Law School – Expectations Versus Reality

 

Stepping into your first day of law school will always be a daunting task.  Your teachers will have lots of expectations of you and you’ll have lots of expectations of law school, however, some of your expectations might not occur as you expected.  Instead, here is a list of my expectations of law school and how they were rebutted by the end of the first year.

Law school is a competitive place and no one wants to make friends.

Yes, it’s true, law school is a competitive place, where you worry about job prospects in an industry over-saturated with students.  However, you would be making a big mistake if you didn’t reach out and connect with people in your degree. One of my first tips in law school is to connect with people on Facebook and LinkedIn so that you can create both a professional and social network.

LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that is a great way to network with people in higher places and keep tabs on the sorts of opportunities and events that other students are doing.  This will keep you motivated and give you ideas on how you can get yourself ahead.

While a professional network is one way to stay connected, Facebook is also very useful.  When you have a few days left on your criminal law assignment and you urgently need to clarify some of the subject content, then Messenger is the way to go.  More importantly, when you get really long textbook readings and are bulked down in assignments, tagging your law friends in relatable law school memes is a great way to relieve some of that stress.

 

Law is all about making money;

No matter what field you are in, no one gets a job and hopes they don’t make money, law is no exception.  However, through law school, you’ll quickly realise that law isn’t all about making money.

First of all, that’s because you’ll have to do internships and work your way up the ranks in order to get noticed and land your dream job. Internships can be hard to source and an intimidating prospect, but they stand out on a resume and give you the hands-on experience you need.  During the first year you might want to focus on getting the hang of law school before tackling internships but make sure you stay on top of your university emails and keep tabs on your universities law society online pages so you don’t miss any prospective opportunities.

Secondly, there’s more to law than just money.  Law is about upholding justice and making a difference.  For example, you might find yourself interested in social justice, allowing you to play a role in seeking justice and equality for refugees, Indigenous Australians, youth or the homeless.

There are too many graduates and not enough jobs;

According to The Australian Financial Review, in 2014, the number of domestic bachelor and post-graduate law graduates was up by 9 per cent year-on-year and the number of available legal jobs don’t seem to equate; yet.  These numbers are enough to scare any law student, although there is still hope in the fast-paced, ever-changing community we live in.  Instead as a law student, you should focus on the future and the way technology will impact the job. Law firms are already changing to best incorporate technology and shift to the needs of the 21st century.  Forbes suggests that legal practices need to adapt to become legal delivery systems.  Overall, it is becoming increasingly important that you focus on emotional intelligence and legal reasoning.

Law students can also transfer their skills to other industries.  For example, law students could delve into finance, journalism or education.  A law degree is not just a degree to become a lawyer, it is a degree to learn how to communicate, advocate, question and scrutinise, these are employable skills across a variety of industries.  Wherever you end up, a law degree is a useful tool that you can use whichever way you please, however you should be prepared to work hard to obtain it.

 

By Laura Misale

Laura Misale is a second-year law and media and communications (journalism) student at La Trobe University.  You can follow Laura on Twitter @lauramisale.

 

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