Starting second year is, in my opinion, a little scary. You’re a third of the way into your law degree, you have finished the year in which you ‘find your feet’ a little with both the law and your university, and now it feels as though the hard work begins. For me, despite being a little ahead of where it’s expected that I am, I’m still panicking a little. Second year feels so ‘final’ almost, as if it’s now or never, despite having to do it all again in third year, it feels as though this is the time to make it count. Having already been quite pro-active, I want to give my advice on what I am doing to make my applications really shine, and be the best that I can possibly be.
Firstly, it goes without saying, work hard. Your second year grades are going to count towards your overall grade. You are doing a qualifying law degree, so work at it. It won’t always be easy, there will be times when your other friends are out at the pub and you wish you were with them, but this is your future, so work for it! In my opinion, the best way to do this is to have a solid set of notes throughout the year and keep organised, so that when you come to exam revision you know exactly where everything is and all the information is there for you too, so that it is a case of consolidating your knowledge rather than re-learning. The way that I was taught to revise in A level sociology, and I still stick by it now, is to make 1 solid set of notes on a topic with EVERYTHING in it, then condense it to a smaller set of notes, and then try and condense it to one side of A4. After that I would usually do revision cards, or a revision poster so that all of my information is summarised in a visual form too. I try to get my solid set of notes done after the lecture so that it’s all fresh in my mind, and then the others around revision time.
Secondly, get involved. Usually every university will have a law society who put on events such as networking, tutoring sessions, mooting competitions etc. You don’t have to be directly involved with the society committee, but just go along to the events. As much as some of you may not want to be that one person who turns up to everything- do it. The more practice that you get in now, the easier that it’s going to be when you are applying for training contracts and pupillages. Also, when you have to actually stand up in a court room one day, you’re not going to be completely new to it because you’ll have done mooting and will have an idea of how it works.
Thirdly, get the experience now. This is very similar to my last point, but the more networking events you go to, the more that you put yourself out there on social media, and just generally get involved, the more people you’re going to know in the profession. This may lead to work experience such as a mini-pupillage, or just a chat about how to approach applying to different firms and different courses. People at networking events want to help you, that’s what they’re there for so don’t be afraid to ask for help! In terms of experience, I would advise to do as much as you can, but not too much of the same thing. For example, gain experience with both a solicitor and a barrister, so that when you’re applying for pupillage or training contracts, you can say “I’ve had experience of both professions, and this is why I want to do this one…”. For example, I have done two mini-pupillages now, and volunteered alongside solicitors at my local citizens advice bureau, so I can firmly say “I want to be a barrister because..”. Obviously, there is no need to panic and cram too much experience in that your university work is suffering because you have both second and third year to get the experience, but do make a start because I’m sure this year will fly by, as first year did!
Finally, have fun. Remember that there is a lot to get involved with both academically and socially. Be the best that you can be, work hard, and make the most of every opportunity so that your CV and your applications will be absolutely sparkling by the time you leave university!