Guest poster Steph Staszko talks about her experiences taking law at college. Read about revision tips, the skills needed, and the advantages of studying with others.
What to expect when studying law at college
Knowing what to expect from studying anything as part of a full time education programme can be difficult, so knowing what to expect from studying law at college is certainly a difficult task. Because of the sheer volume of work involved and the difficult nature of the subject matter, law courses differ greatly from other programmes of study.
There seems to be a common misconception about those studying law, in television programmes they’re often stereotyped as being rich and highly intelligent. Whilst intelligence is required, you don’t have to be in MENSA or own a mansion to progress in a legal profession. What you will require is determination, patience and the ability to read, re-read and read some more!
Studying law is well suited to people with a natural eye for detail and a great memory for storing and recalling information, and during your time studying you will be learn the reading, writing, problem solving, and teamwork skills that almost all modern employers look for in an applicant, regardless of the position.
Basic skills and talents
Whilst becoming fluent in the language of law can feel like climbing a mountain at times, there are some fantastic skills you pick up along the way that will help you in all walks of employment. If you’re like myself and somewhat unorganised, studying law will help you kick your bad habits of untidiness. In order to be able to revise on your own (i.e. out of class) you will have to organise your folders by area of law and come up with a system that will help you to be able to recite case studies by heart. If you end up entering the world of business, organisation is a key skill to have that many businessmen and women struggle with.
As I have already mentioned the volume of work which is given whilst studying law is immense, extensions are rarely granted and students are expected to teach themselves how to prioritise their time correctly in order to get their work done, on time and to the full extent of their ability. In fact its things like this which teaches law students the skills which will benefit them in any line of work they choose to take on. So anyone studying law can expect to have their social life diminished and can expect their ability to study, work and prioritise their time to greatly improve. Those who put the most work in will get the most out of their legal career path.
Team work is essential to most forms of studying, but when studying law this rule is magnified two fold. Having friends who can act as study partners will make the entire learning process easier, more bearable and generally less stressful. Essentially, discussing law, solving problems and working on coursework together is the best way to grow and learn. Not only is it easier to learn as part of team, but because anyone who hopes to move into a career in law will be working closely as part of a legal team, the skills developed as part of socialising in college will be essential later in life.
Social studying can prove vital and further your understanding of certain areas of law which you’re unsure about. If your study partner is a civil law guru they can help to explain the principles of sentencing for example, far better than a text book. In return, you could help them with an area of law they are struggling to grasp, making study partners a vital part of your learning.
Whilst social studying is great, you will have to learn to enjoy your own company too. Expect textbooks and online learning resources to be your new evening entertainment and don’t be surprised when you swap Coronation Street and Eastenders for British crime dramas!
In terms of exams, every question which comes up on the end of year papers will have been covered in the curriculum at some point. The only problem is, the point may not have been touched on since the beginning of the academic year. Continually running over areas of law which you studied a few months ago is the key to passing your A Level exams. Memorising case studies and debunking legal jargon is key; if you want to succeed in law you need to have a fantastic memory or train your brain to be less forgetful!
Law can be an incredibly rewarding career path, but it isn’t for everyone. If you decide to study law but choose a different career path, you will definitely benefit from the skills you learnt when studying law at A Level and can prove valuable in all areas of work and education. Not least it’s always helpful to know your legal rights in certain situations!
This article was written by blogger Steph Staszko who writes on behalf of the expert legal team at Gray and Co Solicitors. Steph particularly enjoyed studying criminal law at college and loves a good detective novel!