Law student summers: expectations vs reality

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By Jessy Howard on

Now that the summer has progressed into the post-training contract application stage, the time has come to pause and reflect on the past few months.


1. Training contracts

Expectation: I’m going to apply for training contracts the minute exams are over, thereby vastly increasing my chances of nailing one.

Reality: One week before training contract deadline. Oh dear.

2. Al fresco dinning

Expectation: Have a sophisticated summer picnic-dinner, just like the cultured lawyer-to-be that I am destined to be.


Reality: BYOB and a packet of monster munch. The student within me has not died yet.


3. Legal reading

Expectation: Here’s a sensible idea my future self will thank me for! I’ll catch up on legal reading over the summer and organise notes for next year. Books are my friends.

Reality: 60 episodes of Suits later… Law is basically just walking around in high heels, right?

4. Immerse in foreign culture

Expectation: Go somewhere interesting and practise a foreign language.

Reality: Does visiting my extended Glaswegian family count?


5. Hit the gym

Expectation: I’ll use all my spare time this summer to ramp up my fitness game.

Reality: I don’t know how many packets of Doritos I’ve eaten today but I do know every single line of How I Met your Mother…


6. Reminisce with old friends

Expectation: Catch up with former school chums and relive your childhood memories.


Reality: For some reason my old friends aren’t interested in comparing law firm trainee retention rates. The law is a lonely road…


7. Vac schemes

Expectation: Summer? What summer? I’ll be vac scheming it up!


Reality: I failed to secure one and have brought dishonour on my family.

8. DIY

Expectation: Fix the printer/shelf/chair that’s been broken all year.

Reality: Being able to write a case summary has not actually prepared me for the real world. A future of wobbly furniture looms.


9. Parental praise

Expectation: My family are going to be so impressed with my career ambitions, part of me hopes they don’t praise me too much, you know? I am the golden child.


Reality: No, dad, I can’t help you avoid the parking ticket; you parked in a CHILDREN’S PLAY AREA.


10. Charitable work

Expectation: Do something a bit different and volunteer for a good cause.

Reality: Working at a criminal law firm is basically volunteer work anyway, am I right?

11. Holiday

Expectation: I know what I need. A fun relaxing holiday to prepare for the start of term.


12. Vitamin D boost

Expectation: Get a nice healthy tan.


Reality: Spending every waking hour studying has not prepared my pasty skin for the full force of UV light. I must retreat back into the depths of the library from whence I came.

13. Summer fling

Expectation: Have a whirlwind summer romance.

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Reality: We’re not sure how Amal Alamuddin winged that one, but we’ll get back to you when we figure out how she managed it.

14. Spontaneity

Expectation: Throw caution to the wind and do things I would never otherwise dream of doing.


Reality: It has started to dawn on me that the law student is not the most daring of beasts. Maybe I should have studied archaeology for a more Indiana Jones-style life.


15. Planning your future

Expectation: Okay, game plan. Let’s prepare for next year’s applications and work NOW. I must set my own course.


Reality: Or free fall. Whatever…