Tips for succeeding in law school

Deciding on what to study is a daunting experience at the best of times, and law school is a particularly heavy path of study. Choosing to go to law school is a big decision and it can be the first step to a very rewarding career. Whilst it seems obvious, only commit to going to law school if you have a clear career plan. If you are an avid believer in justice, if you enjoy the value of money or if you are a particularly good negotiator then law may be just the right course for you, and these days the end result is not necessarily going to be a job as a lawyer, but rather there are a list of different vocations that relate to law. Whilst law notoriously provides a solid income once you get there, it takes a lot of hard work and intensive study to get there, and only 63% of applicants are accepted, which means you will need to be dedicated.

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Decide what area of law you want to specialise in

There are several different branches of law, and you will be best off trying to decide where you want to specialise early on. Areas such as arbitration can be interesting and a lesser trodden path by traditional law students. This will help you focus and know where to concentrate your research and select where to study. Each university or law school will have a specialist area, so knowing what you’d like to do, from property to family law, can be informed by the reputation of the courses available. If possible, speak to people within that specific area of law to gauge the pros and cons involved. Think of questions you can ask them to gain as much insight as possible.

Understand the commitment to reading

The clue is in the expression. When people say, “I’m reading law” they mean it literally. You must be prepared to invest some serious time in reading to succeed on a law course. Law is one of the courses most notorious for clocking up extensive reading hours, so if you are not prepared to develop a good relationship with the library, then law is probably not the course for you.

Because it will continue throughout your study, it is essential not to tell yourself you’ll catch up on reading. You won’t. Every week there will be more of it, making it essential to stay on top of the reading from day one. In fact, you could start today, reading around the subject and getting an overview!

Develop a strategy for tackling the reading lists and for performing active reading. You need to make notes in order to review what you have read, and to get the most from this activity which will soon become a daily occurrence.

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Prepare for the advice

Regardless of what you’re studying and irrespective of how far into the course you are, almost everyone you know will suddenly expect you to be an expert in legal matters. And they will have no qualms in asking for your advice. This can not only be frustrating but also can have a knock-on effect of causing you to doubt yourself. Ironically, the more you know, the more cautious you are likely to be in answering any of these queries, even when they refer to something you have covered!  Be prepared to come up with some good one liners to deter people from asking!

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