Studying law is a little bit like being in a bubble. The endless hours in the law school, the nerdy legal in-jokes with your fellow students… when you finish, it feels like true liberation. So here is a survivor’s guide – written by a certified survivor – to the good, the bad and the ugly of getting that law degree.
1. The sense of camaraderie with your fellow law students. Once you’ve spent 48 hours straight studying for an exam with somebody – something we genuinely did in third year – you get to know them in a way that you would usually only know your family.
I’ve seen some terrible things.
2. Sometimes, when the ultimate gains from studying law seem all too far off, remember there are some great shorter-term benefits you can reap right now.
Playing the victim with housemates/friends who study other subjects is a prime example, and history of art students were my personal favourite targets. ‘4 hours of contact time per week? Pah! Try 30, and look at all this reading I have to do! Yes, I would love some conciliatory ice cream, thanks.’
3)When somebody asks you a question related to your degree and you know the answer. It’s upsettingly rare, but it does happen, and if you get to quote case law in your answer – well, it’s the most exciting thing in the whole world.
Extra house points if you remember the case name and year!
4)You get a whole separate library. Sometimes it’s within the main library itself, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a) a grand entrance to it and/or b) those old, leather-bound books to look at. Looking intellectual is so much easier when armed with a book from the 1800s.
5. Free stuff at careers events! In time, you’ll get to know which firms have the best sweeties (Slaughter & May) and the best pens (Clifford Chance) – and that’s before even thinking about the bar tabs at networking events!
Those bar tabs have killed many a burgeoning career...
1. Endless networking at careers events, when you only went for the sweets! Are those jelly beans still worth it at the end of a 40 minute conversation on commercial litigation? More often than not, no...
2. he size of the books. A book of 2000 pages does sometimes seem like a sadistic form of torture, although it also builds muscle. You don’t need the gym when you can carry Jenny Steele’s Tort Law to the library and back...
3. You don’t get the most amount of free time, ever... The famous choice between good grades, a social life and getting any sleep at all (you can pick two, but never have all three) becomes all too real in the midst of a law degree.
4. R v Brown, R v Bourne and the assortment of other truly heinous cases you hear about. Sometimes sad, sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes purely outrageous. After a while, nothing will shock you, and Jeremy Kyle becomes bland and boring when compared to your Obligations module.
5. The sense of protective jealousy you feel over your subject and/or career field. There will be a period in third year when a wave of previously uninterested history students will decide to do the GDL post-graduation, and suddenly begin talking to you about life as a solicitor... Never have you felt so sulkily defensive. No, no, no! Law is mine!
1. Yourself, after essay deadline season. Is that a piece of popcorn in your hair? Probably, yes.