It’s the summer holidays! Three months of total relaxation! It’s time to put down my legal textbooks and psychology articles and instead “slip on a shirt, smack on sunscreen and slap on a hat” (that’s all that you’re meant to do in summer right?) Around this time many moons ago (three years’ worth of moons in fact) I was a recent high school graduate, super eager to start my life at university, but also really having no clue what to expect. I’m now about halfway through the Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)/Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and as such have learnt a few tricks of the trade. Here are some helpful hints to help new law students survive and thrive during their first year of law.
Being a double degree law/psychology student it can be difficult to find a consistent group of friends. I do have my friends in law; however they are spread across many different subjects and timetables which can make hanging out difficult. I don’t need to tell anyone that the law degree is hard, but it is so much easier and enjoyable when you can find like-minded people to study with, introduce you to contacts in the legal industry, and find support with when things become stressful (things WILL).
2. You will need to have a study routine
I always prided myself on being a pretty naturally smart kid at high school. I studied and did my homework when I really needed to (like when there was a test the next day or an assignment due that week) but beyond that I cruised pretty easily, getting straight A’s. My first semester of uni was a rude shock. Being naturally smart obviously helps, but in no way determines success in a law degree. I know people who got OPs many points lower than the OP 1 & 2 students, who now make the Dean’s List every semester because they have smart study habits. Having a regular study routine is a crucial part of staying up to date with class content and the many, many, many readings you will be required to do. Only a study routine will ensure that you won’t crash when it comes time for the end of semester 2.5 hour ‘Torts’ exam.
3. Work experience
Getting good grades is only 40% of achieving a good job at the end of your degree. The other 60% is having demonstrated work experience. Getting part time jobs as paralegals and legal assistants are notoriously competitive. Starting your search earlier will make job hunting a lot easier in your last semesters of law (especially when there are so many jobs advertised to first and second year students only). If you have difficulties finding a paid legal job, try volunteering at a community legal centre or approach your local law firm for unpaid work experience.
4.Stay informed with the legal community
Keep up to date with current legal issues. Not only is this important to staying informed with the legal community and will impress your tutors, its surprising how often current topics work their way into exam papers.