Studying Law at University - I'm a current Law LLB student, ask me anything :)

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University of East Anglia UG Student Rep: Leah
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I'm a current Law student at UEA - https://www.uea.ac.uk/course/undergraduate/llb-law

I'm now going into my second year and have got a very busy first year under my belt.

I have taken part in employability events, pro bono work, legal and non-legal work experience, careers fairs and more.

I would be happy to answer any and all questions about life as a Law student at university.

So if you're a new university student waiting to start your Law degree in the next month, a current student wanting some advice or perhaps are thinking of applying to study Law in the future, ask me anything you like.

Leah
UEA Law
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ZS159
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How do you network with people in the legal profession, what things did you have to do be in contact with them? And what activities do you perform in legal work experience?
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University of East Anglia UG Student Rep: Leah
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(Original post by ZS159)
How do you network with people in the legal profession, what things did you have to do be in contact with them? And what activities do you perform in legal work experience?
Hi there,

Great question!

Networking is a key part of doing a Law degree, especially if you're hoping to go straight into training to be a lawyer after university. Your Law school will know this and a good Law school will help to facilitate this, both in creating opportunities to do so and advertising external opportunities to do so. Here at UEA we have dedicated Careers and Employability teams that assist in finding networking, volunteering and work experience roles, as well as with things such as application advice and CV workshops. This has meant that from as soon as we started in first year we were receiving regular communications about internal and external talks and workshops from legal professionals and law firms. Here we got the chance to hear from people who are working in the sector, trainees who are now going through the training process and from recruitment teams about how to make good applications and find the right work opportunities.

Another key part of being a law student is LinkedIn. This is the key place to reach out to legal professionals and firms, particularly those who you may encounter at networking and employability events. Most professionals on LinkedIn will gladly respond to messages and help out where they can. Getting your name out there and making connections can be what gets you work experience or even a pupillage or training contract, so is definitely something to get involved in.

Legal work experience can include a vast range of activities. Think anything from your regular administrative tasks to group projects to research to client meetings. It is common for work experience students to shadow members of staff at a firm, depending on the size of the firm this could be anyone from a partner to a trainee. Smaller firms tend to offer more one-on-one, individual work experience whereas bigger firms will more likely do group activities and projects.

Hope this helps,
Leah
UEA Law
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Dingnoom
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Hi Leah,

My questions are a bit boring, but what did you study at sixth form and what do you plan to do post-uni?
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University of East Anglia UG Student Rep: Leah
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(Original post by Dingnoom)
Hi Leah,

My questions are a bit boring, but what did you study at sixth form and what do you plan to do post-uni?
Hi,

No worries, I'm happy to answer anything!

I studied Business, Geography and Law at A level. I was lucky that my local college offered Law as an A level but it is by no means a requirement to have studied Law prior to university. In fact, most people starting their Law degree did not study Law previously. However, it kind of goes without saying, studying Law at A level can be helpful in terms of having a firm understanding of some key topics, developing good revision techniques for Law and in deciding whether you are definitely interested in studying Law at university.

I'm about to start my second year, and, honestly, I am still relatively open in terms of what I might do after university. I went into my degree open-minded, knowing that I probably didn't know half of the possible careers out there for someone with a Law degree, and, at least with that, I was right. With all of the great careers and employability workshops and events UEA and the Law school have put on over the last year (despite the pandemic) I was able to get exposure to and network with so many different people in all kinds of careers. For now, I'm particularly interested in Public Law and working within Government or Local Authorities, this after I was lucky to get some work experience with my local public law firm this summer. However, knowing that the more I learn the more my hopes for the future become clear, I am continuing to keep an open-mind and see where the future may take me, alongside having regular meetings with one of the Law school's employability team to discuss career ideas and progression. Second year is when a lot of student apply for vacation schemes so I will be partaking in that to gain more experience and exposure and will see from there what I think will work well for me.

Hope this helps,
Leah
UEA Law
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Tsrtingz
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Hey, just wondering if you’ve got any tips for a competitive ucas application? (In terms of personal statements etc)
Also any revision tips for law A level?
Thanks in advance!
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University of East Anglia UG Student Rep: Leah
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(Original post by Tsrtingz)
Hey, just wondering if you’ve got any tips for a competitive ucas application? (In terms of personal statements etc)
Also any revision tips for law A level?
Thanks in advance!
Hi there, thank you for your question!

UCAS applications, especially personal statements, can be a really stressful part of the university process. The number one thing I would recommend is focus on skills. What I mean by this is you need to show your university choices why you would make a great law student with them, and they will be looking for evidence that you have the necessary skills to succeed. Therefore, you will do well by identifying what skills your university choices are looking for and then expressing how you have those skills, with evidence, in your personal statement.

