1. Work hard
Get familiar with law’s 4 Rs: Read, Research, Write, and Reference. Beware; there is a lot of reading to be done as a law student. You’re going to rack up a fair few hours at your university’s library, because not only do you need to learn about what the law actually is, but you also need to learn respected academics' opinions of it, too.
Don’t panic if you’re feeling lost in lectures; these are likely to feature the introduction of topics and cases, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re not up to speed. It’s up to you to read around the topic post-lecture, with the aid of all the books on your hefty reading list, in order to fully understand what your lecturer is covering. Don’t forget to use other great resources such as LexisNexis and Westlaw, as well as your peers and older law students.
Remember, this is a step up from your A-levels so more is expected from you in your own time, and don’t listen to anyone who says that your first year doesn’t matter. It does, so work hard, and work consistently. You’ll settle into your own pace sooner than you think.
2. Embrace it
Get involved! Your university is guaranteed to have any form of law club or society, and with that comes a variety of mooting, debating, and negotiating workshops and experience available to you. Mooting is the set up of a mock trial for a hypothetical case, where you act as barrister. This allows you to build upon skills that will be required in the courtroom after you graduate, and works miracles on your public speaking.
Having this experience on your CV when it comes to applying for your first job after graduation will put you a head above the rest to future employers, as it means you won’t be completely green. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to befriend and network with other like-minded future lawyers. If you’re not pursuing a career as a lawyer, but instead are studying law for the many translatable skills for other career paths, be sure to join other societies and clubs that are more suited to your future career. Your university has such a wide range of groups to join for a reason, so get exploring.
3. Work experience
There are a lot of options available to law students of all years for them to get work experience. One of the main forms of work experience law firms offer is the Vacation Scheme; these last up to a month, and are typically aimed at 2nd year and final year students. The vacation scheme allows the lucky candidate to shadow lawyers, sit in on client meetings, and more.
For barristers, there’s the Mini-Pupillage; a two-week placement that’s the barrister version of the Vacation Scheme. All students with their sights set on becoming a barrister should complete at least one Mini-Pupillage placement prior to graduating. Again this is aimed at 2nd and final year students, but 1st years are accepted also. Be warned though, as competition for both Vacation Schemes and Mini-Pupillages is fierce. There are many other options for work experience such as Insight Days, Pro Bono work, and Shadowing. Keep an eye out and an ear to the ground for placements, as they’re always in demand.
4 Enjoy it!
You’re of course going to get the most out of your course if you enjoy it, so when you’re on your third Red Bull of the night during exam season try to remember why you started studying law in the first place. Whether it was because of career prospects, or simply because you did it at A-level, law is a degree that can take you down a wide variety of career paths, and can be the start of an exciting adventure. Remember, your experience as a law student can be whatever you want it to be! So study hard, make the most of everything your university has to offer you, and hopefully you’ll make some great friends along the way.
This was a useful and insightful guest post by MHHP Law
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