I didn’t know if I would want to become a lawyer after finishing the degree but I thought it would be an asset in whatever field I chose to enter because the study of it refines my critical thinking skills and challenges me more than another degree.
I’m studying at Sydney University basically because I had heard that a degree from Sydney was very well respected by employers in the profession and I thought it would provide me with the best education. I’m not involved in law society at all, but the people who are tend to be a lot closer than the rest of the faculty because it is such a big cohort and there is no guarantee that you will have classes with the same people all the time.
Despite this though, I think it is a really amazing faculty physically and academically, but there is a lot of competition and people take it very seriously which doesn’t always provide for an enjoyable learning environment.
There is no way to get around the fact that there is a lot of reading but it is manageable as long as you keep up to date week to week, and you learn to prioritise what the more important readings are. Also, as you get further into your degree the university allocates around 3 reading weeks per semester so you don’t get any new information those weeks but they are solely dedicated to catching up if you have fallen behind and working on your assignments.
I have succumbed and bought all the textbooks so far AND they are very expensive: I paid around $900 for my books this semester. It is very difficult to get many of the books second hand or for reduced prices because there are very often new editions dealing with changes in the case law and statute so it is important to have textbooks that are up to date. I guess it would be possible to rent them out of the library instead but many of them are on 2 hour reserve because they are core textbooks meaning you couldn’t take them home.
I haven’t completed any work experience yet, but I hope to do a clerkship at the end of my penultimate year (summer of 2014/2015) as this is the traditional time for students to do clerkships in the hope of being offered a graduate position the following year.
If there was anything I wish I knew before beginning, it would be how many people there are who actually do law degrees because I think this has decreased the value of law degrees in the eyes of employers and has created a huge degree of competition for clerkships and graduate positions, meaning that you have to work a lot harder to stand out from the crowd, not only in terms of getting good grades but having extra-curricular activities that demonstrate your commitment to the degree.