Before you start reading the article, I’d want you to know that here’s a disclaimer: I’m a 1st year Law Student. I shouldn’t be writing this article because I’m not an expert at law, yet.
However, precision comes by practice. And I’m on a constant endeavor to improve just as you are (because you’re reading this). If we are already studying law, why should we not study it in a better way?
I’ve researched several hours to learn, how to be better at studying law and these are the things to consider from several renowned professors, philosophers, and writers around the world. These are the things that they say we as law students should consider.
I’m not going to tell you that you should just believe in yourself. I’d rather tell you WHY you should believe in yourself.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right. “
In other words, you won’t be able to do anything if you don’t believe you can do it.
There are going to be times that you feel the subject of law or legal studies is just not for you. Probably you’ve seen a couple of videos on the internet and they have told you to follow your dreams, which is perfectly fine. But at times(mostly I’d say) young minds like us take this message in a wrong way.
Follow your dreams, cause they are yours; but don’t abandon one thing and jump to the other before you’ve completely figured out what you’re actually abandoning.
Maybe this thing is your dream and you’re running from it because it is taking so much more effort to achieve.
If this is true for you then you’ll always keep running from one thing to the other. Don’t be the lost child in the desert.
Most of us don’t believe in ourselves, how do we mend this?
Paul Newman’s character says, “In my religion, they say, act as if ye had faith and faith will be given to you.”
This line is later borrowed in The West Wing. Jed Bartlet is running for president and confesses to his campaign manager that he isn’t sure if he is the right man to become president. His manager replies, “Ah!, Act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you.
In other words, Fake it till you make it.
It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have faith in yourself, act as if you have faith and eventually when things turn right you will automatically believe in yourself. It might sound stupid but it works!
Sangfroid literally means ‘Cold blood’. If you have Sangfroid, you will be able to stay cool and composed under tremendous pressure. A lot of professors who teach law think sangfroid is one of the most important qualities a student must possess.
If you do not have sangfroid, you can acquire this skill too. You just have to look at the bits instead of the bigger picture.
Writing a 100 page essay is tough and not many will be able to do it, but students who will try to write one page at a time will eventually pull this task off that too with quality. This is Sangfroid.
A lot of you agree on this already but most of you do not organize yourself. Lethargy is harmful.
Another important take on ways to be a better law student is definitely to organize yourself.
Look at this post, how beautifully it is formatted with headings and subheadings, or the other blogs where points are laid out in lists and etc.
This practice not just gives you a clarity of expression but also the readers recieves a better understanding.
The way you write is a reflection of your personality. But this doesn’t mean a little messiness in your writing won’t be valuable. But the clarity of thought is what you should pursue.
The great French philosopher and mathematician Pascal, once said that ‘the sole cause of a man’s unhappiness is because he does not know how to stay quiet in his room’.
Any law student who is restless and easily distracted will tend to do not very well in legal studies. Concentration is the key to golden success.
Unfortunately, students, especially of our age, are very weak at concentration. There are so many distractions available to us that we tend to forget the things we should be looking at the most.
Our capacity to focus is like our muscles, it needs to be trained to be stronger. Apps like Facebook and Youtube are calling us all the time and we fall prey to them, However, this doesn’t mean entertainment is what we should stay away from but we shouldn’t fall prey to them.
How should law students strengthen their concentration muscle?
Read a book(here’s a list of top 10 books for law students), meditate at the early hours, discover your interest, learn about law. There’s no end to the subject you’ve chosen.
Beating around the bush of law will not only help you focus but gain a lot of helpful knowledge.
One thing I could suggest is, StrictlyLegal, Signup on this platform and write about law. Not only will this help you focus but also develop your writing skills.
Employees who have a promotion or appraisal ahead of them are more likely to work hard because they have a reward in front of them. It is the same for law students. It is not a false claim that law students need to study a lot.
The more often law students notice that they have achieved something after long hours of studying, they are more likely to continue studying (maybe even more).
By this, It is meant that try to set goals and reward yourself. “ If I finish this book on Criminal law, I’d reward myself with…” It does not have to be a Ferrari. A small chocolate treat works too.
You could have a negative approach to this too. I’ll leave for you to decide the best.
Curiosity killed a man, but never a lawyer. (winks)
A lot of students take up studying law because they like the subject in particular. And a lot of other students take this up maybe because they have watched a bass-ass lawyer on an American series or a courtroom drama in a movie. That is totally fine though.
