Studying a law degree at City is challenging but an incredibly rewarding journey. It will provide you with crucial skills and give you an infinite array of opportunities for your future career. However, there are unfortunately still many misconceptions surrounding law degrees that could put off prospective students: as a ‘seasoned’ law student, I can confirm that these are very much not true. So, let’s debunk some of them!
1. There is too much to read
The typical picture of a law student that usually pops into mind is a student almost drowning in textbooks and papers –but I can assure you this is not the case! Studying law does still involve a lot of reading, however, this is a trait common to all degrees. You will be expected to read cases, statutes, and articles, but you will rarely come across a physical copy of a 500-page article. Nowadays, reading materials are easily accessible online and case digests on legal software like Westlaw and LexisNexis can aid you by cutting your reading time in half. The key to this is being organised; as long as you prioritise your assigned reading, highlight the most important parts, summarise the core arguments and use case digests to help you, you will be able to ace your studies! Law is also much more than just reading: there is a lot of practice and critical thinking. The core ability typical of a law degree is to find the issues relating to your reading and be able to criticise them.
2. You will have a little or nonexistent social life
Another misconception about studying law is that it makes you so busy that you cannot have a social life. Law can be intense; however, you can always fit in time to socialise, attend events and go out with friends. Usually, I organise my studies, lectures, and papers to write by spreading them throughout the week, allowing me to have the weekend off so I can organise or attend plans for Friday/Saturday night after studying. Being able to allow yourself to relax, spend time with friends, or get out to do a fun activity will be useful to help you stay physically and mentally healthy during your studies and help you avoid being overwhelmed.
3. Studying law means you are set to be a lawyer
A myth regarding law degrees is that if you decided to study law it means that you have already figured out your future career, either as a Barrister or a Solicitor. Yet, along the path, everyone experiences some doubts about their future and this is fine! A law degree is a highly respectable degree and, although it goes not grant you an automatic entry to a career as a lawyer it gives you plenty of skills which can be applied in other law-related careers. So, if you are unsure about what this degree can get you, these are some potential careers you can consider: arbitrator, mediator, barrister’s clerk, chartered legal executive, licensed conveyancer, and paralegal. There is a much wider circle that the usual Solicitor or Barrister path!
4. Law is only for individuals from a ‘privileged’ background
Law is no longer a profession solely destined for privileged and privately educated students. In fact, being outside of a ‘privileged’ background can make you stand out from the crowd. This is because Law firms and other associations such as Aspiring Solicitors are aware of your struggles either as being part of BAME, being a first-generation student or coming from a low-income background and seek these passionate individuals. Therefore, you should keep an eye on law firms’ diversity events and check out Aspiring Solicitors to up your chances when coming from an underrepresented background.
5. You must be academically gifted to study law
The key to acing a law degree is organisation, balance and holding a good work ethic. If you were generally good at school and are capable of achieving good grades, you can make it in studying for a law degree. You do not need to be an expert in the law since the beginning, and rather should keep your mind open to allow you to take different perspectives in terms of the content of your studies. This is because of the amount of content in the modules versus the short delivery of exams: you will need to be consistent in your studies and balance your lectures and reading materials to ace your exams, nothing more! However, if you feel that you do not understand the materials and struggle to grasp the contents, your lecturers are always there to help you. Thus, being academically gifted might be a plus, however it usually comes down to your organisation to get those outstanding marks.
All in all, studying law is a uniquely rewarding subject that will change the way you think. So, don’t let these myths put you off from achieving your goal as your law degree will more than likely be an experience you will never forget!
Written by Elisa, third-year LLB student at The City Law School