The Rookie Lawyer
Reading time: five minutes
The countdown to my law conversion course has begun. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to it, but that might be me wanting to believe Legally Blonde is an accurate portrayal of law school.
In any case, starting a new course at a new institution is always a challenge – especially when you're pretty unfamiliar with the subject matter. Here are some ways I'm helping myself prepare for the busy year ahead – and how you can too!
Getting induction stuff out of the way
I had to complete the induction course online any time before the conversion began. Starting early isn’t compulsory, but it gave me enough space to notice my weaker areas and provided me with a decent foundation of legal knowledge to begin my studies with (although I still can't wrap my brain around what noscitur a sociis is, let alone how it's pronounced). This is all information that’ll certainly come in handy later on down the line. While doing the induction course, I also jotted down some of the legal vocab I was struggling with and their definitions – I've heard it said that the earlier you start, the easier it becomes.
Getting to grips with legal jargon
Okay, so maybe I do still believe that Quizlet can fix me. Is it juvenile that I've gone back to it? I'd like to think it isn't, considering it's what got me through my scatter-brained sixth form years.
In any case, it's no secret that law is heavy on jargon. The sooner you pick it up and memorise it, the more effortless using it’ll become (and the easier your reading will be). It might be time to dust off the (digital or physical) flashcards and pray that you'll somehow become fluent in Latin over the upcoming year.
The terminology that I've made note of so far mostly comes from what I've picked up from my induction course, but there's also a fair amount from legal news and articles that I've read. Speaking of which…
Getting into the habit of reading legal news and cases
I've always heard that maintaining commercial awareness can be quite the challenge but, personally, it's a much bigger and more daunting hurdle when you haven't even started. To remedy this, I've set up a couple of reminders on my phone. I make sure to get my daily legal reading in right after tending to my Duolingo streak (which is, I fear, compulsory – so long as I intend to avoid being stabbed by a giant green owl).
Reading legal news won't directly relate to your conversion course but is a no-brainer. It probably won't come as a surprise to you that consuming any legal news (whether you're reading it or listening to it) is bound to deepen your general legal understanding – in turn, not only improving your performance on the course, but also your applications later down the line.
There's no point starting a conversion course if you're not planning to show up to classes. As soon as you get your schedule, make note of when your lectures are, make sure you know your commute, and – most importantly – show up!
It might also be a good idea to set up your own consistent revision schedule according to the modules you're going to be studying (something I haven't had to do since high school, seeing as my undergraduate involved more secondary reading than it did memorising). Taking a leaf out of my IB book, I'll be dedicating specific days a week to revising my lecture and seminar notes on particular areas of law. For instance, Mondays will be dedicated to reviewing my contract law notes, Tuesdays to criminal law, and so on.
It's worth also making note of any important dates and deadlines as soon as you get them (such as assessments or coursework due dates). To make sure I'm on time, I always like to set a personal deadline for a couple days before the actual deadline, just to give myself some buffer time in case something goes wrong.
Beginning at the end
In my experience, the best way to be prepared has always been to work backwards from what's expected of you. So, ask yourself these questions, and be prepared to know the answers:
Once you've got this information, create a plan so you can study and prepare accordingly.
Making sure to get your money's worth
Pro bono work, extracurricular clubs, workshops, and careers services are present wherever you're studying. There are endless tools at your disposal to improve your skill set and boost your legal knowledge. To make the most of your conversion course, use all the tools available to you while you still can. Before your course starts, have a quick look at what interests you and sign up when you get the opportunity to – I know I certainly will!
When all is said and done, the sooner you prepare yourself for the year ahead the easier it's going to be. Though it's definitely not going to be easy – or anything adjacent to that – taking some preparatory steps might, at the very least, mitigate the stress of it. When I look back at this article (and probably cringe at all the dry humour and bad jokes) I hope I can tell myself that it really wasn't all that bad.