A few years ago, I happened to sit in the wrong classroom. The instructor was teaching a module on negligence, and I was fascinated! What did I do next? I decided to study law! Little did I know what I was getting myself into. Don’t get me wrong, studying law was the best decision I’ve ever made. However, there are some things I wish I knew before starting law school.
- There’s a lot of reading!
I totally underestimated the amount of readings that one has to do in law school. Developing the habit of reading can be especially helpful. Professors send emails week after week, attaching a bundle of readings that have to be completed before attending the next class. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive this a few days before your scheduled class. There have been times when I’ve had less than a day to study over 500 pages of readings! And no, I didn’t read everything. One thing you will come to learn in law school is to prioritise your work and stay organised.
2. It’s not just about the grades
Getting the highest grade in every subject is not sufficient. A good GPA is important- but its not everything. There’s a lot that you can do in law school to build your profile (this is what employers look for and is also helpful while applying for a masters program). It’s advisable for one to choose and excel at least one co-curricular activity, to get the best of law school (mooting and research are two popular choices).
In addition to this, internships also play a significant role in law school. Law is a vast field, and internships can help one determine which field of the law they would like to specialise in.
3. Law in books is very different from law in practise
Law schools generally prepare one for corporate legal practice. However there is still a huge difference in how it is taught at law schools and how it is practised in law firms. Internships can really help one understand this difference and prepare one for the transition. Therefore it’s important to choose the right internships (and also a variety of internships, to understand the different options that are available. For example, a litigation internship is much different from an NGO or corporate law internship).
4. Business acumen
One thing I learnt the hard way was that business acumen is an essential part of being a lawyer (corporate or otherwise). To be an effective advisor (especially if one goes the in-house counsel route) one has to understand what drives businesses. Picking up skills like learning to read a financial statement, learning about financial markets and staying updated with what’s happening in the business world will be of great help, not only in the classroom, but also during internships and job interviews.
Like I said before, going to law school was one of the best decisions I ever made. Yes it can be demanding and overwhelming at times, but the key is to be prepared. Know what you’re getting yourself into, and everything else will fall in place.