Having recently graduated with an LLB degree I wanted to share my advice for first year law students. I’m sure every fresher has read enough advice on study skills and the benefits of joining a society to last a lifetime so here I’ve covered tips a little more specific for law students.
- For any book sale get there ridiculously early, in fact if you’re not prepared to camp out it probably isn’t worth it. Law students are ambitious and this ambition extends to any second hand book sale there may be. So, to take advantage of the savings you can make, get there at least half an hour before it opens.
- Attend the careers events put on by the law firms but don’t take them too seriously. I have attended a number of career events where the solicitor’s main objective was enjoying the free food and drink, take their lead! It is unlikely that you will be recruited on the spot at a career event so use the opportunity to just get used to being around lawyers.
- Don’t believe them when say it isn’t a memory test. Anyone who tries to defend this position has not been given a list of 100+ cases they must learn for an exam. Get used to learning and remembering cases, spend a few minutes each week remembering the ones that have been covered in lectures and seminars.
- Don’t worry about applying for vac schemes until your second year. Most law firms only accept applications from second years so don’t panic when everyone is talking about them; you have a while to prepare.
- Be prepared to feel out of your depth. I remember attending open days and having no idea what the word ‘tort’ meant. Not understanding technical words that everyone else seems familiar with is bound to happen and is nothing to worry about.
- Think about the legal principles. A lot of the cases and specific rules you learn in first year may never be mentioned again. It is important to learn these for the exam but also consider what they mean on a broader scale, about how the law works and what judges and parliament are trying to achieve, this will help you appreciate and understand the law.
- Remember they want you! Going from college to university can feel like going from being a big fish in a small pond to being a very small fish in a very big pond. You suddenly find yourself comparing your achievements and ambitions and this can make you feel quite insignificant. You must remember that the law school you are studying at wants you there, they believe that you are going to do well and so should you.
- Don’t rely on the law society for too much. Your student run law soc will be great for a lot of things, including pro bono and career opportunities but don’t over rely on them for this. The pro-bono and careers opportunities they can offer you are limited so you should research firms and volunteering prospects that are specific to your interests.
This post is from Ruth Costello, a recent law graduate now working for Manchester Solicitors Pannnone LLP.