“Dear me, don’t go to law school”

I’m pretty sure most of you have watched this video on Youtube but if you haven’t here it is:

Basically the video starts by giving students’ perceptions of law school. It’s a terrible place to go. It ruins everything within your social life. Your professor will assign you enormous amount of readings and then proceed to humiliate you when they require a response from you. Your expectations that you’ll be making such a difference by fighting for justice will be shattered.

Sounds familiar?

Apparently these feelings expressed resonate the most when we are at our lowest points of school. For many of my batchmates, this was while we were doing our public law assignment during recess week. I’m sure that more than 60% of you who were mugging during recess week (I kid you not. Look at the poll on the right side of this page) may have  felt the same way too when recess week was over and your expectations to cover that backlog of readings were left unfulfilled…But readings and assignments aside, is law school really as bad as the video makes it out to be? Do we only get to reap its rewards once we graduate and start working?

Frankly speaking, I’ve been faced with some of the most difficult times in law school. Mental and physical exhaustion hit all time highs with overnight SLS assignments and LAWR in Year 1. Just when you think Year 2 will be better, you are haunted by questions like “When is an elephant a bird” in company law and become fused to your study chair trying to plough through public law readings, staring at a screen with a word count of 0/3500. And that’s just law school sorrows…

And yet, we push through. Why? For me, it’s because of the friends I’ve had around me through it all. You may think your social life is completely ruined in law school. How you alienate your non-law school friends. But take a step back and think about how law school impacted the relationships you’ve made. Who are the people you’ve met and what have you learnt from them? I personally feel the friendships you form could be very well the greatest reward while you’re in law school. Be it the numerous wake up calls and walks through the Botanic gardens, these are the people who journey with you through the 4 years almost on a daily basis. They can empathise with your late nights, your caffeine addictions and the never-ending judgements. Law school is really competitive but at the same time, I’ve met some of the people who are most willing to share and learn with you, not leech off information. So while tis the season to be mugging, cherish your law school relationships. Make a date during the upcoming restaurant week or go for the Law Charity Run together. (Contrary to popular belief, the books can be spared for a few hours).

Through the blood, sweat and tears over our readings, perhaps all the frustration also causes us to forget the amazing tutors we have. I am inspired by many of our faculty staff; their eloquence and poise, their ability to express complex ideas so simply and persuasively etc. Have you ever felt like you wanted to copy down the entire sentence your professor said? I’m sure professors are not out to humiliate or shame students either (trust me, I’ve been called on A LOT). While some may be amused by their student’s reactions to their questions and capture them on film (later uploading it on the lecture slides), it’s all in good fun and really these people are here to help us learn. Perhaps it’s we who shouldn’t be so hung up over making mistakes while articulating what we think in class…

And as for your hope that you’ll be fighting for justice being shattered when you realise you’ll be drafting contracts and M&As to make rich companies richer, this doesn’t mean you can’t dream big and contribute to society by supporting causes you believe in e.g. doing Pro Bono, or perhaps learning some skills so you can set up a cake shop or club in future. The beauty about law school is the skill set it provides. We don’t need surgical tools like doctors. Our skill set is in the way we think. So take the initiative and use your skills to make changes both big or small while you’re in law school, for e.g. supporting a new sub-club (hint hint).

And even if you still think law school is a terrible place which ruins everything after reading all this, at the end of the day, once you graduate, like the video says: dear future me “How awesome are we! What car do we drive? How big is my closet…”

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Article contributed by: Stacey Anne Fernandez (Law 2)