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Five things I wish I knew before starting law school

I assume if you are reading this that you have been accepted into law school — well done! I loved every single minute of my undergrad degree, so much so that I carried on and did a Master.

But there were times that I struggled, especially at the beginning. So here are the top 5 things I wish I knew before starting law school.

1. Having your own squad is essential

I was one of those people who thought I was better off studying on my own. I am very talkative, so I thought my study group would become “The Rachida Show” where I would be chatting about life, boys and food — and getting no work done. I was wrong. The workload is so insane, there was no time for small talk.

You will need 3 trusted friends to split the reading list if you are going to get through. For example: Jenny does the summary of 15 cases, you do the same and Sam does the last 15. Then you meet up and share your notes and knowledge. This exchange will feed your mind and will help you ace your analysis of a judgment. A big part of law is seeing other sides to a question and it is hard to come up with all the different viewpoints on your own.

2. Say yes to new opportunities

I used to feel tremendous guilt if I was doing anything other than studying. However, just like I needed other people to help me get through my degree, I also needed other people to help me get a job afterwards. Networking can feel like a waste of time but the older I get the more I see how essential it is.

My first boss would mainly hire people that her staff knew. She would only advertise the position externally if none of us could recommend someone. You need to go to networking events and meet as many people as possible because you never know who will put in a good word for you later on.

3. Keep an open mind

Don’t be stubborn in following your plan. You should not change your goal, but you can totally change how you get there. So, do not hesitate to change your modules if your gut instinct is telling you to run and run fast. I attended a module for 3 weeks before I thought, this is not what I wanted. It is not in your university’s interest to see you fail so you might be surprised to see the extent they are ready to go to help you change modules.

4. Attend as many taster classes as possible

During your first week almost all universities will organise taster classes. This is where you meet the lecturer and get a taste of the subject. I went to 60 tasters (bit extreme, I know). I even attended the banking law module. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I hate everything that deals with banking or finance. But I wanted to be sure (I was right). I have also attended modules that I thought I would love but ended up hating. The tasters were always interesting and I highly recommend you attend as many as you possibly can. You might just find your new path!

5. Enjoy the ride

Your law degree will go as fast as the time it takes you to blink. You will regret not enjoying the late nights with your squad crying over the amount of work you need to do or hating on the Equity & Trusts module. I wish I savoured every single minute of it much more.

I hope these tips will help you on your journey. Check out our Ratio notebook for a great way to take legal case notes.