For example, for UEA Law their overview page mentions research, writing, commercial awareness, employability and reasoning skills. Therefore, if you were applying here, you would want to emphasise examples where you have shown strength in those skills. This may be by talking about your A Level/IB/etc choices, especially for subjects such as Law, History, English and Business. Alternatively, any relevant work experience may be where you have shown employability and research skills. Any extra-curriculars or hobbies can also be discussed where relevant.

Another thing to think about doing is showing that you have an interest in the Law in some way. This could be through mentioning and discussing a book you've read, work experience you've completed, any talks or people you have been inspired by or maybe from any independent research you have done. For example, you could write about a case that experienced a miscarriage of justice to show an interest in criminal justice, or a case about a refugee fighting for asylum to show an interest in immigration, etc.

In terms of book recommendations if that is something that interests you, some that I would suggest are -
- The Rule of Law - Tom Bingham
- Fake Law and Stories of the Law and how it's Broken - The Secret Barrister
- Misjustice - Helena Kennedy
- Letters to a Law Student - Nicholas J McBride


Revising for A level Law is primarily a memory game, which, if you're anything like me, will not quite be ideal. Some things I did that helped and that I would recommend trying are as follows -
- Active Recall Mind-maps - I used a big whiteboard to try to recall as much as I could on each topic (think statutes, actus reus, mens rea, key cases, key principles, key figures, etc). Then, once I'd recalled as much as I could I would go in with a different colour and add anything I had forgotten. I would repeat this loads, especially as exams got closer.
- Pretty notes - This doesn't work for everyone but if you have a visual memory then having notes written out in a way that is visually appealing, for example with colour coding for different topics, can be really beneficial, especially to aid with active recall.
- Flash cards - There's a reason they are considered a staple, it is because they are an efficient study resource.
- Ask for help - If there is something you just cannot get your head around or always forget about, ask for clarification and see if there is an alternative way you can think about it to help you remember it.
- Teach others - Teaching other people, or at the least talking to other people about the content, can really help solidify knowledge and make recall easier.


I hope this helps!

Leah
UEA Law
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AaronMock
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this is a very general one so I'll apologise 😂 I'm due to start my degree at Durham in just over 2 weeks, what advice can you give a first year law student? and how do you find your law degree so far? thank you I'm just really nervous 😓
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University of East Anglia UG Student Rep: Leah
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(Original post by AaronMock)
this is a very general one so I'll apologise 😂 I'm due to start my degree at Durham in just over 2 weeks, what advice can you give a first year law student? and how do you find your law degree so far? thank you I'm just really nervous 😓
Hi there,

My advice for a first year law student would be something along the lines of the following...

  • Have some kind of planner - whether a paper one or an online one, have somewhere to keep track of all the work you need to do and when it needs to be done by.
  • Time management - having good time management skills will make life so much easier and manageable.
  • Take breaks - with the high content load of a law degree it can be easy to just keep working for long hours, but it is so beneficial to take breaks to recharge and fuel your studying.
  • Take any essay practice you can get - university essays can feel like mythical creatures in first year, take any opportunity you can to submit work and get feedback, it can be huge for reaching those higher marks.
  • Make the most of your professors - most professors kindly accept emails asking for help and will do what they can to offer the help you need. Of course, there are those that won't, but there is more likely those that will.
  • Get in the habit of reading - there is no escaping the fact that to do well in law you will have to read quite considerably.
  • Try not to fall into the high-pressured environment - law is a challenging sector and there is a lot of competition and stress surrounding getting job roles and experience. However, there is only pressure where people make it, and there are so many more routes into a legal career than the conventional 'straight-forward' approach. Which ever way you make your way through your degree and into life post-university is absolutely fine.

I've found my law degree both challenging and interesting. There is no denying the fact that law degrees are tough work and take a lot of effort to do well in. However, if you are motivated and genuinely interested in the subject then that will get you through. There is a lot of tedious work in the form of reading and regurgitating information but it is all part of the process and does lead to in depth knowledge and understanding of the law. As pointed out above, good time management and planning can allow for students to have a good study/life balance which is crucial to both doing well in your degree and enjoying your time at university.


Hope this helps,

Leah
UEA Law
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Ali-liyyah
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Hi Leah,

I hope you are well. I'm going to be starting my law degree on Monday and I'm actually really really worried. I'm so nervous about all the reading and I'm scared I won't take notes that are effective and that I understand. Ever since GCSE, I've always struggled with effective notetaking, as our teachers never really helped us figure out the different ways of revising and studying, and now when there will literally be no guidance, I still don't understand! I'm so so scared for Monday; I literally haven't even started my degree and I already feel like I'll fail!

How do you take your notes and come up with an effective study system for law? And how do you stay up to date with everything? And remember what you've read with your extra reading? I know that everyone studies differently, but what would you say is the best study system for someone who never really knew how to effectively revise and study?

