How to navigate the first year of law school
Updated: Mar 6, 2021
Lauren Campbell is a first year LLB student at King’s College London. In her piece on “How to navigate the first year of law school”, she shares her insight on how to best prepare and get the most out of your first year of Law at university!
Your first year of university is an exciting time. For many of you I imagine it will be your first time living away from home. This brings a new sense of freedom as you make a huge step towards your future. Undoubtedly, the unknown can be nerve-racking. Reach out to people on your course whether that be messaging on a group chat or grabbing coffee after class- don’t be afraid to ask! The chances are they’ll be grateful- at no point are you alone in how you’re feeling. As going to university brings more responsibility, remember to look after yourself in ways that can range from cooking to your mental health. Recognise how you feel and do not be afraid to reach out. Your university will have a dedicated team who can help you manage the transition and beyond.
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Managing your schedule
Balancing your studies, deadlines, societies and so much more can be challenging. But it is all about finding a balance and a routine that works for you. I found it helpful to plan the week ahead so I am aware of any upcoming deadlines. Remember, it is important to have plans to socialise and relax. By planning ahead you’ll have more time to do so as you won’t be panicking about being behind all the time. The amount of work you have will undoubtedly change throughout the year so make the most of the quieter weeks, go out and explore your surroundings or just take time to yourself.
The way you are taught at university is different to what you may be used to. You are expected to work more independently which can be a struggle to adjust to. However, it is important to remember that everyone is feeling the same way- talk to people on your course and form study groups. Not only is this a good way to learn but it is also a good way to make friends. Attend all of your lectures as they give a great overview of the topics. Tutorials are small group sessions led by a member of staff, they allow you to ask any questions and work through problems or essay structures so you’ll be best prepared when it comes to your end of year exams. Don’t be afraid to ask a question, even if you think it is silly, there’s a high chance that somebody else is also confused by the same point. Reading is a key component for any law degree and can feel overwhelming to begin with, but it’s about working smart and not spending every free moment to cover every page of reading set. If you have time great – but it is about finding which piece of information is most important and this is a skill which takes time to develop.
Whilst it may seem everyone has already found their friends for life; it is important to note that friendships are fluid in first year as everyone tries to find their people. Try not to compare your experience with others as there is no time limit or pressure to find your group straight away. It takes confidence but put yourself out there, people will appreciate the effort.
Join any and every society you have an interest in! You may find you don’t have enough time to maintain them all but this way you’ll get to know which ones you are most interested in. They are also a good way to meet lots of different people, even if you don’t become best friends it is always nice to see a friendly and familiar face around campus.
Law Firm Events
Something I wish I had known when first starting law school is that applications for law firm open days begin pretty much immediately! So, do your research, write down the deadlines and factor in time into your schedule to do your research and write your applications. Organisation is key. Apply to firms you have an interest in as open days are a great way to help you narrow down your applications for vacation schemes and training contracts in second year. Many firms also run first year schemes which are a good way to gain work experience. The Law Society is a huge help in organising campus events to help with applications and they also let you know about events organised specifically for you in conjunctions with law firms.