Top tips for your first year

In this student experience blog third-year law student Anisha gives her top tips for being prepared and making the most out of your university experience.

Hi there!

I’m Anisha and I’m currently in my third year studying law at Queen Mary University of London. I’ve written a few tips for first-year students who are about to embark on their university journey. I believe that these pointers could help in ensuring that you get the best out of your university experience and ensure that you will be well prepared throughout the year.

Prepare before your lectures

If the lecture slides have been made available to you ahead of time, you should format the slides in a way that makes it easiest for you to type up your notes. You can do this by copying the lecture outline onto another document so that during the lecture itself, you won’t be fiddling around trying to format the slides. Alternatively, if you prefer your notes handwritten, you could print out the lecture slides, 4-6 slides on a page and annotate on the hand-out.

Attend your lectures

Make sure you attend your lectures as sometimes the academics will address points that are not on the lecture slides or in the reading material. These points could be tips regarding the exam. I attend my lectures and also watch the lectures on Q-review if there are certain topics I am struggling with. In being able to re-watch the lectures, I am able to focus better because I can pause, rewind and even change the speed of the recording so that I can take in the information at my pace.

Commercial Awareness

You’ll notice this phrase buzzing around everywhere in your first year - it certainly was buzzing everywhere for me! And entering into my third year now, I can say that it doesn’t stop.

Commercial awareness is, in its simplest form, having an understanding of how industries and businesses work. It is knowing and analysing how certain issues might have an impact on your chosen sector and company. Law firms really want candidates to know this, to know who their clients are, and what they do. 

In order to ensure you develop commercial awareness, you should read the news, especially the Financial Times, which the university provides for free to students. You don’t need to read everything that’s on there, you can try to find a few articles, perhaps about mergers that interest you, and take it from there.

Another way would be to listen to the radio and to podcasts. Subscribe to Finimize, a free website, mailing list and app that also breaks down news, which you can read in under 5 minutes whilst commuting to university, or before class.

Apply to work placements and/or volunteer

There are so many first-year programmes out there, which will help you get an insight into your chosen field. Law firms such as Clifford Chance have first-year programmes. These look great on your CV, you get opportunities to network and gain work experience. 

Attend open days, take down notes of what is said and write down the questions that are asked by other students so that the next time you attend another event, you’ll have a list of questions to ask. Take part in societies – these experiences will ensure that you develop various skills.

Finally, work smart and really grab the opportunities that come by!