Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Law School? How to Survive It

How to Survive Law School one

This year I graduated from the LPC but I also have a LLB (from New Zealand but it's very similar to the UK) and done the dreaded GDL. I hope this post is going to help some of you who are about to start at university or are thinking about doing law as an career. I am by no means an expert so take my experience with a pinch of salt.

Study Smart not Hard

I think the title explains it all. In first year you will be full of energy and feel the need to read EVERYTHING on the syllables but that approach is simply a total waste of time as a) you won't use everything you read b) unless you have the brain of a superhero you are not going to be able to take in all the reading and c) you will have to kiss away your social, family or extra co-coriccular activities

What I learnt to do in my third year (yup it took me this long to work out why my mates grades where amazing plus they were able to go out twice a week) to use the study case note books that lecturers usually forbid. These are great for skipping reading thousand of pages of cases and it cuts out the rambles of the judges and it just focuses on the issues which you will get actual marks on. Just don't take them into lectures because you are likely are going to be shamed in front of all your peers (yes this happened numerous time in class!).

how to survive law school three

For essay's I think it is okay use the internet to see if there is an example essay so you can get a feel for what you need to cover. I highly recommend not copying as you will get caught and it will kill your dreams of being a lawyer. If there is nothing on the internet (but even there is I would still do the following) just simply look at your lecture slides. Chances are they are going to want you to discuss all aspects of that topic even if you don't think they are relevant. As all the lectures are looking for is whether you understand the topic. In my experience they do not care about extreme views or how deep you researched into the topic. You are not doing your PHD so forget about creating your own theories- only agree with someone else's.

When writing up your notes for exams have a look on eBay to see if there are past student's notes for sale. Try to buy ones who went to the same university as you as this will help with cross referencing with what you have done in class. Use the past student's notes as a template aka a skeleton for your notes. This will save you DAYS!! which means you have more time to do practice exams and work through areas where you struggle. Plus after exams you can sell yours to make some extra cash!

Work Experience

Everyone has high expectations to get that first class degree, but sadly majority of students usually get a 2:1. While this is a good grade it is common so you need to find out ways to stand out. When you start to do your LPC it becomes clear how essential it is to get work experience!. This will be hammered onto you over and over again but with a good cause. The idea of a law degree is to become a solicitor, to become a solicitor you need to work in a law firm, law firms tend to only employ people who have worked in a law firm-simple.

If you can I would become a Legal Apprentice before doing a law degree. This way you have a HUGE head start over thousands of other students across the country. Practical work experience is invaluable, it is almost more important than having good grades. Plus its great to have a GAP year to save some money, travel and just have a little bit of fun.

For those who do not get the chance to do the Legal Apprentice scheme, do load of Pro Bono work. This shows dedication and chances are there will be solicitors volunteering as well which is great to start a network going.
On top of good grades and work experience, law firms want interesting people to work for them. So create a hobby for yourself. It can be blogging, music, sport...whatever, show that you have a life outside law! Sadly drinking with your mates doesn't quite cut it. Get all this sorted out while you are at University as it becomes so much harder to do once you have graduated and you are battling against hundreds of other students for that one minimum paid legal assistant job (sad I know)...yet again a training contract!

how to survivie law school two

Training Contract

Don't forget about researching into firms and while you are at university follow and go to "everything" your favourite law firms sets up. This will greatly increase your chances in a training contract. Sadly I was slow on the competition for training contracts so I currently don't have one...don't end up like me! (lol?!)

To work or not to work during your studies

For some of us this isn't a option but for others it may be difficult to decide whether to study, do unpaid work experience AND keep up with a hobby. But I would try and look into getting a job for a summer or just a Saturday job. In the future you are going to need references and your PAID employee is the best person to do that. Plus having some money in your bank account is also a bonus.

Wow...this may of been one of my longest posts to date but there is just so much to say! I really do hope I have helped at least one person out there! And good luck in your studies!

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