Camilla Uppal interviews James Richardson from Law Answered. James is a qualified lawyer and entrepreneur who helps to create first-class revision and study notes for LPC, LLB and GDL students. In this interview, James provides insight into his journey so far and why he decided to start Law Answered.
Hi James, could you tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose to enter the legal profession?
I studied Politics and Philosophy at University, so already had an academic interest in the law. I wanted to find a career in a field which I found intellectually stimulating, but which was also practical and commercial. Ultimately the practice of law comes down to two things: (1) finding solutions to issues and (2) persuading others that your solution is right. Whether you are working on a corporate deal, an IT outsourcing contract, financing arrangements or litigating a dispute, those core skills are similar. I thought that my personal skills and mindset would be well suited to a career in law.
It was also really important to me to work with decent people, so I spent a lot of time researching the firms I wanted to apply for (top tip here for vac scheme and TC applicants: the Chambers Student Guide and RollOnFriday have really useful inside views on what it is actually like to work for a particular firm). I then trained and qualified at Hogan Lovells, where I spent a great few years before moving to an in-house role.
What inspired you to start Law Answered?
I still remember opening my front door to be given this suitcase-sized box of books by the postman – I almost fell over! I think we had around 23 books for the GDL – every module had a textbook, a case book, the law school’s notes… when you add in the lectures notes, the tutorial prep and your own notes it comes to an overwhelming amount of information. It took me a while to realise that you didn’t need to read that much dense material every week to get a grasp on each subject. It was a better use of time to focus on how the examiner wanted you to answer that subject. So a friend and I started putting together a set of notes which others in our cohort found really useful, and it grew from there as we got other students and lawyers involved over the years. We realised that this exam-focused way of teaching the law wasn’t something that law schools really liked to talk about, but it’s what students genuinely need.
Could you tell us a bit about the LLB guides you have written and what inspired you to write them?
We originally started out with GDL and LPC guides, which were really well received by students. We actually had a lot of LLB students buying our GDL guides at first, which really surprised us. So we talked to lots of LLB students and found out that the other study notes and textbooks out there for LLB students weren’t very helpful. LLB students really liked how we were setting out our other materials, so we decided to work with a selection of bright LLB students from a range of law schools to create LLB notes from scratch.
Our aim for LLB Answered is to give students everything they need to smash their exams. We want to help students succeed by showing them what they really need to know, and explaining how to apply that knowledge to impress examiners. In our view, lots of the materials that are out there don’t really help students because they are either a really basic summary or go too far down the academic rabbit hole – those might be useful sometimes, but neither approach is going to help students do well in a law exam.
What do students like best about your LLB guides and what makes them different to the other revision guides that are on the market?
Unlike other guides, we really take student feedback to heart and are constantly updating our guides to make sure they continue to be genuinely student-focused. We think we’re pretty unique because we are a team of qualified lawyers who focus on students and update our guides every single year. Many other guides out there are either basic notes or are only written by an academic every few years, so don’t go through the rigorous process that Law Answered guides do.
My favourite ever piece of feedback we got is that our guides “cut through the bullshit” – I absolutely love that! We get lots of great feedback from students each year, and what we hear a lot is that students like how we have condensed the huge range of complex (and often unclear) material on the LLB into exam-focused guides suitable for a range of law schools. Students like that we tell them exactly what they need to know for exam success, without all of the extra unnecessary waffle that other guides and textbooks have.
Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline?
Absolutely. We are getting our latest guide ready for print right now. It is a new guide for PGDL students. The PGDL course is new this year, so there’s a lot of uncertainty for students. We’ve been working really hard to get PGDL Answered out for students as soon as possible this year, so we’re really excited to see how it is received and hear how we can improve it further for the next intake.
Towards the end of the year we are also planning to release a new LLB Answered guide to Commercial and Consumer Law.
We’re also working on materials for the SQE course once that properly comes in next year. We’re planning to release a set of notes, but we’re also exploring whether we can create more useful resources for students, such as practice question banks or even an online course.
And to any students reading this – let us know what you want to see! Drop us a line with your requests for new content via firstname.lastname@example.org