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School of Law

A general guide on how to do the first year right

Saeed Mahmood (VP of the Law Society) offers some helpful advice for first year law students.

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‘Beware of fresher’s fever’, warned a second year during fresher’s week. Just to be clear this is different from fresher’s flu, which made listening to lectures almost impossible due to the deafening echoes of people coughing! Anyway, fresher’s fever is when eager first year students end up doing every scheme possible, be it open days, networking events, and competitions – the lot. This was exactly what I did and I ended up sitting my mock examinations at the end of the first semester not having a clue as to what the questions were asking. I feel like there is a slight over emphasis on networking (don’t get me wrong networking is important but everything should be within moderation) because ultimately everyone has to go through the same application process. If you’re attending networking events and you’re behind on several weeks of lectures and are not prepared for your upcoming tutorials, that’s the time to start cutting back. Putting it bluntly, you may know every HR director of every firm but if you fail your first year you won’t be considered.

Strategy is everything. You need to work out a revision method that works for you, now in sixth form/college this was rather straightforward: just do all the past papers and you’re pretty much sorted. Sadly, university isn’t this straightforward. You need to find a way of combining lectures, reading and tutorial material into a concise set of notes. Do not be scared of the size of the law textbooks. They are big and, unless you are a powerlifter, impossible to carry around! The trick to reading is don’t read everything. The lecture slides give you most of what you need to know, base your reading around the lecture handout. Be efficient and make life easy for yourself.

My last point of advice is don’t forget to develop your interests. Join non-legal societies, play sports do whatever it is that interests you. Remember firms value individuality and part of what makes you unique are your interests. Societies are a great way of getting to know people from outside your course, so do make time for the ones that interest you. However, do not make the same mistake as me and spend £100 on societies during fresher’s week only to never attend any of their events!

Written by Saeed Mahmood (VP of the Law Society)