They say you should live life without regret, but you will certainly come across short cuts you discover once you’ve walked the much longer route. Here are some tips you might want to take on board in the comeuppance of your first year at law school.
You thought you knew it all.
By the time you reach university, you might already have your own opinion on law, but just put that aside one minute. University is a world of leading academics who (believe it or not) know what they’re talking about. Your lecturers don’t spend all their time marking homework and completing lesson plans; they are leading the way for research in various areas of law. You are young and arrogant, and finding the footing for what will be the next 60 or so years of your life (save for adult learners). Listen to your lecturers, take on their advice, follow their guidance and remember that your way is NOT always the better way.
Be careful who your friends are.
Making friends at university is almost compulsory for a student who has fled home to live in a new city. For some people, not having friends is the biggest fear for any student. For others, it doesn’t come to mind. The key point here is not to jump into pyjamas with anyone and everyone for the sake of having friends. There will be some people out to take advantage of your position, in both an intellectual and financial capacity. It is even more true with law students – with the view that friends are not friends if they don’t share notes on assessments. Keep in mind that some law students are extremely cunning predators who will claw you with their talons if it means they are one step ahead of you in applying for a training contract, pupillage or vacation schemes. Don’t be the step on the ladder, and don’t let others take credit for your hard work!
Focus on your own success.
In light of what I have said above, university really has to be about you. It’s your money, your future, your career. You’re doing it for yourself. If you have ever experienced that embarrassing moment when you tripped up in front of your crush, it’s kind of like that. So don’t trip up as a result of what other people are doing, whether they’re struggling or sailing through. It’s not good for your self-esteem to be sizing yourself with your learned friends (pardon the pun); you’re taking one unhelpful blow to your confidence. Adversely, if it is you who is sailing through – observing the struggle by your peers might make you complaisant. I think it best that we should not forget about the humiliation the tortoise subjected onto the hare.
First year does
If I had a quid for every time I heard the phrase “first year doesn’t count” at university; I probably still couldn’t afford the LPC – but you get my point. This outlook that first year doesn’t count is severely flawed in many ways and I will explain why. Your first year at law school is a margin for making mistakes, and the idea is that you learn from those mistakes. Make the mistakes now because you cannot even imagine the increasing workload you will be taking on in your second and third year. Although this next point applies more to those career-driven students who know where they’re going; your first year grades will be taken into consideration by most major firms and chambers. The legal profession has created all sorts of digital hoops which students must jump through, from “verbal reasoning tests” to data entry forms for every qualification you have ever received. These clever computer systems know how to skim the cream of the crop, and those with a rubbish first year grade are immediately out of the game. Computer says no.
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