A day in the life of a law student

LEGAL:  Ildiko Gyarmati studies at the Oliver Schreiner school of law at Wits University Photo: Lameez Omarjee

FAIRLY LEGAL: Ildiko Gyarmati studies at the Oliver Schreiner School of Law at Wits University
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Ildiko Gyarmati is a young woman driven to succeed in every task in which she is challenged.  This final year law student from the University of the Witwatersrand completed her B.Com degree in 2012 and picked up some notable achievements along the way.  She was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society in 2011, she was one of the few selected delegates at the Pioneering Young Women Conference of 2012, she worked to get her name on the Dean’s list in the 3rd year of her LLB degree and will do her articles at the prestigious law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Despite her busy final year schedule, she serves as the editor of Inkundla Student Law Journal and is currently finalising the 2014 edition.  She also tutors a third year law subject.

The beginnings of a promising career

Gyarmati initially chose Wits’ law school (Oliver Schreiner School of Law) because of its reputation for having great lecturers and the international recognition of the qualification.

One may be part of life-altering court decisions affecting socio-economic rights or setting precedents for many generations to follow.

Her argumentative nature pointed her to take a career in the direction of law, said Gyarmati.  After doing job shadowing in grade 11 she learnt how vast the field is.  “It’s a profession and not just a qualification.” Law is a dynamic career with different routes to follow, according to Gyarmati.  “One may be part of life-altering court decisions affecting socio-economic rights or setting precedents for many generations to follow.”

The tough schedule 

The final year law curriculum requires that Gyarmati work through six subjects a week.   There are also fourth year electives scheduled outside class time, later in the day.  The most hectic day of her week is Monday; she attends three classes for “strenuous” subjects as she describes them to be complex, “Everything is not decided in law”.

THE PRACTICE:  Ildiko Gyarmati works at the Wits law Clinic as part of the requirements of her LLB degree Photo: Lameez Omarjee

THE PRACTICE: Ildiko Gyarmati works at the Wits law Clinic as part of the requirements of her LLB degree
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Additionally, as part of the practical training Wits’ Law school provides, she attends Wits Law Clinic in the family unit (law pertaining to family matters), where she meets clients, consults with them, finds legal solutions to their problems and institutes actions.

To prepare for law clinic Gyarmati reads up on family law (substantive law).  Even though Gyarmati enjoys family law, she aims to work in corporate law next year.  Some challenges faced in doing law clinic are the language barriers and differing education standards of clients.  “You have to sift through a long story to get details and understand what they (clients) want.”  Gyarmati is fortunate to have a partner at the clinic who helps with translation to overcome language barriers.

Law clinic also includes a substantive law lecture and tutorial.  Students work with supervisors who discuss cases and steps to be taken forward.

Like every other Jo’burger, traffic is another obstacle she has to overcome daily. Unlike a robot, Gyarmati allows herself time to unwind after a busy day before she dives into her books again.

The balancing act

As for her social life, Gyarmati makes time for her friends on the weekends.    She has also met new people in her classes, “Final year makes meeting people easier, there are smaller classes, [you] do a lot of group work, [we’re all] in the same boat [so] we become closer friends, ” said Gyarmati.  “Mass hysteria brings people together,” said her friend Brett de Groot.

FRIENDSHIP: Ildiko Gyarmati manages to squeeze in time with her friends despite her busy schedule. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

JUST CHILLING : Ildiko Gyarmati manages to squeeze in time with her friends despite her busy schedule.  Pictured with her are Simone Gast and Brett de Groot
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

As can be learnt from this inspiring walk in the day in the life of a law student, with much determination, one can achieve a balance between work and social, no matter how complex your degree is.

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