Going to university and studying law can be a daunting experience, so I am sharing what I wish I knew before I started studying law at university.
1. First year doesn’t count
- This is the biggest lie you will hear. Most of the time your first year will not count towards your overall grade. You may only need 40% to pass. However, this does not mean that first year does not count! First year is a very important year (especially if you are studying law).
- First year is for finding out what work and revision strategies work for you. See my post on ‘How to Memorise Large Amounts of Law Content‘ to see my revision technique. Do not waste the time that you have in first year.
- Furthermore, first year is an important year when you study law as law firms will look at what you got in first year. Most law firms ask for a 2:1 or above in your first year so it definitely counts!
- To get onto a year abroad or a work placement, the grade you get in first year is essential for securing your place.
2. It’s never too early to get stuck in
- This is similar to the previous one and one I definitely wish I knew before studying law at university. It is never too early to start looking at law firms. In my first year looking at law firms was not at the top of my list as I just wanted to settle in.
- I never went to any open days for law firms in my first year and I definitely regret this. I would highly recommend going to some open days in first year. You may have thought that it is still early days and that you still have time to go to open days if you do not go in first year. Do not think like this, it is never too early, and it is highly beneficial to go in first year.
- You start to apply to vacation schemes at the start of second year and it is massively beneficial to have been on some open days. This is because it gives you an idea as to what law firms you might want to apply to. In addition to this, it shows the law firm initial interest which is always beneficial and helps when answering the inevitable questions of ‘why this law firm?’
3. Everyone feels the same
- Going to university and studying law is a big change and you may feel out of your depth at times, but I can promise you that you are not the only one that feels like that.
- You will never be alone in how you feel, and it is perfectly normal to be finding it hard!
4. You will not always be the best (some people will just get it and it will drive you mad)
- You may be used to being top of the class all the time at school, but this is quite unlikely when you go to university.
- There will be some aspects of law that will come easier to you than others (and that’s okay!) so you will not always be at the top.
5. You are unlikely to give a perfect answer. There will always be something to improve on
- In law there is rarely a solid correct answer. ‘It depends. The answer to every question ever posed in law school,’ is somewhat true. The writing style might be different to what you are normally used to. It is quite often incredibly hard to get a ‘perfect’ answer. I am a perfectionist so I wish I knew this before studying law at university.
- Furthermore, there is rarely one correct answer. There may be some aspects that are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ such as certain aspects of the law. However, in law it is about arguments. If you can back up what you are saying with authority then that is the main thing.
- Do not be put down if at the beginning your grades are lower than you expected. It takes time to adapt to the style of writing (even now after a year I am still getting used to the style of writing).
6. You are unlikely to get all the reading done
- Law is renowned for having lots of reading, but it is quite unlikely you will get through every piece of reading given to you.
- It is important to prioritise what needs to be done and finish the reading off that you haven’t done when you have time (in the holidays or some universities have reading weeks).
If you have any other suggestions or things you wish you had known, leave them down in the comments!