Now that you’ve read all about what a WSU Law degree is all about, it’s time to go over what pros and cons you can anticipate when studying it.
We’ve asked Lara, a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Criminal and Community Justice student at WSU, to give us the lowdown on all of this.
Let’s dive right in!
Why should you study a Law degree at WSU?
Studying a Bachelor of Laws opens a wide set of careers pathways because it is innately challenging in terms of its academic rigour and discipline that you learn to manage. In other words, the hurdles are a good thing.
“I could give so many reasons why someone should study this degree at WSU, but for me what sets it over the top is the teaching quality and interactions,” says Lara.
Top 3 Pros of a Law degree
#1: A focus on practical legal experience
“Just about every assessment or task we do at Western has [a sense of] real-world legal experience attached to it,” Lara tells us.
Since the ultimate goal of studying a Bachelor of Laws at WSU is to become a competent practising lawyer, there is a focus on real-world scenarios in WSU Law units.
“Whether it be something as simple as a problem question in class, that has facts which draw directly from a case, or albeit a moot in our moot court, we are learning practical and applicable skills which we will use in our profession,” she explains.
For Lara, this is one of her favourite things about all the Law units she has completed so far — “It makes them enjoyable and easier to understand.”
#2: PASS Sessions
“PASS is a program offered by WSU, whereby a senior student who successfully completed the unit facilitates a one-hour weekly session based on unit content,” Lara introduces.
The program is free to attend and offers sessions for certain first and second-year Law units that are more challenging to grasp on your own.
“PASS helps with revision of content, but you also make new friends, so I call it a win-win,” Lara says.
#3: Open Book Exams
Sometimes, rote memorisation isn’t the optimal learning method, especially for practical, logic-based Law units. That’s where open book exams come in.
“Most core units in the WSU Law degree have final exams with big percentages averaging between 50%-65% of your final mark,” Lara explains. “Thankfully, most of these exams are also open book, as they believe at WSU you do not need to memorise a textbook to be a lawyer.”
Open book exams challenge a different part of the student’s capability, which is directly relevant to becoming a practising lawyer. “It is not “easier”, but it tests persuasion and knowledge of the law over how well you can recall precedent,” she says.
Top 3 Cons of a Law degree
#1: Loss of time
To practice as a lawyer is to influence one of the key foundations in society. So, undoubtedly, this comes with a high workload and commitment.
“They [WSU Law Faculty] tell us that we should spend 10 hours a week on a unit,” Lara says, “but for me to grasp most of it I spend much more time on most content — on average 12 hours per unit.”
The fact is that time management is critical because the legal concepts and cases require time to understand fully. “Doing law just means you need to be dedicated, willing to work hard and make hard sacrifices sometimes,” Lara explains.
Electives can be fun but fickle units.
“Choosing electives is not easy, and from my experience so far not only do they fill up really quickly, but they do not always offer the one you were interested in doing,” Lara tells us.
Lara recommends enrolling (if you meet the requisites) in your preferred elective whenever you see that it is available, because it may not be running again for a few semesters!
#3: The textbooks
“I already know what you are thinking, textbooks really?” Lara says, “But yes, not only do these make your bag heavy, but they are expensive.”
Most Law units require you to buy your own textbook and bring it to every class. If it’s possible, many students also take turns bringing their textbook to class but, for self-study (which you’ll be doing a lot of), you’ll definitely need your own.
“But if you want my advice, sell them once you are done,” Lara also recommends.
“One of my biggest regrets about studying Law is not having the confidence to stick my hand up in class, and give an answer to questions being asked,” Lara says.
Of course, a Bachelor of Laws at WSU involves many discussions because the scope of the law is almost always open to interpretation. But, if you know the legal rules and principles, there isn’t really a “wrong” answer.
“Law is subjective, and in questions and exams there is more than one way to reach a conclusion using different aspects of a case,” Lara iterates. “This is something I am working on, and I hope you never have the same fear as me.”
What do you wish you had known before starting Law at WSU?
Never underestimate the workload necessary for studying a Bachelor of Laws. “I honestly wish that I would have known the true extent of the work I had to do from the get-go in Law,” Lara says.
“I guess when I started, I knew the workload would be immense, but I did not realise how intense it would get at such a quick pace,” Lara adds. “You really need to head into a law degree with an open mindset.”
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
“For me, the practical experience we gain is what is most beneficial,” Lara says.
By focusing on practical applications, WSU Laws graduates can gain more confidence when they enter the workforce. They won’t feel as overwhelmed or uprooted as other graduates may experience.
“Any university can provide you with a Law degree, but once you head into the world and practice you need a skill set ranging from advocacy to legal research and WSU provides you with a more than solid foundation for this,” she explains.
What inspired you to choose this Law at WSU?
“I have always known that helping people is what I wanted to do. I did Legal Studies in Year 11 and 12, and my teacher really helped in preparing me for university and the workload and quality they expect in this degree,” Lara explains.
“Choosing this double degree (Law and Criminal and Community Justice) for me was a gamble, but I love the variety of things I have learnt so far,” she adds. “As for Western…there is ‘no stigma’ from being a student from Western Sydney studying a higher level degree and wanting to do good in the world.”
What are the possible career paths?
As aforementioned, a Bachelor of Laws at WSU opens many career paths because it refines a strong skill set that is versatile in many fields. Some career options relating to legal practice include:
- Corporate Legal advisor
- Human Rights Advocate
- Judge’s Associate
Lynn Chen is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is a Communication student at UTS with a major in Creative Writing. Lynn’s articles have been published in Vertigo, The Comma, and Shut Up and Go. In her spare time, she also writes poetry.