Gaining admission to law school is a remarkable feat in itself. But it’s also just the start of a lengthy period of trials. Studying to become a lawyer will push your abilities and endurance; many have turned aside or experienced delays at this point in the journey to professional practice.
The layman thinks of law as something that’s mostly static and immutable. And all those Latin phrases don’t help to alter this perception. Yet while the massive body of law can have a lot of inertia, rules must continue to adapt to the rapidly changing world we live in. Each generation of students will have to study a continually growing and evolving body of cases and texts. The aspiring lawyer must first become a master of learning; here are some practices that can help.
Maximize existing knowledge
For all its overwhelming breadth and depth, the field of law does not require you to have previous knowledge of any particular discipline. The American Bar Association does not single out any field of study for a recommendation. Consequently, students can major in practically anything and take up law after obtaining their bachelor’s degree.
However, specific undergraduate majors tend to be better-represented among law students. These include political science and journalism, which give you a good grasp of the broad context in which law is practiced. Economics and business will prove useful if you aim to work for a commercial law firm such as McAllister Garfield, P.C. Consider more specific areas of legal studies, such as environmental law, and benefit from a wide variety of disciplines, from ecology to international studies.
Being older than the typical college student means that law students are more mature. And with age comes an increased focus on your future career. Thus, you can benefit significantly by drawing upon your existing interdisciplinary knowledge and aligning it with what you’re studying and how you envision yourself practicing. This can provide the context which helps you commit entire books to memory weekly.
Work on skill overlap
Still, the benefits of being acquainted with other disciplines won’t extend to every aspect of your studies in law. Thus, another way to improve as a student is to become better at transferable skills. For this reason, extended practice and study of language can be helpful. Where most people settle for merely being able to get their message across, you can go beyond. Study the rules, syntax, and grammar. It will help you to compose and rehearse better arguments.
A lot of law students in this digital age have drawn parallels between programming and legal skills. Writing code is similar to drawing up a contract. You need to think in the same way and craft objective instructions. Thus, learning how to code is another option for you to sharpen your mental faculties for legal study. It also gives you a valuable skill that can help differentiate you in the future.
Becoming a lawyer also involves a lot of interpretation. As a student, you won’t just be called upon to learn academically. You’ll also have to tackle learning various courses through a reflexive approach. In these situations, the ability to deal with a high level of abstraction. Arguably no field of study helps prepare you better in this aspect than poetry. Study poetry on the side; it encourages open-ended discourse, exercises your skill of interpretation, and helps you to express yourself more persuasively.
Dabble in many things
There can be a multitude of ways in which the legal profession touches upon, or overlaps with, other fields of study. But we only have a finite amount of time to spare as students. And few can afford to go back to college and spend a few more years studying another major in preparation for law school.
The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert in anything besides law. In the modern world, it’s becoming increasingly true that you need to generalize to be successful. Most lawyers will benefit from developing a T-shaped mind. And that’s something you can start to practice even while you’re studying.
Be an intellectually curious person. Feel free to cultivate your interest in a wide range of fields. Dabble in different skills and activities. You can devote the bulk of your hours to studying course-related material, and still be able to set aside an hour each day or the entire weekend. This way, you can become a master of law, while rounding into a jack-of-all-trades to facilitate your learning.