What you should be doing in your first year of your law degree

  • Last updated 21-Jul-2016 12:47:11
  • Rebecca Morgan, Law Student, University of Hertfordshire

Starting university can be challenging enough, so looking for work experience and networking may be the last thing on your mind. But if you want a career in law, it’s fundamental to start early. So, what should you be doing in first year?

Get on top of your workload

This might sound silly, but it’s crucial. Try to get into the habit of keeping on top of assignments, preparation for seminars and reading. This makes it so much easier when exams come around. Another handy tip is start making revision notes as you go along!

Wider reading

Your tutors will no doubt have you reading vast amounts from numerous textbooks, but every now and then have a read of the newspaper.

Keeping up to date on current news articles, both legal and business/political, is not only good for general knowledge, but also for your overall legal understanding: the law is ever changing, so stay on top of it!

Plus you never know when you may get asked about the legal context current news articles class, or in an interview.

The Law Society Gazette, Lawyer2B and Counsel all have regular magazines issued. These are great for keeping up to date on legal issues as well as for reading more in-depth case studies.

Join your university law society

This is perhaps the most important things you can do during Fresher’s week. Your Law Society should be providing you with extra-curricular activities as well as guidance on making your work experience, mini-pupillage and vacation scheme applications.

Vacation schemes

Many solicitors are happy to have students work with them for a week or two over vacation periods, as they understand the importance behind it.

Always remember: first appearances and attitude count, and if you are offered a work experience placement they may invite you back if you meet their expectations.


Mini-pupillages are work experience for wannabe barristers, in which you get the chance to shadow a practicing barrister for a short period of time and get a taste of what they do.

Different chambers have their own policies regarding first years on mini-pupillages, but it is worth applying to those that will accept you at this stage in your studies. Do some research into chambers and make a note of when they accept applications for the following year too – his way you will not miss a deadline!

Visiting Inns of Court

The Inns of Court often run events throughout the year and I would highly recommend attending these if you’d like to pursue the barrister route. They provide students with an insight into life at the Bar, as well as the application process and also Q&A sessions and networking. You may even get a mini-pupillage out of attending one and speaking to people. I did!

Attend law fairs/pupillage fairs/public lectures

These are run by various universities and organizations and are an invaluable way of hearing about postgraduate and professional courses, as well as to network with solicitors and barristers.

Remember that your degree does come first so do not take on more than you can manage, as lots of experience is practically worthless if you do not have a degree to show for it. And don’t forget to enjoy your law degree, as the time will fly by!

Rebecca writes a blog which can be found at http://lawyerinthemaking.co.uk. She also tweets at @lawyer_inmaking

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