Remember that this list is merely suggestions and there are plenty of other things a student can and should be doing to ensure a successful first year.
What You Should Be Doing in Your First Year of Your Law Degree
Starting university can be challenging enough, and stuff like networking and looking for work experience may well be the last thing you want to be thinking about. But if you want a career in law, it’s fundamental to start it all early. So what should you be doing in your first year?
Get on top of your workload
This may sound like a silly thing to say but it really is crucial. Try to get into the habit of keeping on top of your assignments, preparation for seminars and all of your reading. This will make it so much easier when exam period comes around. Another handy tip is start making revision notes as you go along!
Your tutors will no doubt have you reading vast amounts of chapters from numerous textbooks, but every now and then have a read of the newspaper. Keeping up to date on current news articles, both legal and business/political, is not only good for your own personal knowledge, but also for your overall legal understanding: the law is ever changing, so stay on top of it! Plus you never know when you may get asked about the legal context current news articles class, or in an interview.
The Law Society Gazette, Lawyer2B, Counsel all have regular magazines issued as well as some other more specifically tailored to students. These are great for keeping up to date on legal issues and new cases as well as for reading more in-depth case studies.
Join your University Law Society
This is one of the most important things you can do during Fresher’s week. Your Law Society should be providing you with extra-curricular activities as well as guidance on making your work experience, mini-pupillage and vacation scheme applications.
If you’d like to become a solicitor, you can start researching law firms and asking about any work experience opportunities available right from the off in your first year at university. Many solicitors are happy to have students work with them for a week or two over vacation periods, as they understand the importance behind it. Always remember: first appearances and attitude count, and if you are offered a work experience placement they may invite you back if you meet their expectations.
Mini-pupillages are work experience for wannabe barristers, in which you get the chance to shadow a practicing barrister for a short period of time and get a taste of what they do. Different chambers have their own policies regarding first years on mini-pupillages, but it is worth applying to those that will accept you at this stage in your studies. Do some research into chambers and make a note of when they accept applications for the following year too – his way you will not miss a deadline!
Inns of Court
The Inns of Court often run events throughout the year and I would highly recommend attending these if you’d like to pursue the barrister route. They provide students with an insight into life at the Bar, as well as the application process and also Q&A sessions and networking. You may even get a mini-pupillage out of attending one and speaking to people. I did!
Attend law fairs/pupillage fairs/public lectures
These are run by various universities and organizations and are an invaluable way of hearing about postgraduate and professional courses, as well as to network with solicitors and barristers.
Remember that your degree does come first so do not take on more than you can manage, as lots of experience is practically worthless if you do not have a degree to show for it. And don’t forget to enjoy your law degree, as the time will fly by!