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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

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      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 March 30, 2020

            What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

            What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

            Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

            You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

            This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

            What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

            According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

            Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

            There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

            How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

            When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

            Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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            1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

            One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

            The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

            Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

            2. Be Honest

            A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

            If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

            On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

            Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

            3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

            Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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            If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

            4. Succeed at Something

            When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

            Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

            5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

            Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

            Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

            If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

            If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

            Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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            6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

            Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

            You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

            On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

            You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

            7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

            Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

            Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

            Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

            When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

            Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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            In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

            Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

            It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

            Final Thoughts

            When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

            The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

            Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

            Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

            Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

            More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

            Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
            [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
            [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
            [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
            [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
            [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
            [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
            [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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