Earning the badge

I did my first all-nighter and boy, did it hurt! I’m still struggling with the headache and it’s now 5pm.

AIRLI stands for Academic Integrity and Referencing Learning Instrument for Law. It’s a pre-requisite for law students before they can submit any assignments. It deals with ethics and legal citation.

Officially, the trimester starts tomorrow. But I thought, well, to manage my time, I should do this in one go, and so I did. Get it out of the way, so to speak. I have afterall, need to juggle fulltime work, raising my sons, some volunteer work when possible and now this, law studies.

Am I ready for this? I hope so. My plate is full as it is, but I need to make time. Otherwise, all the preparation goes to waste. So, I better be.

Why law? and why now?

It’s thirty-two years late to be exact. I wanted to do this back then but the necessity to earn so I can support my younger brother through his university studies was paramount. Marriages and children then came. Yes plural on both counts.

I’ve raised doing law a few times but without encouragement, I suppose, I just put it in the back burner. The irony I suppose that now as a single parent, I’m embarking on this. My kids are the biggest supporter and inspiration I have. All three of them unanimously support my plan.

I’d most likely be close to retirement when I finish hence the probability of changing careers for a living is slim. So if not that, what then and what for?

The last 18 months have shown me the great need for pro bono lawyers. There are so many who fall through the cracks because they cannot simply afford legal representation: asylum seekers, children at risk, single moms at risk, etc. Way too many marginalised people in many marginalised communities needing legal representation but unable to access as.

We just don’t have enough pro bono lawyers and I understand that. Studying law is not easy nor inexpensive. It’s long, arduous and costs a lot. I know so from my friends and family who had done it. I also understand that they need to earn a living and pay off education debts. And it does take time to finish it off.

It’s a visceral need for me I suppose to be able to do my share to make life a little bit better for those who have less. So I do bits and pieces of volunteer work. Some are completely crazy ideas that proved quite worthwhile. I cannot see myself staying put in retirement, so the thought crossed what will I do then? and I’m certainly not far from getting there. I am absolutely certain I don’t want to be volunteering to be chopping onions only — I’ve done enough onion chopping in my household.

So all going well, I should be transitioning into law before I turn 60. Slowly as a volunteer perhaps for a few hours each week and later as a full time volunteer for as long as my mind is sound. Thank God, there’s no history of either dementia or Alzheimer’s in my family.

Even if all I do is just do legal research for someone who is self-representing, I think that would be way too cool.

My close friends from childhood are both bemused and amused, I’m sure. But many have reached out to wish me well. When they’re planning retirement consisting of piƱa colada, tequila and beach, I’m planning more work.

My hope that I can withstand the challenge.

So at 4am this morning, I earned the AIRLI badge. It lasts for the entire duration of my law studies.

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