12 things law students do say

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The Facebook sensation Things Law Students Don’t Say (TLSDS) has received almost 23,000 likes by posting statements that law students would never utter.

But what about things law students do say? We asked the anonymous wannabe lawyers behind TLSDS to select 12 real-life law student problems for our panel of experts to answer…

TLSDS: “I’m on track for a good 2.1. I’m passionate about law. I’m on the executive committee of a student society. I represent my university in a competitive sport. Despite this, I’ve received an abundance of vacation scheme and mini-pupillage rejections.”

Lauren Smith, first seat trainee in corporate at Mayer Brown’s London office:

“The fact that you say you’ve had an ‘abundance’ of rejections for vacation schemes as well as mini-pupillages makes me wonder how many firms or sets you have actually applied to. Making multiple applications for the sake of it can be counterproductive, as it makes it far more tempting to cut and paste large chunks of your applications, which will be obvious to the person reading. Talk to trainees and pupils at law fairs, attend open days, seminars and events hosted by firms or sets to get a feel for the environments you are most suited to and the work you find most interesting. This will help you to be more selective in your applications.

“Don’t amass CV building experiences for the sake of it or just list all the interesting activities you’ve been involved in. Instead spend more time considering which type of legal environment you’d like to work in and then think about how you can use your extra-curricular experiences to strengthen your applications. This way you’ll come across as more authentic, and your application will be refreshing and eye-catching.”

TLSDS: “Lord Denning was evidently a legend but I’m struggling to see the point of learning about his dissenting judgments.”

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Hardwicke barrister Jasmine Murphy:

“Firstly, it is unimaginative to dwell on Lord Denning too much. Even my cat has heard of him (although she doesn’t think he was a legend).

“As to your actual query: The point of reading Denning’s dissenting judgments is that you can generally find a Denning obiter dicta to fit any argument. If you want to read some elegantly entertaining judgments of a recently retired judge try Sir Alan Ward, who once said in a judgment: ‘This case involves a number of — and here I must not fall into Dr Spooner’s error — warring bankers.'”

TLSDS: “I want to choose modules that I enjoy, but I’m worried that employers might think I haven’t chosen ones that are relevant for my future career.”

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Norton Rose Fulbright trainee recruitment manager Caroline Lindner:

“We honestly don’t mind which modules you choose. After all, it’s your degree and we will be choosing your LPC electives for you! You are more likely to do well in the modules you most enjoy. Also, remember that 50% of Norton Rose Fulbright’s trainee intake each year represent non-law subjects and we don’t stipulate which modules they should study.”

“Only students from wealthy families can afford to become barristers.”

Inner Temple outreach manager Anthony Dursi:

“The Inns of Court provide over £5 million to those looking to train to become a barrister in England and Wales. All awards are merit-based but financial need is taken into account for many of these awards. You can see how Inner Temple takes need into account here. You will also want to look at the Kalisher Trust and see if you are eligible for their scholarships.

“There are also a number of work experience schemes to help students gain work experience, including the Inner Temple Schools Project for state school students and the Pegasus Access Scheme that provides mini-pupillages to university students meeting certain criteria to support diversity and social mobility.”

TLSDS: “I don’t want to drown in debt to become just another law graduate among many.”

Nick Read, legal services apprentice at Kennedys:

“I turned down offers from two top 15 universities in order to accept a place as a legal services apprentice at Kennedys. It was an invaluable opportunity to learn from experienced partners, solicitors and chartered legal executives while developing my own experience.”

TLSDS: “Land law is the bane of my life. I don’t know how to make it more bearable.”

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Hania Lynch, senior lecturer and land team leader, University of Law, Bloomsbury

“Land law is one of those subjects which often starts out as a little overwhelming. This is because, no matter how intelligent you are, you cannot answer land law questions well without having a pretty good knowledge base. However, a student who works through our course materials will get to a point (often a few weeks into the course and sometimes at a later stage) when the entire land law system suddenly presents itself to them as clear and logical. From that point on, they are likely to love the subject as much as I do.

“I call this “having your land law moment” — I can remember what I was wearing & where I was sitting when I had mine…”

TLSDS: “There are way too many cases to learn for this exam.”

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Giles Proctor, dean of Kaplan Law School:

“Answer in a Nutshell (so to speak!): Less is more — one good authority, deployed relevantly, correctly cited with a line of salient facts and a ratio that is not butchered too much is worth five scattergun case references.

“Be brutal: choose key authorities to revise (one per key point you want to make only) and have a hit list to deploy that you relate to the question. You will rise above the dross, avoid mind clutter and, heaven knows, you might enjoy the feeling of exam nirvana that a correctly-addressed answer brings.”

TLSDS: “I find it difficult to balance my degree, extra-curricular activities, social life, procrastination, careers events, and applications.”

Fiona Dreghorn, third seat trainee in IP/IT at Mayer Brown’s London office:

“Remember that you’re not alone. The procrastination is probably because you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything at the moment. Being a good lawyer means being able to break up big work tasks into manageable chunks and being able to prioritise the most important aspects of your work. There is no better time to start learning this skill than now!

“Focus on your degree because without a good degree there will be no law career. As you’re struggling, it may be worth having less social life (for now), perhaps stopping one of your extra-curricular activities and maybe asking a friend to pick up relevant leaflets from career fairs rather than you attending them all. You’ll feel calmer as a result and your degree and applications will benefit from your time management skills.”

