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Advice to first year Law students... first year counts - a lot.

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    Do not listen to those people in universtiy that tell you that first year does not really count. They are so very wrong. By all means party but don't overdo it, otherwise you might end up with **** grades like I did.

    Endeavour to get at least a 2.1 otherwise your application for vac schemes will end up in the shredder and effectively your progress will be hindered for 5 years because over the next 5 years you will have to achieve spectacular things just to catch up/beat the people who do have perfect records all the way through.

    We don't have a mechanism in the UK where students get put back a year if they fail to achieve a certain standard, however, I am adamant right now that when you apply for graduate roles etc the effects are felt most definitely.
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    What about a low 2.1?
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    (Original post by TheCount.)
    What about a low 2.1?
    That will be fine but nothing special. But key point is that you must not get a 2.2

    Otherwise you're at a disadvantage.
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    (Original post by Wildman)
    We do. I had a few mates who had to repeat their first year. I agree though. It is sad that recruiters care about what you did age 15 never mind age 18/19 but solicitors firms in particular want well behaved drones.
    Yeah, over here if you get below 40% I think you have to repeat the year, I think.

    Which of course, means more debt too.
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    I'm meant to be starting my law degree in september but thinking of deferring my entry, but I was just wondering what percentage/marks would you need to get a 2:1 or a first?
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    (Original post by monathevampire)
    I'm meant to be starting my law degree in september but thinking of deferring my entry, but I was just wondering what percentage/marks would you need to get a 2:1 or a first?
    A 2:1 is a weighted average of 60-69% and a first is 70+%. However don't fall into the trap of thinking 70% is as easy to get at university as it was at A levels. It is not.


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    (Original post by Wildman)
    We do. I had a few mates who had to repeat their first year. I agree though. It is sad that recruiters care about what you did age 15 never mind age 18/19 but solicitors firms in particular want well behaved drones.
    I wouldn't say that everybody who gets top grades could be described as being a "well behaved drone".
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    (Original post by Advocatus)
    A 2:1 is a weighted average of 60-69% and a first is 70+%. However don't fall into the trap of thinking 70% is as easy to get at university as it was at A levels. It is not.


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    Ah right thank you no I won't do I can imagine it must be hard to get the top grades. I'm just going to try my best to keep on top of things instead of my usual leaving stuff to the last minute
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    (Original post by TheCount.)
    What about a low 2.1?
    I got 63 overall and I've had 3 vac schemes... bear in mind I did have a 71 in contract though (but I do have an interview with Slaughter and May with a 57 module in first year) just get a 2:1!
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    (Original post by Rosey2)
    (but I do have an interview with Slaughter and May with a 57 module in first year)
    Sometimes I think it's a misconception that Slaughter places more emphasis than other firms on grades. If anything, Slaughter interviews a greater diversity of candidates (in my experience) than any other MC firm. If anything, it's the US firms that care the most about academics.
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    Total bull. Obviously it's good to do as good as you can in your first year - and the first year is all law firms can look at for vac schemes if you apply in second year. But it's much less important than second year. And much less important than final year. Most universities don't even count it - all you have to do is pass. Most people at good universities get mostly 2:2s in their first year, the results are just much lower than for the second and third years. At least at my uni, setting unrealistic expectations, i.e. working to get firsts in the first year or even all good 2:1s, is just wildly unrealistic.

    My advice to first year students would be the same advice I'd give to second and third year students; work hard, review the exam papers from the beginning of the year, if your handwriting sucks; use a laptop for lectures, use a voice recorder, get an ipad and use dropbox and goodreader for reading/highlighting/annotating articles (unless you like printing thousands of pages out and are a very organised person), try to be on good terms with everyone and have friends; test each other, swap essays and try to get hints out of lecturers.

    Biggest tip; don't get too worried or stressed about it all.
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    Surely anyone with an interest in being a lawyer would do a tiny bit of research and find this out very quickly indeed?

    I can't quite work out how anyone would avoid finding out.
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    (Original post by Dandyflower)
    Total bull. Obviously it's good to do as good as you can in your first year - and the first year is all law firms can look at for vac schemes if you apply in second year. But it's much less important than second year. And much less important than final year. Most universities don't even count it - all you have to do is pass. Most people at good universities get mostly 2:2s in their first year, the results are just much lower than for the second and third years. At least at my uni, setting unrealistic expectations, i.e. working to get firsts in the first year or even all good 2:1s, is just wildly unrealistic.

    My advice to first year students would be the same advice I'd give to second and third year students; work hard, review the exam papers from the beginning of the year, if your handwriting sucks; use a laptop for lectures, use a voice recorder, get an ipad and use dropbox and goodreader for reading/highlighting/annotating articles (unless you like printing thousands of pages out and are a very organised person), try to be on good terms with everyone and have friends; test each other, swap essays and try to get hints out of lecturers.

