There are no specific qualifications or experiences that can prepare a person to study law. For school-leavers, A-level studies in subjects that are similar to law such as economics or politics may be beneficial but are not essential.
However, there are a number of skills which would be beneficial to individuals who are interested in studying law:
Strong Understanding and Use of Oral and Written Language
Language is the most important tool for anybody studying or practicing in law. Students and practitioners need to be able to communicate with clients and colleagues, and language is the basic communication tool by which to get a point across, as the law, by its very nature, needs to be accurate and clear.
Comprehension is also important when it comes to studying law. A law student spends much of his or her time reading materials. It is important that the students are able to clearly comprehend this material, and this requires concentration and effective recollection.
Both communication and comprehension require knowledge of and sensitivity to the fluidity of language. Students need to understand words that have various meanings and comprehend situations where misinterpretation or hidden meanings are possible.
Attention to Detail
The law is complex, and a failure to ensure accuracy can be serious when it comes to legal practitioners or students. A single work inaccuracy in, for example, a contract can entirely change the emphasis of a clause and the potential outcome to your client. Getting the basics right is therefore important. A practitioner is less likely to be trusted if their work or correspondence is inaccurate or filled with even minor errors.
Research and Understanding
Research skills are one of the fundamental skills required of a law student. Although studying law requires a lot of reading, students must also ensure that it is the right reading. Researching can often be labour-intensive and does not really lead to tangible rewards, but patience is necessary for students of law to make sure that their sources are accurate and trustworthy. Students will also be required to learn and assimilate legal theories effectively by increasing their knowledge on them.
A legal practitioner or student must also have an insight into the institutions and values that are representative of the general public. This can be achieved by intensive study in selected areas and requires a willingness to immerse oneself in the material in order to gain a comprehensive understanding.
Analytical and Critical Thinking
Being a legal practitioner or student requires attention and an ability to consider situations clearly, carefully and independently. Much of the work required of law students will involve problem-solving and making personal judgements and decisions. Therefore, the ability to be thorough and meticulous is essential for all budding lawyers and law students.
Dedication and Commitment
Legal careers are competitive, so students need to make sure that not only are they interested in law, but that they are committed to putting in their best efforts to ensure that their results reflect that. Dedication can also be seen by a willingness to get work experience in a legal environment to evidence the interest, enthusiasm and motivation for pursuing a legal career.
A law course or career is time-consuming, and therefore the best students are those who make certain sacrifices. Those who are willing to go the furthest are also those that are most likely to succeed.
It may be a basic concept, but an ability to be prepared is one of the most important skills required of law students. Assignments are time-consuming, and leaving them to the last minute is going to increase stress, leading to mistakes and ultimately a worse grade. Sufficient time should be allocated to all sections of studying law to ensure that the research and writing submitted is of the highest standard.
If you are studying one of the courses provided by the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, hopefully you should find the above list of prerequisite skills to being a successful law student to be of tremendous help.