By Lauren Yeo, Victoria University of Wellington
With lectures, tutorials, assignments, exam preparation, and the ten cases you should have read by yesterday, it can be easy to forget that law school, and university in general, is about a whole lot more than just the classes you attend. It might be your study that gets you the qualification, but your time at university will be ten times more rewarding if you make the most of all the different ways there are to get involved.
Law Students’ Society
All New Zealand law schools have a Law Students’ Society, which is a great way to feel part of the law school community. At Victoria, second year kicks off with law camp so you can get to know everyone before you start. They run all kinds of events throughout the year and these will soon become the highlight of your social calendars. The Law Students’ Society also organises competitions to hone your legal skills, and other career and networking events.
There are also lots of ways you can use your legal skills in a volunteering capacity – both on and off campus. I’ve volunteered with Victoria University’s Community Justice Project for three years, and it’s invaluable in terms of gaining practical legal experience. My particular project is the Student Rights Service, so I get to talk to parents and students and give them legal information on education issues. It’s pretty awesome to know that you’re helping out real people with real issues – makes a change from fictional exam problem questions! Local Community Law centres and Citizens Advice Bureaus around New Zealand are always looking for volunteers as well.
Wider university life
Lastly, getting involved doesn’t just have to mean within law school! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a world outside of moots, Tipping J’s tests, and desperately trying to pass contract law. There are countless clubs and societies on campus – whether it’s a sports team or a cultural club, there will be something for you. Finding a good balance of all the different things that make up your life is a skill you’ll learn at university, and you might find that getting involved in extra-curricular activities benefits your studies too. Check out your university’s website, and talk to the recreation centre and law school office to find out the different ways you can be part of wider uni life.