Surviving Law School in South Africa


Now lets get one thing out of the way, if you don’t study law and you are reading this post out of curiosity I am here to tell you its hard, studying it part-time while having a full time job? Brutal. All that paired with a University that doesn’t give two shits about you? Well lets just say surviving in a more primitive age would have been a lot much easier.

The toughest degree to complete in South Africa? I know your thinking a long the lines of something medical, well it’s not. According to an article in Buzz South Africa and Youth Village it’s LAW. Now I know you intellectual fundi’s who don’t study Law is thinking this bitch is out of her mind but truth be told it is. Why? because there is no such thing as a perfect answer, better yet not to mention all the horrendous amount of cases needed to site with an horrendous amount of facts, all that to construct an answer that is well not perfect and marked very harshly. Yes, it is degree that is marked with the most criteria.

So how do we survive?

That’s exactly the thing we only survive. We actually have a hastag, namely #TeamNoSleep so with sleep deprivation covered you can almost with certainty say that is just one of those things. You come to a point where you don’t even feel any emotion whatsoever but sleep, now I am lying, which brings me to my next point.

Emotional Turmoil. a negative psychological state involving feelings of confusion, panic and agitation. People experiencing emotional turmoil sometimes feel physically ill and have difficulty making decisions. Some have sleep disturbances and constant anxiety. Please Kindly note Sleep Disturbances. So a typical studying session for me basically goes like this:

  • Start working through volumes of work.
  • Start crying, screaming and getting all dramatic.
  • Motivate one’s self
  • Repeat

And no – it’s not PMS – boys also go through this.

Sleep Deprivation. Check. Emotional Turmoil. Check. The lack of recourses, well I wouldn’t describe this as a major issue because you can get a ton amount of resources here and here but more the lack of answers. Oops sorry it seems that I forgot, no such thing as a perfect answer.

To top everything off being in your 20’s is already hard as is, I mean it is stressful, to young to have it all together but you constantly feel like your to old not to not have it together and it is a cruel cycle of constantly praying for guidance.

Let us also mention our blood-thirsty supporters A.K.A parents, friends and lecturers. How can they possibly not sympathize? Like please don’t tell me that you can for the life in you not see me here looking like that ugly thing from Lord of The Rings but still you demand from me to pack away the dishes, babysit or worse…leading me into the temptation of a night out with friends which I simply MUST decline resulting in me looking like a loser, so Thank you for adding to my emotional distress.

It’s quiet much of a paradox really because everything paired with studying law is so unconstitutional.

Law School is vicious but in the end it will all be worth it when we get to charge R75 for merely reading your email.

Until next time.

If you enjoyed the post PLEASE be so kind to share it. Help a fellow Law Student out who decided to put more stress and responsibility on herself. 🙂



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  • Reply
    April 19, 2016 at 6:57 am

    You have my sympathy as I know exactly how you feel! You just have to persevere and at the end of the day it all pays off 🙂 But, it only gets worse – when you finished your law degree you then have to either complete PLT (so you only have to do one year of articles) or you do two years of articles, and then there is still the board exams. It just never ends! But the day you get admitted as an attorney you realise “woah! what an amazing feeling” – so just keep pushing and pushing! Thankfully I managed to do PLT and then one year of articles, so it wasn’t too bad (but still bad!) If you need anything let me know and I can try help you as a fellow law colleague 🙂

    • Reply
      April 19, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Thank you so much – I am busy looking for a firm to start my Candidates now. I really want to start building up some experience. But if I don’t get into a firm before I graduate then the PLT’s are definitely the way to go. The faster you can finish articles the better. Thank you so much for lending an ear when I need one.

    • Reply
      Roxanne Moopenar
      April 19, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Please please can you help me need some advice can I get an email or something

    • Reply
      Roxanne Moopenar
      April 19, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Please can you help me need some advice pls and thanks

    • Reply
      July 1, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Dear Loren

      Thank you for offering to help other students wishing to qualify as lawyers. I wonder how you can advise me on my challenges. If you can, I’ll really appreciate it. I’ve just started with my LLB this year and worried to dead about whether I’ll ever be able to reach a point where I get admitted as an attorney, which my goal. My challenge is that I’m currently working full time in government for the past 20 years. What frustrates me is that I’m a breadwinner and repaying home loan for my children, which makes it difficult for me to leave my job and find a law firm where I can do my articles. This is how I thought I would approach the whole process of qualifying as an attorney, please advise if the approach is correct. As a start, I intend focusing on my studies till I complete the LLB degree. Once this is achieved, I’m hoping to complete PLT, which I can do after requesting six month paid leave at work, then write the board exam. However, my biggest problem is, after completing the PLT and the board exam, how will I do the one year of articles as I’m employed full time in government without defaulting on my home loan repayment. How do I get around this challenge? This is my biggest challenge. I’m writing this message to you as part of my information gathering process aimed at trying to find solution to this problem and therefore hope that you can help me, from your experience, on how best I can deal with this hurdle. Your assistance will real be appreciated.

  • Reply
    Rebecca Candy
    April 19, 2016 at 6:59 am

    I loved this post! Felt every single word of it (well, I’m studying it full time, so don’t have the other pressures like you!). ☺️

    • Reply
      April 19, 2016 at 7:56 am

      It still gets the worst of all of us

  • Reply
    April 19, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Great post Liza, you are going to rock being a lawyer.

    • Reply
      April 19, 2016 at 7:06 am

      Thank you so much Celeste – Hehe really appreciated.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    And then securing articles. I still have more than 2 years to go, but I applied for articles, vacation work etc.

    I have been to four interviews. The first one went very well, until I was asked to produce a written attestation of good character by my “dominee”. I told them as per my CV, I am not religious. As an atheist I do not have a relationship with a “dominee” who can attest of my good character. The interview went downhill from there.

    The second one started well, and focussed then on the fact that I am working. They then wanted me to right there draw up a statement of my expenses. It was way more than the +-R6000 a month they offered. They wanted to know how I was going to survive. I told them I have a portfolio of software I developed which is providing an income for me, they then dismissed me because I do not speak Zulu. It was clear from my CV. WTF?

    Number 3 was for vacation work and from the start they were not very impressed with Unisa, they preferred “contact” university students. They gave me then 1 minute to prepare and convince them I can communicate well. I held a question & answer session in their open plan office about the sentencing procedures applicable to child offenders. And then 1 minute to convince them I work for them for a month for R5000. Then 1 minute to convince one of the directors he should never ever drink coffee again… Luck was with me. When I entered, I noticed a packet of Disprin Cardio on his desk, told him the caffeine increases his heart rate, it is bad for him. Then more 1 minute scenarios and then a series of general knowledge questions ranging from sports to cars to movies.

    Number 4 was the day after 3. I was given one look, and told I do not fit the criteria for affirmative action. Which again was clear from my CV.

    Number 3 called me back last week, told me to keep doing well, offered me vacation work and research on a part time basis.

  • Reply
    Why I would ONLY hire UNISA Law Graduates - Barbie Beauty SA
    April 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    […] previous post on “how to survive law school in South Africa” which you can read over HERE, I received quiet a few comments which left me hot-blooded and raged. Yes you read the title […]

  • Reply
    May 1, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Hi there, I can totally relate to this post. I finished law school last year and have started doing my articles at a firm (since January)… Its exhausting but it will definitely be worth it when we are admitted : ). Good luck on your search for a firm.


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