Ep 3. Legally Brunette: A Beginners Guide to Starting Law School
Welcome to episode three of Legally Brunette; a law series that I unintentionally started prior to making it a series – with the help of the gorgeous Ellie Blakeney. You can check out her blog here – where she shares amazing blog advice and all things lifestyle, fashion and beauty related. Anyway back to the series, I thought what could be more perfect than creating a series tailored to my fellow aspiring lawyers; the journey getting there is tough enough and would be so much easier if we were to share our experiences with each other. Throughout the series, I will be discussing all things law related, from my study routine to my tips and tricks of surviving law school; which leads us back to episode three – Legally Brunette: A Beginners Guide to Starting Law School.
So you have just gotten into law school and your head is probably loaded with a hundred and one different questions. Prior to starting my law undergraduate degree last September, I was so intrigued on how the university experience was for a law student. I read more blog posts and watched more videos than I ever could have imagined; the only downfall? A majority of them were American, which you will soon learn is completely different to the UK.
Before It All Begins
Before classes start (a week after freshers – normally around the 24th September) I would suggest having your stationary all sorted and I’m not just talking pens and pretty highlighters, I would recommend having a binder for each individual module you have. Last year I had six: Criminal Law, Contract Law, Public Law, The Art of Persuasion, Current Legal Issues and The English Legal System; however, I made the mistake of cramming all of my notes, additional sources and lecture/seminar booklets into one large binder. While this kept everything together, I probably took it with me on a handful of library sessions before giving in (before my back did) therefore, it was not so practical. Only three of my six modules required a lot of notes last year, consequently this year I believe around five of mine will be heavy on the notes; so I have decided to purchase individual folders for each unit. For those who may be wondering what units I will be studying this year, I have Law of Evidence, Law of Tort, Land Law, and Research and Professional Development for my core modules; and I have decided to take Family & Child Law and Medical Law for my additional units.
Once You Are Sucked In…
Now you have been sucked into the swing of a law degree your main focus is to keep organised – obviously to have fun as well, but by staying organised, you will not get as stressed out and can enjoy time with friends rather than having to stay in to catch up. I have done a post all about how I am preparing to be organised in my second year which you can read here. Do not worry, I will be doing one tailored to law students in the near future. In summary: keep your notes the same, you tend to retain information better by handwriting notes, and keep them filed in order in your binders. This way you will be able to quickly refer back to the previous lecture/seminar or topic if you need to reference something.
The Devil Called Procrastination
Procrastination is never any good but during law school? It is the absolute devil. While you may feel tempted to binge watch Suits, do have a balance between work and leisure. I often see the quote ‘treat your law degree as your job’ which essentially means treat it as a 9-5. This is something which I hope to do this year, while in all honesty I definitely cannot imagine myself sticking to this religiously – I do aim to finish most of my work for the day while I am at university. Therefore, when the day is over, I am able to go and see friends without guilt or simply go home, have a shower, cook dinner and relax (then it is acceptable to binge watch Netflix).
Lots of Reading – Myth or Truth?
The amount of reading with a law degree is true – sorry girls and boys there is no myth here. Each module tends to have its own set book in which lecturers/tutors will give you assigned reading each week – normally working through each chapter. By doing this you will be retaining the information you have learnt or will be learning and you are likely to have some case facts ready if you are asked what case a scenario relates to. Law books are long and can be incredibly boring so just prepare yourself – buy loads of snacks, make a nice hot drink and crack on with it.
When I was told to read my first Public Law case which I believe was R (Evans) v Attorney General , I was so lost as there were so many words poured onto a piece of paper. For those of you who have not heard of the case, it was surrounding the issue of letters that Prince Charles wrote to government ministers. The Guardian wanted to have those letters released under the Freedom of Information Act, however, The Supreme Court ruled against the release; consequently, in 2011 it was set that the Royal Family were exempt from this piece of legislation. Back to the main point – you will not understand everything at first, I simply did not understand this unit for a majority of the year – but it did get easier. Another way to make your life easier is when reading cases please do not read the entire thing, you will be there for days. I tend to focus on the summary and then skim through key facts and what the issue is in the case. After that read the judgement and see what was the ruling and what the judge had to say. Sometimes this will not have any legal standing or relation to the case and is simply the judge’s opinion which is otherwise known as the Obiter Dictum – just one of the many Latin phrases you will learn.
Something I wish that I did during my first year was joining the law society, from watching Eve Cornwell on YouTube and Instagram (who recently graduated from the University of Bristol and is soon starting her Legal Practise Course and working with a Magic Law Firm – how incredible?!) I’ve seen the experiences she got from her law society. Therefore, if your university runs one you most definitely should join – or even start your own. I will most definitely be joining my universities law society this time around.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Finally, work hard and play hard. Enjoy your time as a first-year law student because before you know it, the year will be over. I know a lot of students say ‘the first year doesn’t count’, however, do not pay attention to this completely. Use this half-heartedly – if you mess up and get a low grade in a module, it is not the end of the world because it does not go towards your degree. However, when searching for training contracts, they will want to know your grades and most firms ideally want a candidate on track for a 2:1 or a first – so work as hard as you can without being too critical of yourself.
I hope that you all settle in well to your universities and make sure to subscribe to my blog, so you can keep up to date with new law related uploads. Feel free to leave questions down below if you have any and I hope you have a lovely day or night – wherever you may be.
Courtney Bekah x
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