What you should be doing in the second year of your law degree

  • Last updated 21-Jul-2016 15:35:08
  • By Billy Sexton, Editor, AllAboutLaw.co.uk

The fun-filled fresher days are sadly over and after a summer of clinging on to your youth it’s time to go back to university and start the second year of your law degree. We hope you found our advice on what you should be doing in your first year useful and we’d be exaggerating if we told you there would be no more partying or general socialising with your friends, but there is going to be a big shock in the amount of work that is expected of you, so striking a good work-play balance will be important.

Applying for vacation schemes

The second year of a law degree is perhaps best known as ‘the one where you apply for vacation schemes’. In case you weren’t aware, vacation schemes is a fancy term for describing an internship with a law firm during, yep, you guessed it, a vacation period of your university year. It allows you to get a feel for what it’s like to be a lawyer and also gives firms the chance to check out who they might like to offer a training contract to. Therefore, vacation schemes are just one way you can help yourself on the way to becoming a solicitor – it shows you’re motivated and are planning ahead with your career.

When should I start looking for a vacation scheme?

‘What should I be doing throughout the year to make sure I get a vacation scheme?’, you ask in earnest. Well, a date for your diary first… 31 January. This is the date used by most firms for summer applications, meaning the autumn semester is an important one indeed. Therefore you should:

  • Get researching which firms offer schemes. We have a tidy list you can use (don’t mention it)
  • Attend law fairs and talk to recruiters and current trainees
  • Draft a CV and have it checked over by a careers adviser at your university… you might as well make the most of those tuition fees
  • Get involved with law societies. Doing so will show you’re able to juggle priorities and are keen on making your CV as attractive as possible
  • Once you’ve done all this, it’s time to get applying! Make sure you invest a lot of time into this and don’t submit loads of generic answers for every firm you apply to. More vacation scheme application tips can be found here.

If you don’t manage to land a vacation scheme, don’t worry. Focus on your coursework and exam and apply for vacation schemes or or work experience with smaller, regional firms.

Other work experience & activities

If you don’t manage to get a vacation scheme, that doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole summer wallowing in self-pity. Other work experience will give your CV a boost and provide you with transferable skills. Additionally, involvement with your law society is a must. Most importantly, don’t neglect your studies. After all, if you get a 2:2, it’s even more unlikely (but not impossible) that you’ll get a training contract. When it comes to vacation scheme applications or coursework deadlines, choose coursework deadlines!  

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