What to Expect As a First-Year Law Student

first year law student

Law is a fantastic degree. I may be slightly biased because I study it. However, unlike other degrees, Law is a very honourable and respectable degree. Studying Law requires a lot of diligence, dedication and devotion. It’s not easy, but when you’re standing in front of the camera with your diploma in your hand, you’ll know that it was all worth it.

For all the potential first-year Law students out there – what do you think your first year entails? One thing that springs to mind is that you’ve probably heard that Law involves a lot of reading, and that is correct.  However,  the amount you want to read is entirely up to you. It’s your degree, your classification.

Expect to refer to a lot of textbooks. Most will consist of complicated texts, whereas others may be quite simple. However, needless to say, it’s the complicated texts that provide you with the best knowledge of the law and get you the highest marks. This is providing that you understand what you’re reading. Additionally, you’ll find that there are various revision guides and Q&A books to look out for. I would particularly recommend the Law Express Q&A guides, Law Concentrate and Nutshell Law revision guides. These are excellent resources to look at as they provide concise details on how to structure your exam answers. In regards to revision guides, they’re also a fantastic source to fall back on if you don’t have a clear understanding of a particular topic.

In addition to all the reading, you will also be advised to read and find journals, both manually and electronically. Westlaw and LexisNexis are two widely known sites that will provide you with numerous journals whilst studying through your Law degree.  Additionally, these sites are also useful in finding cases. Expect to read a lot of cases. As you will experience throughout your degree, you will be expected to back up your knowledge with relevant, related cases.  As you can see, it’s a never ending process, so be enthusiastic about reading around your subject.

Depth is crucial. Whilst studying throughout my first year, I was constantly told to always add depth in my answers. Not only does it show passion towards Law, but it also builds up your marks. Impress your tutors and stand out from the crowd.

Presentations and coursework! Some universities teach 100% exam based Law but if you’re required to complete various pieces of coursework, don’t start it last minute. The likelihood is that you’re going to get many pieces of coursework sprung onto you at the same time, with the same deadline, and if you’re going to start it late, you will only put yourself into panic mode and you will not illustrate the best of your ability. Some may say that you’ve wasted your time, others may say that it’s better than nothing. That may be true but, whatever it is, it’s you degree, your call.

For those who are eager to get to grips with the law before starting your course, there are various pre-reading materials out there. My personal favourite is a book by Nicholas J. McBride, ‘Letters to a Law Student’.  It’s a fantastic overview of what to expect when studying Law. It’s an easy and warming read and it gives you great advice, too. One piece of advice that I do remember and is my favourite is to ‘fall in love with your degree’.  I suppose, if you do so, it helps to achieve your maximum potential.

My last and final say on this is simply to start early. When it comes to the exam period, you don’t want to be experiencing too much work toppled over you and don’t want to be retaking either. Make the most of term time, so that you can reward yourself with a long summer that university life gives you.

It’s hard work, but worthwhile. Be ambitious!

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