I am going to lay it all on the table bluntly – there is nothing that truly prepares you for the stress of law school.
That reality is all too real right now as I sit writing in my onesie, holding my 3rd cup of tea, and going over my exam revision notes. But like anything in life, it all depends on how you look at the situation. If you are a ‘glass half full’ kind of person, there are numerous positive learning outcomes that can be drawn from being regularly subjected to the often cruel and inhumane punishment of law exams. It’s a test not only of your knowledge, but also of your willpower and resolve.
For law students, it teaches us how to be disciplined, how to problem solve and manage our time effectively, how to cope mentally and physically during prolonged periods of extreme stress as well as how to perform well under pressure. These are life skills that lawyers use throughout their careers. As a final year law student I feel (or perhaps I hope!) that I have adopted some excellent strategies that enable me to cope in times of high stress.
So how can you benefit from law student life hacks, without going through the horror of law school yourself? Keep reading.
Be Collaborative, Not Competitive
It’s just as relevant in life as it is in law school.
Law students must grapple with a competitive drive deeply ingrained from day one. We are led to believe that competitiveness is necessary to get better marks and secure a top job after graduating. However, this is not necessarily true.
More often than not, a fuller understanding of complex legal principles can come from teamwork and collaboration. This is something that takes many law students a long time to fully appreciate.
Working together in study groups not only helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses but also helps you work through twice as much revision as you would if you were working alone. Collaborating with other students is also the fastest way to form strong and lasting friendships based on mutual trust and respect. Incidentally, it also means that you always have someone willing to go to Doughnut Time with you.
Collaboration over competition is a mindset that is easily transferable to any work environment. Teamwork, the capacity to network and develop good working relationships with a range of stakeholders as well as knowing when to ask for the input, advice and support from a more experienced colleague, show that you have high emotional intelligence.
These are some of the most attractive qualities employers look for in a job candidate – and they have nothing to do with your university grades.
Think like a lawyer: It takes a team to build a dream.
Prepare & Practice
If there is one thing law students know how to do, it is prepare.
This could be for a 100% exam, a mooting competition or big tutorial presentation. For most law students, planning ahead, working out a study schedule and breaking the semester’s content into digestible chunks are basic study survival skills.
One of the most difficult skills developed during law school, however, is the ability to apply relevant law to complex factual scenarios. Not unlike preparing for a job interview, this skill requires training, practice and perseverance.
Using the same planning, discipline and practical techniques used by law students can really help you to prepare for interviews and even everyday work meetings.
To succeed at interview, you need to show your employer that you understand what they want in a new recruit and that you are competent at carrying out those duties. This can only be demonstrated through practice and preparation. Know the company website inside out, research panel members who will be interviewing you and set up a mock interview session with someone you trust. Ask them to fire practice questions at you in an adversarial style, just as a law student would prepare for a mock trial.
You can also use the same technique to prepare for meetings. Know the content that you will deliver and prepare with palm cards. You may wish to put together a slideshow and try to anticipate follow up questions from colleagues.
Adopting these skills demonstrates initiative, leadership and conscientiousness which will pave the way for future success.
Think like a lawyer: Never be caught unprepared.
Be Organised & Remember You Are Human
Law students love to develop effective and unique systems to aid study.
When preparing for exams, law students need to wade through hundreds and hundreds of pages of materials. They must not only read, absorb and remember these principles, but also understand how to apply them in real life scenarios. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable stack of papers, the only way to avoid being buried like a hoarder is to suck it up, organise every subject into a dedicated chunk of study time and get into it – no procrastinating!
Law students know better than anyone that to be an effective studier and pass your exams, you have to be highly organised and prepared. This order provides a sense of clarity and control in a time of chaos and intense stress during exam period.
What law students understand is that study must work around life. Not the other way around. Spending time with friends and family, having the occasional wine (or three) and exercising are critical to happiness and success.
Think like a lawyer: You cannot do your best work in chaos. Get organised, get your work done efficiently, and factor in time for yourself.
Think we’ve missed anything? Let us know in the comments section below!