After a slight delay in the end of Semester 2, on account of two deferred exams, I was grateful to finally be on holidays. The post-exam high merged into the requisite two-week comedown. My days were spent feeling I should be studying, realising I had nothing to study for and then wondering how to fill my time. The nights were easy – a glass of wine (or two) to take the edge off the post-exam slump, in addition to trying to suppress trauma accumulated as the result of studying family law. Binning my well-worn, overly highlighted copy of the Domestic and Family Violence Act was cause for celebration. Unfortunately my celebratory drink was a tad pre-emptive. One phone call and the world of domestic violence became part of my reality.
I have never seen myself as better than the 17-year-olds. Quite the opposite. There are moments where I envy their naiveté. I started off life in the same idealistic fashion. At the age of 17 I lived in a world where justice was guaranteed to prevail. I’m not talking the legal kind. I mean the day-to-day, someone is an arsehole and karma kicks them in the arse kind. It’s instant and it’s glorious to watch. Except, at some point you begin to realise that, in the real world, karma is not instant. Even worse, there are aresholes who continue to prevail. The injustice can be heartbreaking. Nothing brings that home more than the subject of criminal law.
The closer I move towards exams, the more activities I find that require my immediate attention. This semester I’m overwhelmed by the urge to give away and throw out. I’m up until 2am, sorting through clothes that no longer serve me. It’s only when a friend asks me if I’m okay that I realise how random my behaviour seems. I feel terrible. I’m reminded of my years in youth work, where giving away stuff is sometimes a sign the person plans to end their life. It’s a way of saying goodbye. To the friend who checked in with me – I’m sorry for worrying you. I thank you for having the courage to ask.
It’s been so long since I’ve been here. It’s not that I’ve been busy studying law, which is technically my full time job. I’ve had wine to drink. A bit too much. Then there’s been kittens to play with. Plus Laura and Stacey needed my attention – at the uni bar. You think I would’ve learnt my lesson by now but no, I continue to procrastinate, leave things until the very last minute and somehow, God knows how, manage to pass. The one thing I’ve got going for me is the fact I don’t want to work in a law firm because one read of this blog and they’d stamp a big fat fail across my letter of application.
With exams looming Stacey and I were in search of the ultimate study destination. We’d yet to find it but were determined. Partially because we’re both stubborn. Mainly because, despite both of us being full time students, law had been a barely there blip on our radar. It was getting awkward.
Months of study meant that I was now well accustomed to student life. I awoke at 9am, giving me enough time to shower, brush my teeth and get to yoga. I’d spend the next hour stretching and de-stressing with the Mum Crowd. Having returned relatively unscathed from the school run, they’d tottle into the studio, clad from head to toe in Lorna Jane, peppered with inspirational quotes that just made me want to puke.
Actually, it may have been the lack of caffeine that led to my lack of tolerance – I’m not pleasant to be around when I’ve yet to ingest a soy latte. And yes, I acknowledge the hypocrisy of being a yoga-attending, latte-drinking, Vespa owner who’s taking the piss out of the school mums for wearing Lorna Jane – but I’ve never proclaimed to be perfect.
With the end of the semester fast approaching, Laura and I decided it was time to head back to our tutorials. The 17-year-olds had let it slip that now was the time to attend; turns out the tutors give you all kinds of useful information, such as what will be on the final exam.
How things had changed. Lucky to find a seat together in the first five weeks, we now had more than thirty spots to choose from. It also helped that Laura had ditched her HP laptop, circa mid-90s, for the uber trendy MacBook Air and no longer needed to be in the vicinity of an electrical outlet. We could finally sit next to each other.
While the 17-year-olds remained focused on the end of semester exams, my interest had been detained by something that seemed a little more tactile – a poster. The purpose was access to justice. I know, it sounds a little Gotham city. But the phrase, ‘Quick! To the Batmobile!’ was never on the cards, mainly because the only form of transport available was a bright yellow, 125cc Vespa and yellow isn’t really a crime-fighting colour.
My relationship with torts remained tumultuous. Although there had been moments where I considered dumping my torts textbook, now known as Law Baby, on the steps of the law library, there were other times when I found the subject fascinating.
In the same week that our lecturer introduced us to Zanner v Zanner, she also gave us a case called Strong v Woolworths Ltd; the connection between the two was the ‘but for’ test.
One of the most disappointing things about law school is how much grey there is. I’d seen the lawyers on television and knew two things: they only wore black and white and they spoke with absolute certainty when defending their clients.
I’d assumed this certainty equated to there only being one answer to the legal problem. The lawyer who best argues that answer in court was the one who won. You had to be engaging and eloquent.
Given my tendency towards babble, I was uncertain about my ability to actually practice law. And yet, I still signed up. I think it was the concept of black and white that sucked me in. I’ve spent my life in the arts and humanities, fantasizing about having a fling with maths. I love the idea of there only being one answer to a problem. But given I recently had to use a calculator to work out what 11 + 12 equaled, maths and I were never going to get together.