When I would tell people I was studying law, they would often comment on how time-consuming and workload could be. Then, when I added in the fact that I was not only studying full time but also working full time, they would look at me as if I was some kind of lunatic.
Perhaps I was, but I think all law students are in our own special way.
The concept of studying full time and keeping up full time employment can sound crazy, but for many people, they have no alternative. Life can’t always be put on hold and many students have to keep up their work hours to support themselves and their families. Others will choose full time work and study so that they can get valuable experience to assist their legal careers.
Regardless of your reasons for full time work and study, it is important to try and establish a work-study-life balance. When I was working and studying, I had a minimal social life. I would work during the day in a law firm, then go home, eat and then start the day’s study. Fortunately, I was studying off campus and this had the significant benefit of dispensing with the need to attend classes on campus. If you are looking at studying while you are working, it pays to investigate what courses give you the best flexibility for attending classes, if at all. Many courses are offered online and others will run some lectures of an evening.
Although you’re trying to fit everything in, it’s important to make sure that your life isn’t totally consumed by work and study. I often faced a law overload, just about living and breathing it 24/7. As difficult as it may sound, it is possible to have some down time. It’s essential that you make an effort to switch off and refocus – your brain will thank you for it and you studies will improve.
It is also important that you try to keep on top of your commitments. Working and studying full time is where you’ll learn how to either manage your time efficiently or how to procrastinate and then cram like a boss. I mastered the latter. You will be surprised at how quickly the weeks pass, the readings pile up, and the due dates sneak up on you. Soon you’ll find it all snowballing out of control to the point where you’re left with having to catch up on a semester’s worth of study only a couple of weeks out from the exam.
If you chose to work and study full time, you will learn very quickly to be organised and prepared. This advice is very much ‘do as I say and not as I do’, as I was far from organised and seemed to stumble through it all. If I had my time again, I would do it very differently and heed my own advice.
The commitment to study law and keep working full time may seem daunting and onerous, but the truth is that for those of us who wish to practice law, this is the very nature of the profession we are entering.
Finally, I will leave you with a piece of advice I received from a barrister. Upon telling him that I had no social life because of my work and study commitments, his only response was, ‘What makes you think you will when you are admitted?’
Oh how right he was.