updated on 18 July 2023
Reading time: eight minutes
Every year we survey student law societies across the UK for the annual LawCareers.Net Student Law Society Awards to find out how they run their events and activities, and how they serve their membership. We also hear from student law society members who offer opinions and feedback on their societies, including which events they most enjoyed and how they felt specific areas such as mooting and pro bono activities were run on campus.
As an aspiring lawyer, joining your university’s student law society is a fantastic way to not only meet like-minded people with similar career aspirations, but also to get involved in brilliant opportunities, including networking, pro bono and mooting.
We’ve put together a brief run-down of some of the ways your student law society can support you in your quest to become a lawyer, whichever route you choose.
Engagement is key to any law society – after all, without society promotion, it’s difficult to build a solid membership base. Luckily, with email newsletters, social media, online hubs and both virtual and in-person events, it’s never been easier to stay connected to your law society, know what’s going on, and feel part of a wider community.
Communication, however, is a two-way street, and as well as providing information for you, your society should also listen to your opinions and ideas. Are you offered the chance to give your feedback? Do you feel like your voice is heard and valued? These are valid points to consider – an engaged society is one where its members feel like they can share their ideas about the future and progression of their society. Some of the best submissions we read this year were from societies that had taken on board their members’ concerns and opinions and made concrete changes in response.
The award for best at student engagement, was presented to the Edward Bramley Law Society.
Attending career events is a huge part of being part of a society and, quite honestly, probably one of the main reasons you joined in the first place.
From firm presentations and interactive Q&A sessions with lawyers and law firms, to meticulously organised virtual and in-person networking sessions and events, workshops and competitions, there’s so much you can gain from attending society careers events. Make the most of the opportunities by preparing ahead of the events and following up on LinkedIn afterwards. Watch this video and read this article for more advice on researching law firms and making the most of LinkedIn as a law student.
The best careers event award was presented to the University of Plymouth Law Society for their cheese and wine networking evening.
While bar crawls and club nights are a rite of passage at university, social events for societies are about much more than drinking games. Perhaps the biggest casualty to university societies during the pandemic was the loss of in-person events, however with social events back to their former glory, many societies have refocused their efforts on creating more inclusive and well-rounded socials. As part of LCN’s Student Law Society Award submissions, we read about pizza parties, online quizzes, murder mysteries, games nights and even an event centred on Deliveroo. In fact, our winner for 2023 offered a combination of pizza, undergraduate and postgraduate attendance, and an opportunity for society members to get to know their lecturers in a chilled setting.
The best social event award was presented to the University of Aston Law Society for their pizza party. You can read all about the event and the winning society in this LCN Says.
Although many might find the idea of mooting scary and only for the experienced, we heard from many societies that successfully hosted a series of internal moots and coordinated participation in external moots across all year groups and abilities. In our eyes, one of the most important aspects of this category was to provide training and allow students at all experience levels to get involved and take part in mooting activities. From beginner sessions and intensive workshops to publishing guides for inexperienced mooters, your society should allow you to feel comfortable participating in moots, and hopefully support you on your way to larger competitions and even prestigious prizes.
The best society for mooting award was presented to King’s College London Bar & Mooting Society. You can hear from society president Barney about how the society won in this LCN Says.
Not every society can offer its members the opportunity to take part in pro bono work and this is one area where coordination with your law school will be hugely influential, especially if your law school runs a law clinic (or as we’ve recently seen – your society has started one!). Working in community-based projects has undoubtedly been difficult across the charity and legal aid sector as a whole due to the recent cost-of-living crisis, but there are many legal and research tasks that willing students can be a part of. Your society should be signposting you to these kinds of activities, if not organising them for you to take part in.
The bottom line is that there’s always something you can do, however small. And it will be of benefit to your future legal career too, as this Feature explains.
If you’re interested in pro bono work but don’t know where to start The Oracle explains how you can find pro bono and volunteering opportunities.
The best pro bono activities award, sponsored by Baker McKenzie, was presented to the University of Nottingham Pro Bono Society.
Our award for the best society for commercial awareness was introduced at the 2020 Student Law Society Awards as we saw a huge increase in students seeking information specifically on this crucial subject, as well as bespoke commercial awareness societies launched at some universities. From commercial awareness events with firms and external speakers to workshops, guides and competitions, societies continued to take this theme seriously, providing their members with the resources and tools for them to understand and demonstrate this skill to future employers. Don’t forget to head to our Commercial awareness hub if you’re interested in developing your commercial awareness in your own time.
The best society for commercial awareness was presented to University College London Law Society.
Supporting members should be a priority for law societies at all times regardless of their year group, but this seems especially pertinent for first-year students.
As well as hosting drop-in sessions and icebreaker events, societies ran bespoke sessions for first years to prepare them for launching their legal careers at this early stage. Over the past few years, we’ve also seen an added emphasis on student welfare and wellbeing with mental health events and resources quite rightly prioritised for all students – not just first years. Many societies also run buddy and mentoring schemes between first year and older students, which can very easily be replicated online.
The best society for first-law students was presented to the University of Exeter Law Society.
It’s obvious when a society has actively considered the importance of diversity and inclusion, and practically implemented steps to address it. Across the legal profession there are increasing calls for discussions around diversity and equality to continue to be prioritised. From reading the awards submissions, it’s clear to see that students are more active than ever in seeking change and representation at all levels – from their societies and committees to their future employers, and the industry as a whole.
Annual themes and topics, panel discussions and networking events with lawyers from underrepresented backgrounds, accessible membership schemes, and even outreach programmes to schools and sixth-form students are all ways societies impressed us with their efforts. More than this, a law-related society should seek to represent its members and their diverse needs and backgrounds, and ultimately allow all members to feel welcome and supported in its community.
Of course, there’s much more to be done – in societies, universities, legal employers, and the legal profession.
The most committed to increasing diversity award, sponsored by DWF Group Plc, was presented to Manchester University Law Society.
Find out more about the Student Law Society Awards and read the full list of 2023 Student Law Society Awards winners.
If you think your society is deserving of a nomination for an award, keep an eye out for the 2024 Student Law Society Awards submissions which will be opening later this Autumn.
Niamh Gray is a content and engagement coordinator at LawCareers.Net, and host of the Student Law Society Awards.