Brónach Rafferty is a fourth-year law student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
I have been thinking about my law degree lately. What is it that my professors are trying to teach me? What skills am I gaining? The ability to think critically, objectively? Or the ability not so much to think as to follow a system of rules that are already in place? Is there too much of a discrepancy between law as it is studied in an academic context and law in practice?
Law is a strange discipline because it is often studied as a purely academic discipline, yet it is geared towards something much more vocational. In the same way that reading papers about psychological research doesn’t make one a psychologist, simply reading case after case, textbook after textbook doesn’t make one a lawyer. In my classes, however, am I learning and actively engaging in my legal education, or am I merely being taught and passively absorbing information? I now wonder if I am learning how to think like a lawyer, or rather just taking the law as it is right in front of me.