Article written by Patrick Etimiri, University of Exeter current LLB student.
At the time of writing this I have gone through my first month of Law at University and here are some of the top tips that have helped me as a new law student, which I believe all students should keep in mind.
Note-taking has always been an important part of studying in all courses. However due to current circumstances with the Covid-19 pandemic note-taking has become an even more important part of your law degree. A lot of examinations are now accessed in an online, open-book fashion therefore in order for you to do well in your exams you will need to make strong reference to your lecture notes and the allotted readings. Put the time in throughout the course of the year in ensuring you have comprehensive and revision ready notes. If you do this when exam period comes you will be able to start your question with all the information at your disposal without having to hastily go through hours of lectures and readings to make sense of the question. Your notebook is your friend.
Law is a very competitive degree, and many people tend to see their degree as a competition with their classmates. I personally believe that is the wrong way to go about it. I have found it invaluable to have a network of course mates that I can discuss topics and cases with, and I have found that when you hear different people’s opinions and unique point of views it tends to deepen your understanding on topics and makes for an interesting discussion. Remember your course mates are not out to get you.
Now I know I just advised you all to make friends with your course mates and now I am telling you to do assignments alone but there is a very good reason for this. Plagiarism is a very dangerous field that you want to steer away from completely. When you write an assignment with your friends you tend to use the same points, find the same sources, and generally write in the same format which can unwittingly make you and your buddies accessories for exam malpractice. In most universities you will be called to a proceeding with the exam board and could be expelled if that is the decision the board comes to. This is not a situation you ever want to find yourself in. I would advise that during the exam period you make your way to the library for some quiet time or spend some time in your room with a cup of tea as you write your assignment. Once the exam is over you can always go have a night out with your friends to celebrate.
Every law student and professor I have spoken to has unanimously agreed that seminars are the most helpful aspect of your course. In the seminars teachers generally go over what topics you need to succeed in the exams and help consolidate your understanding of these topics by facilitating discussion with your course mates. I know sometimes it may be tempting to sleep in when you are faced with a morning seminar, for example, but you will thank yourself when it’s time to write your exams.
Many of you will be coming to university after A-levels or other equivalent qualifications and the change of intensity of reading may come as a shock to you. This is why it is in your best interests to stay on top of your readings and ensure that you do not let it overwhelm you. Your mental health is an important part of your wellbeing and having so much reading pile up on you after weeks of putting it off can really weigh on you. If you make it a point to divide your weekly reading day by day, it becomes manageable and helps you to be able to have a healthy work life balance during your time at university.
I hope these tips come in handy for you and hope you have an amazing experience with Law at University.