10 Top Tips For Lazy Law Students!

For all students, especially those studying law, time is of the essence. You need to learn to work smart as well as work hard.

Check out these 10 tips which will save you time (and sanity!)

1. You don't have to read the whole thing

Reading through a whole case can take hours. Instead, search for the case summary on Wikipedia or Westlaw. Examinations don’t demand that you go into a judge’s reasoning in excessive depth but rather that you can demonstrate your understanding of a particular legal principle. If you do decide to read the case, take notice of the head-note which will direct you to particular paragraphs containing each legal principle you’ll need to learn.

2. Research

When researching, save hours trawling through reference material and search for keywords instead. Use journal articles and obtain a PDF file of your source materials from LexisNexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline or JSTOR.

Pull up the relevant article, enter your keywords and key in Ctrl + F – et voila!

3. Wikipedia rules

Essay writing can be a breeze if you employ Wikipedia. Make sure that you edit the page after copying and pasting information though, otherwise you’ll be guilty of plagiarism which is a definite no, no. Wikipedia will also point you in the right direction of additional sources should you need them. Remember that if you’ve used a proposition from Wikipedia, cite the article’s individual reference as legal authority.

4. Presentation of essays and dissertations

Maximise impact in your presentation by putting all abbreviations out in full, increasing the size of all full stops and commas and enlarging the text size of subheadings. In dissertations, make sure you include a large and well-spaced contents page and indices.

5. Printing case reports

It’s not environmentally friendly to print out full case reports. You’ll most likely never even read them or use them for reference purposes. The amount of paper and ink you will waste is unbelievable and waiting for them to print takes forever!

6. Forget Factortame Case citation [2014] 1 TLDR 99 – the Too Long Don’t Readit law reports! Forget these lengthy cases; you don’t have that amount of time to waste. You’ll probably find that having trawled through all 150 pages of it you’ll have gained nothing and wasted hours doing it.

7. Tutorial blagging

If you’ve neglected to study the case assigned for your tutorial, choose one that you do know and relate that to it. If all else fails, say you simply didn’t understand the case and ask that the tutor explains the Court’s reasoning to you. That should take up most of the tutorial time without your having to make a contribution and you’ll finish the session knowing what you should have learned before you went in.

8. Law books

Try to buy all your law books second hand from the previous year’s outgoing students. Not only will you save some money but if you’re lucky, the previous owner will have added annotations and highlights so that you don’t have to read the whole book to find the relevant passages.

9. Unnecessary reading

The whole aim of your studies is to understand the law and be able to apply it. Aim to tackle the tutorial or seminar questions first before undertaking any of the reading. There’s a good chance you’ll have learned what you need to know from the lectures and reading about it is merely duplicating what you’ve already grasped.

10. Exam question spotting

Revising an entire syllabus is impossible. Instead, look through as many recent past exam papers as possible and note what topics come up most frequently; rest assured, there will be a pattern of regulars. Time spent cramming on these subjects in particular whilst skimming the least likely contenders is time well-spent.

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