Studying law doesn’t have to be difficult or taxing with Brenda’s hacks.
The word ‘law’ brings a feeling of nightmare yet one of resonance with law students.
We’d have never contemplated that the idea of studying law itself would come across our fickle minds, be it in college or the typical lecture from our parents who’d persuade us to take up Law for its renowned status. Now here we are, trying to survive through endless lectures and assignments!
We’ve all experienced feeling lost, uninspired, and unmotivated ticking the list of endless things to do. So, here are 6 pointers to keep in mind when studying law:
Early preparatory reading for upcoming lectures will come in handy as it greatly assists in retaining information learnt. Studies have shown that reviewing your notes several times in between study sessions helps with information retention, meaning you’ll spend less time grasping the concept and more time revising the material later on.
Additionally, doing early reading gives you an overview of the topic, so you won’t be completely lost during the lecture, and have a greater advantage in clarifying any confusion you may have as you'd have some prior knowledge on the topic.
As every law student should know, reading beyond your textbooks is necessary as it enriches your assignment and any legal-related writing. It facilitates research in different legal areas, depending on the scope of your assignment or article. News websites such as The Star, NST, Malay Mail, and others are also reputable secondary sources — though be mindful of whether the content is appropriate. Legal firm write-ups are relevant as well, so long as they cater to your assignment or article topic.
Keep up with current legal issues or general affairs through credible sources like news websites, AskLegal, Malaysian Bar, legal firm write-ups, and updates from lawyers and NGOs on legal affairs in social media. Why?
Keeping updated would vastly enrich your general knowledge and research skills that would be useful not only for academic studies but also during job interviews in legal firms as they'd want to know whether you’re genuinely aware of current issues. Furthermore, this helps to instil an attitude of social change to make Malaysia a better place for everyone regardless of race, gender, and religion. In light of the current political climate and issues that could hinder the country’s progress to better heights, this could be our small contribution to change.
Before I had taken a Law Degree, I wasn’t aware of Malaysia’s general affairs as I wasn’t very keen on knowing about them. After I stepped into the world of law, and thanks to a helpful piece of advice from a learned friend of mine on keeping myself updated with current issues, I became more aware of Malaysia’s affairs. This has immensely helped me in keeping track of current legal developments which proved helpful in my assignment writing!
This can never be emphasised enough.
We think that studying law is already a huge burden and it’ll be difficult to balance our studies with other activities so many of us don’t take up anything else. However, participating in extracurricular activities broadens your horizons apart from just knowing the law! I’m passionate about giving back to society, so I’ve always looked out for volunteering opportunities regarding educating the public on their legal rights. I’ve participated in teaching a group of rural children on aspects of tort law, namely assault, battery, and false imprisonment.
This initiative was a street law programme organised by Taylor’s Legal Aid Clinic last year February which aimed to serve the underprivileged community. This teaching experience has refreshed my memory in tort law once more and I enjoyed the whole process of demonstrating the legal concepts to them!
This valuable experience opened my eyes to the fact that everyone has a right to gain an education, no matter their status. This initiative sparked an interest in me to be on the lookout for similar activities in the future to share my legal knowledge with the underprivileged.
How can you become an all-rounder if you’re only stuck doing law?
Taking up non-law electives will allow you to have wider exposure to various areas of life. Studying law involves other essential soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, team working, and others, and they are all interconnected! It’s very common for law students to enrol in other law elective modules, but I encourage you to challenge yourself and take up modules in different areas of discipline like Economics, Design, Journalism, Computer Science, and more.
You’ll have the freedom to contribute to society in creative ways other than just being in the legal field. We’ve heard of lawyers who have gone on to become journalists, singers, actors, and the likes which shows that law isn’t isolated on its own.
I’ve chosen to take five free electives, ranging from Psychology to Performing Arts to Journalism programmes just to expand my knowledge across different disciplines. I was particularly interested in these three categories. Taylor’s Curriculum Framework has definitely contributed to instiling intellectual curiosity in students wishing to explore programmes outside their faculties, apart from just focusing on their core degree.
We’re well known for neglecting our mental health. Seriously, having to complete so much in just three months for every semester is no joke.
During my first semester, I had bad time management where I found myself always sleeping late and having a little too much fun. Consequently, I had less time to prepare for exams which stressed me out. From my second semester onwards, I learned to set small yet manageable study goals every day and learnt to take breaks when I needed them. Rest and early sleep really enabled me to complete my work more efficiently and it definitely improved my mental health.
Brenda’s Tip: There’s no one way to relax and take care of yourself. Activities that you could try include taking walks, patting your pet, or even taking in the scenery around you. Try it out to see which rewinding method suits you best!
At the end of the day, Law is definitely not an easy subject to study. Hence, its prestigious reputation. Nevertheless, with grit and passion, one can tread through the rough waters and still succeed. And with a little bit of hope, anything is possible! Also, remember to work hard and play hard because your university years will be one of the best!
Brenda Rachel Lee is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Hons) at Taylor's University. She is also the Vice President of Academic Relations of Gagasan Mahasiswa Undang-Undang Sabah (GUNS) and a member of Taylor’s Performing Arts Society and Taylor’s Catholic Society. She’s passionate about raising legal awareness to the public and an advocate for causes that serve justice and equality.
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