Being a first year student at university can be a load of but very daunting at the same time. You quickly start to realise the difference between being a university student and studying at school and college!
As a law student, you will be embarking on a journey that admittedly won’t be easy, but will be very rewarding when you graduate; having acquired the necessary skills beneficial to any career path you take.
So, what can you expect in your first year as a law student?
Well, you should already know that in your first year, you will start to learn five of the nine core modules that are required for the ‘qualifying ‘part of the law degree for England and Wales. These include:
- Constitutional and Administrative law
- Criminal law
- Contract law
- Legal Methods
- English Legal System
Law firms and other businesses also want to know that students are well prepared for a career in the legal profession, and possess some business acumen. Therefore, The City Law School has introduced an additional module, known as Employability and the graduate market, to help prepare students for the working world, and ensure they are well prepped for completing application forms, and for interviews, etc., enabling you to gain a head start when thinking about your career.
Aside from the core modules, there are other things that you should strongly consider participating in during the course of your first year as a law student, to give you a head start in a very competitive industry:
Attend events – The City Law School works closely with it careers department, to organise events specifically for law students. These include career-specific events with people currently working in various roles within the legal profession, alumni events giving you the opportunity to talk to former law students about their experiences studying law and their current careers. They also organise the University’s Law Fair – a must for law students to attend, and an opportunity to meet with a range of law firms and organisations providing alternative law-focused jobs, and to find out how to progress your legal studies.
- Get involved with mooting and debating – Mooting helps you to master important legal skills, such as research and analysis, while also gaining experience in public speaking and presenting arguments. Mooting forms a large part of legal studies and students from The City Law School have won numerous national and international mooting competitions. You won’t do as much mooting in your first year, but if the opportunity arises, take advantage of it – the more experience you gain, the better mooter you become, and you could be the next to win some of those mooting competitions!
- Read as much as you can – Okay, we’re not talking about reading every waking moment you have – after all, you are still a first year university student and we want you to experience all that university life has to offer you. That said, don’t just read what lecturers may hand out to you. Read around the subject – we have an extensive collection of law books in our library and online journals, etc. for you to utilise. Keep up to date with current affairs, the latest legal cases and news – this will all help you to understand further what you learn in lectures and tutorials, etc., as well as spark your interest further for the subject of law, which can be complex at the best of times.
- Be organised – Let’s keep it real – this degree does have its challenges. Being organised will enable you to gain the best possible outcome. Attend lectures, read the material you are provided with and more, take advantage of group work/study and you will be amazed how much you can learn from your peers. (Often things you may have forgotten to note down in a lecture.) Organise your workload so that you can complete assignments on time, do the reading you need to and still have time to have fun. You will enjoy your time feeling guilt free, especially if you know you have done what is necessary.
- Apply for work experience – this is an important part of your journey into a law career. You will have the competitive edge over other law students if you have done some form of work experience that relates to the legal profession. Contact local and even larger law firms outside of where you reside, even if it’s just for a day. Every little bit of time spent as part of this kind of experience counts and you will gain the experience and understanding of working in a law firm. Even volunteering at local community law organisations, or Citizens Advice Bureau offices, can help you to put into perspective what you are learning, and perhaps re-affirm your ambitions to work as a legal professional. You may even find it rewarding.
Take advantage of the opportunities you may be presented with in your first year of studying law, to give you a good grounding and good preparation for years two and three. Enjoy induction week, fresher’s fairs and everything else that comes with being a first year university student – just remember to work hard also and keep your eyes on the end goal.