The fun-filled fresher days are sadly over and it’s time to go back to university and start the second year of your law degree. We hope you found our advice on how to be a successful law student useful and we’d be exaggerating if we told you there would be no more partying or general socialising with your friends. However, your workload is going to increase, so striking a good work-play balance will be important.
Focus on your studies
You’ve gotten through one year of your law degree, and now it’s time to reflect on the things you did well and the things you need to improve on to do an even better job this year. With other concerns like vacation schemes on your mind, it can feel like your studies are now a secondary worry. But they really shouldn’t be—after all, good grades are one of the main things employers look for when offering training contracts.
Try to reflect on what you learned in first year. Maybe you work best in the morning or at night, or maybe you have a specific study strategy that you find works best for you. Either way, you should try to stick to a routine every day, and maybe even create a schedule for yourself. You’ll be expected to do more work than last year, so effective time management will be crucial.
If you can, try to do some wider reading to supplement your reading list. Staying up-to-date with news in the law sector will not just be helpful when you start getting interview invites; it will show you the relevance of what you’re learning outside of the classroom and maybe even help keep you motivated.
Just because classes are getting more intense, it doesn’t mean you should forget about societies and extracurriculars. The law society at your university is a must; they’ll provide you with extracurriculars and advice on your applications for work experience, mini-pupillages and vacation schemes.
You might also want to get involved in non-law activities: maybe you’d like to learn a new language or develop a new hobby. It’s the perfect way to socialise, de-stress and get your mind off work. Employers might be interested in these as well—particularly if you end up in an important position in a society.
Applying for vacation schemes
The second year of a law degree is often thought of as the one where you apply for vacation schemes. Vacation schemes are internships with a law firm during the holiday 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 decide to whom they might like to offer a training contract. Therefore, vacation schemes are 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 you be doing throughout the year to make sure you get a vacation scheme? Well, a date for your diary is January 31. This is the date used by most firms for summer applications, meaning the autumn semester is an important one. Therefore you should:
- Get researching which firms offer schemes—we have a list you can use;
- 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;
- 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 are not submitting 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 exams and apply for vacation schemes or work experience.
Other work experience
If you don’t manage to get a vacation scheme, that doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole summer at home. You could apply for mini pupillages or work experience, or find other kinds of experience that will give your CV a boost and provide you with transferable skills. Volunteering, for instance, is an excellent option to consider.
You don’t have to go along with what everyone else does; careers in law can start in very different places. Tutors can offer great advice, so certainly consult them if you’re not sure where to look.
And finally: have fun!
As intense as the second year of a law degree can be, it will be an amazing year in your life; make the most of your time at university and enjoy yourself!
Next article: LLB year abroad—what's it like?