Let’s be honest, most of us are inherently lazy. I would be chilling in front of Netflix every day if I could. However, I quickly learnt that laziness has no place at law school. If you identify with any of the following three behaviours, you are in deep sh*t.
1. You believe you are a fortune teller
One game I liked to play was trying to predict what topics were going to come up in the exam. I even convinced myself that I was brilliant at it. According to my predictions I only needed to study three out of twelve topics – what a time saver!
I quickly came back down to earth during my first exam. I realised two things that day:
- I’m not as good at predicting as I thought; and
- Even when I got the topic right, I didn’t know it as well enough.
There are no shortcuts. You need to study more than half of the potential topics, in depth, and have an overview of all of them. Don’t rely on past exam questions either, you never know what is going to come up. Use past exams for practicing your exam technique, not as a prediction tool.
2. You procrastinate to the very last minute
You might have procrastinated whilst you were in high school and managed to get through fine. But if you do this at law school you are done, finito, arrivederci, ciao, au revoir! The amount of information you need to learn is simply unreal.
And if you are expecting some sympathy from your professor, you are in for a shock. On my first day our professor was handing out the reading list and one student asked: “Is this for real?” The professor responded: “It is still early enough to get your tuition fees back.” No mercy given!
You will just have to trust me on this one – if you are a procrastinator, law school is not for you and there is still time to change direction.
3. You don’t answer the question
This is a common mistake. You think that by showing your professor how much you know about a topic they will be impressed. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Exam questions need to be read carefully and fully understood before you even start writing. You should spend ten to fifteen minutes planning out your answer before you even begin writing. Trust me, your answer will be so much better if you do.
Universities realised that some students were rote learning model answers without understanding what they were writing. So, they started asking open questions that required thought and couldn’t be rote learnt. For example: they could ask you “No Duty to Rescue: Can English people leave a victim lying in the street? Discuss.” Your answer would need to define the key terms and demonstrate you understood the problem contained within the question.
Law school isn’t for everyone but if you commit to working hard, it is a very interesting and valuable degree. Luckily, I was quickly able to fix my bad habits and do well. I’m not saying there is no time for Suits but ignore these three behaviours at your peril!