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I’ve discussed my experience with the change from first year to second year on LawCareers.Net previously. However, now I've reached the midway point in my first semester in my third year, I’m back to discuss the jump from second to third year.
One thing you instantly recognise when starting your third year at university is that, for many, it’s your final year. That realisation will probably hit you with excitement, dread or a little bit of both. I certainly felt a little of both. Even though I feel like I have my future planned out fairly well, I always thought of it in my head as just plans. However, now I have to start acting on these plans.
In my experience, this is pushed to you more from outside the classroom rather than within it. To me, the exams and assessments feel like they have the same amount of pressure on them as they did in second year, despite, of course, counting towards more of your overall grade. I think that this is a good thing because it makes the transition to third year feel less like being thrown out of the pan and into the fire, and more like walking from one pit of hot coals onto another one. I’m sure that your university will push local opportunities or jobs to you, but you can also keep an eye on sites such as LawCareers.Net to identify what roles and areas of law might be of note.
Through the modules that you complete in third year, it almost feels like giving yourself a trial run of potential future careers. Even though the modules in third year are taught and assessed the same as in the previous two years, they have a feeling of reality about them. I think that because you’re one step closer to becoming a legal professional, you now look at everything through the lens of ‘would I like to do that?’ For example, previously I’d completed contract law in first year and, although I enjoyed it, I’d never considered it massively as a potential future career. However, having now completed six weeks of commercial law, I absolutely love it and am seriously thinking of pursuing this route of the law.
Without the knowledge I gained in contract law in first year, I wouldn’t have found commercial law nearly as interesting or understand it as much. I think this makes third year a good chance to put everything together and test yourself.
On that note, I think this is what third year is all about. Having completed the first two years of your degree and building up your knowledge, you finally have the chance to put it all together in third year. So far, I certainly feel that there’s an expectation for us to have a certain level of knowledge. For example, in commercial law, I haven’t been taught to write a file note because I’ve already done that in numerous modules and in trust law, there’s no longer a need to explain what a will is.
The main way in my experience that this has been tested is through partaking in the University of Sunderland’s Law Clinic, something I’ve again discussed previously on LawCareers.Net. Putting myself in a real client-based environment to use the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years, and having to do a lot of practical work myself using my knowledge, has taught me a lot about what I know about the law and my approach to it.
The advice that I’d give when reflecting on my first couple of months in third year is to make the most of it. Use this as a chance to test yourself and find what types of law interest you most and what you’re good at. Unfortunately, a law degree requires quite a lot of effort, but if you can push yourself and use that third-year pressure to your advantage then you’ll be just fine.