    Biggest tip; don't get too worried or stressed about it all.
    I got a 2.2 in first year and I greatly regret it.

    Why should the first years settle for anything less than a 2.2? The job market is tough and recruiters can be very critical of minor slips in academics, its best not to give them the chance to look at a bad spot in your record and think twice about your credentials.
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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    Surely anyone with an interest in being a lawyer would do a tiny bit of research and find this out very quickly indeed?

    I can't quite work out how anyone would avoid finding out.
    Well, you'd be surprised.
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    (Original post by yl_llb)
    Well, you'd be surprised.
    Surely if someone thinks they would be any sort of competent lawyer they would be able to find out something that's glaringly obvious?

    Isn't it simply common sense that one of the most competitive industries in the UK values academic grades?
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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    Isn't it simply common sense that one of the most competitive industries in the UK values academic grades?
    A lot of people think first year isn't important if it doesn't count towards their final grade. In this case it doesn't matter after you have got a job, but does matter towards getting your first legal job.

    There is also a psychological aspect here. Humans are amazingly good at fooling themselves about the true state of affairs when it suits them to do, especially if it also suits their friends. If people will believe in something that makes their life easier they normally do so.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    A lot of people think first year isn't important if it doesn't count towards their final grade. In this case it doesn't matter after you have got a job, but does matter towards getting your first legal job.

    There is also a psychological aspect here. Humans are amazingly good at fooling themselves about the true state of affairs when it suits them to do, especially if it also suits their friends. If people will believe in something that makes their life easier they normally do so.
    It's very possible you're correct - I still find it hard to believe, though - I would always rather know the truth of a state of affairs than believe a nice version that I had either assumed or merely guessed at. My friends and I knew from the outset that we needed to get decent grades in our first year if we wanted to get vacation schemes and training contracts - so perhaps I'm just going on my own experience. Myself and practically all of my friends are rather career-focussed though.
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    (Original post by yl_llb)
    I got a 2.2 in first year and I greatly regret it.

    Why should the first years settle for anything less than a 2.2? The job market is tough and recruiters can be very critical of minor slips in academics, its best not to give them the chance to look at a bad spot in your record and think twice about your credentials.
    You mean 2:1? Well I think some unis have tough quotas for the first year anyway (so it's impossible for most to get 2:1s) - some set it really hard - or at least as hard as the final year, but some set it easier than the second year as a way of initiating you to a new subject.

    But...I wrote that under the expectation first year law students wouldn't be partying every night, but would work hard. After all, most people do get mostly 2:2s in the first year.

    I had a year where I had mostly 2:2s - I worked hard throughout my degree though, but I followed the advice I set out above, and came out averaging a first. Some people need better advice than just 'work hard, your future depends on it this year' - for people like me that's really detrimental. The stress can become a bit overwhelming and you become a bit like a rabbit frozen in front of the headlights.
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    (Original post by Dandyflower)
    You mean 2:1? Well I think some unis have tough quotas for the first year anyway (so it's impossible for most to get 2:1s) - some set it really hard - or at least as hard as the final year, but some set it easier than the second year as a way of initiating you to a new subject.

    But...I wrote that under the expectation first year law students wouldn't be partying every night, but would work hard. After all, most people do get mostly 2:2s in the first year.

    I had a year where I had mostly 2:2s - I worked hard throughout my degree though, but I followed the advice I set out above, and came out averaging a first. Some people need better advice than just 'work hard, your future depends on it this year' - for people like me that's really detrimental. The stress can become a bit overwhelming and you become a bit like a rabbit frozen in front of the headlights.
    Yeah, i mean 2.1. Typo. But yeah, really do try and aim for that 2.1 if you're a first year reading this, the work will he worth it.

    The stress will be a lot higher in the future if you don't develop that skill base as far as possible. Its a full year of opportunity to settle academically.
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    (Original post by Aspiringlawstudent)
    It's very possible you're correct - I still find it hard to believe, though - I would always rather know the truth of a state of affairs than believe a nice version that I had either assumed or merely guessed at. My friends and I knew from the outset that we needed to get decent grades in our first year if we wanted to get vacation schemes and training contracts - so perhaps I'm just going on my own experience. Myself and practically all of my friends are rather career-focussed though.
    The problem is most peoples closest friends aren't law students, they're halls mates and they don't know or care about VS and TCs!

    I agree most Law students with ambitions of being a lawyer should find it out for themselves, but it seems a bit harsh to expect their friends who do English or Chemistry to be focussed on it too.

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