Living in the Upside-Down Land: my last year of Law School so far! By Kiarah Grace Kelly

Living in the upside-down land: my last year of Law School so far! 
By Kiarah Grace Kelly 

Kiarah Grace Kelly; I was inspired by a recent conversation with a friend over microwaved leftovers between classes, I’ve decided this year is quickly coming to resemble an upside-down-topsy-turvy place of curiosities. We are now around 7 months away from throwing our caps in the air and I worry that the main feature of our new Upside-Down Land is a whole lot of doubt.

The very first creature to show its face in the Upside-Down was the March round of offers for Graduate positions. Queue: mass hysteria. Some of my friends who had been committed to the process of clerkship information evenings, interviews, cocktail nights and completion of clerkship programs had heard the relief of their phone ringing on the morning of offer day. However, some of them didn’t, with no ‘plan b’ they reached 5 o’clock with a sense that they certainly weren’t in Kansas anymore. Although the feeling that everything that wasn’t as it should be was not unique to those committed to the path of top-tier employment.

One of the great aspects of being offered a Grad position is that you have job security around 6 – 12 months before your peers. Even the most strident among us in our choice not to go down this path will experience a ping of doubt when such a thing is at stake. To those students who felt or feel this way (and to myself)  I have only this: it is not a common position to be in knowing of a job offer a whole year in advance, you should try not panic that you are not in the same boat. Your time to strike will come later as it’s pretty rare for employers to be looking this early in the year. When the majority of positions open closer to graduation time, you will be able rely on all the skills you’ve built and the people you’ve met to land yourself a really great gig.

Perhaps the most upside-down part of Upside-Down Land  is that each and every one of your peers is taking a different approach to gaining that all important first law-land job. When those March offers came out I saw so many of my amazing friends engaged their panic stations and begun applying for countless jobs of which their only motivation for applying was that same panic. Don’t lose sight of your plan and trust your gut because when you made your decisions around getting ready for employment you made them for a reason. Make sure you’re still running in your own lane, that’s the one that’s best for you.

Let’s find comfort in the knowledge that Upside Down Land has a population of many. Plus, who said upside down wasn’t actually the right way up all along?

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! I am Kiarah Grace Kelly a conscientious and hard-working soon to be lawyer living on the Gold Coast with an eye on social justice and effecting much needed change in the community, even if that means starting small. I am studying a dual Bachelors degrees in Law and Government and International Relations as Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I have been testing my legal toes in the water at boutique Gold Coast Law firms and I am currently merrily serving as a Legal Secretary to Merv Morris and Blayne Ledger of Barron and Allen Lawyers- GC in the Property, Commercial and Family Law sectors. 

I have also been championing a personal cause of Youth Road Safety Issues over the last 12 months, unrelentingly working alongside the minister for Road Safety Mr Mark Bailey, on numerous projects within his office.

What’s on my horizon? My passion for family violence prevention, family law issues and women’s legal issues will be a guiding light for my future career.  I aim to graduate with dual degrees in November of 2018 and until then, I will travel the world, focusing heavily on volunteer pursuits here at home and continue making waves in the discussion of Youth Road Safety issues in this country.

I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!

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9 things I wish I knew before I started Law School! By Kiarah Grace Kelly

9 things I wish I knew before I started Law School! By Kiarah Grace Kelly

This week marks the beginning of the University year for many Law Students nationwide. Given the recent comments from out Prime Minister himself encouraging students NOT to embark upon the study of law unless they want to be ‘real lawyer’, I would expect there is an extra level of trepidation for those of you lining up for your first ever law lecture this week. The news is full of stories of the limited roles for law graduates, the overflow of students now studying the degree and of course the high level of stress and pressure during your studies (let alone in the profession itself!) And in amongst all that ‘good news’ for many students the move from High School to University brings with it significant life change- from moving home, moving stated or just moving into the next stage of life. 

But despite the doom and gloom that seems to fill legal publications and nationwide newspapers there are many happy law students and many happy lawyers. If you want to study a law degree, then I say go for it because who on earth could really know at 17 years of age what the future has in store for them. Las is a wonderful profession and whether you choose to join it in the traditional sense or not, your learnings at Law School will never be wasted. 

So this week, one of my favourite law student (come fellow Gorman addict) Kiarah Grace Kelly is back as a guest blogger, sharing her tips for surviving law school after a few years navigating the fun, adventures and exams herself!  

