Hello again, guys. I know it has been a long time since the last time I wrote but as you know, student life is not as easy as it seems. I am now two months into my Diploma in Legal Practice and I have to tell you guys, this year is both straight-forward and overwhelming. An odd combination – I know, just like feta cheese and watermelon, but still enjoyable. Honestly, do try this, it will blow your mind away.
But what is so different and amazing about this postgrad year at university from the four tedious and mind-bogging year as an undergrad in law? Well, it is not ease to explain why I would prefer to have 5 years similar to the DPLP to 4 years of an LLB. There are numerous bewildering reasons, some would say for this willingness.
First of all – the Diploma is a year of more which is less. If I start listing all the assignments – formative or summative (that is not forming part of my final grade or doing so) I will run this post forever. It is incredible the number of different task we are given and the short deadlines that go with them. But don’t fret! Although numerous, most of them will normally take me no more than half an hour to complete. Not to mention that all the formative ones I just HAVE to submit and give minimum thought to. Although this might seem bad from the outside, this year is all about the practical part of the law and most of the practical part if either form-filling (mostly boring, but highly time-consuming) or letter and document drafting, and most of these Have. Set. Up. Styles.
What I am getting at is – do not worry about what to fill in a sixteen-page-long inheritance tax form – if you know what the different types of estates are most will be just working out the exact numbers; don’t worry what or how to write in an initial writ or a will – most probably, being part of the team of a law firm, you will have access to prepared styles of these document.
Don’t get me wrong, though. This year is not just an exercise of sitting on your hands and just doing nothing. Although most of what I had to do till now was fairly easy, the most interesting is just to come, and it will be mind-blowing. What if I tell you that only last week we were politely asked to dig deep down into our beings and discover our talents for acting. Unbelievable? I thought so, too – and dreaded the day I would have to do this, as I know I am quite rubbish at acting or keeping a straight face while pretending to be someone I am not for.
Nevertheless, I had to live with the fact that during the period of three weeks I will have to step into the shoes of a defence lawyer, Crown officer and witness during different trials in front of an actual Sheriff. You don’t get this excitement during an LLB, do you?! (Or at least I didn’t).
I am not talking about the well-known mooting we lawyers-to-be love to engage with. No – this was a full-fledged trial in a set-up court room and the environment was just amazing. I couldn’t believe the pressure and thrill I felt while just asking some simple questions of where, when, what and who. The aim is not winning the case, at least not in the eyes of the examiners, but the ferocity with which some of the trials were conducted and the competitiveness of my colleagues were the ingredients for an amusing and at times scary result.
What I would say is that if you feel that the LLB years at uni are the hardest part of your professional qualification, please erase this illusion from your mind. These are going to be your most enjoyable and easy year at university. And the DPLP, while seemingly simplistic and basic, is just the stepping stone into the real world of law and legal practice which will give you a taste of the stressful, yet rewarding life of a legal professional.
If this sounds like something you would like to do or you are already under way to become a qualified solicitor, I have only one advice for you: Be stubborn, be reluctant to give up and be as positive as you can be, because while everyone in the profession is trying to give you a helping hand, everyone around you – your friends, your colleagues, will be competing with you most of the way, and the losses will always outnumber the winnings, so resilience is key!