Advice

9 top tips from recent law graduates about how to survive the LLB

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Includes advice from future magic circle trainees

tips

City University law student Christianah Babajide interviewed recent law graduates from across the country to dig out their top survival tips — for the LLB of course.

The newbie graduates of 2016 have some useful advice for the new batch of first year students, and were keen to reveal the things they wish they’d known when they enrolled on their law degrees.

Here are Legal Cheek’s top nine:

Chloe Harrison, University of Manchester

If legal practice is where you want to be — don’t give up. When you graduate you realise the strength of the competition in the legal world. If the law is the career you want to be part of you have to be prepared to take the knocks/failures and be ready to get further experience to strengthen your position when applying. Try not to compare yourself to your peers, everyone progresses at different rates and getting a training contract right out of university is actually not that common!

Zain Ismail, City University

My key survival tip for first year students just starting at university is this: get yourself out there! Speak to and get to know your tutors, lecturers and fellow students. There is a lot of reading, writing and sleeping to be done so please push out of your comfort zone(s) and always look to improve. One thing I have learned over the years is to make the most of your contacts, whether this be with studies or projects, so I would encourage you to do the same!

Annie Rockson, University of Surrey

If you want to excel in your law degree, it is important to have good time management. Time management and being organised are both essential because a law degree workload is intense. You will be given a lot of homework, asked to do six hours of reading and expected to also prepare for your tutorials the next day. All of this will seem impossible at first, but soon enough, you will get yourself organised and even be juggle your social life at the same time!

Patrick Long, Lancaster University

When looking for legal experience, use your initiative. Write to barristers’ chambers and drop your CVs at high street firms. Every opportunity that presents itself, apply for it because if you do not, then someone else will! Even if it seems insignificant, every experience you can learn from and more importantly, add it to your CV!

James Wills, University of Exeter

Knuckle down on your academics. Stay focused, get a study plan, attend all your lectures, tutorials, read journal articles, speak to your personal tutors and make sure you do formative assessments — they may not count toward your overall grade but they are useful.

Kseniia Samokhina, City University

First year grades do matter even if they don’t count towards your degree. They will be taken into consideration when you will be applying for a vacation scheme or mini-pupillage — there should be stability in your grades. Get involved in the work of the Law Society or any other social clubs, since it will help you to build a network of great people, develop your skills and make friends. Make the most of every opportunity!

Viscant Igbinomwanhia, Birmingham City University

Think bigger. Don’t just target legal experience, widen your portfolio of experience. It’s all about your connections. Keep a record of all the people you have met in the legal profession. They may be of help later. Gain responsibility and fast! Persevere. Getting a training contract is difficult and the more you work hard the more law firms will see that you are the suitable candidate for a training contract!

Mahmuda Firdawsi, City University

Get to know as many people as you can from day one. Your classmates, lecturers, tutors, students in the years above and even students in other courses. Networking and holding a conversation with strangers is a skill that will be very beneficial in the long run so attend professional/social events. Stay on top of the workload. Before you know it, exam season will be around the corner.

Calvin Ebun-Amu, Kingston University

Get legal work experience and get involved in extra-curricular activities. You can boost your CV by learning a new language. Law firms want to see your non-law related activities so find a hobby you are passionate about. Make sure you network with legal professionals — these are the people that can offer you legal work experience.

48 Comments

Anonymous

Nah. Hit the pub 6/7 days a week and cram the night before an exam.

(90)(2)

Azwad

As if they themselves done it like they said. Most probably these are what could have been done. Just afterthoughts

(6)(6)

Nigerian Who Wants Your Bank Details Presto

If you want to end up at DWF then fair play.

(17)(1)

Anonymous

Alex is that you?

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Shut itttt

(1)(1)

Anonymous

If you want to do anything other than commercial or chancery at the bar, yes. Hit the pub and have a life. Get an OK 2:1. Sets these days literally do not care about grades anymore- everyone seems to have an average 2:1 and the GDL at the junior junior end of the criminal/common law bar. They are, sadly, more interested in personality and sparkle. 1st and the BCL with pro bono/work experience ? NAH we will make an assumption that you must be a boring robot. Get a 2:1 and a tattoo – *that* is who we want. It is just a shame the public are most likely not interested in your personality or your instagram page/ability to “have a pint at 4:30” – they will be more likely to be focused on your ability to solve the very critical problem that is ruining their life. Chambers and Firms seem to assume that personality and cracking a joke is the best answer to a bail app or a relief from sanctions application.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Great job advising but I wish you had a wider/higher spectrum of students giving advice. If you did and they didnt get back to you, shame on them!

(10)(1)

Anonymous

You just wqnt a quote from oxford/cambridge dont ya (rolls eyes)

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Learn to open a can of beans with a stick. Learn to make a shelter out of large banana leaves and bat poo…..survival……just go to every lecture and class.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Drink plenty of water before you go to bed after a night out. Helps the hang overs.

(14)(0)

Anonymous

“out there!,= ”

Great proof reading game there LC.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Congratulations on using LC’s house style – use of word “top” twice, firstly in title and introduction, and word “newbie”.

(1)(4)

Oxbridge Bunny

1) Buy a good casebook for each module (if possible, some you will have to combine multiple case books or even read an actual case!)

2) no, Nut Cases/ Nut Shells or whatever isn’t a case book. Use only in emergencies – ie it’s 10 minutes until your tutorial, you haven’t don’t any work, and you need to participate enough to not get kicked out.

3) do the work. Don’t fall behind if you can. ‘Catching up during the holidays’ won’t happen.

4) get an acceptable grade in first year. That’s a 2:1 at Russel Group unis (and the few outliers of similar quality) and 1sts elsewhere (but mainly just not a 2:2) – it will help with vac scheme applications etc

5) don’t worry about all those 1st year insight days. Do one if you want but most people don’t. Don’t prioritise them over your studies. [Sorry this is solicitor biased].