So it’s O-Week. Look at you go, you’ve gained entry to a great new uni and you’re studying law, no less! Buckle yourself in because you’ve got a big few years ahead of you. I’m Kiarah, a final year Law student here to tell you all the things I wish I knew (but certainly didn’t) before I started law school.

1. Make Friends.
I still remember so clearly me telling myself on my first day of law classes that I had to make friends. I was coaching myself through my nerves walking into my first ever Contracts 1 lecture and I was sure I was in the wrong place (literally and figuratively, more on that later). My friend Jodie can attest to the strangeness of the moment I’m about to describe; I was standing by the door way looking lost when I saw a girl with blonde hair laughing away with a few others, I decided we’d be friends. So, as you do, I waltzed on over to my new friend (who wasn’t aware of any of this at the time). I sat down and with the friendliest voice I could muster through my nerves I said; “Hi, I’m Kiarah!” Well aren’t I glad I did, Jodie (the friendly blonde) is one of my closest friends today and as we’ve progressed through law school we’ve picked up some other pretty amazing people to be in our gang too. Our group has spent countless nights late in the library, endured exam after exam and have weathered some personal storms together too. My point being, don’t underestimate the power of a shoulder to cry on or a friend to panic with. Trust me. 

2. Get Involved. 
There’s plenty going on at uni. Whether it be the Law Student’s Association, the Student Guild or the Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Society (this is a real thing) you’re never short on options for a ‘pack to run with’. In your first year of law school you may feel intimidated by the professional development events or ‘networking nights’ on offer and that’s ok. Don’t feel time spent in a sports club or student group is time wasted. An organisation like this may be the first time you experience conflict resolution, or have to run a meeting and it will definitely be the first time you need to prepare affiliation documents for your university (*shudder*). Become exposed to this stuff now, ‘cause there’s plenty more coming your way. 

3. Don’t Buy Food On Campus Everyday. 
Is is a personal attack on first year Kiarah? Yes. Do I ever want to know the sum total I’ve spent on take-away and coffee? No. This is a pretty self-explanatory one. This is the only time in your life it’s acceptable to eat ramen and baked beans every day, save your money for fun stuff.   

4. It Doesn’t Matter How You Got Here.  
So here’s a bombshell… I didn’t get straight into law school. I had to complete some politics and psychology subjects (*shudders again) to get my grades up to jump across to law. I know that this led to some serious feelings of imposter syndrome for the next couple of years. I’m here to tell you to spare yourself from worrying about whatever led you here. Maybe your hight school grades weren’t what they could have been or maybe you deferred uni 10 years ago and are just coming back now. It’s okay. You are here now. Welcome. We’re stoked to have you.  

5. Plan Your Week.
In your first week of classes I want you to listen really carefully when your lecturer runs through what’s required weekly for each subject. Maybe you’ve got to do some reading, attend a lecture and prepare some homework to take to tutorials. Next, pull up a table in a word document (don’t tell me to use Excel, I refuse) and create a column for each day of the week. Block out your class times and your part-time work. Now I need you to allocate a time each to do your Contracts readings, then your other readings, your tute prep and your summaries. Stick your new fancy weekly plan somewhere obvious and try to follow it each day. Be sure to leave Sundays and ‘the Bachelor’ free. (7:30 weeknights, September through to December). 

6. Plan Your Semester.
Buy a diary and put in every piece of assessment you’ve got due for this semester, now. Give yourself a 3 week, 2 week and 1 week reminder for each piece of assessment. Try (read: fail) to get things started early. 

7. Apply For Every Opportunity.
I follow my law school and my university on Facebook, look out for emails too. Law firms and government entities will often contact local universities first when they’re looking for work experience students. Sometimes a volunteering position will come up or a scholarship will be up for grabs. I can’t recommend enough that you apply for everything that interests you. If you gain nothing else, you’ll get really great at self-promotion and develop essential resume and interview skills. You’ll thank yourself after you graduate if you’ve facing all those scary firsts already. 

8. You Never Know The People You’ll Meet. 
For many of us, this is out first big gig outside of Hight School. One of the biggest differences you’ll experience is that you’ll find yourself in a big melting pot of all different kinds of people. There will ba a wide variety of ages and cultures around you. I can’t stress enough how much you have to gain by making friends with people that aren’t exactly like you. You’ll meet people who have had a whole career or even two before coming to law school, people with families of their own or who have circled the globe, seriously interesting stuff! 

9. Enjoy!
A year ago I would’ve rolled my eyes at this advice because you will hear it a lot. I guess it’s just in my nature to look forward for the next big exciting thing without appreciating the moment I’m in. I’ve slowly come around to realise this phase of our lives is seriously cool. It’s a time for travel and getting to pursue the learning of something we really love, full time! Don’t wish away your uni years, you may never be back again. 

