By now, the providers will be kicking off with their induction days and first sets of lessons, usually known as ‘small group sessions’ (tutorials / seminars) and ‘large group sessions’ (lectures).
Big piece of advice number 1: Take an empty suitcase on the first day. Unless you are the Incredible Hulk in disguise, or unless your provider has stated that they will be providing you with something to carry the materials in, you are certainly going to need help getting the materials home, so a suitcase is the most sensible option.
Also, for the rest of the year, we would suggest buying a bag that has wheels or a seriously strong backpack. You’re going to be using several of the heavier texts on a daily basis and, unless you have something against your back, will not want to carry them in anything that requires you lifting it repeatedly. Having access to a locker might lessen this, but you might find that you struggle with preparing for lessons if your books are languishing at Law School while you are several miles away, particularly if you want to highlight and annotate.
The materials provided will vary between providers, however you will all get the core practitioner texts (two volumes of the White Book, plus either Blackstone’s or Archbold), and probably a selection of supplementary guides to help you through topics like Opinion Writing and Ethics. You are also likely to get any prep materials for your first few weeks, and possibly briefs to be used throughout the year. In other words, you will be getting a lot of materials, and they are all very important, so do try to get them home in one piece!
For the rest of your first few weeks, my biggest piece of advice would be to really plan ahead and prepare for the sessions. It seems so easy to say ‘oh I will read those 4 chapters next week when I can be bothered‘, but honestly you will never get round to it. The more you do now, the less you will have to do when it comes to revision, and trust me that is a good thing!
Another general comment about the structure of learning on the BPTC: I found it to be really quite different from university. On the BPTC there really is no way you can turn up to lessons without having done the preparation. You can’t hide away in a corner, make notes, and leave it at that. You really really really do have to do the work – I can’t emphasise it enough!
The first few weeks are likely to be introductions to the basics of legal research and each of the core areas of study. Get to grips with the basics and make sure you do this well, and you will have a solid grounding for the rest of the course. If there is something you do not understand, ask someone! The course tends to build on the initial information bit by bit, so there is no escaping any tricky areas.
Finally, your Inn should be getting in touch with some introductory events by now. Make sure you throw yourselves into these and get networking. Get involved in mooting and other societies, but do remember to balance your time, and try not to take on too much! This is probably your least busy time of the year, however, so do make the most of it. Those of you at Inner Temple will have had me, Emily, speaking at your Introductory Evening, so do feel free to approach me afterwards and ask any questions about mooting or the course in general.
Over the next few weeks, we will take a closer look at the practitioner texts. In the meantime, good luck!