6) Apply for vac schemes during the summer of 1st year, Autumn Term of 2nd year, or the Xmas hols – depends on the length of your terms and the firm’s method of dealing with applications. Some firms recruit as they go (Freshfields will be giving out offers in October/November), others don’t. Research this. Oxbridge kids are fine waiting until Xmas (usually) – you’ve got long hols.

7) then knuckle down and work. If you are at a good uni with a 2:1 at least, just doing some stuff with the law soc should be good extra curricular experience. Play sport or something too – be a ‘team player’. If you have poor grades or the calibre of your uni requires you to do a little extra to stand out, get ready for some real extra curriculars – pro bono etc. A friend of mine even did FRU during finals, not that they needed to.

BONUS TIP
don’t self fund the LPC unless you:
– have a guaranteed job lined up which pays alright; or
– Daddy pays
Don’t make any decisions based on the assumption that the LPC will somehow improve your emolyability

(47)(0)

Not Amused

This is solid advice.

(Although it disappoints me that anyone could ‘hide’ in a properly run tutorial)

(2)(2)

Impressed

Tis a gd article isn’t it

(0)(1)

Anonymous

This post by Oxbridge Bunny should be copied by the LC, and pasted as a standalone article. Probably the best and most succinct piece of advice I have seen on this sad page in a longer while. And yes, that includes these silly, sponsored-content articles by your (LC’s) corporate masters.

Come on legal cheek, you now have a unique opportunity to have at least ONE article on your entire page which has any merits / value to it.

Oh and BTW – please DO NOT feel free to edit it. The comment, in its original form, contains the perfect amount of “TOPs”, which is 0.

(19)(0)

Anonymous

Hear hear. Although I’m afraid that Alex is getting balled by his corporate masters so hard that he won’t have the nuts to post this rather than another puff piece.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

The censors will be along shortly to delete this one.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah, truth bites, doesn’t it?

Oxbridge Bunny

Thanks for this. I’ve actually alread written an article for Lex 100, albeit on slightly different material. Not that I’m involved in ‘legal journalism’ at all. Might ask LC if they want some content. Would probably want to do it under a pseudonym though, too early in career to publicly state any strong opinions!

(5)(0)

Equity partnah

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Tory Powerhouse

Hah, well done, ‘Unemployable Katie’.

Bantz.

Anonymous

Yes very good article. It is a shame when the LC culture of celebrating mediocrity would make anyone think that your opinions above were “strong”. Sensible, spot on and valuable.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This was really lovely to read.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

The Uthor nas good writing sklls haha

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t, whatever you do, become a lawyer.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t, whatever you do, study for the LLB.

Unless you are a tedious grey little worker drone with no life or imagination, in which case go for it.

(1)(7)

Anonymous

If you get a TC interview at CC, walk in wearing waders, sleeves rolled up and carrying a large net. Tell them you are ready for action, and are happy to jump in the pool at a moment’s notice.

(5)(0)

Poolboy Pete

‘I’m here and ready for your lumps!’

(1)(0)

Anonymous

A career in legal practice seems to hinge entirely on how your interviews go. Good grades and work experience just gets you through the door.

Oh, and get yourself prepped early. Don’t find yourself graduating but wondering what the hell you’re doing with your life, like I did.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Think we can tell which of these graduates are at the Magic Circle…

*not Surrey, Lancaster, Kingston or Birmingham City*

(5)(3)

Anonymous

The one from Manchester appears to have given up on lifer and is going travelling… I wouldn’t take advice from her.

(1)(4)

Anonymous

Quite a sad reality if you think travelling for a few months equates to “giving up on life”. Each to their own 🙂

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Check her LinkedIn. I would rather have someone give me advice knowing that they had succeeded, rather than having someone is, and I quote “…open to the opportunity of any legal experience as I am extremely motivated to pursue a career in legal practice.”

(1)(5)

Anonymous

If you’re scrutinising her LinkedIn then surely we should scrutinise yours? After all she didn’t publish this herself…

Poolboy Pete

That’s the Internet son, deal with it.

Anonymous

The comment about travelling equating to “giving up on life” is clearly written by someone who is too narrow minded to realise that life experiences are just as or if not more important than academia. Having this dismissive attitude will get them no where, not only in a legal career but life in general. Such a shame, good luck, you’ll need it.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Wrong, written by a practising barrister with a great life.

Next.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

A barrister trolling legal cheek? How mortifying. Goes to show you can be a barrister and still have a disappointing legal career. Maybe if you develop yourself personally through travel and other experiences, your pretentious attitude will fade and your career may improve. Once again, good luck.

Anonymous

Awww poor Lancaster don’t lump it in with those three 🙁 . It is “ok” isn’t it??

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Nah its shite. University of Essex is better

(0)(0)

Anonymous

If you manage to get vacation schemes, make the most of the opportunity.

I’ve done a few at top firms, but essentially wasted the opportunity due to a lack of drive and hunger.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

I also think people put too much value on academics. I graduated near the top of my class from a top university and friends with borderline 2.1s have done very well.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Do all the work, go to all the lectures and seminars/tutorials/supervisions *and read around the subject*. If you can’t manage to read plenty of legal discussion, biography, current affairs etc on top of the course reading, you’re probably not suited to the law. And you should still have time for a decent social life. No magic, just commitment.

(2)(0)

Greased up Gary

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Who are the future MC trainees?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Take a wild guess. 😊

(0)(0)

Top Tip from a Real Practising Barrister

Stop treating a university course like it is a real ordeal or hardship.

Work hard, take a bit of leisure time, listen to your tutors and stop moaning.

(0)(1)

Comments are closed.