Whether you want to be one of the best Albury solicitors, a top commercial lawyer in New York, or an environmental lawyer who works with non-profit organizations, your first step will be studying law. Although some Hollywood movies make law school seem like an endlessly thrilling adventure, the truth is far different. Here are five facts to keep in mind:
1. Law books are expensive
Your law books – especially the essential textbooks – will cost much more than the latest paperback. In addition, most are non-negotiable requirements. That said, you don’t always need to buy them new. Instead, consider renting a textbook or looking for used options. Better yet, go to the law school library, find the requisite book, and scan the relevant pages.
2. There’s an enormous amount of reading to do
Most newly enrolled students are vaguely aware that a law degree requires a lot of reading. By the middle of year one, however, they’re usually blown away by just how much “a lot” actually is. Expect to make the law library you’re second home. Not only do you need to wrap your head around hundreds of laws, but you’ll need to read the expert commentary on those laws.
The key is to read smart. Over time, you’ll understand the structure of law articles and how to find relevant passages and key themes. Ideally, you start with the conclusion and then work backward to see how it all logically fits together. In addition, learn to separate the parts you can skim from those you must read slowly.
3. Everyone will ask for legal advice
Once you tell friends, family, or the stranger on the bus that you’re studying law, they may feel inspired to ask for legal advice. For outsiders, “the law” is one connected set of rules, and each lawyer knows them all. Practicing lawyers and law students are keenly aware of just how flawed that assumption is.
The study of “law” covers everything from corporate and consumer law to housing and human rights law. One lawyer can’t know all the intricacies of each branch, so knowing the ins and outs of tenancy agreements won’t help a friend who is worried about copyright infringement. Unfortunately, it also won’t stop them from asking for your help.
4. Dry subjects will become more interesting
Most law students don’t come to the study of law with the same passion that art students bring to the study of art. For better or worse, the law is primarily a practical trade rather than a personal calling. Although tax and property laws are essential to society, they’re unlikely to make you jump out of bed with a desire to learn more.
However, the more in-depth you go into property or tax law specifics, the more fascinating you may find it. What once seemed dry and technical can take on a human side as you discover how much rental agreements and inheritance tax affect an individual’s future opportunities.
5. Studying won’t be enough for your CV
As if spending hours in the law library pouring over legal documents wasn’t enough, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for internships and other outside opportunities. That may include placements in a law firm during your first year or summer vacation opportunities during your penultimate year. In both instances, the goal is to fill your CV with stellar academic results backed by real-world experience.
Although law school is difficult, it’s not impossible. All it takes is a bit of planning, hard work, and networking. And the ability to skillfully dodge requests for free legal help won’t go astray!