Debunking Law School Myths
by June Ong (The CanLaw Report)
It has come down to this moment, the moment you have been waiting for your whole life when people ask you what are you going to do next after college.
Before you proudly declare that you want to be a lawyer (after watching too many episodes of Suits), let us first debunk some myths about law school.
#1 You will NOT SURVIVE the readings!!!
Before entering law school, I was aware that reading is an essential part of a law student’s daily routine. However, I was honestly not prepared for the momentous pile of reading that was thrown at us week by week.
Just imagine, for a single seminar, we have to do a minimum of 120 pages of reading. Now multiply this by the number of modules you have, not to mention the required reading needed before/after every lecture to fully grasp the gist of the lecture’s content.
Good news is, you’ll survive.
Nah, I was just messing with you in the heading. Yes, there’ll be days when you would have to sacrifice your social life to sift through the never-ending overflowing pile of dusty law books.
But trust me, at the end of it, you’ll not just survive reading 500 pages worth of case judgement but also be able to walk out of the library with your head held high. All because you’re now 500 pages “smarter”.
#2 You are able to give free legal advice.
What?! Nah, the answer is “not just yet”.
As a law student, people will automatically flock to you to pawn free legal advice. From reading tenancy contract agreements to how to get away with murder (no pun intended)…
But I’m sorry to break it to you but you just do not have the legal knowledge to be tested at will. If one of your friends committed a crime, all you’re able to do is just to list the actus reus and mens reaand end with the ever-common concluding statement of: “It is up for the jury to decide…”
#3 If you did great in A-Levels Law, you'd do great in law degree!
Yeah sure, we were all top-scorers in college back then, scoring 90% and above in exams is a norm for us. Again, I hate to break it to you dear soul but law school is intense and competitive.
As a start, you’ll feel stupid most of the times because the readings are tough and dry. Next, you may think you may know what the professor wants in your essay but it’s a different reality when you receive your feedback.
The day you score your first 74% (a low first class) would be the day you think you have struck the lottery. So, be prepared to shift your expectations slightly and don’t be disheartened.
#4 Law students live the posh life like Elle Woods.
Being in university, people stereotype each course based on their fashion and outlook. The Maths students? Hoodies, glasses and tousled hair.
Geography? Anoraks, all day every day.
Law? Dressed up all fancy in our suits every day, ready to march into court and tackle any cases, possibly setting a new precedent? I’m afraid no.
We do not dress smartly every day, certainly not like Elle Woods with her glamorous pink outfits and matching laptop covers.
With all the readings and essays we need to prepare, we look like we are barely surviving through each term. With a coffee in one hand and an oversized hoodie to cover up our weight-gain due to the binge-eating of ice cream that accompanies our every reading, we look more like a cross between Kenny McCormick and Tweek.
#5 Lawyers-to-be (law students) are evil, opportunistic gold-diggers.
The social stereotypes when people discover you’re a Law student comes with a flurry of remarks ranging from “So I see you have sold your soul to the devil eh?” to “Would you defend a guy when you know that he’s totally guilty, are you willing to go against your conscience just for the sake of the money?”
Now before you start picturing the entire law faculty as cold, heartless rich robots walking around, let me assure you that WE ARE NOT like that. We will not agree to a case that goes strongly against our conscience.
Besides, even if we are aware that our client is guilty, our job is not to free him from the punishment. Our job is to try to use our persuasive skills to lower the degree of punishment, based on what he justifiably deserves.
So, next time you see us driving around in our fancy cars in the future, do not automatically assume all the cash came from defending a rich serial killer. Because more likely than not, we owe our pot of gold to the late nights of drafting contracts and trying to save the innocent people from being mistreated.
This article was first published on The CanLaw Report on 12 July 2017.