What should I know about English law?
Perhaps the really big thing to know about an English law degree is that there are subjects which (i) you have to study (ii) you expect you won’t enjoy. This is an unfortunate side-effect of the fact that law degrees are at heart vocational and so you study certain areas which are crucial to the smooth functioning of society but aren’t considered too glamorous. It’s worth noting that some people do come to university with a professed love for commercial law and that’s great, but it does seem to be the norm to start university dead set on being a human rights barrister.#N#However, because you have to learn these topics in significant depth you do find yourself getting far more interested than you ever plan to. What can seem like a fairly technical subject such as land registration is actually vitally important to individual people when you think about it — many cases on the topic end up with someone being evicted from their family home, or allowed to stay despite the aspiring purchaser having no idea that they had a legal interest in the house as it was not entered in the register.#N#There is a frame of mind to adopt here, and it’s absolutely central to ensuring that you enjoy studying law. Find the interesting element of something which doesn’t originally appeal to you — there will always be one, often the ‘human interest’ or political angle. Make as much of it as is possible as interesting to you as is possible. And resign yourself to the fact that you’ll just have to learn the rest!
Why do law students clock up library hours?
Law students get a reputation for clocking up the library hours because each week you need to learn what the law actually is and academics’ opinions of it from scratch, and neither of these will be particularly short.
What is sharp mind?
The ‘sharp mind’ you need for university study comes in different varieties, and each degree demands a particular mix of certain skills. Law requires both absolute command of the details of legislation and cases, and a wider view of how different areas interlock and what they (aim to) achieve. This is shown most clearly in the two main types of examination question. Problem questions require you to apply the law to very specific (and sometimes outright preposterous) factual patterns and explain why in this specific set of circumstances a piece of legislation or principle of law would/could be applied in a certain way.#N#You need to know the legislation and the case law, because although you may be given a copy of the legislation it wastes time if you’re using it to do anything other than check minor points. Equally if you don’t know part of the case law in an area that can lose you marks or narrow down the number of questions you could potentially answer. Essay questions require you to make a broad point using specific examples, so you need to have a whole arsenal of examples to hand.#N#Basically, you need to remember a lot of things! And you need to be prepared to sit down and learn cases, and at the very least the structure and key clauses of the relevant legislation so that you can find it in the statute book during the exam. It is absolutely normal to have legislation and case summaries stuck up round your wall during exam season (rent agreements permitting!). But because all this knowledge also needs to be grounded in the wider picture for the purposes of essay questions this isn’t just an exercise in memorising names, which makes the process a lot easier.#N#An Oxford examiners’ report commented a few years ago (in light of students forgetting the names of key cases) that if you have done the work properly then remembering case names should be no more difficult than learning the names of breakfast cereals. I may not know hundreds of breakfast cereals, but it’s true that you learn a lot of small details without thinking about it.
Is it easy to forget that some are actually quite simple and clear cut?
You are , after all, focusing on the more controversial and uncertain areas of law so it is easy to forget that some are actually quite simple and clear-cut. There also comes a week where you learn about liability for giving advice and accepting responsibility for it being correct.
Is criminal law a good subject?
Criminal law, for instance, makes a good first year subject because it is easy to get to grips with the ideas and it doesn’t overlap too much with any other area. It is just important to know that if you study Land law before Trusts/Equity, it is not a problem if you don’t fully understand what a trust is because that will come next. 3.
Is it normal to feel like you’re in the dark?
As you usually learn only a few topics at a time you may not understand one fully until you have covered the next one. It is absolutely normal to feel a little like you’re in the dark to begin with, although universities try to organise the courses so that the first year exams at least can stand on their own.
Is there a single Eureka moment?
There is no single ‘eureka!’ moment, but it does all come together eventually. Certain areas of law, particularly contract and tort, deal with different types of human action but are so similar in places that they often ‘run out’ just as the other one starts.
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