But we might often lose interest in things when we approach them or in other words, things might seem interesting when they’re at a distance.
“It’s only when you get close up to the law and see it in all its glory that you can give yourself a chance of getting really interested in it.Letters to a law student
So to do well as a law student you need to feel driven not to approach the subject superficially but to try to acieve a very detailed understanding of the law.
In other words, you need to feel curious about law.”
In law, if you’re close to accurate you’re not good enough.
Accuracy is vital especially as a law student. For example, you cannot do well as a law student if you misstate the law where it is clear or if you wrongly interpret a law to a concrete situation.
It is very important that you should get rid of your bad habits like habits that directly interfere with being clear, logical, and rigorous in understanding law.
For example, you might be very good at debating and still not be good enough at law because debates are something that promotes inaccuracy in one way.
In debates, you are expected to flip your opponent’s argument with one-liners and spontaneity. But in law, not only you need to be spontaneous but also accurate and not just close to accurate.
So how do we increase our logical abilities?
Do sudoko puzzles , they’re free on google.
Read books on thinking skills like ‘How to think like a lawyer’
One book that is suggested for every law student is ‘Reasons and Persons’ by Derek Parfit (Oxford university press, 1986) and follow critical thinkers like H. L. A Hart, Peter Birks, and the sort.
Not everybody is good at speaking but every law student should be. Now, I’d say this is not a mandatory rule, you could be a legal researcher and never have to speak at the courtroom but this doesn’t mean you should not try to acquire the golden skills of communication.
Communicating clearly will not only help you be a better law student but will guide you on your overall development.
It is not possible to lay an extensive list on how to communicate clearly but here are some points that you should consider:
- Get rid of unreason: Before you start a topic, assume you know nothing about that topic and think as if you are starting afresh.
“For many of you have not yet been educated. You have been dis-educated. To put it bluntly, you have been indoctrinated. Before you learn how to think you must first learn how to stop unthinking.
Reasoning requires you to understand the difference between true and false. And reasoning requires coherence and logic. Most of you have been taught to embrace incoherence and illogic.”(https://newbostonpost.com/2017/11/09/undoing-the-dis-education-of-millennials/)
- Don’t end you expressions with “ism.”
“First, except when describing an ideology, you are not to use a word that ends in “ism.”
Communism, socialism, Nazism, and capitalism are established concepts in history and the social sciences, and those terms can often be used fruitfully to gain knowledge and promote understanding.
“Classism,” “sexism,” “materialism,” “cisgenderism,” and (yes) even racism are generally not used as meaningful or productive terms, at least as you have been taught to use them. Most of the time, they do not promote understanding.”
“In fact, ‘isms’ prevent you from learning.”(https://newbostonpost.com/2017/11/09/undoing-the-dis-education-of-millennials/)
If you cannot express your opinions then borrow opinions:
“You should not bother to tell us how you feel about a topic. Tell us what you think about it. If you can’t think yet, that’s O.K.. Tell us what Aristotle thinks, or Hammurabi thinks, or H.L.A. Hart thinks. Borrow opinions from those whose opinions are worth considering.”
Compressing your thoughts and ideas.
When you learn a new things, suppose a rule of common law or maybe a book, try to write a compressed version of what you remember.
It could be in a way of journal or simple chalking down ideas, this will help you not only remember the idea for a long time but also give you a clarity of thought.
Be a critical thinker
Law students should have the flexiblity to think both ways i.e he or she must see merits on both the sides of an arguement but this doesn’t mean he or she cannot come to a conslusion.
To put this in a better way, he or she must recognise the stronger side.
A good law student with an ability to flexible thinking will soon realise that things can be said on both the side of the issue.
How do we curate this skill of critical thinking?
If you’re a person who finds it hard to weigh both the sides of an argument, you should probably try exposing yourself to alternative point of views. For example, if you’re reading a book on a particular topic by a particular author, try reading the same topic by another author.
If you’re a daily newspaper reader and you read The telegraph, try reading the Statesman for a change.
Or just open up a thread online and read what people are saying in the comment section.
To have this ability to think both ways will go a long way for law students.
Basically, these were the 10 qualities I could compile to give an overview on how law students can improve and be better at what they are doing already-studying law.
All of these skills can be acquired by practise.
The world is yours to take over only if you think it is yours.