Law is a popular choice for students looking to have an impressive degree and an even more impressive career after graduation. Recent figures suggest that in 2015-16, 17,335 students were accepted onto undergraduate law courses. That’s more than the number of people that study at a typical university!
Simply getting onto a law course feels like a victory in itself. Working hard to get the best ‘A’ Level grades and into your first (or second) choice university will make you feel pretty good, but what about the three years-plus of studying required to get a degree and become a legal professional? Here are five steps you can follow to help you on your way to working as a lawyer.
Step One: Being Up To Speed
One of the key characteristics of law degrees is that there are so many areas to study. Law is also an ever-changing subject, with new legislation passed by government at all levels on a regular basis. Existing legislation is also subject to change, so if you want to attain that first-class degree, you must keep abreast of new developments.
Law news websites should be the first place to go. The Law Society, Law Gazette and generic news sites such as the BBC are useful. It might be worth scouring the local press for any unique court cases that are written about. You never know if they will come in useful if given something similar to study.
Step Two: Attend Every Lecture
If you feel a little worse for wear or want to prioritise that looming essay or presentation, it can be tempting to avoid the odd lecture or seminar. However, going to everything on your timetable will mean that you won’t miss a thing, maximising your chances of getting a great degree.
Should you be so ill that you cannot make a seminar/lecture, there are ways of getting those vital notes and slides. Email your lecturer and ask them if you can have a copy. It’s possible that your university’s intranet might have them ready to download when logging in.
Step Three: Pick a Specialism
After graduation, getting a job will be the first thing on your mind. If you’ve covered a broad range of topics throughout your course, that’s useful. To become more employable, choose a topic that seems interesting and focus a little more on that.
Areas such as family law could be worth investigating, as it’s something many people need in a variety of circumstances. If you do choose a niche subject, try to do so early on in your degree, ideally in your first year. Look at the different areas of law carefully and see which one is the most interesting.
Step Four: Visit Your Local Court
To become successful in law, you might want to see professionals at work. The best way to do this is to visit the nearest law court. You can find the one closest to campus by visiting the Government’s website, searching by location and the area of law you have most interest in.
In visiting the nearest court, you can see how professionals conduct themselves during a case. You can also learn about how defendants and claimants are represented and which parts of the law are most commonly used to determine the outcome of each case. If nothing else, they provide a welcome change from the lecture theatre.
Step Five: Revise, Revise, Revise
It’s an essential part of any degree, but revision is particularly important for law. It’s such a complex subject that skimping on research could set you back when applying for jobs. Set aside a little time each week for research and break it down into manageable chunks.
To some people, it might seem boring, but you could always look away from textbooks and head online instead. Look for law archive sites and read about fascinating cases past and present; that will liven up something that can seem, at times, a little dreary.
Zak Goldberg is a Law & Business Graduate from the University of Leeds who has chosen to follow his aspirations of becoming a full-time published writer, offering his expertise on all areas of law and finance.
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