Exams are FINALLY over! My preparation was punctuated by illness, work disruption and a whole load of other things but then I just realised that that is just life. Oh yes, to those who are coming in as 1Ls… welcome to our beloved law school! Welcome to four years of constant assignments and deadlines to meet, quizzes to attempt, concepts to grasp and the constant worry that your efforts are insufficient to get that seemingly elusive 3.5. If all this sounds foreign to you now, rest assured, you will feel acquainted pretty soon. Whatever it is, you are in law school now and I personally have the distinct and humble honour of being a senior once again!
This kinda sounds like me organising an orientation for the freshmen but let me assure you, you do not have time for orientation. You may not even have time for your work. For those of you with families, you will have less time to spend with your loved ones. However, focus on the pot of gold that is 4 years ahead of you. Oh and having gone through year 1, here are some of my thoughts having completed year 1.
Law school is not that tough if you enjoy reading and writing
Ok so here’s a disclaimer. It’s going to be tough. Tougher than you’ve ever felt. Law school is tough on itself. However, if you are working (and I assume most of you are) then this should be a major challenge. Throw in handling a family, children and other commitments and you’ve got the perfect recipe for sleep deprivation and an eventual realisation of what it means to have too much on your already very limited plate. I felt it but I think the toughness was mitigated by the fact that I enjoyed reading cases and writing assignments. I had extremely limited time to study. I spent my lunch hunched over at my desk reading the cases for the next seminar. I end work pretty late and I exercise almost every day and I’ve learned to absorb while listening. I listen to reruns of past lectures while I exercise to save time. I end my days looking at study units and I find it absolutely amazing that we have LawNet! A database of all the cases at a click of a button. I actually love reading cases. So when people ask me how my first year was, I typically will reply that it was extremely tough but I loved it! If you love to read and write and are willing to put in the hard work, I do think that you would do fine.
Make friends… loads of them!
I did not expect to make this many friends when I entered law school. I thought that since this was a course filled with mature students with regular day jobs and families, there would be less interaction and less socialisation. However, you quickly form study groups. Unless you are doing this course full time and do not have to juggle having a job and parenting duties, then perhaps you could get away with being a loner and doing this on your own. I could not. I depend on my classmates for views and motivation throughout the semester. If you are accepting of others and their ideas, you can have an extremely fruitful law school experience. These people are going to be your future colleagues in the legal profession. They are going to have the same degree from the same university as you. Every individual is a reflection of our beloved law school. And trust me, discussing the TMAs and concepts are extremely fun. If you cannot mix well with others then how are you going to go out there are be a family and criminal lawyer? I have the loveliest of friends and we celebrate each other’s birthdays, share life’s precious moments like how our children are doing in school and keep fit by exercising together (Oh yes, a bunch of us are into fitness and we’ve started visiting the gym on campus on Saturday mornings. Yes, there is a gym on campus).
Constitutional and Administrative Law is not that bad
I loved it! This was my favourite module in year 1. I hope I did fine for my exams but I absolutely loved this module. Understanding the fundamental liberties and applying them. It was such a joy to read the readings. It was heralded as the toughest module in year 1 but when classes started I started to develop an absolute love for the module. Then seeing concepts and cases appear in real life and on the news further stoked my interest. The case of Nagendran and the concept of parliamentary immunity were of particular interest to me as they linked back to the concepts in the study units. I actually found myself researching cases that were not part of the listed readings just because I wanted to see how some particular concept panned out in other cases. That being said, some of my classmates shared with me that they found this particular module tough. I did too but I found it absolutely enjoyable. It’s like doing squats in the gym. It’s tough but once you’re done with the exercise, you feel extremely satisfied and look forward to the next legs day.
Surround yourself with positive people
There will be all sorts of people in law school. It is best that you surround yourself with good people and always respect the views of others. This is especially true if you want your own views to be respected. You can agree to disagree but always do it in a respectful manner. I have yet to see a single individual who has a monopoly on legal knowledge so always remember that everyone is still learning. You have the freedom to choose who you want to surround yourself with. There will always be a couple of those who are always spreading positive vibes and extremely respectful of others. Stick to those people. Be friends with them! The legal profession is a noble one… (You will learn this in LAW401 – Ethical Legal Practice and Client Care) and thus you should always respect the views of your fellow learned classmates. Positivity and encouragement is something that you can never have too much off.
Make loads of memories
Law school can be enjoyable if you choose to make it so. Sure it’s really tough but no one said that it had to be boring. Conflating the two would be wrong. I’m a quarter way through my journey and I’ve no regrets!
Well except perhaps my second assignment for LAW303 and part of the final question for the LAW401 exam…
To all my fellow 1Ls, the first year is over!
Some valuable memories to keep…
Here’s to an awesome year 2 ahead…
p.s. Oh yes. Once again, welcome to our beloved SUSS School of Law to all incoming 1Ls!