Is law the right subject for me?

Law is a subject that involves a considerable amount of reading and writing. You will encounter many different types of text – court judgments, legislation, journals, textbooks, legislative commentaries, newspaper articles – as the medium of law is the written word. That is why you should be an avid reader and enjoy getting to the bottom of a text, analysing it carefully, so you can critically question its content. Another important element is producing your own texts. You need to be capable of expressing yourself clearly and accurately in German. If, in addition, you are good at writing and discussing issues in other languages, this is an advantage but by no means compulsory. In particular, no knowledge of Latin is necessary.

Have you got a talent for unpacking complex issues and getting down to the essentials? If so, you already have an important skill for studying law. The capacity to identify a problem, to categorise it correctly and to apply the relevant analysis is a crucial element of the legal toolkit. As law is part of every area of life, no two cases are ever the same. That is why an ability to process new information quickly and to grasp where the problems lie is needed so that you can deal with each new case as it arises and develop appropriate solutions and arguments.

Contrary to the common preconception, studying law is not about rote learning the names of cases or statutory provisions. You do not need to know what is stated in every law, but simply where to find the relevant information. However, even this requires a certain amount of learning. Right from day one, it is your responsibility to work through and consolidate the material covered in lectures and seminars. The amount of time you will need to set aside for private study will depend primarily on your own learning style and motivation. If you are a keen learner, you will find it easier to stay on course.

Every legal assessment has to have a reasoning. Its construction must be compelling and present cogent arguments. For this reason systematic and logical thinking is called for not simply when you apply the law to the facts of a particular case but also in drafting your own texts and formulating your position. At high school the opportunities to engage in abstract thinking in this way may have been limited: in mathematics in the application of probability theory or perhaps in politics when you had to develop arguments in support of your position? As you study law, this way of working and thinking will become second nature.

Studying at university requires considerable self-discipline. You are now responsible for your learning successes and for managing your own time. Since law as such deals with the very foundations and organisation of human co-existence, the scale of the subject may at first seem daunting. However, if you are patient, have the necessary stamina and put in the hard work, you will be rewarded with an exciting and varied area of study. Anyone who claims that law is dry has clearly never studied the subject.