People who have never studied law might think that law students exaggerate their importance by moaning about the work load. Before starting my legal studies, I thought it couldn’t be as bad as I had heard.
Fast forward a few months into the year and I was up at 3am studying Equity & Trusts. This had been going on for a few weeks and I was getting migraines and not sleeping well.
I was busy trying to cram some more cases into my brain when I felt something warm move from my nose to my upper lip. I tilted my head down and watched a large red drop fall and splatter on my notebook.
As someone who almost faints at the sight of blood, I completely freaked out! The next morning, I went straight to my GP. He said the migraines, poor sleep and nosebleeds were due to the stress I was putting myself under to get high marks on my exams.
Law school can burn you out if you let it. There is such a large workload and you are expected to not only memorise a lot of information but also think critically about it which can be tough when you have been up all-night studying!
On top of the work are the constant worries and questions running through your mind, such as: “Am I going to fail?”, “Will I survive my oral presentation?”, “What if I don’t get the grades I need to work at my dream law firm?”, “Will I even get a job to pay off my student loan?”.
I don’t want to scare you – I loved my university years and wouldn’t change a day. But I also believe that sugar coating the truth doesn’t help you either. Instead, I have compiled a list of five top tips to help you avoid what I had to go through.
1. Start revising early
It might not sound realistic, but you will feel more prepared and less likely to freak out at the last minute. Start writing your revision notes from day one when the information is fresh in your mind. Don’t let the work accumulate because you will create a beast that will be hard to tame when time comes to revise for your exams.
2. Find a part time job
This tip sounds so counterintuitive, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. When you have all the time in the world, it becomes increasingly hard to be self-disciplined with your time. When I was working weekends in hospitality, I knew I did not have the luxury to slack around. I had a to-do list and deadlines. This has saved my life because I was making the most of each day. If you can discipline yourself then that is great too but having a job really helped me.
3. Have study breaks
Your brain cannot focus for hours on end so you should have several breaks during the day where you switch off completely. This doesn’t mean checking your Instagram or Facebook, these things will overwhelm your brain even more. Put your phone aside and catch up with a friend for a chat, go for a walk, or do some exercise. I loved going for long walks and would always return refreshed and ready to tackle my reading list.
4. Have a support network
We underestimate the importance of our network and take it for granted sometimes. But having a strong support network with help keep you sane. My girls at law school were the best. We shared notes, did group projects together and supported each other during the difficult times. Like everything worth having in life, it is hard work to have a loyal group of friends. You need to invest in your relationships so that they can support you later.
5. Eat healthy
I cannot believe I am writing this because I was a KFC and McDonald’s type of student for my first year. I loved greasy food and carbs (I still do, for a treat). I thought it was a waste of time to cook and I was better off studying. But by eating this type of food, I was not nourishing my body, I was clogging it up. I would wake up feeling sleepy and bloated – a classic fast food hangover. After seeing the GP, I knew I had to make a lot of changes and one was my diet. I started cooking for myself, and cut out fast food almost entirely. The impact was practically instant. My energy levels kept growing and I felt much happier. It is ok to have the occasional burger, we have one life after all! But make it a treat rather than a regular meal.
I hope you find these tips useful and please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions about your law studies.