I’m always in constant awe that I –previously a rebellious, unmotivated teenager– am actually studying law. Prior to, specifically 2014, I was a troubled teen that was honestly destined to be nowhere. Quite literally, nowhere. Yet somehow, I was able to turn my life around and finally reach a point where I can sit down, reflect on my life and feel extremely proud.
The idea of pursuing law was quite a recent development. Vividly, I remember in my years of early VCE, I found a passion and interest in my legal studies class. With the addition of an extremely inspiring and vivacious teacher, he truly helped me find a direction in law. I speak in such awe of him because in hindsight, if I hadn’t enjoyed his class as much as I did, perhaps, I would have taken a different direction. He was the kind of teacher that emphasised to all his students about how much the law can impact each and every individual. Both good and bad. He always had stories to share about his experience as a lawyer; each class he would come in prepared with a story to tell us that directly related to the topic we were learning. I enjoyed listening, even with thoughts of doubt about how truthful it was, because I found myself imagining myself in the position of his stories and think about what I would do, or how I would have argued a certain point or more importantly, thought about how our legal system had let us down. Morally, I had a compassionate mind; legally, I had an objective mind.
Fast forward a couple of years from then, I find myself in my second year of my law degree. The more I learn about the system, the more holes and flaws I notice. Currently, I am taking contracts, torts, international law and policy and a research unit where I am examining the correlation between law and economic development. Whilst its always an admirable feeling when people are astonished that I am studying law, it is definitely not all glitz and glam. I do not have the impression that because I study an area where its deemed socially ‘prestigious’, I am superior or the like. In fact, I despise pretentious law students. I do not hold myself to a higher standard than those who practise a trade, or those that run a nail salon. I religiously rely on going to my nail salon to maintain my manicures, what would I do without them? I’d hopelessly be living with no electricity if I had to try manifest my own circuit.
Truth is, I’ve never viewed myself academically capable of studying such a demanding degree. Law school tends to do that to you. Theres always something to be learned and there’s always people who are smarter or people who can speak better. You can never be caught up, you are always catching up. The long, gruelling hours of reading case judgements and journal articles, I am exhausted. It seems as though law school is an endless cycle of reading and interpreting. At this moment, the equation looks something like: 70% reading 20% interpreting 10% what the hell is the conclusion? You will find 100 judgements on one area of the law, 40 of them with conflicting views and another 30 of them that contradict the ones before. I guess that is the beauty of it– it’s all about how you interpret the law and apply the facts.
Socially, you have to be prepared to have no social life. Despite all colleges emphasising the need for a balance, frankly, there is no time for a balance. In saying that, it all depends on your organisation. You may be able to afford one rowdy night out with a chance of peaceful recovery the next day if you are on top of your workload and have done all your required study– and extra study– in advanced. However, in reality you may just find yourself even more behind than you already are. That is usually the case… you contemplate how much you will be behind and weigh that up against a night of having fun, and if you won’t be too behind, that is usually the chance you take to enjoy a night out with your friends. But of course, you would never do this on a weekend before a deadline. You’ll have to prepare your turn down speech, how to say “Sorry I can’t, I have to study” time and time again. You’re a broken record, but that is just the reality if you want to keep up. Law school is so competitive (Note the emphasis). I can’t recall the amount of times I have used that exact expression with such sincerity in my apology, but the response I get is typically one that is blatantly ‘annoyed’, for a lack of a better word. It’s quite hard to grasp how demanding law school is until you actually experience it. So whilst I do not blame my friends for not understanding, I still, expect some compassion.
As my fellow law students will know, despite all the appraisals, law school is impossible without dedication and sacrifices. For all those that are wanting to pursue the law, it is quite the accomplishment. However, expect to put a pause on your life for the next few years, it is grunt work and many nights of blood, sweat and tears!