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Transitioning from school to studying law

Transitioning from school to studying law

Marie Ade

04/04/2022

Reading time: four minutes 

The transition from sixth form to university, especially at the height of the pandemic, was quite challenging (for context, I attended an international school outside the UK). Below I outline five aspects of the university system that took me some time to adjust to as a first-year law student. 

Find out how to get started as a first-year law student via LCN’s first-year law student’s hub.

The grading system 

Law is a notoriously tricky subject to gain a first class in, so although you may be used to scoring 80-100% at school, this will likely be harder, though not impossible, to achieve as a law student.

Therefore, don’t be disappointed if you get a 2.2 or a low 2.1. As a novice in the study of law, it’s expected and normal for you to struggle with the complexity of the content. But with practice and time, you will eventually adapt to your lecturer’s style of teaching and the writing style required to pass your exams.

Another thing that makes law difficult is how inconsistent the grading is across your modules. For example, the way you write essays for public law may be different from what’s required for property law. Therefore, ensure that you read the marking criteria to understand your tutors’ expectations in each specific module.

Independence 

Although the level of independence varies across universities, you likely won’t be required to be on campus seven hours per day as you were at school. The pandemic placed most, if not all, of our classes last year online, and even to this day, your university may have a hybrid learning system. Your days are highly flexible, allowing you to create a schedule that works around your study preferences and other commitments. The key is implementing some a solid structure for yourself, as this will not be set for you by the professors. 

Fewer contact hours and online learning at university may also make establishing a rapport with your professors even more difficult. However, you can speak to your tutors before/after lectures, during your tutorials (where the class is much smaller), during their office hours, or send them emails with your questions and concerns. Since you’re now in charge of your education, you need to be proactive and seek out help and clarification, even if you barely see your tutors in person. 

Reading and the type of work 

It’s expected that a law degree requires a lot of reading, but I didn’t realise just how long some cases were, nor how challenging it was to understand academic commentary filled with legal jargon. Throughout your degree, you will find that you will adapt to legal writing, reading cases efficiently, and prioritising high priority work.

Moreover, the professors focus more on the content and analysis than your style of writing. Therefore, it may be better to avoid unnecessary artistic flair to your legal essays that distract from your analysis or word count. 

Making friends 

Making friends where the cohort consists of hundreds of people may seem daunting, especially if you attended a smaller sixth form. My first year of university was completed mostly over Zoom, so contacting and meeting other students was complicated. So, it’s important to keep in mind that your coursemates are likely going through similar struggles as you are, you just need to take that extra step and reach out.

Given that there’s a large group of law students, you can interact with a range of people until you find your circle of friends. This is also called networking – a skill that every aspiring lawyer must master. Having a few friends doing the same course is always helpful as you can share notes, study together, and support each other during long study sessions. Seeking advice from your seniors is also valuable.

To find out more about networking; read this LCN Feature: ‘LawCareers.Net’s guide to networking’.

Future careers 

When I started university, I experienced anxiety about my future and what’s to come after graduating. From the first month of law school, you may already face pressure about securing vacation schemes, mini-pupillages, or training contracts years in advance. Some of you may not even know which firms to apply for or how to research which firm is right for you.

Head to LCN’s researching law firms page for advice and tips on how to research law firms!

As mentioned earlier, you will have a great amount of independence, which means you need to be proactive in seeking out opportunities and resources for future careers in law.

LawCareers.Net is of course, an ideal place to begin your research and plan the steps you need to take to achieve your career goals. You can also use a careers service at your university to receive advice on your career path, feedback on your applications, and mock interviews.

Read this LCN Says to find out how to make the most of your university’s careers service.