Team work, creative solutions… has uni (law school at least) been forgetting this? Out of five years’ worth of courses in Law, Finance and Economics, I have come across one class with a strong group work element. It’s true that law lecturers always encouraged creative thinking, yet did they ever endow us with the skills to properly develop our creativity?1 Not in my classes. We all know that in the real world we will need to cooperate with one another (even if grudgingly for some of us), but for most of the past four years I’ve gotten nothing but an individualistic, competitive vibe from my environment. 90% of you responsible and academic-oriented ones may enjoy this, because all if not most of you would have experienced having to cover three other group members’ work in the last minute. And I was indeed one of the 90% who stood by individualism yet shamelessly stressed how much of a team worker I am in job applications. Was.
The dispute resolution paper I took over January-February involved a group presentation, with seven students in each group. When this course requirement was introduced in the first class, I cringed. By the end of the course, I have made six new friends, allowed my creativity to soar, and experienced staying so late in law school that we got locked in the building. The group presentation deprived me of a golden A, but was nonetheless the most rewarding experience I have had throughout my years of uni.
By fifth-year in uni, most law students tend to think of themselves as working individually in small cubicles, little to do with other “lowly dumb commoners”. When people are put in groups whether it be during class or in a co-curricular activity, the ambitious ones are fighting to be the only one to present all the ideas for the group (as if they did all the work), the less-ambitious ones are as quiet and non-contributing as they were five years ago, and the “leaders”2 are bossing other people around without ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s.3
Creativity-wise, I used to create admirable artworks and designs. Recently, I’ve struggled to create an averagely-attractive blog design for even the simplest blog.
Stories and poetry used to flow out of my head any time, anywhere. These days I’m hitting walls trying to come up with any decent descriptive language to write average quality fiction. After all, I’ve written five-years’ worth of research essays in a strictly professional tone about nothing but law and economics.
Those studying in the creative fields may not be able to sympathise, but I’m dying to finish this semester so I can escape this rigid cage, confinement, whatever. Of course, while at work I’ll still be referring to statutes and regulations, but at work I support and am supported by a team of amazing colleagues and I can once again bring back the daily usage of Adobe Photoshop and flowery adjectives after 6pm without a trace of guilt.
- By this I mean not just telling us to think outside the square, but teach or train us how to think outside the square. [↩]
- Thank you very much for encouraging this, law firms. [↩]
- Disclaimer: these come from my personal experiences and my observations on a general scale. And I said “tend do”. [↩]