Tips for Second Year Law at Otago

Tips for Second Year – Written by Cara Crawford

A big welcome and congratulations to the newest members of the Law Faculty. You have made a fantastic choice to study law and you will experience an incredible amount of fun, self-development and learning over the next three to four years. The challenges of second year law are almost as infamous as law camp – by the end of second year you will know all about the screeching sound of the 11pm library alarm, how to make yourselves triple-shot coffees, and how to disguise yourself in a public law lecture to avoid Marcelo’s questioning. However, I can assure you that second year law is not all doom and gloom – this is also the year where you will learn how to think and act like a lawyer. The trick to mastering second year is to make things as easy on yourself and as possible. Here are my top tips on just how to do so.

  1. Learn how to read a judgment

Reading judgments. You will be doing a lot of this for the next three or four years so don’t leave it till third year to start! The great thing about reading judgments is that the more you read, the easier it gets – and the more you’ll learn how to understand what you are reading. Always put aside some time to go through the key cases, either before or after class. Find out what works best for you and get stuck in.

  1. Go to your tuts

This will be a common statement which you will hear more than once this year. However, there is truth to this common phrase! The tutorials provide an opportunity to put into practice what you have learned in an exam problem format. No matter how daunting the tuts may seem, trust me, it is much better for your grades (and stress levels come the end of the year) to practice in the tuts rather than the final exam.

  1. Get involved in law school

Being a part of law school just doesn’t involve turning up to class (and your tuts). Go to SOULS events, take the stage in law revue, play social sports, engage in junior competitions, join groups such as Te Roopu Whai Putake, and volunteer for groups like Women’s Refuge, Law for Change or the Animal Legal Defence Fund. SOULS offers some of the best events at Otago, so if you want to achieve your full social potential make sure you try to attend every event! Not only will this help you build connections with your fellow lawyers, but it will also introduce you to a (wonderful) world of cringey law puns.

  1. Ask the lecturers questions

This would be my best top tip. You don’t have to ask the lecturers questions after class – you can subtly email them and arrange a time. As it gets closer to exam time it can also be good to bring a few friends along if they have similar questions. This helps decrease the stress (that you are actually talking to a real-life lecturer) and increase the stimulating chat that is second year law. Asking lecturers questions can save hours of confusion and will make sure that your study is on the right track.

  1. Have self-belief

You can do it! Always have self-belief, you are in law for a reason. The best thing about Otago is that the Law Faculty is one of most supportive places on campus. Make the most of all the great people around you and let that foster belief in yourself.

Best of luck to you all, second year will be a blast!

Written by Cara Crawford

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