As law students we’re learning skills that will serve us well not just in a legal career, but also in many business fields and (possibly) life in general. However, there are some completely ridiculous expectations that people have of law students that no matter how hard we study, we just cannot live up to.
Here are some of the expectations people, generally friends and family, have of me when I talk to them about my studies….
GETTING OUT OF TRAFFIC FINES
People always assume that I know how to get out of parking or speeding fines, like it’s a subject that’s offered in first year. Sure, in some circumstances there may be some mitigating factors but unfortunately, as we all know, they’re generally strict liability and if you’ve got a ticket, you’re stuffed. The only problem is how do you explain it to a tipsy uncle at a family BBQ?
DECIPHERING JUDGE JUDY
She’s a ‘judge’ and we’re law students, but that’s where the commonality ends. Sure we have comparative law subjects and we understand some of the similarities and differences between judicial systems, but none of those skills or knowledge will help you to make sense of what goes on in Judge Judy’s courtroom. The best explanation to give someone is to expect the complete opposite if they are ever going to court, or to suggest they try watching Rake instead.
AWESOME GOOGLING SKILLS
Sure, I have great researching skills – I know how to look up all Mabo decisions and the Tasmanian Dams Case – but that doesn’t mean I’m any better at Googling something.
Probably like most of you, any searches I do on Google are just pot luck. Insert random words and hope for the best or failing that at least a funny meme. My real skill is searching through videos on YouTube. It’s amazing what you can find when you’re trying to avoid jurisprudence study.
Now being argumentative is not such a bad attribute to have in law, and the ability to read between the lines to infer a certain take on something can be pretty helpful too. After all, that’s what statutory interpretation is all about.
Sometimes people always take it too far, thinking just because you express an opinion and are able to back it up, that you’re argumentative. Not to mention implying that you just love to twist words and butter people up so you can extract what you want from them.
Personally, I take that as a compliment. It’s good to know my nearest and dearest think I will be killer at cross-examination, but it does get tiresome when people don’t realise that you can switch off your lawyer brain and that we are normal, friendly people that don’t have to have the last word.
COMPLETING A MARATHON
Finally, everyone seems to expect that just because I’ve almost survived the long haul of a law degree, I can survive the long haul of running 42.2km.
Strange how friends and family miss the stark contrast between being locked in a room surrounded by books and suffering a massive lack of vitamin D, and being outside and running for hours. Nothing I have had learned in law school has helped me with running, save that I know how to get away from an exam centre damn quick.
These are just some of the unrealistic expectations of law students that I’ve encountered. Share you stereotype experiences in the comments section below!