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Kelly

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! I am Kiarah Kelly a conscientious and hard-working soon to be lawyer living on the Gold Coast with an eye on social justice and effecting much needed change in the community, even if that means starting small. I am studying a dual Bachelors degrees in Law and Government and International Relations as Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I have been testing my legal toes in the water at boutique Gold Coast Law firms and I am currently merrily serving as a Legal Secretary to Merv Morris and Blayne Ledger of Barron and Allen Lawyers- GC in the Property, Commercial and Family Law sectors. 

I have also been championing a personal cause of Youth Road Safety Issues over the last 12 months, unrelentingly working alongside the minister for Road Safety Mr Mark Bailey, on numerous projects within his office.

What’s on my horizon? My passion for family violence prevention, family law issues and women’s legal issues will be a guiding light for my future career.  I aim to graduate with dual degrees in November of 2018 and until then, I will travel the world, focusing heavily on volunteer pursuits here at home and continue making waves in the discussion of Youth Road Safety issues in this country.

I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!

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How to be happy in law and in life! The Law Student Edition

How to be happy in law and in life! The Law Student edition by Kiarah Grace Kelly

Today, as I was working my way through a long complicated property settlement analysis an email appeared in my inbox with the title ‘Blog Time’. Now usually I advocate for doing only one thing at a time and not allowing those email notifications to distract you from the task at hand, but today I broke my own rules and I am so glad I did! 

Almost a year ago now I spoke at an event facilitated by the College of Law here in Brisbane on happiness in law and in the front row was a law student waring one of my favourite Gorman prints who I have since come to know as Kiarah Grace Kelly. Over the past year Kiarah and I have connected on Instagram, met at many events and I would even say have become friends thanks to our shared love of life, law and Gorman. So today, when into my inbox pops an email from Kiarah, I couldn’t help but pause on that property settlement and read her thoughts. 

Kiarah has taken the plunge over the past few months and has been writing on her own experiences as a law student. She is a talented writer- funny and fun but importantly she has a beautiful way with words and knows how to share an important message to her peers. Since falling into the world of ‘legal wellness advocate’ I have come to hear from hundreds of law students who are struggling to find just where they fit into ‘Law Land’ as I fondly call it. It has been almost 2 decades since I enjoyed my own few years at law school and so I am not sure I am always well placed to comment on what life in 2017 is like as a law student. The pace is so different (I managed most of my degree without access to that thing we called ‘the internet’) and the expectations of students seem much higher than in ‘my day’ (yes I am sounding old but as someone about to hit the big 40 in less than 3 weeks can I say I feel old too!)

So this is where Kiarah steps in- she is living it right now and is choosing to share her own experience, in both life and law, to help those around her. Any why wouldn’t we all support that! 

So today Kiarah took the brave step of sending me an article she has written, taking my 5 step ‘Happy’ acronym and translating my tips to the life of a law student and I loved it! So in the style of true collaboration I am posting Kiarah’s article and giving her the offical title of Happy Lawyer Happy Life’s first guest writer, having agreed to share her wisdom with us all over the months ahead!

SO HERE YOU HAVE IT- HAPPY LAW STUDENT HAPPY LIFE BY KIARAH GRACE KELLY!

Just five steps to happy- H is for Health, A is for Attitude, P is for Passion, P is for Purpose, Y is for You. Clarissa Rawyard- The Happy Family Lawyer has (literally) written the textbook when it comes to being a happier lawyer and while I’m not quite a lawyer yet I am eagerly studying her methods to be the best almost-lawyer that I can be. 

Like anyone, I am prone to moments of unhappiness. I have experienced depression and while I am now a whole lot better at recognising when a bout of blue is coming my way, I am certainly not immune to it. I read Happy Lawyer Happy Life cover to cover in a heartbeat and from it I know that lawyers are predisposed to pessimism and by virtue of our make up the way we tend to create out markers of success can leave us feeling less than 100%. Well, truth is this applies to law students as well, so here’s my attempt at translating some of the ‘stuff’ I’ve learnt from Clarissa into law school speak. 

