To study law or not to study law that is the question… but how to find the answer?
How can you make a decision about a subject that you may have never studied before? How will you know whether law really is the right profession for you? Perhaps you have already seen lawyers in action and thought yes, that is what I want to do – I want to study law. But alas! you have made the grave error of confusing practice of the profession with studying the subject behind the profession. Have you ever really considered the actual academic study of the law itself? It is a common yet misguided reason to choose law simply because it is a subject new to prospective undergraduates, because it’s not offered in many schools. Too often students fail to investigate what it actually is they will be dedicating the next three or four years of their lives to.
In this fruitful insight to studying law at university Carol, Sullivan and Virgo, all distinguished academics at the University of Cambridge, have provided the answers to the above posed questions, and more. The book is arranged so that one chapter is dedicated to the explanation of each of the seven ‘core’ subjects that all students will be studying throughout the course of their degree: Criminal Law, Law of Contract, Tort, Land Law, Equity, Constitutional Law, and European Union Law. But rather than readers receiving a showering of legal jargon and being attacked by hard cold facts, as is so often the case with introductory legal texts, each chapter takes the form of a case study. This approach is so engaging that whilst you are being enthralled by the shocking events of ‘x, y, z’ case, you are hardly aware that as you read the concluding arguments in each situation, you find yourself understanding the legal concepts behind each case, engaging yourself in legal reasoning, critical thinking about the resulting judgments, and participating in constructive argument without even intending to do so.
Too often when one picks up an introductory law book, the tone is intense, fact-based, and very characteristic of a non-fiction text. But what I found most unique and so charming about What About Law? was that its narrative style meant it could be read in just the same way one would read a novel, from cover to cover. An instant example of its accessibility is the physical features of the book: small and compact enough to fit in a handbag, to be read on the tube, in the car or on the bus to school. The front cover is relevant and inviting in itself: rather than showing a gavel or the scales of justice, it shows a mural from Coit Tower, San Francisco, depicting a scene that has a robbery and car accident in progress. And, most crucially, the accessible way each chapter is written allowed me to read the book as though I were reading a collection of seven short stories.
As Cherry James, a contributor to the Web Journal of Current Legal Issues, said:
The enthusiasm of the authors for the academic study of their subject is infectious, and this energetic little book should give those musing about a law degree a better insight into whether to study law at university than any amount of work experience in a lawyer’s office, which after all, is not the inevitable outcome of a law degree, any more than it necessitates one.
The point he makes here is that working in a solicitors firm or barristers chambers gives only an insight to one possible outcome of a law degree. It tells you little about whether you will enjoy the intellectually stimulating process learning the fundamental skills needed to carry out the practicality of a career in law.
What About Law? avidly prepares you for what the subject will actually entail and successfully exterminates the common misconception that reading law at university is complex, dull and monotonous. Studying law at university instead is… well, after reading this book you will be able to tell me.
So before making your final university decisions, I urge you to ask yourself the question: What about law? At which point you must resource yourself with a comprehensive answer from this book, which you will find in its second edition at any leading book store. Alternatively, chances are if you are reading this article you have access to the wonderful World Wide Web, in which case here for your ultimate convenience you can find out more about the book and order yourselves a copy without even having to leave the comfort of your seat.