Studying the LLB Law degree has allowed me to learn a lot. However, I have also seen myself grow as a person over the past three years. So, what do I wish I’d known in my first year of studying Law? Here are five things:
1. The jump from A-level to Law School
The jump from A-level to the LLB Law degree is huge as students undertaking a degree are left alone to complete their work on time. Not having a teacher checking over your shoulder each week to see if you completed your homework can cause students to become lazy and avoid doing the necessary reading and seminar preparation.
To prevent yourself from procrastinating, make sure to stay organised and give yourself a break. It can get very easy for students to get lazy when work starts to pile up. I like to keep a planner where I keep a note of the different reading and tutorial preparation that I need to undertake for each module. I dedicate each module to one day of the week and this helps me to stay on top of my workload. I usually keep my weekends free to give myself time to relax so I do not burn myself out, especially during the exam period.
Also, the grading is very different from how students are often accustomed to it. When I submitted my first formative for a module, I achieved 64% which is equivalent to a 2:1. I was happy with myself that I was able to achieve a great grade which the majority of students want to qualify with towards the end of the degree.
However, I was upset that I was not close to a first-class. This is normal because understanding the grading process and assessment criteria at a university does take time. It’s also important to note that if you are struggling, make use of the lecturer and your personal tutor. They have years of experience and can assist you by signposting you to relevant people or giving you advice.
2. Unlimited amount of reading
Whilst applying for the Law degree, I had some knowledge that there will be a lot of reading, but I never acknowledged how long each chapter, article, or journal was and how much recommended reading was provided by the lecturer. Students at The City Law School undertake four modules each term so if you are not organised then the reading does pile up which can be overwhelming when it comes to the exam season. That said, it’s important to stay organised and complete the necessary work each week.
A piece of advice I would give to students struggling with too much reading is to break up each section. For example, you may be asked to read a chapter for a module that may be 30 to 50 pages long. This can be seen as daunting but if you break up each section it can help to make the reading more manageable. It’s also helpful to give yourself a break in between your readings or treat yourself to a reward.
3. Be proactive
After graduating from law school, students either want to continue studying or get a job. However, employers do not employ people just based on their grade from their degree. Rather, they are focusing on your work experience. It’s important to utilise your time when undertaking a degree. This is the idea that you should spend some time volunteering, participating as a member in a society, finding a part-time job, or running for student representative for your degree. During interviews, you can discuss the transferable skills that you developed, and these activities look impressive on your CV.
I volunteered as a Student Advisor for City Employment Clinic which involved triaging clients where I got information about them as well as understanding their legal issues. I was required to sit in the meeting with the solicitor and client and kept an attendance note which would then be sent over to the solicitor.
I work as a Widening Participation Ambassador and Marketing Student Ambassador where I assist the university when prospective students attend the university. The role focuses on assisting on the day of the event by answering any questions they have but also taking them on a campus tour.
These experiences will really prove to be valuable when applying for graduate jobs as I can discuss the transferable skills that I have gained and developed.
4. Grades are important
First-year grades at City, University of London do not count towards your overall degree. However, that does not mean you should not care about your grades during your first year. If you plan to apply for vacation schemes or pupillage during your second year, then it’s important that you aim at least for a 2:1 as employers do look at students’ first-year grades.
By putting yourself in a habit to aim for a 2:1, it will make your second and third years at university a whole lot easier. You will be able to learn from your mistakes but also you would have trained yourself to stay organised.
5. Extra reading is vital
Lecturers provide students with essential reading and further reading. Essential reading is vital for students to undertake as without this, they will not have sufficient information for the assessment. You will often hear from lecturers that those that do not undertake essential reading tend to score below a 2:1.
Additionally, students are given a selection of further reading and it is up to them whether they wish to read these. However, some modules mention that a first-class answer refers to academics that are not provided in the essential reading, and this sets them apart from a 2:1 answer. I recommend that students undertake a couple of further readings each week for every module, so you put yourself in a good position when it comes to the assessment period.
I wish I had known these five things in my first year of completing the Law degree – but now you do!
Written by Anisa, third-year LLB student at The City Law School