H is for Health.
I am not about to preach to you all on how to live the perfectly healthy life as I have no idea. But here’s what I do know; there’s no rule of what exercise should look like, it needn’t take place solely within the four walls of a gym which your student budget may not allow for. I get my exercise by taking selfishly long walks on beautiful Gold Coast beaches at least three times a week. I walk until I’ve run out of podcasts in my feed and spend most of the time paranoid the sun is slipping through my over sized sun shirt and Bunnings branded wide brim hat, it’s totally fabulous. Most importantly, and you’ll find I say this a bit, do what feels right for you. Here’s some non-negotiables; binge drinking is bad and people at our stage of life tend to frequent this behaviour a little more then they should, make sure it;s not becoming a problem. Every time you’re about to head out ask yourself this; am I drinking because I want to or because I feel I have to? Next, watch your diet come exam time- for me; stress = carbs, I’m working on it. More on this point, energy drinks are bad, go get a coffee. Also, set your alarm for 8 hours after you go to sleep and go to sleep 8 hours before you need to set your alarm- this was you can Netflix to your heart’s content (within reason, probably). 

A is for Attitude.
Our Mindset is everything, the way our brain is feeling cast’s it’s own light on everything we do, I know that when I’m having one of those unhappy days I spoke of earlier- everything feels terrible. Here is where I go on my big social media rant. Instagram and Facebook will be credited as a major source of our unhappiness in the years to come- it’s just true. People of my age are among the first people of the planet who endured our entire developmental phase under the cloud of social media. We are the generation that knows all too well the phenomenon (that probable sounds completely insane to anyone older than us); the Instagram model. The Instagram model is someone who is paid a full time wage to pose and post. They carefully curate their feeds and every image is designed to sell us a product within it- I told you it was insane! A consequence of all this is that we spend our days looking at image after image which is completely manufactured and after time we end up feeling terrible about ourselves because of it. This issue extends through body image issues (for man and women) all the way to spending money of silly things to make us feel like we’re keeping up. Please, please, go onto your socials right now; turn off notifications and unfollow as many people you don’t know if ‘real’ life as you can bare. You will be forever better off for it- I promise you; Instagram is making you sad. 

P is for Passion and Purpose.
For these points I don’t have a whole lot of learnings to share my main message is this; find your passion, follow it and don;t get caught in the tide of being a ‘good law student’. You will have a couple of ‘aha!’ moments throughout your law degree. When you feel great doing something- follow it passionately. Don’t look sideways worrying about what everyone else is doing, if you’re doing something you love, it will seldom end badly. After losing my beautiful sister-in-law to in a car crash in 2015 I went full steam towards becoming a youth road safety advocate. Did I miss some ‘traditionally important’ law milestones in the meantime? Absolutely, but what I did gain was a fire in my belly which I believe is much more exciting. 

Y is for You. 
Now, this step is here for a reason. I’ve come to the conclusion that Clarissa, the very cleaver cookie that she is, has put this step at the end as it beautifully encompasses all the steps before it. If you listen to your health, focus on a positive attitude, find your passion and follow your purpose; you will be a better you. Once you find your ‘better you’ learn to love yourself and go wherever your ‘better you’ takes you. Spend days doing what YOU love, wear what YOU want (see Instagram model photograph), follow the path that YOU feel yourself taking. It’s cool to be different and in a world full of people, why would you want to be anyone other than you! 

 Ok ok, I’ve waffled on for quite a while now. Finally, my happiness challenge. This weekend go and do something that you used to love doing as a child; truth is when we were little we were a more authentic version of ourselves, this is because throughout high school we were so desperate to be like everyone else. We tend to spend our late teens trying to distance ourselves as much as possible from our inner child so whatever you loved doing as a child- go find that love again. If nothing else, it’ll be stacks of fun. 

Choose Happy, my fellow law students- this is a wonderful time in our lives!

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Kelly

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! I am Kiarah Kelly a conscientious and hard-working soon to be lawyer living on the Gold Coast with an eye on social justice and effecting much needed change in the community, even if that means starting small. I am studying a dual Bachelors degrees in Law and Government and International Relations as Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I have been testing my legal toes in the water at boutique Gold Coast Law firms and I am currently merrily serving as a Legal Secretary to Merv Morris and Blayne Ledger of Barron and Allen Lawyers- GC in the Property, Commercial and Family Law sectors. 

I have also been championing a personal cause of Youth Road Safety Issues over the last 12 months, unrelentingly working alongside the minister for Road Safety Mr Mark Bailey, on numerous projects within his office.

What’s on my horizon? My passion for family violence prevention, family law issues and women’s legal issues will be a guiding light for my future career.  I aim to graduate with dual degrees in November of 2018 and until then, I will travel the world, focusing heavily on volunteer pursuits here at home and continue making waves in the discussion of Youth Road Safety issues in this country.

I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!

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