My Guide to Surviving Law School
By Utkarsh Sharma, Legal Intern, LSAC Global
Law School is full of long nights, followed by even longer days. Law School survival is no joke. We need to plan and execute as quickly as possible. So, here I am, sharing the skills I have learnt from my experience at Law School-
- TIME MANAGEMENT: The foremost and one of the most important skill is Time Management. It is important because law students are engaged in doing different activities such as mooting, debating, organizing events, taking consultation from seniors & mentors/faculties, that they may feel exhausted at the end of the day. A student’s life can sometimes be unpredictable with starting the day in classrooms attending lectures to ending the day in the library doing research for an urgent project submission. Therefore, it is essential that they are better prepared by allocating appropriate time to each and every activity when in a law school. A law student can manage time by creating a master schedule as per requirement through using an agenda eliminating distractions and setting goals for sessions or lectures. The most important thing is to work at one task at a time. It is good to multitask but concentrating on one task brings out more productivity. Moreover, in my view, apart from law school activities they should also spend some time playing sports and getting enough sleep, to be fresh, efficient and energetic for the next day in law school.
- COMMUNICATION: Being able to communicate your thoughts, views points or opinions effectively is a life skill that is very necessary in a law school. Law Students, whenever they get a chance, whether at conferences, seminars, workshops or classroom discussion must interact and communicate with the people around them. This will help them to align their thoughts or new ideas that may transpire in a decent professional opportunity. Effective communication also helps to master problem-solving techniques which are paramount in legal profession. From a business standpoint, all transactions result from good negotiation and communication skills.
- LEGAL RESEARCH: One of the most demanding skill that an employer or a recruiter looks while hiring a law student, is his ability to research in the legal arena. This is a skill that all future lawyers must practice right from the beginning of their law school. Research can be done by anyone, but legal research needs more in-depth analysis. It is more like separating chaff from the grain. It is the process of identifying and retrieving information which is necessary to support the legal decision making. Basically, legal research requires a better understanding of the subject matter or fact, in order to proceed with the main analytical content. It must be comprehensive and precise. Moreover, legal research supports legal decision making through complex legal issues which are applied to specific facts in order to complete and fulfill the answer. Therefore, law students must learn as quickly as possible to do legal research.
- CRITICAL THINKING: Like in any other profession, one may often encounter challenging situations in legal profession as well. These situations are of varying degree with some being more complex than others. Therefore, law students must have the ability to think critically using knowledge, facts, and data to effectively bring a solution. This doesn’t mean that they need to have an immediate answer. It means they must be able to think on their feet, assess problems and find solutions. The ability to develop a well thought out solution within a reasonable time frame, however, is a skill that is valued greatly in the industry. Therefore, law students must develop critical thinking by the time.
- STUDY PLAN: It is essential to be disciplined to achieve desired goals be it in any profession. Taking notes during lectures or making self-notes is always advisable as it can be referred to, at any later point in the future as well. As a lawyer it is important to always be prepared and presentable and in order to achieve that, one must practice this right from the law school. Having a scheduled study routine for any tests or submissions is one way to start. This way you will have enough time to research and gain knowledge without having to prioritize last minute. Effective study plan also allows you to have time for your other goals and aspirations. One of the things that most people forget while studying for their exams is to make sure that all the reference materials are organized. Often professors share information handouts, question papers, course packs and other study materials, aside from the regular reference books which can become a little overwhelming for a student. That is why always make sure to have every reference document sorted and organized in order to be well prepared. Moreover, you must also consider forming a study group with like minded peers. This helps in free flow of ideas and also helps you to prepare effectively and efficiently.
Honestly, I was ignorant in realizing that I lacked certain skills pertinent to succeed in my profession but when I did, I started working on myself immediately. It's never too late to begin at something, and so you should practice skills mentioned in this law school survival kit before having to implement them in your law school.
At last, my advice to you is be adaptable, form acquaintances and live the journey.
Wish you all the best!!