I received an email comment on my blog by a sweet follower (thanks for that!) asking to share my experience in law school and what to expect etc. I think that’s a great suggestion because I used to have 101 questions before applying for it as well and I would get typical comments like “oh it’s hard, make sure you read a lot” “make sure you do history in alevels” blah blah. But I wanted to know more about university life in general. I think that’s equally important. I wanted to hear something different. So I went to university and found out myself.
Reading law as a first degree isn’t hard actually. Being in university isn’t hard either. Heck some find it to be a breeze (cos work is the killer). And from what I’ve heard and seen, law school only seems to be hard till you meet the Bar/CLP course (which comes after). Now that’s harder. Harder to manage, harder to pass (I have yet to experience this, makes me nervous actually). And btw, totally different from law school. Law school teaches you theories and principles. Learning to apply it in proper practice is a whole another chapter.
It’s hard to comment on what exactly to expect because every [law] school is different. The workload and assignments given is different, the expectation of attendance and performance is different and generally each body of students is different.
I went to University of Reading and I loved it. My classes and timetable became more relaxed as I progressed into 2nd and final year. I HAD SO MUCH FREE TIME. I wished I made better use of it (don’t we all) but I don’t regret anything. Life in Reading was sweet. But like I said, every school is different and depending on the ranking, reputation and size of law school, the system will be different. Some do 12 subjects divided into termly exams, some (like me) do a fix 5-6 for 1 year. But it’s no biggie.
Reading is required, definitely. How much reading you do differentiates you from other students and as the cliche saying goes…the more reading you do, the more you’ll know and will be able to contribute to discussions in tutorials.
What you did in pre-uni does not really matter. I’ve met many who did all sorts of subjects, some did all sciences, some did the typical english lit, history etc (like me). Of course you will be at an advantage if you do subjects such as history and english literature because it develops your language and analytical skills. But from what I’ve understood, doing subjects like math would equally put you at an advantage for it teaches you logical thinking (argued to be lacking in many law grads).
I chose to read law because it’s a professional degree with a wide career path and high relevance in any industry. Not all who study law become lawyers. In fact so many people who venture out into journalism, business, politics and the like have law backgrounds. But it’s what you learn in law school/university, the kind of knowledge imparted from your lecturers and subjects that challenge your thinking and mature it in the process. Learning to write better essays, understanding theories and applying it to problems, developing critical thinking; just some of the many important aspects of law school you will take away when you leave. It’s great. University really teaches you a lot.
If you ask me, yes I found law school hard. The environment was superb but I did not always meet the expectations of the subjects. I’m no good with arguing about legal principles and theories (highly dreaded) but I do enjoy application and so I guess I prefer doing the CLP more because now it’s all about applying the principles.
The best advice based on my experience would be..
i) Always go to tutorials, you get to recap on what you learned in the lecture and get answers to tutorial questions that could potentially come out in exams
ii) You don’t have to read every single case (daunting isn’t it?) but if a lecturer insists you do, read it. Reading cases is good because it tells you about the law/principle.
iii) Studying last minute is a really bad idea. You get nervous, tense and easily forget what you’ve just studied. With law, theres so much to know!! So have good time management and organise your oh so free time accordingly.
Reading law is fun. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot just by attending lectures. University is even more fun. So always make the most of it!