Ten top tips when studying law.
Many people when studying law either at UG or PG, never take advantage of some of the opportunities on offer at universities and locally. Universities differ, the optional subjects differ, the opportunities differ and generally they are all unique in their own way. Here are some top tips to give you the edge when studying law:
1. Check your emails/virtual learning environment.
This is vitally important. It is also important to check your university email daily. I often email opportunities or put them on our virtual learning portal. The types of opportunities include: CPD for Lawyers, opportunities to network, Guest lectures, important visits etc. If you want to get yourself known in the legal world, get known at university.
2. Get involved in Student Societies.
There are many people who put their name down to be a member of the student law society, pro-bono societies etc…so what, everyone does this! What recruiters are looking for is how you made a difference to that society, your involvement in it. Stand out from the rest by seeking out the positions within the society to make a difference and make that difference. Don’t just tag along, be pro-active.
There are loads of opportunities, local to all universities that depend on volunteers. You could make a difference to somebodies life as well as your own. Look for local CAB’s, Victim Support, Youth Groups, advice centres etc. the more you can put onto your CV the better…but don’t forget to show why it is relevant e.g. ‘worked as a volunteer advisor with CAB, providing advice and guidance in consumer law issues, this allowed me to develop my legal knowledge in this area.’
4. Read…lots of it, it is good for you!
As well as textbooks, cases and journals, there are hundreds of bloggers out there that are very informative about recent developments in law and also recent developments in the legal profession. Understand things like QASA, OCOF, BVT. If you do not know what is happening in the profession, you may come across a little delusional. This is called commercial awareness.
5. Understand that there is more to Law than crime.
So many Law Students start their law degrees with very little knowledge of other areas of law. Brush up on the other areas, they are equally important. It is not all about programmes like Silks, Law and Order UK, or even Rumpole of the Bailey (if you are old enough to remember, or you could catch up on Dave or DVD!). There is so much more to law and equally a lot of the areas use the same skills.
6. 3rd year options.
Consider your 3rd year options carefully. Even in your 1st year it is worthwhile looking at the final year options. These can have an impact on your interests and future careers. Here at Teesside University we have Teesside Law Clinicas a 3rd year option, it is built into the degree and therefore carries credit value. It also provides you with the skills you will need when going onto the LPC, BVC or in practise.
7. Get a smartphone.
My Nokia 3310 does not have the capacity to keep me updated on the move. Modern smartphones can keep you up to date with emails, blogs and apps. There would then be no excuse for missing out on relevant information needed to be up to date and informed about what is going on around your area of interests.
8. Social Media.
Use it. Set up a twitter account, follow people on twitter. I don’t mean the likes of Cameron Diaz, although I have to say she has some interesting tweets, I mean QC’s, Judges, Solicitors in your areas of interest, Law associations, SRA, Bar Council, Bar Standards Board, Supreme Court, Lecturers etc. there are so many out there. I regularly blog, and upload a link onto twitter, these are regularly retweeted. This is a good way to view the musings and mutterings in the legal world, take advantage of it.
9. Use your Careers Service..
Careers Services in universities are free! Take advantage of them, update your CV regularly with their help, and tailor them to include legal work. Attend their talks; do not miss out on funding opportunities! The amount of people that come to me and say they missed out on funding opportunities to further their careers, still amazes me, especially if I ask them if they attended the careers talks and the answer is generally no. Use your careers service, book an appointment early on in your studies.
10. Finally, be the best you can be.
Studying Law is tough, you want the best possible degree, but you also want the best possible experience. It is all about your positive mental attitude. The study of law is a long journey and the best get through it and do well. Make sure you have enough in your toolbox to make sure it is you that makes it. Be tenacious and work smart.
I am sure there are many more tips that could be offered, however I have asked students who study law what they wish they knew and what they would do differently and adapted this list from it. Enjoy University, but you will only get out of it what you put in, both academically and experience wise. Ultimately it is down to you.