4 Things I’ve Learned My First Year In Law School


1. Books! Books! Reading! Words Galore!

Prepare yourselves for a reading journey like no other. When they say as a law student you have to do a lot of reading, they are not joking. This is the one thing all university students had told me, but I loved to read anyway so I didn’t mind. Oh, how I was wrong. The whole course is based around reading: if you don’t do the reading you won’t know anything. Unless you want to look like a fool during class I suggest you do the ALL of the reading. There’s not only books, but articles and cases. I don’t think I’ve ever read so much in my entire life. They will be giving you chapters, hundreds of pages to read per week. I would always check the amount of pages before hand to prepare myself mentally, 10 pages would be a good day.

2. Giving 100% Is Never Enough

This would really only apply if you want to be a solicitor or a barrister. Competition is fierce — there are always more students than jobs available. I suppose you can apply that to any job really and to all courses. However, arguably with law you’ll need to put twice as much the effort. As I mentioned, it is extremely competitive and you really need to stand out from the crowd, that is something they tell to you at the start of the course. Not only do your grades need to be high and consistently high (2:1 is the least you should want), but you also need to get involved with societies, mooting, activities happening in university, work experience, vacation schemes, mini-pupillages, if any of this sounds alien to you, Google it. The more you do the better, that CV needs to be looking damn good. So as I said 100% is not enough — you need to go beyond.

3. Keep Up With The Class, Dammit!

The worst mistake any student can make is not keeping up with the work. No one likes to play catch up. If I have to emphasise anything it is to KEEP UP! I made the rookie mistake of not doing all of the reading, and spent the Christmas holidays catching up with notes. Honestly, it may seem hard at first, but keeping up with all the work from day one will make your life a whole lot easier. By the time it’s exam season, you’ll have the revision materials you need, and won’t be the student who is making notes that they should have made a semester ago.

3. If You Don’t Want To Speak — Go Home.

(The subheading probably sounds a lot harsher than I mean). If you are aspiring to be a barrister or a solicitor, it is a fact you need to be vocal, and cannot be afraid of public speaking. So speak up and voice your opinions.

One of the best things about university is that the teachers are a lot more understanding than those at high school and college. In my first class, I remember my teacher actually saying that he understands how some students genuinely don’t like speaking in front of a class, and do get shy and so on, he said that it is fine and he won’t pick on anyone. Though not every teacher is like this, some do pick on students. The best way to go around this, is that at least try and answer one question in class.

Try and speak once that way you have contributed, especially if you are not too confident. Teachers never result in picking a student unless the class is just beyond quiet. I can honestly say though University does make you a lot more confident and to some extent get over the fear of public speaking. This is coming from someone who would only speak once in a class, but by the end of the year being one of the most vocal students. Always remember that your classmates, if anything feel the same way as you do and so you shouldn’t be scared, and there’s nothing wrong in getting an answer wrong. Your teachers are there to help! However, it is very important that you do speak up. You will never get away with staying silent. Trust me on that.

4. Law School Is Intense.

Almost everyone I spoke to before going to university told me that university is a lot more relaxed and easier than A Levels. If you study law that is not the case. (Ha! See what I did there?) This is a hardcore degree — there is a lot of work to be done. The library and highlighters will be your best friends, your days are spent reading and preparing for your next class. You are practically competing against your classmates. So don’t go in thinking this will be an easy degree to complete because you will fail. Though, I hope this does not put you off because the work is enjoyable, and everyone is always willing to help, and hard work almost always pays off.

PS. Watching Suits does not count as revision.