, most the articles are in fact repetitive and you only truly need to extract a couple of quotes to impress the examiner. So long as you have a flavour of what it is you are studying and you do a few extra readings, you are in good stead. What I have learnt in the pass few years is that it is not about how much you know, it’s how well you can argue and sustain that argument in an exam.
4. Do not compare yourself to others.
Of course it’s not a problem to be inspired by your peers. However, be yourself, do your absolute best, don’t get hung up on the fact that Freddy is getting a first and you’re still stuck on a 2:1.
5. Be strategic with your revision.
You would think that this goes without saying but in the midst of revision panicking can make you do crazy things. The fear of the unknown of exams can make you revise all ten topics in one unit. That’s not advisable, of course you want to do well but don’t play silly. Being strategic and reviewing past exam papers to find trends can really save you time and energy when preparing for exams. It will instruct your reading and you can walk into the exam room feeling like a boss.
6. You don’t have to wait till second year to start networking
There is no such thing as a start date to network. Networking is the most valuable skill you can develop and it’s never to early to start. Being a keen bean is absolutely okay. For example, you want to be a Solicitor at a Magic Circle law firm, let it be known, let the recruiters be a aware of your presence. Start placing the building blocks of your future career, when it comes to writing applications, all those networking events and the things you have learnt along the way will give you the confidence to convince a firm to employ you.
7. Do not let the negative comments of your seminar teachers phase you.
Seriously, if it isn’t constructive feedback block it all out. Don’t let the words of a professor make you doubt yourself. Even if you got a 58 in an essay, that doesn’t mean that you will get a 58 in the actual exam.
8. Choosing Modules
Don’t just choose modules because you think at it will impress your potential employer. University is a time to explore different areas of law that you are interested in, for instance you may not want to be a family lawyer but you may have an interest in the area. There is no harm in choosing such a module, getting a great grade and pushing up your overall grade average.
9. Put God first in your studies.
As a person of faith, I wish I had depended more on God in the early stages of my degree. It would have saved me from worrying. If you find something difficult, pray for understanding. Pray for the giver of knowledge to breathe life into your studies. With prayer you can never go wrong, it’s not by your might that you passed, it’s by His Grace.
10. Have fun! (More often)
Just because you are a law student it doesn’t mean that you have to stop living. On Friday leave that darn library early. Join societies and try new things! Let your hair down. Go out and have a drink, even if you can’t dab (like me) loosen up and do something that is completely unrelated to your studies.
Article by Chrisann Jarrett