TLSDS: “I can’t get a training contract.”

Lucie Couchman, chartered legal executive at Woodfines Solicitors:

“I graduated from the LPC with a distinction in 2006. Obtaining a training contract is always a very competitive task. To make matters worse about 12-18 months after graduating the recession began, and having gained my work experience in property the downturn in the property market made finding that elusive training contract near impossible.

“The legal profession is becoming more dynamic and there is no longer just one route to a successful career. I have many friends and colleagues studying with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), having converted from the traditional law degree/LPC route via the CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma. With the prospect of independent practice rights in some areas just around the corner, it is becoming increasingly attractive.”

TLSDS: “Since becoming a law student, I over-analyse every normal situation and I don’t know how to switch off.”

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Hardwicke barrister Jasmine Murphy:

“Even law students need friends that exist outside the Denning Mooting Club. This kind of thing is going to make even the most sympathetic non-law person sidle away towards the nearest exit. Worse still, you’re never going to pull. Fail to switch off from law and your date will then start wondering whether you’re going to murmur in their ear later, ‘This reminds me of a case I was reading, about implied consent…'”

TLSDS: “I have a million pages of reading to do every week. I have no idea where to start, and I don’t know which bits are relevant.”

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Louise Mawer, GDL Course Leader, University of Law, Bloomsbury:

“It’s not at all unusual for students to feel overwhelmed by their workload, particularly at the beginning of a course; there is a lot to learn.

“Students should be guided by their tutors and session materials; these will hopefully provide an indication of which points deserve most time and attention. Approaching a task correctly helps. For example, if students have to prepare an answer to a workshop exercise, they should read through this before embarking on their reading, to get a feel for where their studies are going. Another strategy that works for some students is to weight their time in favour of consolidation. This enables them to finalise their notes with the benefit of knowledge gained in class.

“Ultimately the GDL and LPC are not only about legal skills and knowledge. It’s crucial for lawyers to be able to manage their time effectively and prioritise their various tasks; the GDL and LPC provide an excellent opportunity for students to develop these key skills.”

TLSDS: “I have no legal work experience. I keep getting rejected for legal work experience because I have no legal work experience. I need legal work experience in order to experience legal work so I can become a lawyer.”

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Norton Rose Fulbright trainee recruitment manager Caroline Lindner:

“We welcome legal and non-legal work experience of all types. If you are receiving rejections for formal vacation schemes, I would suggest applying for open days and also writing to local solicitors/barristers to request work experience. You can also utilise your university alumni network. We recognise that obtaining legal work experience is challenging, but we don’t expect candidates to have secured previous experience in the sector in order to obtain work experience with us. Norton Rose Fulbright does, however, expect a well put-together application form with evidence of research into the sector and our firm specifically.”

Listen to Legal Cheek‘s podcast with the founder of TLSDS here.

Images, in order, by: TLSDS, Giphy, Twitter, @jaredmbot (Instagram), Giphy, Giphy, Quick Meme, Law School Memes, Giphy, Giphy, Make a Meme, @elmorrice (Twitter), Meme Crunch.

4 Comments

Alex1

For the benefit of law students – here are some translations of the more ridiculous answers into more honest language which hasn’t been vetted by PR departments.

“Don’t amass CV building experiences for the sake of it or just list all the interesting activities you’ve been involved in. Instead spend more time considering which type of legal environment you’d like to work in and then think about how you can use your extra-curricular experiences to strengthen your applications. This way you’ll come across as more authentic, and your application will be refreshing and eye-catching.”

Translation: Your CV is obviously awful, competent students with “good 2.1’s”, (which everyone knows means 65+ at a Russell Group university) at least get a few interviews. Does your University not have a careers centre?

“We honestly don’t mind which modules you choose. After all, it’s your degree and we will be choosing your LPC electives for you! You are more likely to do well in the modules you most enjoy. Also, remember that 50% of Norton Rose Fulbright’s trainee intake each year represent non-law subjects and we don’t stipulate which modules they should study.”

Translation: Get good marks and we won’t care. But why are you applying to work in commercial law unless you are interested in it? Lol joke – money – no-one is interested in commercial law, we know that.

“The Inns of Court provide over £5 million to those looking to train to become a barrister in England and Wales. All awards are merit-based but financial need is taken into account for many of these awards.”

Translation: Yes, we are an elitist profession and don’t care who knows it, every year the statistics come out about how unrepresentative the bar is and every year we wring our hands and say how terrible it is, but we have no incentive to change the system which worked for us. We know the majority of students shelling out for BPTC course don’t get a scholarship or a pupilage, but we don’t care because have you seen our dining halls? Of course, we could introduce a levy on the profession of say 5% of billings, to fund BPTC places for poorer students – but we won’t.

“I turned down offers from two top 15 universities in order to accept a place as a legal services apprentice at Kennedys. It was an invaluable opportunity to learn from experienced partners, solicitors and chartered legal executives while developing my own experience.”

Translation: I copied and pasted this off the cover letter I send out looking for training contracts. You can see how good I am at lawyering because I don’t say whether I even met my offers or why I was rejected from all my other UCAS universities.

“I call this “having your land law moment” — I can remember what I was wearing & where I was sitting when I had mine…”

Translation: I work at a university so I don’t have a PR department to read over my answer before I submit it, this is the only reason I can get away with writing this. I don’t know what a sunk cost fallacy is.

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