Please try to answer ASAP as I'm really stressing out atm!
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University of East Anglia UG Student Rep: Leah
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(Original post by Ali-liyyah)
Hi Leah,

I hope you are well. I'm going to be starting my law degree on Monday and I'm actually really really worried. I'm so nervous about all the reading and I'm scared I won't take notes that are effective and that I understand. Ever since GCSE, I've always struggled with effective notetaking, as our teachers never really helped us figure out the different ways of revising and studying, and now when there will literally be no guidance, I still don't understand! I'm so so scared for Monday; I literally haven't even started my degree and I already feel like I'll fail!

How do you take your notes and come up with an effective study system for law? And how do you stay up to date with everything? And remember what you've read with your extra reading? I know that everyone studies differently, but what would you say is the best study system for someone who never really knew how to effectively revise and study?

Please try to answer ASAP as I'm really stressing out atm!
Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out, I know you are not alone in your worries, and will quickly find that many embarking on a Law degree have no idea how they're going to figure everything out. I will try to offer some advice below

Support
First off, you will not be left alone without guidance once you start at university, in my personal experience I have had more support since starting university. You will likely find that your university will have student support teams, often with specific areas focusing on learning enhancement, wellbeing support and careers advice. Additionally, lecturers will be glad to offer any support they can if you send a friendly email their way, especially those professors who run skills or development related modules/sessions.

Reading
It is no lie that a Law degree involves a lot of reading, but there is often an exaggeration on just how much reading a Law student actually does. You will likely be given long lists of textbooks, articles, journals, cases, etc to read, and while reading as much as you can will only help you, it is often impossible to read all of the texts set. Most professors will split reading into 'compulsory' and 'extra' reading, get the compulsory reading done but do not stress about the 'extra' reading if you don't get round to it. I would argue that more students view 'extra' reading as 'i-don't-need-to-do-it' reading anyway. When there was extra reading I couldn't get to I would make a note of it, bookmark it maybe, and if I had time during revision or was working on the topic for coursework I would then go back at the end of the semester to it where I needed to. The best way to find out how much you can handle is to try your best and not worry if you don't read every single thing, professors won't admit it but they don't expect you to read every single recommended text.

Note-taking
As you mentioned, this looks a little bit different for everyone. I have tried probably every method out there across my education so I will list a few below that may be worth trying.
  • Microsoft Word - Typing is arguably the most efficient way to take notes at university. Lecturers can throw a lot of information at you in quick succession so typing is often the easiest way to keep up if you are someone who likes to take extensive, detailed notes during lectures.
  • Microsoft OneNote - This option gives a little more freedom than Word offers. If you like to go back and add bits in here and there or like to include mind maps and hand-drawn elements, etc, OneNote can be a better middle ground alternative.
  • Handwritten notes - Many will say this is the best way to memorise information as you are actively writing it out. However, it comes at the disadvantage of being a much slower method of note-taking. Some people also like to make very aesthetic notes which can be fun as well as productive in terms of memorisation, but can take a lot of effort and may not be feasible during lectures. I would suggest perhaps trying this method first to see whether it may work for you or not.
  • Notion - This offers a bit more freedom while also involving an element of creativity. With numerous functions, you can add bullet-lists, drop-down-lists, call-outs, files, videos, pictures and more really easily. This tool can also be handy for having your planning systems in the same place as your university work, as well as options to add other trackers and planners as well. For more on Notion, I would recommend searching for tutorials on YouTube.
  • Taking notes after lectures - Some people find they get the most from lectures by simply sitting and listening to them, and then writing up key points and relevant information afterwards with the aid of handouts, textbooks and key texts. This is a slightly less usual approach but is the perfect study method for some people.
Do not panic if you try one method and it doesn't suit or work out. It will not ruin your studying. I've switched between note-taking methods dozens of times throughout university alone, it can often help to switch things up, or maybe even do slightly different methods for each module.

Staying on top of it all
Planning is a big part of being successful in your Law degree. Both in terms of time management, productivity and simply getting through your to-do lists. A planner is a must, whether physical or digital, to keep note of all the work you need to do, places you need to be and any meetings or meet-ups you may have. It is also useful to plan around times you know you have events, so putting all your known timed events into your planner first and then planning reading, studying and free time around that. This can be especially helpful where your timetable isn't one that repeats itself.
If it counts as any reassurance, many students do not keep up with work to the schedule that it is delivered. There were people in my year who were only 4 weeks into lecture work by the end of the semester, which is 12 weeks long, and some of them were still able to catch up with a lot of hard work. Of course, good planning and steady routines will allow you to work efficiently throughout your terms to avoid big pile-ups of work at any one time.
If you should find yourself struggling, your university will have support available. Student services, subject advisers, professors, and also your peers, will all be able to offer advice and many university staff will be trained or have experience to support you.

I really hope this helps, and again, your worry shows that you care and that is crucial in order to do well. Have faith in yourself.

Leah
UEA Law
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