I started studying Law last September at the University of Leicester and here are my thoughts 5 months in.
Before we get into my actual experience, let me run by my initial expectations of studying Law. I expected a large workload, constant reading, and a loaded timetable. It’s pretty much been that, ignoring the loaded timetable part of it. COVID has impacted the first year of my Law degree, to the point that we have online lectures.
Online Lectures aren’t as bad as I thought they would be. Initially I had a negative view on them. Although they were to prevent further COVID outbreak (which was the necessary and a positive thing to do), it took away from the University experience of having to attend lectures daily, in a lecture hall. Now, that may sound trivial, but it was a part of the experience I was expecting. Nevertheless, online lectures have been good, they are released on certain days throughout the week, you can watch them whenever you need, pause, rewind them, even speed them up and allow you to take notes as you please. They allow you to not miss any important information and generally are quite nice to have. I would want them to remain an option for next year, to still have them released online, as I believe we are going back to in-person lectures.
Tutorials this year have been interesting to say the least. We have two per week in which we prepare for by going through the problem scenarios. This gives us a practical application to the theoretical knowledge we’ve learnt in the past fortnight. The group discussions, as well as the tutorial leader’s insight based off their own knowledge, is not only pivotal in increasing our understanding but is also fun to listen to. A lot of reading is done in Law to build a comprehensive understanding and although the required reading is a lot, it can be reduced by skimming through it, attempting to pick out the most important details. Knowing the questions you’re having to answer before going through the reading will be imperative, as it gives you an idea of what you’re looking out for.
The first proper tests that we have has to do so far were our January exams. When I say give yourself enough time to revise, to properly prepare either through summarising topics onto an A4 piece of paper or going through notes and then making questions to test yourself on those topics, I mean it. Giving yourself enough time to prepare for those exams is essential to do well. Although they form a lower percentage of your module it will still count towards the end of your first year.
Now I’m sure many have heard about the whole ‘’1st year doesn’t count’’. Well in Law that is not the case, to an extent. Despite your 1st year overall grade not counting towards the rest of your degree, when applying for open days, workshops or even Insight schemes for Law firms, you can include grades you’ve already received. These 1st year grades become even more essential in 2nd year, when you try to apply for vacation schemes and other relevant work experience which you are able to add to your CV. As your first-year module grades are one of the key pieces of information which Law firms can use to differentiate candidates, it’s crucial that you put your best foot forwards. Avoid taking 1st year as though it doesn’t really matter in the long run, as it will do. It’s okay to not do that well in your first few exams, as long as you bounce back!
Societies such as the Pro Bono Society, have been another aspect of my 1st year studies (so far). Participating in group work, where I aided in the creation of a PowerPoint which focused on the area of Analysing Witness statements and knowing that went towards helping students in lower years on that topic was something I found fulfilling. This along with working on this blog and eventually working on more projects in the future is something I look forward to. Societies I have found can be a great way to meet new people and can also be useful in adding to your CV.
One of the hardest aspects of a Law degree is the intense workload. The workload consisting of numerous lectures and reading is something that is hard to maintain. In my own experience it’s so easy to fall behind and then get stuck in a cycle of leaving work last minute and completing it just before a deadline. You’ve just got to ensure that you do a small amount everyday to ensure work doesn’t pile up!
Overall, my experience of studying Law so far has been great. It is a complex but interesting degree that does require the work but in my opinion it will be worth it at the end of it!