How to be a successful law student

  • Last updated 21-Jul-2016 12:45:23
  • Rebecca Morgan, Law Student, University of Hertfordshire

Ultimately the end goal for any student doing a law degree is the same: get the best result you can, plus the best knowledge, skills and experience to secure your place in the legal world.

But what is the recipe for success? Well, it won’t just boil down to what you do in your academic studies.

There are plenty of things you’ll have to consider on the non-academic side of things to ensure you achieve your goals…

Commercial awareness

Reading newspapers is fundamental, and it isn’t just the legal articles you should be reading. The content of most articles will have some form of commercial focus.

When reading, consider the social, economic, political and legal aspects that can be drawn from the articles. This is a vital skill for trainee lawyers, and it also keeps you up-to-date with current news.

Many law firms look for students who can demonstrate commercial awareness, so it is definitely worth picking up the newspaper every now and then.

University activities & networking

Your own university or law school will be likely to run legal events, and it is crucial that you get involved and attend.

They will often provide an opportunity to network – another skill you need to develop for when you get the opportunity to spend some time in a law firm firm such as on a vacation scheme or when you undertake any mini pupillages

Some of the activities at your university will be aimed at improving your skills in key areas, or may even open up other areas of law for you to gain an insight into.

Join your law society

Your law society, which may or may not be run in accordance with your law faculty, will put on events in order to get you meeting people from various legal fields, as well as highlighting any events outside of the university which may be of benefit.

It is fundamental that you join your law society to get the most out of your time at university. Some universities also run a Bar Society for students who are specifically considering a career at the Bar.

Remember that these societies exist for your benefit; if you feel that you have ideas for events then tell them, as you know what you want and need as a law student.

Advocacy & debating

Most universities will have an advocacy programme or run classes on mooting and mock trials, and there are lots of mooting competitions that take place up and down the country for students to get involved in.

Advocacy is a skill that any law student should be keen to develop – even those students not considering a career at the Bar. It provides a lot of transferable skills in confidence, public speaking and good presentation; a good foundation regardless of the line of work you pursue in the future.

Mooting and mock trials also enable you to write precisely, develop your argument, and speak with accuracy and confidence.

Debating, a sought-after skill for many employers, is very similar to advocacy. It allows you to practise stating your argument clearly and concisely and upholding your argument throughout a debate.

The legal scenarios you will face in exams and tutorials require you to pick an argument and stick with it, so debating will inevitably help your academic studies too.

Public legal events

Many legal firms, universities, chambers, Inns of Court and Societies such as The Junior Lawyer’s Division, run events that are open to the public.

They will run insight days, public lectures, networking events and conferences all aimed at developing your legal knowledge and enabling you to be the best you can be.

Get involved, but don’t forget to use your time wisely, be selective in which events you choose to attend and don’t neglect your degree – your academic studies matter too!

Rebecca writes a blog which can be found at She also tweets at @lawyer_inmaking

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