Breaking free of the law school bubble

By Laura Brookes|29 October 2018

Law school is like a bubble because within its domed walls, some of the state’s top 2 per cent of students suddenly find their once-easily attained top grades not so easy to attain, writes Monash University law student Laura Brookes. 

My Now-Lawyer but Once-Law-Student friend says law school is a bubble.

A bubble. Its own unique spherical world; slightly separated from the real world by wobbly iridescent walls.

But why am I talking to you about bubbles? You’re busy! This is foolish!

Because the simple bubble helped me understand the world I am in. Law school is like a bubble because within its domed walls, some of the state’s top 2 per cent of students suddenly find their once-easily attained top grades not so easy to attain.

We all float among the gaseous molecules of our bubble, striving to reach the highest point in the dome. The problem is, while everyone in here is used to getting the top mark, not everyone can get it anymore. There is a finite amount of space at the peak of the bubble.

For some, this is an easily surmounted hurdle, dismissed with rational analyses such as choosing more life balance, more scroggin-laden adventures, more trips to the Schwarzwald to get some gin, and less study.


But for others, it becomes harder and harder to reconcile your old ideal self: the top mark achiever, with the self being presented to you at University. Constantly failing to reach your Carl Rogers-esque ideal self can lead to law students developing cracks in their self-image and consequently, their self-worth.

My friend mentioned the law school bubble in a conversation about the anxious and sad thought processes that I have recently struggled to ‘mindfulness’ my way out of, as I normally would.

These struggles resulted from a feeling of no longer attaining what I expect myself to attain, and the resultant (very, very difficult to talk myself out of) belief that not getting top grades anymore makes me a failure.

It doesn’t.

That’s what the analogy to the humble bubble is helping me to see. Because it speaks to perspective.

This is what my friend was getting at, and this is what helps me to see that she is right. Once you step back, watch the news or sit and people-watch in a park or on the train, it may begin to become apparent that only within your bubble are you a failure, and your bubble isn’t the whole world.

Zooming out from our micro-level bubble world also shows the bubble-dweller that so many other things in this macro-level world deserve our brain power. All those issues that break your heart on the news, nestled outside our bubble.

As that top 2 per cent, law students are ideally placed to think of ways to help implement change. It helps me if I remind myself to focus my energy externally. You don’t need the highest HD to make progress in the issues you’re passionate about.

So as exams approach, and with those ego-boosting words, it is now time for us to stop occasionally zooming out from our bubble, but to completely break out of it – to burst the illusion that this highly competitive, stress-laden and at times unfriendly microcosm that is law school is going to define our lives.

It’s not. ‘Coz it’s a bubble.

Breaking free of the law school bubble
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