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16 Struggles Only Law Students Would Understand

16 Struggles Only Law Students Would Understand

Someday you plan on being a successful attorney so that you can fight for minority rights or lead internationally-renowned cases. Today, however, you are just a law student, living off caffeine, balancing deadlines, and trying to get a grasp of what this “legal” thing is all about. If you’ve chosen to pursue a degree in law or want to be informed about what you should expect of your education, here are 16 struggles every wannabe lawyer faces:

1. You know that every rule has an exception

Ninety percent of legal rules have a few exceptions, and some more exceptions to those exceptions. It eventually makes you wonder whether the whole legal system is based on rules, or on exceptions.

2. Your reading list is long and expensive

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    Compared to your peers studying at other graduate schools (with the possible exception of med students), the list of books you need to buy for just a single course is so extensive that it touches the floor. Even worse, those books cost you a tiny fortune, and aren’t necessarily helpful. Out of fear of going broke, you spent your first year learning where to score discounted books and find free academic articles online.

    3. You have learned to discuss the readings without reading them

    You can talk for hours about things you have never read, and still sound smart doing it.

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    4. You hate moving or going home on holidays

    Packing is your worst nightmare, because you know at least 70% of your suitcase will be filled with textbooks, half of which are on next semester’s reading list that you’ve vowed to read during the breaks.

    5. You are broke

    And probably will be for the first few years of your career. You enviously watch your Facebook friends post pictures of new cars and houses while you continue to share a tiny studio with a roommate and eat cereal twice a day. You’re afraid to look at your bank account at the end of the month when it’s time to pay off your student loans. While out on a cheerful Friday night, you secretly calculate how many more beers you can afford if you plan to pay your bills on time.

    6.  You often doubt if you have chosen the right degree

    doubts

      When the pressure starts to mount, your motivation drops to a record low, and the pile of cases on your desk climbs so high it could be used as a ski slope, you start to question your choice of profession for the tenth time this year. A degree in law will stretch you to your limits and test your commitment over and over again.

      You know folks who’ve switched degrees and now study something they enjoy, while later planning to take another shot at legal in grad school. Sound like a really appealing scenario to you too? The good news is that you can actually transfer your credits to an online degree program like the one at Regis University. With a degree from RGS, you could study something you actually enjoy and save a ton of money at the same time.

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      7. You are tired of giving free legal advice

      Your best friend, your mom, your dad’s cousin, and even his dog have asked you for some minor legal advice at least once (or twice, or ten times). You’re tempted to scream that you plan to become a corporate lawyer specializing in mergers, and are unable to answer questions like: “How can you represent someone you know is guilty?” And no, you can’t help with their phone contract. Nor do you have any idea of the legal intricacies of Internet libel law.

      8. You need to learn everything for exams

      exams

        As one of your tutors puts it: “This amendment is not examinable material, but is good to know for the purpose of your exams”.

        9. Your best friend is caffeine

        You catch up at least five times a day, and often at night when you need to finish another seven page essay by tomorrow. You can’t live without each other, yet you often blame it for making you see noises.

        10. You never stop competing

        Law school has turned you into a gunner. You are always forced to compete against fellow students for the best grades. Some schools have even made things worse by using a bell curve to mark the group, making your grades directly depend on how the rest of the year performs. You know people who become extremely defensive and do everything purely for personal gain (and often at the expense of others). You think the television show “The Apprentice” features some mild drama and low competition compared to the battles happening in your classroom.

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        11. You have love/hate relationships with tutorials

        Yes, it’s the legal playground where you are supposed to learn and act, but most days you simply try not to appear clueless and avoid the wrath of the tutor. Although you do admit that these small group interactions gave structure to your learning and helped you remember the material, you can’t stop hating these days as they approach.

        12. You are constantly asked about “commercial awareness”

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          It’s your #1 pet peeve requirement on any job listing. It’s a somewhat mythical concept each employer regards as crucial for a position with them, yet hardly any of them ever bother to explain what exactly it entails.

          Let’s get this clear once and for all – commercial awareness in a nutshell is an interest in business and an understanding of the wider environment in which it operates: customers, competitors, and suppliers. Basically, apart from coming with a hoard of legal knowledge, the employer expects you to know some business basics as well. This also secretly means knowing all things possible about their market, the issues that may potentially bother their customers, and everything about their aggressive competitor’s strategy and how you can help to squeeze them.

          Sure, you can read a few business articles and take advantage of your skills to talk wise about things you know little about, but be prepared to study more if you’d like to get that job!

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          13. You speak and understand another language

          The legal language that is: one sentence paragraphs composed of a peculiar mixture of Latin and unpronounceable English words, spiced up with even more twisted jargon. You can even speak like this sometimes, especially when you don’t want to appear clueless at the tutorial.

          14. Your career prospects are rather vague

          You try not to read the news too often, with headlines such as “energy sector cuts lawyers” and “legal aid cuts” appearing every other week. Getting a job as a recent law grad is tough. But when there are no jobs to take, how are you expected to pay off your loans?

          15.  You blew a lot of your money on highlighters

          highlighters

            Sometimes you wonder if you’re reading your textbook or your little sister’s coloring book. You just need to highlight the most essential parts, even if that means coloring the page in five different colors.

            16. You can’t imagine having another career

            Despite it’s woes, pressure, debt, and caffeine withdrawal symptoms, life as a law student is the only way you can imagine it. You would still love to become an attorney one day to help people in trouble, fight for justice, or just finally got to know the right definition of “law”.

            Featured photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on January 24, 2021

            How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

            How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

            Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

            For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

            But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

            It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

            And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

            The Importance of Saying No

            When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

            In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

            Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

            Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

            Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

            “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

            When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

            How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

            It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

            From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

            We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

            And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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            At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

            The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

            How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

            Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

            But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

            3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

            1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

            Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

            If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

            2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

            When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

            Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

            3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

            When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

            6 Ways to Start Saying No

            Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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            1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

            One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

            Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

            2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

            Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

            Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

            3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

            Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

            Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

            You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

            4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

            Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

            Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

            5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

            When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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            How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

              Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

              Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

              6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

              If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

              Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

              Final Thoughts

              Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

              Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

              Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

              More Tips on How to Say No

              Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
              [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
              [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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