By Dennis Lim LLB, CLP, Senior Lecturer, School of Business
Just mention the word “LAW” and every non-legal student will cringe in fear and pain. Is it really that difficult to study Law? Not really… Law is not rocket science. It just requires common sense. Personally, I feel that Mathematics and Science are way more complicated. The reading materials of my friends from other disciplines look more foreign to me. Law just requires a lot of reading and writing, and it is in English!
Then, what must a non-law student do? First things first. Law requires a lot of reading and memorizing. It is difficult to explain how much reading is required. Suffice to say, there are a lot of law books to read and case laws to memorize. It involves spending countless hours in the library pouring through case laws and the academics’ opinions of it. It does take a while to get used to the voluminous learning. One must be ready for the inevitable long hours as one goes through an endless reading list. Be ready to burn the midnight oil as you rush to finish your assignments. The workload becomes easier if you are well organized and focus on working efficiently. Planning early and prioritizing work over play avoids dreaded all-nighters. When reading, one should focus on the end goal: learning the law in order to apply it correctly in an exam. Shortcuts in reading may be made too: having an idea of a case’s facts and legal principle means that the case report may be read much more quickly with more focus on the key points.
In Law, there are two things that you must know, namely legislation and case law. The legislation is the Acts of Parliament and Case Law are the cases decided by the Courts. You need to know your legislation well in order to know what Parliament really intended. Also, you are required to know what the judges’ rulings were in the various case laws.
A ‘sharp mind’ is needed for research, and each degree or diploma demands a particular mix of certain skills. Law requires both an 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 questions. Problem questions require you to apply the law to very specific factual situations and explain your reasoning for doing so. You must also be able to explain why or how a piece of legislation or principle of law would or could be applied in a certain way. On the other hand, essay questions will require the student to submit a general overview of the topic by using specific examples in the answer.
Basically, you need to remember a lot of things if you intend to pursue a law degree. You need to be prepared to sit down and learn cases, and the key clauses of the relevant legislation. A law degree will stretch you to your limits and test your commitment. But believe me, everything will be worth your effort when you finally get your law degree.