Kajal Kandeth, English and European Law Student: As I come to the end of my first year and with exam season approaching, I thought it would be useful to let new students know how to make the most of their first year.
13 May 2015
Before you start, try to sort out your reading materials. I recommend buying them from a second year student in bulk. If you do not know anyone, I would recommend looking through the forums in the Law Student Area on QMPlus. Before buying them I suggest looking through the statute books; make sure they are clean copies (highlighting is allowed), as you will not be allowed to bring ones with writing on them into your exams.
In week 0 there will be a talk about the traditional solicitor and barrister routes and what they entail. Do try to attend it, even if you have no interest in pursuing either career as it is always useful to have an idea of what they require. It is surprising how much your opinion will change over the course of your degree.
Start making notes as early as possible as this will save you time later on in the year and try to make only one set. I suggest using the lecture slides as a guideline to which you can add notes from your lectures, textbooks, casebooks, extra reading and tutorials. I know it is a tall order but try to look through your notes at the end of the week and make them more concise.
Make a group on Facebook or Whatsapp for your tutorial group; meeting up with them during the exam season and going over exam papers is a good way of seeing how people approach questions and you will learn different points of argument.
Join the Queen Mary Law pages on Facebook as these are a great way of finding out when events and competitions are, and also if people are selling books.
Do not forget to join different societies whether they are law or non-law. Go to a few events and see which societies suit you. As time constraints come in, you will unfortunately not stay in all the societies you originally signed up for, so picking a few that you truly enjoy is vital. Go to as many events as you can in your first term as the second term will probably be busier in terms of work.
Apply for open days at law firms as these are a fantastic way of seeing if the solicitor route is for you, and also to understand the cultures of different firms. Try to get used to networking as it can be a bit nerve-wracking but is necessary in any profession. The Pro Bono Society also offers work experience at Law Centres, and the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) is based on campus and offers a summer internship. Any experience is useful in order to gain a better grasp of what different careers in the legal profession can entail.
My main advice would be to keep an open mind. There are so many other opportunities available that it may at times seem overwhelming. The best way to combat this is by getting experience and keeping your options open.