Tips for starting law degree at university

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username4210764
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I'm about to start law at university in October. To those who are currently doing law degrees or have completed them - what advice would you give to someone in my position (having enough time for non-academic stuff, aiming for a First etc).

I am going to be studying at Oxford if that makes any difference.
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(Original post by mjuststudying)
I'm about to start law at university in October. To those who are currently doing law degrees or have completed them - what advice would you give to someone in my position (having enough time for non-academic stuff, aiming for a First etc).

I am going to be studying at Oxford if that makes any difference.
1) Get concepts clear in your mind. The people who write rubbish essays/problems are those who just vaguely rant on for a bit about the general issues and general case law pertaining to the question.
These are also people who put quotes in their essays. NEVER use quotes, especially if they come from Lord Denning.

You need to be able to write like this, particularly in problems, also in essays (lets say its a problem where a wife wants to sue her husband under a contract):
X wants to claim for breach of contract. This has four requirements. First, that there be an objectively viewed agreement, Smith v Hughes. This is clearly met. Second, that there be consideration, some random case name here. This is clearly met. Third, that there be intent to create legal relations, Balfour v Balfour. Whether this is met is unclear. There is a presumption in cases concerning family arrangements that there is no such intent, Balfour v Balfour. Although this is a family case, there is evidence here that may displace the presumption: namely that there was writing to give evidence of the agreement, and the nature of the husband's promise appears to show an intent to be legally bound. <insert discussion on whether the courts would be likely to, and whether they should, hold that the presumption is displaced>

The point is, you need to be very clear. You need to be able to write in almost list-format, making your points clear, and in problems the requirements of whatever it is very clear as well. This is also how you need to revise to have a hope in hell of being focused and doing well in essays. Most people don't do well because they employ a scatter-gun approach and just write everything they know on a topic in no particular structure. It HAS to be structured. DONT just rant and cite some cases.


2) Be controversial.
If you are controversial and critical, this is a short-cut to getting a first. Good legal knowledge and citing a load of cases will generally only get you a 2:1 unless your knowledge is absolutely exceptional. You need to put forward opinions on things: that is, you say that the law in this area is wrong, this is an unjust result, or the law in this area is right despite the way in which it has been criticised; and then justify that.

This is where the textbooks are deficient. You NEED to read journal articles. Cite them, engage with what the author says, and use their criticisms/viewpoints to inform your discussion. I don't think its possible to get a first class mark in most subjects only using textbooks: they tend not to cover legal controversies properly.

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