“Law school is quite easy. It’s like a stroll in the park, but Jurassic Park.”
This is one of my favorite lines in the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s book Stupid is Forever. I took this line as a joke – a mere exaggeration of law school. But after I entered law school, I was proven wrong.
It was definitely no ordinary walk in the park.
A typical law student has 18-20 units (or 7-9 subjects) per semester. One unit is equivalent to one hour of class; It means that a regular law student has to come to class at least 18 hours per week.
That’s at least 18 hours of having to come to class fully prepared for recitation; And the hours involving all the hard work and preparations go well beyond those hours. To prepare for a class recitation in the form of Socratic Method of question-and-answer, a law student needs to read the assigned cases (Supreme Court decisions), commentaries and annotations and codal provisions. Basically, a law student has to read a lot to survive law school.
While these hardships have taught me about law and current jurisprudence, they’ve given me valuable life lessons as well.
1. Delayed Gratification
I’ve had to delay my current life’s pleasures to keep up with law school – missing out on Friday nightlife, weekend getaways, spontaneous barkada trips, and family gatherings. Time for family and friends was replaced with study hours.
It may be difficult to study while my family and friends are out having fun, but I know that I have to delay satisfaction in certain areas of my life such as travelling and socializing so I can thrive and excel more in law school.
2. Learn to manage time
As a law student, I have to juggle my time to study around 7-9 subjects per semester. Each subject has its own load of assignments – studying concepts, and reading cases and codal provisions.
I always believe that each subject is important, regardless of the number of units, because it can affect my CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average). Hence, I allot study hours per subject before I go to class.
Different law students have different study habits – some cram studying, others have planned study sessions. As for me, I plan my week on a weekend so I can have enough time to study all the subjects and finish all assignments. What works for me might not work for other law students. Each law student has his or her own style; what is important is to manage your own time to comply with the demands of law school.
3. Create solid friendships
Law school could be stressful and hard without friends to support and understand the difficulties you are going through. People in law school could either lift you up or pull you down, so it is important to establish friendships that will bring out the best in you.
My friends serve as my support system and study buddies in law school. We help each other in school-related requirements, lift each other up during difficult times, and celebrate each other’s successes. And my friendship with my law school barkada goes beyond the confines of our school campus. We hang out and have fun during our free time and create memories beyond books and cases.
4. Have a life outside law school.
Every law student needs a sanity break. It is tiring to surround yourself with all the cases and books. So, it is important to make school – life balance a priority for your mental health and to find inspiration to keep you going.
At the end of every week, I make sure that I go out, have dinner and spend quality time with my loved ones. Other than this, I make sure not to miss special family gatherings like my parents’ birthdays and anniversary. Spending time with them energizes me to study hard again for another week of war in law school.
5. Never Give Up.
One of my law school mantras is “Laban lang.”
I was once called to recite during the first day of class. Surprised there was a recitation that soon, I was not able to answer the question correctly, and I was asked by my professor to sit down.
I had to cry it out, and told myself, “babawi ako.” I know that there will be several chances to recite again and prove myself to the professor.
Another difficult moment was when I failed a midterm exam in a major subject. I was heartbroken and I cried a lot. But, I had to pull myself together and remind myself that I can make up for it in the final exam and pass the subject.
Each law student has his or her own downfall in law school. But, one must be reminded that for every downfall, one must learn not to give up. When the semester is not yet over, one always has the chance to redeem oneself. I like to say, “Habang may finals, may pag-asa.”
I believe that it is God’s calling for me to become a lawyer. When it seems impossible and overwhelming to read through all the readings and pass the exams, having faith in God gives me the strength to continue and study hard.
Ultimately, law school has taught me one great life lesson – sacrifice.
I need to sacrifice and study hard for four years and pass the bar exams to achieve my dream. I always believe that all my sacrifices would be worth it when I get that coveted “Atty” attached to my name and bring pride and honor to my parents. More than just getting the title, I always believe that being a lawyer is my bridge between personal and social fulfillment.