Law school has gained over the years the reputation of being a difficult degree, where free time is limited and all you do is learn. Although partially true, this does not mean that there are no small changes you can make to have a more enjoyable experience.
Below I will tell you 5 things I would have liked to know before going to law school.
You can go to any class and any seminar you want (if it helps you)
This is a very important thing that I would have liked to know right from the 1st year of college. In essence, even if you are a full-time student and you must attend at least half of your group’s seminars, outside your group’s schedule you pretty much have freedom to join any seminar/class.
You can choose to follow the schedule published by the faculty or add additional classes/ seminars if you feel the need to (for example if you did not find a concept discussed in a course to be very clear, you can also go to another teacher’s course – maybe that teacher will explain it in a way that is easier for you to understand).
Now, be careful not to fall into the extreme of creating a demanding program on your own. If there is any subject you think you could make this effort for, then don’t hesitate to go and do not hesitate to ask questions if you have (be mindful not to take over the discussion / debate topics that do not cover the subject).
The entrance exam is really useful for you later
*Please be mindful of the fact that this only applies to the admission exam of The Faculty of Law, The University of Bucharest.*
I admit that when I was in the 12th grade and I was solving subjects for the admission exam, I kept on wondering if those many words and expressions I was learning would be of any use. Also, I could not say that I understood too well the structure of the exam itself.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover in these three years that all the effort was not in vain.
Yes, you will find many terms used in the admission exam through law textbooks or they will simply be useful and good for you to know.
Looking back, the structure of the exam also seems logical to me for what the faculty will entail.
As a (future) lawyer, you must first of all know how to express yourself correctly. Then, it is important to express yourself logically and coherently and to structure your thoughts well.
Always ask any questions you might have, no matter how stupid they may seem to you
At the beginning of college we all want to make a good impression – whether we are talking about colleagues or teachers. This desire makes us, however, highly censor what we actually say.
What if we say nonsense? What if what you are asking is actually very simple and can be solved in 2 seconds of using a bit of your gray matter?
However, this only holds you back. Yes, sometimes some questions have extremely simple answers, which can only be found with a little more effort, but that does not mean that it is wrong to ask. If you can answer the question yourself by opening the book and reading for 5 minutes and you have the necessary time, then maybe it would be better to do that.
However, if you can’t do these things, it is better to ask your teacher than to be left with ambiguities.
After all, that’s why teachers are teachers – to help you understand.
And if you think about what your colleagues will think about you, you would be surprised to find out that your question will most likely help them – even if they recap something they already knew or find out something new.
Don’t neglect your personal life
I think this is the most important thing I have learned during these 3 years of college.
Studying law is not easy. And most of the time, the difficulty does not come from the complexity of the concepts (although there are quite a few challenging things here), but from the very large amount of information that you have to go through in a limited time.
Under these conditions, many of us tend to devote more time to learning and less time to hobbies and things that make us feel good. I will not deny it, if you want to do a good job (in any field, not only here) you have to make sacrifices. However, you must be very careful what you sacrifice and for how long.
In essence, it is advisable not to give up what makes you happy.
- if you enjoy doing sports, don’t let law make you give it up.
- if you are passionate about photography or reading, don’t go on weeks without doing these things.
Because personal and professional life are interconnected even more than you might think. And if you center your whole life around one side, you’ll end up either getting burnout (emotional and/or physical) or failing to get anything out of life.
There has to be a balance between the two sides of your life, and it seems to me that this is exactly what a field such as law is testing – your ability to organize your resources (time, energy, etc.) in order to be able to do both.
Although some of us may now say that learning is much more important than going to a party or training at the gym, my opinion is more moderate. You cannot neglect your professional life and not put in effort, but also you can’t only work and not do anything that takes you out of your routine and helps you recharge your batteries.
I think the principle you have to think about constantly is that the workload is high, but it is not constant. It appears in cycles. If you manage to notice those moments when you have to put more effort into work, then you can have time for almost anything you set out to do. That is why it is important to try to cultivate your spirit of observation and to plan a little what and how you will do.
Be organized and plan everything
Given what was said in the previous point, all I can say is that organization is the key.
You are not organized = you are wasting your resources.
Nobody wants waste. And most importantly, no one wants to waste time, as it is a non-renewable resource.
As I said above, in college you will have moments when you will have to put a lot of emphasis on studying (pre-exam session, exam session, maybe even during the semester if you choose to attend an internship or take an optional course).
In the rest of the moments, you can make your schedule lighter and find time to stay with your loved ones, go out with friends or practice a hobby. You’re not a robot, and you don’t have to be like that – you need breaks. It is very easy to turn your life into a constant cycle of work, but if you do this for too long you will find yourself to be lacking in the personal development area, which is not desirable.
Use planners, post-its, calendar applications – anything that helps you know clearly how to use your time.
To draw a line, I can summarize everything I wrote above in the following sentence: be organized, work hard and don’t forget to have fun along the way!
Andrada-Maria Mocanu – Legal Intern
Ruxandra Vișoiu – Attorney-at-law, R&R Partners Bucharest
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