How to Gain a Competitive Edge in Law School: A Brief Guide from a Novice

By Sam Rotiroti
2019 Vice President of Careers, DLSS Geelong

As Trimester 2 exams have finally finished, law students exhale a deep sigh of relief in unison before the optional Trimester 3 rears its unpleasant head within the academic calendar. During this time students are given the opportunity to relax, socialise and travel. Although, one option many students forget to acknowledge is the need to plan.

The legal sector is a very competitive field to enter. Due to this, law school is challenging in more aspects than one. The need to maintain strong grades, work-life balance and a social life are strong indicators for success both within and after law school. However, even these simple elements will not guarantee someone a luxurious legal job fresh out of university. Provided below are a list of non-exhaustive options, or building blocks, students may decide to utilise, from 2020 onwards, to increase their chances of landing their dream job post law school.

The Deakin Law Clinic

Based in Deakin Downtown within the Melbourne CBD, the Deakin Law Clinic is a community legal service run by experienced practitioners in association with the Deakin Law School. Here, law students are given the chance to develop their legal, analytical and communication skills by working alongside fellow students on real cases. There are five practice areas students are able to enrol in within the Clinic:

  • Civil and Commercial Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Employment Law
  • Family Law
  • Venture Law

Additional information is available from the following link: https://www.deakin.edu.au/law/law-clinic


Compete in DLSS Geelong Competitions

There are numerous competitions held throughout the calendar year. In 2019, among many competitions, the DLSS Geelong hosted the ‘Harwood Andrews First Year Negotiation Final’ in August as well as the ‘Coulter Roache Social Justice Moot Final’ in September. These competitions were both judged by legal practitioners from our two biggest sponsors – Harwood Andrews and Coulter Roache. The skills learnt from participating in mooting and negotiations are instrumental to developing one’s CV, analytical thinking skills as well as networking. This is ideal if interested in becoming a future barrister or solicitor and want to help stand out from the rest of the crowd. Alternatively, if competing appears to be too intense, the option to attend and support fellow students who are competing is a viable option. That way students can also spectate and watch how the competitions run.

 

Attend DLSS Geelong Events

In 2019, the DLSS Geelong hosted a variety of social, networking and educational events for law students. Listed below are only a selection of events. For a full selection of what is on offer, make sure to visit the DLSS Geelong’s social media pages.

Careers
Regarding career-related events, the ‘Annual Careers Dinner’, hosted in May, featured 20 different legal firms and organisations being represented from across Victoria. This event is the DLSS Geelong’s biggest annual networking event, tallying just shy of 100 guests in 2019. In August, the ‘Alternative Careers Panel’ – held for the very first time – featured industry professionals providing advice to students on how to utilise their law degree for a future role outside of a traditional law firm.

Education
In August, the ‘Harwood Andrews Design Thinking Lab’ was held, where students and members of the legal profession collaborated together to help brainstorm how best to maximise the customer experience when reaching out to a law firm. This event was ideal for networking with lawyers and enhancing student’s critical thinking skills. Additionally, in September, the DLSS Geelong hosted a mental health panel (‘A Balanced Life: Wellbeing and a Legal Career’) in association with Coulter Roache. Here, a panel consisting of experienced legal practitioners expressed ideal ways for students to destress from their work and studies.

Social
As for social events, the DLSS Geelong started the year hosting the ‘Unlawful Business Launch’ – a social event in collaboration with the Deakin Commerce Students’ Society (DCSS) Geelong – where Deakin students were able to socialise to kick-start the beginning of trimester 1 in March 2019. Also, the DLSS Geelong hosted a group yoga session in May (‘Namaste your way to an A!’). Here, students received a discounted yoga session with an instructor during a busy time within the first trimester. Finally, the ‘2019 Law Ball’ – Sponsored by Harwood Andrews – was the DLSS Geelong’s premier event, held at GMHBA stadium within August two years in a row. The black-tie event is a fantastic way for law students to relax and enjoy the company of fellow law students who have been working hard throughout the course of the year. The event is also a great excuse to dress to impress and meet new people one may not have met in classes.

 

Utilise the Deakin Library Online Services

As a Deakin Law Student, there are countless resources available to students free of charge. Are you aware of the Deakin Resource Guides? The Deakin Library – under their Law Guides – offer free links to prescribed textbooks, tips on legal abbreviations and referencing, links to researching databases for both case law, legislation as well as secondary resources. If you require further information, feel free to contact your Law Liaison Librarian at either Deakin Burwood or Waterfront Campuses – this is regardless of what campus you attend. The resources can be found within the following link: https://www.deakin.edu.au/library/help/resource-guides

 

So set yourself apart, do some research and chat to those working in the industry to figure out how you can gain a competitive edge in Law School!

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