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Tips for being a law student at university

James Davis

Being a law student can be tough, which is why we’ve compiled a few great tips for getting through it.

Law can be one of the most stressful disciplines, consisting of unending readings, coursework and extracurricular obligations. Fortunately, we have a few ways you can improve your student experience. Granted, enacting these won’t be easy, but if you can it’ll certainly be worthwhile. Here are some of our favourite techniques.

Start doing your readings immediately

You’ve got to manage your time like clockwork when studying law, which means beginning your readings and taking notes on them right after you’re assigned them. You want to be flying through them with all the efficiency you can muster. In doing so however, you must not lose of the goal: actually retaining what you read! To do this more effectively, ask yourself questions about the text. If you can’t answer them, simply go back and read again. Another way to consolidate what you’ve read is attempting to teach it to someone, even if that someone is your pet cat! The act of teaching is one of the best ways to ensure you’ve learned new information, as in doing so you pick up on apparent gaps in your knowledge. Teaching forces you to convey all associated relevant information, whereas merely answering questions or reading can allow knowledge to slip through the cracks. So, make time to not only do your readings, but attempt to teach them as well… unless you have photographic memory of course.

Review previous material before each tutorial

You want to be that annoying person asking questions each class. By engaging with the material, you’re absorbing it to a greater extent. Asking questions allows you to fill esoteric gaps in your knowledge you may not have been able to fill with mere research. Have a resident expert on hand like your professor is a marvellous way of getting the answers you need. However, participating in class discussion and asking questions just isn’t possible without having a reasonable understanding of what you’ll be talking about in class. Again, unless you have a photographic memory, you’ll need to review those notes you made of the lectures and readings so you’ve got a better understanding of the cases or concepts you’ll be discussing.

Give yourself plenty of time to do your assignments

At postgraduate level, you want to give yourself an abundance of time for everything. There’s no room for procrastination here. If you try to cram a law assignment into a night or two, you’ll end up with poor writing and ill-conceived logic that markers will detest and penalise you for. If you treat your law degree like a full time job (or more) and allocate eight or nine hours a day to it, you shouldn’t ever run into the problem of having to cram for exams or assignments. With law, you’ve just got so much research and thought that must be poured into every paper that you can’t afford to just ‘wing it’. You’ve got to explore previous cases and understand previous bodies of work to fully comprehend what you’re arguing or why you’re arguing it. After all, many areas of law are built off… well, previous law. Take plenty of time and you’ll be OK.

Do not compare yourself to others

Law is notoriously competitive. Students have pulled their hair out trying to outdo one another for decades, but this isn’t something you need to engage with. Yes, wallowing through the internship/ clerkship muck and networking like a sycophantic hobgoblin are all part of the game still. That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to engage in one-upmanship with your fellow students trying to reach top of the class or secure one position over another. The world already overflows with bitter rivalries; by stepping away from them and resolving to simply do your best independent of other people, you will liberate yourself of much toxicity. The only thing you should compare yourself to is your previous self.

Hopefully this little article has given you some ideas about de-stressing somewhat, but we entirely understand they’re difficult to implement in practice. Regardless, learning to set aside plenty of time for your assignments and readings, reviewing previous material and steering clear of the rat race we maintain to be great ideas. No matter which of these you choose to implement, if not any at all, we wish you all the best on your journey through postgraduate law at university.