After months of endless reading, sleepless nights, and impulsive crying, I am proud to say that I have survived my first semester in law school, at least I hope I actually did. While learning about the laws of our country and the idiosyncrasies of our lawmakers, statesmen, and justice men may be exhilarating, there is no feeling more satisfying than learning things about life in general through my experience in studying law.
1. Legal Education is a privilege.
In an ideal world, every being who has the interest and drive to learn would be given an opportunity to gain knowledge to his heart’s content. In fact, education is a right. But then again, Philippines is far from an ideal world. I know some people who would have wanted to study law but they are barred by their circumstances – mostly about financial problems, which is a shame, really, because these people, at least in my opinion, are fitting future-lawyers. This is also the very reason why I get upset when people take their education, not only in law school but in any school, for granted only because they have the means to enroll in an expensive institution. Legal Education is a privilege, and I can never show enough gratitude to all the people who made it possible for me to be where I am right now.
2. It is not for everyone.
This may sound like an opposition to my previous statement that education should be a right, but that is not actually the case. While everyone is entitled to have equal access to quality education, not everyone is apt or fit to study in a high-pressure kind of environment. If you cannot handle stress very well, law school is not for you. If you are unable to manage your time wisely, law school is not for you. And, ultimately, if your heart is not strong enough, you should consider looking for another career path.
Studying in a law school is grueling; it needs to break you so that you may become stronger in the long run. There are necessary skills in order to be a good law student, and a good lawyer in the future (e.g. good oral skills etc.), but these skills can be learned and developed over time. What is essential is that the will never falters and the perseverance to finish strong never wanes. If you have a grounded goal and a solid fighting spirit, then you have definitely have what it takes to study law.
3. It is okay to cry.
There is not one single person who attended law school who has not cried. Feel free to tell me otherwise but I would not believe you. With all the never-ending readings, demanding courses and pressure around law students, it is inevitable that the student will break down. He will cry and let it out because after that everything will be okay again. He will be able to focus himself again in his studies. Crying over thick readings yet to be read just signifies how a student wants to come to class prepared. This shows just how badly he wants to study, it’s just that he is limited by the constraints of the natural world and that is okay. It is definitely okay to cry, because after all, who doesn’t?
4. You cannot do it alone.
If you are adamant about doing everything by yourself alone, then I wish you good luck. If back in high school and college being left by yourself works for you and you think that the same will still be okay in law school then you are gravely mistaken. Making good friends and stable connections with your classmates are just as important as studying for recitations and exams. Working with a group of people will make the load lighter and every little thing off one’s chest is already a great help. Do not carry everything on your shoulders; some of them are bound to fall. As what they always say, two (or more) heads are better than one.
5. Do not forget to have fun.
One must not forget to have fun in all his endeavors. Failure to do so will make the work seem tedious and a chore. While it may be a challenge for law students to look for time for having social interactions and fun, it is nevertheless important for them to not lose sight of their personal interests and hobbies. Strictly sticking one’s self to the books will not only make him seem boring but he will also be prone to burn-out, making him tired of what he is doing. Take a break and enjoy life. At least as much as what may be permitted by the circumstances.
So far these are the realizations that came into my mind in the course of the semester and I know that there will be more to come. Until then, I am keeping my mind open as I know that everything that will come to me will be an opportunity for self-growth and self-discovery. So these are the things I have learned in law school so far (not including the statutes and jurisprudence, of course) and I am really glad that I chose to continue my studies and I do hope that I continue to have this positive disposition for the next seven semesters (yes, I am claiming it).