I always feel a sense of sage pride when a young hopeful Law student to be looks at me with naïve hope shining in their eyes, seeking advice regarding the mythical subject and career of the Law. You see your old self in their youthful excitement as they describe how they want to change the world and make a difference. Then you remember how it all changed when you actually started studying the subject. But of course you can’t let them down, you can’t alienate them with your harsh lessons learnt from actually studying Law… no you lull them into a false sense of security instead of destroying a dream, knowing that it’s a hard lesson we all have to learn and that most importantly they will get through it in the end, and so too will you. Although on some days it may not feel like it.
All you can do is provide a beacon of hope that it is possible, and frankly… that it’s all worth it at the end of the day. You realize Law is like having a baby, I wouldn’t know personally but it is a good metaphor… I think.
You carry this subject around (and its ridiculously heavy tomes) and study hard for half the year. You bear through the pain of impending deadlines, stress crying and thinking of all the money you will owe… but when you’re done at the end of the day, you feel a sense of that pride once again, that you survived one more day of being a Law school student.
As essay deadlines for the end of the year hover over our heads like a hangman’s noose, and the grim prospect of slaving through vac scheme and mini-pupillage application deadlines looming closer, I got asked a question by one of my mentees: How do you cope with studying Law?
Well… you don’t …. You run around screaming in a panic like a headless chicken until you slam into a metaphorical mental wall after reading yet more obscure obiter. You fall curling into a foetal position as you slowly cry whilst rocking back and forth, asking yet again why am I studying Law?
Of course that’s only when there’s an essay due, a moot or a tutorial to prepare for, or exam revision to cram. I.e. about most of the time then. Most of the time though… you survive. You realise that to study Law you have to be a bit unhinged at times because no sane person would choose to subject themselves to something like this continually…right? (just observe the poor Mooters). Once again my baby metaphor surfaces, it’s worth it because you love it (Law) despite the tantrums and sleepless nights. In the end you would have nurtured and created something beautiful through the pain. Most importantly, you’re not going through it alone, we are all in the same metaphorical (at times sinking) boat. Yet the struggle is real, so how do you cope?
My List of PROCRASTINATION Coping Mechanisms
One important thing I learnt from first year was that taking a break is needed… and procrastination was my brain going into meltdown survival mode. Buuuuut… it helped. Of course procrastination isn’t the only way, there are so many practical and productive things you can do to help yourself. Look at my previous article on simple little things that make your life easier like organisation and planning: Tips from First Year.
So how do I personally cope? It is a truth universally acknowledged that a student with impending deadlines and work to complete will find creative ways of doing anything but what they’re supposed to be working on. Well here’s my ever growing list.
1) Emergency Snack Stash
Most people have a bedside table to keep bits and bobs in… mine is a snack cupboard for those emergency situations, (so practically most of the time), when I’m sat at my desk reading through yet another never-ending chapter. I know that a packet of popcorn, Tyrell’s hand cooked crisps or a chocolate bar isn’t too far away. They’re like a comforting best friend holding your hand, telling you that you can get through this, just hang on.
2) There is still a life outside of Law
Before Law you had a life, go back to those things that gave you joy. For example, I missed reading for fun, so I still make it an aim to have a non-Law book next to my bed. At the moment I am embracing my high school emo poet phase and reading the wonderful works of Charles Baudelaire, ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’. It reminds me that not all writing and sentence structuring isn’t overly complicated (I’m looking at you Hart and your Concept of Law). And it also gives me an excuse to go to Waterstones.
3) Oh Snap
I Snapchat (maybe a bit too much… I blame my flatmate for getting me into it). When you’re reading at 2am yet again… a remix of a song and relating it to Law seems like a fantastic idea. I don’t know if I would win comedian or Law lyrical genius of the year, but it keeps me sane…and strangely sometimes helps with revision.
4) Throw yourself a celebratory Banquet for getting through the
In the words of my amazing Bermudian flatmate ‘I’m going to order a curry banquet meant for a family of four for myself’.’ A reward takeaway is always a good shout, plus it saves on having to cook during those busy periods.
5) Find Legal Inspiration and Motivation
I read the experiences of others who have gone through it. I go to Law events and speak to the people who actually do this every day and have gone through it. Listening to their stories you realise they’re just ordinary people (albeit with exceptional grades and stories) who followed through with their dreams and passions despite setbacks here and there. It is possible people. Also another note on Law events, they are the best not only for networking and learning, but in my short legal life my eyes have been opened to the world of comparing canapés and wine served at events, obviously an important factor to take into account when applying for firms…. Right? Good food = Good place to work. Logic.
I compiled a list of survival songs… Drake is strangely on point, not to mention classics such as Survivor by Destiny’s Child, or a bit of Adele. Obviously Adele was singing about Law and she didn’t even know it. Actually most musicians are singing about studying Law really. From Bach to Kanye, there is something for everyone.
7) Media “Pit Stop” Break
Need I say more? Well apart from the fact that sometimes 5 minutes may turn into 30 minutes. You have been warned.
Pinterest- I now have an impressive ‘Law Bantz’ board full of legal funnies.
Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter– of course when you have been in that library you need to connect with civilization and find out what’s going on with the outside world.
Buzzfeed- quizzes and listicles, need I say more?
Legal Cheek– it has an amazing daily round up of relevant legal news in an accessible way, just what you need when your brain is already melted from reading. (Heard in the Courtroom deserves some type of award)
8) Explore your City
Living in London is fantastic… 24 hour diners which serve pancakes, even more so.
9) One needs to look fierce
Everyone has their guilty pleasure/reward system, apart from Paperchase and Waterstones, Lipstick is a top three for me. A little bit more of MAC and Ruby Woo never hurt nobody. From the looks of it… I think I need to go buy more.
10) Get Away from your desk once in a while
Taking a walk through London at night is magical… because there are not that many tourists around, you can clear your mind… except maybe on Fridays, you might bump into more drunk people than you’d like. But also taking the time to discover all those little places and seeing the museums. My favourite gem by far has been St Dunstan’s in the East Garden, perfect for a summer relaxing spot in this bustling metropolis.
11) Run a Marathon
Binge watch whole seasons of programmes. I recently caught up with my childhood favourite The Powerpuff Girls, I like to think it keeps me grounded. (actually I just really love the Powerpuff girls.. don’t judge me.)
12) Black Gold
I feel like every student should be given shares in coffee, we clearly keep this industry running. And whilst we are on the subject, Caramel Frappuccino whatever the weather all the way.
13) Be spontaneous
Three words: Solo Headphone Party. Say what you want but 7/11 by Beyoncé is fantastic for this.
I could go on, but an unlucky 13 seems like a good place to stop… I laugh in the face of the Law gods who torture us so. Ok I got a bit carried away, but hopefully this will help someone as always, and as the list grows I might add to it. And if this doesn’t really help I hope that in the dark times of Law it makes you smile and you realise that Law drives everyone to a crazy breaking point, but there are ways through this honourable endeavour. Most importantly, do your best, focus on yourself and learn to chill out sometimes.
Feel free to comment below with your ways of making this subject easier!
All the images are my own