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Mistakes I made in first year

Mistakes I made in first year

Anisa Rahman Choudhury


Reading time: three minutes

With university fast approaching, students may be anxious about what's to come and how to succeed in their law degree, particularly those who've never studied law before. However, freshers should be assured that the majority of law students are in the same boat and you don't need to have extensive summer reading or law A level before starting. I certainly didn't and still had a very successful year. While this blog post will focus on mistakes I made, it's worth noting that you shouldn't expect your year to be perfect, but rather look at how you get back up from struggles. Hopefully, however, this list will help guide you on what to avoid – I made the mistakes so you don’t have to!

1. Overworking through the summer

While your A-level summer is very long and you may wish to utilise the free time, it's important to take rest and enjoy it. I had a full-time job and, though there are advantages and some people may find a balance, I should've worked less. When I started university, I saw how time consuming and intense it can be so I shouldn't have exhausted myself so early on. This being said, I do recommend having a look at the reading list for your modules as this laid the starting blocks for my learning. I also looked into what's expected in first year – ie, first-year insight schemes, work experiences, mooting competitions and so on. These things were little ways I could get ahead and become informed without tiring myself out.

2. Joining more societies

University is such a unique experience with so much at your disposal, like student law societies. The law-related ones are usually free or have a small membership fee but they're definitely a good investment. Though I did join the law and Bar society, I should've looked more into what was on offer, such as Lawyers Without Borders, ELSA, Amnesty, debating, etc. I didn't think about these ones beforehand so I'd recommend that people go into freshers fair with an open mind and an inquisitive nature. Further, if your university doesn't have the society you're looking for, don’t be afraid to start your own! I was surprised to learn how quick yet effective it can be to start a society and, if you're the chair, you can determine how much you want to put in it. My word of caution is that minimal effort will mean minimal progress. 

3. Referencing

For a lot of people, university is the first time they have to reference their work and it's a vital skill for law students to ensure you haven’t plagurised. In the beginning of your course, they usually give a workshop to equip you with the basic knowledge. It's crucial that you pay attention and reach out to your supervisors if unsure. You also need to take great care in your assignments. As refrencing can get tedious, I'd leave it to the end and rush to get them finished. I learnt the hard way of their importance when submitting a document without importing any of my footnotes, leading to a significantly reduced mark. Therefore, my tips would be to reference as you go along, write down all relevant information from each resource when researching and always proofread!

4. Networking

The law faculty at your university is highly likely to organise many networking events and you may also apply to attend some yourself. At these events I used to question the benefit and used to think that I don’t need to make connections so early on. This was a big mistake; from my mini-pupillage, I actively engaged with many barristers which gave me valuable insight into a legal career and other opportunities to get involved in. Further, sometimes you may just have interesting conversations that spark curiosity in you. Ultimately, these interactions can be very fulfilling so I suggest that you do your homework on who you're meeting and don’t underestimate the power of netwoking like I did.